RE: How good is Septuagint as a translation of Hebrew Scripture?

From: Hultberg, Alan D (
Date: Sat Feb 27 1999 - 13:57:40 EST

Moon-Ryul (I hope I'm addressing you properly),

To answer your second question first:
There are different translation techniques or strategies evidenced in the LXX,
ranging from very literal or formally equivalent to very free or paraphrastic.
 Two good sources on translation technique generally and in specific sections
of the LXX are Sidney Jellicoe, _The Septuagint and Modern Study_,
Eisenbrauns, 1993 (the latest reprint that I know of) and Emanuel Tov, _The
Text-Critical Use of the Septuagint in Biblical Research_, revised and
enlarged second edition, Simor, 1997. Swete's _Introduction to the Old
Testament in Greek_ and Thackeray's Grammar are also helpful, though somewhat

On your first question:
I seem to recall cases in the NT where KAI introduced a logical or temporal
consequence, but I had always understood those to be Semitisms. KAI certainly
has borrowed *some* of the semantic range of W in the NT (cf. BDF 442;
Robertson, 1183, "Sometimes KAI seems imitative of the Hebrew W by almost
having the sense of hOTI or hINA..."). I can't think of examples in sources
written by non-Jews, but they may be there. (Luke, a gentile, has several
interesting uses of KAI EGENETO ... KAI that may be of this sort, but is he
affecting a "Scriptural" style?) I'm not competent to address this latter
point (that KAI can indicate consequence in extra-biblical koine), and [ :-) ]
I'll leave it to someone else.



Many thanks for the answers to my previous question on the location of
chapter 26 of MSS in Septuagint. It was chapter 33 in LXX. I read it, and
found out that the translation was unacceptably literal to me. For example,
the waw-relative with imperfective and the waw-relative with
perfective form are translated to "KAI + perfect or aorist", and to
"KAI + future". So, the waw is mapped to KAI one to one. It seems that the
LXX translators disregard the discourse function of waw in wayyiqtol or
wqtl forms. I read that the LXX translators were Jew,
who spoke Greek. From this I, as a novice in this field, would draw the
following tentative conclusions. I would be thankful if you make some
comments on them.

1. The range of meaning/function of KAI is much broader than
  that of English "and", and can cover the range of meaning/function
   of Hebrew WAW. I remember I read that "X KAI Y" may be translated to
   "X, namely (or even) Y". Here Y is taken to explain X. One of the
   functions of wayyiqtol form is to explain the previous statement.
   But can KAI be used to state the logical or temporal
    consequence of the previous statement like wayyiqtol form can?
   If so, this first conclusion seems plausible. I would like to
    draw conclusions that respect those translators who knew Hebrew
    being Jew and spoke Greek as a living language.

2. Even if those translators knew that mapping WAW to KAI did not produce
   meaning preserving Greek, they thought that making the translation
    as close to the original Scripture was appropriate. This conclusion
    is odd at the fact that some translation in LXX are quite free. But
    some translators might have thought that literal translation was
    good, while others did not.


Moon-Ryul Jung, Ph.D
Dept of Computer Science,
Soongsil University
Seoul, Korea

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