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44[lxx] Re: LXX of the Orthodox Church

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  • Steve Puluka
    Oct 5, 1999
      I am a member of the Eastern Churches. I teach our theology, spirituality
      and prayer. I lead my congregation as a cantor in my parish. In my own
      study of my Eastern Churches tradition, Jellicoe, �The Septuagint in Modern
      Study� has proved useful. I am not aware of a study that details what text
      traditions are used in our various churches.

      In the United States my jurisdiction is currently undergoing a complete
      review of English translations in our Liturgical services. I have heard
      from a member of this Liturgical Commission that the scripture quotations
      used in various services, and even different parts of the same service, can
      be traced to different text sources. The Byzantine Text form is the
      standard text for the Septuagint for Orthodox churchs founded from
      Constantinople. This would include Greece and all of Eastern Europe. This
      text is incorporates a collection of Origens and Theodotion�s revisions to
      the original text.

      When speaking of the Septuagint of the Orthodox Church first one must
      remember that the LXX or New Testament as a separate work and object of
      study is not really the way of the Christian east. We approach these works
      historically through the act of worship. Our liturgical services are the
      expression and understanding of scripture and they are how we learn
      scripture and pass this knowledge on to future generations. This is why I
      approach textual issues in my church from the point of view of liturgy and
      the lectionary. This is an approach we inherited from the Jewish faith, see
      Jellicoe pp.64-73.

      I submit that the liturgical use of the text is the only real use in the
      Orthodox Church History. We preserve the text as a voice against heresy
      along with the Patristic literature but the liturgy of the Church is where
      we "teach" scripture.

      The three major recensions of the LXX are well treated by Jellicoe p. 134
      and p. 344. In reviewing the other texts one must view the list from the
      point of view of geography of expansion from the Patriachates. Alexandria
      moves south, Antioch moves to Constantinople, the slavs and east.
      Patrisitic use of the texts in the east is covered on page 349.

      This can also occur in the Lectionary itself. You will note from Jellicoe's
      study (and Metzgers Early Versions of the New Testament) that much of the
      Slavonic translation of scripture is based on the Vulgate rather than
      theSeptuagint directly. Therefore, Eastern Churches from slavic countries
      have a different text usage than those from Greece, the middle east or
      Egyptian varieties.

      Note that John Chrysostom of Antioch, later Patriach of Constantinople, is a
      powerful witness to the LXX in his writings. He is also the author of the
      anaphora used in most Byzantine Divine Liturgies today. His text for the
      Liturgy is filled with LXX quotes and allusions.

      The Christian East is a confederation of sister churches. We each have our
      own discipline and control with only a kind of moral support from the other
      Patriachs. This includes the scripture texts. Each group is using the
      translation of scriputure into their mother tongue. The major versions of
      these are noted well Chapter 8 the versions. We have all moved forward from

      My own jurisdiction (Ruthenian Byzantine Catholic) used the Church Slavonic
      version of scripture exclusively until the move to the united states about
      100 years ago. In English we have relied on Catholic versions to fill our
      needs. Indeed, Jellicoe notes that much of our Slavonic text is from the
      Vulgate anyway.

      In response to the Reformation Orthodoxy did affirm the LXX as scripture
      against the MT. The council of Jerusalem in 1672 settled this question
      officially. Unfortunately, none of the sources I have on hand include the
      full text of this council. None of the summaries mention the specific text
      accepted, if any. Trent makes the Vulgate the final version for Roman
      catholics but I believe the Orthodox situation will prove less clear. See
      the Catholic Encyclopedia article on Jerusalem. The text variants in use by
      the various jurisdictions have never been officially addressed.


      I am not aware of any critical apparatus for Orthodox versions of the LXX.
      I'm sure you are aware of Rahlf's as the basic option commonly available.

      Patristic writers are indeed a rich source of quotations from the
      Septuagint. We can see the various text forms in their writings based on
      where they are from. When Chrysostom�s quotes of the septuagint vary from
      the received Byzantine form I�m told they match the Alexandrius version. We
      did however, preserve the various texts of the Septuagint in various
      jurisdictions. There is no need to reconstruct a text out of the
      commentaris, homilies or other Patristic usage.

      The LXX.org is a project by the Antiochian church. This is a wonderful
      contribution to the understanding of the scriptures for the Christian East.
      They appear to be using the received text for the translation. But I will
      be checking the existing translations against my copy of Brenton�s and
      Rahlf�s text to attempt confirm this.

      While I did not know about this project, Father Sparks is a familiar
      figure. He is the editor of the current translations we have of the
      Apostolic Fathers published by Light and Life Publications in Minneapolis.
      This is a great source for information about the Eastern Christian


      You may also be interested in the work of the International Organization for
      Septuagint and Cognate Studies.


      Membership is very inexpensive and their annual publication of student
      papers are announced every fall.

      Steve Puluka
      Adult Education Instructor & Cantor
      Byzantine Catholic Archeparchy of Pittsburgh

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