52[lxx] Re: LXX of the Orthodox Church
- Oct 7, 1999Dear Steve Puluka,
I would just like to comment on something you wrote. You mentioned
twice that "much of" the Slavonic translation of the LXX was based on the
I would like to point out that the version you are referring to is
known as "The Ostroh Bible" which is a complete translation of the entire
Bible (at least as it was known to the Slavs of the 16th century). If I'm
not mistaken, it was the first major work to be printed in Church
Slavonic. It was reprinted by St. Vladimir's College (Winnipeg, MA) in
honor of the millenium of Christianity in the lands of the Kievan
tradition. This text, however, is less than practical: it is an extremely
large and heavy tome and, since the it is merely a reprint, the Slavonic
print is very difficult to read (lacking the crispness found in modern
books, such as the liturgical books published by Rome).
In the 18th century (I think), the Slavonic Bible was revised and
republished. This "corrected" and "updated" edition is known as the
Elizabethan Bible. One of the most salient features of this revision is
that the editors retranslated those books that were based on the Vulgate
in the Ostroh version (in the main, these were the deuterocanonicals). In
fact, at the end of each of these books, there is a note stating that they
were retranslated "according to the Alexandrian version".
So, the whole point of this rather long-winded excursus is to
explain that it is incorrect to say that "much of" the Slavonic version is
based on the Vulgate. First of all, it was really only a few of the
deuterocanonicals; secondly, the "modern" Slavonic version (if anything in
Slavonic can be considered "modern") has corrected this inconsistency.
Incidentally, the Elizabethan Bible published in 1905 continues to
be reprinted in St. Petersburg in a very handsome and readable edition
which includes lists of all the OT and NT readings prescribed throughout
the church year. I believe it is available from the United Bible
On Tue, 5 Oct 1999, Steve Puluka wrote:
> 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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