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[lxx] Re: LXX Theology/Theologies

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  • james and tatiana miller
    Colleagues: A point of correction on John Burnett s post. He states that Holy Transfiguration Monastery [is} (the translators aegis) [for the Orthodox LXX
    Message 1 of 4 , Mar 8 7:45 AM
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      Colleagues:

      A point of correction on John Burnett's post. He states that "Holy
      Transfiguration Monastery [is} (the translators' aegis)" [for the Orthodox
      LXX translation project mentioned by Larry Baker]. In fact, the translation
      project for the LXX that Larry Baker is referring to is being conducted in
      connection with (the former?) Conciliar Press and is headed by Fr. Jack
      Sparks. It has no formal connection with Holy Transfiguration Monastery. In
      fact, I believe they take a critical stance toward it. Additionally, a
      look at the translators' site (www.lxx.org) will reveal that they will be
      following the style and language conventions of the NKJ, which should
      produce something a bit different stylistically than the Holy
      Transfiguration Psalter John Burnett mentions. For further clarification,
      Holy Transfiguration Monastery does appear to be working on the scriptural
      portions of the Menaion (a service book containing scriptural readings
      embedded in accompanying liturgical material), but I do not believe that
      they have any plan to produce a translation of the entirety of the LXX such
      as that of the previously mentioned group. These differences, for the sake
      of the people involved in the respective projects, should be duly noted.

      The only further comment I would like to interject into this discussion is
      the artificiality of the conception of the LXX as being something like the
      "Orthodox OT". True, the OT canon as defined in the early Christian
      centuries was based on the LXX, and also true, patristic writers commenting
      on OT books or passages would invariably use a Greek translation of the OT
      material in question. But as far as OT material with a potential for being
      widely known, one must speak of excerpts read in connection with public
      worship, and thus of lectionaries, as being the "OT of the Orthodox
      Church." A recent survey of Rahlfs' Verzeichnis der griecheschen
      Handschriften des alten Testaments has provided me with numerical evidence
      to back up this assertion. Only 4.5% of the MSS listed there are complete,
      or possibly complete, OT's. More than twice as many (ca 11%) are listed as
      "lectionaries" while by far the highest percentage of OT MSS is Ps (with or
      without Odes [Odes, by the way, containing its own separate compendium of
      OT excerpts]) - over 56%. MSS containing single books of the OT, while not
      as common as the Ps/Odes MSS, nevertheless come in slightly ahead of
      lectionaries at 15%. Thus, it seems that full texts of the OT were the
      exception to the rule: the rule, on the contrary, for OT usage and
      familiarity would have been portions and excerpts, like the lectionaries.

      Thank you, James Miller
    • atombomb
      Blessed be God. ... Thank you for this correction; I had only heard that the translation was being prepared in some connection with HTM (apparently not true),
      Message 2 of 4 , Mar 8 11:03 AM
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        Blessed be God.

        james and tatiana miller wrote:
        >
        > A point of correction on John Burnett's post. He states that "Holy
        > Transfiguration Monastery [is} (the translators' aegis)" [for the Orthodox
        > LXX translation project mentioned by Larry Baker]. In fact, the translation
        > project for the LXX that Larry Baker is referring to is being conducted in
        > connection with (the former?) Conciliar Press and is headed by Fr. Jack
        > Sparks. It has no formal connection with Holy Transfiguration Monastery.

        Thank you for this correction; I had only heard that the translation was
        being prepared in some connection with HTM (apparently not true), and I
        had undoubtedly confused it with the translation of the Menaion that you
        mention. Since these things always take years and years and years, I
        haven't been following the progress of either translation. I'm relieved
        to hear that the language won't be so archaic as the Psalter, but have
        to admit I wonder why it should be archaic at all (sigh).

        Anyway, my error; thanx for the correction.

        > The only further comment I would like to interject into this discussion is
        > the artificiality of the conception of the LXX as being something like the
        > "Orthodox OT". True, the OT canon as defined in the early Christian
        > centuries was based on the LXX, and also true, patristic writers commenting
        > on OT books or passages would invariably use a Greek translation of the OT
        > material in question. But as far as OT material with a potential for being
        > widely known, one must speak of excerpts read in connection with public
        > worship, and thus of lectionaries, as being the "OT of the Orthodox
        > Church." A recent survey of Rahlfs' Verzeichnis der griecheschen
        > Handschriften des alten Testaments has provided me with numerical evidence
        > to back up this assertion. Only 4.5% of the MSS listed there are complete,
        > or possibly complete, OT's. More than twice as many (ca 11%) are listed as
        > "lectionaries" while by far the highest percentage of OT MSS is Ps (with or
        > without Odes [Odes, by the way, containing its own separate compendium of
        > OT excerpts]) - over 56%. MSS containing single books of the OT, while not
        > as common as the Ps/Odes MSS, nevertheless come in slightly ahead of
        > lectionaries at 15%. Thus, it seems that full texts of the OT were the
        > exception to the rule: the rule, on the contrary, for OT usage and
        > familiarity would have been portions and excerpts, like the lectionaries.

        Essentially this is true, and I can provide anecdotal evidence as well:
        I recently gave my priest a copy of the Slavonic Bible published by the
        ABS (sadly, out of print last I heard). He said it was only the second
        one he'd ever seen-- that Russian culture did not until recently, and
        then mostly under Western influence, have a concept of a "Bible" like we
        do. Certain books were studied more than others (this is probably the
        case even today among those who have "Bibles", eh?) but by and large the
        OT scriptures were (and still are) encountered by most people primarily
        in the context of worship. And encountered they were: there are several
        services during the year, for example, which have seven, or twelve, or
        fifteen scripture readings, some of them quite lengthy; also, apparently
        the lectionary we use today is rather attenuated in comparison to the
        practice of the first millennium-- for as I understand it, there was an
        OT reading at Vespers every evening, as today during Great Lent. But it
        was hard to produce or obtain manuscripts, so this approach to scripture
        is very much a practical matter and an effort to maximize, rather than
        to minimize, people's exposure to the Word of God.

        There was always an awareness, however, that the excerpts which were
        read during the services were excerpts from something-- a "Palaia
        Diatheke"-- so I think it is something of an exaggeration to say that
        the LXX was "not an 'Orthodox OT'", but that the lectionaries were this
        instead. Or rather, this is practically true, but not theoretically. The
        LXX has always been our "Palaia Diatheke".

        The Psalms and Odes are used constantly in the services of the Church
        and in fact bishops were required to have memorized them (and the
        gospels) in their entirety; I understand that in early monasticism this
        was also true of ordinary monks (from whose ranks the bishops were chosen).

        It is useful to have the statistics you mention.

        Regards,

        John Burnett
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