Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Greek Bible: Septuagint as more than simple translation

Jutta points us to a review of Tessa Rajak's
Translation and Survival: The Greek Bible and the Ancient Jewish Diaspora

Rajak's core contributions to this issue revolve around the claim that the Greek Bible represents a middle position between assimilation and rejection of Greek culture. The linguistic features of the Greek Bible simultaneously Hellenize Judaism and Judaize Hellenism.
 Rajak situates the Septuagint within both the diverse notions of Jewishness in recent scholarship and the complex history of its textual transmission. This involves complicating an apparently simple claim that the Septuagint renders the Hebrew "torah" as "nomos" (law/custom). For Rajak, the Greek Bible can also be conceived as rendering "nomos" as Torah (The Law).[1] Rajak lays the foundation for an essentially linguistically based argument. She convincingly demonstrates that the nomos/torah rendering simultaneously Hellenizes an essentially Jewish institution, while Judaizing a common Greek word by altering its semantic valence. 

And from another review:
Rajak insists on the need to interpret the Greek Bible in light of what is known of the historical group that created it. In doing so, she focuses on cultural adaption in Hellenistic Judaism and on how the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible was a means of cultural survival for its creators. - Rajak's attempt to reunite the Greek Bible with its primary users and generators (cf. 5) is successful.

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