Jennifer M. Dines, The Septuagint (New York: T & T Clark, 2004), xvii +196 pp.

The newest introduction to the Septuagint, by Jennifer M. Dines, is also perhaps the most brief on the subject. This is both a blessing and a curse. It is a blessing because it successfully provides, for the uninitiated reader, an introduction that is accessible. It is a curse, however, because it is forced to only briefly interact with a subject that is among the most complex and technical in all of biblical studies.

Her study is broken down into 7 chapters. The first chapter is an attempt to get a working definition for the Septuagint, this discussion reveals the complexity of the term ‘Septuagint.’ She ends by reminding the reader that “at the material level, the LXX ‘is’: a vast diverse corpus of religios texts in Greek” (p. 24). The second chapter is the first to deal with the origins of the LXX; she interacts mainly with the Letter of Aristeas and the works of Aristobulus on the LXX. These sources, Dines, concludes “agree on situating [the LXX] in the early third century BCE, as an initiative of Ptolemy” (p. 38). The third chapter is the second on the issue of the origin of the LXX. Here Dines focuses on the various translations of the LXX, noting that even in Aristeas the first translation was just the Pentateuch, and the various modern hypotheses for the impetus of the translation and the translation style (e.g., interlinear vs. free rendering). She concludes by cautiously postulating a need for a Greek version of the Jewish texts, but also a literate cosmopolitan culture in Alexandria that would have produced an academic climate where literary projects such as the LXX were the natural thing to do.

Chapter 4 recounts a reception history of the LXX from Philo to Jerome, a subject noticeably lacking in such other great introductions as Jobes and Silva. Chapter 5 deals with the infinitely difficult issue of the recensions and versions of the LXX from the kaige recension to the hexapla to the Lucianic recension. Dines deftly but briefly introduces this quagmire, so that the reader gets a feel for the styles of the various recensions. Chapter 6 deals with the language and style of the LXX, from koine to translation Greek, from interlinearity to free rendering. She concludes by calling for broader analysis to reflect the pluralistic nature of the texts themselves. She ends in ch. 7 with a summative discussion of how the LXX has been used from identifying theological tendencies in the text (i.e., anti-anthropomorphism) to using it as a polemic proof-text, to using it as an example of early Jewish exegesis and more.

As noted, Dines’ work is the most recent introduction to the LXX, as such it has the benefit of interacting with the two other (more extensive) introductions of Jobes and Silva, and Marcos. This makes her discussion more up to date. It is necessarily brief and doesn’t have the benefit of interacting with actual texts. It is, without doubt, the best initial introduction to the issues surrounding the Septuagint. For more textual work and a more complete introduction the reader will have to go to Marcos or Jobes and Silva, but for an initial introduction Dines may be the best place to start.

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