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On the site called "Elpenor," they show Psalm 13:3 of the Septuagint text like this:

www.ellopos.net/elpenor/greek-texts/septuagint/chapter.asp?book=24&page=13

3 πάντες ἐξέκλιναν, ἅμα ἠχρειώθησαν, οὐκ ἔστι ποιῶν χρηστότητα, οὐκ ἔστιν ἕως ἑνός*

But on the site called "The Orthodux Pages, they show this Septuagint Psalm thusly:

www.christopherklitou.com/old_testament_greek_english_psalms_1-25.htm

3 πάντες ἐξέκλιναν, ἅμα ἠχρειώθησαν, οὐκ ἔστι ποιῶν χρηστότητα, οὐκ ἔστιν ἕως ἑνός

[τάφος ἀνεῳγμένος ὁ λάρυγξ αὐτῶν, ταῖς γλώσσαις αὑτῶν ἐδολιοῦσαν· ἰὸς ἀσπίδων ὑπὸ τὰ χείλη αὐτῶν, ὧν τὸ στόμα ἀρᾶς καὶ πικρίας γέμει, ὀξεῖς οἱ πόδες αὐτῶν ἐκχέαι αἷμα, σύντριμμα καὶ ταλαιπωρία ἐν ταῖς ὁδοῖς αὐτῶν, καὶ ὁδὸν εἰρήνης οὐκ ἔγνωσαν· οὐκ ἔστι φόβος Θεοῦ ἀπέναντι τῶν ὀφθαλμῶν αὐτῶν.]

And they provide this English reading to go along with it:

3 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become good for nothing, there is none that does good, no not one.

Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; their feet are swift to shed blood: destruction and misery are in their ways; and the way of peace they have not known: there is no fear of God before their eyes.

So, my question is, is there more than one "official" Septuagint, and if so, then how would one readily identify ... and communicate to others ... just which version of the Septuagint that one was referencing?


Addendum: From the NIV I've learned that the Masoretic Text tradition contains marginal notations that offer variant readings, which have sometimes been followed instead of the text itself. And, for the Psalms, the Juxta Hebraica of Jerome. Readings from these were occasionally followed where the Masoretic Text seemed doubtful. Might this, then, be a factor in why the Septuagint (or a particular "version" of the Septuagint) might differ from the Masoretic Text?

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  • 1
    There seems to be no meaningful difference between the two, since the first link provides the extra text of verse 3 at the end of the psalm. Notice also the use of the asterix, which, along with the obelus, has been employed since the time Origen's Hexapla to mark the textual differences between the Septuagint and the Masoretic. – Lucian Dec 18 '17 at 23:58
  • @Lucian Excellent! I'd seen the asterisk, of course, but overlooked the fact that the extra text was then included at the end of the psalm. My mistake! And, you are correct, putting these together, now, there isn't any different.I still don't see the obelus (unless by that you mean the asterisk), but am I understanding you to be saying that, the asterisk/ obelus is always how they'd purposefully intended the reader to know this was the specific difference between the two (LXX and MT)? It's good information, so why not put it in an answer format for retention. Thank you for the assistance. – robin Dec 19 '17 at 1:51
  • @Lucian You state above, "there seems to be no meaningful difference between the two" ... I'm looking closely at the two, with my old eyes, and I don't see any differences at all; what am I, again, overlooking? – robin Dec 19 '17 at 2:07
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    www.christopherklitou.com and www.ellopos.net are personal blogs - by individuals who are apparently Orthodox Christians. They are not really authoritative sources, though, I think. I added an answer with some more authoritative Orthodox sources (Not to say the material you linked is somehow impaired). – user33515 Dec 19 '17 at 23:46
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    Re variant readings on the Masoretic Text. The Oxford Jewish Study Bible, based on the JPS Tanakh, is a great source for this, I think. It points out verses where the Hebrew is "uncertain", in the editor's words. – user33515 Dec 19 '17 at 23:48
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Like other ancient books, we only have copies (of copies of copies) of the Septuagint. So, at a basic level, no, there is no official Septuagint. Scholars attempt to reconstruct a text based on an examination of the variants in the texts that we have.

A further complication with the Septuagint, however, is that, although we think of it as a single work, there were several revisions to the Septuagint (all of them attested only sporadically). The Wikipedia page has some good explanations of these issues. For more depth, Jobes and Silva's Invitation to the Septuagint is a great resource.

The upshot is that it is difficult to know, e.g., which version of the text a given ancient person would have had in front of them. Suppose a quotation by Paul doesn't line up exactly with a text that we have: what are the options? He had a different translation? He had the same translation but forgot the exact wording (or didn't care about the exact wording)? He was translating from the Hebrew on-the-fly? All of those are options; scholars can make a case for one or the other, but (in truth) it comes down to educated guesswork.

For scholarly purposes, it is common to use the Ralhfs-Hanhart edition of the Septuagint. This edition includes a text critical apparatus. The New English Translation of the Septuagint is a valuable English translation; conveniently, it is available for download at the link.

Depending on the context, one could refer to the Septuagint version in question. If you see a reference like “LXX (A)”, for instance, that is probably referring to Aquila's version. But if no point is under dispute, one would just refer to “the Septuagint”. (After all, there are many contexts in which it's appropriate to refer to “the Bible” with no further qualification.) It really comes down to whether the writer considers it important or not.

  • 1
    Well, yes, in principle one could refer to the Septuagint version in question, but if no point is under dispute I don't think anyone would. (After all, there are many contexts in which it's appropriate to refer to “the Bible” with no further qualification.) It really comes down to whether the writer considers it important or not. – adam.baker Dec 18 '17 at 7:53
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    For Paul, no we don't know. We can guess based on the words he used. If the words don't line up exactly with a text that we have, what are the options? He had a different translation? He had the same translation but forgot the exact wording (or didn't care about the exact wording)? He was translating from the Hebrew on-the-fly? All of those are options; scholars can make a case for one or the other, but (in truth) it comes down to educated guesswork. – adam.baker Dec 18 '17 at 7:55
  • I incorporated the comment stuff into the answer. And yes, across SE, I often find the reactions to particular questions puzzling! – adam.baker Dec 19 '17 at 6:53
  • There is a cult with the Christian Orthodox churches that suggest or strongly assert that "the septuagint" is more original than the Masoret. – Cynthia Avishegnath Dec 19 '17 at 12:47
  • @CynthiaAvishegnath - "more original" in what sense? – user33515 Dec 19 '17 at 22:57
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I don't know if I can improve on the other excellent answer to this question, other than to address the issue of what version of the Septuagint GREEKS (at least Greek Orthodox Christians) actually consider "official".

There are two versions in use:

  • A version published by the Apostoliki Diakonia in Greece by the Greek Orthodox Church. It is available online here. It is based on the Rahlf's edition, with some corrections made to reflect how some verses were quoted in antiquity (c. 80-400 or so) by Church Fathers.

  • An 1821 version that was originally published in Moscow, based on the Codex Alexandrinus. It is not available online. It might be available from some Greek publisher, but I don't know which.

A discussion on one Orthodox forum provided the following background:

The Orthodox LXX text is Published currently by two organizations. The First being the Apostoliki Diakonia with is the publishing and evangilation arm of the Greek Orthodox Church of Greece. The Second is the ZOE BROTHERHOOD which although their members are pious Greek Orthodox Christians and members of the Church of Greece are NOT affiliated with them. Both text, minus the footnotes, are exactly the same. The footnotes are 95% the same with the ZOE BROTHERHOOD LXX text, which still has the better notes.

The LXX text used by the Church of Greece is Alfred Rahlf's Septuaginta text made to conform as much as possible to traditional Orthodox renderings of the LXX as found in the writings of the Fathers and the Lucianic LXX text tradition, which was highly favored by many important Church Fathers such as St. John Chrystostom and others from Antioch and its shere of influence, as well as the liturgical readings of the LXX in the Church.

The LXX text was modified by Archmandrite Vambas with latter modifications and revisions done by professors and clergy from the University of Athens and Thessaloniki. Thus, this is the Modified-Rahlf's Septuaginta text is the Official LXX text of the Church of Greece and the Patriarch of Constandinople. However, only the Church of Greece has officially endorsed it by placing a Holy Synodial seal on the text. The Patriarchate has only put an official seal/endorsement on the New Testament Text. This makes sense as the LXX was corrected, modified and revised in Greece and the NT was modified, corrected and revised in Constantinople.

Mt. Athos, an autonomous pan-Orthodox monastic center within Greece, falls under the Patriarchate of Constantinople and not the autonomous Church of Greece, so its practices are a little different:

The Church of Greece's LXX text is NOT the LXX text used most often on the Holy Mountain [Mt. Athos]. The Moscow edition of 1821 is the prefered LXX text which is mostly a re-print of Codex Alexandrinus. The Church of Greece LXX text is the better LXX text, but the Monks received this text sortly after the Ottoman yoke was lifted and have used it ever since. The monks are very conservative to say the least. This is not to say that many monks on Mt. Athos don't use the Synod LXX text, because they do, its just that the majority of monks do not. In any event for your purposes it does not matter as the Moscow LXX text is nowhere to be found on the net.

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