General Introduction: To the Reader of NETS
The use of the term "Septuagint" in the title of the New English Translation of the Septuagint (NETS) requires some justification. According to legend (1) it was seventy(-two) Jerusalem elders who at the behest of King Ptolemy II (285-246 BCE) and with the consent of High Priest Eleazar translated the Scriptures of Egyptian Jewry into Greek from a Jerusalem manuscript inscribed in gold. The event is said to have occurred on the island of Pharos in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Alexandria and have taken seventy-two days. "Scripture," however, comprised only the so-called five books of Moses, also known as the Pentateuch. Other books were translated in subsequent centuries and also other locations, and in time the entire anthology became popularly known as "the translation of the seventy," irrespective of the precise origin of individual books.
Not surprisingly then, though the various parts of "the translation of the seventy" have many features in common, it is also true that, as modern scholarship has increasingly shown, there is wide-ranging diversity and heterogeneity within the collection -- to the point that some scholars now question the continued use of the term "Septuagint," which perhaps to the unwary reader, might suggest a greater degree of uniformity than can be demonstrated. Though "Old Greek" would undoubtedly be a more suitable term to refer, in the case of each individual book or translation unit, to the earliest rendition into Greek, the NETS Translation Committee has bowed to the weight of tradition and has thus continued the use of the term "Septuagint."
WHY A NEW ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF THE SEPTUAGINT?
Only two English translations of the Septuagint, albeit in modified form, have ever been published. The first was by the American businessman-scholar Charles Thomson and published together with his translation of the New Testament in 1808 (2) and the second by the British cleric Sir Lancelot Charles Lee Brenton. (3) Thomson's rendition excludes the so-called deutero-canonical books, but does feature Ps 151. The order of books is that of the Hebrew canon. His translation was based indirectly -- via J. Field's edition of 1665 and the Sixtine edition of 1587 -- on a single manuscript, namely, the well-known fourth century CE manuscript Codex Vaticanus (B). No preface or notes of any kind were appended.
Brenton's work, though it appeared some thirty-five years later than Thomson's, acknowledges only cursory and indirect acquaintance with it. As the title indicates, it too is (indirectly) based on Codex Vaticanus. In the Preface Brenton gives the Valpy edition of 1819 as his immediate source, which in turn was based on the Sixtine edition. Like Thomson, Brenton translated only the books of the Hebrew canon, plus Psalm 151, and ordered them accordingly. For Esther, however, he did not excise the Additions, as Thomson had done. Notes of various kinds, embedded in the text, include variants from the fifth century Codex Alexandrinus (A) as well as comments on the Hebrew and Greek texts.
Of the two translations, Brenton's has easily been the more influential and, though not originally published with facing Greek and English texts, has long been made available as a diglot with both versions in parallel columns.
Since the publication of these two translations, now more than one hundred and fifty years ago, significant advances have been made in Greek lexicography, numerous ancient manuscripts have come to light, and important steps have been taken in recovering the pristine text of each Septuagint book. By way of comparison it may be noted that whereas both Thomson and Brenton were based on (essentially) diplomatic editions of a single manuscript, the critical edition of the Göttingen Septuagint for the book of Genesis rests on a foundation of some one hundred and forty manuscripts (nine pre-dating the fourth century CE), ten daughter-versions, plus biblical citations in Greek literature. A new translation of the Septuagint into English is, consequently, not only much needed for biblical studies but is in fact long overdue.
NETS AND THE NEW REVISED STANDARD VERSION.
Ancient texts, including biblical texts, have been translated from time immemorial, and the need for such work continues. What is often less clear is the precise reading-public a translation should target. Because of its widely varied audience, this is perhaps especially true for biblical literature. Writing specifically on the topic of Bible translations, Nida and Taber ( 4) envisaged no fewer than three such audiences. "It is usually necessary to have three types of Scriptures: (1) a translation which will reflect the traditional usage and be used in the churches, largely for liturgical purposes (this may be called an 'ecclesiastical translation'), (2) a translation in the present -day literary language, so as to communicate to the well-educated constituency, and (3) a translation in the 'common' or 'popular' language, which is known to and used by the common people, and which is at the same time acceptable as a standard for published materials."
NETS is aimed primarily at the reading public identified in Nida and Taber's second grouping, namely, a biblically well-educated audience, on the assumption that it is most probably this audience that has a more than passing interest in biblical traditions other than their own. Since NETS has been based, however, on the New Revised Standard Version (1989), its character can be said to derive, in part at least, from the NRSV. That an existing English translation of the Hebrew Bible should have been used as a base for NETS perhaps needs some justification. Why not, it might be suggested, simply translate the Septuagint in the tradition of Thomson and Brenton, without any overt dependence on an English translation of the Hebrew? The answer to this question is based, the Committee believes, on considerations of both principle and practicality. First, the considerations of principle.
While it is obvious that the so-called Septuagint in time achieved its independence from its Semitic parent and that it at some stage shed its subservience to its source, it is equally true that it was in its inception a Greek translation of a Hebrew (or Aramaic) original. That is to say, the Greek had a dependent and subservient linguistic relationship to its Semitic parent. More particularly, for the vast majority of Septuagint books this linguistic relationship can best be conceptualized as a Greek inter-linear translation of a Hebrew original within a Hebrew-Greek diglot. Be it noted immediately, however, that the terms "interlinear" and "diglot" are intended to be nothing more than visual aids to help the reader conceptualize the linguistic relationship that is deemed to exist between the Hebrew original and the Greek translation. In other words, "interlinear" is a metaphor and as such it points not to the surface meaning of its own components but to a deeper, less visual, linguistic relationship of dependence and subservience. Be it noted further, that the deeper linguistic reality, which the metaphor attempts to make more tangible, is in no way contingent on the existence of a physical, interlinear entity in 3-1 BCE. What precise physical format the linguistic relationship took historically we may never know. A variety of possibilities is not difficult to imagine.
Looked at from a different perspective, NETS is presupposing a Greek translation which aimed at bringing the reader to the Hebrew original rather than bringing the Hebrew original to the reader. (5) Consequently, the Greek's subservience to the Hebrew may be seen as indicative of its aim.
NETS has been based on the interlinear paradigm for essentially two reasons. First, this paradigm best explains the "translationese" Greek of the Septuagint with its strict, often rigid quantitative equivalence to the Hebrew. As Conybeare and Stock ( 6) (and others) noted nearly a century ago, Septuagintal Greek is often "hardly Greek at all, but rather Hebrew in disguise," especially in its syntax. Secondly, the interlinear paradigm of Septuagint origins makes it legitimate for the NETS translator to draw on the Hebrew parent text as an arbiter of meaning, when appropriate. "Translationese" is here a purely descriptive, linguistic term, meant to indicate that typically the Greek of the LXX is different in kind from standard Greek used for original compositions in the Hellenistic period. Furthermore, NETS rejects the notion that the Greek of the Septuagint simply reflects the language of Alexandrian Jewry, even for the basic pentateuchal books.
Thus whatever else one might consider the LXX to be -- a repository of textual variants to the Masoretic Text, the oldest "commentary" on the Hebrew Bible, Holy Writ for Hellenistic Jewry and, later, for Christianity -- the Committee decided to focus on the most original character of this collection, namely, that of interlinearity with and dependence on the Hebrew; or, from a slightly different angle, that Septuagint which constitutes stage one in the history of the Greek Bible. Or yet again, NETS aims to focus on what the translator evidently thought the text to mean, based on the linguistic information that the text provides.
Once the aim and focus of NETS had been decided upon, a methodological directive seemed unavoidable. If NETS was to render into English the Greek half of the Hebrew-Greek diglot posited as the paradigm, its English text should then be similarly "interlinear to" a modern English translation of the current Hebrew text. Put another way, since NETS was to echo the original dependent relationship of the Greek upon the Hebrew, one could do no better than to begin by basing NETS on an existing English translation of the Hebrew.
But if Septuagint origins can best be understood in terms of the interlinear paradigm, it follows that, characteristically for interlinears, one should read this original Septuagint with one eye on the parent member of the diglot, namely, the Hebrew. Thus what this Septuagint says, and how it says it, can only be understood in its entirety with the help of the Hebrew. This interlinearity with and dependence on the Hebrew may be termed the Sitz im Leben of the Septuagint, in contradistinction to its history of interpretation, or better, its reception history. From the NETS perspective these two aspects of the Septuagint are not only distinct but might in fact be termed the apples and oranges of its history.
In the light of what has been argued, it is thus appropriate to think of NETS along the lines of the Göttingen Septuagint: as the Göttingen editors attempt to establish the original form of the Greek text and in so doing draw on the Hebrew for text-critical leverage, so NETS has availed itself of what leverage the Hebrew can provide in establishing the meaning of the Greek. Moreover, just as the form of the original text differed from its later textual descendants, so what the original translator thought his text to mean differed from what later interpreters thought the text to mean.
But in addition to the dictum of principle, there emerged also an intensely practical consideration for basing NETS on an existing English translation of the Hebrew. In the Committee's view, central to the raison d'être of a new translation of the (original) Septuagint -- i.e. a translation of a translation -- is its synoptic potential. That is to say, users of such a translation, especially in light of the diglot paradigm, should be able to utilize it to the greatest degree achievable (within set parameters) in a comparative study of the Hebrew and Greek texts, albeit in English translation. This aim could best be realized, the Committee believed, if English translations of the Hebrew and the Greek were as closely interrelated as the two texts themselves dictate or warrant, both quantitatively and qualitatively. In other words, ideally the user of NETS would be able to determine not only matters of longer or shorter text and major transpositions of material, but also questions of more detailed textual, interpretational, and stylistic difference. Needless to say, the Committee harbors no illusions about this goal having been fully reached.
Given the above decision, essentially two options were open: (1) one could first translate the MT into English and then use this translation as the basis for an English translation of the Greek, or (2) one could use an existing English translation of the MT as a point of departure. Clearly the latter route recommended itself as being the more practical and economical one. It was, furthermore, difficult for the Committee to see how the work of the committees of scholars that have produced the major English translations of the Hebrew could be significantly improved upon.
NETS AS REVISED NRSV
Two considerations have guided the Committee in choosing an English version as a base text for NETS: (1) general compatibility of translational approach with that of the LXX and (2) widespread use among readers of the Bible. The New Revised Standard Version, based as it is on the maxim "as literal as possible, as free as necessary" (Preface x), was thought to be reasonably well suited to NETS purposes on both counts. Consequently, throughout those Septuagint books which have extant counterparts in Hebrew (or Aramaic), NETS translators have sought to retain the NRSV to the extent that the Greek text, in their understanding of it, directs or permits.
When NETS differs from the NRSV, the reason is typically one of five: (1) the lexical choice of the NRSV to represent the Hebrew differs significantly from that of the Greek translator's, even though either rendering, independently, might be regarded as an adequate translation of the same Hebrew; (2) differences in translational approach between the translators of the NRSV and the ancient Greek translators has occasioned noteworthy differences between the two versions, (for example, in any given passage, the Greek may be hyper-literalistic, where the NRSV is not, or again it may be very free, which the NRSV is not); (3) an attempt to reflect linguistic features in the Greek, such as word echoes or paratactic style, at times has required that the NRSV wording be revised; (4) the Greek translator has apparently rendered a text at variance with MT, due to textual difference; (5) the NRSV has not translated MT, but opted instead for some other reading. Naturally, where, in such instances, the NRSV has adopted the reading of the Septuagint, NETS and NRSV agree, though not because their parent texts agree! As a rule such cases have been annotated in the NRSV, but the reader should, of course, not take for granted that the precise English word used by the NRSV has necessarily been adopted by NETS.
As explained in the NRSV's preface to the reader, its Committee has sought to eliminate masculine-oriented language to the extent that this does not violate the textual and cultural integrity of biblical passages. Inclusive third-person plurals have thus often been introduced in the NRSV where the Hebrew is thought to allow such an interpretation. Similarly, at times explicit referents have been added for the purpose of fostering a certain understanding of the original; or singular nouns have been rendered as plurals (and vice versa) for reasons of English style or usage. The NETS translators' rule of thumb in such matters has been not to modify the NRSV without good reason but, nonetheless, to reflect the Greek as accurately as possible. Consequently, inclusive third-person plurals, as well as stylistic plurals or singulars and explicit referents, have been kept where justifiable, when the Hebrew and Greek texts agree. Conversely, when these two primary texts disagree, an effort has been made to reflect such disagreement in NETS. NETS, for example, has not hesitated to introduce gender-specific language when the Greek is seen to demand it. In other words, NETS has done its best to have deviations from the NRSV count as differences between the NRSV and the Greek, between the Greek and the Hebrew, or again between the NRSV and MT -- whatever the precise reason for such difference. In sum, the operating principle for NETS in its use of the NRSV has been: Retain what you can, change what you must. Be it noted, however, that retention and revision may apply to items of style as well as to questions of lexical meaning.
The Committee's desire to enable the reader to make use of NETS in synoptic manner with the NRSV, has been second only to its commitment to giving a faithful rendering of the Greek original. In fact, NETS may be said to have two competing aims: (1) to create a tool in English for the synoptic study of the Hebrew and Greek texts of the Bible and (2) to give as faithful a translation of the Greek as is possible, both in terms of its meaning and in terms of its mode of expression. Since these are competing aims, the translator often, especially on the expression side, has been called upon to do a balancing act.
TRANSLATING A TRANSLATION
Translating an ancient text can only be described as a profoundly difficult undertaking. Not only do translators have to contend with the natural gulf that exists between languages and with the absence of the authors who wrote the pieces in question, but they also suffer from the lack of native speakers of the ancient languages, who might be cajoled into giving some much needed help. Consequently, what the modern translator of an ancient text is trying to do is something like starting up a one-way conversation, or a monologue that passes for a dialogue. Translation, as someone has aptly noted, is an act of hybris.
The difficulties of the undertaking are certainly not decreased when one attempts to translate an ancient translation into a modern language. If translating?any translating?is an act of interpreting, as linguists insist it is, rather than a simple transferring of meaning, a Greek interpretation of a Hebrew original can be expected to reflect what the translator understood the Hebrew text to mean. The end result is therefore inevitably to some degree a commentary written at a specific historical time and place by an individual person, whose understanding of the Hebrew will often have been at variance with our own, though at times perhaps equally viable.
But as has already been suggested by the interlinear paradigm, much of the Septuagint is a translation of a special kind. Thus whereas a translation that replaces the original can be counted on to "solve" the problems of the original, in an interlinear rendition these may simply be passed on to the reader. In fact new problems may often be created because of its inherent preoccupation with representing as much of the linguistic detail of the original as possible. All of this is not to say that the interlinear type of translators of the LXX had no concern for making sense, but simply that the interlinear language-game of the ancient translator has added an extra dimension to the problems faced by the modern translator. The notion of Sitz im Leben, introduced earlier, comprises inter alia certain realities of the source language, Hebrew (or Aramaic). Just as inappropriate as accusing the interlinear translator of lacking concern for making sense would be to saddle him with inadequate knowledge of Greek, since his use of Greek is determined by the aim he wishes to achieve.
The paradigm of Septuagint origins as an interlinear text within a Hebrew-Greek diglot, in contradistinction to the Septuagint as a free-standing, independent text now calls for a further distinction alluded to earlier, namely, that between its Sitz im Leben or constitutive character on the one hand and its reception history on the other. The distinction is important because it demarcates two distinct approaches to the Greek text. That is to say, one can either seek to uncover the meaning of the Greek text in terms of its constitutive character (i.e. in terms of its interlinear dependence on the Hebrew), or one can aim at rendering the meaning of the text from the perspective of its reception history (i.e. in terms of its independence and self-sufficiency). The difference between the two may be simply illustrated. Though the entire Greek language community of 3-1 centuries BCE would agree that Greek DYNAMIS sometimes means "host/army" but at other times means "might/strength," which component of meaning was right for which context might well be a matter of dispute. From the perspective of the Septuagint text as an independent, self-sufficient entity, context is recognized as the sole arbiter of meaning. That is to say, should the context speak of military might, duvnami" would be translated by "army," but if the (Greek) context be about bodily strength instead, DYNAMIS would be rendered by "strength." On the other hand, from the perspective of the Septuagint as a dependent, subservient entity, one could not agree that context is the sole arbiter of meaning. What if context should admit either reading and thus fail to steer the reader into one direction or the other? In that case, based on our diglot model, the Hebrew parent text would be the arbiter in the dispute. Should the underlying Hebrew have SBA ("army, war, warfare"), Greek DYNAMIS should be understood as "host/army," but if the Hebrew be OZ ("strength, might") instead, DYNAMIS would have to be understood as meaning "might/strength." An even simpler example is the distinction between the Greek pronouns "us" and "you"(pl.) (e.g. HEMON and HYMON) which, due to their identical pronunciation in post Classical Greek, are frequently confused in Greek manuscripts. Which of the two is to be regarded as original LXX can often be determined only by using the Hebrew as arbiter. The latter example underscores the analogy between NETS and the Göttingen Septuagint.
Perhaps the most obvious examples of Septuagintal dependence (as opposed to independence) are cases in which, due to the ambiguity inherent in Greek grammar, only the syntactic relationships (e.g. subject or object role) of the Hebrew can guide the English translator to what the Greek text means. Thus a sentence such as TO PAIDION EIDEN might mean either "the child saw" or "(s)he saw the child."
The distinction between the text as an independent entity or the text as a dependent entity is, therefore, not only a valid one in terms of the NETS paradigm but, in the Committee's view, is an important methodological stance for translators of the (original) Septuagint, with frequent practical consequences for NETS. Differently put, one can either treat the LXX as though it were an original or one can treat it as a translation of an original in a non-Greek language. Though both are worthy undertakings in their own right, NETS perceives them as fundamentally different.
Constitutive character or Sitz im Leben is a figure for socio-linguistic realities. As such it includes not only what, judging from the language used, the text overtly means but also what at times resulted covertly from the model that informed the translator's work. Again, inherent in the model of the LXX as an interlinear rendition is the word-by-word method of translating, including the so-called structural words (articles, prepositions, conjunctions). Also to be expected in an interlinear translation are standard and stereotypical equations between Hebrew and Greek words, again often including structural words. For these reasons and more, though the LXX is in Greek, there is also much that is decidedly un-Greek. "The voice is Jacob's but the hands are Esau's" (Gen 27:22) is a statement aptly applied to most of the Septuagint.
HOW NETS DETERMINES WHAT THE GREEK MEANS
Simply put NETS has been governed by five lexical guidelines, which can be made to apply as well, mutatis mutandis, to the grammar of Septuagint Greek, and all of them are implicit in or concordant with the posited interlinear paradigm of Septuagint origins. (1) Greek words in the LXX normally mean what they mean in Greek of that time (statistically the vast majority of the lexical stock belongs here); (2) the precise nuance of Greek words is sometimes arbitrated by the Hebrew parent text (see the DYNAMIS and HEMON/HYMON illustrations above); (3) some Greek words, when they are used rigidly as uniform renderings of the corresponding Hebrew words, fit poorly into some of the contexts in which they stand -- these may be dubbed stereotypes (see e.g. "will" [THELEMA] for NRSV's "desire" in Ps 1:2); (4) some Greek words in the LXX have been selected by the translator solely because of their perceived connection with (a) Hebrew morpheme(s) -- these may be called isolates (see e.g. BY [oh please!] = EN EMOI = "in/with me" in 1Rgns 1:26 et al.); (5) some Greek words in the LXX have Hebrew meanings, i.e. the chief meaning of the Hebrew counterpart has been transferred to the Greek which has then become part of the living language -- these may be labeled calques (see e.g. BRITH = DIATHEKE = "covenant" throughout the LXX, but "will, testament" in extra-biblical Greek). Graphically these guidelines may be represented as follows:
Contextual Isolate renderings------------------Stereotypes//Calques------------------renderingsThe vertical line on the scale represents a semantic demarcation, since words or lexemes placed to the left are always governed by their normal Greek semantic range, while those to the right may be governed by their Hebrew counterparts, though, when such is the case, not by their full semantic range. NETS translators have ordered the linguistic information of the Greek in terms of this scale, and have translated accordingly.
Though the full extent of the scale is represented in all books or translation units of the Septuagint, naturally, not all units show the same distribution profile. Two factors that have exercised a direct influence on a given book's profile are its degree of literalness and its relative chronological placement within the corpus. By literalness is here understood the degree of consistency of Hebrew-Greek verbal equations, as well as the relative number of such one-to-one equations a given book or translation unit features. A book's chronological place within the corpus may be expected to determine the number of calques it contains. That is to say, the later the book the more calques may have been part of its translator's everyday, living lexicon.
Even though, in deference to long-standing usage, the title of the NETS project speaks of the literature as a body, namely, the Septuagint, it has already been noted that the members of this anthology show considerable diversity, the diglot model not withstanding. Thus, Greek translations within it range all the way from highly literal to very free. Moreover, on a scale extending from the prototypical translator, who acts as a mere conduit for his author, to the prototypical author, who composes everything from scratch, Septuagintal writers would be seen scattered along most of its baseline. One finds not only full-fledged authors (e.g. 2 Maccabees and Wisdom of Solomon) who composed their works in Greek, but also bona fide translators who in varying degrees attempted to approximate our prototypical translator. Thus one might note, for example, Ecclesiastes as the most prototypical translator (being very literal) and Job as the least prototypical (being very free). Needless to say, a Joban translator must be labeled part author. NETS introductions to individual books or units are designed to give some detail on the nature of specific translations.
What has been noted in the preceding paragraph draws attention to a number of facts. First, though the paradigm basic to NETS is that of the Septuagint as an interlinear text, it does not follow that all interlinear texts are equally literalistic. Second, there are within the translated corpus exceptions that prove the rule, such as Job, Proverbs, Isaiah, and Esther in part. Third, those books originally composed in Greek, such as 2-4 Maccabees and Wisdom of Solomon, by virtue of not being translations are not governed by the NETS paradigm.
NETS: ITS CHARACTER AND EXTENT
Though NETS is based on the NRSV, it is not intended to be the-NRSV-once-over-lightly but rather a genuine representation of the Greek, reflecting not only its perceived meaning but also, to the extent possible in an English translation, its literary nuggets as well as its infelicities, pleonasms, problems, and conundra. One scarcely expects literary beauty and rhetorical flourish from an interlinear text, since that was not its purpose. In fact, it would make little sense to accuse an interlinear translator of lack of literary sense. When literary beauty occurs it is the exception that proves the rule. Consequently, NETS readers would be remiss in expecting literary elegance in the English. That would have required, from the NETS perspective, a different Greek. Since the Septuagint, with a few exceptions, was not originally composed in Greek and often used unidiomatic Greek, a fully idiomatic translation into English can scarcely be justified. NETS is consequently more a translation of formal correspondence than one of dynamic equivalence. All in all, what readers can expect is a reasonable facsimile of the (original) Septuagint such as it is, including many of its warts.
The reason for the NETS approach is integral to the NETS aim: that of reflecting the Septuagint's constitutive character or Sitz im Leben and of attempting to capture the incipit of the history of interpretation of the Greek Bible. Implicit in this aim has been a concerted effort not to make the Greek text say more than is strictly warranted, but to leave such elaboration to later stages of exegesis or eisegesis, as the case may be.
Names have been treated in essentially two ways, both concordant with the NETS paradigm of Septuagint origins: (1) when a name is a "Greek" name, whether because of general use in the Hellenistic world or because of full adaptation to Greek morphology, NETS has given the standard equivalent in English usage (e.g. Egypt and Jebusites); (2) when a name is essentially a transcription from Hebrew (or Aramaic), NETS has given an English transcription (e.g. Dauid and Salomon), with minor adjustments to English phonology when a Greek name has been inflected for case (e.g. Judas rather than Iudas). A full list of NETS names and NRSV equivalents can be found on the NETS homepage: http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/nets/ [not yet available]
Since the Septuagint collection includes translations from extant Hebrew (Aramaic) sources and translations of lost Semitic works, as well as books originally composed in Greek, the Committee has decided to be inclusive. To cite the NETS Statement of Principles (art. 3): "For the purposes of NETS, the term 'Septuagint' is understood to be exemplified by, but not in all respects . . . congruent with, Alfred Rahlfs' Septuaginta (1935)."
One "book" not included in NETS, however, is Odes since it has dubious integrity as a literary unit, and, in any case, almost all of the individual Septuagint odes have already been included in their native setting in other books. The sole exception is Ode 12 in Rahlfs' edition, the Prayer of Manasse, which for that reason has been included as a separate item.
The one major addition to Rahlfs has been the so-called Alpha-Text of Esther. Here and elsewhere the Committee has been guided by the Göttingen Septuagint, which has presented two Greek texts of Esther in parallel. While it is true that in Esther and in certain other books (Tobit, for example) it is most unlikely that both texts can lay equal claim to originality, the texts that have been transmitted clearly defy conflation. Furthermore, even though the Committee aims to present the original Septuagint or Old Greek in English translation, here too it has not been oblivious to the weight of tradition. Thus, though in Job the Septuagint has been presented as the main text of NETS, the asterisked materials, sanctioned solely by ecclesiastical usage, have been included, albeit in footnotes. For the same reason, the so-called Greek 2 text of Sirach, added in small print in Ziegler's edition, has been included. Similar procedures have been followed in other books (see Introductions to individual books). A special effort has been made, in the case of books with parallel Greek texts to reflect their interrelationships in English. Clearly where no parent texts are extant, whether because they have been lost or because they never existed, no comparison can be attempted between (Semitic) original and (Greek) translation. Thus, whether a book has been composed originally in Greek or is based on a lost original, it has been treated as an original, even though an effort has been made to reflect its style. Similarly, since the synoptic aim of NETS is not applicable in these cases, the NRSV has not necessarily functioned as the base text for the NETS translator, though certain basic NETS practices and procedures have been carried through, especially in terms of translation style.
Since NETS claims to be a translation of the Greek text as it left the hands of its respective translators -- or a "Göttingen Septuagint in English form" -- it stands to reason that NETS has been based on the best available (critical) editions. That is to say, where available, NETS has used the Göttingen Septuagint; Margolis has been deemed best for Joshua, and Rahlfs' manual edition is used for the remainder of the books. In the event that new and improved critical editions appear during the life of the project, the Committee is committed to using these, if at all possible. But since no edition, no matter how carefully and judiciously executed, can lay claim to being the definitive text of the Greek translator, NETS translators have from time to time sought to improve on their respective base texts. Just how much will have been changed, varies with the quality of the edition used. All such deviations, however, have been meticulously noted.
Since NETS has been based on the NRSV it stands to reason that some of the latter's editorial policy has been continued.
More specifically the NRSV for its so-called Old Testament segment has maintained the traditional distinction between shall (should) and will (would) and NETS has followed suit.
Though the NRSV adopted the practice of distinguishing between the Hebrew divine names Yahweh and Adonai by means of printing "LORD" and "Lord" as respective equivalents, NETS has continued this practice only where it can be shown that the Greek translator made a comparable distinction between Yahweh and Adonai. Otherwise Greek KYRIOS has been routinely represented by English "Lord."
The format of footnoting in the NRSV has been followed in NETS, though the specific content is often of a different kind. In NETS footnotes are generally of five kinds: (1) deviations from the Greek text; (2) linguistic items in the English but lacking in the Greek; (3) graded (in terms of preference) alternative translations to the lemma text; (4) clarifications; (5) indications of an obscure Greek text.
Deviations from the Greek text have been further divided into additions, omissions, and transpositions. All three kinds of deviations from the Greek edition used are followed by an equal sign (=) in order to indicate the source of the variation without implying exact equivalence. Substitutions for obvious reasons have not been tagged as such.
Items in the English that are explicitly lacking in the Greek have been included when the information is judged to be implicit. When, however, added items may have some possible bearing on the interpretation of the text, they have been tagged. Hence the employment of this category is one of several ways in which NETS has sought to present the reader with the maximum of interpretational openness the Greek translator's text offers.
The category of other translations comprises alternative renderings of the Greek which are deemed to have varying degrees of warrant in the Greek. These degrees, in descending order of acceptability, have been marked as (a) alternative rendering (to the NETS text) marked by "or", (b) alternative rendering preceded by "possibly", (c) alternative rendering preceded by "perhaps". Again, the intent here is to present translation options supported by the Greek.
Clarifications are intended to communicate useful information to the reader. They are preceded by "i.e.", or are phrased more explicitly.
The flagging of uncertainty in the Greek text has been a measure of last resort and has been used very sparingly, since it is of very limited help to the reader. Items so marked are typically clear from a textual point of view but very obscure as to their coherent sense.
Chapter and verse numbers in NETS follow those of the particular Greek text edition that has been used as base. The numbering of the NRSV, which often though not always follows MT, has been supplied in parentheses when different.
Since the NT regularly cites the Septuagint and synoptic use of the Bible is an important aim of NETS, translators have made an effort to align NETS and the NRSV NT in such cases, using similar principles to those outlined above.
SIGLA AND ABBREVIATIONS
For the Translation Committee,