Jobes, Karen H. and Silva, Moisés. Invitation to the Septuagint, 2nd ed. Baker: Grand Rapids, 2015, pp. xxi + 408, $38.00, paperback.
Jobes and Silva’s Invitation to the Septuagint is a thorough and readable introduction to the field of Septuagint studies. Jobes served as professor emerita at Wheaton College and has written extensively on topics related to the Septuagint and the New Testament while Silva has taught at several academic institutions and served as a past president of ETS. He has written extensively in the areas of hermeneutics. Because of the areas of expertise represented by Jobes and Silva, the reader should rightly approach Invitation to the Septuagint with high expectations.
The book is divided into three main sections followed by several extremely helpful appendices and indices. The book begins with a short introduction. The introduction briefly and concisely explains the importance of Septuagint studies and how it relates to the OT and NT (1-9).
The bulk of the book is divided into three sections. Part 1 is a discussion of the history of the Septuagint (chaps. 1-4). Here, the authors introduce the reader to the field. They discuss relevant terms in chapter 1 and introduce the reader to the historical origins of the translation (13-24). Moreover, a helpful discussion of later translations and recensions are discussed in chapter 1 and 2. Modern editions and translations are introduced in chapter 3 while a helpful discussion of the LXX as a translation brings the first part of the work to an end (chap. 4).
Part 2 of the book deals with the Septuagint in biblical studies, and thus, is a discussion of more complex and less elementary topics. The language of the LXX is discussed in chapter 5 and the discipline of textual criticism occupies chapters 6-7. The influence of the discoveries of manuscripts near the Dead Sea and their influence on our understanding of the LXX is found in chapter 8, and a survey of the importance of the LXX for the study of the NT is located in chapter 9. Finally, in chapter 10, the authors illustrate the principles taught throughout the book by means of interpreting three LXX passages (Gen 4:1-8; Isa 52:13-53:12; Est 5:1-2 with addition D).
After introducing the student to the field of the LXX and surveying several more advanced topics, the authors survey the current state of Septuagint studies in part 3 of the book. They do this by first providing biographical details about LXX scholars of past generations (chapter 11). Several current issues are then discussed at the end of the book including the topics of lexicography (chap. 12), syntax (chap. 12), textual criticism (chap. 13), and theology (chap. 14).
Several appendices are worth mentioning. Appendix A lists major LXX organizations and research projects while appendix B is a bibliography of major reference works. There is also a helpful glossary (appendix C), a discussion of versification in appendix D, and a guide to interpreting the apparatus of the Göttingen edition.
Invitation to the Septuagint has several strengths. One unexpected strength is its readability. First, the glossary found in appendix C helps the student become acquainted with terms relevant for the study of the LXX. Translating relevant Greek and Hebrew words, phrases, and verses also facilitates reading and comprehension. Moreover, the bibliographic discussion of past Septuagint scholars added a helpful and personal touch to a field that can be quite technical. Overall, students will enjoy the readability of this work.
Another strength of the book is that it not only teaches helpful principles essential to interpreting the LXX, but it illustrates these principles. Chapter 10 is devoted toward this aim. Effectively, the student has two opportunities to learn the principles of interpreting and using the LXX. First, these principles are taught explicitly throughout the bulk of the book. Second, they are taught implicitly as the authors walk the student through how to interpret and understand the LXX. This pedagogical practice is a clear strength.
Finally, one should mention that the authors include a discussion of the symbol and the abbreviations used in the Göttingen edition of the LXX. The Göttingen edition is a scholarly reconstruction of the LXX with full apparatus (see a discussion of it on pp. 353-355). Reading the apparatus is important since it provides vital information about readings deemed secondary; nonetheless, comprehending the vast amount of data included here is difficult. Therefore, the inclusions of a guide to these symbols and abbreviations is a welcomed and applauded addition to the book (Miles VanPelt is credited with compiling and translating the guide and Jeremiah Coogan has revised and corrected it). The authors have not only introduced the students to the field of the LXX, they have equipped them to use of the fields most important resources.
Overall, Invitation to the Septuagint is a welcomed addition for the beginning and advanced student of the Septuagint. The work successfully introduces the reader to the field in part 1 before guiding them through more complex topics. Students will find this text to be more user friendly than other handbooks to the LXX while providing up-to-date information about the state of the field.