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The Greek of the Septuagint: A Supplemental Lexicon (review)

From: Hebrew Studies
Volume 53, 2012
pp. 394-396 | 10.1353/hbr.2012.0030

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This lexicon was a labor of love over a quarter of a century by a man who does not earn his keep in the academy, but instead in financial services. Gary Alan Chamberlain was motivated to do this work by his "interest in understanding the Scriptures," and "the method and the goal of preparing this lexicon have been the reading of the LXX text itself (alongside the Hebrew Bible, the Greek NT, and not infrequently the Vulgate) with the prayerful attention the Benedictines call lectio divina" (p. xxix). However, Chamberlain has also read the LXX critically, reviewing every textual variant in the apparatus of Rahlf's LXX along the way. He has also employed many of the main resources available for biblical and classical scholarship, especially lexical resources. His goal is ultimately to complete a full lexicon of the Greek of the LXX, which would give precise parallels for all LXX meanings wherever such exist in Greek literature (p. x). In this review, I will attempt to summarize his preface ("The Design and Use of This Lexicon," pp. vii-x) and his introduction ("The Character of the Septuagint Vocabulary," pp. xi-xxix) and then briefly evaluate his lexicon.

Chamberlain's lexicon is meant to be a supplement to BDAG (W. Bauer, F. W. Danker, W. F. Arndt, and F. W. Gingrich. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature [3rd ed.; Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000]), like G. W. H. Lampe's lexicon (A Patristic Greek Lexicon [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1961-1968]) is meant to be a supplement to Liddell/Scott/Jones (LSJ; the last edition of which is H. G. Liddel and R. Scott. A Greek English Lexicon [9th ed. with a revised supplement; revised by H. S. Jones; Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996]). Chamberlain is aware of recent LXX lexicons, and he employs Lust, Eynikel, and Hauspie (J. Lust, E. Eynikel, and K. Hauspie, A Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint [2 vols.; Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1992 and 1996]); however, Muraoka's excellent LXX lexicon (T. Muraoka, A Greek English Lexicon to the Septuagint [Louvain: Peeters, 2009]) was not completed until shortly before the publication of Chamberlain's, and thus there is no evidence of its use in Chamberlain's lexicon that I can see. (It is not listed in the abbreviations for his main sources. It also appears Chamberlain did not use the two earlier editions of Muraoka's lexicon [1993 and 2002]). In order to supplement BDAG for the LXX, Chamberlain employs the following four principles. First, he does not treat the most common Greek words, since the range of meaning of these words is essentially the same in the LXX as is given in BDAG, and readers with a modest command of New Testament Greek should need no help with them. Second, for less common words which occur in early Christian literature in the sense they are found in the LXX, the reader can almost always find the LXX meaning in BDAG; thus he does not treat these words either. Third, when the LXX has additional senses for a word that go beyond the range of meaning in BDAG, Chamberlain supplements the discussion in BDAG. Here he provides some help for the LXX reader, which at times differs slightly from the LXX lexicons mentioned above; however, the recent Septuagint lexicons by Lust, Eynikel, and Hauspie and Muraoka would probably be adequate for this class of words. Fourth, Chamberlain has composed new lexical articles for words that are not in BDAG or whose meaning differs substantially from their meaning in the New Testament. Chamberlain's treatment of these words looks like it would be helpful, because he deals with transliterations, proper names, and place names, which Lust, Eynikel, and Hauspie and Muraoka do not do and because of his understanding of LXX Greek. That leads to the second topic of this review, Chamberlain's understanding of the character of the vocabulary of the LXX.

While Chamberlain acknowledges that the syntax of the LXX is "translator syntax," he does not believe the vocabulary of the LXX gives any evidence supporting a special "Jewish-Greek" dialect; it is "demonstrably normal...

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