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The Septuagint. Professor Graetz's theory

The Expository Times 2 (1891) 209

   In the April issue of The Expository Times, notice was taken of a remarkable article which appeared in the Jewish Quarterly Review of October 1890. This article, signed by Professor Graetz, proproses to fix the date of the Greek Pentateuch (ⅬⅩⅩ.) as late as the fifth decade of the second century b.c. The importance of the question thus opened seems to justify some examination of the arguments on which Dr. Graetz bases his theory.
    His contention is briefly as follows. The translation was made under the auspices of an Alexandrian king. But since it accentuates the antagonism of the Pharisees and Sadducees, which arose out of the Maccabean wars, the work cannot have been executed before the days of Jonathan (161-143), and belongs to the reign of Ptolemy Philometer (d. 146), well known as a supporter of the Jews, and patron of the Onias who founded the temple at Leontopolis. Each of these conclusions hinges upon a verbal critiscism.

1. The use of ἄρχων and ἀρχή to represent מֶלֶךְ and מַמְלָכָה Deut. 17,14-19 disposes Professor Graetz to accept the statement of ‘Aristeas’ so far as to admit that the version was made at Alexandria, under the auspices of a Ptolemy. Such a sentence as (15) ἐκ τῶν ἀδελφῶν σου καταστήσεις ἐπὶ σεαυτὸν βασιλέα might have had a suspicious sound in the ears of a foreign king, and the wary translator wrote ἄρχοντα. Thrice in this context ἄρχων stands for βασιλεύς; and ἀρχή is twice used for βασιλεία.
    But the force of this argument is at least much weakened by a glance at other contexts. Ἄρχων is used to translate מֶלֶךְ in Gen. 49,20 (Ἀσὴρ ... αὐτὸς δώσει τρυφὴν ἄρχουσιν), where it is difficult to believe that the word was preferred out of any tenderness for royal scruples. On the other hand, βασιλεύς holds its own in Gen. 35,11 (βασιλεῖς ἐκ τῆς ὀσφύος σου ἐξελεύσονται). The fact seems to be that the less definite term was occasionally used as a mere synonym for the more exact; comp. Sirach 46,13-16 (προφήτης Κυρίου κατέστησεν βασιλέα [v.l. βασιλείαν], καὶ ἔχρισεν ἄρχοντας ἐπὶ τὸν λαὸν αὐτοῦ· The ἄρχοντες are here Saul and David, and the ἀρχή is a βασιλεία.

2. Professor Graetz sees a Pharisaic colouring in Lev. 23,11-16, which indicates a date as late as, if not later than, the middle of the second century. The Pharisees were at variance with the Sadducees as to the interpretation of the phrase ממָּחֳרַת הַשַּׁבָּת, which occurs in vers. 11, 15. Now, in ver. 11 the present text of the ⅬⅩⅩ. distinctly favours the view of the Pharisees rendering τῇ ἐπαύριον τῆς πρώτης, sc. τῶν ἀζύμων (comp. ver. 7 and Matt. 26,17). But are we at liberty to infer that τῆς πρώτης is here the original rendering? Dr. Graetz answers in the affirmative. “When in ver. 17 the same phrase is rendered ἀπὸ τῆς ἐπαύριον τῶν σαββάτων, this must be an interpolation in the ⅬⅩⅩ. by ἄλλος. The original translator could not have been guilty of such gross inconsistency or thoughtlessness as this variation would imply.” It seems to me more likely that τῆς πρώτης in ver. 11 is the gloss, and τῶν σαββάτων the original rendering in both places. Nothing is more common than to find a corrector altering something which is opposed to his own views at its first occurrence, and forgetting to alter it when it occurs again; the converse is certainly less natural. Moreover, τῆς πρώτης in ver. 11 is not in undisputed possession. Dr. Graetz observes that Origin had noticed a variant τοῦ σαββάτου or μετὰ τὸ σάββατον, and this reading reflects itself in a little group of existing cursives (Cod 85mg; comp. Codd. 29, 83, and Ald.). On the other hand, one or two authorities show a disposition to make ver. 15 correspond with the present text of vers. 11 (Cod 85mg, 130*); and it is possible that a similar tendency has been at work in ver. 16, for τῆς ἐσχάτης  can scarcely be an original rendering of הַשְּׁבִיעת and looks like an attempt to set up a contrast to τῆς πρώτης.<Note 1>
    Thus it seems open to a defender of the earlier date of the Greek Pentateuch to invert Dr. Graetz's reasoning, and to argue that τῆς πρώτης in ver. 11 is a Pharisaic gloss of the time of Philometer, which implies the existence of the version in pre-Maccabean times. I refrain from entering upon the questions of external evidence to which his article incidentally refers, and content myself with venturing to express the convinction that the two criticisms on which he principally relies are inadequate to bear the burden of so serious a responsibility.


Note 1: The reading of ἑβδόμης for ἑβδομάδας by Cod. Alexandrinus and the second and third “hands” of Cod. Vaticanus (B* has εβδομαδης), as well as several cursives, suggests an original τῆς ἑγδόμης ἑβδομάδος, with τῆς ἰσχάτης as a variant. There seems to be no trace of the O.L; but the Vulg. attempts, I think, to combine both readings: ‘ad alteram diem expletionis hebdomadæ septimæ.‘