Tuesday, January 31, 2023

WM 264: Review: Lanier & Ross, The Septuagint: What It Is and Why It Matters



This spoken-word review is based on a written draft of this book. Here is an outline for the abbreivated review content:

Gregory R. Lanier and William A. Ross, The Septuagint: What It Is and Why It Matters (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2021): 216 pp.

This book is co-written by New Testament (Lanier) and Old Testament (Ross) professors at Reformed Theological Seminary (Orlando and Charlotte, respectively), and it comes out of an elective course they co-teach on the Septuagint. It provides a helpful review of basic facts about and an informed discussion of the influential ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament known as the Septuagint.

Review of Content:

Structurally, the book consists of two parts: Part 1 (chapters 1-4) answers, “What is the Septuagint?”; Part 2 (chapters 5-7) addresses, “Why does it matter?” The book concludes with an Appendix covering “Ten Key Questions about the Septuagint.”

Four Commendations:

First: The term "Septuagint" is confusing.

Second: To say that the "Septuagint" was "the pew Bible" of the early church is an "oversimplification."

Third: The Apocrypha is not part of the OT canon but can be read with edification to understand Jewish backgrounds for the NT.

Fourth: Quotations from the "Septuagint" in the NT do not mean that the entire "Septuagint" itself is inspired.

A Major Concern:

There is, however, at least one highly significant aspect of this study of the Septuagint that some confessional readers, in particular, might rightly question. This aspect is the authors’ contention that the Septuagint might be used to “reconstruct” the Hebrew text of the Old Testament, or, to use the language in their discussion regarding the framework of authority, that it bears at least some “normative” authority with respect to establishing the text of the Old Testament.

Closing Analysis:

First, this approach appears to clash with the classic Protestant view of the providential preservation of Scripture as outlined in Westminster Confession of Faith 1:8.

Second, this approach is at odds with a distinct tradition in Protestant scholasticism that rejected the use of the Septuagint and other ancient versions to “correct” the traditional text of the Hebrew Old Testament (see Owen and Turretin).

Third, this approach presents a view which many will perceive to be problematic with respect to its proposal of the Septuagint as holding some measure of normative authority for Christianity. 


No comments: