Baker Academic

Monday, September 16, 2013

When God Spoke Greek—Chris Keith

I just had a copy of When God Spoke Greek: The Septuagint and the Making of the Christian Bible (Oxford University Press) by T. Michael Law land on my desk.  Most of you will know Dr. Law from his unbelievable Marginalia website or incessant quoting of rappers on Facebook.  I’m looking forward to reading this book.  Readers of this blog may think Septuagint studies relate very little to Jesus studies, but they would be wrong.  In some places, Jesus’ citations of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament look like he’s quoting from the LXX.  In other places, it looks like he knows the MT.  I’ll be interested to see if/how Dr. Law addresses these matters.

The back of the cover reads:  “Many of the Hebrew scriptures were still evolving when they were translated into Greek, and these Greek translations, along with several new Greek writings, became Holy Scripture in the early Church.”  In short, Law here offers a full account of the fact that, for the vast majority of the earliest Christians, the LXX was their OT, not the Hebrew texts upon which modern Bible translations are based.


  1. I read through it quickly-- I need to read it again, more slowly. But I appreciate the emphases: the reminder that the Jewish canon was not fixed by the time of Jesus, as is often assumed, is quite important for our understanding of what happened with the Christian writings, and with the so-called Apocrypha.

    Laws points out that the NT writers cite various texts, not just the LXX. Sometimes they quote a Greek text close to the proto-Masoretic Hebrew. He notes that some of the arguments in the NT only "work" with the text type chosen. But he equivocates on the question of whether the writers did this consciously, purposefully. He says it doesn't matter.

    I suspect that some of the choices of text type were in fact conscious. Some are related to the tendentious readings found in the LXX and Old Greek-- like "sojourners" in 1 Peter, probably reflecting OG Psalm 35:5(34:4)[the Lord delivered me from all my "sojourning" {instead of "fears" in the MT}].

    Law's book looks very good. I look forward to hearing what you think. -- Scott Caulley

  2. Good thing God speaks English now.