PLUSES AND MINUSES CAUSED BY A DIFFERENT VORLAGE

Author anon.
"Everyone engaged in the study of ancient Bible translations knows how complicated this research is made by the everlasting uncertainty surrounding the origin of variant readings. Have they been caused by the translator himself or by an underlying Hebrew text that was different from the MT? This complication also affects the Greek translation of Isaiah. Even if there is some consensus on the idea that the majority of its numerous variants are the achievement of the translator, the possibility of a different Vorlage should not too easily be dismissed."

Note by F. P Miller

The above quotation leaves open the idea that the LXX (Septuagint) translation of the book of Isaiah differs greatly from the Hebrew text because the translator viewed a different text or source called here a "vorlage." The reason for this is the obvious many thoughts in the LXX version of Isaiah widely differing from the received or Masoretic text. The translation of Isaiah does differ very greatly. However that is not the only book of the Old Testament that has widely differing ideas in the LXX. For instance the Book of Daniel was much more faulty, a complaint that lasted for centuries. The Hebrew text was never in doubt but the LXX was so far removed from the Masoretic or received text so that the translation was done again by Jewish scholars in the 2nd century after Christ. This is explained by one scholar this way,

"In most ancient copies of the Bible which contain the Septuagint version of the Old Testament, the Book of Daniel is not the original Septuagint version, but instead is a copy of Theodotion's translation from the Hebrew, which more closely resembles the Masoretic text. The Septuagint version was discarded in favour of Theodotion's version in the 2nd to 3rd centuries CE.

Now however Isaiah has not been retranslated in the LXX to correct its errors but continues to be in its obviously faulty form. In conculsion: Since the variations in the Book of Daniel were blamed on the translators then should not the variations in the LXX Isaiah also be blamed on inexperienced scholars? One obvious element illustrating an editor untrained in language is that there is very often no transition of thought from one verse to another. It is as though each verse is a random thought having no dependance on what preceeded or is in the next verse. This is seen especially in chapters 29 to 34. In my opinion after translating the Greek version of Isaiah in the LXX myself into English I conclude it is sloppy translating by a sloppy translator inexperienced in one of the languages if not both, and not evidence of a different "vorlage."

After chapter 40 in Isaiah these same anomalies are less frequent but are not completely irradicated and there is more or less a better correspondance with the content of the received text but not accurately translated. However the liberty and a cavilier attitude in picking and choosing words and structure is still apparent. The use of some Hebrew idioms like the repetition of the same Hebrew word as infinitive and verb together is seen which is used in Hebrew to emphasize an action. This is observed often and is not proper Greek grammar. There are also difficult constructions which result from the translator very often useing noun noun as a Hebrew construct would be used. Like "adornment bride" in Isa 49:18 which would be understood as "the adornment of a bride" in Hebrew but is not proper Greek grammar and therefore not really translatable and which further illustrates incompetency in the languages.

However from chapter 55 to at least chapter 62 there is much greater corresponcance and similarity to the masoretic or received text which is greatly different from what preceded in earlier chapters. So that it may be assumed that a different translator's hand may be acting. But there is still evidence of interpretive translating and the appearance of language forms close to Hebrew idiom, such as doubling words for emphasis.