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The Exegetical Method of the Greek Translator of the Book of Job
Donald H. Gard
Publication Date
May 2006


“The writer maintains that the Greek translators, who were working probably at Alexandria, used a Hebrew text which is very similar to M. In its translation of the Hebrew text G makes good sense, although its Greek is at times quite Hebraic in its idiom. We may accordingly assume that the scholars in Alexandria had a good knowledge of Hebrew. Their method of translation and exegesis may be discerned by a careful examination of G in comparison with M, and this study shows that G did not set out to rewrite the Hebrew text. In places where G departs from a literal rendering of the Hebrew, however, G does follow an exegetical method apparently in vogue in Jewish circles at Alexandria and no doubt also elsewhere. This method by which G produces its renderings of the Hebrew is diversified. In cases of departures from literal rendering which would plainly suggest what the Hebrew Vorlage actually was, the Greek translator may resort to a play on the words or to what Professor Gehman has named a ‘trick of the translator.’ …

This theological modus operandi is quite complex with a variety of elements constituting the plan. It is often difficult to establish definite categories for the different phrases of G’s exegetical method, because many of the concepts could be placed under several headings. The attempt has been made to place under suitable headings the various types of G’s approach to a theological interpretation of the Hebrew, without exercising a mechanical system of arrangement. The largest sub-division of the group is that which has been called ‘Theological Toning Down’ (Chapter I). Here the basis for G’s departure from a literal rendering of the Hebrew text is the tendency of the translator to avoid ideas concerning God which are abhorrent to him or to his school. Chapter II (Anti-anthropomorphisms) illustrates G’s method of eliminating portrayals of the Deity as having human faculties and emotions. In Chapter III (Detraction from the Perfect Character of God Avoided) the translator is seen to subordinate the destructive activities to the constructive work of God. … Chapter IV, ‘Theological Omissions from the Greek Text’, deals with passages omitted from the Hebrew text by the Greek translator for theological reasons. By a careful rendering of the verses both preceding and following an omission the translator attempts to make logical sequence of thought. Such procedure indicates a deliberate omission of passages for theological or other reasons. In Chapter V the results of the study of G’s exegetical method are summarized.”
—from the introduction