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LXX-Isaiah as Translation and Interpretation

The Strategies of the Translator of the Septuagint of Isaiah

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Ronald Troxel

This book offers a fresh understanding of how Isaiah was translated into Greek, by considering the impact of the translator's Alexandrian milieu on his work. Whereas most studies over the past fifty years have regarded the book's free translation style as betraying the translator's conviction that Isaiah's oracles were being fulfilled in his day, this study argues that he was primarily interested in offering his Greek-speaking co-religionists a cohesive representation of Isaiah's ideas. Comparison of the translator's interpretative tacks with those employed by the grammatikoi in their study of Homer offers a convincing picture of his work as an Alexandrian Jew and clarifies how this translation should be assessed in reconstructing early textual forms of Hebrew Isaiah.
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Ronald L. Troxel

Textual criticism has long used terms and phrases incorporating ‘text’ without scrutinizing whether they are defensible. Contributing to this problem has been imprecision in the definition of ‘text’ itself. Contemporary scholarship has nibbled at the edges of a definition, but no focused consideration has been given to pinpointing what it is textual criticism criticizes. This essay examines the concepts underlying talk of ‘text’, positing that ‘text’ must be defined within a matrix with author and reader. A text’s production and preservation reflects its reading communities’ conferral upon it of the status of ‘text’. Although establishment of the earliest recoverable form(s) of a text remains important, that must be paired with understanding a text’s role in shaping and reflecting the lives of its reading communities. Careful definition of ‘text’ and the nomenclature that describes it can bring clarity to conceiving the task of textual criticism.

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Ronald L. Troxel

In preparing to construct a new critical edition of Isaiah 1-39, the author argues that textual criticism is not merely preparatory to exegesis and literary criticism, but is best presented in the form of a commentary on the life of the text. Doing so requires eliminating the old divide between ‘higher’ and ‘lower’ criticism, only the former of which Eichhorn mentioned in order to commend literary-critical reading over against theological reading, not philological. The later backformation ‘lower criticism’ designated textual criticism practiced on the basis of rules and stemmata that made it a substantially mechanical task. Study of manuscripts from the Judaean desert has already raised questions about the validity of the divide for some books, and Troxel’s analysis of problems in Isaiah 6:13b raises similar skepticism for study of the text of Isaiah. Accordingly, he proposes writing a commentary on the life of Isaiah’s text, without the ‘higher’/‘lower’ divide.