First, a few preliminaries: the nice folk at Logos have sent a copy of the Göttingen Septuagint for review. Second, the opinions that I’ll express concerning the value, usefulness, and importance of the edition are my own and were not coerced or even so much as suggested (as though I were susceptible to arm-twisting anyway, right?!) by Logos. And third, because the edition is so utterly massive my observations on it will occur over a fairly extended period (and besides, it deserves careful attention). What follows, then, is merely the first in a series I’ll call, quite cleverly, ‘The Göttingen Septuagint: A Review Series‘.
Second, my own history in relation to the edition goes back decades, when it was just appearing and I was a lowly grad student at SEBTS. There in that lovely library were shelved the beautiful red volumes which comprise the edition and I consulted them constantly for my work on the use of the Old Testament by the New (my central interest then and now and the topic of both my ThM Thesis and Dissertation). How I pined to have them as my own. But, alas, they were priced far beyond what I could afford. Nevertheless, I loved them and used them. Here’s the primary reason why: the textual apparatus is as far superior to Rahlfs and BHS as the sun is superior to a candle.
Take, for example, Jeremiah 1:4. Here, on the left, the G.E. and on the right, Rahlfs (and you’ll need to click to enlarge all the screen shots to follow) -
I’ve highlighted a variant for you.
Here’s what the apparatus of BHS has here:
Which indicates that there is a variation but is utterly devoid of any useful information beyond that bare fact.
Here’s the apparatus for Swete’s edition of the LXX (which is akin to Rahlfs)
At least that’s a bit more than BHS, but insubstantial nonetheless. And, to be fair, not at all helpful for persons genuinely interested in textual criticism.
But now the G.E.-
Not only are more textual sources listed, there are more variants included as well. In other words, the G.E. is thorough whilst the others are not.
On the surface of the text there aren’t that many substantive differences between G.E. and Rahlfs. But under the hood the materials supporting various readings are so much more complete that the student of the Old Testament who fails to make use of the G.E. simply fails to apprehend the scope of the data and cannot fully grasp the history of the text.
To say it a bit differently: scholars failing to make use of the G.E. do not have the best tools. They’re trying to do the job with just a screwdriver when it requires a toolbox full of instruments. For that reason the G.E. is inestimably superior to its parallel resources.