An Interview with Karen Jobes: Discovering the Septuagint

9780825443428JW– You have produced a very, very useful volume which readers of the LXX will doubtless consult regularly. This makes perfect sense, given your own expertise in the field. The list of contributors to the volume, though, are relatively lesser known than yourself. Are they students of yours or colleagues at your institution?

KJ– The contributors to Discovering the Septuagint were graduate students in Wheaton Graduate School, some in my LXX reading class, a few in the PhD program.

JW– How did they come to be part of the project?

KJ-They were chosen because of their interest in the Septuagint and the excellence of their work in class or as my teaching assistants.

JW- The volume opens with a section titled ‘How to use this book’, which is quite helpful for new students. The volume seems aimed, therefore, at people just on the early stages of their study of the LXX. Is this correct?

KJ- I would imagine the book would be most useful to readers, whether students or not, who wish to read the Septuagint after attaining the proficiency of a few semesters of Koine Greek. I’m also hoping it will motivate and assist professors to teach Septuagint, at least as a Greek reading class.

JW– Your explanatory notes are quite thorough, providing parsings and definitions. Do you envision, at some point, working on an edition of the LXX itself which would incorporate these notes into footnotes- in a ‘readers edition’ (such as has been done for the Hebrew Bible by Hendrickson)?

KJ– I would be enthusiastically in favor of a “reader’s edition” of the entire Septuagint, but that is a massive undertaking. I personally have no plans for such a project.

JW– What, in your opinion, is the value of your method in this guided reader as opposed to an interlinear?

KJ- I don’t think interlinears really help students to learn to read Greek syntax, and I’ve always banned them from use in my classes.

JW– What are your feelings about interlinears in general? Do you think they are helpful to students?

KJ- I generally don’t encourage the use of interlinears. They give people who don’t really read Greek a false impression of proficiency and can be very misleading. They encourage a false view of translation and how languages work.

JW– Each section concludes with a brief note titled something like ‘Genesis 1:1-23 in the New Testament’. What led you to provide this kind of information?

KJ– I am intrigued by the use of the Septuagint in the New Testament and I know others are, too. This was an aid to motivate readers to become more aware of the Septuagint in the NT and to appreciate the role of the LXX in early Christianity, an important part of the Christian heritage. I see this as valuable for Christian or Jewish readers, or readers of no specific faith.

JW– Each section also offers a translation, in English from the NETS version. Given the availability of such translations, what was it that led you to include them?

KJ– Convenience for the reader. It’s harder and takes more space to juggle several open books at once. I’m aware that many students do their work in coffee shops, on the train, or in other places where having everything in one volume might be helpful.

JW– The volume doesn’t examine every verse of the LXX. Rather, ‘selected readings’ are discussed. So, for instance, you cover 80 verses of Genesis, 85 verses of Ruth, 67 selected Psalm verses, 48 from Jonah, and 55 from Malachi. But there are no discussions of Jeremiah or Ezekiel, Proverbs or Job, or anything from the Deuteronomistic History. What was the guiding principle of your selections?

KJ– I didn’t intend this volume to be a general introduction to the text of the Septuagint but rather a guide to helping beginners read the Septuagint. So I wanted to include a variety of genres and to focus on lexical and syntactical issues rather than comparisons to the MT, textual origins and transmission, and the more textually complicated issues of Septuagint studies, as interesting as those topics are. Most of the texts included in the book are texts that I used in the various courses I taught over the years.

JW– Are you working on another LXX related project at present?

KJ- I am working on a new book about metaleptic echo of the LXX in the NT for Baker Academic, but that’s several years down the road.

JW– How do you see this present project fitting in to the larger trajectory of your work?

KJ– Since I have retired from full-time teaching, I see this book as capturing some of the work I’ve done in the classroom over the years that students have responded to with interest and enthusiasm. I hope the book will extend my teaching influence over readers I’ll never meet who might develop further proficiency in learning the Greek language and reading the Septuagint.

JW– Thank you so much!