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Archive for the 'LXX Psalm Superscriptions' Category

The Septuagint Psalm Superscriptions (Part 2) Personal Names and Notions of Authorship (Best of Codex)

22nd November 2006

[Originally posted 3rd July 2005]

There are a total of 37 places where the LXX Psalter has either additions (13x) or expansions (24x) to the superscripts in comparison to the MT Psalter. While these may be classified in a number of ways, I will discuss them under four headings: personal names; genre designations, liturgical notices, and situational ascriptions. This blog entry will focus on personal names. (Note: Chapter and verse references are to the MT with the LXX indicated in parentheses).

Personal Names in the LXX Psalm Superscriptions

In the MT many of the psalms have references to personal names in the superscripts (typically with the preposition ל l). Seventy three psalms contain David; others have Asaph (12x; Pss 50; 73–83); the sons of Korah (11x; Pss 42; 44-49; 84-85; 87-88); Solomon (Pss 72; 127); Ethan (Ps 89), Heman (Ps 88), Moses (Ps 90), and possibly Jeduthun (Pss 39; 62; 77). With rare exceptions, the construction lamed + name is rendered with an articular dative. This includes all of the Asaph psalms and virtually all of the Korahite psalms (there are two contested cases where υπεÏ? + genitive is used: Ps 46(45) and 47(46)). In connection with the David psalms, Pietersma has argued that the six places that Rahlfs uses a genitive in his lemma text should be read as datives. Of the two psalms with Solomon in their titles, one is translated by a dative (Ps 127(126)), while the other is rendered by εις Σαλωμων “for Solomon” (Ps 72(71)).

David in the Septuagint Psalter
In the LXX there are a number of instances where personal names are added, including Jeremiah and Ezekiel in Ps 65(64); Haggai and Zechariah in Ps 146(145); 147:1-11(146); 147:12-20(147); and 148. Most of the changes in personal names, however, relate to David, the “sweet psalmist of Israel.” In 13 cases the LXX adds a reference to David (Pss 33(32); 43(42); 71(70); 91(90); 93(92); 94(93); 95(94); 96(95); 97(96); 98(97); 99(98); 104(103); 137(136). (I should also note that there are two instances where references to David are omitted in the Greek tradition: Pss 122(121) and 124(123)). In all but one instance (Ps 98(97)), the LXX adds this association to psalms that are untitled in the MT. The question that immediately comes to mind are whether these additions reflect a different Hebrew text or are the product of transmission history. Unfortunately, it is difficult to gain any critical purchase on this question since Ï„á¿· Δαυιδ is the default rendering of לדוד. In three cases it is more than likely that the additions reflect a different Hebrew text, as there is textual evidence to support the variant reading, whether among a few Masoretic texts (43(42)), or among the DSS (e.g., 11QPsq has לדוד in Ps 33(32); and 11QPsa and 4QPse also have לדויד in Ps 104(103).

The remaining ten instances are more difficult to access. Al Pietersma, in his study “David in the Greek Psalms” (VT 30 (1980) 213-226), suggests that the Davidic references in Pss 71(70); 91(90); 93(92); 95(94); 96(95); and 97(96); may be called into question because other elements of the LXX superscripts are clearly secondary. While this is essentially a “guilty by association” argument, it’s the best we can do considering the evidence. This leaves four superscripts that add an association with David: Pss 94(93); 98(97); 99(98); and 137(136). It is almost impossible to make any determination with Ps 94(93), as the superscript is uncontested. As a royal psalm, it may be understandable why Ps 98(97) would attract a Davidic superscript, though this does not help explain Ps 99(98) (contra Pietersma). The only superscript where some judgment may be made is Ps 137(136). There is quite a bit of variation among the textual witnesses, with many of them including an ascription to Jeremiah, and some conflating the two and associating the psalm with David and Jeremiah. The textual rivalry between David and Jeremiah could be an indication that the psalm was originally untitled, as it is in the MT tradition and Qumran.

Jeremiah & Ezekiel in the Septuagint Psalter
As noted above, some Greek texts of Ps 137(136) include a reference to Jeremiah in their superscripts. The association with Jeremiah in the Greek tradition is perhaps understandable considering the psalm’s exilic setting, though according to biblical tradition Jeremiah never goes to Babylon. There is a tradition, however, that places Jeremiah in Babylon. In fact, 4Baruch 7:33-36 Ps 137(136):3-4 is actually put into the mouth of Jeremiah. The text reads as follows:

For I [Jeremiah] say to you that the whole time we have been here, they have oppressed us, saying “Sing us a song from the songs of Zion, the song of your God.” And we say to them, “How can we sing to you, being in a foreign land?”

While there is a possibility that the superscript led to 4Baruch making the association, it seems more plausible the other way around because 4Baruch has Jeremiah in Babylon, where singing the psalm makes sense. In addition, in 4Baruch there is no indication that Jeremiah is quoting Scripture.

The reference to Jeremiah in Ps 137(136) is not the only one found in the LXX Psalter. The prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel are mentioned together in Ps 65(64). The full superscript reads as follows:

εἰς τὸ τέλος ψαλμὸς Ï„á¿· Δαυιδ ᾠδή ΙεÏ?εμιου καὶ Ιεζεκιηλ á¼?κ τοῦ λόγου τῆς παÏ?οικίας ὅτε ἔμελλον á¼?κποÏ?εύεσθαι
To the end. A psalm for David. A song. Of Jeremiah and Ezekiel from the account of the sojourning community, when they were about to go out.

The superscript is somewhat contested, though Rahlfs considered it OG. What is interesting about this superscript, is that like the previous example, there is a double association: a connection with David and with Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Unlike the previous example, it is not clear what triggered the association with Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Within the psalm itself there are no explicit connections with these prophets or the return from exile in general. The reference to “Zion” and the addition of “Jerusalem” in v. 2 may suggest this is one of the “songs of Zion” mentioned in Ps 137. While these (and others I won’t bore you with) readings of the Greek translation may provide some clues as to why the association was made, it is more certain that the association is due to an inner-Greek development rather than a different Hebrew parent text. This is almost certain due to the fact that the superscript employs the atypical conjunction ὅτε, and that the grammatical construction of the modal μελλω (“about to”) plus a complementary infinitive is never found elsewhere in the LXX Psalter, and thus is not congruent with the translator’s technique.

Haggai & Zechariah in the Septuagint Psalter
The final two individuals that we meet unexpectedly in the superscript of the LXX Psalter are the post-exilic prophets Haggai and Zechariah. Ps 146(145); 147:1-11(146); 147:12-20(147); and 148 all include Αλληλουια, Αγγαιου καὶ ΖαχαÏ?ιου “Hallelujah. Of Haggai and Zechariah” (or “A Hallelujah of…”). If you look beyond Rahlfs’ text, then Haggai and Zechariah also show up in Ps 149 and 150, as well as 111(110), 112(111), and even 138(137) and 139(138). Of courses, not all attestations are as strong textually, though it is interesting to note how the tradition surrounding Haggai and Zechariah grew.

How the association of Haggai and Zechariah with these psalms arose is a perplexing question. F. W. Mozley (The Psalter of the Church, Cambridge University Press, 1905, p. 188), conjectures that Haggai and Zechariah were compilers of a small collection of psalms from which these psalms were taken. While that may be the case, a more plausible solution may be to look in these psalms for connections to the post-exilic community. Both Martin Rösel (“Die Psalmüberschriften Des Septuaginta-Psalters,” in Der Septuaginta-Psalter, Herder, 2001, pp. 125-148) and Al Pietersma (“Exegesis and Liturgy in the Superscriptions of the Greek Psalter,” in X Congress of the IOSCS, Oslo 1998, Society of Biblical Literature, 2001, pp. 99-138) appeal to Psalm 147(146) as the text that triggered the initial association. Verse 2 in the LXX has an explicit reference to the return from exile. The texts read as follows:

οἰκοδομῶν ΙεÏ?ουσαλημ á½? κÏ?Ï?ιος καὶ Ï„á½°Ï‚ διασποÏ?á½°Ï‚ τοῦ ΙσÏ?αηλ á¼?πισυνάξει
The Lord is the one who (re)builds Jerusalem; and he will gather the dispersed [diaspora] of Israel

The translation of the Nif’al participle from נדח “drive away” by διασποÏ?α is atypical. Elsewhere the translator renders נדח by εξωθεω“to expelâ€? (5:11) or απωθεομαι “expel, banish” (62[61]:5). Rather than these more general terms, in the passage under question he employs a technical term for the exilic dispersion, διασποÏ?α. Perhaps significant, is the fact that this term also shows up in some witnesses in connection with Zechariah in the superscript to Ps 139(138). This reference to the exilic dispersion in Ps 147 may have spawned the initial association with two prominent figures of the return, Haggai and Zechariah, which then expanded to include other psalms. The fact that the names are in the genitive may suggest these superscripts are products of transmission history, as it is unclear what the Hebrew text could have read to produce such a translation (If the Hebrew was lamed + name, then you would expect an article in the Greek, and there is no precedent for a construction “the hallelujah of Haggai and Zechariah”).

Personal Names and Authorship

One question that comes up in examining the LXX superscripts is how the translator understood the notion of authorship. Interestingly, it appears to be the case that the Greek translator (one of the earliest biblical interpreters) did not see the personal names in the superscripts as an indication of authorship, as a genitive construction would be expected. For example, Didymus the Blind (a 4th century Alexandrian theologian) makes the distinction in the Tura Psalms commentary in connection with Psalm 24:

(Ψαλμος τω δαυιδ): εις τον δαυιδ ο ψαλμος λεγεται αλλο γαÏ? εστιν “του δαυιδ” ειναι και αλλο “τω δαυιδ” λεγεται, οταν η αυτος αυτον πεποιηκως η ψαλλων. “αυτω” δε λεγεται, οταν εις αυτον φεÏ?ηται.
The psalm says “to David,” for others are “of David” and others “to David.” It says “of David,” when he made/wrote it or sang [it]. But it says “to him” when it was brought to him.

So while the Old Greek translation does not seem to indicate authorship, the growing trend in later witnesses is to spell out authorship explicitly by using the genitive. This suggests that the emphasis on individual authorship grew with time.

The evidence from the Greek Psalter fits nicely with a theory of Burton Mack’s I came across a number of years ago in an article entitled, “Under the Shadow of Moses: Authorship and Authority in Hellenistic Judaism” (SBL Seminar Papers 21 (1982) 299-318). In this article Mack argues that the interest in individual authorship only developed as Israel interacted with Hellenism. In the same way that the Greeks had their famous individuals, so too Judaism began to emphasize their own: Moses and the Pentateuch, Solomon and wisdom literature, and — as is clear from the Greek Psalms — David and the Psalter. The growing Davidic connection in the LXX Psalter is also paralleled in 11QPsa, where the prose piece notes that David composed over 4000 psalms “by the spirit of prophecy.”


Posted in Best of Codex, LXX Psalm Superscriptions, LXX Psalms, Psalms, Septuagint | Comments Off

Blog Cited in RBL Review

28th August 2006

Bob Buller, the Editorial director for the Society of Biblical Literature, emailed me Sunday to let me know that one of my blog posts was cited in a book review for the Review of Biblical Literature. This is what Bob wrote:

While preparing the next batch of RBL reviews for publication this morning, I encountered what I believe is a first: a reviewer cited for further reading a blog entry from a biblical studies blog. It was your part 3 of the discussion of the LXX psalm superscriptions. I hope that this will become more common, since a number of the blogs offer excellent discussions, but you are the first (to my knowledge).

This is kind of neat, IMHO.

The citation is to my post “The LXX Psalm Superscriptions (Part 3) – Liturgical Notices and the Psalms for the Days of the Week” and may be found in Eileen Schuller‘s review of Peter L. Trudinger, The Psalms of the Tamid Service: A Liturgical Text from the Second Temple (Leiden: Brill, 2004; Buy from Amazon.ca | Buy from Amazon.com). The review — which is very good –  may be found here.


Posted in Blog News, LXX Psalm Superscriptions, RBL, Reviews & Notices | Comments Off

The LXX Psalm Superscriptions (Part 4) Situational Ascriptions

14th August 2005

This is the fourth of a series of entries on the superscriptions in the Greek Psalter. Previous entries include “The Septuagint Psalm Superscriptions (Part 1),” “The Septuagint Psalm Superscriptions (Part 2): Personal Names and Notions of Authorship,” and “The Septuagint Psalm Superscriptions (Part 3): Liturgical Notices.”

[Note: I have removed the diacritical marks in the Greek text since it wasn't displaying properly in some browsers.]

Situational Ascriptions in the Superscriptions

The final category that I want to discuss in this series are the additions and expansions of the situational ascriptions in the LXX Psalter. In the Hebrew Bible the situational notices relate individual psalms to some event in David’s life:

Psalm Situation Passage
3 David’s flight from Absalom 2 Sam 15-18
7 Concerning Cush, a Benjaminite (= Hushai the Archite? 2 Sam 17) ?
18 Deliverance from all his enemies and from Saul 2 Sam 22
34 Feigned madness before Abimelech 1 Sam 21:1-15
51 Nathan’s confrontation over Bathsheba 2 Sam 12
52 The betrayal of Doeg the Edomite 1 Sam 21:2-10; 22:9-10
54 The Ziphites’ betrayal of David to Saul 1 Sam 23:14-28
56 When the Philistines seized him in Gath 1 Sam 21:10-15; 27:1-12
57 Flight from Saul into the cave 1 Sam 22:1-2, 24:1-7
59 Saul’s surveillance of David’s house 1 Sam 19:11-12
60 Military victories over Aram-naharaim, Aram-zobah, and when Joab returned and struck Edom 2 Sam 8:13–14; 1 Chr 18:12–13; cf. 1 Chr 19:6
63 David in the Judean wilderness 1 Sam 23; 25; or 2 Sam 15
142 When David was in the cave 1 Sam 22:1-2, 24:1-7

While some of these superscriptions may contain a kernal of historical information, modern Psalms scholars are almost unanimous in understanding the situational superscriptions as much later additions that reflect interpretive or exegetical activity. For example, Mowinckel sees the titles as the end result of learned legends about David that associated certain psalms to specific incidents in David’s life (Sigmund Mowinckel, The Psalms in Israel’s Worship [Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1992] 2.100), while Bernhardt see these title as evidence of the first exegetical treatment of the psalms (Karl H. Bernhardt, Das Problem der altorientalischen Königsideologieim Alten Testament [Brill, 1961] 11). This midrashic understanding of the titles is also held by B.S. Childs, who argues “the Psalm titles do not appear to reflect independent historical tradition but are the result of an exegetical activity which derived its material from within the text itself” (“Psalms Titles and Midrashic Exegesis” JSS 16 [1971] 143; see also Martin Kleer, “Der Liebliche Sänger Der Psalmen Israels”: Untersuchungen Zu David Als Dichter Und Beter Der Psalmen [Bodenheim: Philo, 1996]).

David’s expanding role as the sweet psalmist of Israel continues in the LXX, with five additional psalms like to parts of David’s life. It is doubtful that the additional situational ascriptions in the psalm superscriptions are the result of the translator. This is based on what we know of translators generally; that is, that they tend to be conservative and stay pretty close to the text. More importantly, it is also supported by what is known of the translation technique of the LXX Psalter. Moreover, there is no reason to suppose that the same processes that gave rise to the situational titles in the MT Psalter would have ceased with its translation into Greek. Once the book of Psalms was translated into Greek, further midrashic activity would have occured.

The first addition is found in Ps 27(LXX 26):

Ps 27 MT לדוד Of David
4QPsr לדוד Of David
LXX 26 Του Δαυιδ, Ï€Ï?ο του χÏ?ισθηναι
Pertaining to David. Before he was annointed.

Most read the title as suggesting that this psalm was recited before David was anointed. The question remains, however, which anointing is being talked about? It could be his initial anointing by Samuel in 1 Sam 16:13, or his anointing as king over Judah in 2 Sam 2:4, or even his anointing as king over Israel in 2 Sam 5:1-6, esp. 3 (Rahlfs evidently understood the added phrase as referring to the anointing of the High Priest; most others apply the note to David [Pietersma, "Exegesis and Liturgy," 103; Mozley, 48; Thomson and Brenton in their translation).

The early exegete Theodoret understood superscription to refer to an event prior to David's anointing as king. He points to an association unique to the Greek translation of both סך "den, lairâ€? and ×?הל "tent" with of σκηνη -- a term reserved for "tabernacle" elsewhere (Theodoret, In psalmos; cited in Rainer Stichel, "Zur Herkunft Der Psalmenüberschriften in Der Septuaginta," in Der Septuaginta-Psalter [Herder, 2001] 149-161, p. 152). Theodoret also saw the “unjust witness” in verse 12 as an allusion to the deception of Doeg the Edomite.
Thus, while it is possible that the association could have happened on the Hebrew side of things, that it would have happened on the Greek side is clear.

Ps 93 MT
11QPsa הללויה Hallelujah
LXX 92 εις την ημεÏ?αν του Ï€Ï?οσαββατου
οτε κατωκισται η γη αινος ωδς τω Δαυιδ
For the day before the Sabbath when the land was first inhabited;
a praise song of David

There is a significant amount of textual variation in this superscription. Rather than understanding this situational ascription as connected to an event in David’s life, it more likely refers to the sixth day of creation.

Ps 96 MT
LXX 95 οτε ο οικος ωκοδομειτο μετα την αιχμαλωσιαν ωδη τω Δαυιδ
When the house was built after the captivity; a song of David

Once again there is a lot of textual instability with this superscription. While 1 Chr 16:23-33 associates this psalm with the brining of the ark into Jerusalem by David (which would be after he made himself a house), the reference to the captivity suggests the reference is to the rebuilding of the Temple in the post-exilic period. These connections could suggest the use of the psalm in a temple dedication festival (Kraus). No matter whatprompted the title, the use of οτε in the superscription suggests it is secondary.

Ps 97 MT
LXX 96 τω Δαυιδ οτε η γη αυτου καθισταται
Pertaining to David, when his land is established

While not entirely clear, this superscript may allude to the statement in 2 Samuel 7:1 that David “was settled in his palace and Yahweh had given him rest from all his enemies around him.” While there is no strong lexical links between the psalm and 2 Sam 7, the use of καθιστημι in the superscript strongly connects it with a number of psalms that speak of the establishment of David’s throne (Pss 2:6; 8:7; 18[17]:44; cf. 9:21). Noteworthy is this association is only found in the Greek text as καθιστημι is used to translate a variety of Hebrew terms. The use of οτε in the superscription suggests it is secondary.

Ps 143 MT מזמור לדוד A Psalm of David
11QPsa מזמור לדוד A Psalm of David
LXX 142 ψαλμος τω Δαυιδ οτε αυτον ο υιος καταδιωκει
A psalm, pertaining to David, when [his] son pursued him

There is some variation in the textual witnesses to this superscription; in fact many witnesses name Absalom explicitly. The reference is certainly to Absalom’s rebellion in 2 Sam 15-18 (cf. Ps 3), though what triggered the association is not as clear, though the psalm itself is a lament of an individual who is being pursued by his enemy. The use of καταδιωκω in v. 3 and the superscript identifies Absalom as the enemy. Likely secondary due to the use of οτε.

Ps 144 MT לדוד Of David
11QPsa
LXX 143 τω Δαυιδ Ï€Ï?ος τον Γολιαδ
Pertaining to David, concerning Goliath

This final addition to the situaltion ascription in the LXX Psalms connects this psalm to LXX Psalm 151. This allusion to the Goliath episode in 1 Sam 17 was more than likely triggered by the reference to the “evil sword” in verses 10-11:

εκ Ï?ομφαιας πονηÏ?ας. 11 Ï?υσαι με και εξελου με εκ χειÏ?ος υιων αλλοτÏ?ιων, ων το στομα ελαλησεν ματαιοτητα και η δεξια αυτων δεξια αδικιας.
From an evil sword Rescue me and deliver me from the hand of aliens, whose mouth spoke vanity, and whose right hand was a right hand of injustice.

The question once again is whether or not this harkens back to a Hebrew Vorlage or whether it is a Greek development. The one piece of evidence which may suggest it derives from the Greek is the transcription of Goliath’s name as Γολιαδ, and not Γολιαθ, which would be expected as the translator typically renders final tavs on names with a theta.

Conclusions

What becomes clear from examining these additional superscriptions that read the psalms in the light of David’s life, is that the exegetical activity that was started in the Hebrew tradition was continued in the Greek. This represents a further “Davidization” of the Psalter in which more psalms were read and/or prayed in association with an exemplary situation in the life of David.

Posted in LXX Psalm Superscriptions, Psalms, Septuagint | 1 Comment »

The LXX Psalm Superscriptions (Part 3) Liturgical Notices and the Psalms for the Days of the Week

28th July 2005

This is the third of a series of entries on the superscriptions in the Greek Psalter. Previous entries include “The Septuagint Psalm Superscriptions (Part 1)” and “The Septuagint Psalm Superscriptions (Part 2): Personal Names and Notions of Authorship.

Liturgical Notices in the Superscriptions

There are a variety of different liturgical notices in the psalm superscriptions. These include the phrase למנצח, “to the leader” (NRSV; “for the director of music,” NIV); and other obscure terms denoting melodies, musical instruments, and/or cultic procedures. Interestingly, there is only one place where the LXX adds εἰς τὸ τέλος (= למנצח): Psalm 30(29). This reading is highly contested within the Greek tradition. While it is difficult to determine whether this addition reflects a different Hebrew Vorlage, it is difficult to understand why it would have been the result of transmission history.

Psalms for the Days of the Week

A more significant group of liturgical notes relate to psalms that were read on certain days of the week. The Mishnah (mTamid 7.3-4), among other places, notes that the Levites recited specific psalms in the Temple on each day of the week. In the Hebrew Masoretic Text (MT), only the Sabbath song is so marked (Psalm 92); and where a psalm is extant in the Dead Sea Scrolls, it also supports the MT. On the Greek side, however, all of the daily psalms but Tuesday are marked.

Day Mishnah
(mTamid)
MT Septuagint (LXX) Qumran
Sunday Ps 24 - Ps 24 (23): τῆς μιᾶς σαββάτων
“Of [day] one of the week”
Monday Ps 48 - Ps 48 (47): δευτέÏ?á¾³ σαββάτου
“[Pertaining to the] second day of the week”
-
Tuesday Ps 82 - -
Wednesday Ps 94 - Ps 94 (93): τετÏ?άδι σαββάτων
“[Pertaining to the] fourth day of the week”
Thursday Ps 81 - Ps 81 (80): πέμπτησαββάτου
“[Pertaining to the] fifth day of the week”
-
Friday Ps 93 - Ps 93 (92): εἰς τὴν ἡμέÏ?αν τοῦ Ï€Ï?οσαββάτου
“Regarding the day of preparation” [lit. ["the pre-sabbath"]
-
Saturday Ps 92 92 Ps 92 (91): εἰς τὴν ἡμέÏ?αν τοῦ σαββάτου
“Regarding the day of the Sabbath”Ps 38 (37): πεÏ?ὶ σαββάτου
“Concerning the Sabbath [day]“
-

While I will not rehearse the full textual evidence for these psalms, there is some variation among the different Greek texts. Noteworthy is that the Greek tradition has an additional psalm marked for the Sabbath (Psalm 38(37)). In addition, one fifth-century manuscript (1219) marks Psalm 23(22) for the first day of the week (Sunday). While it is not possible to be certain, it is likely a carry over from Ps 24(23).

The question that remains for the other superscriptions is whether they are based on a Hebrew parent text or are they the product of transmission history. The fact that the MT (and extant DSS) only marks Ps 92(91) for the Sabbath may indicate, as Sarna suggests, that the tradition arose some time after the MT Psalter was finalized, yet before it was translated into Greek in the second century BCE (Nahum Sarna, “The Psalm for the Sabbath Day (Ps 92),” JBL 81 (1962) 155-56). If this is not the case, one would have to explain their omission from the MT Psalter, which is problematic to say the least.

At a purely formal and stylistic level one cannot help but notice a measure of diversity in the Greek of these superscripts. In Ps 24(23) the note begins with an articular genitive. Psalms 48(47), 81(80), and 92(93) have anarthrous datives. In 92(91) and 93(92) we meet εἰς (“regarding”) plus an articular accusative but inarticular (by reason of sense) in 38(37). Furthermore, σάββατον (“Sabbath”) is plural in 38(37) and 94(93) but singular in 48(47) and 81(80), though all refer to the week rather than a specific day (that is found elsewhere, however). Psalms 92(91) and 93(92) render “day” explicit while the rest do not. And finally, the marker of grammatical relationship is a genitive in 24(23), πεÏ?ὶ plus genitive in 38(37), a dative in 48(47), 81(80) and 94(93), and εἰς plus accusative in 92(91) and 93(92). This variety in linguistic expression is considerable and some of it may be rooted in a differing Hebrew parent text, or (less likely) in the translator’s differing treatment of the same Hebrew. The high degree of predictability and formalism found in the other parts of the Septuagint psalm titles is clearly lacking in the psalms for the days of the week. This strongly suggests their secondary origin.

A related question is why did these particular psalms become associated with these days of the week. Most have assumed the superscripts reflect Jewish liturgical practice and were likely added during the transmission process. This appears to be the view of the editor of the Göttingen edition of the Greek Psalter (Rahlfs) as well as others like Sarna. Albert Pietersma, however, has recently argued that the associations may be the result of exegetical rather than liturgical in nature. Starting with Psalm 92(91), Pietersma argues that the translator understood the title to indicate what the psalm “is about, not on what occasion it is used” (“Exegesis and Liturgy in the Superscriptions of the Greek Psalter” in X Congress of the International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies, Oslo 1998 [Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2001] 134).

While this may be the case, it creates a false dichotomy between exegesis and liturgy. Sarna has demonstrated that MT Psalm 92 was chosen to be the temple Sabbath hymn precisely because it reflects a number of Sabbath-themes. Hence exegesis and liturgy are one and the same. The problem with understanding the other Sabbath-day titles in the LXX as arising from a Greek exegetical tradition (rather than reflecting Jewish practice based on the use of the MT Psalter) is it suggests that the associations with various days was either triggered by the translator of the Greek Psalter (and then reflected in the Mishnah, etc.) or the Greek exegetical tradition concerning the days just happened to highlight the same days as Jewish tradition (which is highly unlikely). The best hypothesis is that certain psalms began to be used in Jewish liturgy after the compilation of the MT Psalter (with the exception of Psalm 92). This Jewish tradition of associating certain psalms with days of the week was later reflected in the LXX Psalter. While the additions may be the translator’s doing, it is more likely that they are later accretions from the Greek transmission history of the Psalms.

What’s interesting is that while these superscripts may reflect a Temple (or Synagogue) liturgy, they eventually were given an eschatological interpretation. Such an interpretation of Psalm 92 is facilitated by its Greek translation of the Hebrew prefix verbs as futures in Ps 92:5 and 11, among other things (though it is not clear that the translator intended this eschatological interpretation). The Targum of Psalms is more explicit, expanding Ps 92:9 to read “You are exalted and the Most High in the world to come,” and attributing the psalm to Adam via a superscription. In later Jewish tradition, as preserved in mTamid 7.4, the Sabbath Psalm (Psalm 92) is also described as “a psalm, a song for the future that is coming, for the day that is altogether a Sabbath of rest for eternal life.”

My next blog on this topic will look at the additions and expansions including situational ascriptions in the Septuagint Psalter.

Posted in LXX Psalm Superscriptions, Psalms, Septuagint | Comments Off

The Septuagint Psalm Superscriptions (Part 2) Personal Names and Notions of Authorship

3rd July 2005

There are a total of 37 places where the LXX Psalter has either additions (13x) or expansions (24x) to the superscripts in comparison to the MT Psalter. While these may be classified in a number of ways, I will discuss them under four headings: personal names; genre designations, liturgical notices, and situational ascriptions. This blog entry will focus on personal names. (Note: Chapter and verse references are to the MT with the LXX indicated in parentheses).

Personal Names in the LXX Psalm Superscriptions

In the MT many of the psalms have references to personal names in the superscripts (typically with the preposition ל l). Seventy three psalms contain David; others have Asaph (12x; Pss 50; 73–83); the sons of Korah (11x; Pss 42; 44-49; 84-85; 87-88); Solomon (Pss 72; 127); Ethan (Ps 89), Heman (Ps 88), Moses (Ps 90), and possibly Jeduthun (Pss 39; 62; 77). With rare exceptions, the construction lamed + name is rendered with an articular dative. This includes all of the Asaph psalms and virtually all of the Korahite psalms (there are two contested cases where υπεÏ? + genitive is used: Ps 46(45) and 47(46)). In connection with the David psalms, Pietersma has argued that the six places that Rahlfs uses a genitive in his lemma text should be read as datives. Of the two psalms with Solomon in their titles, one is translated by a dative (Ps 127(126)), while the other is rendered by εις Σαλωμων “for Solomon” (Ps 72(71)).

David in the Septuagint Psalter
In the LXX there are a number of instances where personal names are added, including Jeremiah and Ezekiel in Ps 65(64); Haggai and Zechariah in Ps 146(145); 147:1-11(146); 147:12-20(147); and 148. Most of the changes in personal names, however, relate to David, the “sweet psalmist of Israel.” In 13 cases the LXX adds a reference to David (Pss 33(32); 43(42); 71(70); 91(90); 93(92); 94(93); 95(94); 96(95); 97(96); 98(97); 99(98); 104(103); 137(136). (I should also note that there are two instances where references to David are omitted in the Greek tradition: Pss 122(121) and 124(123)). In all but one instance (Ps 98(97)), the LXX adds this association to psalms that are untitled in the MT. The question that immediately comes to mind are whether these additions reflect a different Hebrew text or are the product of transmission history. Unfortunately, it is difficult to gain any critical purchase on this question since Ï„á¿· Δαυιδ is the default rendering of לדוד. In three cases it is more than likely that the additions reflect a different Hebrew text, as there is textual evidence to support the variant reading, whether among a few Masoretic texts (43(42)), or among the DSS (e.g., 11QPsq has לדוד in Ps 33(32); and 11QPsa and 4QPse also have לדויד in Ps 104(103).

The remaining ten instances are more difficult to access. Al Pietersma, in his study “David in the Greek Psalms” (VT 30 (1980) 213-226), suggests that the Davidic references in Pss 71(70); 91(90); 93(92); 95(94); 96(95); and 97(96); may be called into question because other elements of the LXX superscripts are clearly secondary. While this is essentially a “guilty by association” argument, it’s the best we can do considering the evidence. This leaves four superscripts that add an association with David: Pss 94(93); 98(97); 99(98); and 137(136). It is almost impossible to make any determination with Ps 94(93), as the superscript is uncontested. As a royal psalm, it may be understandable why Ps 98(97) would attract a Davidic superscript, though this does not help explain Ps 99(98) (contra Pietersma). The only superscript where some judgment may be made is Ps 137(136). There is quite a bit of variation among the textual witnesses, with many of them including an ascription to Jeremiah, and some conflating the two and associating the psalm with David and Jeremiah. The textual rivalry between David and Jeremiah could be an indication that the psalm was originally untitled, as it is in the MT tradition and Qumran.

Jeremiah & Ezekiel in the Septuagint Psalter
As noted above, some Greek texts of Ps 137(136) include a reference to Jeremiah in their superscripts. The association with Jeremiah in the Greek tradition is perhaps understandable considering the psalm’s exilic setting, though according to biblical tradition Jeremiah never goes to Babylon. There is a tradition, however, that places Jeremiah in Babylon. In fact, 4Baruch 7:33-36 Ps 137(136):3-4 is actually put into the mouth of Jeremiah. The text reads as follows:

For I [Jeremiah] say to you that the whole time we have been here, they have oppressed us, saying “Sing us a song from the songs of Zion, the song of your God.” And we say to them, “How can we sing to you, being in a foreign land?”

While there is a possibility that the superscript led to 4Baruch making the association, it seems more plausible the other way around because 4Baruch has Jeremiah in Babylon, where singing the psalm makes sense. In addition, in 4Baruch there is no indication that Jeremiah is quoting Scripture.

The reference to Jeremiah in Ps 137(136) is not the only one found in the LXX Psalter. The prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel are mentioned together in Ps 65(64). The full superscript reads as follows:

εἰς τὸ τέλος ψαλμὸς Ï„á¿· Δαυιδ ᾠδή ΙεÏ?εμιου καὶ Ιεζεκιηλ á¼?κ τοῦ λόγου τῆς παÏ?οικίας ὅτε ἔμελλον á¼?κποÏ?εύεσθαι
To the end. A psalm for David. A song. Of Jeremiah and Ezekiel from the account of the sojourning community, when they were about to go out.

The superscript is somewhat contested, though Rahlfs considered it OG. What is interesting about this superscript, is that like the previous example, there is a double association: a connection with David and with Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Unlike the previous example, it is not clear what triggered the association with Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Within the psalm itself there are no explicit connections with these prophets or the return from exile in general. The reference to “Zion” and the addition of “Jerusalem” in v. 2 may suggest this is one of the “songs of Zion” mentioned in Ps 137. While these (and others I won’t bore you with) readings of the Greek translation may provide some clues as to why the association was made, it is more certain that the association is due to an inner-Greek development rather than a different Hebrew parent text. This is almost certain due to the fact that the superscript employs the atypical conjunction ὅτε, and that the grammatical construction of the modal μελλω (“about to”) plus a complementary infinitive is never found elsewhere in the LXX Psalter, and thus is not congruent with the translator’s technique.

Haggai & Zechariah in the Septuagint Psalter
The final two individuals that we meet unexpectedly in the superscript of the LXX Psalter are the post-exilic prophets Haggai and Zechariah. Ps 146(145); 147:1-11(146); 147:12-20(147); and 148 all include Αλληλουια, Αγγαιου καὶ ΖαχαÏ?ιου “Hallelujah. Of Haggai and Zechariah” (or “A Hallelujah of…”). If you look beyond Rahlfs’ text, then Haggai and Zechariah also show up in Ps 149 and 150, as well as 111(110), 112(111), and even 138(137) and 139(138). Of courses, not all attestations are as strong textually, though it is interesting to note how the tradition surrounding Haggai and Zechariah grew.

How the association of Haggai and Zechariah with these psalms arose is a perplexing question. F. W. Mozley (The Psalter of the Church, Cambridge University Press, 1905, p. 188), conjectures that Haggai and Zechariah were compilers of a small collection of psalms from which these psalms were taken. While that may be the case, a more plausible solution may be to look in these psalms for connections to the post-exilic community. Both Martin Rösel (“Die Psalmüberschriften Des Septuaginta-Psalters,” in Der Septuaginta-Psalter, Herder, 2001, pp. 125-148) and Al Pietersma (“Exegesis and Liturgy in the Superscriptions of the Greek Psalter,” in X Congress of the IOSCS, Oslo 1998, Society of Biblical Literature, 2001, pp. 99-138) appeal to Psalm 147(146) as the text that triggered the initial association. Verse 2 in the LXX has an explicit reference to the return from exile. The texts read as follows:

οἰκοδομῶν ΙεÏ?ουσαλημ á½? κÏ?Ï?ιος καὶ Ï„á½°Ï‚ διασποÏ?á½°Ï‚ τοῦ ΙσÏ?αηλ á¼?πισυνάξει
The Lord is the one who (re)builds Jerusalem; and he will gather the dispersed [diaspora] of Israel

The translation of the Nif’al participle from נדח “drive away” by διασποÏ?α is atypical. Elsewhere the translator renders נדח by εξωθεω“to expelâ€? (5:11) or απωθεομαι “expel, banish” (62[61]:5). Rather than these more general terms, in the passage under question he employs a technical term for the exilic dispersion, διασποÏ?α. Perhaps significant, is the fact that this term also shows up in some witnesses in connection with Zechariah in the superscript to Ps 139(138). This reference to the exilic dispersion in Ps 147 may have spawned the initial association with two prominent figures of the return, Haggai and Zechariah, which then expanded to include other psalms. The fact that the names are in the genitive may suggest these superscripts are products of transmission history, as it is unclear what the Hebrew text could have read to produce such a translation (If the Hebrew was lamed + name, then you would expect an article in the Greek, and there is no precedent for a construction “the hallelujah of Haggai and Zechariah”).

Personal Names and Authorship

One question that comes up in examining the LXX superscripts is how the translator understood the notion of authorship. Interestingly, it appears to be the case that the Greek translator (one of the earliest biblical interpreters) did not see the personal names in the superscripts as an indication of authorship, as a genitive construction would be expected. For example, Didymus the Blind (a 4th century Alexandrian theologian) makes the distinction in the Tura Psalms commentary in connection with Psalm 24:

(Ψαλμος τω δαυιδ): εις τον δαυιδ ο ψαλμος λεγεται αλλο γαÏ? εστιν “του δαυιδ” ειναι και αλλο “τω δαυιδ” λεγεται, οταν η αυτος αυτον πεποιηκως η ψαλλων. “αυτω” δε λεγεται, οταν εις αυτον φεÏ?ηται.
The psalm says “to David,” for others are “of David” and others “to David.” It says “of David,” when he made/wrote it or sang [it]. But it says “to him” when it was brought to him.

So while the Old Greek translation does not seem to indicate authorship, the growing trend in later witnesses is to spell out authorship explicitly by using the genitive. This suggests that the emphasis on individual authorship grew with time.

The evidence from the Greek Psalter fits nicely with a theory of Burton Mack’s I came across a number of years ago in an article entitled, “Under the Shadow of Moses: Authorship and Authority in Hellenistic Judaism” (SBL Seminar Papers 21 (1982) 299-318). In this article Mack argues that the interest in individual authorship only developed as Israel interacted with Hellenism. In the same way that the Greeks had their famous individuals, so too Judaism began to emphasize their own: Moses and the Pentateuch, Solomon and wisdom literature, and — as is clear from the Greek Psalms — David and the Psalter. The growing Davidic connection in the LXX Psalter is also paralleled in 11QPsa, where the prose piece notes that David composed over 4000 psalms “by the spirit of prophecy.”

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The Septuagint Psalm Superscriptions (Part 1)

1st July 2005

I have been meaning to blog on some of my research on the Psalm superscriptions since I presented a paper at the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies annual meeting earlier this spring (see my summaries of the conference here, here, and here).

This will be the first of five posts on the Septuagint Psalm superscriptions that I will do over the next little while.

Superscripts in the Hebrew Masoretic Tradition

In the Hebrew Masoretic (MT) Psalter, 117 out of 150 psalms are preceded by a superscription, containing four possible types of information:

  1. Personal names (most often with the preposition ‏לְ ). Seventy three psalms contain David; other have Asaph (Pss 50; 73; 83); the sons of Korah (Pss 42; 44-49; 84-85; 87-88); Solomon (Pss 72; 127); Ethan (Ps 89), Heman (Ps 88), Moses (Ps 90), and possibly Jeduthun (Pss 39; 62; 77).
  2. “Genre” classifications (not form-critical genres), including non-technical (e.g., ‏ מִזְמוֹר “psalm” and ‏ שִׁ֥יר “song”; etc.) and technical terms (e.g.,‏ מִכְתָּ֥ם miktam, ‏מַשְׂכִּ֥יל maskil).
  3. Liturgical directions, including the phrase ‏לַמְנַצֵּ֥חַ “to the leader” (NRSV; “for the director of music,” NIV); and other obscure terms denoting melodies, musical instruments, and/or cultic procedures.
  4. Situational ascriptions relating individual psalms to David’s life (Pss 3; 7; 18; 34; 51; 52; 54; 56; 57; 59; 60; 63; 142).

The superscriptions are most likely not original to the psalms, but were added piecemeal before the compilation of the book. Some suggest the liturgical instructions may have been originally subscripts (cf. Hab 3:1, 19). The personal names in the superscripts reflect an old tradition and some of them may even denote actual authorship or perhaps more likely patronage (however, as we will see in my next installment, their first interpreters, i.e., the Greek translators of the Hebrew Psalter, did not understand the personal names as indicating authorship). David’s multiple associations with the origin of psalmody in Israel is very likely ancient (2 Sam 22:1-51; 1 Chron 16:7-43); though it also grew with time (the cross-references to David’s life in some superscripts are likely midrashic comments based upon this growing tradition). The primary significance for the superscripts is the light they shed on the composition and use of the book of Psalms in ancient Israel.

Superscripts in the Greek Septuagint

When one compares the superscripts of the MT and the Septuagint (LXX) one soon discovers a bewildering variety of differences, both qualitative and quantitative. By quantitative I mean actual differences in the superscripts — whether expansions, additions, or deletions — and by qualitative I mean differences in meaning in the translation. What I want to concentrate on are the quantitative differences. That is, the deletions, expansions, and additions found in the LXX superscripts. And the primary question that I want to pursue is what is the nature of the differences. That is, do they reflect a different Hebrew Vorlage [original] or are they inner-Greek developments? But before we move on to this discussion, I want to make two general observations on the character of the superscripts in the LXX.

One of the first things that you observe when examining the superscripts is that it is apparent that the translator had some difficulties with them. Frankly put, he just didn’t know what he was translating some of the time! His method of dealing with the terms he didn’t recognize varied. At times he relied on etymological renderings. So for instance, the translation of [probably a type of song in Hebrew] in 13 superscriptions is consistently rendered as συνέσεως “understanding” or “be prudent.” This equivalency is based on relating the Hebrew to the verbal root σύνεσις, “understand.” Other times, the translator employed (partial) transcriptions such as the rendering of ‏עַֽל־מָחֲלַ֗ת ; (“according to Mahalath” in NRSV) in Pss 53 and 88 are rendered ὑπὲρ μαελεθ. Other times the translator employed educated guesswork, such as the regular translation of ‏מְנַצֵּ֥חַ (“leader” NRSV or “director” BDB) as τὸ τέλος some 55 times in the Psalter. Here the translator evidently related the Heb to the nominal נֵצַח “eminence, enduring, everlastingness, perpetuity” (BDB). Despite the uncertainty that the translator had with his Vorlage, once he decided on an equivalence, he stuck with it. The titles (and to a lesser extent the translation as a whole) are a good example of a very formal — even stilted — translation. For instance, ‏לַמְנַצֵּ֥חַ— always gives rise to εἰς τὸ τέλος‚ “to the end,” ל+personal object is rendered as an articular dative (with the sole exception of לשלמה in Ps 72(71) which features Εἰς Σαλωμων instead), and על + object produces ὑπὲÏ? + genitive.

Second, once you dig a bit deeper into the superscripts, you notice that there is significantly more textual instability surrounding them compared with the rest of the translation. From a text-critical point of view, most of the quantitative differences in the superscripts are contested. More precisely, of the 24 expansions found in the LXX, 19 are contested and only 5 are uncontested; while the additions fair better with 10 uncontested and only three contested. Of course, just because an addition is not contested textually does not mean that it should be considered OG. The LXX is replete with examples of clearly secondary readings that have full textual support (The most famous is Psalm 14(13):3, which includes the text of Romans 3:13-18. This clearly was triggered by the fact that Paul quotes a chain of OT texts beginning with Ps 14(13):3 and them moving without comment to Ps 5.10, 139.4, 9,28; Isa 59:7, 8; Ps 35.2). What this does suggest is that the superscripts were treated with a bit more flexibility. This is likely because they were not considered as having the same authority as the text of the psalms themselves, but instead reflected an ongoing exegetical and liturgical (re)readings of the psalms. This conclusion is borne out by my analysis of the quantitative differences in the titles (that we’ll get to shortly), but also by later scribal practices that made a distinction between the superscripts and the body of the psalm.

My next blog on this topic will look at the additions and expansions including personal names in the Septuagint Psalter — at which point we’ll take a look particularly at the notion of authorship.

Posted in LXX Psalm Superscriptions, Psalms, Septuagint, Translation Theory | 2 Comments »