The main objective of the projects is to produce a critical edition of the Septuagint of 2 Samuel for the Göttingen Septuagint series. The secondary objective is to carry out research on the textual history of 2 Samuel—the Hebrew and Greek texts and the secondary versions—and the impact of the Septuagint on a broader field of studies on the Books of Samuel-Kings.

All the witnesses of the Septuagint of 2 Samuel ultimately stem from a single Greek archetype. The textual traditions were split into three branches: the B-text, the Majority text, and the Proto-Lucianic text. The B-text underwent the Hebraizing kaige revision perhaps the first century BCE. The Majority text shares most, but not all, of the kaige readings in B. In addition, one branch of the B-text has undergone another, later, Hebraizing revision that is commonly called “Hexaplaric”. Its notable trait are additions done on the basis of Origen’s (d. 254 CE) Hexapla, a multi-column work that presented a comparison between the Hebrew text, the Septuagint, and a number of other Greek versions. The Proto-Lucianic text attests to only a very small number of kaige readings. However, it served as the base text for another, much later, revision that bears the name of Lucian of Antioch (d. 311 CE)—hence the name “Proto-Lucianic”; the fully developed recensional text is called “the Lucianic text”. Because of the heavy revision, the Lucianic text on the whole is furthest away from the original translation. However, since its Proto-Lucianic base text contained very few kaige readings, the Lucianic text often retains the original reading when both the B and the Majority texts attest a kaige reading. This makes the Lucianic text a highly important witness especially in 2 Sam 10–24 (so-called kaige section) where the Majority text shares most of the kaige readings of the B text.

The Edition

See a sample of the edition:

The edition includes:

  • A critically established Greek text that presents the closest possible approximation to the text that the translator produced.
  • Apparatus I, that lists all the meaningful variant readings in the Greek manuscript traditions, the significant readings from Latin and other secondary versions, as well as a selection of readings from indirect sources such as quotations from 2 Samuel by Greek and Latin patristic authors. The apparatus follows the well-established format of the Göttingen editions.
  • Apparatus II, that lists extant Hexaplaric readings derived from later Jewish Greek versions (Aquila, Symmachus, Theodotion). These readings can be found in the margins of the manuscripts and noteworthy indirect witnesses such as the Syrohexapla and ancient commentaries.
  • An Introduction that explains the format of the edition and outlines the textual history.
  • Appendices providing information of orthography and other details not noted in the apparatus.
  • In addition, there will be a separate commentary volume Notes on the Greek Text of 2 Samuel that provides more information about the textual history and justifies the editorial decisions.

The key questions for the text-historical research are:

  • What are the underlying causes for the textual variation in the witnesses?
  • How are the witnesses divided? How should they be arranged into groups and families?
  • What is the contribution of the secondary versions and ancient quotations to the textual history?
  • How the remains of the Hexapla help to recognize early Hebraizing corrections in the Septuagint witnesses?

The new critical edition will allow for a more refined reconstruction of the underlying Hebrew Vorlage to be used in the textual criticism of the Hebrew 2 Samuel. In addition, it can be expected that the research included in the editing process will refine the view on the textual history of the Greek 2 Samuel and, by extension, of all the Books of Samuel-Kings.

The expected results can be formulated as the following hypotheses:

  • There are occasional kaige-type Hebraizing corrections in codex Vaticanus (B) even in the non-kaige section (2 Sam 1–9). Even in the kaige section (10–24), sometimes the majority of the manuscripts preserves the original reading against B and its allies. In most of those cases, the Lucianic manuscript group (L) attests to the original reading.
  • In the witnesses of 2 Samuel there are less Hexaplaric readings than in 1 Samuel and for the most part they are confined to three manuscripts (codex Alexandrinus [A] and group O). The L group especially has fewer Hexaplaric readings in 2 Samuel than in 1 Samuel.
  • The nature of the L group does not change between the non-kaige and kaige sections. The stylistic revision is clearly visible throughout the book.
  • Most of the variation between the witnesses results from copying errors.
  • There is a distinct category of secondary readings that can be termed free copying. This phenomenon has not been treated much in textual criticism of the Septuagint, but it is recognized in the manuscripts of the Greek New Testament. Unlike unconscious errors, the amount of free copying varies greatly between different lines of transmission.

The Ancient Versions

The most important ancient translations of the Greek 2 Samuel were made early enough for them to witness stages of textual development that antedate our existing Greek manuscripts. Especially, the translations were made before the Hexaplaric and Lucianic revisions, although readings from those revisions have later entered into the textual transmission of those versions. Each of the versions have a distinct translation technique and a textual history of their own. In order to use the ancient versions in the textual criticism of the Septuagint, their distinct traits have to be investigated.

The various Old Latin versions are attested notably by Palimpsestus Vindobonensis, marginal readings in Vulgate manuscripts, and quotations by early Latin patristic authors. Each of these sources have different transmission histories that have to be discerned before using them in textual criticism. Old Latin witnesses can be expected to contain some contamination from Lucianic Greek readings as well as from the Vulgate. Underneath that contamination, however, there is a good and old text very close to the original Greek translation.

The Syrohexaplaric translation of 2 Samuel has been preserved only very fragmentarily in a handful of lectionaries and catena manuscripts. Readings stemming from this version can be found scattered in Syriac biblical commentaries. However, the Peshitta and Jacob of Edessa's version may occasionally reflect Greek readings. The Syriac witnesses are important when they side with one or another of the supposedly recensional readings, especially when the Greek manuscripts are heavily divided.

Ethiopic is a Semitic language with no formal resemblance to Greek. However, the Ethiopic translation is highly isomorphic and, for the most part, it is easy to determine which Greek reading it attests. The Ethiopic version can be expected to closely follow the B-text but attesting to an earlier phase of the development of that text-type than codex Vaticanus. 

The over-all objective in the study of the ancient versions is to determine their value and proper usage as textual witnesses for the Septuagint of 2 Samuel. The key questions are:

  • What are the basic translation-technical features of the versions? Which linguistic features allow to discern the underlying Greek reading and which features relate solely to the usage of the language of the version?
  • What does the relationship between the versions and Greek manuscript traditions tell about the history of the versions? What is the text-critical value of the version (a) in general, (b) in individual cases? Is it probable that the versions have preserved old or original readings now lost in all Greek manuscript traditions?
  • How much of the Syrohexaplaric readings of 2 Samuel have been preserved and how do they relate to existing Greek manuscript groups and traditions? What is the relationship between various Septuagint traditions and the Peshitta and Jacob of Edessa's version?
  • Recent studies by Kauhanen and Tekoniemi suggest that the best Old Latin traditions of 1 Samuel and Kings have mostly been untouched by the various Greek recensions (Lucianic, Hexaplaric, kaige). Is this also the case in 2 Samuel?
  • The existing Old Latin witnesses often give very different translations for essentially the same Greek text. How should the Latin variation be explained? Was there a single translation that was heavily revised, or were there originally multiple Old Latin translations?
  • What is the earliest discernable text of the Ethiopic version and how does it relate the Greek witnesses? In particular, was the Greek base text of the Ethiopic version a pure copy of the B text type (represented mainly by codex Vaticanus)? Will it be possible to correct the archetype of Vaticanus with the aid of the Ethiopic readings?