Theology

James K. Aitken

The Septuagint within the History of Greek Praise Epithets

Volume 11 () / Issue 3, pp. 250-266 (17)
Published 24.11.2022

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Adjectives used of god serve a function in the Septuagint comparable to praise epithets in Greek religious traditions. Irrespective of the functions of the words in Hebrew, the translators chose vocabulary that conformed to Greek epithets, either by taking existing epithets in the language or choosing words that followed the conventions of epithet formation. Taking the adjectives μέγας and κραταιός from Exod 34:6 as a test case, we see how much the practices of the Septuagint translators conformed to praise epithets in Greek. In the case of μέγας the translators use an epithet well attested elsewhere, but it is only the original Greek compositions that prefer the alternative μέγιστος. The distinction indicates the limits imposed on translation, while also contributing evidence on the history of these epithets. By contrast κραταιός as an epithet is restricted to eastern religions where there is language contact with Semitic or Egyptian. The Jewish translators's choices are intelligible within the context of their neighbours and should be understood within the wider use of Greek in the ancient near east.
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James K. Aitken No current data available.