• Revisiting the Proselutos in ‘the LXX’

    Matthew Thiessen (see profile)
    Biblical Studies, Religious Studies
    Biblical interpretation
    Item Type:
    Conversion, LXX, proselyte, translation technique, Biblical studies, Religious studies
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    One of the more heated lexical debates in LXX studies surrounds the meaning of the Greek term proselutos. Yet the only thorough examination of the word in the LXX is W.C. Allen’s 1894 article, “On the Meaning of proselutos in the Septuagint,” which argues that the LXX translators distinguish carefully between two different uses of ger in the Hebrew Bible: the first is rendered by the Greek word paroikos, and is used in contexts where a convert to Judaism cannot be intended; the second is rendered by the Greek word proselutos, and is used in contexts where a convert to Judaism could be intended. Most modern treatments of conversion in early Judaism rely heavily upon Allen’s conclusions, often indirectly through Karl Georg Kuhn’s TDNT entry on proselutos, without reassessing the methodology or evidence Allen uses to support his argument. Consequently, I provide a criticism of Allen’s methodological assumptions and a reassessment of LXX renderings of ger by utilizing recent studies on the significance of the varying translation techniques of the LXX translators, concluding that his methodology, which treats the entirety of the LXX as a translational unity, leads him, and those who rely upon him, to misinterpret the evidence of the LXX. In contrast, analyzing the evidence of the individual books of the LXX as discrete translations by different translators demonstrates that Allen anachronistically renders proselutos in the LXX as “proselyte,” when in fact it should be translated as “alien.”
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    Last Updated:
    6 years ago
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