New Article in JBL on a Septuagint Translation Conundrum

The most recent issue of the Journal of Biblical Literature (134/3) includes an article I wrote on a peculiar translation issue in the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek translation called the Septuagint (see my intro here). The passages in question contain a word (tsemach) that is usually translated in English Bibles (ESV, NIV, KJV, etc.) as “Righteous Branch” or just “Branch.” The Greek word used in the LXX translation of these passages (anatole) is rather peculiar and has generated a lot of debate. It also happens to play a major role in one of the chapters of my dissertation, so this article was a side-branch (pun intended) off the main line of my research as I explored the various issues related to this translation. I was pleased to have it accepted by JBL. Many thanks to Chris Fresch for providing comments on the draft of the article before submission.

The abstract is as follows:

Two main arguments have been proposed to explain the peculiar LXX use of the typically light-related ἀνατολή to render the familiar messianic צמח of Jer 23:5, Zech 3:8, and Zech 6:12. (1) The translators simply made a mistake or switched metaphors, or (2) the translators were using ἀνατολή to highlight the “glow” half of the alleged “glow/grow” semantic field of צמח. This article argues against both views by undertaking a comprehensive semantic analysis of both the Hebrew and the Greek lexical groups, paying particular attention to their literal and metaphorical uses across a broad range of Jewish literature. The analysis demonstrates that the translators’ use of ἀνατολή is a semantically appropriate gloss that captures the underlying sense of the metaphor: the emergence or arising of a deliverer figure.

The article can be accessed here (for those with a login): http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.15699/jbl.1343.2015.2949.

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