Posts Tagged ‘Church Slavonic’

Church Slavonic and Septuagint Greek versions of Genesis 2:7

April 18, 2017

IMG_2117[1]

A solid enough display of Biblical scholarship

Question 

Here is a paragraph in progress regarding versions of Genesis 2:7. What bothers me is note 2. Is it the case that the Church Slavonic is ultimately based on the Septuagint rather than on some Hebrew original? I discovered that the current Synodal Russian translation is actually utilizing Gospod’ in 2:7, unlike the Church Slavonic edition I have. Any assistance on this would be much appreciated.

Biblical scholar Ronald A. Simkins writes of Genesis 2:7: “… YHWH’s forming of the human creature (the male ’ādām) from the dirt of the arable land (the female ’ădāmāh) serves as a metaphor for humankind’s birth out of the earth.”[1] Again, the earth gives birth, but not without God. Here it is worth noting that, like the grammatically feminine Hebrew word for “earth” (’ădāmāh), the equivalent words in the Septuagint Greek (gē), Vulgate Latin (terra), and Church Slavonic (zjemlja) – are also grammatically feminine. It is worth noting as well that the grammatically masculine Yahweh (YHWH) is matched by its grammatically masculine Greek (kurios), Latin (Dominus), and Slavonic (Gospodь) equivalents.[2]

[1] Simkins 2014, 48 (cf. also Simkins 1998, 39-46).

[2] However, these equivalents do not turn up until the next verse (8) in the Septuagint Greek and Church Slavonic texts.

Response

It is certainly the case that the Church Slavonic text comes from the Septuagint rather than the Hebrew text.

The standard Hebrew text in the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia gives the equivalent of ‘the LORD God’ (YHWH elohim, if you like) at both 2:7 and 2:8–the first occurrence that I can see of this pairing is at 2:4, before that it’s elohim (God). LXX has ho theos (God) in 2:4 and 2:7, then kurios ho theos (the Lord God) in 2:8.

I think that Jewish tradition has often tried to distinguish YHWH elohim on the grounds that one is God in the aspect of justice and the other in the aspect of mercy, but I’m not aware of anything being made of grammatical distinctions. Alternatively elohim may be interpreted as the creator and YHWH as the god of the covenant in relationship to Israel. ‘Elohim’ is notoriously plural in form but governs a masculine singular verb–to over-simplify, grammatical number and gender didn’t have the definitive character in Biblical Hebrew that they do in (say) modern Russian.

Another issue here is that LXX in some cases appears to be based on a more ancient (Hebrew) text than the standard Masoretic text we have, though BHS doesn’t give any textual variants at 2:7.

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