Göttingen Septuagint company

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The Göttingen Septuaginta company was a scientific institute of the Göttingen Academy of Sciences founded in 1908 and expired in 2015 . His job was to publish a critical edition of the Septuagint , the first ever translation of the Bible . It was funded in the academies program of the Union of the Academy of Sciences. The "Commission for the Edition and Research of the Septuagint" has existed as the successor institution since the beginning of 2016.


The Septuagint is a translation of the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek from the 3rd / 2nd centuries. century BC and the first ever Bible translation. It has a cultural and intellectual historical significance that can hardly be overestimated. This is why the Göttingen orientalist Paul de Lagarde suggested that a critical text edition of the Septuagint should be prepared as early as the 19th century . However, the necessary inspection and recording of all accessible Greek manuscripts and other evidence requires such a great logistical and scientific effort that Lagarde was unable to implement his project.

It was not until his student Alfred Rahlfs , in collaboration with a number of prominent scientists from Göttingen, that the Prussian state provided the necessary resources for such a project of the century: the Göttingen Septuagint company was founded in 1908 as an institution of the Royal Society of Science in Göttingen .

Alfred Rahlfs headed the company until Easter 1934, a year before his death, and laid the foundations for the editing work: photographs of the manuscripts available were collected and numbered (according to the Rahlfs symbols given by Rahlfs); the different readings of the manuscripts were compared and represented synoptically. Above all, however, Rahlfs developed a viable edition concept that is still valid today (both text-critical and edition-technical). In order to be able to cope with this work, which has not yet been completed, several employee positions were set up at the Septuagint company.

Still under the direction of Alfred Rahlfs, the Septuagint company managed to publish the first volume of the critical edition ( Psalmi cum Odis ). After it was foreseeable that the elaboration of the entire Septuagint would extend over a long period of time, in 1935 Rahlfs also published a hand edition of the Septuagint based on the most important capital manuscripts, which is still a standard work today.

In the meantime, 24 volumes of the critical edition and thus around 2/3 of the books of the Septuagint have been published. Contrary to what von Rahlfs originally forecast (he estimated the duration of the editing work to be 30 years), decades will pass until the final completion of the edition, so that the entire project will take well over 100 years. This time frame and with it the unexpectedly long existence of the Göttingen Septuagint company is explained by the conception of the Göttingen edition.

At the end of 2015, the Septuagint company finally expired after 107 years of existence. The outstanding work is now in the hands of the "Commission for the Edition and Research of the Septuagint" at the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen.

Conception of the Göttingen edition

The most important concern of the Göttingen critical edition is to produce and publish the original text of the Septuagint ( Old Greek ). The Septuagint is not preserved in the original, but only in numerous copies (manuscripts) and indirectly attested by subsidiary translations and quotations in ancient literature. Therefore, the production of the original text requires inspection of all this evidence and a weighing up of the readings of the text attested to in the various manuscripts .

The second task of the Göttingen edition is to document all relevant readings that deviate from the original text in a text-critical apparatus and thus to make them accessible to the scientific public. Not only the Greek manuscript material is taken into account, but also translations made from the Septuagint into other languages ​​(subsidiary translations) as well as all known quotations from the Septuagint in ancient literature.

This comprehensive documentation task means an enormous scientific effort for each volume to be published (identical to a biblical book of the canon of the Septuagint). The respective editor is responsible for each individual volume. As a rule, these are Old Testament scholars.

The abundance of material to be considered and documented explains the long duration of the project. In 2015, the Göttingen Septuagint company was terminated after 107 years without it being foreseeable when the Göttingen critical edition could be completed.

Management and equipment

The Göttingen Septuagint company was headed by a management committee that was most recently formed from the following professors: the Old Testament scholars Rudolf Smend , Reinhard Gregor Kratz , Hermann Spieckermann and Robert Hanhart , the New Testament scholars Eduard Lohse and Reinhard Feldmeier , the patristician Ekkehard Mühlenberg and the classical philologist Heinz-Günther Nesselrath .

Chair of the management committee
  1. Eduard Schwartz (1908–1909)
  2. Jacob Wackernagel (1909-1915)
  3. Alfred Bertholet (1915–1928)
  4. Walter Bauer (1928–1946)
  5. Kurt Latte (1952-1956)
  6. Joachim Jeremias (1956–1970)
  7. Walther Zimmerli (1970–1979)
  8. Rudolf Smend (1979-2001)
  9. Reinhard Gregor Kratz (2001-2015, head of the successor committee since 2016)

Since it was founded, the Göttingen Septuagint company has had several positions for academic staff and student assistants. The company was based in the former home of Paul de Lagarde in Friedländer Weg in Göttingen; the successor commission will remain located there, but will share the premises with the academy project for the complete digital edition of the Coptic - Sahidic Old Testament. The Septuagint Company had an extensive specialist library.

See also


  • Göttingen Academy of Sciences (Ed.): Vetus Testamentum Graecum auctoritate Academiae Scientiarum Gottingensis editum . Göttingen 1931ff. (The Göttingen critical edition of the Septuagint; 24 volumes have appeared so far)
  • Announcements from the Septuagint Company. Continuation series with numerous issues, 1909ff.
  • Alfred Rahlfs (Ed.): Septuaginta, id est Vetus Testamentum Graece iuxta LXX interpretes . Stuttgart 1935, numerous new editions, most recently Editio altera quam recognovit et emendavit Robert Hanhart , Stuttgart 2006. (Hand edition of the Septuagint)
  • Reinhard Gregor Kratz / Bernhard Neuschäfer (ed.): The Göttingen Septuagint. An editorial project of the century . Berlin / Boston 2013 (anniversary volume published on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Septuaginta company)
  • Christian Schäfer: User manual for the Göttingen Septuagint . Göttingen 2012 (Volume 1: The Edition of the Pentateuch by John William Wevers ) and Göttingen 2013 (Volume 2: The Edition of the Book of Ruth by Udo Quast ) (basic introduction to the use of the Septuagint editions for which Wevers and Quast are responsible)

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. see page about the Septuaginta company at the Göttingen Academy under archive link ( Memento of the original from July 28, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.akademienunion.de
  2. For the following commission see http://adw-goe.de/forschung/forschungskommissions/edition-und-erforschung-der-septuaginta/