Ancient Translations of the Hebrew Bible


Course Objective

In his paper, the student shows to be able to:
• Introduction (Dublin descriptor a,b,e): gather general knowledge about
the most important versions and early commentaries of the Bible and
their connection to both Old and New Testament, and to apply this
knowledge to his explanation of the sources.
• Textual criticism (Dd a,b,c): discern and evaluate textual variants in
the various ancient versions.
• Exegesis (Dd b,c): create an overview of the growth of the meaning of
an OT section that is quoted in a NT section (until 600 CE).
• Interests (Dd b,c,d): make an analysis of the interests of the
authors and the mechanisms used within the exegesis to meet those
• Interests (Dd b,c,d): describe own interests in exegesis and
formulate where these interests do (not) concur with those of the
ancient authors.
• Justice (Dd c,d): explain opinions from the sources as meaningful in
their context.
• Learning (Dd e): find adequate literature to finish his paper

Course Content

The core of the course consists of introductions to the most important
ancient (Jewish and Christian) translations of the Old Testament,
especially on Isaiah and their value for both Old and New Testament
studies: Septuagint, Theodotion, Aquila, Symmachus, Vetus Latina,
Vulgate, Targums, Peshitta. The question will be how these translators
have struggled with the Hebrew text in order to convey its meaning to
the new readers in a different language and time. Isaiah 53 will be the
example used during the lectures and exercises, but students must write
a paper on another part from Isaiah (or one of the other prophets, if

Teaching Methods

Lectures on the introductions to the ancient sources, including
secondary literature.
Exercises on how to read and use ancient texts for textual criticism,
exegesis and reception history.

Method of Assessment

Assignments and/or presentations on Hebrew texts and their translations
Paper about an Isaiah section of the OT that is also used in the NT

Entry Requirements

Command of Hebrew, Greek and Latin.


J. Trebolle Barrera. The Jewish Bible and the Christian Bible. An
Introduction to the History of the Bible. Leiden: Brill; Grand Rapids:
Eerdmans, 1998.

Also useful:
Ernst Würthwein, Der Text des alten Testaments of: The Text of the Old
Testament , 5e druk (1988).
M.J. Mulder (ed.), Mikra: Text, Translation, Reading and Interpretation
of the Hebrew Bible in Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity (CRINT;
Assen: Van Gorcum, 1988).
S. Safrai (ed.), The Literature of the Sages (CRINT; Assen: Van Gorcum,
C. Kannengiesser, Handbook of Patristic Exegesis: The Bible in Ancient
Christianity (Leiden, Boston: Brill, 2006).
A.W. Zwiep, Tussen tekst en lezer: een historische inleiding in de
bijbelse hermeneutiek (VU University Press, 2009).
E. Tov, The Text-critical Use of the Septuagint in Biblical Research
(Jerusalem, 2nd 2007).
K.H. Jobes, M. Silva, Invitation to the Septuagint (Grand Rapids, 2000).
J.M. Dines, The Septuagint (London, 2004).
B. Chilton, P.V.M. Flesher, Targums: A Critical Introduction (Leiden:
Brill, 2011).
P.W. Flint (ed.), The Bible at Qumran. Text, Shape, and Interpretation
(Studies in the Dead Sea Scrolls and Related Literature; Grand Rapids:
Eerdmans, 2001).

Target Audience

Research Master - Biblical Studies and Digital Humanities.

Recommended background knowledge

Willingness to learn the very basics of Aramaic.

General Information

Course Code G_RMBS07
Credits 6 EC
Period P2
Course Level 500
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Religion and Theology
Course Coordinator prof. dr. E. van Staalduine-Sulman
Examiner prof. dr. E. van Staalduine-Sulman
Teaching Staff

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Last-minute registration is available for this course.

Teaching Methods Seminar
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