Thursday, 7 February 2019

Robert Crellin: The exegetical consequences of translational divergences between the Old Greek and the MT in the patristic treatment of Isaiah 53

Isaiah 53 has been critical to Christian understandings of the nature and purpose of Jesus' crucifixion since the faith's earliest days (Watson 2009). Yet the Hebrew and Old Greek versions of this chapter are strikingly different. This is the case throughout, but notable especially in vv. 4 and 10, so that quite different conceptions of the nature and character of God can be inferred from the respective texts (Lust 1979). The present paper considers the patristic reception of this divergence in order to assess the extent to which early Christian writers were aware of the potential consequences of the divergence for their understanding of the atonement. The paper builds particularly on Watson (2009), who carefully outlines the extent and nature of the divergences, as well as various patristic writers who cite (parts of) the relevant passage, concluding that the 'mistranslations' represent a 'semantic potentialwaiting to be realized' (Watson 2009: 233). Watson works this out in the context of Paul's writings. The present paper builds on this to consider the possible exegetical consequences for,inter alios, Justin, 1 Clement, Chrysostom, Jerome and Augustine.

Lust, J. (1979). “The demonic character of Jahweh and the Septuagint of Isaiah”. In: Bijdragen40(1), pp. 2–14. issn: 00062278. doi: 10.1080/00062278.1979.10596761.Watson, Francis (2009). “Mistranslation and the death of Christ: Isaiah 53 LXX and its Pauline Reception”. In: Translating the New Testament: Text, Translation and Theology. Ed. by Stanley E. Porter and M.J. Boda. Vol. 44. September. Eerdmans: Grand Rapids, MI, pp. 215–250.

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