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The Septuagint from Alexandria to Constantinople

Canon, New Testament, Church Fathers, Catenae

Gilles Dorival
Oxford University Press, octobre 2021


The Hebrew Torah was translated into Greek in Alexandria by Jewish scholars in the third century BCE. The other Biblical books followed, almost always in Alexandria. Then, the so-called Septuagint became the Old Testament of the New Testament. Afterwards, it was the Christian Bible of the first millenium in almost all of the Mediterranean Basin. The Septuagint was the Bible of the Byzantine Biblical compilations, made of patristic extracts, the catenae, a literary form which prevailed in Constantinople and its dependancies between the sixth and the fifteenth centuries. The first topic concerns the Biblical Jewish canon. What informations does the Septuagint provide about it ? What is the significance of the books and passages specific to the Greek Bible ? The second issue is about the New Testament : what is its Old Testament ? As a rule, it is the Septuagint, but this assertion must be qualified. And, through the centuries, was there a Christianization of the text of the Septuagint ? Actually, it was quite limited. The third issue concerns the Old Testament of the Church Fathers : what was their Bible ? It was the Septuagint, in Greek or in a language translated from Greek, except in the Syriac area as well as in the Latin area after the sixth century, where Jerome’s Vulgate translated from Hebrew prevailed. That Greek Bible played a much more important role in the building of the Christian identity than is usually recognized. The last topic is about the catenae. What are they and what is their importance ? And how do these compilations witness to the text of the Septuagint ? So, the first millenium Old Testament was the Septuagint, even if this assertion has to be qualified.


I Before Christianity : the Septuagint and the Biblical Canon
1. The Formation of the Jewish Canon
2. The Septuagint and the Issue of the Canon

II The New Testament and the Scribes (Copyists) of the Septuagint
3. Is the Septuagint the Old Testament of the New Testament ?
4. Was the Text of the Septuagint Chistianized ?

III The Church Fathers
5. Is the Septuagint the Old Testament of the Church Fathers ?
6. The Vocabulary of the Septuagint and the Church Fathers

IV The Biblical Catenae
7. An Overview of the Catenae
8. The Catenae and the Septuagint


Gilles Dorival est professeur émérite à l’université d’Aix-Marseille et reste à ce titre, rattaché pleinement au TDMAM ou il poursuit ses recherches sur les traditions d’interprétation de la bible.