This article is also available in text-only format.
Gert J. Steyn. Septuagint Quotations in the Context of the Petrine and Pauline Speeches of the Acta Apostolorum. Kampen: Kok-Pharos, 1995. ISBN: 0-8028-6199-7. Pp. viii+290. US $44.00.
1. Since this is one of the best organised and systematically presented books I have read, I decided to structure my review in a similar systematic way.
2. The author has written on a research area that has remained relatively fallow, namely, the use of the Septuagint in the New Testament. He has also chosen a neatly demarcated theme, concentrating on the Acta Apostolorum, and for that matter only on the Petrine and Pauline Speeches.
3. The monograph presents research which has not been executed in this specific way before. Many studies have been prepared on the use of the OT in the NT, but few in as focused a manner as has been done by Steyn. The novel aspect of his work lies in the materials which he chooses to analyse, as well as in the way in which he actually goes about doing this. This immediately brings me to his method.
4. The author has adopted a clearly demarcated and nuanced methodology. He focuses on explicit LXX quotations, but from a specific theoretical angle. This entails, in his own words, "a threefold problem which can best be described as texthistorical, methodological and hermeneutical in nature" (31). In the process he stresses the immediate context in which a quotation is found. He also addresses the text-critical issue attending the question whether a different Textvorlage can be identified. He furthermore deals with the question of how Luke quoted from the scriptures, and finally he endeavours to understand why specific changes were introduced by the author.
5. From the discussions it is evident that Steyn is well aware of the complexity of the problem he is researching. On the one hand, he takes seriously the fact that one can not too readily refer to the LXX and that the authors of the NT did not have available a or the Bible in the sense that we have it today. On the other hand, it is reassuring that he is aware of the fundamental difference between reconstructed text editions (the LXX and the NT) and the mss which the authors would have had in hand. It is no mean task to steer clear of interpretational pitfalls in an endeavour to find solutions. His holistic approach is certainly helpful in this regard.
6. Steyn takes full cognizance of previous research. This is nowhere more clearly evident than in his identification of OT quotations, for he has consulted all of the major works on this issue. The same applies also to the theories about the availability of OT material. He offers an in-depth discussion of some of these theoretical possibilities. Unfortunately he does not spend an equal amount of time on each. Two issues that are fundamental to his work are treated rather superficially. Following C. Smits (C. Smits, Oud-testamentische citaten in het Nieuwe testament, deel 2: Handelinge van de Apostelen, Evangelie van Johannes, Apocalyps en Katholieke Brieven, Collectanea Franciscana Neerlandica VIII-2 [Malmberg: Buscoduci, 1955]) he seems to be unnecessarily sceptical about the possibility that quotations in the NT could be the result of quotation from memory (14). This is in direct contrast to the ground breaking work by R. J. Owens on Aphrahat (R. J. Owens, "Aphrahat as a Witness to the Early Syriac Text of Leviticus," in The Peshitta: Its Early Text and History: Papers Read at the Peshitta Symposium at Leiden 30-31 August 1985, ed. M. J. Mulder and P. B. Dirksen, 1-48 [Leiden: Brill, 1988]). In this regard Owens concludes "... that Aphrahat indeed normally cites Scripture from memory, often inexactly, with a pronounced tendency toward accidental mixture of elements from different passages" (Owens, 11). I am not contending that Luke or his tradition would have followed identical methods of quotation; however, the possibilities should at least be contemplated more explicitly.
7. On another level he deals rather cursorily with the fundamental issue of text theory. He offers a discussion of the "diversity of texts" theory (Shemaryahu Talmon, "The Textual Study of the Bible--A New Outlook," in Qumran and the History of the Biblical Text, ed. Frank Moore Cross and Shemaryahu Talmon, 321-400 [Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1975]; and Emanuel Tov, "A Modern Textual Outlook Based on the Qumran Scrolls," Hebrew Union College Annual 53 : 11-27), without referring to other theoretical possibilities such as the local text theory (Frank Moore Cross, "The Evolution of a Theory of Local Texts," in 1972 Proceedings of the International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies and the Society of Biblical Literature Pseudepigrapha Seminar, ed. Robert A. Kraft, 108-26, Septuagint and Cognate Studies, no. 2 [n.p.: Society of Biblical Literature, 1972]). This is somewhat surprising, for the local text theory does take seriously different historical milieus. One of the advantages of Steyn's research is indeed the stress he places on the socio-historical context! It is, however, also true that some exponents of the Harvard school have unfortunately misused their own theory, pressing it beyond what the evidence allows. There are moreover striking correspondences between these two textual theories. Tov was after all a student of both Talmon and Cross. Nevertheless, Steyn does employ his perspectives on these issues creatively in his treatment of individual passages. The so-called "vulgar text theory" of Paul Kahle, for example, also features in his analyses (11).
8. A glance at the contents bears witness to the systematic and consistent approach adopted by the author. Practically the same structure is followed in respect of each individual passage! This makes for easier reading, and conclusions seem to flow logically from the preceding neatly structured arguments.
9. As is to be expected, the monograph commences with an extensive research history and a clear formulation of the focus of the study. He correctly discusses the major levels into which the subject matter, "OT" material used in the NT, has been approached in the past: "(a) the influence of the language; (b) the manifestation of LXX material by way of explicit quotation (Textvorlage, form, function, etc.) and (c) the implicit influence, as seen in references, allusions, imitations and transpositions of broader motifs" (2). The novel part of this approach is the emphasis he places on the context. This is a deliberate choice, moving away from what he calls a more fragmentary approach towards a more holistic approach. This is an innovative approach in intertestamental studies in general. This is true of the NT as well, for an exhaustive study of the explicit quotations of the LXX in the book of Acts has not yet been executed.
10. The bulk of the work is dealt with in chapters 3-8, where the various speeches of Peter and Paul are analysed in depth once the theoretical setting has been ably prepared. The first speech (Acts 1:16-22) is divided into smaller entities for the sake of the analysis. The first sub-section, 16-20c, deals with the death of Judas as a fulfilment of scripture. Steyn addresses the details of the quotation from Ps 68 (69):26 and discusses each individual difference. He establishes intertextual relationships between Ps 68 (69) and Isa 6:11. His significant conclusion reads as follows:
All this means that although the quoted text comes from the Pss, and not from the books of the prophets, it was nonetheless understood by Luke (and/or his tradition) as being a prophecy which was written down by David (seen as a prophet), and which found its fulfilment in the death of Judas. David's prophecy of a future event is fulfilled. Ps 68 (69):26 is thus interpreted here as 'ex eventu proof' of what has happened [p. 54].He deals with the second quotation (Ps 108:8) similarly. He then comes to the conclusion that both quotations are most probably taken from the LXX and reinterpreted as "authoritative scriptural emphases" (63).
11. Steyn's treatment of the second Petrine speech (Acts 2:17-21) is an example of his nuanced approach. In his explanation of the textual differences between this NT passage and Joel 2:28-32, he refers not only to the Göttingen edition, but also to codex W, as well as to the textual variants of other codices. The same applies to his usage of Dead Sea Scrolls materials in an endeavour to understand the textual background to Acts 13:41.
12. From the whole of the book it is clear that he endeavours to remain as objective as possible, never making choices too easily and attending as extensively as possible to the numerous details connected to the analysis of quotations. This approach can only be applauded.
13. The overwhelming conclusion that flows from this research is that Luke (and/or his tradition) was a creative "theologian/hermeneut". He adapted specific OT passages in order to make a statement, in many instances a prophetic one. Significant in this respect is that in all the speeches and dialogues which contain explicit quotations, the listeners were Jewish. Equally significant is the fact that, where non-Jewish audiences were addressed, no explicit quotations from Jewish scriptures were utilised. This must naturally have implications for Septuagintal studies in general. It remains one of the cruces in Septuagintal research to determine what actually led to specific deviations between texts. The two basic schools of thought (as is well known) are, on the one hand, those who would choose the so-called Vorlage differences as the primary theoretical possibility, and, on the other hand, the group that would prefer to accept that the translator is responsible for many changes. The work by Steyn would seem to endorse the work of the second group, even though one should not lose sight of the fact that the Septuagint, being a translation of a Semitic parent text, is of a different order than the NT.
14. This research should at least stimulate discussion in Septuagintal circles. I have recently completed a monograph on the Septuagint version of Proverbs that will (hopefully) be published in 1997, where these problems once again came to the fore. To mention just one representative example, the striking differences in the order of some of the final eight chapters in LXX Proverbs compared with all other texts have been interpreted in various ways. Tov, for one, (Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible[Philadelphia: Fortress, 1992], 337) here argues that they are actually the result of a recensionally different parent text. In the forthcoming book I argue that a number of these changes have been brought about deliberately by the translator. In some instances he took into consideration religious perspectives (contrasts) (Prov 29 and 31:10), and in others, thematic ones (Prov 30:15 following upon 24:23).
15. Other conclusions reached by Steyn are also relevant, albeit more in a "theological" sense. This applies to Luke's use of scripture on what Steyn calls an informative and a normative level (234). The following perspectives are enlightening (237): (a) the nature of the applied quoted texts is theocentric rather than christological; (b) the medium through which these quoted texts are interpreted is a prophetic one; (c) the general aim of these quoted texts is salvation-historical; and finally (d) the contents of the prophecy itself are presented in a kerygmatic form.
16. To complete this review I mention a few lesser problems that the author could attend to in further research. I identified a number of unclear and inconsistent formulations in his book. On page 35 he refers to "Hebrew" religious terminology, where I would rather have referred to "Jewish" terminology. It is nevertheless conspicuous that he usually applies the formulation "Jewish". He is also formally correct in talking about the LXX documents bearing a Jewish-Hellenistic nature (35) (cf. Cook, "The Septuagint Proverbs as a Jewish-Hellenistic Document," in VIII Congress of the International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies: Paris 1992, ed. Leonard Greenspoon and Olivier Munnich, 277-299, SBLSCS 41 [Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1995]). The reference to "targumim" context instead of "targumic" on page 34 strikes my ear as strange.
17. I do miss references to one or two crucial publications that would have enhanced Steyn's arguments. The ground-breaking article by Albert Pietersma in the Festschrift for J. W. Wevers ("Kyrios or Tetragram: A Renewed Quest for the Original Septuagint," in De Septuaginta: Studies in Honour of John William Wevers on His Sixty-Fifth Birthday, ed. Albert Pietersma and Claude Cox, 85-101 [Mississauga, ON: Benben, 1984]) on the name of the Lord could have been included in the discussion of the usage of the tetragram in the LXX (123). However, having said this, one should remember that the author is fundamentally a NT scholar and one who, for that matter, has done his homework extremely well.
18. It is a pity that the necessary indices (name lists, etc.) have not been included. It would have improved the usefulness of the monograph even further. I could locate only a small number of spelling errors, which I shall pass on to the author.
19. In the final analysis the monograph by Steyn represents a solid and illuminating piece of research. He has certainly succeeded in what he set out to do, and he has done so in a systematic way. This is the result of a holistic approach based on sound methodological reflection. The work as a whole reflects favourably the excellent training he received in South Africa and in Germany (cf. 6.3, p. 36). This book should be read by all those interested in biblical studies in the comprehensive sense, be it in terms of textual or hermeneutical perspectives.
© TC: A Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism, 1997.
Johann Cook Department of Ancient Near Eastern Studies University of Stellenbosch South Africa