The scope of the Old Testament and the nature of its theology : determining the object and subject of Old Testament theology by means of the Septuagint
The present study focuses on the difficulties surrounding the identification of an object and subject for the discipline of Old Testament theology. The goal thereof is to address these difficulties by establishing the legitimacy of an interdisciplinary engagement therewith. In order to achieve this goal the significance of the Greek translations of the Jewish scriptures, the Septuagint, for determining the object and subject of Old Testament theology is pursued. The problems surrounding the object of study in Old Testament theology are identified and discussed in terms of both canon and text. The advent of Canon criticism, with its focus on the nature, function and history of the biblical canon, as well as the study of the recent textual discoveries in the area surrounding the Dead Sea, have rendered previous consensus regarding the formation of the biblical canon(s) and the history of the biblical texts problematic. This necessitates a thorough reconsidering of the scope of the term “Old Testament”, and consequently, the basis on which the discipline of Old Testament theology is practiced. The rise to prominence of a so-called new or postmodern epistemological situation and the resulting influence of developments and shifts in literary studies on Biblical criticism, coupled with new challenges within the historical study of the biblical texts and a rediscovery of the importance of Wisdom literature forces upon the Old Testament theologian the responsibility to indicate and clarify the relationship between the Old Testament and divine revelation. Consequently, the nature of the Old Testament’s theology, and therefore, the subject of study in the discipline of Old Testament theology come under scrutiny. The focus of the study subsequently shifts to topics treated in the study of the Septuagint in order to indicate how these relate to the problems plaguing the discipline of Old Testament theology. Issues relating to the proper use of terminology in Septuagint-studies, theories of the origin of the Septuagint, and the techniques that were employed in translating the Semitic source texts of the Jewish scriptures into Greek, occupy the student in this regard. As a result, the legitimacy of employing insights from Septuagint-studies in delineating the object and subject of study in Old Testament theology is demonstrated. The final chapter identifies several overtures for furthering the study of the significance of the Septuagint for Old Testament theology in general. A number of methodological problems in the latter can be subsumed under the twin heading of the scope of the “Old Testament” and the nature of its theology. Chapter 36 of the Greek translation of the book of Job acts as a brief case study in order to demonstrate the suggestions that are made in this concluding chapter of the study.
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