This is the Dream, This is my Body: Theodotion-Daniel 2.36 and the interpretation of Luke 22.19

In celebration of International Septuagint Day, today’s post will look at the way in which Michael Wolter (Eng) appeals to Theodotion-Daniel 2.36 in his interpretation of Luke 22.19.

Before turning to Wolter, however, let me first take a moment to congratulate my co-translator Christoph Heilig on the publication of his new book Paul’s Triumph, which he has recently discussed on the Zürich New Testament Blog (here and here)!

English Translation and German Text

English (2017, ad loc.): Daniel 2.36Theodotion may help us to understand how τοῦτό ἐστιν could be meant. Daniel recounts Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (vv. 31-35) and concludes with the words τοῦτό ἐστιν το ἐνύπνιον (“this is the dream”; LXX: τοῦτο το ὅραμα).

German (p. 706): Damit man sich vorstellen kann, wie τοῦτό ἐστιν gemeint sein kann, hilft vielleicht Dan 2,36Theod. weiter: Daniel erzählt Nebukadnezars Traum (V. 31-35) und schließt mit den Worten: τοῦτό ἐστιν το ἐνύπνιον “das ist der Traum” (LXX: τοῦτο το ὅραμα).

English: Daniel’s narrative is not, of course, the dream itself, but it is, in fact, the authentic making present of its content.Entirely analogously, the bread is not the body of Jesus given for the disciples itself; it is, however, the authentic making present of its salvific effect.

German: Natürlich ist Daniels Erzählung nicht der Traum selbst, aber sie ist doch die authentische Vergegenwärtigung von dessen Inhalt. Ganz analog ist auch das Brot nicht der für die Jünger gegebene Leib Jesu selbst; es ist aber die authentische Vergegenwärtigung von dessen Heilswirkung.

English: In other words, as the narrative is a possibility to actualize the content of the dream ever anew, so the “breaking of bread” that takes place with reference to Jesus (according to 19c εἰς την ἐμην ἀνάμνησιν) is also a possibility to stage ever anew the remembrance of Jesus for the participants in the meal.

German: Anders gesagt: wie die Erzählung eine Möglichkeit ist, den Inhalt des Traumes immer wieder neu zu aktualisieren, so ist auch das mit Bezug auf Jesus (nach 19c εἰς την ἐμην ἀνάμνησιν) erfolgende “Brotbrechen” eine Möglichkeit, die Erinnerung an Jesus für die Mahlteilnehmer immer wieder neu zu inszenieren.

English: As the dream is present in Daniel’s narrative, without being identical with it, so too the body of Jesus that is “given for you” is present in the bread which is also “given for you” (and only as such!), without being identical with it.

German: Wie der Traum in Daniels Erzählung präsent ist, ohne mit ihr identisch zu sein, so ist auch der Leib Jesu als “für euch gegebener” (und nur als solcher!) in dem Brot präsent, ohne mit ihm identisch zu sein.

English: The explanation of σῶμα as a designation for the person (see above) must not level out the semantic tension that the τοῦτό ἐστιν establishes. Something analogous also applies to the interpretation of the cup in v. 20b.

German: Die Erklärung von σῶμα als Bezeichnung  für die Person (s.o.) darf die semantische Spannung, die das herstellt, nicht einebnen. Analoges gilt dann auch für die Deutung des Bechers in V. 20b.

Linguistic and substantive analysis: In terms of translation, the term Vergegenwärtigung, which I have rendered with “making present” is difficult. In terms of substance, I find it significant that Wolter has developed an interpretation that differentiates between Jesus’s body and the bread and yet has the body of Jesus be present in the bread which is “given for you.”

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Dietrich-Alex Koch on Paul’s Use of the LXX and Vorpaulinische Septuagintarezensionen

As a way of properly marking February 8th as “International Septuagint Day”, I have decided to supplement my usual Monday blog post with a bonus post devoted to a key work from the field of Septuagint Studies, namely Dietrich-Alex Koch’s 1986 book Die Schrift als Zeuge des Evangeliums.

Today’s post will also introduce a new category entitled “key quotations”, which will involve key passages that are slightly longer than “model sentences” and thus only include a selective grammatical commentary.

As usual I will begin with the English translation so that the grammatical commentary directly follows upon the German passage.

English Translation (WMC): “Even if Paul fundamentally presupposes the Greek translation of Scripture designated as ‘Septuagint’, it has nevertheless always presented difficulties to derive all the quotations from this translation. Multiple Isaiah quotations and the two Job quotations of Paul are not taken from the LXX; they are much closer to the MT and in part also show clear correspondences/agreements with the (later!) translations of Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion. This simultaneously points to the fact/view/conclusion that Paul does not independently reach back to the Hebrew wording here, but rather in these passages he uses a Vorlage/existing text that has been adjusted to/made close to the Hebrew text.” Note 3: “The view that in these passages Paul reached back directly to the Hebrew Text and provided an independent translation is scarcely advocated any longer. An exception is Ellis, Use 15, 19-20, 139-141; on this see p. 80 below.”

Die Schrift als Zeuge des Evangeliums, p. 57: „Auch wenn Paulus grundsätzlich die als >Septuaginta<  bezeichnete griechische Übersetzung der Schrift voraussetzt, hat es doch immer Schwierigkeiten bereitet, sämtliche Zitate von dieser Übersetzung herzuleiten. Mehrere Jes-Zitate und die beiden Hiob-Zitate des Paulus sind nicht der LXX entnommen; sie stehen dem MT wesentlich näher und zeigen z.T. auch deutliche Übereinstimmungen mit den (späteren!) Übersetzungen von Aquila, Symmachus und Theodotion. Dies weist zugleich darauf hin, daß Paulus hier nicht eigenständig auf den hebräischen Wortlaut der Schrift zurückgreift, sondern an diesen Stellen eine dem HT angenäherte Vorlage verwendet.“ FN 3: „Die Ansicht daß Pls in diesen Fällen direkt auf den HT zurückgreift und eine selbständige Übersetzung bietet, wird kaum noch vertreten. Eine Ausnahme bildet Ellis, Use 15.19f.139-141; dazu s.u. S. 80.“

Selective Grammatical Commentary: die Übersetzung is modified by “als >Septuaginta<  bezeichnete” and by “griechische”. In such cases, it is usually best to relocate one of the modifiers in English. “bezeichnen als” is usually best translated as “designate as” but “refer to” is sometimes better. It could be preferable to translate “Schwierigkeiten bereiten” more freely as “created difficulties” or even more freely as “been difficult”. While one could translate “stehen” in a wooden manner as “they stand much closer”, it is often better to translate this German idiom as they “are” much closer. It is always difficult to translate z.T. (zum Teil). I have rendered it literally as “in part” but “sometimes” or “in some cases” might be preferable. “darauf hin, dass”/“to this, that” needs to be filled out either as “to the fact that” or “to the view that” or “to the conclusion that”. zurückgreift could perhaps also be translated as “go back to” or “make recourse to” or even “draw on”. Translators usually allow themselves the luxury of leaving the technical term “Vorlage” untranslated: here it refers to an already-existing Greek version that Paul is using. It is difficult to capture the force of angenäherte – a free translation such as “adjusted to” or “conformed to” is probably preferable to a wooden translation such as “made near to” or “approximated to”.

Substantive analysis: while I remain somewhat puzzled/surprised (and I acknowledge that this may simply be due to my inadequate knowledge of the full extent and nature of the relevant data) by the confidence with which some (Septuagint) scholars appear to suggest/presuppose that Paul and other New Testament writers could never have (also) independently interacted with Hebrew versions of the scriptures in oral or written form (how could we know this, at least for those authors who may well have known  Hebrew?), I think that Koch and others have made a valuable contribution in stressing that in any given case it is at least equally likely and perhaps even more likely that a given New Testament author was making use of an alternative Greek version that had been adjusted to a Hebrew text, especially when there are resemblances to known Greek versions. In other words, I certainly think that these scholars have swung the pendulum in the right direction, even if I remain somewhat skeptical towards what I perceive as a certain dogmatism on this point.

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