After my recent First Look post on the Lexham English Septuagint (LES), reader Michael Demers wondered how the LES compared to Fr. Nicholas King’s translation of the Septuagint. I have both editions, and I thought it would be very interesting to compare the two for the first reading for the next few Sundays. I know very little about the Septuagint, aside from the most basic history. I’m excited to see how these two translations of the Septuagint compare with what we are used to hearing at Sunday Mass.

Many of the early Christians only used the Septuagint when they referenced the Old Testament. In modern times, our English translations are almost always based on the Hebrew texts, with occasional corrections based on the Septuagint and other manuscripts. In that sense, the Old Testament we are familiar with could be somewhat different from what the early Christians were familiar with. I’m interested to see how large the differences are!

Sunday, March 22nd, 2020 — Fourth Sunday of Lent (Year A)
First Reading: 1 Samuel 16:1B, 6-7, 10-13A

Lexham English Septuagint:

And the Lord said to Samuel, “Fill your horn with oil, and I will send you over to Jesse near Bethlehem because I have seen among his sons someone to be my king.”

And it happened when he came, he saw Eliab and said, “Surely, before the Lord, this is his anointed!” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look too closely at his physical appearance or his great size, because I have rejected him; because God will not see as a human, because a human will look at the face, but God will look at the heart.” And Jesse brought forward his seven sons before Samuel. And Samuel said, “the Lord has not chosen from these.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Are any of the children left out?” And he said, “There is still the small one. Look, he is shepherding among the flock.” So, Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and fetch him, because I will not sit until he has come.” And so he sent and brought him in. And he was ruddy with attractiveness for the eyes and appealing to look at to the Lord. And the Lord said to Samuel, “Rise; anoint David, because this one is good.” And Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day and onward.

Fr. Nicholas King Translation:

And the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Fill your horn with oil, and, come, I’m sending you to Jesse, all the way to Bethlehem, for I have seen among his sons someone to reign for me.’

And it happened that when they came in, [Samuel] looked at Eliab, and said, ‘Now surely his Anointed One is before the Lord.’ And the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Don’t look at his appearance, nor at the outward appearance of his greatness, for I have rejected him; for it is not as human beings see that God sees: for humans look on the face, but God looks at the heart.’ And Jesse made his seven sons pass before Samuel; and Samuel said, ‘The Lord has not chosen any of these.’

And Samuel said to Jesse, ‘Are there any other children?’ And he said, ‘There is still the little one. Look — he is shepherding the flock.’ And Samuel said to Jesse, ‘Send for him, and get him. For we are not going to sit down to eat until he comes.’ And he sent and brought him in. And he was auburn, with beautiful eyes, and a good appearance before the Lord. And the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Up you get and anoint David — for this one is good.’ And Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon him, from that day onwards.

One thought on “Lexham vs. Nicholas King Septuagint (4th Sunday of Lent)”

  1. Thanks, Marc. I think in this case I’d go with Nicholas King although I’ve never heard a man described as auburn.

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