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Abstract

This study argues that while the Septuagint of Samuel is widely considered a mechanical rendering of its Vorlage, the translator was capable of making creative choices informed by his sensitivity to the coherence of his narrative and his knowledge of other texts. This thesis is based on scrutiny of three examples: 1 Sam 1:6, 14:41, and 15:29. In each of these three verses, the analysis demonstrates that the translator has provided a creative solution to a perceived problem in the Vorlage. Early Jewish sources—including non-biblical Dead Sea Scrolls, Targumim, Josephus, Pseudo-Philo, and a range of rabbinic texts—contextualize the translator’s decisions and support the argument that these examples represent interpretation rather than error. The dissertation offers a fuller and more flexible conception of the Greek translator’s working methods in Samuel than has previously been proposed. The translator’s isomorphic style is shown to be a choice rather than a limitation of his ability to understand Hebrew. He can be both literal and free at the same time: he deviates very little from the textual form of the Vorlage even when making extensive changes to its meaning. This expanded characterization of the translator yields more reliable reconstructions of the fragmentary Samuel scrolls from Qumran, and sheds new light on the textual relationships between the Masoretic Text, the Septuagint, and the Dead Sea Scrolls. By making the case for the translator’s creative interactions with his Vorlage, this study also reveals LXX Samuel’s previously unrecognized contributions to the history of Jewish biblical interpretation.

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