The Septuagint is a diverse literary corpus. Its name derives from the legendary 72 translators who translated the original Hebrew books of the Bible into Greek.
In other words, the Septuagint is labelled as the first translation of the Bible even by its very name. However, this corpus of writings is much more. A comparison of the Hebrew Masoretic Text with the Septuagint text indicates that the Septuagint is not merely a simple translation. Many differences from the Hebrew Masoretic Text and a comparison with the biblical writings found in Qumran reveal that the Septuagint represents, on the one hand, a stage of development of the Hebrew texts of the Bible in Greek language. On the other hand, the Septuagint demonstrates that these texts also underwent their own development in Greek. Overall, we observe manifold and complex relations between the Hebrew and the Greek versions, and also within the Greek texts of the Bible themselves such that the Septuagint represents an impressive testament of the ongoing work on the biblical texts from various ancient theological perspectives.
All this constitutes the Septuagint as an important witness for the textual development of the biblical writings in both Hebrew and in Greek languages. In addition, the Septuagint contains further Jewish writings from the Hellenistic and the Roman periods that were not included in the canon of the Hebrew Bible. Some of them were originally written in Hebrew but were only transmitted in Greek. Others were originally written in Greek, which was the lingua franca in the literary world in Antiquity.
Hence, the Septuagint is a witness for both the development of the biblical texts and the history of Jewish thought in the pre-Christian era. It is therefore a substantial field of research for the studies of Hebrew Bible / Old Testament, New Testament, early Judaism, early church history, Classics, and the history of theology.
The Research Center for Septuagint Studies aims to foster research on the Septuagint and cognate topics within these fields with projects and conferences.
Located in Wittenberg at the Leucorea – formerly the University of Wittenberg founded in 1502 – the Research Center for Septuagint Studies, in ongoing cooperation with the Center for Hebrew Studies at the Leucorea, carries on two key aspects of the heritage of the Reformation: the focus on the Bible and the importance of the biblical languages.
Likewise one of the special research interests at the Faculty of Theology of the University of Halle is in close partnership: the study of the Orthodox and the Eastern Churches, for the Septuagint is not only regarded as history, but it forms the contemporary canon of the Bible in many Orthodox Churches as well. Protestant-Orthodox discussion on the biblical writings therefore starts here.