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Welcome to the LetsReadGreek Psalms website!
This page is the starting page for the GreekStudy Psalms reading group. The schedule and group information can be found on the GreekStudy group page. The GreekStudy email list is an online community of students who study ancient Greek. Anyone is welcome to join at any time during the reading group. Many of the questions you may have are answered either in the sidebar or on the GreekStudy Psalms group page. I encourage those interested to drop me an email if you wish to join the group.
- GreekStudy Psalms Group I (Psalms 1, 8, 18(19), 21(22), 22(23), 23(24), 26(27), 31(32), 33(34), 50(51). Starts May 3, 2009)
- GreekStudy Psalms Group II (future, Psalms TBD)
Most favorite Psalms.
The Psalms and portions of Psalms listed were selected by many people as some of the most popular, widely-read and memorized Psalms. The list was originally taken from biblechapel.net and then modified. As the group progresses, a reading page will be added for each Psalm.
Psalm 1 (LXX 1)Blessed is the man
Psalm 8 (LXX 8) Lord, our Lord, How majestic is your name in all the earth (Wisdom)
Psalm 19 (LXX 18) The heavens declare the glory of God (Nature)
Psalm 22 (LXX 21) My God, My God, why have you forsaken me (Messianic)
Psalm 23 (LXX 22) The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want (Refuge)
Psalm 24 (LXX 23) The earth is the Lord's and its fullness (Praise)
Psalm 27 (LXX 26) The Lord is my light and deliverer, whom shall I fear?
Psalm 32 (LXX 31) How blessed is the man whose sins are forgiven (Penitential)
Psalm 34 (LXX 33) I will bless the Lord at all times (praise)
Psalm 51 (LXX 50) Be gracious to me O God, according to thy loving kindness (penitential)
Psalm 91 (LXX 90) He who lives in the help of the most High
Psalm 119:1-16 (Aleph/Beth) (LXX 118:1-16) (God's Word)
Psalm 119:97-112 (Mem/Nun) (LXX 118:97-112) O Lord how I love your law.... Your word is a lamp unto my feet (God's Word)
Psalm 121 (LXX 120) I will lift my eyes up to the hills (Refuge)
Psalm 127 (LXX 126) Unless the Lord builds the house (Wisdom)
Psalm 139 (LXX 138) O Lord, you examined me and knew me
Psalm 148 (LXX 148) Praise the Lord from the heavens (Praise)
Psalm 151 (LXX 151 - not in MT) I was small among my brothers
Have a suggestion for another? Email me
The purpose of this site is to encourage students of ancient Greek to read the Psalms in Greek. It will try to provide reading notes, vocabulary and links to resources for the Koine Greek Psalms. There are many resources on the web for the Greek Old Testament, called the Septuagint (abbreviated LXX), but not many resources for the Psalms in particular. The reading notes will focus on both beginning and advanced topics, including the Hebrew text where appropriate. Hopefully, students will find renewed interest in reading the Psalms of the Septuagint - this is the place to start.
Reading the Psalms in Greek is a wonderful experience. I've always thought it odd, that while the Psalms is perhaps the most widely quoted book in the New Testament, they are seldom part of Greek Koine education (This may not be true in Greek Orthodox education). Most Greek Koine readers list only a couple of the Psalms. I once stumbled across a pocket Greek NT which also included the Psalms - it was a wonderful format. It is on my "wish list".
The Psalms have inspired people for almost 3000 years. They are an insight to how the soul struggles with conflicts, desires, loss and death. Few of us would write our own Psalm blaming God or wondering why we are left alone, hung out to dry, etc. But all of us have those thoughts. But in the end, each Psalm comes to a conclusion. The Psalms have a great tradition in the Orthodox, Catholic and Anglican churches. There is less of a tradition in protestant churches in America (my affiliation). Many may be unfamiliar with Psalter readings and the Kathismata. Daily readings of the Orthodox Psalter can be found on the Protection of the Mother of God Church website. Also, many may be unfamiliar with Byzantine Chant (Learn Byzantine Chant). This reading group is an opportunity to become familiar with all. It is my hope, in the near future, to collect images from many of the midaeval Psalters for each of the Psalms.
There are a number of different Greek texts of the Septuagint. Brenton, Tischendorf, Swete, Cambridge, Rahlfs and Gottingen are the major versions. Brenton and Tischendorf are diplomatic editions based on either the Vaticanus or Sinaiticus text. The IOSCS site give a great summary on the Critical Editions of the Septuagint page. For the Psalms, Rahlfs text (the 1973 3rd edition is the latest) is the most up to date critical text. Psalms was Rahlfs' pet project. The Greek text of the NETS bible is not available, but is nearly identical to Rahlfs.
The Greek Orthodox Church officially uses the 1904 text by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.
The text for the Psalms reading group is the same as the CCAT Rahlfs 1935 edition and can be found online at each of the LetsReadGreek Psalm pages. The Psalms (Psalter) is also available at the German Bible Society's website (which owns the copyright) at www.bibelwissenschaft.de. The Greek Texts section in the sidebar contains links to some of the online texts.
There are many books and just several are listed here. View The Septuagint Online "secondary sources" to view many of the reviews on newer books.
- The Septuaginta Editio altera Alfred Rahlfs & Robert Hanhart, eds. (Hendrickson Publishers 2006) WorldCat Amazon CBD The 2006 edition contains about 1000 corrections to the Greek text.
- The Comparative Psalter (preview available at CBD) Amazon
- A New English Translation of the Septuagint (A necessity for any student) Oxford Amazon CBD
- The Septuagint with Apocrypha: Greek and English (Lancelot C.L. Brenton; Hendrickson, 1986 - Popular but outdated). Amazon CBD
- Mozley, The Psalter of the Church (online pdf) WorldCat
- A Greek-English lexicon of the Septuagint by by J Lust; Erik Eynikel; K Hauspie; G Chamberlain (1992-1996) Amazon CBD
- Swete's Introduction to the Septuagint (online at CCEL)
- Coynebeare & Stock, A Grammar of the Septuagint (online at CCEL) CBD Amazon
- Karen H. Jobes and Moisés Silva. Invitation to the Septuagint. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2005. ISBN: 080103115X ISBN-13: 9780801031151. Amazon CBD WorldCat
While the Septuagint is a very diverse collection of different styles of "translation" Greek, there are some parts of the LXX that are excellent Greek and avoid crass Semiticisms and awkward sentence structures of "translation Greek". The Psalms are very smooth reading Greek, though not without some translation stilting. The Psalms does have a high rate of semantic leveling, where a single Greek word represents a number of different Hebrew words. The introduction of the NETS Psalms translation by Albert Pietersma gives a great introduction to the Greek of the Psalms.
The Book of Psalms is divided into 150 chapters, each of which constitutes a religious song or chant (though one or two are long and may constitute a set of related chants). The numbering of the chapters of the Book of Psalms differs slightly between the Hebrew ( Masoritic) and Greek ( Septuagint) manuscripts. Most Protestant translations are based on the Hebrew numbering, while most Catholic and Orthodox translations are based on the Greek numbering. The differences are as follows:
|Hebrew Psalms||Greek Psalms|
If you are comparing the Greek text of the Septuagint to an English translation, you must use a translation of the LXX based on the Greek text, not the Hebrew. The Greek Old Testament (called the Septuagint and abbreviated LXX) has a similar but different book arrangement than the usual, Masoritic Text based, English translations most people are familiar with. In addition, the Greek text sometimes does not match the Hebrew text from which the English translation you may be using was translated. So some verses from the Hebrew are omitted in the Greek and vice-versa, or are significantly different in content.
The English translations of the Septuagint vary in their approach on book order. Brenton and the Apostolic Bible change the order of the standard Greek Septuagint books to match that of the modern English/Complutensian Polyglot Bible. The NETS follows the order of Rahlfs. Overall,the Septuagint follows closer to the three Hebrew groupings: Torah, Ketuvim (History) and Nevi'im (Prophets). But the LXX is broken into four groupings: Law, History, Wisdom and Prophets; and within each of those groupings, the book order may differ from the Masoritic Text order. The wikipedia.org article on the Septuagint shows some of the differences in book order.
The Psalms index on the left sidebar gives the standard English (MT) numbering with the LXX numbering in parentheses.
The greatest problem in reading the Greek Septuagint has been that many words were not in the available (NT or classical Greek) lexicons. This changed in the 1990's when both Lust's and Muraoka's Greek-English lexicons of the Septuagint were printed. Until then, the only lexicon specifically for the Septuagint was Johannes Schleussner's (1801, 1829) Novus thesaurus philologico-criticus, sive, Lexicon in LXX et reliquos interpretes graecos, ac scriptores apocryphos Verteris Testamenti. The Liddell-Scott-Jones (LSJ) lexicon contains every word in the New Testament, but not every word in the Septuagint. Abbott-Smith's lexicon has many references to the Septuagint, as does the BDAG (Bauer-Danker-Ardnt-Gingrich) Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Early Christian Literature; they both cover about 60% of the vocabulary of the Septuagint.
The two lexicons are:
- A Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint Chiefly of the Pentateuch and the Twelve Prophets editor T. Muraoka (1992)
- A Greek-English lexicon of the Septuagint by by J Lust; Erik Eynikel; K Hauspie; G Chamberlain (1992-1996)
Lust's is the more thorough and covers all the Septuagint (including the apocrypha). However, Lust's lexicon does not list many forms - and is nowhere as complete and seasoned as the BDAG or LSJ lexicons. Neither of the two lexicons are available online for free.
The sidebar of each reading page will have a "ToolBox" of online books and utilities that I have found useful. It is in now way complete - but LXX/Koine specific grammars,books, website's, etc. are listed.
Parsings for the LXX can be found at the CCAT website, but it is in no way easy to use. The unbound Bible has parsings available (inline) and the reading page for each Psalm will have pop-over parsing. There is also a vocabulary page for each Psalm which provides the CCAT parsing, but in a more understandable and Perseus LSJ Hopper-linked table format. The Perseus Hopper lexicon lookup is also of great use. Each Psalm will have a "Hopperized" page where the text is linked to Perseus's LSJ lexicon. The Septuagint.org website also has pop-up parsings. The problem with most online tools using the CCAT parsings, is that they show the verb as coming from the simplex, and do not list the lemma correctly for verbs that are prefixed with prepositions.
While there are many commentaries on the Psalms dealing with the Hebrew text, there are none directly dealing with the Greek. There two commentary series on the LXX: Brill's Septuagint Commentary Series in English and the French La Bible d'Alexandrie. Neither has a commentary on the Psalms. The closest to a commentary on the Greek Psalms is a small book by F.W. Mozley entitled The Psalter of the Church, which I have scanned and made available on the LetsReadGreek web site (also on Internet Archive). Albert Pietersma (who translated the Psalms for the NETS) also has notes on several Psalms. But none of these are reading notes for students new to Greek. So in the spirit of student helping student, I am creating these pages, and hope to add what insight I can give.
The Dydimus Papyri is a commentary on the Psalms dating back to the 5th-6th centuries A.D. It is available online at Bringham Young University. Take a look at it. A synopsis can be found here. You can read the story of the BJU quire of the Didymus papyri by Mackay here.
You will need about a year of 1st year Greek. The Psalms GreekStudy group is a translation/reading group that encourages participants to use all available resources to create their translation.
None. But Remember, the Greek is a translation of the Hebrew. This is a good chance for those who do not know Hebrew to learn the alphabet and understand some of the simple person/number endings of nouns and verbs, the article, and a few simple Hebrew words. Mozley's book is a comparison of the Greek text to the Hebrew, and is a great help in understanding what is going on underneath the text.
As each reading page is added, an audio mp3 in Restored Koine (Imperial Koine) will be made available for each Psalm. The audio for Psalm 1 can be found here. The pronunciation for Koine Greek is very similar to modern Greek, with the exception of eta, upsilon and the omicron-iota diphthong and some minor consonantal pronunciations. A full analysis of pronunciation schemes can be found at BiblicalGreek.Org. The person who has spent the most time restoring the pronunciation of Koine and turning it into a "live" language is Dr. Randall Buth (www.biblicaluplan.org). The best way to learn? - Go to his ulpan and learn to speak and think in Koine. If you can't do that, go to his website and order some of the recordings of John, James, etc. as read in living Koine.
I have abandoned Erasmian pronunciation and refuse to "switch" between the two. The future of Koine is not the incorrect, artificial Erasmian pronunciation. In time, as technology improves, there will be more and more audio files of Koine literature. It is worthless recording something in Erasmian; either use restored Koine or modern Greek pronunciation - pronunciation does matter. It is a truism - "You don't know it, until you can speak it." Let's bring Koine back into the 21st century!
The Psalms Reading group is a new part of the GreekStudy group (in 2009); the GreekStudy group has been in existence since 1995. Each day, the GreekStudy Group sends an email containing translation collations and other relevant emails from various groups. Translation collations, assignments and grammar question collations are in the Greekstudy emails. In addition, this web site will have content which the email correspondence cannot provide.
No. There are many online bibliography lists for the Psalms. Dr. Hildebrand gives a very complete bibliography on the entire book of Psalms. Also Dr. Kalvesmaki's site The Septuagint Online on the secondary literature page lists many books. Dr. Albert Pietersma lists many Septuagint resources on his University of Toronto page. There will be a small bibliography section for each specific Psalm as pages are created.
All participants make the group happen. Louis Sorenson is the coordinator the the Psalms GreekStudy group and is responsible for the content on this web site. Feel free to correct any errors, misstatements, copyright issues or other questions regarding the web site to psalms<TheAtSign>letsreadgreek<dot>com.
Who am I? I have been studying Greek from 1976-1989 and again with renewed interest from 2005-2009. My personal focus is on Hellenistic Greek, but I enjoy Attic and Homeric works equally. I love Homer and Aristophanes. I have undergrad majors in Linguistics, Classics, Greek, Near Eastern Studies and Bible; a minor in Biblical Greek and Education -- all quite dated. I have also had several years of Latin, German, and Hebrew under my belt.
I have recently helped coordinate the GreekStudy Aesop (2007) and Epictetus Enchiridion (2008) groups. I also have the privilege of teaching several New Testament Greek classes at several churches in the area.
Why do I put so much work into this endeavor? I have a hard time doing anything half-way. I want to encourage others to go further in Greek studies. Historically, there has been a lack of available and easy to use intermediate reading tools and texts. Many Beginning Greek textbooks drop a line from the Psalms here or there. Greek wisdom literature is one of the most potent and applicable genre's of literature. The Psalms are a timeless body of literature which every student of Greek should read.
What's my philosophy about learning to read ancient Greek? Learning language is a gestalt approach -- learning a language takes time and work. No single element will make you a master. There are at least eight basic underpinnings of a successful Greek student; without all or most, you will fail or significantly hinder your progress:
* Learning a substantial vocabulary (1000-2000 words) and being able to identify cognates
* Know the morphological changes that happen in Greek verbs
* Memorizing forms - you simply have to know the paradigms and be able to identify which 'pattern' a Greek word fits into.
* Memorizing excerpts of representative Greek passages
* Composing sentences and phrases in Greek in writing
* Listening to spoken ancient Greek and verbally manipulate phrases.
* Reading large amounts of unfamiliar Greek literature
A word of warning. Many software-based Greek-language tools have emerged in the last 10 years. These tools are often used improperly. New students who use these tools as a crutch will never be able to pick up a Greek text and start reading without them. "What is a crutch?" you ask? Utilizing a vocabulary link rather than memorizing basic vocabulary words; Clicking on a parsing link without trying to figure out what lemma the form is from and why it appears as it is. Yes, times have changed, but the goal is to read without a grammar and lexicon or online tools. Try reading a passage with just using Smyth's Grammar and the small LSJ lexicon like your parents and grandparents did. There is a reason they decided to increase their vocabulary and learn the forms. Looking up a word numerous times was extremely tedious and took much longer than clicking on a link.
I think that reading Greek is only half the effort; understanding what a person is saying is the other half. I like to focus on the way words are used, the range of a word's use, sentence structure and style. Hopefully, this web site, will encourage you and provide you the resources you need to become successful and fluent in ancient Greek. Best of luck and best wishes