EKD Press Releases

German Translation of the Septuagint (LXX.D)

A German translation of the Greek Old Testament will be published for the first time

January 16, 2009

It is said concerning the genesis of the Septuagint that 72 Jewish translators in ancient Alexandria translated the Hebrew Bible in 72 days into miraculously identical Greek. To this day, the very name "Septuagint," which in Greek means "70," evokes the legend surrounding the creation of the Old Testament in Greek.  The Septuagint was the standard Bible used by first-century Christians.  A knowledge of the Greek version of the Bible is necessary in order to comprehend many theological pronouncements, for example the virgin birth of Jesus. Moreover, it is still today the Scripture of the Orthodox churches.  However, it has never been published separately in German translation.

That situation has now been remedied. The first edition of the Septuagint in German will be presented to the public at the residence of the plenipotentiary of the EKD Council in Berlin (Charlottenstrasse 53/54) on 28 January 2009 at 3.30 pm.  Persons cordially invited to attend the presentation include Präses Nikolaus Schneider (Evangelical Church in the Rhineland), Bishop Johannes Friedrich (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria) and Jan Bühner (general secretary of the German Bible Society), as well as the two principle editors, Professor Wolfgang Kraus (Saarbrücken) and Professor Martin Karrer (Wuppertal). Greetings will be pronounced by Bishop Joachim Wanke (Erfurt) and Metropolitan Augoustinos (Bonn).

Up to more than 80 persons worked at one time on the project, which had been coordinated since 1999 out of a specially set-up office.  According to Wolfgang Kraus, "Without the generous support of the Evangelical Church in the Rhineland, in particular, we would never have been able to complete the translation."  However, the translation which is being presented is not the only positive result of the nearly ten-year effort. The translation process included academic symposia organized in Germany, France and the United States.  "In terms of international Septuagint research, Germany is now on the map," declared Martin Karrer with visible pride.

The translators included Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox Christians, who consulted with Jewish scholars on questions of translation.  The result was a collective effort uniting various Christian denominations and Judaism.  For the first time, Orthodox Christians living in Germany have at their disposal a Bible in the German language.

The newly published translation, which comprises 1,500 pages in one volume, will be followed by a two-volume version which includes scholarly commentaries based on the Greek Bible.  The editors plan further publications, which testifies to the standing of the Septuagint as a source of important insights regarding the textual transmission of the Old Testament and as one of the cornerstones of European culture.

Hanover/Berlin, January 16, 2009

Press Office of the EKD
Silke Römhild



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