The Editio critica maior of the Greek Psalter

For more than hundred years the major critical edition of the Old Testament in Greek, the so-called Septuagint, is being prepared in Göttingen: From 1908 to 2015, the “Septuaginta-Unternehmen” was responsible for this edition, and since 2016, a research commission, called “Kommission zur Edition und Erforschung der Septuaginta”.

In 2020, a new long-term Academy project is established: “Die Editio critica maior des griechischen Psalters”. This project is exclusively dedicated to the edition of the Greek Psalter. The Psalter belongs to the most widespread, complex, and extensively interpreted books in the Bible. As a liturgical prayer and individual meditation book, it combines Judaism with Western and Orthodox Christianity. Its influence on poetry (e.g. Arnold Schönberg, Moderne Psalmen; Paul Celan, Tenebrae), music (e.g. Igor Stravinsky, Symphony of Psalms; Leonard Bernstein, Chichester Psalms), and visual arts (e.g. Marc Chagall, Psalms of David) reaches up to the present and makes it one of the fundamental texts of European literature, and world literature as well.

The aim of the new Psalter project is to explore the tradition and textual history of the Greek Psalter, and to prepare a new critical edition of the Septuagint Psalms and Odes for the Göttingen series, which will substitute the outdated edition by Alfred Rahlfs (1931). At the end, the critically reconstructed text is promised to be provided in a hybrid edition, printed as a book and presented online.

The project is divided into six modules. In the first module, which ran from January 2020 to June 2023, inter alia, a total of 1,300 Psalter manuscripts were described. A beta version of our Manuscript Catalogue is now online. The second module, which is entitled “The Lucianic-Antiochene Text Type” is reserved for the identification of this complexly attested text type, which represents one of the Christian revisions of the oldest text form of the Septuagint Psalter. It runs from July 2023 to December 2026.

Currently, the Göttingen Psalter Team is preparing collations of Theodoret of Cyrrhus’ Commentary on Psalms. The Commentary on Psalms (Interpretatio in Psalmos) occupies an important place among Theodoret’s exegetical works. It is the longest commentary from an Antiochene author which has entirely survived until today. It is also one of the main witnesses to the so-called Antiochene text of the Psalter and an important source of hexaplaric readings. In agreement with our cooperation partner “Die alexandrinische und antiochenische Bibelexegese in der Spätantike” (Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities), led by Prof. Christoph Markschies, this commentary shall be edited as part of the Göttingen Psalter project. In addition, the evaluation of the Syrohexapla of the Psalter is the focus of the second module. Here we are very pleased about the cooperation with Prof. Willem van Peursen from the Peshitta Institute in Amsterdam.

United Against Antisemitism

As members of the Göttinger Septuaginta, we express our unwavering solidarity with Israel and the Jewish people. We categorically denounce all forms of antisemitism and the spread of disinformation about the Jewish community. We condemn with great concern the actions of those who incite violence against Jews.

We deplore these activities in the strongest possible terms and distance ourselves from any individuals in universities, academic circles, or scientific organisations who engage in such reprehensible behaviour. Our commitment to truth and justice compels us to stand firmly against hate and to support the enduring rights and security of the Jewish people and their sovereign state.

We pledge to promote understanding, respect, and peace and to oppose any actions or statements that undermine these principles.

Editio critica maior des griechischen Psalters
Göttingen Academy of Sciences and Humanities in Lower Saxony

Friedländer Weg 11
D-37085 Göttingen