Brenton's Translation of the Septuagint

Before NETS, there were two prominent translations of the Septuagint into English: that of Charles Thomson and that of Sir Lancelot Charles Lee Brenton.

Harold Scanlin plans to make a presentation on Thomson's and Brenton's translations at this year's annual meeting of the SBL. In the meantime, here is some information recently gleaned regarding the Brenton translation.

In 1844, Samuel Bagster and Sons published Brenton's English translation of the Septuagint. The translation did not include the Apocrypha. This publication did not contain a Greek text.

This site provides a copy of the introductory pages (3.2 megabytes in PDF format) of the 1844 edition. The pages were digitized by Wade White.

In 1851, Samuel Bagster and Sons published an edition of the Septuagint, including LXX Daniel. The Apocrypha were included with separate pagination. Presumably Brenton was involved with the production of this edition, since much of the introduction is identical to later diglot editions.

It appears that a diglot edition (Greek Septuagint with Brenton's English translation) was first published in 1870. On June 30, Hal Scanlin went to the ABS Library in New York to confirm this by examining their 1870 copy of Brenton. Here is his account.

I was in New York yesterday at the ABS Library and checked on their 1870 copy of the Brenton diglot. Unfortunately, there's no front matter indicating that this is the first diglot edition, and the date of publication recorded by the ABS cataloger is "1870?" This probably means that they inferred the date, as I did, from the fact that no other library has recorded an earlier date for the diglot edition. At this point the trail seems to have gone cold. I would consider the earliest date for a diglot as 1870? unless someone can find a copy with a verifiable earlier date.

The plates seem to be identical in the ABS 1870? Copy and my 20th century Bagster reprint, except, as would be expected the 1870? Print is much sharper.

The two introductions are identical in 1870? and my 20th century.

Since 1870, Brenton's translation has been reprinted many times.

Digital images and searchable text of the 1870 edition are available online from Christian Classics Ethereal Library.

Because the 1851 edition is often difficult to find, we here provide a copy of some of the introductory pages to the 1851 edition (4.7 megabytes in PDF format). These pages are in PDF format and are readable in the free Adobe Acrobat Reader. Included are page viii-xvi of the Introduction and the introduction to the book of Daniel. Everything else can be found in more recent reprints.

The pages were digitized by Harold Scanlin from the copy in the Westminster Theological Seminary. Here are his notes.

I have finished my closer comparison of the Bagster 1851 LXX with my reprint edition of Bagster, with Apocrypha, n.d. but most likely mid 20th century printing. Here's what I found:

The Introductions, "An Historical Account of the Septuagint Version," are identical, except that 1851 also includes in the concluding section of the introduction, "and of the principal texts in which it is current." (viii - xiii; on the daughter versions and major printed editions).

The table shewing the Jeremiah differences is in a different location, but the content is identical, except for a few typesetting differences, e.g. roman numerals (1851) vs. Arabic numerals (20th cent.)

The 1851 edition lacks the Appendix presenting some major non-Vaticanus readings.

The 1851 lacks any textual footnotes, but I believe all the footnotes in 20th cent. are associated with the English translation, even the textual ones (e.g. see appendix for an Alexandrian plus).


Thompson 1808

The Holy Bible containing the Old and New Covenant, commonly called the Old and New Testament. Translated from the Greek by Charles Thomson. Philadelphia: Printed by Jane Aitken, 1808.

Brenton 1844

Brenton, Sir Lancelot Charles Lee. The Septuagint version of the Old Testament, according to the Vatican text: translated into English; with the principal various readings of the Alexandrine copy, and a table of comparative chronology. London, Samuel Bagster and Sons, 1844.

Brenton 1851

He Palaia Diatheke kata tous Ebdomekonta = the Greek Septuagint Version of the Old Testament according to the Vatican edition, together with the real Septuagint version of Daniel and the Apocrypha including the fourth book of Maccabees and an historical introduction. London: Samuel Bagster and Sons, 1851.

Brenton 1870

The Septuagint Version of the Old Testament. With an English Translation and with Various Readings and Critical Notes. London: Samuel Bagster and Sons; New York: Harper and Brothers, 1870.

Brenton 1971

The Septuagint version of the Old Testament. With an English translation, and with various readings and critical notes [by Sir L. C. L. Brenton]. Reprint. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House. 1971.