Original Research - Special Collection: Septuagint

Lexicography and the translation of ‘cedars of Lebanon’ in the Septuagint

Jacobus A. Naudé, Cynthia L. Miller-Naudé
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 74, No 3 | a5042 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v74i3.5042 | © 2018 Cynthia Lynne Miller-Naude | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 20 April 2018 | Published: 31 October 2018

About the author(s)

Jacobus A. Naudé, Department of Hebrew, University of the Free State, South Africa
Cynthia L. Miller-Naudé, Department of Hebrew, University of the Free State, South Africa


Botanical terms in the Septuagint reveal a mass of uncertain and sometimes contradictory data, owing to the translators’ inadequate and inaccurate understanding of plants. To understand the metaphorical and symbolic meaning of plants, the new approach represented by Biblical Plant Hermeneutics places the taxonomy of flora on a strong ethnological and ethnobotanical basis by studying each plant in situ and gathering indigenous knowledge about the plant and its context in the biblical text. This article applies this methodology to the translation of the Hebrew source text term אֶרֶז [cedar] in the Septuagint as κέδρος [cedar] or κέδρινος (the adjectival form of κέδρος) and its interpretation in the light of lexicography, which lead to contradictory identifications. A complexity theoretical approach is proposed to provide a solution for the various identification choices in the light of lexicography to communicate the cultural values of the Hebrew source text and its Greek translation.


Septuagint; biblical plant hermeneutics; lexicography; cedar; juniper


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