Original Research - Special Collection: Septuagint

Theologica variatio? An examination of the variation in the Greek rendering of יהוה and אֱלהִים in LXX Proverbs

Bryan Beeckman
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 78, No 1 | a7448 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v78i1.7448 | © 2022 Bryan Beeckman | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 17 February 2022 | Published: 28 November 2022

About the author(s)

Bryan Beeckman, Faculté de Théologie, Institut de Recherche Réligions, Spiritualités, Cultures, Sociétés, UCLouvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium; and Department of Biblical Studies, Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium


In recent years, there has been a growing interest in the theology of the different Septuagint (LXX) books. In an attempt to examine whether the LXX Proverbs attests a different theology than the Masoretic Text (MT), I have recently analysed the plusses in LXX Proverbs containing ὁ κύριος and ὁ θεός. The results of these studies have indicated that the LXX translation of Proverbs attests a more nuanced theology than its Hebrew counterpart. However, these studies only focus on the attestations of κύριος and θεός in LXX Proverbs without a Hebrew counterpart in MT and do not examine the rendering of Hebrew divine names into Greek. It is generally accepted that the Greek equivalents of יהוה and אֱלהִים are, respectively, κύριος and θεός. However, in LXX Proverbs, יהוה is rendered 18 times by θεός and אֱלהִים three times by κύριος. In order to come to a more precise understanding of the translation technique of the LXX translator, this article tried to formulate an answer to the reason behind this variation in Greek translation equivalents by examining the usage of κύριος and θεός for יהוה and אֱלהִים in LXX Proverbs and especially those instances where the translator deviates from the standard procedure. This examination has indicated that both the divine names have been used interchangeably by the LXX translator and, contrary to the additional attestations of the divine name, do not reflect a nuanced theology vis-à-vis the MT.

Contribution: This article fits perfectly within the scope of HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies because it focuses on the translation technique and theology of the LXX translator of Proverbs and thus contributes (a) to research regarding historical thought (textual transmission of biblical texts) and (b) source interpretation (because the LXX does not only reflect a translational but also an interpretative process, and this article in particular focuses on whether LXX Proverbs attests a different theology than its Hebrew counterpart).


Septuagint; proverbs; divine name; LXX; JHWH; elohim; translation technique; theology.


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Crossref Citations

1. Variatio Theologica in Libro Iob? An Analysis of the Translation of ’Ĕlōhîm by Kurios in LXX Job
Bryan Beeckman
Journal for Semitics  year: 2023  
doi: 10.25159/2663-6573/13438