Interviewer: What led you did undertake this project?
NK: It wasn’t something I’d planned. When I came back from South Africa in 2001, I had some time on my hands, and decided to translate Mark and John for a summer school I was teaching on. I gave my translation to the class, one of whom happened to be married to a publisher! Eventually the request came: ‘How would you feel about translating the whole Bible?’ Initially I was reluctant, but after reflecting on it for a while, and a certain amount of arm-twisting, I thought: ‘Why not?’
Interviewer: Why did you choose to translate the Septuagint version?
NK: There were various reasons why I opted for the LXX. First, it was the Bible of the New Testament authors, so it brought me very close to their source. Second, I am rather more at home in the Greek than the Hebrew! Then there is the fascinating fact that the LXX sometimes preserves older readings than the standard Hebrew text. It bears testimony to another way in which Jews read the scriptures.
Interviewer: Do you have any regrets?
NK: Completion date does seem rather a long time ahead. Also, I am doing it rather quickly, so am aware of the dangers of rushing. Fortunately I have a good copy editor.
Interviewer: How you made any interesting discoveries in your translation so far?
NK: It has made me aware that there are some parts of the Old Testament that I hardly knew at all, and other things I had forgotten. As I was finishing my translation of Judges, I was particularly horrified by the last few chapters. It was such a relief to come to the book of Ruth! Then, there are the places where the LXX clearly has the correct reading over the Masoretic Text. I was also pleasantly surprised to find the Greek of Job quite straightforward, unlike its impossible Hebrew. I went racing through that part.
Interviewer: How long before the project is complete?
NK: The volume on the Wisdom literature is already published, and the Pentateuch is now at proof stage. I am now working on the historical books, and after that hope to have completed the Prophets by the end of 2013.
Nicholas King's new cutting-edge translation of the Septuagint Old Testament is published, as is his New Testament translation, by Kevin Mayhew (www.kevinmayhew.com). Given his decision to begin with those texts originally written in Greek, volume 3 (on the Wisdom Literature) was the first to be published. Volume 1 (the Pentateuch) will be published soon.