The research that was carried out by the Göttingen Septuaginta-Unternehmen (1908–2015) focused on one of the most important and influential writings in world literature: the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible.
Legend has it that in the third century BCE, seventy-two wise men translated Jewish Torah into Greek in a period of seventy-two days. In accordance with this story, the translation that was produced was aptly called Septuagint (‘the Seventy’). In reality, the translation project took over three centuries to be completed, and continued well into the first century CE. Throughout its subsequent history, the Septuagint was revised and reworked several times by both Jews and Christians (resulting in so-called recensions of the Greek text).
The Göttingen Septuaginta-Unternehmen had set itself the task of reconstructing –in the form of a critical edition– the earliest form of the text that can be reasonably reconstructed, that is: a text that precedes all recensions. In doing so, it also aimed to document all alterations in an apparatus that accompanied the critical text. For over a century, generations of scholars had dedicated themselves to this massive undertaking.
During the runtime of the Septuaginta-Unternehmen two-thirds of the critical edition was published. The last third is waiting to be edited. Since January 1st 2016, a new „Forschungskommission zur Edition und Erforschung der Septuaginta“ is responsible for completing the edition.