Symmachus a translator of the Old Test. into Greek, was born in Samaria during the latter half of the 2nd century. Originally a Jew, he became a Christian, but embraced the doctrine of the Ebionites. In spite of the high reputation enjoyed by the Alexandrian version, or Septuagint (q.v.), not only among the Hellenists outside of Palestine, but also within Palestine itself, at a later time it became an object of suspicion to the stricter Jews, owing to polemical reasons, so that, against the Christians, they denied its correctness, and set up another translation in opposition to it. The first who made a version for the use of the Jews was Aquila (q.v.); not much later than Aquila, Theodotion (q.v.) prepared a second, and very soon afterwards another translation was made by Symmachus. From Epiphanius, De Ponderibus et Mensuris, c. 16 (whose accounts, however, Bleek pronounces fabulous), we learn that Symmachus was a Samaritan, Σύμμαχός τις Σαμαρείτης τῶν παῤ αὐτοῖς σοφῶν. νόησας φιλαρχίαν. προσηλυτεύει καὶ περιτέμνεται δεύτερον. With Epiphanius agree Athanasius (Synopsis), the Chronicon Paschale, and Euthymius Zigabenus, in Carpzov, Critica Sacra, p. 567. Eusebius (Hist. Eccles. 6:17; and Demonstr. Evang. 7:1) calls him Ε᾿βιωναῖος, an Ebionite, which is also the opinion of Jerome and modern critics. Fürst and Geiger call him a Jew, and a pupil of R. Meir (q.v.).
As to the time in which he lived, Epiphanius (loc. cit.) places him in the reign of king Severus. With this would agree the fact that Irenseus does not name him, while he mentions Aquila and, Theodotion, and that Origen already found his translation in existence. Bleek says that from Eusebius (loc. cit.) we may infer, "that the translation of Symmachus was little known before the time of Origen, and thatOrigen had obtained it from a certain woman Juliane, to whom it had come from Symmachus himself." The passage in Eusebius runs thus: Ταῦτα δὲ ὁ ᾿Ωριγένης μετὰ καὶ ἄλλων εἰςγὰς γραφὰς ἑρμηνεῖων τοῦ Συμμάχου, σημαίνει παρὰ Ι᾿ουλιανῆς τινος εἰληφέναι ἣν καὶ φασὶ παῤ αὐτοῦ Συμμάχου τὰς βίβλους διαδέξασθαι.
As to the genius of the translation, Epiphanius tells us that he translated in opposition to the Samaritansa, πρὸς διαστροφὴν τῶν παρὰ Σαμαρείταις ἑρμηνεύσας. But this supposition is in bad taste, for, in the first place, in Genesis 5, Symmachus agrees with the Samaritan against the Sept.; in the second place, we cannot see how he should have made his translation in opposition to the Samaritans, who only accept the Pentateuch,; while Symmachus's version is on all the books of the Old Test.; and, in the third place, none of the other Church fathers knew anything of his opposition to the Samaritans. The probability is that his whole aim was directed towards a more elegant and finer version; for Symmachus, in his version, betrays the endeavor to satisfy the genius of the Greek language and to keep aloof from every influence pf Eastern ideas and the Hebrew original. Thus he forms periods where the original has simply co-ordinate sentences, e.g. 2Ki 1; 2Ki 2, דרשו לכו, ἀπελθόντες πύθεσθε; Job 34:29, ומי ירשע והזא ישקט, αὐτοῦ δὲ ἠρεμίαν διδόντος τές κατακρινεῖ; Ps 9:4, בשוב איבי אחור, ἀναστραφέντων τῶν ἐχθρῶν μου. Where the Hebrew circumscribes an adverbial idea by a verb, Symmachus uses an adverb, as Ge 4:2, ותסŠ ללדת, καὶ πάλιν ἔτεκεν; or he uses the adjective for the Hebrew nomen qualitatis, as Ps 55:23, אנשי דמים ומרמה, μιαιφόνοι καὶ δόλιοι. He reduces the Hebrew tropes to the corresponding Greek, e.g. 1Sa 20:25, כפעם בפעם, éσπερ ἐιώθει; 25:25, אלאּנא ישים אדני אתאּלבֹו, μὴ πρόσχῃς, ἀξιῶν; מות תמות; in Ge 2:17, becomes θνητὸς ἔσῃ. He uses additions for the sake of elegancy: thus, Job 21:13, וברגע שאול יחתו, καὶ τάχεως ἄνοσοι καὶ ἀβασάνιστοι εἰς ]δην κατέρχονται; Eze 16:31, לקלם אתנן, ἐν ἀξιοπιστι® συνάγουσα μισθώματα. Hebrew proper nouns are often translated etymologically, e.g. De 32:49, הר העברים, τὸ ὄρος τῶν διαβάσεων; Isa 19:18, עיר החרם, πόλις ἡλίου.
Taken all in all, Symmachus deserves the praise which has been bestowed on his translation, which was called versio perspicua, manifesta, admirabilis; aperta. Jerome, In Amos 3:11, speaks of Symmachus, "Non solet verborum κακοζηλαίν, se dintelligentiee ordinem sequi;" In Isa 5; Isa 1, "Symmachus more suo manifestius." Eusebius, In Psalm 21:31 sq., says, σαφέστερον ὁ Σύμμαχος, and σφόδρα θαυμαστῶς ὁ Σύμμαχος; In Ps 46:10, οὕτως ἡρμήνευσε θαυμαστῶς ὁ Σύμμαχος. Still we cannot characterize his style as being pure Greek or elegant; and Symmachus himself seems to have felt it, for he made a second edition of his translation, in which he corrected all such Hebraisms and harsh expressions as had crept in. Thus Jerome, In Jeremiah 32 says, "Symmachi prima editio et LXX et Theodotio solos (μόνοι) interpretati sunt; secunda quippe Symmachi vertit διόλου;" and In Nahum 3 he writes, "Symmachus ἀποτυμίας πλήρης, quod possumus dicere crudelitate vel severitate plena; in altera ejus editione reperi μελοκοπίας πλήρης, i.e. sectionibus carnium etfrustis'per membra concisis." Whether his second edition embraced all the books of the Old Test. cannot be decided with certainty, since only a few fragments of the second edition on some of the books are extant.
For philological purposes, Symmachus is just as useful as the other Greek translators. Biblical criticism may also derive some advantage from the translation, of course, by exhibiting the greatest care. Thus Ps 30:12, Symmachus reads as our text, כבוד, and so also the Chaldee, Jerome, Syriac, and Theodotion, against the כבודי of the Sept., Vulg., and Arab.; in 66, 13, our text has לרויה, but Symmachus, the Sept., Syr., and Chald. seem to have read לרוחה.
The fragments of Symmachus's version of the Old Test. are given by Flam. Nobilis in Vet. Test. sec. LXX Lat. Redditum, etc. (Rome,' 1587); Drusius, Veterum Interpretumn Grcecorum in Totum V. T. Fragmenta Collecta, etc. (Arnheim, 1622); Bos, V. T. ex Version. LXX Inteap. etc., nec non Fragmentis Versionum Aquilae, Symmachi et Theodotionis (Franek. 1709); Montfaucon, Hexaplorum Origenis quce Supersunt, etc. (Paris, 1713; in a later edition with notes by K. Bahrdt, Leips. and Libeck, 1769- 70). The fragments on single books were edited by Trendelenburg, Chrestomathia Hexaplaris (Lubeck and Leips, 1794); Spohn, Jeremias Vates e Versione Judceorum, etc. (Lips. 1794, 1824); Segaar, Daniel sec. LXX et Tetraplis Origenis, etc. (Trier, 1775); Scharfenberg, Animadversiones quibus Fragmenta Versionum V. T. Emendantur (Lips. 1776-81), spec. 1 et 2; Schieusner, Opuscula Critica ad Versiones Graecas V. T. (ibid. 1812).
Literature. — Eichhorn, Einleitung in das Alte Testament (4th ed.), 1, 531 sq.; Carpzov, Critica Sacra, p. 566 sq.; Keil, Introduction to the Old Testament, 2, 233 sq.; Herbst, Einleitung, 1, 160; Kaulen, Einleitung in die heilige Schrift (Freiburg, 1876), p. 79; Field, Origenis Hexaplorusm quce Supersunt, etc. (Oxonii, 1871), p. 34; Furst, Bibl. Jud. 3, 399 sq.; Thieme, Disputatio de Puritate Synmmachi (Lips. 1755); Geiger, Jüdische Zeitschrift (Breslau, 1862), 1, 39-64, and his Nachgelassene Schriften (Berl. 1877), 4:88 sq.; Theologisches Universal-Lexikon, s.v.; Heidenheim, Vierteljahrsschrift (1867), 3, 463 sq. SEE GREEK VERSIONS. (B. P.)