[b-hebrew] Strange place to find Septuagint
John B. Senterfitt
millenia05 at earthlink.net
Tue Oct 17 10:22:02 EDT 2006
I found this article of interest from the "Libronix Digital Library System" and it in tern was taken from
"The Complete Guide to Bible Versions".
Until the middle of the twentieth century, the Masoretic manuscripts were the oldest ones in existence. Then in 1947 and 1948, the year Israel regained its national independence, there was a phenomenal discovery. A bedouin shepherd boy found scrolls in a cave west of the Dead Sea. These scrolls, known as the Dead Sea Scrolls, are dated between 100 B.C. and A.D. 100. They are nearly a thousand years earlier than any of the Masoretic manuscripts. The Dead Sea Scrolls contain significant portions of the Old Testament. Every book except Esther is represented. The largest portions come from the Pentateuch (especially Deuteronomy—twenty-five manuscripts), the major Prophets (especially Isaiah—eighteen manuscripts), and Psalms (twenty-seven manuscripts). The Dead Sea Scrolls also have portions of the ((Septuagint,)) the Targums (an Aramaic translation of the Old Testament), some apocryphal fragments, and a commentary on Habakkuk. The scribes who made these scrolls were members of a community of ascetic Jews who lived in Qumran from the third century B.C. to the first century A.D.
Even though the Dead Sea Scrolls are nearly a thousand years older than the Masoretic manuscripts, there are not as many significant differences between the two groups of manuscripts as one would expect. Normally, a thousand years of copying would have generated thousands of differences in wording. But this is not the case when one compares most of the Dead Sea Scrolls with the Masoretic manuscripts. This shows that Jewish scribes for over a millennium copied one form of the text with extreme fidelity.
To this day, almost all Bible scholars still use the Masoretic Text of the Hebrew Bible as the authoritative, standard text. At the same time, they make use of the findings of the Dead Sea Scrolls, as well as two other important sources: the ((Septuagint))and the Samaritan Pentateuch (i.e., the Pentateuch as transcribed and edited by the Samaritans).6 The Masoretic Text with up-to-date textual notes is published in an edition called Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia.
6 Some of the manuscripts discovered in Qumran, especially two manuscripts of 1 Samuel, show greater affinity with the ((Septuagint)) than with Masoretic Text; and other manuscripts from Qumran, especially one manuscript of Exodus, resemble the Samaritan Pentateuch. Thus, there must have been some different forms of the text other than the one appearing in most of the Dead Sea Scrolls and then later in the Masoretic manuscripts. However, scholars still rely, for the most part, on the Masoretic Text and use the other sources as supplements.
Comfort, Philip Wesley: The Complete Guide to Bible Versions. Wheaton, Ill. : Living Books, 1991
John B. Senterfitt
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