Debtor (Ron) on Hebrew Translations

shella shella at
Thu Nov 4 12:31:32 EST 1999

These notes deal with the origin in brief of the Pre-Christ LXX and the later Hebrew
reactions to the ancient LXX due to Christ and Christianity.  In addition they also show
the origin of the post Christ- LXXs, four of them, and the causes for the newer LXXs.

Please let me know if these older Jewish authorities as quoted were incorrect on these

In addition, note these points:

No definite date known as to when the other Books were translated, but by 132 B. C. Ben
Sira's grandson mentions them in the prologue to his translation.
 a. Chronicles mentioned by Eupolemus (middle of Second Century  B. C.);
 b. Aristeas, the historian, quotes Job;
 c. Footnote to the Greek Esther shows it was in circulation before the end of the
second century b. c.
 d. The Septuagint Plaster is quoted in 1 Macc. 7:17.
45) The whole Bible (Old Testament) was translated before the Christian era, p. 186,
Sweet's Introduction, chapter 1.

If these statements are incorrect, pleas let me know.

Also, most of modern Christians only are aware of the post Christ LXXs, those starting
with the Acquilla.

Please note I am not saying we should only use the LXX any more than I am saying we
should use only the MT.  I feel we should use them both.  Debtor (Ron Pound).

Gleanings from
The Jewish Encyclopedia, Funk and Wagnalls, and Ktav edition.

Article:  Bible Translations, pps. 185-187.

These Notes furnish some information about the LXX and its influence upon the Jewish
people and their reactions to it.  Some of these notes are of particular importance also
to the four early Greek Translations.  Jewish scholars translated the Hebrew Canon into
other languages, but that is another subject.  We should note, however, the influence of
the Jews upon the changing of the King James Translation and in bringing forth the
Revised Version.  This is hinted at in the section dealing with American Translations.

1) Jewish translations were made for those who had gradually lost the ancient national
language and needed the Scriptures, both in Private and Public life, in another language
which they understood;  p. 185.
2) The old Language was driven out first by Aramaic, then by Greek and lastly by Arabic;

3) Portions of Daniel and Ezra were written in Aramaic;
4) Cannot tell whether these portions were originally written in Aramaic or translated
out of the Hebrew into Aramaic;
5) Hebrew remained the Sacred and Literary language, it was not the common language of
the common people;
6) In the Second Century before Christ it became necessary for a "meturgeman" to
translate the weekly Pentateuch and prophetic lessons for the common people, which were
read in the synagogue, p. 185.
7) The Targums did not date from the time of Ezra because they were written in a
West-Aramaic dialect, p. 185.
8) Berliner's Onkelos; p. 7 and Friedmann's Akylos and Onkelos; page 58 are incorrect,
p. 185.
9) The religious leaders kept God's Word from the people because:
 a. Authorities of the Synagogue did not willingly allow such transactions to be written
 b. They felt this would be putting a premium upon ignorance of the  text;
 c. The Biblical word would be in danger by permitting only one verse to be read and
translated at a time as in the case of the Law, p. 185.
 d. Certain passages were never to be translated publicly, p. 185; Gen. 35:22; Ex.
32:21-25; Numbers 6:23-26; Lev. 18:21; Meg. 4:10; Berliner, page 217; Ginsburger's
Monatsschfirst, xliv, p. 185.
10) Passages found in the Pseudo-Jonathan and in the Midrashim are for Private use, p.
11) No written copy of the Targum was for public use; p. 185; though copies could be
made for private usages;
12) Pros and Cons about a Targum for Job's Book,  p. 185.
13) There was not a Greek copy of Job but one written in the old Hebrew Script, p. 185.
14) A Targum is largely a paraphrase representing the rabbinical tradition regarding the
meaning of a text, p. 185.
15) Samaritan version of the Pentateuch was written in the West-Aramaic dialect that
Samaritans spoke at one time; p. 185.
16) Samaritan Pentateuch cannot be dated;
17) Kohn believes Origen's Hexapla refers to a Greek Translation of the Samaritan
version made in Egypt;
18) The London Polyglot served for the basis of H. Petermann and K. Vollers' Samaritan
Characters and A. Brull's Hebrew, p. 185.
19) M. Heidenheim's edition in Hebrew is highly criticized, p. 185.
20) The influence of Hellenism; p. 185.
 a. The settlement of large numbers of Jews in various parts of the Greek world;
 b. the Hellenization of Palestine;
 c. Presence of Jews in Jerusalem from all countries; p. 185; esp. those under Greek
 d. These factors caused the Rabbis to treat the Question more liberally, p. 185.

21) Forbidden to read the Megillah in Aramaic or any other non-Hebrew language except
for the foreign Jews in Jerusalem;
22) Another tradition held that it was permitted to write the Biblical books in any
language though R. Simon Ben Gamalie would restrict this to the Greek;
23) After careful examination it was found that the Pentateuch could be adequately
translated only into Greek;
24) Greek was freely used in the Great Synagogue, p. 185;
25) Jewish and Christian testimony as to Greek letters engraven upon the Chest in the
Temple in which the Shekels were kept, p. 185.
26) In Asia minor no Megillah could be found written in Hebrew during this  time;
27) The weekly lessons of the Law and Prophets in Alexandria were read in  Greek; p.
28) No translation on the same level as the original Hebrew, p. 185;
29) During about the second century of the Christian era a different view prevailed
among the Jews; page 186:
 a. Note that before Christ, the Jews translated the Scriptures in other Languages;
 b. After Christ, the Scriptures should not go into other languages;

30) The day in which the Law was translated into Greek was as unfortunate for the Jews
as that day in the Golden Calf was made; p. 186.
31) To teach Jewish children Greek was forbidden; p. 186.
32) It was all right to teach Jewish girls Greek as an accomplishment;
33) This was caused by the rise of the Christian church which used the Bible only in the
Septuagint Version; p. 186.
34) The Septuagint is the oldest and most important of all the versions made by the Jews
into other languages; p. 186.
35) It is a monument of the Greek spoken by the large and important Jewish  community
living then at Alexandria, p. 186.
36) The Egyptian Papyri, according to Mahaffy and Deissmann, shows a close similarity
between the Papyri and the Septuagint, p. 186.
37) The Egyptian Papyri have reinstated Aristcas (about 200 B. C.) in the opinion of
Scholars; p. 186.
38) Aristcas' letter to Philocrates gives the background of the LXX;
39) It is now believed that even though he may have been mistaken in some  points his
facts in general are worthy of credence, p. 186.
40) The Greek translation of the Pentateuch was at the time of Philadelphus,  the second
Ptolemy (about 285-247 B. C.); p. 186, Note that this was the Pentateuch only.
41) The King encouraged the Septuagint and the Alexanderian Jews welcomed it;
42) Gratz's opinion that it was translated during the reign of Philometor (181-146 B.
C.) stands alone, p. 186.
43) The Jewish community was loosing its Hebrew through the demands of  everyday life,
p. 186.
44) No definite date known as to when the other Books were translated, but by 132 B. C.
Ben Sira's grandson mentions them in the prologue to his translation.
 a. Chronicles mentioned by Eupolemus (middle of Second Century  B. C.);
 b. Aristeas, the historian, quotes Job;
 c. Footnote to the Greek Esther shows it was in circulation before the end of the
second century b. c.
 d. The Septuagint Plaster is quoted in 1 Macc. 7:17.
45) The whole Bible (Old Testament) was translated before the Christian era, p. 186,
Sweet's Introduction, chapter 1.
46) The large numbers of Greek speaking communities in Palestine, Syria, Mesopotamia,
Asia Minor and Northern Africa, must have facilitated the spread of the LXX into all
these regions, p. 186.
47) The Quotations from the Old Testament found in the New Testament are in the main
taken from the Septuagint, p. 186.
48) Even where the citation is only indirect the influence from the LXX is clearly seen;

49) The undoubted influence of the LXX upon the Peshitta, the Syriac Versions;
50) The composite make up of the LXX:
 a. Pentateuch adheres most closely to the original;
 b. Daniel shows the influence of the Jewish Midrash the most; p. 186.
51) At times the Septuagint shows a complete ignorance of the Hebrew  text, p. 186.
52) The translators made the LXX from a Codex which differed widely in places from the
text crystallized by the Masorah, p. 186.
53) The LXX's influence upon the Greek-speaking Jews was great;
54) The Septuagint became the Canonical Greek Bible, as Luther's the German and the King
James, the English Bible; p. 186;
55) The LXX is the version used by the Hellenistic Jewish writers; Philo, and Josephus;
p. 186.
56) The LXX is the source for the Book of Wisdom, the translation of Ben Sira, and the
Jewish Sibyllines;
57) Philo based his citations from the LXX, though he had no scruples about  modifying
them or citing them with much freedom;
58) The LXX became the Old Testament of the Christian Church, p. 186.
59) 2 things rendered the Septuagint unwelcome to the Jews in the Long  Run;
a. Its divergence from the accepted text, afterwards called the Masoretic Text,
was too evident; it could not serve as a basis for theological discussion or for
homiletic interpretation, page 186.
 b. The New Faith, Christianity, adopted the LXX as the Sacred   Scriptures, p. 186.
60) Because of these 2 facts, a revision in the sense of the canonical Jewish Text was
necessary, p. 186.
61) Aquilla, a proselyte, made the first revision sometime during the reign of Hadrian,
117-138, A. D. p. 186.

62) He was a student of Rabbi Akiba and embodied in his revision the principles of the
strictest liberal interpretation of the text, p. 186;
63) "certainly his translation is pedantic, and its Greek in uncouth,: p.  186, D.Q.
64) Its goal was to reproduce the Hebrew text word for word;
65) Because of this, the Hebrew speaking Jews looked favorably upon it;
66) It was received where the Hebrew language was still understood;
67) Its popularity covered from Origen's days down to the fourth and fifth centuries;
68) From Aquilla a few fragments have come down to us;
69) There are also many citation made by Christian writers from Origen's  Hexapla;
70) In the middle of the Sixth Century a section of the Jews in Byzantium wished to read
the Sabbath lectures in Greek as well as Hebrew, but the Rabbis and Authorities desired
that only Hebrew should be read,  p. 186;
71) The Emperor Justinian issued an "novella" in which it was expressly stated that "the
Hebrews are allowed to read the Holy Writ in their synagogues in the Greek language, p.
72) He advised them to use either the LXX or Acquilla.
73) The third Translation into the Greek was Thedotion's translation.  His version of
Daniel entirely displaced the LXX's version of Daniel and in other portions his
translations are occasionally found in ordinary Septuagint manuscripts;
74) Theodotion made a second revision of the LXX, p. 187.
75) He may have been a native of Ephesus who may have lived toward the end of the second
century and is often referred to as a convert to Judaism;
76) His revision also is said to be in the nature of a recurrence to the Hebrew text, p.
77) Theodotion avoided Acquilla's "pedantry" and his Greek gives us a readable text;
78) No reason is known (among the Jewish writers) as to why Theodotion's  Daniel
replaced LXX's Daniel, p. 187;
79) Symmachus made a third translation of the LXX,  n.d. who wished to smooth down
Acquilla's un-Grecian Greek by the use of both the LXX and Theodotion.  He seemed to be
the best stylist of all;
80) Epiphanius claims he was a Samaritan who converted to Judaism while Eusebius and
Jerome made him out to be an Ebionite; p. 187.

1) The Jews produced four O. T. Translations into Greek; (Note Horne's
classifications of these in his Introduction)
  a. The LXX or Septuagint, the Alexanderian Version;
  b. The Aquallia Version, made by a convert to Judaism;
  c. Theodotion's Translation, this was a second attempt to  upgrade the LXX, his
version of Daniel replaced the two former versions of Daniel, and the Hebrew's;
d. Symmachus's Version, was an effort at trying to smooth down Acquilla's un-Grecian
Greek, by relying upon the LXX and Theodotion; He seems to have been a Samaritan who
converted to Judaism first then became an Ebionite.
  e. The Jews welcomed the LXX and then, following Christ's coming, did everything they
could to prevent their Hebrew Cannon from ever again being translated into other
f. Two factors caused the new Jewish attitude toward the LXX:

1) The New Faith (Christianity) received it as their Old Testament as inspired by God;

2) It was too different from the new Jewish Text, the Masoritic Text;

  g. The modern Christian attitude toward the LXX is almost as the older Jewish attitude
toward the LXX following Christ's first coming.  It is just the opposite as the attitude
of the first Christians up until the Latin version replaced it in the  Western World in
the second century.

  h. The Jewish attitude before and after Christ's coming in the flesh, and the rules
and traditions against the LXX and the Greek language and culture after the first coming
of Christ,are important epics in the history of Judaism, the history of Christianity and
the history of the LXX and Textual  Criticism.

i. This article updates the origin of the Targums by showing that they were
written in an Western-Aramaic dialect, which makes it closer to Christ's first coming
than before believed.


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