Debtor (Ron) on Hebrew Translations

shella shella at
Thu Nov 4 14:55:11 EST 1999

shella wrote:

> 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
> points?
> 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
> down;
>  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.
> 185.
> 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
> influence;
>  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.
> 185;
> 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.
> 187.
> 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.
> 187;
> 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.
> Summary:
> 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
> tongues.
> 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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