[b-hebrew] OT Translations

Philip Engmann phil-eng at ighmail.com
Tue Jun 8 07:00:30 EDT 2004

In cases where the LXX Vorlage clearly differs irreconcilably from the
Proto-MT which text is more accurate? And which text should be seen as
'more correct'? [1]
Philip Engmann
-----Original Message-----
From: Peter Kirk [mailto:peterkirk at qaya.org] 
Sent: 05 June 2004 18:57
To: phil-eng at ighmail.com
Cc: b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] OT Translations
On 05/06/2004 09:39, Philip Engmann wrote:
>1.      Majority of bible translations use the MT as source text and
>other sources (i.e. LXX, DSS, etc) where the MT seems doubtful e.g.
>2.      This practice is wrong because it assumes that the MT is more
>accurate than the LXX (and other sources). [2] ...
You logic is faulty here. You presuppose that it is not in fact true 
that the MT is more accurate than the LXX. You need to demonstrate this 
first. And you will find it very hard, because almost all the evidence 
is against you.
>... Furthermore, this
>practice also assumes that the parent text of the MT, i.e. the Proto-MT
>is more accurate or correct than the parent text of the LXX, i.e. the
>LXX Vorlage. ...
This does not follow. You have ignored the issue of the relative 
accuracy of transmission, and in the LXX case of translation, LXX 
Vorlage to attested text of LXX and proto-MT to attested text of MT. 
There is in fact good evidence of reliable transmission from proto-MT to

attested MT but of considerable corruption, in translation or in 
copying, from LXX Vorlage to attested LXX.
>... But this assumption is false because where the LXX Vorlage
>and the Proto-MT differ, there is no known way to tell which of the 2
>ancient texts is correct.[3] 
>3.      The best way to approach translation in these circumstances, I
>think, is to treat the LXX and MT as equal texts as much as possible.
>Where the LXX and the MT (and other sources) agree, there is no
>But where the LXX and the MT (and other sources) disagree, a thorough
>textual critical investigation must be made into these differences
>before selecting the best text.
Well, I agree that thorough investigation is good, but I expect that an 
unbiased approach will prefer the MT 100 times for each time it prefers 
the LXX.
>But certainly there seems to be very little justification for assuming
>that the MT is the most accurate or correct OT text.[4]
>Philip Engmann
Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)


[1] For example, in Deuteronomy 32:43, LXX Deuteronomy 32:43 is longer
than MT Deuteronomy 32:43, and so LXX Deuteronomy 32:43 contains certain
phrases that MT Deuteronomy 32:43 does not contain, strongly suggesting
that the parent texts of the LXX and MT were different texts. The DSS
Qumran manuscript 4QDeutq matches the LXX text here, indicating that the
LXX was derived from an ancient Hebrew source which differed from the
Also in Chapter 3.3, the difference between the LXX and MT quotations of
Psalm 40:7[6] is that the phrase 'but you have given me an open ear', in
MT Psalm 40:7[6] is radically and irreconcilably different from the
corresponding LXX phrase 'a body you have prepared for me' in LXX Psalm
40:7[6]; leading to the conclusion that the LXX Vorlage differed from
the Proto-MT for this text.

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