[b-hebrew] Relative ages of LXX, DSS and proto-MT texts

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Thu Mar 4 17:29:57 EST 2004


On 04/03/2004 13:16, Philip Engmann wrote:

>The DSS have long been trumpeted as being the oldest known biblical
>Hebrew manuscripts; manuscripts which outdate the MT by about 1000
>years. However DSS dating does not seem to be compared much to LXX
>dating? Some authors even cite the DSS as independent witnesses where
>LXX and MT[1] texts differ, as though the witness of the DSS would
>finally settle the discrepancies between LXX and MT. 
> 
>It would appear that the LXX could be older than DSS. Using the criteria
>that the oldest text is usually more authentic, DSS fails as an
>independent witness authenticating either MT or LXX.
> 
> 
>1.      The Septuagint has its origin in Alexandria, Egypt and was
>translated between 300-200 BC.[2]
>2.      The seventy-two (altered in a few later versions to seventy or
>seventy-five) translators arrived in Egypt to the Ptolemy's gracious
>hospitality, and translated the Torah (or Pentateuch: the first five
>books of the Hebrew Scriptures) in seventy-two days. Although opinions
>as to when this occurred differ, scholars find 282 BC an attractive
>date.[3]
>3.      The Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) are discovered manuscripts from
>Qumran, which date from around 168 BC to about 68 AD.[4]
>4.      So LXX is older than the DSS by about 100 years.
> 
>  
>
You are comparing two different things, the date of production of LXX 
against the date of the oldest surviving MSS of the Hebrew text. To make 
a fair comparison, you need to compare date of production of both or 
date of oldest MSS of both.

Date of production: As an original text must always be older than its 
translation, the Hebrew text must be older than the LXX - unless you try 
to argue that the Hebrew is a translation from the Greek.

Date of oldest MSS: Large parts of the Hebrew Bible are preserved in the 
DSS. Only a few scraps of the LXX are preserved; the earliest MSS of 
substantial parts of the LXX are 4th-5th centuries CE if I remember rightly.

So the Hebrew text clearly wins on both comparisons of age, for what 
it's worth.


-- 
Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)
http://www.qaya.org/




More information about the b-hebrew mailing list