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

Harold R. Holmyard III hholmyard at ont.com
Thu Mar 4 17:38:10 EST 2004

Dear Philip,

A possible problem with your line of reasoning, but I may misunderstand
you, is that however old the LXX might be, we don't have the original
manuscripts. The DSS copies of the LXX we have are the oldest we have, I

			Harold Holmyard

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
>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.
>However, it is interesting to note the comment made by Ralph Klein in
>his book, Textual Criticism of the Old Testament: The Septuagint after
>Qumran. In discussing the differences found in the Qumran manuscripts,
>and their relation to both the Septuagint and the Masoretic Text of
>Exodus 1:1-6, he asks, "Which reading is original, the proto-MT or the
>Hebrew used by the LXX translators (i.e. LXX Vorlage) or DSS? No final
>answer is possible." (p. 15). The statement is true only if we concede
>that the original text can only be ascertained through the process of
>textual criticism and not maintained by the Author of Holy Writ through
>Biblical preservation. It is because of this truth, Biblical
>preservation, that we can see additional resolutions to textual problems
>which seem to elude the majority of modern scholarship.[5]
>Philip Engmann
>  _____
>[1] There seems to be very little known about the dating of the LXX and
>MT parent texts. i.e. the LXX Vorlage and the proto-MT.
>[2] http://www.septuagint.net/
>[3] http://students.cua.edu/16kalvesmaki/lxx/
>[4] http://byubroadcasting.org/deadsea/book/chapter2/intro.html
>[5] paraphrased. Lesson Nine: THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS
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