[b-hebrew] Septuagintal influence on Masoretic Hebrew text
Dr. Joel M. Hoffman
joel at exc.com
Mon Aug 14 13:50:44 EDT 2006
>"The Hebrew version in circulation today, the so-called Massoretic (sic)
>Text, is chiefly a re-translation of the Septuagint into Medieval Hebrew
It is not difficult to demonstrate the inaccuracy of this claim.
It is true that it's easier to date the LXX (Septuagint), particularly
the Torah part thereof, to slighter before the oldest attested Hebrew
copies of the Bible, but:
1. Parts of the Bible contain acrostic poems in Hebrew, but only in
Hebrew, not in Greek. It is patently absurd to think that the
Greeks wrote the LXX precisely in such a way that 1,000 years
later the Greek could be translated into a Hebrew acrostic.
2. Much of Genesis consists of word plays that only work in Hebrew.
For example, Isaac is called (in Hebrew) YITZCHAK because that
name shares a root with "laugh," and according to the text itself
Isaac's birth involves laughter (on Sarah's part). Abram's name
means "exalted father" (something like "tribal elder"), but,
again, only in Hebrew, not in Greek. Other examples abound. And
again, it is absurd to think that nonsensical Greek was composed
just to make the Hebrew translation clever.
3. A minor matter, but the Hebrew in the Bible is not medieval Hebrew
4. The DSS (Dead Sea Scrolls) confirm the authenticity of much of the
Hebrew text of the Bible. These date to just after the LXX, and
long before the Masoretes.
I go through a lot of these issues in detail in my NYUP book ("In the
Beginning: A Short History of the Hebrew Language" - NYU Press).
Joel M. Hoffman, PhD
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