[b-hebrew] Septuagint vs Hebrew, effect on Christianity

Schmuel schmuel at nyc.rr.com
Sat Oct 14 22:39:26 EDT 2006

Hi Folks,

>> Conclusion.
>> An easier general explanation for the verses in question -
>> The Greek OT was 'smoothed' by low-quality scribes between 100 AD to 500 AD
>> to be closer to the NT - by scribes who simply could not leave midrash alone :-)

>HH: Where did you get this information? 

Many places.
One good book is by Floyd Nolen Jones.
The Septuagint: A Critical Analysis

However I don't think he covers both examples I gave in depth.  

Will Kinney mentions the Romans-Psalms one and many have written about
Cainan in Luke 3:36 from John Gill on.  Few have stated the obvious clearly.

>You don't include other sources of LXX quotations such as Philo and Josephus. 

You have confused two distinct issues. The

1) question of a vorlage behind the Greek OT and 
2) actual verses that are used for NT/Tanach supposed borrowing.

Do Philo or Josephus give any support for those actual verses ?
I have never seen even one. 

(btw, their supposed support in general is dicey, but that is another story
 have you ever taken a section with many differences from Philo and 
 compared it yourself ?)

>There is a huge debt that he NT writers have to the LXX, one that makes your claim look like it must have been a conspiracy rather than a number of mistakes. Here is one comment from the Wikipedia article on the Septuagint:
>Of the fuller quotations in the New Testament of the Old, nearly one hundred agree with the modern 
>form of the Septuagint[12] and six agree with the Masoretic Text.[13] The principle differences 
>concern presumed Bibilical prophecies relative to Christ.

These numbers look dubious, and that could be a whole nother discussion, probably
gets a bit off-topic for this list.  One thing you might notice: the word 'agree' is simply 
wrong and is not in the R. Grant Jones article.

Anyway they do nothing to discuss the source of any closer texts in the cases 
where the Greek OT really significantly differ from the Masoretic Text while being
closer to the NT.  The issue at hand.

We can demonstrate 'smoothing' in some cases.  And for the reasons given before 
we can ask whether this is not the situation in virtually all the cases.  I believe there
is a compelling case 'yes', and that it is good to first research the obvious cases to
see the pattern.  Like in any good criminal investigation.

>HH: Copies of the Septuagint must have been fairly common at the time of the church's foundation, 
>used in Jewish synagogues in the Greek-speaking part of the world. So these errors would be 
>noticed, it seems to me.

There are so many considerations that run all different ways.  The simplest one is that there are no 'errors' - the NT and the Hebrew Bible are harmonious.  Only an ultra-literalist who denies any midrashic concepts (ie. interpretative citations) would have difficulty, and from that perspective they would have plenty of difficulties with the Greek OT as well.

>HH: And very soon the Septuagint was translated into other languages, such as the Old Latin, which 
>can be used to provide textual criticism on the text of the LXX.

Which is so wild and wooly that it is virtually useless.  

Anyway tell us where are these Old Latin Tanachs that are used ?
I've been looking for one for years.

>HH: Furthermore, the Dead Sea Scrolls show that some peculiarities of the LXX were based on an 
>alternate Hebrew text. If the NT quotes the LXX as  God's word to make a point, and the LXX had to 
>be changed to make the point, the point itself would lose the validity that God's word could provide.

You would have to unpack this with examples.  I see absolutely no difficulty with the
Hebrew Text of the Tanach and the NT.  None.   Apparently you do.  So where ?

(In other words, if there were no Greek OT at all, I believe the NT and the Tanach 
 match up beautifully... the fact that a some early church writers were confused on 
 this is only .. their confusion... fortunately it was largely straightened out by Jerome.)

>HH: I recently read a fairly long text on studying the Septuagint, by Karen Jobes and Moises Silva, 
>called Invitation to the Septuagint. I don't remember that this claim even came up.

I am aware that a lot of 'scholarship' today is woefully incomplete and doesn't even discuss
the obvious cases like Cainan and the Psalms-Romans rigging.  

Why the blindness ? I dunno for sure but I could conjecture.  

It might be a bit like making sausage .. not pretty.  (Even kosher beef sausage). 

Harold Holmyard - 
>The fact that the NT matches the LXX in so many places would imply a massive alteration of the LXX text to conform it to the NT. It would not be a small project.

Actually we are probably talking about a few dozen possible 'smoothings'.  Some obviously occurred, others are generally unexamined.  Anyway there was a major project done in the 3rd century, the Hexapla.

The Septuagint: A Critical Analysis
As mentioned previously, nearly all scholars believe that the fifth column of Origen's Hexapla is Origen's revision of a B.C. Septuagint. Nevertheless, as noted in the previous heading, some dissenters believe that the so called LXX in fact originates with Origen's fifth column – that the 5th column is based on and constructed from the versions in the other columns – and that Origen also had a N.T. at his side to further assist him.

Incidentally note the Thomas Hartwell Horne study of 263 citations.  

Steven Avery
Queens, NY

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list