[b-hebrew] Septuagint vs Hebrew, Josephus and Philo

Schmuel schmuel at nyc.rr.com
Mon Oct 16 14:30:41 EDT 2006

Hi Folks,

>HH: You see, Floyd Jones seems to claim that Philo and Josephus may not even have used the Septuagint:

>Floyd Nolen Jones
>4. ... Philo.. The  fact is that there are no actual quotes contained in his work that are cited from a Greek translation of the Old Testament.

This may or may not be wrong, but you have not given even a single counter-verse-indication.
Do you have any ?

Isn't it a primary issue to find out if, in regard to Josephus and Philo..

a) they give any support to the Greek OT variants that are in the 4th century and later manuscripts now called the "LXX".

b) they give any support on the prophetic verses that would be prone to 'smoothing' as we see with Cainan and the Psalms-Romans rigging.

So far, not only do they give no support to (b), we don't even have examples for (a).  In fact at the very least we can say that they give much more support to the Masoretic Text than the Greek texts (as do most of the DSS, especially the Penteteuch and Isaiah and many, but not all, books).  You can see that yourself by simply opening up the works of Philo and doing your own comparisons.  Imho, the lack of a simple scholarly paper in this regard is due to some of the blindnesses in modern scholarship, where the arcane can trump the simple and clear. 

>5. Lastly, the Jewish Historian Josephus (A.D. 37-100?) is often cited as having used the Septuagint. However no quotes of his having done so are ever offered to certify such a claim. . . . 

>HH: However, I just cited an authority yesterday who shows it is common knowledge that we have many quotes of the Septuagint from Philo and Josephus:
>Extensive quotations and allusions in Greek are also preserved in Philo (ca. 30 CE), Paul (ca. 50), Josephus (ca.  80), 1 Clement (ca. 95), and a number of other Christian texts  from the early
>[[813]] period.

You are misreading and/or misusing this quote. 

It is discussing their writing in Greek and not directly addressing what Bible(s) they read. Hebrew, Greek, Latin or some combinations.  Perhaps different for different sections, perhaps they even made ad hoc translations to Greek. There are many variables.

By the time of Clement there would have been a desire of many Christian believers to have more Greek quotations from the Tanach, the language in which they wrote.  As well as the dicey situation with Justin Martyr who makes  mistakes from whatever Greek text or translation he was using.. 

Note that Robert Kraft alludes to the huge problem in the very next (snipped) sentence.

"Determination of the exact wording of a quotation often must remain problematical, however, since the original text of the document in which it occurs must itself be reconstructed by careful textcritical methods."

Robert Kraft (an excellent scholar, very much appreciated, unlike your earlier Richard Anthony, whom you would do well to disown rather than be linked) may believe that Josephus and Philo used a Greek text but the quote above is a cart before the horse approach for your argumentation.

Also .. don't you see some circularity by using Paul as a reference in this discussion ?

This begs the question of whether 400 AD 'smoothed' passages, (e.g. the obvious changing of Psalms to match Romans from Paul) can be used as an evidence in reverse.  Just because some scholars don't consider the 'smoothing', despite such clear evidences, doesn't mean that you should adopt their lack of knowledge and/or insight circularities as your own deliberate, conscious circularities. 

Now, focusing on Philo and Josephus -

I do not see anything here that indicates that
 a) the text that each one of these used was a Greek text 
 b) or that any such Greek text was outside of Penteteuch
 c) that such a Greek text has any substantive affinity to the 4th century texts that
     we have handed down after the wild and wooly Greek OT days of the 2nd through 4th centuries.
Simply that they wrote in Greek and quoted scripture. 

As an example I know that in my checking Philo is much closer to the Hebrew Masoretic Text than to our late Greek OT.  eg. check the chronology numbers in the Penteteuch on your own, that is easy enough to do.

What is your explanation for that ? 
If Philo was using the "LXX" why are his quotes much closer to the Hebrew MT
than what is now called the "LXX" ?

>HH: It is evident that Floyd Jones is contradicting common knowledge when he suggests 
>that neither Philo or Josephus used the Septuagint.

Each case is complicated.   Here is an example.

Are you aware that Philo is 90%+ quoting only the Penteteuch.  
And that his background in Hebrew is a subject of much discourse.
An example.

Probably the most recent and extensive brief for Philo's use of Hebrew sources for his etymologies, is Hava Schur's recent doctorate entitled Hebrew Names in Philo's Allegorical Exegeses, (Heb.) (Tel-Aviv: 1991). Schur not only recognizes the existence of a midrashic tradition in Philo's day with which he was familiar, but goes so far as to consider Philo's Hebrew etymologies to be proof of his knowledge of Hebrew. 

With Jospehus we have the Aramaic component as well, and the fact that he complained about difficulties with Greek.  And his quotes again do not line up with what is called the "LXX" The whole situation was dicey.

Sometimes, also, he gives proof of some knowledge of Hebrew and supplements his scriptural 
authorities, which include 1 Esdras, from general Greek histories. 

http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/b-hebrew/1999-July/003580.html - courtesy of Ian Hutcheson :-)
I have no doubt that both languages (Aramaic and Hebrew), plus Greek, were in use at the time of Josephus....  I see no reason to believe that he was not a speaker of Hebrew. In fact, given the statements I've mentioned from his works, I think the onus is on anyone who believes the contrary to provide some evidence. 

Perhaps a knowledge of Hebrew by Josephus (and/or Aramaic) would go a long way to explaining why you have not given us any actual statements from Josephus that line up with what is now called the LXX, versus the Masoretic Text.

btw, the Ben Sira situation is interesting .. and I may agree that it is a stronger evidence than Floyd Jones gives credit to, for some earlier Greek Tanach texts.  I was researching this a while back but let it drop off. 

Steven Avery

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