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

Bryant J. Williams III bjwvmw at com-pair.net
Sun Sep 24 18:12:38 EDT 2006

Dear Rolf,

When taking beginning Hebrew classes in seminary, we were told that when one
came across YHWH in the reading of the text one was to "say" "adonai." This
was done because the Jews, in not pronouncing the name, just substituted
"orally" with adonai. Thus, the substitution of adonai for YHWH was supposed
to be from early on according to the Masoretic pointing.

Second, comparing the text of Exodus 3:15 has the LXX, translating QEOS for
ELOHIM and KURIOS for YHWH. In fact the text says, "KURIOS hO QEOS" for
"YHWH Elohey."See NIV Triglot Old Testament, Introduction by John R.
Kohlenberger III, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981.

Where Kurios for YHWH is found I would also take a look at Exodus 4:4, 6,
10, 11 (KURIE for ADONAI also). There are other examples, but I think that
the texts speak clearly that KURIOS translated both ADONAI and YHWH; QEOS
translated EL, ELOHEY, ELOHIM, etc. It is also interesting to see Ezekiel
use ADONAI YHWH being translated by KURIOS. It is not possible to say
whether KURIOS  is translating ADONAI or YHWH or both. In 4:14, the vocative

There is much that we do not know about the transmission of the LXX text
other than it is extremely mixed. We do know that the Law of Moses was
translated by the time of Ptolemy Philadelphus and was well done, but it
became progressively mixed or worse when the rest of the Tanakh was
translated (though it does seem to have been finished by the middle of the
2nd century BCE). I would be very hesitant to postulate anything about how
provenance of the text before or early into the Christian era. In fact, for
its 22 pages of text, Kohlenberger's Introduction of the NIV Triglot Old
Testament is very good. Beyond that we do not have enough information.

En Xristwi,

Rev. Bryant J. Williams III

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Rolf Furuli" <furuli at online.no>
To: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Saturday, September 23, 2006 11:53 PM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Septuagint vs Hebrew, effect on Christianity

> Dear Liz,
> In this case I may supply some information. There are not many fragments
> the LXX from B.C.E. and the first century C.E., but in all extant
> the name of God is written as YHWH in old Hebrew characters, Aramaic
> characters, or as the Greek phonetic transcription
> IAW; it is never written KURIOS. In the LXX manuscripts from the middle of
> the
> second century C.E. we find the socalled "nomina sacra" - QS  with a bar
> above where QEOS is expected and KS wirh a bar above where the
> tetragrammaton is expected (and other abbreviations as well). Thus, after
> C.E. (the date of the youngest
> LXX manuscript with YHWH) and before 150 C.E. the tetragrammaton and IAW
> were removed when manuscripts were copied and KS was written instead. The
> same nomina sacra are found in the oldest NT manuscripts, so a change of
> that text were made as well. A study of the oldest manuscripts of the
> Syro-Hexapla and their mariginal notes, suggests that the Syriac form PIPI
> was
> made when the LXX original had the tetragrammaton in Aramaic characters,
> and that the Syriac form HEHE was used when the LXX original had the
> tetragrammaton in old Hebrew characters. Thus, a situation similar to the
> one
> described in connection with the LXX and the NT is possible for the
> as well, i.e., the original Peshitta may have contained the
> but this was later removed and substituted with MRY.
> It is generally believed that the tetragramaton was substituted by )DNY a
> long time before the C.E., and that it was no longer used in the first
> century C.E. However, evidence for this is lacking! We know that the
> community did not pronounce the name, but their
> substitute was )L and not ADNY. I am not aware of any evidence for the
> substitution of YHWH by )DNY in the B.C.E. or in the first century C.E. In
> the Tanakh God is referred to by )DNY YHWH, as YHWH, and as )DNY. This
> that both words are legitimate refrences to God, and to point to passages
> where )DNY is used with reference to God as evidence for non-use of YHWH
> a non-starter. What we must demonstrate is SUBSTITUTION, i.e., that )DNY
> some text is used when YHWH is expected. But such evidence is lacking.
> Therefore, we have the strange situation, that if the NT writers
> substituted YHWH with KURIUS, they did so (as far as we know) without any
> antecedent. In other words, when a NT writer should translate a Hebrew or
> Aramaic conversation between Jesus and others into Greek, the word )DNY as
> substitute for YHWH was not used in that conversation? So why then should
> the writer then use KURIOS? And similarly with qoutations: Both the Hebrew
> and LXX manuscripts contained YHWH, so why should the writer substitute
> with KURIOS? Since it cannot be demonstrated that YHWH had been
> by )DNY in the days of Jesus, and since we know that the changes to nomina
> sacra occurred between 50(75) and 150 C.E. there is no good reason to
> believe that KURIOS was found in the NT autographs. It is more likely that
> YHWH occurred.
> As for the Mischna and rabbinic literature, there are passages indicating
> that the tetragrammaton was not pronounced by some, but there are other
> passages
> indicating the very opposite, that some groups used it for a long time.
> Thus, there is evidence that some groups in
> the second and first century B.C.E. ceased to used the name while others
> (such as the Pharisees and the Morningbathers) continued to use it.
> An interesting example indicating a late use of the tetragrammaton is
> Shabat 13 (14:5), where the Minim (possibly
> Christians) are mentioned:
> "The blank spaces of the books of the Minim, we may not save them from the
> fire. R. Jose said: On weekdays one must cut out the tetragrammata which
> they contain, hide them, and burn the rest. R. Tarfon said: May I bury my
> son if I would not burn them together with their tetragrammata if they
> to my hand."
> The removal of the name of God caused, as you say, "the blurring of
> identities"; in the NT there are about 100 occurrences of KURIOS in the
> mastertext where it is difficult to know whether the word refers to Jesus
> to his father. I would argue that the writer did not want to confuse the
> two, but it was the change of the text by the introduction of the nomina
> sacra caused the confusion.
> Best regards,
> Rolf Furuli
> University of Oslo
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: "Lisbeth S. Fried" <lizfried at umich.edu>
> To: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
> Sent: Saturday, September 23, 2006 11:27 PM
> Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Septuagint vs Hebrew, effect on Christianity
> >
> > Dear Karl,
> > My feeling -- and this is just a feeling -- that if the LXX had written
> > YHWH
> > and not kurios,
> > that there wouldn't have been a confusion between Jesus and kurios=YHWH.
> > No where is there a tendency to call Jesus YHWH, but with the
> > of the word LORD, there is the blurring of identities.  Suddenly it is
> > Jesus' name before whom every knee must bow. So originally it is before
> > the
> > name YHWH, then before the name LORD, and then before the name JESUS.
> > I don't think that would have happened if the LXX didn't have LORD for
> > YHWH.
> > What do you think?
> > Best,
> > Liz Fried
> >
> >
> >> -----Original Message-----
> >> From: b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
> > [mailto:b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On
> >> Behalf Of K Randolph
> >> Sent: Friday, September 22, 2006 11:49 PM
> >> To: b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
> >> Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Septuagint vs Hebrew, effect on Christianity
> >>
> >> Liz:
> >>
> >> The founding of Christianity was not dependent on the LXX, but had it
> >> not existed, how would Christianity have spread? Probably not among
> >> the Greek speaking Roman empire.
> >>
> >> I wonder if there are any substantive differences, besides the many
> > ones.
> >>
> >> Karl W. Randolph.
> >>
> >> On 9/21/06, Lisbeth S. Fried <lizfried at umich.edu> wrote:
> >> >
> >> > Dear Benjamin,
> >> > These are great questions! I think that if there hadn't been an LXX
> > there
> >> > wouldn't have been Christianity. I'd be very interested in any books
> >> > articles on the subject that you find.
> >> > Liz Fried
> >> _______________________________________________
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> >> b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
> >> http://lists.ibiblio.org/mailman/listinfo/b-hebrew
> >
> >
> > _______________________________________________
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> >
> >
> >
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