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

Yigal Levin leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Mon Sep 25 01:31:00 EDT 2006

This is all assuming a lot. Many scholars assume that the "Hebrew" of 
Matthew was really Aramaic, and there is really no proof at all that the 
rest of the gospels or Acts were written by native speakers of Hebrew. 
Remember, that many western Diaspora Jews, in places like Alexandria and all 
of Paul's synagogues/churches (Rome, Galatia, certainly places like Corinth) 
were really native speakers of Greek, who may have known some Hebrew. Of 
course, there were also many learned people who knew Hebrew, but the whole 
point of translating the Bible into Greek, back in the 3rd or 2nd centuries 
BCE, was to provide a text for Greek-speaking Jews.

But beyond all this - the question is not what the Apostles spoke. The 
question is what the intended audience of the NT read and spoke. This was 
Greek. So the authors of the NT, and in fact even before them, the first 
Jesus-followers who used the OT to try to convince Greek-spaking Jews and 
gentiles of Jesus' messianity, quite naturally would use the availible Greek 
translation. This was the LXX (or something very close to what we today call 
the LXX). Josephus, who certainly knew Hebrew, did the same: his quotes of 
the Bible are very close to what we today call the LXX. There was probably 
not a single "authorised" version of the "Christian"-Greek text until the 
Church was reorganized in the 4th century CE.

Yigal Levin

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "K Randolph" <kwrandolph at gmail.com>
To: "b-hebrew" <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Monday, September 25, 2006 2:30 AM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Septuagint vs Hebrew, effect on Christianity

> Yigal:
> I forgot about those (apocrypha), as I am not familiar with the LXX.
> Looking at the history included in the New Testament, it was written
> by people who were familiar with Tanakh in Hebrew: Peter employed a
> translator (Mark), John wrote in a style that sounded more like
> Aramaic with Greek words pasted on top, Paul knew Hebrew well enough
> that he could speak it, Matthew originally wrote in "Hebrew" according
> to ancient traditions, the only one who really wrote in high Greek was
> Luke, and even he came from a synagog to Christianity. At least in the
> formation of New Testament Christianity, it looks as if the LXX had
> very little influence, if any. It had a lot more influence on later
> theology, but not every Christian goes along with that.
> Karl W. Randolph.
> On 9/24/05, Yigal Levin <leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il> wrote:
>> ----- Original Message -----
>> From: "K Randolph" <kwrandolph at gmail.com>
>> > I wonder if there are any substantive differences, besides the many 
>> > minor
>> > ones.
>> >
>> > Karl W. Randolph.
>> >
>> That depends on what you mean by "substantive differences", and which 
>> Hebrew
>> text you're referring to. If you are comparing the LXX as we now know it
>> (and ignoring the slight differences between the different textual
>> traditions within the LXX) and the MT as we know it, remember that the 
>> LXX
>> includes whole books that the MT does not - what we call the Apocrypha. 
>> Plus
>> the "apocryphal" chapters of Daniel, Esther and Psalms. So that "the Old
>> Testament" as known to the early Christians (and to eastern Christians to
>> this day) is much larger than the Jewish Tanakh.
>> Now was this the case during the first and second centuries CE, when
>> Christianity was taking form? What did the "Greek Bible" of the time
>> include? What did the "Hebrew Bible" of the time include? Unfortunately, 
>> we
>> have only partial information.
>> Yigal Levin
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