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

Peter Kirk peter at qaya.org
Mon Sep 25 10:36:09 EDT 2006

On 25/09/2006 14:08, Yonah Mishael wrote:
> Another problem is that there are several translations that have come
> to be called "Septuagint." We do not know which translation was the
> actual LXX of legend. One thing that I find interesting is that in the
> 27th Edition of the Nestle-Aland /Novum Testamentum Graece/, alongside
> each Scripture citation, they insert a symbol to represent when the
> author is quoting from the Septuagint. This is found, for example, in
> Hebrews 1:5 with hUIOS MOU EI SU EGW SHMERON GEGENNHKA SE ("You are my
> son, today I have begotten you."). The symbol looks somewhat like
> this:
> http://www.jhronline.com/work/images/lxx.jpg
As I understand it, this symbol means that the quotation is closer to 
the LXX than to the Hebrew. But there is still no guarantee that it is 
identical to what is now known as the LXX. Many of the Old Testament 
citations in the New Testament are rather different from the LXX; some, 
but not all, of these are significantly closer to the Hebrew.

> ...
> There are quotations throughout the Greek Testament taken directly
> from the Septuagint. ...

Your wording here prejudges the question below! What you mean is, the 
New Testament text is identical to that of the LXX, but the direction of 
borrowing is uncertain.

> ... Is the contention that the LXX was modified to
> fit the GT citations by Christians at a later period? Or is the
> contention that the GT writings were later than the LXX, which some
> have dated in this thread to around 200 of the Common Era?
It is clear that there were Greek versions of the Hebrew Bible books 
available before the New Testament was written; for example, those found 
among the DSS. It is also clear that there is a somewhat complex textual 
history. I would conclude that in general the NT quotes the LXX but 
there may also be cases where the LXX text as we now know it has been 
adapted to be closer to an NT citation.

> I would agree that the LXX had a great influence in the early
> Christian establishment, and I would probably go with Liz in supposing
> that if the LXX had not misrepresented some verses of the Jewish Bible
> (most notably, of course, the PARQENOS statement in Isaiah 7:14
> [though this may be a valid translation, depending on how one views
> the semantic range of this noun in the Koine]). It is striking to me,
> however, that Paul -- though he quotes so heavily from the Bible --
> makes very little use of the LXX in his citations, if any use at all.
> He always presents his own translation of the verses that he quotes,
> insofar that he does NOT quote from the Septuagint. I find that very
> interesting.
I have found other cases in which the NT form of the text appears to be 
some kind of adaptation of the LXX, omitting parts which differ from the 
Hebrew. An example of this is Matthew 4:15-16, which mostly follows LXX 
wording (Isaiah 8:23-9:1 LXX and Hebrew, 9:1-2 English) rather closely 
but omits both "afterwards he will honour" in the Hebrew and "the others 
dwelling by the coast" in the LXX.

Peter Kirk
E-mail:  peter at qaya.org
Blog:    http://speakertruth.blogspot.com/
Website: http://www.qaya.org/

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