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Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Validity of the LXX family of texts

The person at this website seems pro LXX. I don't endorse everything at this website, but I liked what he/she had to say about the LXX

The Supiriority of the Septuagint: This is an important
issue because the Septuagin (Greek Translation of the OT made sometime in 300's
BC in Alexandria) differs on some points form the Hebrew text (the Masoretic
Text or MT). The earliest copies we have of the MT only Date from about 900 or
1000 AD, but the LXX goes back much further. We have whole manuscripts from 3d
and 4th centuries AD, and it is quoted in much earlier works. The main Jeiwsh
apologist argument against Messianic interpretation of Is. 53 is that all the
references to the suffering servant, so they say, are in the plural, making him
a symbol of Isreale. But in the LXX they are singular. There are also other
references in the Septuagint that support the Christian reading, on Is. 53 and
Ps. 22 "hands and feet peirced" and other passages. For this reason the Jewish
anti-missionaries claim that the LXX only existed in the first five books before
the time of Chrsit and that Chrsitians translated the rest, either late first
century, or some go so far as to claim that Origen (4th century) made the
trasnlations of prophetic books. The only thing that supports this view is the
fact that all the really good whole Ms. come from 3d and 4th centuuries AD. But
there are other proofs of the LXX's veracity.

John Allegro in The Dead
Sea Scrolls documents that when the LXX and Mt contradict, the LXX most often
agrees with the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS). (Allegro 59-83). He presents a long
chart comparing readings from 1Sam. demonstrating that the text of books other
than the first five existed long befroe the MT existed (about 1000 years
before). Allegro also documents that most of the time when there is disagreement
between LXX and MT the LXX most often agrees with the DSS and DSS with LXX over
the MT. A latter article also deomonstrates that this same agreement holds for
Jeremaiah. The DSS contain the longer reading for Jeremaiah deomnstrtaing
significant support for the LXX.

He also documents (63) that Origen's
work was that of a compulation of a text placing several existing Greek
translations of the OT side by side, he used a pre-existing LXX, this is merely
what any good translator does in preparing a new translation. A new one was
needed because the Jews abandoned the LXX and commissioned their own (Aquilla's)
becasue the Chruch had come to use the LXX as it's Bbile, and they wanted to get
away form the Christian's Messianic reading. Origen did not produce the
translation of the LXX prophetic books, it already existed. Moreover, it can be
showen to have existed in the first century. Clement of Rome (1 Clement) quotes
Isaiah 53 in AD 95, and most of the quotations of the OT in the Gospels come
from the LXX.

"That the LXX existed before the time of Christ is borne
out not only by the fact of agreement with the DSS but in other works as well.
A. Vander Heeren states "It is certain that the law, the prophets and at lest
part of the other books...existed in Greek before 135 BC, asappears from the
pologue of Ecclesiasticus which does not date latter than that year" (Catholic

"Qumran agrees 13 times with the LXX against the MT and
four times witht he MT against the seems now that to scholars engaged
in this work in the future Qumran has offered a new basis for confidence in the
LXX...." (Allegro 74 and 81).

James A. Sanders,Inter Testamental and
Biblical Studies at Clairmont, Cannon and Community, a Guide to Canonical
Criticism. Philladelphia: Forterss Press, 1984, 15-16.

"There are
remarkable differences between the LXX and MT of 1 and 2 Sam. Jeremiah, Esther,
Daniel, Proverbs and Ezekiel, 40-48, and on a lesser level numerious very
important differences in lesser books such as Isaiah and Job. Before the
discovery of the Scrolls [Dead Sea] it was difficult to know wheather most of
these should be seen as translational, Or as reflecting the inner history of the
Septuegent text, or all three. Now it is abundantly clear that the second period
of text transmission [which is BC], actually that of the earliest texts we have,
was one of limited textual pluralism. Side by side in the Qumran library lay
scrolls of Jeremiah in Hebrew dating to the pre-Chrsitian Hellenistic period
reflecting both the textual tradition known in the MT and the one in the LXX
without any indication of preference. So also for 1 and 2 Sam."

[note: the importance of 1 and 2 sam and Jeremiah, Esther,
Daniel is that it indicates the LXX existed before the time of Christ in more
than the Pentetucahal form]

John Allegro, one of the original
translation team, the first to be put in charge of cave 4 material and the only
non-religious memember of the team, The Dead Sea Scrolls Pelican, 1956, (66).[he
describes how Frank Cross in 1954 found a place where the text (DSS) seemed at
odds with the MT. He began to find more and more places, and then discovered
that these texts which differed from the MT agreed with the LXX. Now this is a
Hebrew text which agrees with LXX over MT so it's an older textual family but
obviously the ancesstor of the LXX readings. He goes on:

excitment mouting Cross began to refurr to the principal versions and almost
immediately saw that this text corrosponded with the Greek translation. The
precious peices joined to others and time and time again he found
corrospondences with LXX against MT, until at the end of the week he was ale to
affirm that he had the answer to the text-critic's dream, a Hebrew text from the
same text family of tradition as that used by the ancient translators of the

"It seems now that, to scholars engaged on this work in the
future, Qumran has offered a new basis for a confience in the LXX in at least
the Historical books, which should allow them to accept better readings of that
version almost as readily as if they were found in the Hebrw MT. In other words,
each reading in the future must be judges on it's merits not on any preconsieved
notion of the supiriority of the Hebrew version simpley because it is Hebrew..
If the Greek offers a better reading than that ought to be taken and put in the
text of the translation..."(81).

The first quote above, and an
article FJS posted last summer also demonstrate some of the prophetic books in
that LXX tradition family are found there too.

E.C. Ulrich, The Qumran
Text of Sammuel and Josephus, Schoalr's Press 1978.Emmanuel Tov The Septuagent
Translation of Jeremiah and Baruch (Scholar's Press 1976)

To read the rest, go to the website:



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