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P.3e The completed Septuagint - controversies and confirmations

The collections of Greek translations of the New Testament were produced by numerous scribes over the course of a few hundred years in different locations (which included) the additional books of the Apocrypha, such as Tobit, Maccabees, and Sirach) which are not in the Hebrew Bible (Masoretic text). The Apocrypha (which means hidden books) based on their inclusion in the Septuagint, were also included in the Latin Vulgate.

In the 3rd century AD, we read that Origen attempted to clear up copyists’ errors that found themselves into the text of the Septuagint that some claimed because of it being widely copied. A number of other scholars consulted the Hebrew texts in order to make the Septuagint more accurate.

Pope Damasus 1 in 382 AD commissioned a priest and theologian named Jerome to render a better Latin translation of the Bible. At the time the Greek language was being supplanted with Latin.

Jerome spoke several languages  and chose to make a new translation of the Old Testament while working from a document called the proto-Masoretic text, a Hebrew text, not the Septuagint. This meant that Jerome returned to the original language as the source for his Old Testament translation.

The text of the Septuagint is contained in a few early manuscripts, the best known of these are the Codex Vaticanus and the Codex Sinaiticus, both dating from the 4th century, and the Codex Alexandrinus from the 5th century. There are also numerous earlier papyrus fragments and many later manuscripts.

The Hebrew canon has three divisions: 1) the Torah (the Law). 2) the Neviʾim (Prophets), and 3) the Ketuvim (Writings). As Christianity grew the Septuagint became the translation of choice. It separated the minor prophets and added the extra apocryphal books. The Roman Catholics call them deuterocanonical.

The Septuagint has four divisions: 1) law, 2) history, 3) poetry, and 4) prophets, inserting the Apocrypha. In Protestant versions of the Septuagint the Apocrypha are either omitted or grouped separately for distinction on it not being inspired but historical.

The Septuagint is the authoritative text of the Old Testament for the Greek Orthodox Church, stating that the Holy Spirit has preserved it for them; “It is clear why the Church prefers the Septuagint and Peshitta translations for the authori tative text of the Old Testament, and principally the first, for the Septuagint text was produced under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit by the concerted effort of the Old Testament Church.” (The Law of God: For Study at Home and School (Jordanville, NY: Holy Trinity Monastery, 1994) p. 440.).

They emphasize the phrase: “Old Testament Church.” But there was no Church in the Old Testament, there was assembly of Jewish people from a nation called Israel.The Scriptures themselves were already inspired in the Hebrew, they didn’t need to be re-inspired in the Greek or any other language.

What was originally given to the Jews by God and written down in the Hebrew language, (was the inspired text). Gods influence is found in communication, he chose writers who were guided by the Holy Spirit to record His words, so that they would communicate with clarity and accuracy what He wanted mankind to know.

Why does the Masoretic text say something different? In ancient Israel, when the scribe wrote a copy, he took great care with the Hebrew wording and its placement.

Scholars and many other students of the Word say that the Septuagint has a number of differences from Masoretic text, especially on dates and names (in Genesis.) For example, the Septuagint of Job is a sixth shorter, and was also given an additional ending. Jeremiah is about an eighth shorter than the Masoretic Text. There are repeated passages cut out, along with their order being changed. And the age of some of the patriarchs in Genesis have significant differences,

What are we to do with these differences, do we ignore the Hebrew text, or do we ignore the Septuagint?

Certain Dates and places changed in the Septuagint

There are concerns and continual debate over a handful of differences between the Septuagint and the Masoretic text. Considering the Septuagint came after and was translated from the Hebrew there are some very different dates and some do affect events.

There are no differences affecting any major doctrine between them, the Septuagint translation is on secure ground in the areas concerning Salvation, The Deity of Christ, The Eternal Triune Nature of God, and for holy Christian living, etc. Excluding the Apocrypha it can be trusted as a translation of the Word of God.

My intentions to show the differences between them, is to simply to point out the differences

In the Septuagint Gn. 5:3 Adam's age at the birth of Seth is 230 years.

The Masoretic text says 130 years. The discrepancies between ages in Genesis 5 is not just limited to Adam.  Both say Adam lived to be 930 years old.

The KJV (based on the Masoretic) Genesis 5:6 “And Seth lived an hundred and five years, and begat Enos.” However, the Septuagint has Seth’s age being 205 years old.

Septuagint 5:7 “ And Seth lived after his begetting Enos, seven hundred and seven years

Masoretic 5:7 “After he begot Enosh, Seth lived eight hundred and seven years

Masoretic Gn. 5:9-11 “Enosh lived ninety years, and begot Cainan

Septuagint 5:9 “And Enos lived an hundred and ninety years, and begot Cainan

Masoretic and Septuagint on Gn.5:10- 11 are the same

Masoretic Genesis 5:12 And Cainan lived seventy years, and begat Mahalaleel” KJV

In the Septuagint “And Cainan lived an hundred and seventy years, and he begot Maleleel.”

Gn. 5:13-14 “ After he begot Mahalalel, Cainan lived eight hundred and forty years

Septuagint 5:13 “ And Cainan lived after his begetting Maleleel, seven hundredand forty years

Masoretic Gn. 5:15 Mahalalel lived sixty-five years, and begot Jared”

Septuagint “ And Maleleel lived after his begetting Jared, seven hundred and thirty years

Masoretic Gn.5:16 After he begot Jared, Mahalalel lived eight hundred and thirty years, and had sons and daughters”

Septuagint 5:16 “ And Maleleel lived after his begetting Jared, seven hundred and thirty years”

Masoretic and Septuagint in Gen 5:18-20 are the same, and in Gen 5:21-24

Masoretic (KJV) Genesis 5: 25 And Methuselah lived an hundred eighty and seven years, and begat Lamech”

In the Septuagint And Mathusala lived an hundred and sixty and seven years, and begot Lamech.”

The Masoretic in Gn. 5:28 Lamech's age at the birth of Noah is 182 years. In the Septuagint it is 188 years.

The Masoretic Gn.5:26 “And Methuselah lived after he begat Lamech seven hundred eighty and two years, and begat sons and daughters: And all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred sixty and nine years: and he died.”

The Septuagint “And Mathusala lived after his begetting Lamech eight hundred and two years,

The Septuagint has Methuselah living 802 years after Lamech was born and Lamech having his son Noah at 188. Which means from doing math that Methuselah lived 614 years after Noah was born. However, the flood came in the 600th year of Noah's life. I know Scripture says he is the oldest person that lived but beyond the flood is troubling.

Gn. 5:31 the full Age of Lamech in the Masoretic 777 years. In the Septuagint it is 753 years.

Why are some scripture the exact same and others are not?

Genesis 2:10-14 describes the four rivers at the Garden of Eden; the Hiddekel which is the Tigris, the Euphrates, the Pison and the Gihon. The Gihon went around the land of Cush. The Septuagint incorrectly translates this in Genesis 2:13 says, "And the name of the second river is Geon, this it is which encircles the whole land of Ethiopia." The Hebrew says Cush. The two are not the same.

1 Samuel 17:4 Masoretic text says Goliath was 6 cubits and a span, or roughly 9 feet 9 inches. However, the Septuagint and the Dead Sea Scrolls say 4 cubits and a span, or about 6 feet, 9 inches. Which makes more sense according to the context? I would think 9 feet Nine inches does.

In Hebrews 1:6 the Septuagint says, “And let all the angels of God worship him” which is also found in the Dead Sea Scrolls Hebrew text of Deuteronomy 32:43. But it is not found in the Masoretic text we have today, and there is nothing like it in the Old Testament.

This verse in the book of Hebrews must have come from a Septuagint translation written in the middle of the first century BC? This is one of the debates, was it subtracted in the Masoretic or added in the Septuagint or some other reason for being there.

This is probably the most concerning difference that I have found.

Masoretic: Deut 32:8 “When the Most High divided their inheritance to the nations, When He separated the sons of Adam, He set the boundaries of the peoples According to the number of the children of Israel.”

Septuagint LXX: Deut.32:8 “When the Most High divided the nations, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the nations according to the number of the angels of God.”

The LXX say αγγελων θεου, 'angels of God'. God did not assign the nations under his angels (not fallen but Gods angels) God has all authority and control over the nations. Ex 34:24 For I will cast out the nations before you and enlarge your borders” (Deut.12:29;19:1)

It ends with the same intent as the Masoretic “ And his people Jacob became the portion of the Lord, Israel was the line of his inheritance.”

The whole chapter is about Israel, not the other nations.   According to the number of the children of Israel makes far more sense in keeping with the context of what is being said here "whom God says is HIS inheritance."

In the Greek translation of who the Servant is in Isaiah 53:10, there are noticeable differences from the Masoretic: “Yet it was YHWH’s will to crush him, to cause him to suffer.”

But the LXX: says, “And the Lord desires to cleanse him from his blow.” YHWH’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer accurately describes the scourging and the crucifixion of Christ. The other is the opposite.

In Isa. 7:14 to describe the mother of the promised son Immanuel, was used by Matthew 1:23 as evidence for Yeshua's virgin birth.

The Septuagint used the word parthenos, meaning 'virgin' in Isaiah, instead of young woman. In Judaism all young women were expected to be virgins. So, even though virgin is not in the Masoretic text, the Septuagint’s translation using virgin, is a good (more accurate) stronger rendering of it.

In Isa. 9:6 the description of 'mighty God, Everlasting Father' (father of eternity in Hebrew) is missing from the Septuagint version.

The Dead Sea Scrolls

As mentioned in a previous article in this series, the Masoeretes were extremely accurate at copying the Old Testament! When the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1947, a complete copy of the book of Isaiah in Hebrew was found from 125 B.C. and was compared to a later scroll of Isaiah from 900 A.D., 1,000 years later, and was found to be almost word for word. No doctrinal material was affected by any of these discrepancies.

Gleason Archer observes that the two copies of Isaiah discovered in Qumran Cave 1, “proved to be word for word identical with our standard Hebrew Bible in more than 95 percent of the text. The 5 percent of variation consisted chiefly of obvious slips of the pen and variations in spelling ” (Archer, 19).

Old Testament scholar Frederic Kenyon (1863–1952) a generation ago said it may now be more confidently asserted than ever before that the modern Hebrew text faithfully represents the Hebrew text as originally written by the authors of the Old Testament. Dead Sea discoveries have enabled us to answer this question with much greater assurance than was possible before 1948 (Bruce, 61–69).

The fragments were placed in seaside caves in an ancient settlement called Qumran. They were believed to be a Jewish sect of separatists called the Essenes, that occupied this area during the first centuries B.C. and into A.D., who had written, and / or collected all the parchment and papyrus scrolls found.

The Essenes were a “monastic” community, copying biblical texts and creating their own documents. They believed in mystical ideas, such as participating with the angels in their worship, etc.

Josephus wrote, that when one joins the Essenes, he was to swear that he would keep their doctrines secret, (especially the names of angels.) Many of the scrolls discovered at Qumran confirm this veneration of angels, such as the Aramaic Testament of Levi 18:5,10; Jubilee 1:27, 29;11; 2:1;12, 1 Enoch 84:4;13; 100:10;14;104:1, 4;15,

900 distinct scrolls contain Jewish religious literature, books from the Apocrypha (Tobit, Ben Sirach, Epistle of Jeremiah), the Pseudepigrapha (1 Enoch, Book of Giants, Testaments of Levi and Naftali), previously unknown psalms. Not just biblical texts were found at Qumran, but also, non-biblical literary works, and some mystical, even occultic works.

Why would those who separated themselves from society to be pure and holy before God, have these types of unbiblical writings in their possession?

The Qumran Dead Sea Scrolls found in the caves, included 40,000 fragments of scrolls, 600 partial manuscripts, 80 Old Testament chapters and the famous Temple Scroll. Nearly all of these writings were written in Hebrew, and out of the nine Hebrew scrolls, or 179 modern A4 pages, only the equivalent of 22 pages were in Aramaic.

These fragment and scrolls prove that the Hebrew was the language read, and taught in their time. That it is older than most of the “scholars” claim.

The fragments, (mostly being just tiny pieces of manuscripts put together) and scrolls (about 35% of the DSS biblical manuscripts) Belong to the Masoretic tradition, 5% to the Septuagint family, and 5% to the Samaritan, with the remainder not yet determined.

The early manuscript fragments date about a thousand years before the oldest Masoretic manuscripts that are from the tenth century. The Dead Sea scrolls clearly show that the Hebrew language was the Primary language spoken and written prior and at the time of Jesus.

Bible books were scrolls, used in the synagogue for liturgical use, considered invaluable, they were kept with great care. Sacred books were forbidden to be touched with bare hands (Shab. 14a; 133b and had to be wrapped in mitpa, made of linen, silk, or leather. Some of the Dead Sea Scrolls were found preserved in these linen wrappings. Books were kept in Earthenware jars (Jer. 32:14) were also used as receptacles in chests.

Most are written in Hebrew; both Leviticus and Job were written in Aramaic with a few manuscripts written in Greek. All of the books of the Old Testament, except for Esther, Nehemiah, and some of the minor prophet’s, have also been discovered in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Most of these Hebrew Scrolls are written in the standard "square" ("Hebrew") script, very similar to today’s Modern Hebrew, there are several that are written in paleo-Hebrew, an ancient script from the First Temple period. Some of the Scrolls written in the standard script used the ancient script, specifically for writing the divine name.

So far what has been found, all of the Greek texts among the Dead Sea Scrolls are written in Koine Greek, (the common Greek dialect) found in the New Testament period. A total of 27 Greek manuscripts have been identified from the Qumran caves, several Greek fragments are preserved in Cave 4. All the remains of 19 papyri found in Qumran Cave 7, the majority of manuscripts cannot be identified, except for a copy of Exodus and an Apocryphal work, and the Epistle of Jeremiah.

Newly discovered texts are written entirely in the Greek, except for God’s name, which is represented in the Hebrew as the Tetragrammaton (YHWH). Which is a strange thing to see both languages combined together when they were translated each in their own language originally.

Despite certain differences with the Masoretic text, both the Septuagint and the Dead Sea Scrolls reveal an amazing consistency with it, and, we are blessed to have found ancient manuscripts of this magnitude in our day of skepticism and unbelief.


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