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Septuagint versus Masoretic Text: Which is truer to the original Hebrew text and why?

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posted on Jan, 5 2016 @ 07:15 PM
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a reply to: DrogoTheNorman

You wrote QUOTE: " So, to avoid confusion, let's have a show of hands: If you had to pick which version of the Old Testament is historically most accurate, would you pick English translations based on the Septuagint or Masoretic?" UNQUOTE

That's a tough one to answer: the answer would have to be on a 'case by case basis' as the LXX is not uniformly excellent as far as its translation into Greek for all the books.

Whereas the Torah seems to have been translated very competently from a distinct 'normative' Hebrew Vorlage into Greek by a select Committee (70 or 72 scribes fluent in both Greek and Hebrew, working in tandem if you believe the Letter of Aristeas c. 250 BCE, hence LXX) - and it displays a different Vorlage in places (e.g. Deut 34) than the Masoretic Text of the Leningrad Codex...on the other hand, the scroll of say, the Prophet Isaiah was clumsily/badly translated into Greek by unknown persons but was still later tagged as LXX (Septuaginta) and it is these sometimes second-rate translations into Greek which sullies the reputation of the original LXX.

In fact outside of the Torah many different Greek translations of the Hebrew scriptures (Prophets/Psalms/Writings) were incorporated and later described as part of the LXX 'Septuagint' (c. 180 to 50 BCE) even though the original Committee of 70 scribes had long disbanded - and most of these Greek translators were 'anonymous' working their Greek translation as best they could...some successfully, some unsuccessfully.

Theodotion and the Ebionite Symmachus were asked to provide an alternative translation to the Hebrew texts they inherited sometime around 100 CE which seemed to follow the protoMasoretic in most instances ; around the same time R. Akiva asked Aquila to do the same, especially with the translation of the Prophets.

Here's a LINK to some modern attempts to translate the LXX Greek into modern English

ccat.sas.upenn.edu...

So, in terms of a show of hands... for the Torah I might side a little towards the LXX recension into English in view of its antiquity (despite the Masoretic text being written in the source language; but since the Torah existed in a pluriform state until c. 100 CE, I would really prefer a Synoptikon showing the text of the Masoretic/Samaritan Pentateuch/Septuaginta in 3 side by side columns both in the original Hebrew (in the case of the LXX reconstructed) Vorlagen and in translation so the differences between them would be easier to spot); such a volume has not surfaced yet, but I hear whispers that such an edition is in the works now. Having Targum Onqelos as an added column (alla Origen's Hexapla) would also be helpful at reconstructing certain corruptions that have crept into the Aleppo and Leningrad Codex (e.g. Deut. 34).

Here's an example of the LXX v. MT in English (but does not show the Samaritan Pentateuch)

ecmarsh.com...

On the other hand, for the scroll of the book of the prophet Isaiah I would probably lean towards the Great Isaiah Scroll from Cave 1 at Qumran by virtue of its completeness and earlier date e.g. 100 BCE (it seems to follow the proto-Masoretic recension, with only 13 or so words that have been changed when compared with the later Leningrad Codex).

There is also the thorny problem of the canon of the LXX which is longer by some 20 books - the issue at hand is: which books 'defile the hands' (i.e. are holy writ) and which do not. In most editions of the LXX Septuagint the following are added to the Tanakh of Rabbinic Judaism : e.g. 1 Esdras, Tobit, Judith, Wisdom of Solomon, Wisdom of Sirach, Baruch, Letter of Jeremiah (considered by Catholics as part of Baruch), additions to Daniel (The Prayer of Azariah, Song of the Three Children, Susanna and Bel and the Dragon), additions to Esther, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, 3 Maccabees, 4 Maccabees, Psalm 151, and Odes (including the Prayer of Manasseh).

It is interesting that the Fallasha's (Ethiopian Jews) seem to be the only Jewish community today who still accept the Septuagint LXX as 'defiling the hands', but they don't include the Wisdom of Jesus ben Sirach (aka Ecclesiasticus).




posted on Jan, 7 2016 @ 03:53 PM
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a reply to: Sigismundus


Whereas the Torah seems to have been translated very competently from a distinct 'normative' Hebrew Vorlage into Greek by a select Committee (70 or 72 scribes fluent in both Greek and Hebrew, working in tandem if you believe the Letter of Aristeas c. 250 BCE, hence LXX) - and it displays a different Vorlage in places (e.g. Deut 34) than the Masoretic Text of the Leningrad Codex...on the other hand, the scroll of say, the Prophet Isaiah was clumsily/badly translated into Greek by unknown persons but was still later tagged as LXX (Septuaginta) and it is these sometimes second-rate translations into Greek which sullies the reputation of the original LXX.

That in itself is why I would reject the LXX. Firstly let me congratulate you on a very scholarly text. You are well above most all that I have read and I appreciate your vast knowledge and mostly the fact that you are willing to share your wealth of knowledge. I not only read your posts but copy them for future references. I thank you.

No arguments intended but I cannot accept the letter of Aristeas as some will show as proof of the LXX. As you well understand I am not a textual scholar but simply a layman student but as a student I would have to have more clarification as to the Septuagint's authenticity. I would show my hand with the Masoretic rendition whose historicity is not questioned as the LXX is questioned.



posted on Jan, 7 2016 @ 08:34 PM
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a reply to: Seede

You wrote: QUOTE: "That in itself is why I would reject the LXX. Firstly let me congratulate you on a very scholarly text. You are well above most all that I have read and I appreciate your vast knowledge and mostly the fact that you are willing to share your wealth of knowledge. I not only read your posts but copy them for future references. I thank you...

No arguments intended but I cannot accept the letter of Aristeas as some will show as proof of the LXX. As you well understand I am not a textual scholar but simply a layman student but as a student I would have to have more clarification as to the Septuagint's authenticity. I would show my hand with the Masoretic rendition whose historicity is not questioned as the LXX is questioned...." UNQUOTE

Thanks for your post.

It is clear that the Masoretic Text was not questioned seriously until the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls when we found Hebrew texts that match the recension of the Greek LXX Septuaginta word for word (i.e. a literal and careful translation) at least as far as the Torah is concerned - then all hell broke loose.

Suddenly Protestant clergymen started shaking in their boots since they base their Old Testament on the Masoretic Text/MT and Jews too were unnerved as well sincce they have been used to a more or less consistent Masoretic consonantal text since at least AD 600 and this called everything into question, especially the concept of inerrancy.

Shock and Awe. Small wonder the Dead Sea Scrolls were not published in a timely manner after their discovery in the late 1940s and early 1950s...As late as 1990 scholars were still complaining that they were being barred from studying these important 'time-capsule' fragments from Caves 1-11 (BCE 250 to 68 CE).

The issue at hand is : what EXACT Hebrew textual underlay ('Vorlage') did the 70 scribes use to translate the Torah into Greek when the LXX first started out?

The scribes who penned the Septuaginta's Torah were apparently quite punctilious and translated the Hebrew consonantal text ('Vorlage') of the Torah in front of them very carefully and accurately - and if you believe the Letter of Aristeas at all, they came to a group consensus among the 70 (probably broken down into smaller committees) and had the backing of the High Priest and the Sanhedrin of Jerusalem c. 250 BCE before the fair copy was made by Demetrius (for what it is worth) -

But then again we are only talking about the Greek LXX Torah (aka Pentateuch) - but this Hebrew textual Vorlage underlay that they were translating from was not the protoMasoretic text - and we know this because the Greek translation differs from the Masoretic text (MT) in a number of places (in the Torah)

e.g. 'and Elohim saw that it was good' is found in the LXX after the creation of the Firmament, in Genesis 1:8c - a phrase which is completely missing altogether from the MT/Masoretic text - which shows that the Masoretic text being used to-day as represented in the Leningrad Codex (c. 1008 CE) or the Aleppo Codex (c. 930 CE) underwent a series of scribal emendations and changes and/or omissions since BCE 250, the alleged time of the LXX Septuagint's Torah translation.As for authenticity, all we can say for sure is that the first five books of the Hebrew Bible were professionally translated very faithfully and literally from Hebrew into Greek but using a different Hebrew textual underlay ('Vorlage') than the proto-Masoretic.

Other books of the Hebrew Bible (e.g. the Scroll of the Book of the Prophet Isaiah) that were translated into Greek were not nearly as accurate or professional as the group who produced the Torah translation - but at least we have two recensions of 'Isaiah' in Hebrew from Cave 1 of the Dead Sea Scrolls that we can use to reconstruct the text with at least some certainty (1QIs-a and 1QIs-b - the one following a proto-Masoretic recension and differing in only about 5% from today;'s Leningrad Codex and the other which follows another recension which differs from the proto-Masoretic in about 15% of the time if you count letter for letter).

We often find two or three different recensions of the same book at Qumran, not only with biblical books but also in their own community literature (e.g. the War Scroll 1QM and related fragments which show at least two different versions of the War Scroll were circulating, possibly at the same time).

So that's why I said that it would have to be on a case by case (i.e. book by book) basis - deciding whether or not the late Masoretic text is to be preferred or the BCE 200-150 Greek LXX Septuaginta for the OT books other than Torah. And that is why I said that I would actually prefer a synoptikon showing the different versions out there in the wild in parallel side-by-side columns, since in the words of Emanuel Tov, 'every recension of the Hebrew Scriptures needs to be judged against any majority reading - and there are a number of instances where the Hebrew Vorlage to the LXX Greek Septuaginta preserves the original or at least 'earlier' often more difficult reading..." e.g. as with Genesis 1:8c.



posted on Jan, 7 2016 @ 08:39 PM
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a reply to: the2ofusr1

Dr.Michael Heiser is the man.



posted on Jan, 7 2016 @ 09:48 PM
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interestingly, since jewsus clearly says here that he did not come to change even one letter of the prophets, why do christians not eat kosher?


If you are curious as to what the Christian teaching is on this is, it goes something like this.

He said he did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill the law.

The reason that is important is because the law could not be fulfilled by mere mortal men, and because God is not just loving he is also just, there had to be an accounting for mans evil ways.

If we could obey the law then there would be no reason for Christ to be Crucified for our transgressions, because we could simply never sin if we so chose.

So he came to fulfill the law perfectly, to be able to pay our fine as it were.

Now the point of the written law was partially so that we could see clearly, how poorly we all stack up to Gods perfect Righteousness. i.e. Gods Law, because in the Christian worldview, God is the standard of righteousness.

Christ even goes to some effort to explain to us what the Law truly is, and it was not about the law as the people understood it, i.e. the written law.
He tries to explain that the real, true Law of God is much much harder to obey.

You see examples of this in Matthew 5:21:48
In essence he says, it's not enough to just not do bad things but even considering these things is sin.
Now understanding that you cannot "will" yourself to not think about doing wicked things kinda leaves you screwed.

Now if you believe that and if you believe what is taught in James 2:10 you can see that mankind would have a real problem.

As to why Christians don't feel the need as a whole to follow kosher law.
Well there is moral law, which Christ taught us about, (even though he followed kosher law because that was part of the Jewish social law as well.)
And there is cultural law.
The two are not in fact the same thing.

The reason for Kosher law was so that the Hebrews could show themselves different from those who lived around them. Not because it was more moral, but because it would set them apart, so people would look at them.

Why would God want people to pay attention to the Jews?

Because they were supposed to be an example and a light unto the gentile world in effort to lead them back to God.

This is the reason for all those Promises God makes to Israel in the Old Testament.
Things like, if you obey me then you will be blessed and if you don't then bad things will happen, placed in bondage etc etc.

The reason for this was so that the gentile world would see that, when Israel pleases their God and listens to Him then he blesses them and if they don't then he does not bless them.

The point of that is so that if an outsider sees this, they will take that as evidence that the God of Israel must be the true God.

So that being said Christ coming and being the sacrifice for the worlds sin, did away with the kosher law, because the POINT of kosher law was only to demonstrate that we are all sinners in need of savior.

Hopefully that made sense, I am tired and trying to think of a way to explain it can be difficult, in text format for me.



posted on Jan, 7 2016 @ 09:54 PM
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a reply to: Punisher75

Jesus explained it one hell of a lot simpler then you just did...

Simply put, what goes into the mouth does not corrupt a person... what comes out of the mouth does

Why complicate things?




posted on Jan, 7 2016 @ 10:03 PM
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originally posted by: Akragon
a reply to: Punisher75

Jesus explained it one hell of a lot simpler then you just did...

Simply put, what goes into the mouth does not corrupt a person... what comes out of the mouth does

Why complicate things?



LOL Well I was referring to the kosher law in particular and why Christians don't generally adhere to it even though Jesus did.
Basically to answer the question before it was asked. LOL



posted on Jan, 7 2016 @ 10:05 PM
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a reply to: Punisher75

Now if he told others such laws weren't necessary...

why would he adhere to them himself?

There is no evidence Jesus stuck to kosher laws in the NT




posted on Jan, 7 2016 @ 10:16 PM
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originally posted by: Akragon
a reply to: Punisher75

Now if he told others such laws weren't necessary...

why would he adhere to them himself?

There is no evidence Jesus stuck to kosher laws in the NT


Personally I think Jesus kept Kosher Laws to be honest. I think he did this to not give the people in the area, reason not to listen to him.
For example we know he kept Passover as an observance, however I think he used the law as intended and not as it was practiced by the people.
i.e. to be a light to the world, much like Gods intended purpose for Israel.

Why do I say this?

Well we see him say in Matthew 23:1:3

1 Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples,
2 Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat:
3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.

Keep in mind he had not been crucified yet so our debt was not yet paid.


edit on 7-1-2016 by Punisher75 because: Trying to make things clearer.



posted on Jan, 7 2016 @ 10:25 PM
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a reply to: Punisher75


1 Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples,
2 Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat:
3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.


Brother... do you not see that he tells his people this to save them from persecution?

Did you not read the rest of the chapter?

why you wouldn't I don't know... Jesus rips the Pharisees to bits in said chapter... for the very reason you seem to accuse him of

Again... do you really believe Jesus would tell people to do something that he doesn't do himself?

Just as the Pharisee's live...

For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.




posted on Jan, 8 2016 @ 04:51 AM
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 because God is not just loving he is also just, there had to be an accounting for mans evil ways. 


Unfortunately, "justice" has become a code-word for revenge for some people instead of being Just/Fair (making things right with Fairness/Justice/Compassion).

God does not have a "Light" and a "dark" side. God is Light and in him is no darkness (1 John 1:5).

Living through Love is living through Light. (1 John 2:10-11)

God loves all:



Luke 6:35-36. King James Version (KJV)

35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.

edit on 8-1-2016 by arpgme because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 8 2016 @ 10:43 AM
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No question masoretic. It doesn'thide the polytheism of the aancient Israelites. Only the first five books of the tanakh were translated by Jewish scholars.



posted on Jan, 8 2016 @ 10:49 AM
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Some people still thin helel ben schachar is satan in Isaiah 14:12 if the hebrew texts were used we wouldn't have that myth/error



posted on Jan, 8 2016 @ 09:19 PM
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a reply to: Akragon

You wrote : QUOTE "There is no evidence Jesus stuck to kosher laws in the NT" UNQUOTE

Yet in Acts chapter 19 v. 13-14 the writer has a Greek-speaking 'Peter' claiming that (i.e. during the lifetime of 'Iesous') he always kept kashrut (i.e. a Kosher diet)

"A voice came to him, "Get up, Peter, kill and eat!" But Peter said, "By no means, Lord, for I have never ever eaten anything ritually abominable or unclean."…

What are we to make of that?



posted on Jan, 8 2016 @ 09:53 PM
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Brother... do you not see that he tells his people this to save them from persecution?

Did you not read the rest of the chapter?

why you wouldn't I don't know... Jesus rips the Pharisees to bits in said chapter... for the very reason you seem to accuse him of


You don't actually have to read the rest of the Chapter to see that he ripped into the Pharisees, he does it in the last verse I quoted myself, verse 3
"All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not."
This verse is the beginning of the ripping as it were.


Again... do you really believe Jesus would tell people to do something that he doesn't do himself?

Just as the Pharisee's live...


My argument is that he did in fact follow the law... just like the Pharisees told the Hebrews to follow the Law.
If you don't think he told the people Follow the law, what do you think he meant by "All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not"?

In my estimation he was saying, do what they say not what they do, that seems the most clear reading to me.

Now on to this point...


For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.


Remember the context here is that the Pharisees are not doing what they are telling their flock to do, and in such cases as not following the law, people would get stoned, exiled, shunned etc. Sounds like a pretty heavy burden to me. And if you continue to read the rest of the chapter as you reminded me to do you will find a whole bunch of "Woe unto you's", are directed at the Pharisees for this very thing.

The issue is not that they told the followers to follow the law, the issue is that they themselves where not keeping the law. This is the very point of " Matthew 7:2

1.) Judge not, that ye be not judged.
(i.e. Be careful before you start judging... why?)

2.) For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
(Because if you are Judging someone to a standard that you yourself cannot or will not keep, whatever punishment you dole out will be given right back to you.)




edit on 8-1-2016 by Punisher75 because: Clarity and quote fixes



posted on Jan, 8 2016 @ 10:03 PM
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Yet in Acts chapter 19 v. 13-14 the writer has a Greek-speaking 'Peter' claiming that (i.e. during the lifetime of 'Iesous') he always kept kashrut (i.e. a Kosher diet)


I dont know where you are but, Acts 19:13:14 reads.

13 Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth.

14 And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so.
edit on 8-1-2016 by Punisher75 because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 8 2016 @ 10:18 PM
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a reply to: Sigismundus

It seems to be Punisher75 answered that question for me...

a reply to: Punisher75


If you don't think he told the people Follow the law, what do you think he meant by "All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not"?


That was my previous point... He told them to do all the things the pharisee's told them to do so they would not come under persecution from them...

They were the "law givers" and could easily have someone punished for not following their rules according to their religion...

Now like I said, IF Jesus told people that a kosher diet wasn't necessary, yet kept to said diet himself... would that not make him a hypocrite? Just as the people he was ripping into in that chapter...

Woh on to you scribes and Pharisees... Hypocrites!!




posted on Jan, 8 2016 @ 11:14 PM
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Okay now we are getting somewhere I think.


That was my previous point... He told them to do all the things the pharisee's told them to do so they would not come under persecution from them...


What exactly in scripture makes you think this? That is what he was trying to say?
What I mean is, what passages make you feel that he was telling them to obey for the purpose to avoid the Pharisees judgement?

edit on 8-1-2016 by Punisher75 because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 8 2016 @ 11:36 PM
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a reply to: Punisher75

Their power in the gospels is quite evident... All one needs to do is look at how they made several attempts to trick Jesus into breaking their laws to see that many people feared them, likely including some of their own who actually followed Jesus themselves...

OR we could take a look at Mark 7:5-7

He answered and said to them, "Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: 'This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.




posted on Jan, 9 2016 @ 01:46 PM
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Septuagint blows. If you think the Jews would ever give any one an accurate translation of their real beliefs your crazy. Dead Sea Scrolls and Masoretic texts were used for the 1963 Jerusalem bible, which I have. It's the most honest English version of the bible ever produced. I could only find 4 online so it's also rare. I actually found it, I got lucky.



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