Posts tagged: alexandrian text

Alexandria And Antioch/ Was Alexandria All Evil And Antioch All Pure?

Much is often made of the text families from which Greek texts such as the Textus Receptus and NA/UBS come.  Alexandria is said to be home to heretics, while Antioch is held to be home to the lovers of truth.

This post is purposefully short, and is intended to be built upon later as time permits.  I simply want to notice two things here:

1.  If the above statements about Alexandria (from which the Alexandrian family comes) and Antioch (home of the Byzantine text family) are true does that make the claims of Byzantine superiority correct?  The answer is “no”, it does not make the claim of the superiority of the Byzantine text to be true.  Why?  Because the argument is fallacious.  The fallacy is called the “genetic fallacy”.

Genetic Fallacy: Where someone condemns an argument because of where it began, how it began, or who began it.”

2.  The above statements about Antioch and Alexandria are not totally true.  For example, one of the great debates of early Christendom was the debate about ArianismArius essentially was anti-Trinitarian.  Arius was taught by a Lucian of Antioch.  He was opposed by a Trinitarian believer named Athanasius, who was from Alexandria.

When we look at this we find that Antioch’s teaching was not as pure as the Byzantine purists would have us to believe.  Neither was Alexandria quite so heterodox as they claim.  In fact, the School of Antioch was not totally orthodox in their views, holding to adoptionism, and Nestorius (father of the Nestorian heresy) received some training there.

These brief thoughts should remind us that the answer to the textual issue simply will not be decided by the geographical origins of the Greek texts.

(Note: wiki articles accessed 01/23/2010 and are subject to change.)

King James Only Believers And The LXX

King James Only Believers And The LXX

In their desire to repudiate the modern versions of the Scriptures, certain KJVO believers have taken it upon themselves to deny the existence of the Septuagint (LXX).1 The reason for their doing so is given in their own words:

Then why are scholars so quick to accept the existence of this LXX in the face of such irrefutable arguments against it? The answer is sad and simple.

Hebrew is an extremely difficult language to learn. It takes years of study to attain a passing knowledge of it. And many more to be well enough versed to use it as a vehicle of study. By comparison a working knowledge of Greek is easily attainable. Thus, IF THERE WAS an official translation of the Old Testament into Greek, Bible critics could triple the field of influence overnight without a painstaking study of biblical Hebrew. Unfortunately, the acceptance of the existence of the Septuagint on such thin evidence is based solely on pride and voracity.2

Codex B, the LXX, is a revision of the Greek texts extant during Origin’s time. He used the versions of the Ebonite’s’ Aquilla (c. 128), Symmachus (c. 180-192 A.D.), and Theodotin (c. 161-181) for the Hexapla reconstruction, along with three other anonymous translations that have become known as the Quinta, the Sexta, and Septima. From this point on in this paper the OT Greek text, usually misnamed LXX or Septuagint, will be called the Greek Text of Origen, GTO. A Greek text of the minor prophets found in the Judean desert caves dates to around the time of “the second Jewish revolt in the years 132-135″ A.D. by the personal letters of Bar Kokhba. They cannot be claimed with any certainty as part of a B.C. Septuagint. As a matter of fact, they contain translational features found in other A.D. texts such as those of Aquila and of the Quinta.”3

In other words, these KJVO believers reject the existence of the LXX because it will support Codex B, the Vaticanus Manuscript, which includes the LXX. The existence of the LXX would mean that Codex B is much older than KJVO and TRO (Textus Receptus Only) believers declare it to be. It would also mean that New Testament quotations of the LXX lend support to Codex B. That would then destroy the idea that the Byzantine family of texts is the best and purest family of texts.

We must answer the question, then, concerning the existence of the LXX. We shall do that with two proofs:

  1. The Dead Sea Scrolls. Qumran has yielded to us copies of the LXX in Greek.4

  2. The words of Irenaus: “Since, therefore, the Scriptures have been interpreted with such fidelity, and by the grace of God, and since from these God has prepared and formed again our faith towards His Son, and has preserved to us the unadulterated Scriptures in Egypt, where the house of Jacob flourished, fleeing from the famine in Canaan; where also our Lord was preserved when He fled from the persecution set on foot by Herod; and [since] this interpretation of these Scriptures was made prior to our Lord?’s descent [to earth], and came into being before the Christians appeared – for our Lord was born about the forty-first year of the reign of Augustus; but Ptolemy was much earlier, under whom the Scriptures were interpreted; – [since these things are so, I say,] truly these men are proved to be impudent and presumptuous, who would now show a desire to make different translations, when we refute them out of these Scriptures, and shut them up to a belief in the advent of the Son of God. But our faith is steadfast, unfeigned, and the only true one, having clear proof from these Scriptures, which were interpreted in the way I have related; and the preaching of the Church is without interpolation. For the apostles, since they are of more ancient date than all these [heretics], agree with this aforesaid translation; and the translation harmonizes with the tradition of the apostles. For Peter, and John, and Matthew, and Paul, and the rest successively, as well as their followers, did set forth all prophetical [announcements], just as the interpretation of the elders contains them.”

Irenaeus, Against Heresies chp 21, Schaff, P. (2000). The Ante-Nicene Fathers (electronic ed.). Garland, TX: Galaxie Software.

Note what Irenaeus is saying. He is telling us that the LXX existed in his day, which was many years before Origen. In other words, the story of Origen writing/manufacturing the LXX is simply a fabrication itself.

The question that we must now ask ourselves is this: which group is actually being more faithful to the original text? Is it the KJVO/TRO believers, or is it those who are using Codex B in their translation efforts? Suddenly, the textual issue shines more clearly. In fact, it becomes quite obvious that texts which are supported by Codex B are indeed texts that should be considered most valid. After all, Codex B and the LXX are of the same family: the Alexandrian family. Suddenly, we find that the Alexandrian texts are indeed reliable. After all, the apostles considered them to be such, and used them. My reply to the KJVO believers, then is, “If the Alexandrian texts were good enough for Paul, they’re good enough for me.”

We may indeed have great confidence in many of the modern versions which we have today! They are truly based upon older, more reliable manuscripts.

1 http://freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/1763356/posts Accessed 08/02/2009

http://www.pbministries.org/Theology/miscellaneous/what_is_the_lxx.htm Accessed 08/02/2009

2 http://www.pbministries.org/Theology/miscellaneous/what_is_the_lxx.htm Accessed 08/02/2009

3 http://freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/1763356/posts Accessed 08/02/2009

4 http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/deadsea.html Accessed 08/02/2009

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