Book Review: Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible (3rd Ed.) by Emanuel Tov

Book Details:
  • Author: Emanuel Tov
  • Category: Academic, Biblical Language
  • Publisher: Fortress Press (2012)
  • Format: hardcover
  • Page Count: 512
  • ISBN#: 9780800696641
  • List Price: $90.00
  • Rating: Recommended

Review:
Reading Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible by Emanuel Tov was both a joy and a challenge. I thoroughly enjoyed immersing myself in the world of the Hebrew Bible. Ancient manuscripts, Dead Sea Scroll finds, ancient versions, textual variants — all of these things stir the Bible-geek in me. At the same time, the state of current scholarship with regard to the Old Testament text can be a bit troubling to an evangelical Christian. While the New Testament stands affirmed by numerous manuscript discoveries to the extent that almost all textual critics can agree on the vast majority of the minute details of the text, the same cannot be said for the Hebrew Old Testament.

Emanuel Tov takes readers of all scholastic levels by the hand as he surveys the field of Old Testament textual criticism. This third edition of his classic textbook, explains things for the novice and scholar alike. Careful footnotes and innumerable bibliographic entries will impress the scholar, while charts, graphs and numerous glossaries keep the would-be scholar feeling like he is getting somewhere. I have no problem admitting that I am one of the would-be scholars, with barely a year of Hebrew under my belt. Yet I was able to work my way through this book, becoming sharper in my Hebrew and awakening to the many facets of the intriguing study of OT textual criticism.

Tov has departed from a more traditional stance in his earlier versions, opting instead to follow the evidence from the Dead Sea Scrolls and contemporary studies. He manages to keep away from a fatal skepticism, however, arguing that textual evaluation still has merit. The aim is still to recover the earliest possible text, but the recognition that there are often two or three competing literary editions of the text complicate the matter. An example would be the different editions of Jeremiah, with the Septuagint (LXX) Greek version differing drastically from the Hebrew Masoretic Text (MT). 1 Samuel provides another example with a Dead Sea Scroll offering perhaps a third different competing literary edition. Tov points out the two very different versions of the story of David and Goliath and Hannah’s prayer as he expounds on the problem.

Rather than trying to solve each exegetical or specific textual problem, Tov aims to illustrate the challenges facing the would-be textual critic. He surveys the textual data, and reconstructs the history of the text – giving more attention to the accidents of history, such as the destruction of the Jewish state in A.D. 70, as weighing into the nature of the textual evidence we have. Rather than the Masoretic Text gradually gaining dominance, it was the de facto winner of the “text wars”. The LXX-style Hebrew texts (which the Dead Sea Scrolls and other finds have confirmed existed), were ignored by the Jews as Christianity had owned the LXX as its own. The Samaritans had their version of the Pentateuch, and the existence of a variety of other text forms, such as those found at Qumran (the DSS) were forgotten with the cessation of a normal state of existence for Jewish people. The Masoretic text found itself with little real competition and over the years came to be further refined and stable. I should clarify here, that this is not to downplay the Masoretic text, as it manifestly preserves very ancient readings, and Tov repeatedly affirms the remarkable tenacity of the MT. Instead, Tov is saying that the majority position the MT holds among the textual evidence and in the minds of the Jewish communities in the last 1800 years should not prejudice the scholar to consistently prefer MT readings. Tov in fact claims that text types, such as are commonly discussed in NT textual criticism, are largely irrelevant in dealing with the OT text. Internal considerations are key in textual evaluation. I will let Tov explain further:

Therefore, it is the choice of the most contextually appropriate reading that is the main task of the textual critic…. This procedure is as subjective as can be. Common sense, rather than textual theories, is the main guide, although abstract rules are sometimes also helpful. (pg. 280)

Tov’s textbook goes into glorious detail concerning all the orthographic features that make up paleo-Hebraic script, and the square Hebrew script we are familiar with. His knowledge is encyclopedic, to say the least. The numerous images of manuscripts that are included in the back of the book are invaluable. His discussion on the orthographic details of the text should convince even the most diehard traditionalists, that the vowel points and many of the accents were later additions to the text, inserted by the Masoretes. Some still defend the inspiration of the vowel points, but Tov’s explanation of numerous textual variants that flow from both a lack of vowel points and from the originality of paleo-Hebraic script (and the long development of the language and gradual changes in the alphabet, and etc.) close the door against such stick-in-the-mud thinking.

Tov’s book details the pros and cons of different Hebrew texts, as well as discussing electronic resources and new developments in the study of textual criticism. His work is immensely valuable to anyone interested in learning about textual criticism, and of course is required for any textual scholars seeking to do work in this field.

Tov doesn’t add a theology to his textual manual, however. And this is what is needed to navigate OT textual criticism. After having read Tov, I’m interested in seeing some of the better evangelical treatments of the textual problems of the Hebrew Bible. I believe we have nothing to fear in facing textual problems head on. Seeing different literary editions of the text can fill out our understanding of the underlying theology of the Bible as we have it. Some of the work of John H. Sailhamer illustrates this judicious use of contemporary scholarship concerning the literary strata of the text.

Tov’s book is not law, and he sufficiently qualifies his judgments. He stresses that textual criticism, especially for the Old Testament, is inherently subjective. It is an art. And those who don’t recognize that, are especially prone to error in this field. This book equips the student to exercise this art in the best possible way. Tov walks the reader through evaluating competing textual variants, and his study will furnish the careful reader with all the tools to develop their own approach to the text. Tov’s findings won’t erode the foundations of orthodox theology. I contend that they will strengthen it. As with NT textual criticism, paying attention to the textual details has unlooked-for and happy consequences. It strengthens exegesis, and allows for a greater insight into the meaning of the text. And it can build one’s faith.

Bible-geeks, aspiring scholars, teachers and students alike will benefit from this book. Understanding the current state of OT textual criticism puts many of the NT textual debates into perspective. Christians don’t know their Old Testaments well enough, and studying the text to this level is rare indeed. I encourage you to consider adding this book to your shelf, and making it a priority to think through the challenges surrounding the text of the Hebrew Bible.

Author Info:
Emanuel Tov is J. L. Magnes Professor of Bible at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and Editor-in-Chief of the Dead Sea Scrolls Publication Project. Among his many publications is The Greek and Hebrew Bible-Collected Essays on the Septuagint (1999).

Where to Buy:
  • CBD
  • Amazon
  • Barnes & Noble
  • direct from Fortress Press.

Disclaimer:
Disclaimer: This book was provided by Fortress Press. I was under no obligation to offer a favorable review.

Originally Posted at:
This article was originally posted at my personal blog, Fundamentally Reformed.

A Reader Comments on Manuscript Evidence for a Pre-Origen Septuagint

Readers of this debate blog will be aware of the position by some influential KJV Onlyists that the Septuagint is a post-Christian creation.  Some say it didn’t exist before Origen.  Others are more nuanced and say that we can’t know if the Septuagint as an entity existed before that time.

The rationale for this tactic is to avoid the implications of the New Testament’s prolific use of the Septuagint.  John Owen and Jerome and others are put forth as defendants for a position which claims that the New Testament shaped the creation of the Septuagint, and scribes amended the LXX to conform to the NT.

While I would agree that an entire monolithic Septuagint was not to be found, I would nevertheless say that there is plenty of evidence for multiple translations of the Old Testament into Greek.  The variations between the Greek editions themselves, and between them and the New Testament quotations, point toward an inescapable conclusion.  Some harmonization by the New Testament’s influence may have happened, but by and large, the New Testament unmistakably leans heavily on the Septuagint.

All this is agreed on, I believe, by most scholars today.  In fact we recently had a reader leave an insightful comment as he was baffled by our defense of a pre-Origen LXX.  Since the comment may have been missed by our readers, and since it is worthy of repetition, I thought I’d share it here.

I tend not to use the KJV as I prefer to use a Hebrew OT and a Greek NT. For English translations my favourite is the KJV for its beauty – so please don’t react to what I have to say with any assumption that I must be some sort of KJV hater – I’m not.

May I suggest that many of the blog posters spend less time arguing, less time quoting whatever popular apologetic works they have read as “proof” that they are right when the popular apologetic works are usually badly researched – and spend serious time actually reading and researching the topics – I’ve spent the last 25+ years researching early biblical manuscripts, and work as a theological librarian in an academic institution. I’m also an evangelical Protestant Christian – I might even be described as a fundamentalist!

I have just read the blog posts about the Septuagint – it contains some incredibly stupid comments about no early Septuagint manuscripts, and none among the Dead Sea Scrolls. Please feel free to share the following with your blog posters.

Early Septuagint – pre-dating the third century A.D.

1. MS 89 of P.Foud 266 – remains of 24 chapters from Genesis and Deuteronomy, mid 1st century BC.
2. P Yale I 1 – remains of 1 chapter from Genesis, 1st or 2nd century AD
3. P.Oxy.656 – remains of 6 chapters from Genesis, 2nd or perhaps early 3rd century AD – imprecise dating of this manuscript makes it a borderline case
4. P. Deissman – remains of 1 chapter from Exodus, 2nd or 3rd century AD – imprecise dating of this manuscript makes it a boarderline case
5. P.Baden 56, remains of 4 chapters of Exodus and Deuteronomy, 2nd century AD
6. Schoyen Collection MS 2649 – remains of 6 chapters of Leviticus, late 2nd or early 3rd century AD – imprecise dating of this manuscript makes it a boarderline case
7. P.Beatty IV + P.Mich.5554 – remains of 38 chapters of Numbers and Deuteronomy, late 2nd or early 3rd century AD – imprecise dating of this manuscript makes it a boarderline case
8. P.Ryl.458 – remains of 6 chapters of Deuteronomy, 2nd century BC
9. Schoyen Collection MS 2648 – remains of 3 chapters of Joshua, late 2nd or early 3rd century AD – imprecise dating of this manuscript makes it a boarderline case
10. P.Montserrat Inv.3 – remains of 2 chpaters of 2 Chronicles, late 2nd century AD
11. P.Chester Beatty IX+X + John H. Scheide 3 + P.Colon theo.3-40 + P.Montserrat 42+43 + P.Matr.bibl.1 (the manuscript was broken up and ended up in 5 collections!) – remains of 58 chapters of Esther, Ezekiel and Daniel, 2nd century AD
12. P.Oxy.4443 – remains of 2 chapters of Esther, 1st or 2nd century AD
13. P.Oxy.3522 – remains of 1 chapter of Job, 1st century AD
14. P.Taur.27 – remains of 1 chapter of Psalms, 2nd century AD
15. PSI inv.1989 – remains of 1 chapter of Psalms, late 2nd century AD
16. P.Montserrat Inv.2 – remains of 1 chapter of Psalms, 2nd century AD
17. P.Bodmer XXIV – remains of almost all of Psalms, 2nd or 3rd century AD – imprecise dating of this manuscript makes it a boarderline case
18. Bodleian MS.Gr.Bib.g.5 (P) – remains of 2 chapters of Psalms, 2nd century AD
19. PSI.inv.921 – remains of 1 chapter of Psalms, 2nd century AD
20. P.Antin.7 – remains of 2 chapters of Psalms, 2nd century AD
21. Leipzig Uni.Bib.Pap.170 – remains of 1 chapter of Psalms, 2nd or 3rd century AD – imprecise dating of this manuscript makes it a boarderline case
22. Garrett Deposit 1924, H.I. Bell II G: small flat box 5 – remains of 1 chapter of Isaiah, 2nd or 3rd century AD – imprecise dating of this manuscript makes it a boarderline case
23. P.Beatty VIII – remains of 2 chapters of Jerimiah, 2nd or 3rd century AD – imprecise dating of this manuscript makes it a boarderline case
24. 4Q119 – remains of 1 chapter of Leviticus, pre First Jewish Revolt (pre destruction of the Temple)
25. 4Q120 – remains of 6 chapters of Leviticus, pre First Jewish Revolt
26. 4Q121 – remains of 2 chapters of Numbers, pre First Jewish Revolt
27. 4Q122 – remains of 1 chapter of Deuteronomy, pre First Jewish Revolt
28. 7Q1 – remains of 1 chapter of Exodus, pre First Jewish Revolt
29. 8Hev 1 – remaains of 24 chapters of the Minor Prophets, 1st century BC or 1st century AD

So we have 29 manuscripts of which 20 are unquestionably 2nd century or earlier.

I won’t give the all bibliographical details from all of the mansucripts listed above, but here is a start of just 3 books for the Septuagint manuscripts found among the Dead Sea Scrolls:

  • Qumran Cave 4: IV. Palaeo-Hebrew and Greek Biblical Manuscripts, by P.W. Skehan, E. Ulrich and J.E. Sanderson; with a contribution by P.J. Parsons (Oxford: Clarendon, 1992), Discoveries in the Judaean Desert volume IX
  • Les ‘Petites Grottes’ de Qumrân: Exploration de la falaise, Les grottes 2Q, 3Q, 5Q, 6Q, 7Q, à 10Q, Le rouleau de cuivre, by M. Baillet, J.T. Milik and R. de Vaux; with a contribution by H.W. Baker (Oxford: Clarendon, 1962), Discoveries in the Judaean Desert volume III
  • The Greek Minor Prophets Scroll from Nahal Hever (8HevXIIgr), (The Seiyâl Collection I), by E. Tov; with the collaboration of R.A. Kraft; and a contribution of P.J. Parsons (Oxford: Clarendon, 1990), Discoveries in the Judaean Desert volume VIII

Matthew Hamilton
Sydney, Australia

The King James Translators & the Septuagint (LXX)

It seems this has been a recurring theme on our blog of late, but discussions here and elsewhere have been focusing in on this point: Did Jesus and the Apostles use the Septuagint in their ministries and in quoting from the Old Testament? I was recently reminded that the translators of the King James Bible, themselves would answer “yes”. See their words below from “The Translators to the Reader“.

While God would be known only in Jacob, and have his Name great in Israel, and in none other place, while the dew lay on Gideon’s fleece only, and all the earth besides was dry; then for one and the same people, which spake all of them the language of Canaan, that is, Hebrew, one and the same original in Hebrew was sufficient. But, when the fulness of time drew near, that the Sun of righteousness, the Son of God should come into the world, whom God ordained to be a reconciliation through faith in his blood, not of the Jew only, but also of the Greek, yea, of all them that were scattered abroad; then lo, it pleased the Lord to stir up the spirit of a Greek Prince (Greek for descent and language) even of Ptolemy Philadelph King of Egypt, to procure the translating of the Book of God out of Hebrew into Greek. This is the translation of the Seventy Interpreters, commonly so called, which prepared the way for our Saviour among the Gentiles by written preaching, as Saint John Baptist did among the Jews by vocal. For the Grecians being desirous of learning, were not wont to suffer books of worth to lie moulding in Kings’ libraries, but had many of their servants, ready scribes, to copy them out, and so they were dispersed and made common. Again, the Greek tongue was well known and made familiar to most inhabitants in Asia, by reason of the conquest that there the Grecians had made, as also by the Colonies, which thither they had sent. For the same causes also it was well understood in many places of Europe, yea, and of Africa too. Therefore the word of God being set forth in Greek, becometh hereby like a candle set upon a candlestick, which giveth light to all that are in the house, or like a proclamation sounded forth in the market place, which most men presently take knowledge of; and therefore that language was fittest to contain the Scriptures, both for the first Preachers of the Gospel to appeal unto for witness, and for the learners also of those times to make search and trial by. It is certain, that that Translation was not so sound and so perfect, but that it needed in many places correction; and who had been so sufficient for this work as the Apostles or Apostolic men? Yet it seemed good to the holy Ghost and to them, to take that which they found, (the same being for the greatest part true and sufficient) rather than by making a new, in that new world and green age of the Church, to expose themselves to many exceptions and cavillations, as though they made a Translation to serve their own turn, and therefore bearing witness to themselves, their witness not to be regarded. This may be supposed to be some cause, why the Translation of the Seventy was allowed to pass for current. Notwithstanding, though it was commended generally, yet it did not fully content the learned, no not of the Jews. For not long after Christ, Aquila fell in hand with a new Translation, and after him Theodotion, and after him Symmachus; yea, there was a fifth and a sixth edition, the Authors whereof were not known. These with the Seventy made up the Hexapla and were worthily and to great purpose compiled together by Origen. Howbeit the Edition of the Seventy went away with the credit, and therefore not only was placed in the midst by Origen (for the worth and excellency thereof above the rest, as Epiphanius gathered) but also was used by the Greek fathers for the ground and foundation of their Commentaries. Yea, Epiphanius above named doth attribute so much unto it, that he holdeth the Authors thereof not only for Interpreters, but also for Prophets in some respect; and Justinian the Emperor enjoining the Jews his subjects to use especially the Translation of the Seventy, rendereth this reason thereof, because they were as it were enlightened with prophetical grace. Yet for all that, as the Egyptians are said of the Prophet to be men and not God, and their horses flesh and not spirit [Isa 31:3]; so it is evident, (and Saint Jerome affirmeth as much) that the Seventy were Interpreters, they were not Prophets; they did many things well, as learned men; but yet as men they stumbled and fell, one while through oversight, another while through ignorance, yea, sometimes they may be noted to add to the Original, and sometimes to take from it; which made the Apostles to leave them many times, when they left the Hebrew, and to deliver the sense thereof according to the truth of the word, as the spirit gave them utterance. This may suffice touching the Greek Translations of the Old Testament.

So we have a clear admission by orthodox Protestant scholars of the early seventeenth Century, that the LXX was used by Christ and the apostles. Subsequent scholarship has given additional insights into this, and confirms the notion that Greek translations of the Old Testament books were often used by the Apostles and quoted from in the New Testament. For more evidence on this point, see this comparison of NT quotes and the LXX vs. the Hebrew. See also this Trinitarian Bible Society (which incidentally only publishes the KJV for its English Bible) article on the value of the Septuagint [HT: Pavlos].

Gipp, Irenaeus, and The Septuagint

When one reads King James Version Only arguments, one of the issues that arises is that of the New Testament quotation of the Septuagint (LXX).

One example is Samuel Gipp, who said:
“..the most unexplainable is Paul’s quote of Deuteronomy 25:4 in I Corinthians 9:9. For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen?

Deut 25:4: “Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn.”

Here we find Paul quoting the words “the corn” just as if they had been in the Hebrew original even though they are only found in the italics of our Authorized Version!

If one were to argue that Paul was quoting a supposed Greek Septuagint translation of the original Hebrew, our dilemma only worsens. For now, two perplexing questions present themselves to us. First, if such a Greek translation ever existed, (which is not documented in history) by what authority did the translators insert these words? Secondly, if they were added by the translators, does Paul’s quoting of them confirm them as inspired?”

(Samuel Gipp, The Answer Book, online edition http://samgipp.com/answerbook/?page=11.htm Accessed 02/25/2010)

Gipp states that it is not documented in history that the LXX existed. I shall leave it to others, or until another time, to explain the “why” of his making this statement. I simply wish to demonstrate the lie of the statement.

Irenaeus (a.d. 125–202 ) was not very many years removed from the time of Christ. He was familiar with Polycarp, who was acquainted with at least one of the apostles. Irenaeus wrote to combat some serious doctrinal errors that had arisen in the church. Thus we have “Against Heresies”. It is in these writings that we find Irenaeus bearing testimony to the existence of the LXX.

1. God, then, was made man, and the Lord did Himself save us, giving us the token of the Virgin. But not as some allege, among those now presuming to expound the Scripture, [thus:] “Behold, a young woman shall conceive, and bring forth a son,” as Theodotion the Ephesian has interpreted, and Aquila of Pontus, both Jewish proselytes. The Ebionites, following these, assert that He was begotten by Joseph; thus destroying, as far as in them lies, such a marvelous dispensation of God, and setting

aside the testimony of the prophets which proceeded from God. For truly this prediction was uttered before the removal of the people to Babylon; that is, anterior to the supremacy acquired by the Medes and Persians. But it was interpreted into Greek by the Jews themselves, much before the period of our Lord’s advent, that there might remain no suspicion that perchance the Jews, complying with our humor, did put this interpretation upon these words…

2. For before the Romans possessed their kingdom, while as yet the Macedonians held Asia, Ptolemy the son of Lagus, being anxious to adorn the library which he had founded in Alexandria, with a collection of the writings of all men, which were [works] of merit, made request to the people of Jerusalem, that they should have their Scriptures translated into the Greek language. And they — for at that time they were still subject to the Macedonians — sent to Ptolemy seventy of their elders, who were thoroughly skilled in the Scriptures and in both the languages, to carry out what he had desired… the Gentiles present perceived that the Scriptures had been interpreted by the inspiration of God. And there was nothing astonishing in God having done this…

3. Since, therefore, the Scriptures have been interpreted with such fidelity.. 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.. 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.. 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.”

(Against Heresies on CCEL http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.ix.iv.xxii.html Accessed 02/25/2010)

Irenaeus not only stated that the LXX existed, he called it the “preserved”, “unadulterated Scriptures”! Not only so, but he stated that it was a translation that was carried out with “fidelity”, and that they indeed existed before Christian and before Christ Himself was born. He also informs us that the apostles quoted from the LXX.

Methinks that some KJVO believers need to study their history a little more.

In the end, it is somewhat amazing that Irenaeus’ writings against heresies now testifies against a heresy that he never knew would exist: that of KJVO’ism.

Luke 4:18 and the LXX (part 1)

Perhaps no passage in Scripture presents such a problem to the KJV Only view¹, as Luke 4:16-22.  In this first post, we will offer a brief explanation of the text, an examination of the quotation in verses 18-19, and a some historical support for our position.  In future posts, we will draw out the implications from the text which impact the version debate, and provide some answers to common KJV Only counter-arguments.

Explanation of the Text

Luke 4:16 explains Christ stood to read the text in the synagogue.  This was the common practice.  Jesus will read and then expound the text.  Vs. 17 explains he will read from the scroll of Isaiah, and he opens the scroll and proceeds to read.

Bibles that provide Jesus’ words in red, do a disservice to our text.  An ESV Bible I have sitting here, has vs. 18-19 in red.  But if we examine vs. 17 more closely, we’ll see that Luke is not telling us what Jesus “said” but what was written in the book that was in Jesus’ hand.

Luke says (using the KJV text here), “when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written”.  Then follows vs. 18-19.  Luke does not say Jesus said those words.  From vs. 20, it is clear that he had read them, as he rolls the scroll back up and sits down (to begin his teaching, as the custom prescribed).  So clearly Jesus read from that passage of Scripture.  But Luke gives us what the scroll said.  He tells us what was written (or what “stood written”, to better reflect the perfect tense of the Greek words here).

Luke as the inspired author of Scripture is making a statement concerning what was written on the scroll in the Nazareth synagogue.  Now we’ll look more closely at what Luke tells us was written there.

Examination of the Quotation

Using the KJV English as a comparison, the chart below shows where the quote in Luke 4:18-19 departs from the Hebrew Original as translated by the KJV in Isaiah 61:1-2. (You may want to click on the image to enlarge it.)

You’ll notice that some of the differences are quite minor (“to”/”unto”, “poor”/”meek”, “preach deliverance”/”proclaim liberty”).  Others are more significant: “Lord GOD” (Adonai Jehovah) becomes “Lord”, “LORD” (Jehovah) becomes “he”, “bruised” becomes “bound”.  And even more problematic, an entire phrase is found in Luke that is not in Isaiah 61: “recovering of sight to the blind”.  A similar phrase is found in Isaiah 42:7, but it doesn’t match up exactly.  It was common for readers in the prophets to skip around a bit, and read portions of verses from the nearby chapters.  Even allowing for this, it does not appear that the exact wording Luke records in Luke 4 is found in the King James Version in Isaiah (and we would assume in the Hebrew Masoretic Text behind the KJV).

Now this all gets very interesting once we compare the Greek of Luke 4 with the Greek of the Septuagint Old Testament (LXX) in Isaiah 61.

Here we see the differences are much less.  The first two involve alternate spellings of the same word.  In the NA27 and the Majority Text Greek, the spelling of the LXX is followed.  The third instance of a difference, followed by the TR and MT,² and in English it amounts to “the broken of heart” vs. “the broken of hearts” (or as often translated, “brokenhearted”).  The fourth instance is similar to the English example in the KJV, “preach” vs. “declare”.

Most interesting to note here, is that the phrase above which the KJV/Hebrew does not have in Isaiah 61, “the recovering of sight to the blind” is found in the Greek LXX and matches the wording exactly in all the versions of the Greek NT (TR, MT & NA27).  There is a missing phrase found in Luke and not in Isaiah LXX, however.  “To set at liberty them that are bruised” is not in the LXX.  However an almost exact form of this phrase is found in Is. 58:6.  That form matches more perfectly than the missing English phrase does from Is. 42 (see above).  So again, if we consider the common practice of reading from nearby chapters, then we have a much clearer story of where the quotation came from that Luke says was written in the scroll at the Nazareth synagogue. Continue reading

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