Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Why Use the Septuagint in Textual Criticism?

As we explained in our last post, the Septuagint is an ancient Greek translation of the Tanakh. So why would we use it in our textual criticism of the Tanakh?

First, Septuagint texts predate the earliest Masoretic texts of the Tanakh which we have. So these translations can help us determine what the Hebrew texts looked like prior to what we have now.

There are differences between the Masoretic texts and the Septuagint. But just because the Septuagint came from an earlier textual source, that does not mean we automatically favor the Septuagint over the Masoretic texts.

But it can and should be used. In some future posts, we will show how the Septuagint should be used in textual criticism.

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Blogger Sherry said...

Weren't the original Masoretic texts destroyed by Antioch Ephiphanes IV back in 167 BCE? I've always thought too that when the Romans occupied Jerusalem/Israel that they also burned up all the masoretic texts too. Is that correct?

In the re-writing of the Masoretic texts from the Septuagint, they changed some verses so that it would not give any references to the coming Messiah. Is this correct too?

4/20/2007 12:53:00 AM  
Blogger geoffrobinson said...

Not that I know of. I'm very sure that the Romans didn't burn anything up. Maybe when they destroyed Jerusalem.

You also have to remember that there was a significant Jewish center in Babylon outside of the Roman Empire.

As to obfuscating references to the Messiah: I've heard some things along those lines in the past. I recently came across one of Jerome's prefaces in the Latin Vulgate. Jerome wrote the Latin translation of the Bible. He defended his use of the Hebrew over the Septuagint by claiming that many Messianic prophecies were clearer in the Hebrew than in the Greek. Usually, the reverse claim is made. Now, that's about the 5th century. The earliest surviving Masoretic texts are around the 9th.

So that's a long way of saying, I don't think there was intentional tampering of the Masoretic. But textual criticism should cover all sources. Dead Sea Scrolls, Masoretic, Septuagint, etc.

I should get off my duff and write another post.

4/20/2007 08:55:00 PM  
Blogger Sherry said...

Thank you very much. I'm also trying to study but it seems like there are to many biased sites for either Judaism or christianity.

You are doing a good job. Keep posting. I love to read these.

4/21/2007 09:02:00 PM  

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