The Religious A priori


Validity of LXX

for Messianic Prophesy

The Supiriority of the Septuagint: This is an important issue because the Septuagin (Greek Translation of the OT made sometime in 300's BC in Alexandria) differs on some points form the Hebrew text (the Masoretic Text or MT). The earliest copies we have of the MT only Date from about 900 or 1000 AD, but the LXX goes back much further. We have whole manuscripts from 3d and 4th centuries AD, and it is quoted in much earlier works. The main Jeiwsh apologist argument against Messianic interpretation of Is. 53 is that all the references to the suffering servant, so they say, are in the plural, making him a symbol of Isreale. But in the LXX they are singular. There are also other references in the Septuagint that support the Christian reading, on Is. 53 and Ps. 22 "hands and feet peirced" and other passages. For this reason the Jewish anti-missionaries claim that the LXX only existed in the first five books before the time of Chrsit and that Chrsitians translated the rest, either late first century, or some go so far as to claim that Origen (4th century) made the trasnlations of prophetic books. The only thing that supports this view is the fact that all the really good whole Ms. come from 3d and 4th centuuries AD. But there are other proofs of the LXX's veracity.

Institue for Biblcal and scientific studies

OT Dead Sea Scrolls.

Most Scholars saw the LXX as inferior to the Hebrew Bible called the Masoretic Text (MT). With the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, this all changed. Ancient Hebrew scrolls were found that follow the LXX, not the Masoretic Text. The DSS showed that the LXX had an underlying Hebrew Text that was different from the MT.

Now Scholars think the LXX has important readings that are superior to the MT. The LXX is now very important in textual criticism of the Hebrew Bible. Let's look at some of the key differences between the LXX and the MT where the LXX seems to be superior.

Harper’s Bible Dictionary

edited by Paul J. Achtemier (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1985)

quoted on Bible "Dead Sea Scrolls from Qumran"

(visited 8/4/06)

It is now apparent that these differing ancient text forms of the ot deserve far greater care and attention than they received in the past. The lxx, for example, is now seen not just as a poor, tendentious translation of the Hebrew, but rather as a witness to a different pre-Christian Hebrew text form. Moreover, there appear to have been three local text types in pre-Christian times: a form of the Pentateuch known in Babylon, close to the mt; a form known in Palestine, close to the Samaritan Pentateuch; and a form of ot books known in Egypt, related to the lxx. Eventually (probably between a.d. 70 and 132 in Palestine), a process of standardization apparently set in, preferring one form of text, a set spelling, and even a definitive shape of writing.

discoveries by the dead sea, the essene controversy

The Real Jesus site (visted 8/4/06)

"...According to Frank Moore Cross (another DSS scholar) there are at least 3 'families' of texts at Qumran : the MT 'family', the 'Egyptian' family, and a 'Palestinian' family . The 'Egyptian' version which, among other things, has a different version of Jeremiah, became the basis for the LXX. The 'Palestinian ' became the basis for the Samaritan version. The MT variety was the ancestor of what we use today--although even within these 'families' there was sometimes variation. We do not know which version was being used by, say, the Sadducees of the Temple sect, or even which the Essenes themselves used. The Jewish community at Alexandria evidently used the Egyptian 'family' or the LXX." - Randolph Parrish

"The 'biblical' library of Qumran represents a fluid stage of the biblical text. Those documents show no influence of the rabbinic recension of the canon, the direct ancestor of the traditional Hebrew Bible. The scrolls help to place both the Pharisaic text and the canon in the era of Hillel, roughly the time of Jesus. In their selection of canonical books, the rabbis excluded those attributed to prophets or Patriarchs before Moses (e.g., the Enoch literature, works written in the name of Abraham and other Patriarchs). They traced the succession of prophets from Moses to figures of the Persian period. Late works were excluded, with the exception of Daniel, which, the rabbis presumably, attributed to the Persian period."

- Frank Moore Cross, Jr., "Dead Sea Scrolls: Overview"

John Allegro in The Dead Sea Scrolls documents that when the LXX and Mt contradict, the LXX most often agrees with the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS). (Allegro 59-83). He presents a long chart comparing readings from 1Sam. demonstrating that the text of books other than the first five existed long befroe the MT existed (about 1000 years before). Allegro also documents that most of the time when there is disagreement between LXX and MT the LXX most often agrees with the DSS and DSS with LXX over the MT. A latter article also deomonstrates that this same agreement holds for Jeremaiah. The DSS contain the longer reading for Jeremaiah deomnstrtaing significant support for the LXX.

He also documents (63) that Origen's work was that of a compulation of a text placing several existing Greek translations of the OT side by side, he used a pre-existing LXX, this is merely what any good translator does in preparing a new translation. A new one was needed because the Jews abandoned the LXX and commissioned their own (Aquilla's) becasue the Chruch had come to use the LXX as it's Bbile, and they wanted to get away form the Christian's Messianic reading. Origen did not produce the translation of the LXX prophetic books, it already existed. Moreover, it can be showen to have existed in the first century. Clement of Rome (1 Clement) quotes Isaiah 53 in AD 95, and most of the quotations of the OT in the Gospels come from the LXX.

"That the LXX existed before the time of Christ is borne out not only by the fact of agreement with the DSS but in other works as well. A. Vander Heeren states "It is certain that the law, the prophets and at lest part of the other books...existed in Greek before 135 BC, asappears from the pologue of Ecclesiasticus which does not date latter than that year" (Catholic Encycolpidea--).

"Qumran agrees 13 times with the LXX against the MT and four times witht he MT against the seems now that to scholars engaged in this work in the future Qumran has offered a new basis for confidence in the LXX...." (Allegro 74 and 81).

James A. Sanders,Inter Testamental and Biblical Studies at Clairmont, Cannon and Community, a Guide to Canonical Criticism. Philladelphia: Forterss Press, 1984, 15-16.

"There are remarkable differences between the LXX and MT of 1 and 2 Sam. Jeremiah, Esther, Daniel, Proverbs and Ezekiel, 40-48, and on a lesser level numerious very important differences in lesser books such as Isaiah and Job. Before the discovery of the Scrolls [Dead Sea] it was difficult to know wheather most of these should be seen as translational, Or as reflecting the inner history of the Septuegent text, or all three. Now it is abundantly clear that the second period of text transmission [which is BC], actually that of the earliest texts we have, was one of limited textual pluralism. Side by side in the Qumran library lay scrolls of Jeremiah in Hebrew dating to the pre-Chrsitian Hellenistic period reflecting both the textual tradition known in the MT and the one in the LXX without any indication of preference. So also for 1 and 2 Sam."

[note: the importance of 1 and 2 sam and Jeremiah, Esther, Daniel is that it indicates the LXX existed before the time of Christ in more than the Pentetucahal form]

Institue for Biblcal and scientific studies

OT Dead Sea Scrolls.

The Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) like the magnificent Isaiah scroll closely follow the Masoretic Text (MT), but there are a few exceptions. For example, Psalm 145 is an alphabetical psalm. Each verse begins with the next letter in the alphabet, but "N" is missing in the MT. In the DSS it is there, so somehow a scribe left this verse out. Another important difference is in I Samuel 11 where the MT is shortened. The longer reading in the DSS explains what happens in this chapter.

Three of the most important Biblical texts from Qumran are: (1) The Isaiah Scroll from Cave 1 which has two different text types, with about 1,375 differences from the MT. (2) The Habakkuk Commentary from Cave 1 which uses the pesher method of interpretation, and the name Yahweh is written in paleo-Hebrew. (3) The Psalm scroll from Cave 11 contains 41 canonical psalms and 7 apocryphal psalms mixed in among them. The order of the psalms differs largely from the MT (Wurthwein 1979, 32).

John Allegro, one of the original translation team, the first to be put in charge of cave 4 material and the only non-religious memember of the team, The Dead Sea Scrolls Pelican, 1956, (66).[he describes how Frank Cross in 1954 found a place where the text (DSS) seemed at odds with the MT. He began to find more and more places, and then discovered that these texts which differed from the MT agreed with the LXX. Now this is a Hebrew text which agrees with LXX over MT so it's an older textual family but obviously the ancesstor of the LXX readings. He goes on:

"His excitment mouting Cross began to refurr to the principal versions and almost immediately saw that this text corrosponded with the Greek translation. The precious peices joined to others and time and time again he found corrospondences with LXX against MT, until at the end of the week he was ale to affirm that he had the answer to the text-critic's dream, a Hebrew text from the same text family of tradition as that used by the ancient translators of the LXX..."

"It seems now that, to scholars engaged on this work in the future, Qumran has offered a new basis for a confience in the LXX in at least the Historical books, which should allow them to accept better readings of that version almost as readily as if they were found in the Hebrw MT. In other words, each reading in the future must be judges on it's merits not on any preconsieved notion of the supiriority of the Hebrew version simpley because it is Hebrew.. If the Greek offers a better reading than that ought to be taken and put in the text of the translation..."(81).

The first quote above, and an article FJS posted last summer also demonstrate some of the prophetic books in that LXX tradition family are found there too.

E.C. Ulrich, The Qumran Text of Sammuel and Josephus, Schoalr's Press 1978.Emmanuel Tov The Septuagent Translation of Jeremiah and Baruch (Scholar's Press 1976)

Richard Weis "A Probe into the Formation of Jeremaiah" unpublished paper ft in Sanders 1

From Catholic Encyclapedia

(a) Pre-Massoretic text

"The earliest Hebrew manuscript is the Nash papyrus. There are four fragments, which, when pieced together, give twenty-four lines of a pre-Massoretic text of the Ten Commandments and the shema (Ex., xx, 2-17; Deut., v, 6-19; vi, 4-5). The writing is without vowels and seems palęographically to be not later than the second century. This is the oldest extant Bible manuscript (see Cook, "A Pre-Massoretic Biblical Papyrus" in "Proceed. of the Soc. of Bib. Arch.", Jan., 1903). It agrees at times with the Septuagint against the Massorah. Another pre- Massoretic text is the Samaritan Pentateuch. The Samaritan recension is probably pre-exilic; it has come down to us free from Massoretic influences, is written without vowels and in Samaritan characters. The earliest Samaritan manuscript extant is that of Nablūs, which was formerly rated very much earlier than all Massoretic manuscripts, but is now assigned to the twelfth or thirteenth century A.D. (see "Facsimiles of the Fragments hitherto recovered of the Book of Ecclesiasticus in Hebrew", Oxford and Cambridge, 1901)."(Ibid)

(b) Massoretic text much latter Ms than LXX

"All other Hebrew manuscripts of the Bible are Massoretic (see MASSORAH), and belong to the tenth century or later. Some of these manuscripts are dated earlier. Text-critics consider these dates to be due either to intentional fraud or to uncritical transcription of dates of older manuscripts. For instance, a codex of the Former and Latter Prophets, how in the Karaite synagogue of Cairo, is dated A.D. 895; Neubauer assigns it to the eleventh or thirteenth century. The Cambridge manuscript no. 12, dated A.D. 856, he marks as a thirteenth-century work; the date A.D. 489, attached to the St. Petersburg Pentateuch, he rejects as utterly impossible (see Studia Biblica, III, 22). Probably the earliest Massoretic manuscripts are: "Prophetarium Posteriorum Codex Bablyonicus Petropolitanus", dated A.D. 916; the St. Petersburg Bible, written by Samuel ben Jacob and dated A.D. 1009; and "Codex Oriental. 4445" in the British Museum, which Ginsburg (Introduction, p. 469) assigns to A.D. 820-50. The text critics differ very widely in the dates they assign to certain Hebrew manuscripts. De Rossi is included to think that at most nine or ten Massoretic manuscripts are earlier than the twelfth century (Varię Lectiones, I, p. xv)."(Ibid.)

(2) Uniformaty of Massorect is liability--we need varient readings to reach the original text.

"The critical study of this rich assortment of about 3400 Massoretic rolls and codices is not so promising of important results as it would at first thought seem to be. The manuscripts are all of quite recent date, if compared with Greek, Latin, and Syriac codices. They are all singularly alike. Some few variants are found in copies made for private use; copies made for public service in the synagogues are so uniform as to deter the critic from comparing them. All Massoretic manuscripts bring us back to one editor -- that of a textual tradition which probably began in the second century and became more and more minute until every jot and tittle of the text was almost absolutely fixed and sacred. R. Aqiba seems to have been the head of this Jewish school of the second century. Unprecedented means were taken to keep the text fixed. The scholars counted the words and consonants of each book, the middle word and middle consonants, the peculiarities of script, etc. Even when such peculiarities were clearly due to error or to accident, they were perpetuated and interpreted by a mystical meaning. Broken and inverted letters, consonants that were too small or too large, dots which were out of place -- all these oddities were handed down as God-intended. In Gen., ii, 4, bebram ("when they were created"), all manuscripts have a small Hź. Jewish scholars looked upon this peculiarity as inspired; they interpreted it: "In the letter Hź he created them"; and then set themselves to find out what that meant.This lack of variants in Massoretic manuscripts leaves us hopeless of reaching back to the original Hebrew text save through the versions. Kittel in his splendid Hebrew text gives such variants as the versions suggest."(Ibid>)

(3) Old Testament manuscripts

(a) Septuagint (LXX)

"There are three families of Septuagint manuscripts -- the Hexaplaric, Hesychian, and Lucianic. Manuscripts of Origen's Hexapla (q.v.) and Tetrapla were preserved at Cęsarea by his disciple Pamphilus. Some extant manuscripts (v.g. aleph and Q) refer in scholia to these gigantic works of Origen. In the fourth century, Pamphilus and his disciple Eusebius of Cęsarea reproduced the fifth column of the Hexapla, i.e. Origen's Hexaplaric Septuagint text, with all his critical signs. This copy is the source of the Hexaplaric family of Septuagint manuscripts. In course of time, scribes omitted the critical signs in part or entirely. Passages wanting in the Septuagint, but present in the Hebrew, and consequently supplied by Origen from either Aquila or Tehodotion, were hopelessly commingled with passages of the then extant Septuagint. Almost at the same time two other editions of the Septuagint were published -- those of Hesychius at Alexandria and of Lucian at Antioch. From these three editions the extant manuscripts of the Septuagint have descended, but by ways that have not yet been accurately traced. Very few manuscripts can be assigned with more than probability to one of the three families. The Hexaplaric, Hesychian, and Lucianic manuscripts acted one upon the other. Most extant manuscripts of the Septuagint contain, as a result, readings of each and of none of the great families. The tracing of the influence of these three great manuscripts is a work yet to be done by the text-critics."(Ibid)

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Anti-missionaries argue Cave 4 was where they put bad copies.

they dismiss the LXX ms because they were found in large concentration in cave 4 of Qumran, the material in cave four was not preserved in jars, leading one to believe that this was where they stored bad copies which could not be destroyed because they had the name of God in them.

there are LXX Ms from many other caves as well:

Harper’s Bible Dictionary

edited by Paul J. Achtemier (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1985)

quoted on Bible "Dead Sea Scrolls from Qumran"

(visited 8/4/06)

Transmission of ot Text: Prior to the discovery of the dss, the oldest copy of any extended portion of the Hebrew Bible was dated a.d. 895 (a codex of the Former and Latter Prophets, from the Cairo Genizah). In Cave One, however, a full text of Isaiah was found, dated palaeographically to 100 b.c. The differences between the Qumran text and the Masoretic Text (mt), the Hebrew text preserved from medieval manuscripts, separated in date by a thousand years, amounted to thirteen significant variants and a host of insignificant spelling differences, which have proved a gold mine for the study of first-century b.c. Palestinian Hebrew. This illustrated the care with which the text of Isaiah had been transmitted over the centuries. When Cave Four was discovered, however, a different picture appeared. For certain books of the ot, especially 1 and 2 Samuel, Jeremiah, and Exodus, there were copies of the Hebrew text, from pre-Christian times, in forms differing from the medieval mt. In some cases, the Qumran biblical texts were closer to the Greek Septuagint (lxx); in others, closer to the Samaritan Pentateuch.

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The Religious A priori