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Author Topic: History of the LXX / Septuagint  (Read 3077 times) Average Rating: 0
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OnThePathForward
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« on: May 05, 2010, 03:56:48 PM »

Hi everyone,

I recently started a thread about the different Old and New Testament translations and I am learning a lot.  However at this time, I want to dig deeper into the history of the Septuagint and gain a fuller understanding of the chronology of it.

1) My first question deals with the original LXX.  I understand that it was completed around the 3rd century B.C.  However, what happened to the original documents?  Was the LXX lost or destroyed sometime? Was it copied? If so, what was the name of this copy?

2) I keep hearing how the Septuagint was a translation of the original Hebrew scriptures AND THEN I read how there are English translations of the Septuagint.  However, after further research I am finding that there is no English translation of the original LXX/Septuagint.  So my next question is, what are all of the documents that we know of that are considered a 'Septuagint' today?  (i.e. Codex Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, etc.)

3) Of these above documents that are considered the Septuagint, my next question is: Where did they come from?  What was their source?  Was the Codex Vaticanus a copy of a copy of a copy of the original LXX Septuagint that was created in the 3rd century B.C.?  Was the Codex Alexandrinus a copy of a copy of the original LXX Septuagint?  Are any of them 'copies' of the original LXX Septuagtint?  Or are they new translations into Greek frpm Hebrew Scriptures? Etc.

4) Of the known 'Septuagints' which one is considered the most reliable or true to the original Septuagint?

I think that was probably way too many questions right now, but thank you for listening! Grin
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« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2010, 04:10:15 PM »

1) My first question deals with the original LXX.  I understand that it was completed around the 3rd century B.C.  However, what happened to the original documents?  Was the LXX lost or destroyed sometime? Was it copied? If so, what was the name of this copy?

There is no original manuscript which survives. These types of documents are called "autographs." There are also no surviving autographs of any other biblical texts, Old or New Testament. Also, the initial translation of the LLX was just of the Torah, the first five books of Moses. All of the rest of the translations happened over the next several hundred years, but many of these have no uniform or standard translation. For example, there would be four different translations of the Proverbs in circulation, just like there are many different English translations today. So there is no one single Septuagint with all of the Old Testament in one uniform volume with a standardized text. It would be more correct to speak about many Septuagints. Most of the differences are minor, but some of them have absolutely horrible translations. It just depends on what you're looking at.
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« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2010, 04:45:16 PM »

1) My first question deals with the original LXX.  I understand that it was completed around the 3rd century B.C.  However, what happened to the original documents?  Was the LXX lost or destroyed sometime? Was it copied? If so, what was the name of this copy?

I think, perhaps, you have to readjust the way you think about ancient documents in general. We don't have the originals of any piece of ancient literature. Not Homer. Not Plato. Not the Hebrew Bible. Not the Septuagint. Not Cicero, Galen, or Ovid. Not the NT. Not the writings of the Fathers, etc.

What do we have? Take the Septuagint as an example. We have three major sources:

1) A variety of manuscripts. These are handwritten copies -- actually, usually copies of copies of copies. Some manuscripts were copied early on. Some much later on (100s, even a 1000 years later). Some are complete. Some are only fragments.

2) Quotes in other sources. For example, the NT itself and the Church Fathers often quote from the Septuagint. Thus, we can compare their quotes to the text found in the various manuscripts.

3) Translations into other languages. For example, there are relatively early translations of the Septuagint into Latin and Coptic. Occasionally, the translations help clarify certain passages. Also, there are certain ancient writings, e.g. St. Irenaeus, that only exist in a translation other than the original.

2) I keep hearing how the Septuagint was a translation of the original Hebrew scriptures AND THEN I read how there are English translations of the Septuagint.  However, after further research I am finding that there is no English translation of the original LXX/Septuagint.  So my next question is, what are all of the documents that we know of that are considered a 'Septuagint' today?  (i.e. Codex Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, etc.)

Depends on whom you ask. The Septuagint has an extremely complicated manuscript history. Vaticanus and Sinaiticus are two of the best versions.

One of the major scholarly disciplines is producing what is called a "critical text." That requires assembling all of the different versions, manuscripts, quotations, fragments, etc., and trying to figure out, word by word and phrase by phrase, which one is the oldest in that particular case. There is a whole science behind this process, but it is still only a theoretical reconstruction.

Some German scholars have been doing that with the Septuagint. It is called the Göttingen edition. Cambridge published an edition of Vaticanus that also includes some references to other manuscripts.

4) Of the known 'Septuagints' which one is considered the most reliable or true to the original Septuagint?

Vaticanus or Sinaiticus.
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« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2010, 04:52:04 PM »

4) Of the known 'Septuagints' which one is considered the most reliable or true to the original Septuagint?

Oops! I didn't notice that you are already aware of the plurality of Septuagints.
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« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2010, 06:48:08 PM »

Wow thank you guys!

Sounds like I need to get my hands onto an English translation of Alfred Ralhf's Septuaginta OR the Gottingen Septuagint.  I notice that there is the 'New English Translation of the Septuagint' (NETS) that is based off of Aflred Ralf's Septuaginta so that is probably a good choice for me.  However, does anyone know where I can get a Gottingen Septuagint?  I take it is in German...is there an English translation of it?

4) Of the known 'Septuagints' which one is considered the most reliable or true to the original Septuagint?

Vaticanus or Sinaiticus.

Thank you for this.  Is there a reason why the Codex Alexandrinus does not hold up as well against these other two?
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« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2010, 07:04:32 PM »

Wow thank you guys!

Sure.

Sounds like I need to get my hands onto an English translation of Alfred Ralhf's Septuaginta OR the Gottingen Septuagint.  I notice that there is the 'New English Translation of the Septuagint' (NETS) that is based off of Aflred Ralf's Septuaginta so that is probably a good choice for me.  However, does anyone know where I can get a Gottingen Septuagint?  I take it is in German...is there an English translation of it?

Critical editions are in the original language. They are attempts to reconstruct what the original actually was. So, Göttingen is in Hellenistic Greek, with an apparatus in many languages. Since the Septuagint has a far more complicated manuscript history than most sources, the critical edition is even more theoretical than usual.

Thank you for this.  Is there a reason why the Codex Alexandrinus does not hold up as well against these other two?

Actually, I just forgot to mention it. Many people prefer it. If you are really interested in the Septuagint, the best thing to do is to learn Ancient Greek.
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« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2010, 07:17:15 PM »

Actually, I just forgot to mention it. Many people prefer it. If you are really interested in the Septuagint, the best thing to do is to learn Ancient Greek.

Maybe some day Smiley  That's way over my head right now Smiley

I do have one more question.  Do we know if any other translations took place from the original LXX Septuagint into another language (i.e. Aramaic, back into Hebrew, etc) thus maintaining an accurate/true (or as accurate and true as possible) version of the Greek LXX?
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« Reply #7 on: May 05, 2010, 08:56:03 PM »

Hi everyone,

I recently started a thread about the different Old and New Testament translations and I am learning a lot.  However at this time, I want to dig deeper into the history of the Septuagint and gain a fuller understanding of the chronology of it.

1) My first question deals with the original LXX.  I understand that it was completed around the 3rd century B.C.  However, what happened to the original documents?  Was the LXX lost or destroyed sometime? Was it copied? If so, what was the name of this copy?

2) I keep hearing how the Septuagint was a translation of the original Hebrew scriptures AND THEN I read how there are English translations of the Septuagint.  However, after further research I am finding that there is no English translation of the original LXX/Septuagint.  So my next question is, what are all of the documents that we know of that are considered a 'Septuagint' today?  (i.e. Codex Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, etc.)

3) Of these above documents that are considered the Septuagint, my next question is: Where did they come from?  What was their source?  Was the Codex Vaticanus a copy of a copy of a copy of the original LXX Septuagint that was created in the 3rd century B.C.?  Was the Codex Alexandrinus a copy of a copy of the original LXX Septuagint?  Are any of them 'copies' of the original LXX Septuagtint?  Or are they new translations into Greek frpm Hebrew Scriptures? Etc.

4) Of the known 'Septuagints' which one is considered the most reliable or true to the original Septuagint?

I think that was probably way too many questions right now, but thank you for listening! Grin

We don't have the originals of hardly anything.....both secular and religious. Most of what we have today are copies, partial copies, and fragmented pieces here and there. The LXX is really a family of texts, and so, it's really the LXX text family. I like the Lucian recention, but there are others as well. Britans critical text is a mixture ...just as all critical texts are. The LXX is similar to the Hebrew found in the Dead Sea Scrolls....although not 100% the same for the dead sea goes it's own way at times while at other times agreeing with the Mesoretic more. But it mostly agrees with the LXX. And so, the Hebrew that the LXX was based on was slightly different from the modern Masoretic in certain places. Tertullian said that the hebrew it was based on was in the library at Alexandria, but the library was burned down.......I forgot when, and so we no longer have a copy of the Hebrew it was based on. Codex Vaticanus, Sinaiticus....etc. are copy varients, and this is why it is called the LXX family of texts or text family.

The codexis were copies from scrolls. You see, christians no longer wanted to copy stuff on scrolls and so they used the newer technology of codexes to copy stuff on.

I prefer the Lucian recention......only because most of the New Testament quotes of the Old Testament are the same......something like 90% For others it is like 75% or somewhere between.

I think the homey, R Grant Jones uses the Lucian recention as well....I could be wrong about that.....if not then he uses Britans.....hmm....I forgot really....  But you can always e-mail him and ask him.

The link to his new site:
http://mysite.verizon.net/rgjones3/(notes on the Septuagint)

His old site that was almost lost because of geocities closing down:
http://sn137w.snt137.mail.live.com/mail/InboxLight.aspx?FolderID=00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000001&n=2100029049 (his journy)

I hope this helps






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« Reply #8 on: May 06, 2010, 09:13:19 AM »

Hi jnorm,

Thanks for the info.  What is the Lucian Recension? 
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« Reply #9 on: May 06, 2010, 10:26:54 AM »

Somewhere here (I'm not quite yet familiar with the new search engine) we have links to the LXX online, including the text that the Greek Church uses.
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« Reply #10 on: May 06, 2010, 10:37:49 AM »

If I may, I'd like to throw a question into the mix... does the NT always quote the Septuagint or are there times when the NT quotation of the OT is more inline with the Masoretic text?
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« Reply #11 on: May 06, 2010, 10:57:49 AM »

Somewhere here (I'm not quite yet familiar with the new search engine) we have links to the LXX online, including the text that the Greek Church uses.

Good point. There is a version that several Orthodox Churches use, based on ecclesiastical manuscripts. It's published by Apostoliki Diakonia and ZOE. Peter A. Papoutsis has been translating it into English. You can Google him to find his site.
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« Reply #12 on: May 06, 2010, 12:13:22 PM »

If I may, I'd like to throw a question into the mix... does the NT always quote the Septuagint or are there times when the NT quotation of the OT is more inline with the Masoretic text?

No not always. You can see for yourself at Grants website(I don't know what LXX he is using though...or maybe I once knew but forgot):

http://mysite.verizon.net/rgjones3/Septuagint/spindex.htm (notes on the Septuagint)

Look at the left hand sidebar and click "Instances where the New Testament follows the Hebrew meaning against the Septuagint"

You can also see where "Instances where the New Testament quotes the Septuagint against the Hebrew"

As well as a host of other things...like:

"Appendix:  Dead Sea Scrolls-Septuagint Alignments Against the Masoretic Text"


Dr. R. Grant Jones is a former atheist turned christian......some years ago on his old geo-cities site he had a few links that talked about his journy to EO.








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« Reply #13 on: May 06, 2010, 12:26:02 PM »

Hi jnorm,

Thanks for the info.  What is the Lucian Recension? 

I could be wrong about which Lucian, but I think it was put together by this Lucian here:
http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/podup/saintoftheday/oct_15_holy_heiromartyr_lucian_of_antioch (Holy Heiromartyr Lucian Of Antioch)

If I'm wrong, then I'm sure someone on the board will correct me. But it was put together by someone called Lucian of Antioch:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucian_of_Antioch (Lucian of Antioch)

Quote
Quote:
"Biblical text
Lucian is also commonly credited with a critical recension of the text of the Septuagint and the Greek New Testament, which was later used by Chrysostom and the later Greek fathers, and which lies at the basis of the textus receptus.[7]

Jerome mentions that copies were known in his day as "exemplaria Lucianea" but in other places he speaks rather disparagingly of the texts of Lucian.[8] In the absence of definite information it is impossible to decide the merits of his critical labors.[9]

He believed in the literal sense of the biblical text and thus laid stress on the need of textual accuracy. He undertook to revise the Septuagint based on the original Hebrew."


I hope this helps!








Christ is Risen!
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"loving one's enemies does not mean loving wickedness, ungodliness, adultery, or theft. Rather, it means loving the theif, the ungodly, and the adulterer." Clement of Alexandria 195 A.D.

http://ancientchristiandefender.blogspot.com/
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« Reply #14 on: May 06, 2010, 06:35:48 PM »

If I may, I'd like to throw a question into the mix... does the NT always quote the Septuagint or are there times when the NT quotation of the OT is more inline with the Masoretic text?

No not always. You can see for yourself at Grants website(I don't know what LXX he is using though...or maybe I once knew but forgot):

http://mysite.verizon.net/rgjones3/Septuagint/spindex.htm (notes on the Septuagint)

Look at the left hand sidebar and click "Instances where the New Testament follows the Hebrew meaning against the Septuagint"

You can also see where "Instances where the New Testament quotes the Septuagint against the Hebrew"

As well as a host of other things...like:

"Appendix:  Dead Sea Scrolls-Septuagint Alignments Against the Masoretic Text"


Dr. R. Grant Jones is a former atheist turned christian......some years ago on his old geo-cities site he had a few links that talked about his journy to EO.








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Excellent!  Thanks!
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« Reply #15 on: May 06, 2010, 08:32:30 PM »

Hi jnorm,

Thanks for the info.  What is the Lucian Recension?  

I could be wrong about which Lucian, but I think it was put together by this Lucian here:
http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/podup/saintoftheday/oct_15_holy_heiromartyr_lucian_of_antioch (Holy Heiromartyr Lucian Of Antioch)

If I'm wrong, then I'm sure someone on the board will correct me. But it was put together by someone called Lucian of Antioch:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucian_of_Antioch (Lucian of Antioch)

Quote
Quote:
"Biblical text
Lucian is also commonly credited with a critical recension of the text of the Septuagint and the Greek New Testament, which was later used by Chrysostom and the later Greek fathers, and which lies at the basis of the textus receptus.[7]

Jerome mentions that copies were known in his day as "exemplaria Lucianea" but in other places he speaks rather disparagingly of the texts of Lucian.[8] In the absence of definite information it is impossible to decide the merits of his critical labors.[9]

He believed in the literal sense of the biblical text and thus laid stress on the need of textual accuracy. He undertook to revise the Septuagint based on the original Hebrew."


I hope this helps!








Christ is Risen!

Thank you jnorm Smiley  If he based his version (or recension?) off of the Hebrew text during his lifetime (I see wikipedia says he lived from 240 - 312AD), does that mean it was based off of the Masoretic Text, or the scriptures that were also used in compiling the Masoretic Text?
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« Reply #16 on: May 06, 2010, 09:23:21 PM »

Hi jnorm,

Thanks for the info.  What is the Lucian Recension?  

I could be wrong about which Lucian, but I think it was put together by this Lucian here:
http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/podup/saintoftheday/oct_15_holy_heiromartyr_lucian_of_antioch (Holy Heiromartyr Lucian Of Antioch)

If I'm wrong, then I'm sure someone on the board will correct me. But it was put together by someone called Lucian of Antioch:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucian_of_Antioch (Lucian of Antioch)

Quote
Quote:
"Biblical text
Lucian is also commonly credited with a critical recension of the text of the Septuagint and the Greek New Testament, which was later used by Chrysostom and the later Greek fathers, and which lies at the basis of the textus receptus.[7]

Jerome mentions that copies were known in his day as "exemplaria Lucianea" but in other places he speaks rather disparagingly of the texts of Lucian.[8] In the absence of definite information it is impossible to decide the merits of his critical labors.[9]

He believed in the literal sense of the biblical text and thus laid stress on the need of textual accuracy. He undertook to revise the Septuagint based on the original Hebrew."


I hope this helps!








Christ is Risen!

Thank you jnorm Smiley  If he based his version (or recension?) off of the Hebrew text during his lifetime (I see wikipedia says he lived from 240 - 312AD), does that mean it was based off of the Masoretic Text, or the scriptures that were also used in compiling the Masoretic Text?

The Masoretic text didn't exist back then. The proto-Masoretic did, but the Masoretic is a different Hebrew varient. The Masoretic is only a thousand and plus years old (give or take a century or two). The Hebrew of the LXX was in the Library of Alexandria. When that burned down, the Hebrew varient it was based on probably went down as well.

Alot of people think the Masoretic is the original Hebrew, but it's not. We don't have the originals of hardly anything.....both secular and sacred. What we have are copies. Yes, it is true that the Isaiah Scroll found in the dead sea mostly match the Masoretic, the same is true for the book of Daniel found at qumran (deadsea), but most of the other books mostly agree with the LXX, and sometimes the deadsea scrolls disagrees with both the LXX and Masoretic.....and so, sometimes it goes it's own way....against both. And so it too is it's own Hebrew varient.

Most of the LXX, Masoretic, and Deadsea are the same...like 80 something percent or 90 something percent. I forgot which, but in the 10 to 20 percent in where they differ......that is what we are talking about. The places in where they differ.....because all three are mostly the same.




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« Last Edit: May 06, 2010, 09:29:07 PM by jnorm888 » Logged

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« Reply #17 on: May 06, 2010, 10:50:06 PM »

So I guess the Lucian Recension was simply based of some variant of Hebrew scriptures, most likely not the originals that were used for the LXX.

Also, is there evidence then that a copy of the Septuagint was in fact copied before the original LXX was most likely destroyed in Alexandria?  Thus, the Vaticanus/Sinaiticus were based off of copies.  Or do you think these were based off of other recensions (such as the Lucian Recension) that were developed later on?  

I guess what I'm asking is, do we know what 'liniage' the Codices Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus were based off of, i.e. copies of the original LXX, or possibly copies of copies from the Lucian Recension or some other recension?  

EDIT: Let me attempt to answer my own question: we know by what is quoted in the New Testament and that is matches these codices, hence they are in line with the original LXX...am I on the right track?
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« Reply #18 on: May 07, 2010, 12:24:54 AM »

If I may, I'd like to throw a question into the mix... does the NT always quote the Septuagint or are there times when the NT quotation of the OT is more inline with the Masoretic text?

The prophecy "Out of Egypt I have called my son" matches the singular of the MS text.  The LXX has the plural.
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« Reply #19 on: May 07, 2010, 12:53:09 AM »

This website is very helpful:

http://mysite.verizon.net/rgjones3/Septuagint/spindex.htm
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« Reply #20 on: May 07, 2010, 04:29:42 AM »

Wow thank you guys!

Sounds like I need to get my hands onto an English translation of Alfred Ralhf's Septuaginta OR the Gottingen Septuagint.  I notice that there is the 'New English Translation of the Septuagint' (NETS) that is based off of Aflred Ralf's Septuaginta so that is probably a good choice for me.  However, does anyone know where I can get a Gottingen Septuagint?  I take it is in German...is there an English translation of it?

4) Of the known 'Septuagints' which one is considered the most reliable or true to the original Septuagint?

Vaticanus or Sinaiticus.

Thank you for this.  Is there a reason why the Codex Alexandrinus does not hold up as well against these other two?

I would highly reccomend the New English Translation of the Septuagint (NETS). It has been invaluable to me in my biblical studies at university as an excellent point of reference and a great translation. It reads quite well, too, but there are better copies available for liturgical use.
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« Reply #21 on: May 07, 2010, 05:14:16 PM »

I noticed there is a second printing of the NETS that came out in 2009 in an electronic version with 'corrections and emendations'.  Does anyone know if this will be released as a hard-copy book?
« Last Edit: May 07, 2010, 05:15:51 PM by OnThePathForward » Logged
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« Reply #22 on: May 07, 2010, 08:45:13 PM »

here is a link to the worst site ever for information on the Septuagint...

http://www.chick.com/information/bibleversions/articles/septuagint.asp

apparently only Roman Catholics need the Septuagint to be inspired so they can keep being wrong, or that is what I gathered from this site  Roll Eyes
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« Reply #23 on: May 07, 2010, 10:26:53 PM »

here is a link to the worst site ever for information on the Septuagint...

http://www.chick.com/information/bibleversions/articles/septuagint.asp

apparently only Roman Catholics need the Septuagint to be inspired so they can keep being wrong, or that is what I gathered from this site  Roll Eyes

I was talking to someone about this the other day. I brought up the fact that in the major splits in history, especially the ones that divide the EO, OO, RC, and ACOE (every church that still exists that predates the reformation), were not caused by "what Bible they read", but from what doctrine they taught, especially concerning what they said about the nature of the person of Christ in the incarnation. This comes from the difference in the protestant view of "teach whatever you understand the Bible to say" vs the traditional view of "teach what you were taught as you were taught it".
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And FWIW, these are our Fathers too, you know.

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« Reply #24 on: May 08, 2010, 06:11:02 PM »

I didn't realize there was such a disagreement about the validity of the Letter of Aristeas...
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