I will make this my last post in response to this very off-topic issue of the Septuagint vs Masoretic since I dont want to distract the purpose of this thread. We can continue this discussion in PM if you would like - I don’t think it’s worth creating a new thread over unless you really want to.
Well, it is an article of the Orthodox (Jewish!) faith that the Torah we have today is the same & exact Torah that God revealed to Moses.
I never knew Orthodox Jews believed in impeccable textual transmission; I thought this was only a belief held by the general Islamic community, because of their peculiar conception of the Quran as the literal word of God spoken by Him since time eternity. In any event, such an article of faith may (and does) conflict with what archaeology and history have proven, which is generally that any text of antiquity has over time inevitably undergone certain textual changes, and come down in differing forms - though this certainly need not oppose the general reliability of the text itself, and faith in the substance of what the text proclaims. This is how I as a Christian view both the Old and New Testament - as relatively very accurate and reliable texts (reliable enough to put my faith in them both), but certainly not impeccably preserved word for word - as appealing as the idea is, it's simply not grounded in fact and I can not in all academic honesty adhere to such an extreme conservative viewpoint of the Scriptures. Both the New and Old Testament have come down to us in varying forms amongst various manuscripts - The New Testament is without doubt the most well attested to ancient text, with figures that support the conclusion that we can ascertain the original form of the New Testament, better than we can ascertain the original form of any other ancient text, including the Old Testament.
The Masoretic text fixed by Aaron ben Moses ben Asher is merely standard regarding (more or less) vowelization & cantillation of the text, but the unvoweled text (of the kind that Torah scrolls must be written in ) itself is, as we believe, unchanged.
The Masoretic text is not simply one fixed text (a misconception many have), but rather a family of variant Hebrew texts. In his book Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible (2nd revised edition, 2001)
, Emanuel Tov of Hebrew University states:
"It is clear from the preceding pages that one of the postulates of biblical research is that the text which is preserved in the various representatives (manuscripts, editions) of what is commonly known as the Masoretic Text, doesn’t reflect the "original text" of the Bible in many details. Even though the concept of an "original text" remains vague, it will still always be legitimate to recognize the vast differences between the Masoretic Text and earlier or different stages of the biblical text. Moreover, even were we to assume that the MT reflects the "original" form of the Bible, we would still need to decide WHICH Masoretic Text reflects this "original text," since the Masoretic Text is not a uniform textual unit, but is rather represented by many witnesses...
Similar problems arise when one compares the MT with the other textual witnesses, such as the Qumran scrolls and the putative Hebrew source of the individual ancient translations (such as the LXX). We don’t know which of all these texts faithfully reflects the biblical text. Thus, it shouldn’t be postulated in advance that the MT reflects the original text of the biblical books better than the other texts."
That the texts found among the Dead Sea Scrolls may & do have variations is irrelevant. Sectarian heretics like the authors of the the Scrolls cannot be relied on to accurately transmit texts in accordance with the rules & norms of the normative orthodoxy that they broke away from, denied & despised.
The Qumranites were not Orthodox Jews? This is the first I have heard of this. Do you have any evidence for this? In any event the findings of the DDS are very revelant regardless of how “Orthodox” this sect is. The scrolls present us with the fact that during that period of time (i.e. 10-11 centuries prior to the earliest extant MT MS) there was a diversity of forms of the Hebrew text, of which today’s MT reflects only ONE of these text-types, as does the pre-masoretic Hebrew text which would have been the basis for the Septuagint translation - hence the authenticity of both the MT and the Septuagint are in a sense vindicated. The fact the Septuagint diverges in its reading in various places from the Masoretic, therefore implies from the objective perspective (on the basis of the evidence of the dds findings that is), that they did not edit the MT, but rather they were translating from an already existing divergent Hebrew form of the Biblethat had existed in 3rd century Palestine - so who is to say which form best reflects the “Original Bible”? Scholars certainly haven’t had any reason to give one textual tradition precedence over another. In explaining the relationship between these two differing forms, Emmanuel Tov states in his book The Text-Critical Use of the Septuagint in Biblical Research
"The Hebrew text that is presupposed by the Septuagint represents a tradition which is either close to that of the MT or can easily be explained as either a descendant or source of it
We simply cannot draw anything conclusive in light of the evidence we have.
The New Testament itself further validates the fact that during that time there was more than one form of the Hebrew text, since it quotes scripture that is either a) consistent with both the MT and LXX b) consistent with the LXX but differing from the MT and c) consistent with the MT but differing from the LXX.
That the Torah was translated into another language is considered a cause for sadness & a reason to mourn....Remember, our Sages were compelled by Ptolemy II to translate the Torah; it wasn't their choice.
It may not have been their idea
to perform the translation, but compelled
is a strong word, for which I would like to see some evidence for.
I don’t think there is anything to suggest what you’re saying, on the contrary, there have been a number of theories posed by scholars concerning the very reasons for the creation of the LXX:
a) The Alexandrian ruler wanted an 'authorized version' of the Torah
b) Local Jewish communities wanted a version sanctioned by Jeruslem
c) Someone needed to deal with intra-Judaism bickering
d) Jerusalem wanted to exercise religious control/guidance over Diaspora Jewry.
You’re making it out as if the LXX translation was something that the Jews never wanted and always despised. However, I believe history speaks otherwise.
Certainly many Jews upheld the LXX and used it for their own purposes, most notably the Alexandrian Jews - especially Philo who regarded the translation as divinely inspired and the translators almost as prophets. It was also consistently cited by other Diaspora Jewry as scripture in pre-Christian times, was used and read in synagogues throughout the 6th century, and was (as implied earlier) used at Qumran in pre-Christian times similarly. I believe any later resentment of the LXX in later rabbinic writings is simply a reflection of anti-Christian bias, considering that the Septuagint was used almost as a standard text by the early church.
F.F.Bruce in giving reason for the LLX’s being highly disparaged in certain rabbinical writings later on, states in his book The books and the Parchments:
“From the first century onwards Christians adopted it as their version of the Old Testament and used it freely in their propagation and defense of the Christian faith.”
Regarding, "what specific Hebrew words of the Bible originally meant, and the range or restriction of their intended implications and applications etc.," we rely on our Sages, who pass on the traditions that they have received from their teachers, who received them from their teachers, etc., all the way back to the people who actually wrote the books and/or were there at the timeGÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Â¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Âª Insofar as we're talking about linguistics, textual interpretation, etymology, idiom, etc., we would humbly submit that this is more than sufficient.
Well how exactly are you approaching this: from a confessional perspective or an academic one?
Approaching this issue academically and hence as impartially as I could, I would definitely consider the pre-Christian Jewish traditions an essential contextual factor for consideration, though not sufficient and certainly not “more than sufficient”. As a man of faith, the jewish traditions are irrelevant to me, and I would submit that my church traditions are more than sufficient in the interpretation of scriptures.
To go further; as an academic student I would argue that my church traditions are objectively justifiable when considered amongst the many other contextual factors that would need to be taken into account for a non-confessional objective exegesis.
So to provide a specific example therefore; I would as a man of faith submit that the almah of Isaiah 7:14 may and does refer to a Virgin, and as an academic student I would submit that Isaiah 7:14 certainly may and probably does refer to a virgin. The former is based primarily upon St Matthew’s understanding of it, which of course I believe to be a divinely enlightened one, and the church fathers affirmation of this, which I believe to be a divinely guided one. The latter would be based upon many contextual factors INCLUDING the fact that this is how the Septuagint interprets it.