Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Adventures in the Septuagint

 

Let’s look at a few adventures in Bible exploration using the Septuagint (LXX), the ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament. (For online access to the LXX, consider here or here.)

But why study the LXX? I’m glad you asked. It’s customary to say that the LXX is important because it’s the OT translation most used by the authors of the New Testament. That’s not wrong, but it can be misleading. I don’t think the NT authors took the LXX to be divinely inspired; when they draw from the OT, they draw from the Hebrew. But they’re writing in Greek, the common tongue of their era, and they don’t see any need to reinvent the wheel. So they usually opt to use the pre-existing Greek biblical vocabulary and idioms, and that means using the LXX.

So the LXX is important for understanding what the NT does with Hebrew. That’s helpful to losers like me: The Hebrew language is the largest tract in the vast fields of my ignorance, but with some Greek abilities and the LXX, I can trace more connections from the OT to the NT even without knowing any Hebrew.

The LXX is also an interesting glimpse into the Old Testament beyond what you get from modern translations alone. As the translation ancient Jews made of the sacred writings and which was studied by any number of Greek-speaking Jews in the diaspora for centuries, the LXX matters.

Of course, it has other uses. It might be good literature in its own right. In the event of an ambiguity between the Masoretic Text and the Dead Sea Scrolls on the working of the OT, the LXX is one place to look for a tie-breaker. It has sometimes been treated as equal to the original Hebrew. Etc., etc.

Anyway, let’s do this.

The Two Greatest Commandments

From Matthew 22: “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your G-d with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Genesis 1:26: Then G-d said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

The second commandment is “like” the first one. That word is homoios. Man is made in the image of G-d, after G-d’s “likeness.” That word is homoiosis. The words are a bit different: One is a noun for “likeness” and the other is an adjective meaning “like” or “resembles.” The noun homoiosis appears to be non-symmetrical: When it says that A is like B, it does not say that B is also like A. The adjective homoios appears to be flexible; it can have a non-symmetrical meaning, denoting the likeness of A to B, or the symmetrical meaning “of equal rank.”

But there is obviously a connection in meaning here, and the words have a common root.

More to the point, it’s likely that Matthew’s use of homoios is meant to connect to the LXX homoiosis (and that Jesus used Hebrew or Aramaic words pointing to the original text in the Torah).

In other words, the command to love our neighbor is like the command to love G-d because the neighbor is made in the likeness of G-d. The love of G-d leads to the love of neighbor because the likeness of the glory of G-d extends to the neighbor (Psalm 8). The right treatment of humanity matters because honoring G-d matters.

The Image of G-d and Idolatry

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ ” (Genesis 1:26)

“You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them . . . .” (Exodus 20:4)

In the LXX, the word “image” in Genesis 1:26 is eikon, the root of the English “icon.” The word “image” in Exodus 20:4 is eidolon, a very different word and the root of the English “idol.” The word “likeness” in the first passage is our old friend homoiosis, and “likeness” in the second passage is its relative, homoioma.

How many lessons are here? Probably too many to cover without writing a whole book. (Do I look like I have that kind of time?) But here are a couple.

We are not to make for ourselves an image of G-d. That would be idolatry, and sin. G-d made His own image on earth, and we are to honor it. What, after all, do the Ten Commandments say? You shall have no other gods, you shall not make an idol, and you shall treat your neighbor properly. When we do so we know G-d better by knowing the image he himself gave us for knowing him: man, who is no idol, but may perhaps be understood as something like an icon.

The Assembly

John 6:12-13:

And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten.

The word for “gather” here is sunago, to assemble or, literally, to gather together. This word is (obviously) the source of the word synagogeh, from which comes our English synagogue. In the LXX translation of the Torah, sunago is used rather a lot. One important case is Exodus 3:16:  “Go and gather (sunago) the elders of Israel together and say to them, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, has appeared to me, saying, “I have observed you and what has been done to you in Egypt, . . .” ‘ .”

Meanwhile, Exodus 35 uses synagogue to refer to the congregation or the assembly of Israel–those gathered together by G-d through Moses.

Note the number: twelve. The disciples of Jesus are gathering together a remnant of the bread, a remnant organized into twelve groups. Literally, they are synagoguing a remnant of twelve groups.

This is a symbol. Of course, John is telling us that this is what the disciples did that day. But he is also giving us a symbolic depiction of his ecclesiology–his theology of G-d’s people.

A few more notes before we can say exactly what John is saying about that. There are five loaves of barleykrithinos. Click on the word to learn that it only appears in the New Testament in this passage, but barley loaves are super-important in the last three verses of 2 Kings 4. There Elishah multiplies twenty loaves of barley, krithinos in the LXX, to feed 100 men.

One obvious point here is that John is linking Jesus to the earlier blessings under the ministry of Elishah. The same G-d is visiting his people and blessing them again, and this time someone greater than Elishah has been sent–with a bigger version of the same miracle–15 loaves fewer but 4,900 more men!

Another lesson John is after is that Jesus is drawn out of the Old Testament: The early prophets were all leading up to this. G-d’s people are the people of the Tanakh (the Old Testament), and the G-d who blessed them in the time of Elishah is still doing so.

John probably intends another layer of symbolism with the word artos, “bread.” This is a word used in the LXX version of Exodus 16 referring to manna, and again in Psalm 78:25. Jesus refers to himself later in chapter 6 as the true manna. Manna is prominent in the narrative of the Torah, also called the Pentateuch–the five books. There are five loaves, standing for the five books. The disciples of Jesus literally synagogued twelve baskets of fragments ek tohn pente arton, out of the five loaves.

G-d’s people are the people of the Torah (and the Psalms), and the G-d who organized them with a blessing of bread from heaven is doing so again, and Jesus’ followers have the responsibility of gathering up those from the Torah who are faithful to its promises.

One more layer of symbolism: the fragments, the klasmata. This URL tells us how the word is used in the LXX. Not that we have time to be thorough, but note how the fragments in Leviticus 2:6 and Leviticus 6:21 are to be handled with great care as offerings to G-d. Note the contrast with certain religious leaders in Ezekiel 13:19, who dishonor G-d among His people in return “for handfuls of barley and for pieces of bread” (using the same word for fragments and bread, and almost the same word for barley).

Fragments of food as an offering to G-d are to be handled with care and reverence as part of our worship of G-d. Instead, some people are using G-d and man as a means to the end of claiming the fragments for themselves.

That’s the contrast between the requirements in the Torah and the corruption exposed by Ezekiel. But what about the apostles in John?

Well, Jesus gives them the job of caring for the fragments “that nothing may be lost.” Since the fragments go into twelve baskets representing G-d’s people, this is a symbol of their responsibility to care for G-d’s people, and to do it better than the corrupt leadership that does not love G-d’s people properly (Matthew 23, e.g.).

Summary: John is saying this: Jesus is having his disciples reorganize G-d’s people, starting with the remnant of Jewish Tanakh-believers (with Gentiles to be added later; John 10:16). G-d’s people are the people of the Tanakh, and the same G-d who organized them under Moses in the Torah and continued to bless them under Elishah in the Prophets is still blessing them and reorganizing them under Jesus.

“Now Let Us Hear the Conclusion of the Matter”

Oh, wait–were you expecting a conclusion? I don’t think I have one.

Except this: The LXX is important, especially in that it helps to clarify the New Testament’s commentary on the Old–and not only on the LXX itself, but on the Hebrew by means of the LXX.

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  1. JoelB Member

    It is fascinating to consider the depth of the truths not only in the body of the writing, but in the very words from which it is made. It is providential how a translation was already available when it was time to take the message to the world. This brief article contains a lot to think about and apply. Thank you for sharing this information. I look forward to seeing more like this in the future.

    • #1
    • March 10, 2020, at 5:34 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  2. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine

    JoelB (View Comment):
    Thank you for sharing this information. I look forward to seeing more like this in the future.

    Thanks for reading!

    I hope I have more like this in the future. At the moment I have nothing at all!

    (Well, the last post on the Sermon on the Mount maybe counts. So I have something in the past.)

    • #2
    • March 10, 2020, at 5:38 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  3. SkipSul Coolidge
    SkipSulJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Some additional resources:

    https://blogs.ancientfaith.com/nootherfoundation/reflections-on-the-septuagint/

    https://blogs.ancientfaith.com/wholecounsel/2017/12/01/septuagint-orthodox-old-testament/

    https://www.ancientfaith.com/podcasts/searchthescriptures/introduction_to_the_bible_lesson_8_the_septuagint

    • #3
    • March 10, 2020, at 6:47 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  4. Stad Coolidge

    In Bart Ehrman’s Great Courses lectures on Christianity, he touches on the issue of translation. Do you go full literal (essentially word for word) going from the source language to the target language, or do you translate the meanings of idioms and expressions into the target’s idioms and expressions? Or do you go somewhere inbetween? Do you try to make it a literary work like the King James version?

    These choices are important, such as whether you mean “Thou Shalt Not Kill” or “Thou Shalt Not Murder.” (Hint: it’s murder.)

    • #4
    • March 10, 2020, at 6:49 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  5. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    Some additional resources:

    https://blogs.ancientfaith.com/nootherfoundation/reflections-on-the-septuagint/

    https://blogs.ancientfaith.com/wholecounsel/2017/12/01/septuagint-orthodox-old-testament/

    https://www.ancientfaith.com/podcasts/searchthescriptures/introduction_to_the_bible_lesson_8_the_septuagint

    That Whole Counsel guy is great.

    • #5
    • March 10, 2020, at 6:50 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  6. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine

    Stad (View Comment):

    In Bart Ehrman’s Great Courses lectures on Christianity, he touches on the issue of translation. Do you go full literal (essentially word for word) going from the source language to the target language, or do you translate the meanings of idioms and expressions into the target’s idioms and expressions? Or do you go somewhere inbetween? Do you try to make it a literary work like the King James version?

    These choices are important, such as whether you mean “Thou Shalt Not Kill” or “Thou Shalt Not Murder.” (Hint: it’s murder.)

    I’d go in between, leaning towards literal. Use footnotes to clarify the bigger issues.

    • #6
    • March 10, 2020, at 6:51 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  7. Amy Schley, Longcat Shrinker Moderator

    Stad (View Comment):
    These choices are important, such as whether you mean “Thou Shalt Not Kill” or “Thou Shalt Not Murder.” (Hint: it’s murder.)

    Not to mention the way a language can evolve over time, necessitating “translation” from the version four centuries ago. At that time, “kill” meant “murder” while “slay” was the generic term for causing someone to die. 

    • #7
    • March 10, 2020, at 6:56 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  8. SkipSul Coolidge
    SkipSulJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    Some additional resources:

    https://blogs.ancientfaith.com/nootherfoundation/reflections-on-the-septuagint/

    https://blogs.ancientfaith.com/wholecounsel/2017/12/01/septuagint-orthodox-old-testament/

    https://www.ancientfaith.com/podcasts/searchthescriptures/introduction_to_the_bible_lesson_8_the_septuagint

    That Whole Counsel guy is great.

    Fr. Farley is also good here in that first link where he notes some of the translation decisions by the Septuagint writers. He has had other notes on the Masoretic texts too where things were, you might say, “re-corrected”. His conclusion, and it is a conclusion shared by others, is that both the LXX and Masoretic texts need to be read side by side because they both have quirks at different points.

    • #8
    • March 10, 2020, at 7:05 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  9. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    Fr. Farley is also good here in that first link where he notes some of the translation decisions by the Septuagint writers. He has had other notes on the Masoretic texts too where things were, you might say, “re-corrected”. His conclusion, and it is a conclusion shared by others, is that both the LXX and Masoretic texts need to be read side by side because they both have quirks at different points.

    Thanks. Will hope to read tomorrow.

    • #9
    • March 10, 2020, at 7:06 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  10. Stad Coolidge

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    In Bart Ehrman’s Great Courses lectures on Christianity, he touches on the issue of translation. Do you go full literal (essentially word for word) going from the source language to the target language, or do you translate the meanings of idioms and expressions into the target’s idioms and expressions? Or do you go somewhere inbetween? Do you try to make it a literary work like the King James version?

    These choices are important, such as whether you mean “Thou Shalt Not Kill” or “Thou Shalt Not Murder.” (Hint: it’s murder.)

    I’d go in between, leaning towards literal. Use footnotes to clarify the bigger issues.

    Then murder it is. It’s not a sin to kill an enemy in wartime, or someone trying to harm you or your family. It’s also not a sin to execute a condemned criminal, although I’d argue the crime he commited should be murder, not shoplifting. (An eye for an eye means the punishment should fit the crime. It used to be taken literally, but not any more.)

    • #10
    • March 10, 2020, at 7:11 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  11. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member

    Stad (View Comment):

    In Bart Ehrman’s Great Courses lectures on Christianity, he touches on the issue of translation. Do you go full literal (essentially word for word) going from the source language to the target language, or do you translate the meanings of idioms and expressions into the target’s idioms and expressions? Or do you go somewhere inbetween? Do you try to make it a literary work like the King James version?

    These choices are important, such as whether you mean “Thou Shalt Not Kill” or “Thou Shalt Not Murder.” (Hint: it’s murder.)

    I have a note of caution about Ehrman. He is not a believer, and is quite hostile to Christianity in his conclusions, though generally not hostile in his tone. I do not object to a critic, but his view might not be clearly disclosed. I don’t know if this is true of the Great Courses series, but it is strange for such a course to be taught by an unbeliever — it’s something like a course on Darwinism being taught by a Creationist.

    Many years ago, as a new believer, I started listening to a lecture series by Ehrman on the apocrypha, and it wasn’t until I was about 2 disks in that I realized that he was not a believer.

    Ehrman does seem pretty good on the question of the historicity of the New Testament, in the sense that he accepts the more modern scholarship indicating quite early dates of composition.

    • #11
    • March 10, 2020, at 9:09 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  12. Stad Coolidge

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):
    I have a note of caution about Ehrman. He is not a believer, and is quite hostile to Christianity in his conclusions, though generally not hostile in his tone.

    He used to be Christian, but finally succumbed to the Theodicy issue and fell out of faith. His lectures on Christianity are outstanding, and they helped me understand my faith better.

    • #12
    • March 10, 2020, at 10:09 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  13. iWe Coolidge
    iWeJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Saint Augustine: In [other[ words, the command to love our neighbor is like the command to love G-d because the neighbor is made in the likeness of G-d.

    I agree with the broad conclusion: but the logic is wrong because the language is totally disconnected. “Like” and “Likeness” in the Torah share no common root.

    Saint Augustine:

    The Image of G-d and Idolatry

    “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ ” (Genesis 1:26)

    “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them . . . .” (Exodus 20:4)

    Similar problem. The “likenesses” are the same root word – so that is right. But the word for “image” is totally different. 

     

    Maybe I am missing the point of the post. If what you really want to say is that the Greek aligns, and you draw conclusions from that alone, then I will cheerfully withdraw and leave you to it.

    • #13
    • March 10, 2020, at 10:38 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  14. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron MillerJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    In Bart Ehrman’s Great Courses lectures on Christianity, he touches on the issue of translation. Do you go full literal (essentially word for word) going from the source language to the target language, or do you translate the meanings of idioms and expressions into the target’s idioms and expressions? Or do you go somewhere inbetween? Do you try to make it a literary work like the King James version?

    These choices are important, such as whether you mean “Thou Shalt Not Kill” or “Thou Shalt Not Murder.” (Hint: it’s murder.)

    I’d go in between, leaning towards literal. Use footnotes to clarify the bigger issues.

    How should one translate the Psalms? It’s like translating poetry or song lyrics. The literal meaning is never the full meaning, and sometimes even secondary. 

    In Christianity, the Bible is an extension of Christ the Logos as filtered through divinely inspired thoughts and translations. Thus, Biblical texts represent both the practicality and the beauty of truth. The beauty and layers of meaning cannot be set aside. 

    I prefer different translations for different passages. It’s good to study many so long as one humbly remembers the need of expertise and tradition. As the Lord creates endless human personalities to express His goodness, so there will always be further translations and expositions to illuminate His teachings. Creation is basically intelligible, but deeper and grander than we will ever fully know.

    • #14
    • March 10, 2020, at 3:10 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  15. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine

    Stad (View Comment):

    Then murder it is. It’s not a sin to kill an enemy in wartime, or someone trying to harm you or your family. It’s also not a sin to execute a condemned criminal, although I’d argue the crime he commited should be murder, not shoplifting. (An eye for an eye means the punishment should fit the crime. It used to be taken literally, but not any more.)

    Yep.

    • #15
    • March 10, 2020, at 5:03 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  16. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    I have a note of caution about Ehrman. . . .

    Yep.

    Ehrman does seem pretty good on the question of the historicity of the New Testament, in the sense that he accepts the more modern scholarship indicating quite early dates of composition.

    That does matter.

    • #16
    • March 10, 2020, at 5:03 PM PDT
    • Like
  17. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):
    How should one translate the Psalms?

    No idea. Maybe a little less literally. I don’t know.

    • #17
    • March 10, 2020, at 5:04 PM PDT
    • Like
  18. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine

    iWe (View Comment):

    Similar problem. The “likenesses” are the same root word – so that is right. But the word for “image” is totally different.

    Great. And they are totally different in the Greek, which I said. (I’ll see if I can make that a bit clearer.)

    Saint Augustine: In [other[ words, the command to love our neighbor is like the command to love G-d because the neighbor is made in the likeness of G-d.

    I agree with the broad conclusion: but the logic is wrong because the language is totally disconnected. “Like” and “Likeness” in the Torah share no common root.

    . . .

    Maybe I am missing the point of the post. If what you really want to say is that the Greek aligns, and you draw conclusions from that alone, then I will cheerfully withdraw and leave you to it.

    Good to know they’re different in the Torah! I hope I remember that.

    Yeah, you’re largely missing the point. I’m not drawing anything from the Hebrew because–as I said–I don’t know it. This is all drawn from the Greek.

    In this particular case, the LXX is interesting because it clarifies Yeshua’s commentary on the Torah.

    • #18
    • March 10, 2020, at 5:13 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  19. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member

    Stad (View Comment):

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):
    I have a note of caution about Ehrman. He is not a believer, and is quite hostile to Christianity in his conclusions, though generally not hostile in his tone.

    He used to be Christian, but finally succumbed to the Theodicy issue and fell out of faith. His lectures on Christianity are outstanding, and they helped me understand my faith better.

    Now let’s not get started with the debate over whether a believer can lose his salvation. From John 10:

     24The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”

    25Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, 26but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all ; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30I and the Father are one.”

    Now “snatch” in verse 28 is the Greek word harpasei, and in verse 29 it is harpazein, which are variants of harpazo which means “to seize, catch up, snatch away” or maybe “seize by force, but I have no idea whether it is used in the LXX, and I can’t figure it out because the nifty link that St. A gave us allows searches, but they are accents sensitive and require use of the Greek Polytonic Keyboard. So I must peter out and admit that it is all Greek to me.

    In all seriousness, I have heard that Ehrman previously professed to be a believer, and I don’t know whether or not he was sincere. I would not necessarily attribute a change in profession of belief to the theodicy problem, even if he has claimed this, because human motivations are often inscrutable, even to ourselves.

    • #19
    • March 10, 2020, at 7:48 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  20. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):
    . . . but I have no idea whether it is used in the LXX, and I can’t figure it out because the nifty link that St. A gave us allows searches, but they are accents sensitive and require use of the Greek Polytonic Keyboard. So I must peter out and admit that it is all Greek to me.

    Ha! That’s good: Peter’s not so good at Greek.

    You might be able to find that sort of thing by searching the Strong’s number as a once-in-a-while workaround. Google “Greek harpazo,” and you find this, telling us it’s # 726 in Strong’s Concordance.

    Then Google “# 726 in the septuagint,” and you can find this.

    • #20
    • March 10, 2020, at 7:54 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  21. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine

    Saint Augustine:

    So the LXX is important for understanding what the NT does with Hebrew. That’s helpful to losers like me: The Hebrew language is the largest tract in the vast fields of my ignorance, but with some Greek abilities and the LXX, I can trace more connections from the OT to the NT even without knowing any Hebrew.

    The LXX is also an interesting glimpse into the Old Testament beyond what you get from modern translations alone. As the translation ancient Jews made of the sacred writings and which was studied by any number of Greek-speaking Jews in the diaspora for centuries, the LXX matters.

    Of course, it has other uses. It might be good literature in its own right. In the event of an ambiguity between the Masoretic Text and the Dead Sea Scrolls on the working of the OT, the LXX is one place to look for a tie-breaker. It has sometimes been treated as equal to the original Hebrew. Etc., etc.

    Also, @iwe and some others around here probably think of the OT/Tanakh as ending in the book of Chronicles. That’s following the arrangement of the Masoretic Text tradition. (Is that right?)

    In Christian circles we usually think of the OT as ending in Malachi (not counting Apocrypha/Deuterocanon). I believe that’s because of how the LXX books were arranged.

    So there’s another reason the LXX matters historically: It’s why the OT books are ordered the way they are in modern Bibles.

    Sometimes I think Christians should have some editions of the Bible with the OT arranged Masoretically; that’s the OT arrangement Jesus used, and it helps to clarify the occasional NT reference. (E.g., here, where I believe the reference is to prophets from Genesis to 2 Chronicles, from the beginning of the OT to the end.)

    • #21
    • March 10, 2020, at 8:03 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  22. Stad Coolidge

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):
    I have a note of caution about Ehrman. He is not a believer, and is quite hostile to Christianity in his conclusions, though generally not hostile in his tone.

    He used to be Christian, but finally succumbed to the Theodicy issue and fell out of faith. His lectures on Christianity are outstanding, and they helped me understand my faith better.

    Now let’s not get started with the debate over whether a believer can lose his salvation. From John 10:

    24The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”

    25Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, 26but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all ; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30I and the Father are one.”

    Now “snatch” in verse 28 is the Greek word harpasei, and in verse 29 it is harpazein, which are variants of harpazo which means “to seize, catch up, snatch away” or maybe “seize by force, but I have no idea whether it is used in the LXX, and I can’t figure it out because the nifty link that St. A gave us allows searches, but they are accents sensitive and require use of the Greek Polytonic Keyboard. So I must peter out and admit that it is all Greek to me.

    In all seriousness, I have heard that Ehrman previously professed to be a believer, and I don’t know whether or not he was sincere. I would not necessarily attribute a change in profession of belief to the theodicy problem, even if he has claimed this, because human motivations are often inscrutable, even to ourselves.

    Not knowing Ehrman personally, I’m going to take what he says at face value.

    • #22
    • March 11, 2020, at 6:04 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  23. SkipSul Coolidge
    SkipSulJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):
    Sometimes I think Christians should have some editions of the Bible with the OT arranged Masoretically; that’s the OT arrangement Jesus used, and it helps to clarify the occasional NT reference. (E.g., here, where I believe the reference is to prophets from Genesis to 2 Chronicles, from the beginning of the OT to the end.)

    Given that the Masoretic texts, as they currently are understood, were a product of late antiquity (7th-10th centuries AD), this is incorrect. The most common texts in circulation in the early 1st century were the Septuagint texts (much of what Jesus and the Apostles quote is from the LXX text), and this was in no small part because Greek was, practically speaking, the linga franca of trade. Now that’s not to say that other Hebrew texts were not available and circulating at that time, but the LXX texts were the most widely known, even as re-translations back into Hebrew. It is important to understand that the Masoretic texts were in no small part an effort to correct and re-Judaize the LXX (critics have noted, for instance, that the Masoretic at times appears to downplay or obscure LXX passages that were more explicitly messianic) and bring Hebrew back as the common tongue of the Diaspora – Hebrew having entered into a decline over the prior centuries. It’s something of a historical curiosity that the Muslim conquest of so much of the Christian world led to a revival of Hebrew, but with the imposition of Arabic, and its displacing of Greek, Aramaic, and Coptic in the lands of conquest, Hebrew became the easiest way for Jews to communicate and trade between the Christian and Islamic lands.

    • #23
    • March 11, 2020, at 9:00 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  24. SkipSul Coolidge
    SkipSulJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):
    Now let’s not get started with the debate over whether a believer can lose his salvation.

    You say that, and then proceed directly to trying to start a proof text debate anyway.

    • #24
    • March 11, 2020, at 9:01 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  25. iWe Coolidge
    iWeJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    SkipSul (View Comment):
    Given that the Masoretic texts, as they currently are understood, were a product of late antiquity (7th-10th centuries AD), this is incorrect.

    This is at least an oversimplification. Jews believe the Five Books are complete by the end of the time in the wilderness. The archaeological evidence shows the Torah in written Hebrew form as far back as we can see. The Dead Sea Scrolls, the Cairo Geniza, etc. The Five Books are where things are firmest. The latest in the Codex (like Jonah and Job and Daniel) are the dodgiest. 

    There is no doubt that the Septuagint was hugely important for Christianity, and for Jews who did not know Hebrew. But it forms no part of Jewish biblical exegesis. As you may have gleaned from my writings, the Torah itself defines the Hebrew by the way in which it uses it. No translation can begin to capture the spectrum of meanings contained within the Hebrew.

    • #25
    • March 11, 2020, at 9:32 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  26. SkipSul Coolidge
    SkipSulJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    iWe (View Comment):
    This is at least an oversimplification

    Agreed – there are entire scholarly works on the histories and textual samples of the Torah, and 1 paragraph hardly does them justice.

    iWe (View Comment):
    Jews believe the Five Books are complete by the end of the time in the wilderness. The archaeological evidence shows the Torah in written Hebrew form as far back as we can see. The Dead Sea Scrolls, the Cairo Geniza, etc. The Five Books are where things are firmest. The latest in the Codex (like Jonah and Job and Daniel) are the dodgiest. 

    Right, I wasn’t disputing that. But it’s still possible that scribal errors existed in textual copies now long lost to us. As I understand it, one of the chief innovations of the Masoretic school was to systematize the copying rules such that errors henceforth were difficult to make, and easy to spot, an innovation that would not have been deemed necessary if there had not been such a problem prior to that. It’s not as though Hebrew writing emerged fully formed and remained unaltered in the 2000 years prior to that.

    iWe (View Comment):
    There is no doubt that the Septuagint was hugely important for Christianity, and for Jews who did not know Hebrew. But it forms no part of Jewish biblical exegesis.

    Not for the last 13 centuries since the Masoretic became authoritative, of course, but prior to that? That’s a more debatable point.

    • #26
    • March 11, 2020, at 10:09 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  27. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine

    iWe (View Comment):
    There is no doubt that the Septuagint was hugely important for Christianity, and for Jews who did not know Hebrew. But it forms no part of Jewish biblical exegesis.

    Christianity is Jewish biblical exegesis, or at least the New Testament itself is Jewish biblical exegesis.

    And you literally claim here that all those “Jews who did not know Hebrew” were not doing any “Jewish biblical exegesis.” Not to mention the extreme improbability that Philo never consulted the LXX, and that no modern Jewish scholar ever consults it if the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Masoretic Text point in different directions.

    So you must have in mind some technical sense of the term “Jewish biblical exegesis.”

    Is it something like what Skipsul suggests about the most recent 13 centuries?

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    Not for the last 13 centuries since the Masoretic became authoritative, of course, but prior to that? That’s a more debatable point.

    • #27
    • March 11, 2020, at 3:55 PM PDT
    • Like
  28. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    You say that, and then proceed directly to trying to start a proof text debate anyway.

    And yet explicitly not “In all seriousness.”

    • #28
    • March 11, 2020, at 3:57 PM PDT
    • Like
  29. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    Given that the Masoretic texts, as they currently are understood, were a product of late antiquity (7th-10th centuries AD), this is incorrect. . . . It is important to understand that the Masoretic texts were in no small part an effort to correct and re-Judaize the LXX (critics have noted, for instance, that the Masoretic at times appears to downplay or obscure LXX passages that were more explicitly messianic) and bring Hebrew back as the common tongue of the Diaspora – Hebrew having entered into a decline over the prior centuries.

    So was I understating things a bit here?

    Saint Augustine: In the event of an ambiguity between the Masoretic Text and the Dead Sea Scrolls on the working of the OT, the LXX is one place to look for a tie-breaker.

    • #29
    • March 11, 2020, at 3:58 PM PDT
    • Like
  30. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):
    Now let’s not get started with the debate over whether a believer can lose his salvation.

    You say that, and then proceed directly to trying to start a proof text debate anyway.

    Yeah, but did’t you see how I was actually aiming at my (perhaps lame) punch line — “I must peter out and admit that it is all Greek to me.”

    • #30
    • March 11, 2020, at 4:19 PM PDT
    • 2 likes