This is the second in a series attempting to nuance the statement, “The Bible says…” The first in this series introduced textual criticism.
The Septuagint (LXX)
Many people when they say, “The Bible says…” go on to quote an English translation of the Hebrew Old Testament. Eastern Orthodox and others, however, do not do this. They are quoting from the Greek Old Testament, the Septuagint. The Septuagint is the Koine Greek version of the Hebrew Bible.
In fact, by far, the majority of quotes in the New Testament are not from the Hebrew Old Testament, but from the Septuagint (See a more detailed analysis here). The New Testament also quotes from and alludes to books in the Septuagint that are not in the Hebrew Old Testament. Early Christians also continued to use the Septuagint. Philo and Josephus attributed divine inspiration to its authors.
It appears that the Septuagint was translated in stages between the 3rd and 2nd century BCE in Alexandria, into Koine Greek, the lingua franca of the eastern Mediterranean Basin from the time of Alexander the Great.
“The Bible says…” – but which text? The Hebrew one? Or the Greek Septuagint one? Remembering the preference for the Septuagint one by the New Testament writers, the early church, and the unbroken tradition of Orthodoxy… and the current majority use of the Hebrew one…
This series is to be continued…
- Why are there Two Different Numbers for the Same Psalm?
- A Mass by any other name 4
- It’s All Greek to Me
- The Bible – necessary but not sufficient