Why do we use the Masoretic over the Septuagint?

From Teach The Net
Revision as of 08:46, 8 May 2019 by Emeth (talk | contribs) (Jews)
Jump to: navigation, search


Orthodox Christian


In the "Encyrlical of the Eastern Patriarchs" of 1848, which was a reply to the epistle of Pope Pius IX, "To The Easterns," the Patriarchs of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem, along with the other assembled bishops stated: "Our Church holds the infallible and genuine deposit of the Holy Scriptures: of the Old Testament a true and perfect version, of the New the divine original itself." And so we have always held that the Septuagint is the authoritative version of the Old Testament.
...the basis of the Old Testament text in the Orthodox tradition is the Septuagint, a Greek translation by the "seventy interpreters" made in the third to second centuries BCE for the Alexandrian Hebrews and the Jewish diaspora. The authority of the Septuagint is based on three factors. First of all, though the Greek text is not the original language of the Old Testament books, the Septuagint does reflect the state of the original text as it would have been found in the third to second centuries BCE, while the current Hebrew text of the Bible, which is called the "Masoretic," was edited up until the eighth century CE. Second, some of the citations taken from the Old Testament and found in the New mainly use the Septuagint text. Third, the Septuagint was used by both the Greek Fathers of the Church, and Orthodox liturgical services (in other words, this text became part of the Orthodox church Tradition). Taking into account the three factors enumerated above, St. Philaret of Moscow considers it possible to maintain that "in the Orthodox teaching of Holy Scripture it is necessary to attribute a dogmatic merit to the Translation of the Seventy, in some cases placing it on equal level with the original and even elevating it above the Hebrew text, as is generally accepted in the most recent editions (Orthodox Christianity, Volume II: Doctrine and Teaching of the Orthodox Church, (New York: St. Vladimir Seminary Press, 2012) p. 34).
There was a time when many Protestant scholars assumed that the Septuagint was an often loose translation of the Hebrew text, and that when it differed from the Masoretic Text, it was due to changes made by the translators. However, since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, we now know that the Septuagint is based on a different, and older Hebrew text than the Masoretic text.
The Hebrew Text that has served as the basis for most translations of the Old Testament into English is based almost entirely on the Leningrad Codex, which dates from 1008 A.D. In comparison to the textual evidence that we have for the New Testament Greek text, this is a very late manuscript. It is an example of the Masoretic recension, which is usually dated to have been shaped between the 6th and 10th centuries A.D. This is well after the Septuagint was translated (3rd century before Christ), the Peshitta (1st and 2nd Centuries A.D.), or the Latin Vulgate (4th Century A.D.). According to Christian tradition, the non-Christian Jews began making changes in the Old Testament text to undercut the Christian use of Old Testament prophecies concerning the coming of Christ. In any case, the Hebrew Text that we now have was preserved outside the Church. The Septuagint and Peshitta texts were preserved within the Church, and so the Church believes that the text of the Old Testament was been authoritatively preserved in these textual traditions.
The Septuagint text is the text that the Church has preserved. The Masoretic text is a text that has not been preserved by the Church, and so while it is worthy of study and comparison, it is not equally trustworthy.

random comment
You forgot that the greek Septuagint is the only one that gives accurate ages from Ham up to Abraham, because Jews bumped 100 years off all the ages to make Jesus's geneology in the gospels almost impossible for him to be a descendent of priesthood. Also in all other versions than the Septuagint, it would only allow roughly 1,700 people to be alive by the time of the Tower of Babel with these age changes. Read Chronicles and do the math. Impossible for the Tower of Babel to be true at all in any version but Septuagint -Sadly jews think no one really reads the current translations, and most people dont and prove them right.

Orthodox Christian thoughts on Prots

Certain Protestant Christians have adopted a doctrine called “plenary verbal inspiration,�? that “the Bible is the word of God . . . that its very words are God’s own words, and that it must be accurate because God cannot err�? (Hart, The Dictionary of Historical Theology, p. 198). Given this — and as a former Protestant — I find it surprising that such convictions have not led Protestants to adopt the Septuagint as their primary (or even preferred) OT, since the authors of the NT use it almost exclusively. If their writings are absent of “errors,�? then their use of the LXX must be seen as part of this verbal inspiration, must it not? However, with the exception of some in the scholarly community, there is a relative ignorance (or apathy) with regards to the LXX across the broadest spectrum of Protestant Christianity today.


There are only five citations in the New Testament where a text identical to the Masoretic Text today is cited over-and-against the Septuagint tradition 
Claimed here: https://web.archive.org/web/20141130091037/https://blogs.ancientfaith.com/onbehalfofall/is-the-septuagint-a-divinely-inspired-translation/

Early Church

Saint Justin Martyr As noted by St. Justin, the miraculous events surrounding the translation of the Torah into Greek led even Ptolemy II Philadelphius to see the translation as being done “by divine power,�? concluding that they were themselves “divine�? writings.

Saint Irenaeus of Lyons Of the translation, he writes “God was indeed glorified, and the Scriptures were acknowledged as truly divine

Saint Cyril of Jerusalem Here St. Cyril ascribes the work “of the Holy Spirit�? to the translation

Saint Augustine of Hippo As to the differences between the Hebrew and the Greek, Augustine ascribes divine inspiration to both, while also describing some of the careful, comparative textual work being done in his day (City of God, 18.43.1):



Scribal emendations – Tikkune Soferim
Early rabbinic sources, from around 200 CE, mention several passages of Scripture in which the conclusion is inevitable that the ancient reading must have differed from that of the present text. . . . Rabbi Simon ben Pazzi (3rd century) calls these readings “emendations of the Scribes” (tikkune Soferim; Midrash Genesis Rabbah xlix. 7), assuming that the Scribes actually made the changes. This view was adopted by the later Midrash and by the majority of Masoretes.

"original text"

If Moses were to see a copy of the Masoretic Text, he wouldn’t be able to read it.
As discussed in this recent post, the original Old Testament scriptures were written in Paleo-Hebrew, a text closely related to the ancient Phonecian writing system.
The Masoretic Text is written with an alphabet which was borrowed from Assyria (Persia) around the 6th-7th century B.C., and is almost 1000 years newer than the form of writing used by Moses, David, and most of the Old Testament authors.
For thousands of years, ancient Hebrew was only written with consonants, no vowels. When reading these texts, they had to supply all of the vowels from memory, based on oral tradition.

Thus it was not just a preservation, but a translation itself.

The vowel points added a commentary into and unto themselves.

Adam Clarke, an 18th Century Protestant scholar, demonstrates that the vowel-point system is actually a running commentary which was incorporated into the text itself. In the General Preface of his biblical commentary published in 1810, Clarke writes:

“The Masorets were the most extensive Jewish commentators which that nation could ever boast. The system of punctuation, probably invented by them, is a continual gloss on the Law and the Prophets; their vowel points, and prosaic and metrical accents, &c., give every word to which they are affixed a peculiar kind of meaning, which in their simple state, multitudes of them can by no means bear. The vowel points alone add whole conjugations to the language. This system is one of the most artificial, particular, and extensive comments ever written on the Word of God; for there is not one word in the Bible that is not the subject of a particular gloss through its influence.”

Very similar to the Greek Mary of Clopas and James of Alphaeus issue.