Why the Greek Septuagint?
Understand that we didn’t start out with the thought of creating an entire Bible, just with the intention of providing a more accurate and easier-to-read NT text. However, once that project was completed, we decided to go on and complete the OT portion. And we used the Septuagint text because:
1. No one here was qualified to translate the Hebrew and Aramaic texts (our expertise is ancient Greek)
2. We could find no accurate and easy-to-read English texts of the Septuagint, so we felt that providing one would offer another look at what Bible readers understood it to say more than two-thousand years ago.
But after starting this massive project, we were delighted with what we discovered. For though we had always believed that since the Hebrew and Aramaic texts were older, they were superior to the Greek texts… it soon became very clear that this isn’t true. What we found was that the available copies of the Septuagint are in fact older than the available Masoretic texts.
And as we were translating, we started to notice many significant errors in the existing Hebrew and Aramaic texts that have gone unnoticed by most people in western Christian religions (the Septuagint has always been the preferred text of the Eastern Orthodox religions).
Understand that, as we have found errors in the Hebrew text, we have also found many errors in the Greek Septuagint text (they become clear in translating). Yet, as it has been pointed out to us many times; when we translate from the Greek text, all we are providing is a translation of a translation, for the Septuagint was a translation from the ancient Hebrew text to begin with. Therefore, the wording can be no more accurate than the abilities of the purported seventy Jewish scholars who each translated a portion of the Ancient Scriptures of Israel into Greek to create the Septuagint. Also, there are several versions of the Septuagint that are available today, between which we have found some very significant differences.
However, we have also found that there are many major problems when it comes to the available Hebrew text, because the oldest versions of OT (those that are found in ‘the Dead Sea Scrolls’ that date to the 1st Century BCE) read more like the Septuagint! So, we must assume that the Hebrew text that the Septuagint translators used must have once read more like the Greek text… and that’s really the question! Because, since it is doubtful that Jesus and his Apostles read from Greek texts in their synagogues; it looks like the Hebrew texts they found there once read more like the Septuagint!
Another important thing to consider is that the Septuagint (or a Hebrew text that reads like it) appears to have been the OT Bible of preference for early Christians thereafter. In fact, history shows that as late as the Fifth Century CE, it was still the preferred OT portion of the Bible of all Christians.
Also, modern Jewish scholars reject the Septuagint (although it was translated by Jewish scholars to begin with), because they view it as a ‘Christian Bible’… which causes us to wonder why Christians ever got away from using this text that was so important to their predecessors and to Jesus’ Apostles.
So, why are most western-religion Bibles based on the
Masoretic text rather that the Septuagint? Notice this Wikipedia quotation
under the topic, Old Testament:
‘When Jerome undertook the revision of the Old Latin translations of the Septuagint in about 400 AD, he checked the Septuagint against the Hebrew text that was then available, and he came to believe that the Hebrew text better testified to Christ than the Septuagint. He broke with church tradition and translated most of the Old Testament of his Vulgate from Hebrew rather than Greek. His choice was severely criticized by Augustine, his contemporary, and others who regarded Jerome as a forger. But with the passage of time, acceptance of Jerome’s version gradually increased in the West until it displaced the Old Latin translations of the Septuagint.’
So, were Jerome’s reasons for preferring the Hebrew text to the
Greek text based on fact? No, for if you examine it, you’ll find that the opposite is true. Notice that the
same commentary goes on to say:
‘The Hebrew text differs in some passages that Christians hold to prophesy Christ.’
Then, why do Hebrew texts seem to differ from the Septuagint in messianic prophecies? It is obvious that the Jewish Masoretic-text copyists didn’t like prophesies that were fulfilled in Jesus… and this is why most Jews have considered the Septuagint to be a ‘Christian Bible’ to this day.
So, the reason why the Hebrew text (which was translated into Latin by Jerome for the benefit of the Latin-speaking western portion of the Catholic Church) is now preferred for translating the OT portion of most Western Christian Bibles is due to the mistake of Jerome. And because his early Latin translation then became the basis for the first English and Germanic Bibles, many have come to believe that the currently-available Hebrew text is superior to the Greek. Also, since all Protestant religions find their roots in Western Catholicism, their Bibles (such as the King James Version) have continued to use the existing Masoretic Hebrew text as their OT source, while the Greek-speaking Eastern Church has stayed with the Greek Septuagint.
However, notice that Jerome’s Latin OT text (which is between 300 and 700 years older) also passes on some of the same mistakes that are found in the current Masoretic text. So, we must assume that the Masoretes are not responsible for all of the changes to the Hebrew OT text.
Yet, we do know that the Masoretes are the ones that first started inserting the vowel points in the Hebrew text, which often results in a different pronunciation of names (for example) than are found in the much older Septuagint.
In addition; what we have found is that there are clearly many places in the current Hebrew text where the Name of God (יְהוָ֔ה) is incorrectly used! For if you read these texts, you will find that they are speaking of or quoting from someone other than The God (see the subheading, ‘Uses in the Hebrew Text Untrustworthy’ in the linked document, ‘Jehovah’). And this has caused us to wonder whether the original texts from which the Masoretic scribes copied used the Divine Name at all, for the Name isn’t found in Jerome’s Latin text, and there was no reason for his deleting it if it was truly in the Hebrew text that he was using at the time!
Of course, this doesn’t mean that we don’t accept the authenticity of the Divine Name; rather, we wonder if it had already been deleted from the texts that they were using and if they thereafter just inserted it wherever they thought it should have once been found. (We realize, of course, that those who still prefer to accept the supposed superiority of the available Hebrew text will disagree with us raising such a question).
Few people (other than Bible translators) understand the profound effect that the Septuagint has had on western Masoretic-text Bibles. For, even the names of many of the OT books (such as Genesis, Exodus, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Esther, etc.) are Greek pronunciations, not Hebrew. Also, many Bible names (such as Adam, Eve, David, etc.) show a Greek influence and pronunciation (see the Note Eue, Euan or Eve?). So, whether those who argue for the superiority of the Hebrew text like it or not; the Septuagint has had a strong impact on western Christian Bibles even when the text has been translated from Hebrew and/or Aramaic.
So, is it true that First-Century Christians really quoted from the Septuagint, not the Hebrew text, or that the Hebrew texts they used once read more like the Septuagint? Consider, for example, the content of the three following verses. One is from the Hebrew Text, the second is from the Septuagint, and the third is the way that the Christian martyr Stephen quoted that same text as his words are found in the book of Acts:
Amos 5:26 (Hebrew text):
‘And will actually carry Sukkuth your king, and Kaiwan, your images, the star of your god, whom you made for yourselves.’
Amos 5:26 (Septuagint):
‘But then you chose Molech’s tent
And the star of Raiphan as your gods…
You made idols of them for yourselves!’
Acts 7:43 (Stephen):
‘Rather, you took the images that you made for worship to the tent of Moloch and to the star of the god Rephan.’
So from Stephen’s words at Acts 7:43, which rendering of Amos 5:26 does it look like he used, the current Hebrew text or the Septuagint? Judge for yourselves!
Of course, there is a slight difference in the spelling of the name of the star (Raiphan and Rephan), but this is to be expected from texts that were written in different dialects hundreds of years apart.
And while speaking of stars; notice how even Jesus – when he was in heaven – seems to have
preferred the Septuagint wording to that of the current Hebrew texts. For at
Revelation 22:16 he said of himself:
‘I (Jesus) sent my messenger to [provide] you testimony about these things that are [coming] to the congregations. I am the root and the descendant of David… the bright morning star.’
Note that Jesus’ words here seem to be a reference to the Septuagint
rendering of Psalm 110:3, where David wrote under inspiration:
‘You’ll be sovereign in the day of your power
And your holy ones will then shine.
For, since the time that you came from the womb,
I made you the [bright] morning star.’
Now, compare this to the way that the Hebrew-based text in
the King James Bible renders the verse:
‘Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth.’
So if Jesus was in fact quoting the Septuagint wording of the Psalms after he had gone to heaven, this is a very important thing to notice, for it indicates that Jesus considered the Greek text superior! But did he?
Well, understand that Jesus always quoted OT texts to show that these prophecies were being fulfilled in him. And since Jesus mentioned David immediately before ‘Morning Star’ at Revelation 22:16, it appears as though he was quoting David’s famous words about the Messiah as found at Psalm 110 and applying the words about the morning star to himself.
So, since this reference to the morning star isn’t found at all in current the Hebrew text, we would have to assume that the Greek text is in fact superior in this case!
Also, to read more about a verse that appears to be wrong in both the Masoretic and Septuagint texts, see the Note, ‘Captives and Gifts.’
Understand that while we were busy translating the Septuagint, we weren’t looking at the corresponding Hebrew texts. So, we were surprised when someone brought the fact to our attention that the Septuagint gives us much longer periods between the creation of Adam and the Downpour (see Genesis 5), as well as much longer periods between the Downpour and Abram’s entering the land of CanaAn (see Genesis 11:10-26)… many hundreds of years! Why is that?
Well, the reason for this appears to be that somewhere along the line, someone refused to accept the long lifespans that the original Hebrew texts gave for the conception of each child from the time of Adam of AbraHam, so they simply deleted the words for one-hundred in several texts… and this created some strangely-short periods (yes, even stranger than the long life spans) in the Bible’s record of the early growth and expansion of mankind on the earth.
For example; notice that most western Bible translations show that there were only 67 years from the time of the Downpour to the birth of Shem’s great-great-grandson Heber (Eber). However, in the meantime, Noah’s great-grandson Nimrod was already building Babylon and several other cities (see Genesis 10:6-12).
So, where did all the people come from to inhabit those cities in less than 67 years? Obviously, there is something very wrong with the Masoretic text, and the Septuagint is right in adding hundreds of years to this period.
We also found that the Hebrew text skips a whole generation in the list of names between Noah and Heber – that of Kainan – and this adds another 397 years from the time of the end of the downpour to the birth of Heber… which is much more reasonable and more consistent with secular history!
So in reality; all of the popular western religious calculations about how long mankind has been on the earth are off by many hundreds of years! Also note that the ages as found in the Septuagint text allow a much more reasonable time for the growth in earth’s population up to the life of AbraHam!
Was there actually a
man named Kainan whose name was deleted from the Masoretic text? YES!
Notice Luke’s listing of the genealogy of Mary’s husband Joseph, as found at Luke
‘Of Serug, of Reu, of Peleg, of Eber, of SheLah, of Kainan, of ArPachShad, of Shem, of Noah, of Lamech.’
So if you trust the Gospel of Luke, there really was a Kainan, and the Masoretic text is WRONG!
But, couldn’t the addition of this name have been a scribal error in the Septuagint that was repeated by Luke (who also used the Septuagint), as some claim?
For a fact, there are other Kainans listed in the Bible. One was a great-grandson of Adam and another was a grandson of Noah through Shem (not to be confused with CanaAn, the son of Ham, who was cursed by Noah). So, Kainan appears to have been a common name at the time.
However, notice that this Kainan was (according to the Septuagint) a son of Arphaxad, and he was the grandfather of Heber (from whom the Hebrews descended), who in turn was the great-great-grandfather of AbraHam.
So, you can see that he was from a completely different line than the other Kainan (grandson of Noah), and since he is an important ancestor in the line of the IsraElites, he should never have been deleted!
Note that most scholars agree that the Kenites (Moses’ first wife was a Kenite) who originally lived in the Promised Land and were relatives of the IsraElites, descended from a man named Kainan, who is likely the same Kainan that is spoken of at Genesis 11:12 in the Septuagint. So, it appears as though this deleted Kainan had an entire documented race of descendants! For more information, see the Note Kainan.
there any archeological proof that the ages given in the Masoretic Text are
wrong? Yes! Consider what the BBC article, ‘The
Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah‘ by Jessica Cecil, has to say:
‘Carbon dating [for the destruction of what are believed to be Sodom and Gomorrah] put the date of [their] beams (which have to be older than the cities’ destruction) at 2350 BC - the early Bronze Age.’
Notice that this scientifically-accurate dating method (radiocarbon dating) puts the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah much earlier than the current Masoretic texts would suggest… hundreds of years! However, you can see how close this comes to what the Septuagint genealogical records indicate was the lifetime of AbraHam (who lived during the destruction of those cities). For according to our calculations based on the Septuagint text, he lived between 2375-BCE and 2200-BCE.
So, notice that the radio-carbon dating of Sodom and Gomorrah lines up precisely with the Septuagint’s figures! But if you use the ages of the patriarchs and the genealogies as found in the Masoretic text of Genesis, Sodom’s destruction could only have happened somewhere in the 1600s or 1500s BCE, or even LATER… which reliable science has proven wrong!
And note that it’s because of these mistakes that are found in the Masoretic texts and western Bibles that archeologists have been telling us that the Bible got its dates wrong… it didn’t, it was the deletions of words from the original Hebrew text that caused the dates to be wrong!
Also, look at how close our estimates of the Septuagint’s date for the year of the Downpour (3242-BCE) aligns with the dates suggested by archeologists for the start of the First Egyptian Dynasty (3050-BCE – see the Wikipedia link, ‘Menes‘). It appears as though this first king of Egypt is the one that both the Bible Hebrew and Greek texts called Noah’s grandson Mesrain, who was the progenitor of their race (see Genesis 10:13, 14)! And according to the research article, ‘Balashon - Hebrew Language Detective,’ the Egyptians were called the Mitzrayim (descendants of Mesrain or Menes) by the Babylonians and Jews as late as the 6th Century BCE!
Also notice how our first adjusted date for the creation of Adam (5504-BCE) according to the Septuagint aligns closely with the beginning of the supposed Pharaohs (kings) of the Pre-dynastic Period (5550-BCE)! In addition, after working out our calculations over several months, we were surprised to find that our calculations differed by just 5 years from the Byzantine calendar, which sets the date of Adam’s creation at 5509-BCE.
You can also see that in the official timeline of the Pharaohs, Egyptologists list as many as thirteen kings in the Egyptian pre-Dynastic Period. And according to the Septuagint, Mesrain had twelve ancestors (during that same 2,500 years or so) that led back to Adam! So, the adjusted Septuagint Bible dates and the genealogies match those given by Egyptologists without any gerrymandering!
Note that we have deviated from common Bible chronologies that set the date of the Exodus much later and associate the Egyptian king with whom Moses dealt as being Ramesses I (1292-1290 BCE), because this is an impossibility! Rather, the bulk of Biblical and historical evidence seems to prove that Ahmose was most likely the PharaOh of the Exodus. To find out why we can confidently say this, please see the linked document, Which Was the Pharaoh of the Exodus?
If you’re wondering why we trust the Bible’s chronology and dating of such things, you’ve probably wandered into this web page by mistake. For it’s impossible for a person to call himself a ‘Jew’ if he/she doesn’t believe in his ancestors, or to be called a ‘Christian’ if he/she doesn’t believe in the people, places, and events of which Jesus taught (for more information see the linked document, ‘The Bible’s Internal Proofs of its Authentic History’).
It is also interesting to note that the much-argued radiocarbon dating for the destruction of the ancient city of Jericho (which has been used to prove that the Bible’s chronology is flawed) works in well with the 1500-BCE period that we have estimated for the Exodus. For the Bible tells us that Jericho fell forty years after IsraEl left Egypt, which our calculations put as happening in the early 15th or the late 16th Century BCE (see the Wikipedia article ‘Jericho‘ under the subheading, Bronze Age).
In addition, consider the fact that archaeologists say that the Chinese civilization can be traced back some 5,000 years. And while Bible chronology using the Masoretic text sets the Downpour (global flood) at about 4,350 years ago, the chronology from the Septuagint sets it closer to 5,200 years ago, which (as you can see) works in much better with the radiocarbon dating of archaeologists and the historical records.
Consider too the calendars of the Mayans. Notice that according to their mythology, there have been five ages, the fifth of which ended on December 23rd 2012 (when many people expected ‘the end of time’). And according to the Mayan calendar, the fourth age ended by water (the Flood of the time of Noah?) in 3113-BCE. Yes, that is off from our calculations of the date of the Downpour, but by only 104 years! So, how many witnesses have to be provided in order to prove the Masoretic text to be in error?
A fairly recent find, ‘Otzi,’ the ancient almost-complete body of ‘the ice man’ that was discovered frozen into the glacial ice in the Italian Alps, has been radio-carbon dated to have lived about 5,000 years ago. Yet, every indication is that he died there after the Great Downpour of Noah’s day, since his DNA shows that he is closely related to the people who still live in that part of Italy.
But can we trust the radio-carbon dating? Yes, because there is good scientific evidence of its being accurate up to (by their own figures) 5,000 years ago. However, much beyond that it can’t be trusted, because (as those who do such dating admit), the creation of radiocarbon has been proven to be inconsistent through the years due to atmospheric changes (changes in the amount of hard radiation reaching the earth’s surface). Therefore, the pre-flood atmospheric conditions would have greatly skewed the results, thus lengthening the periods prior to that time.
So, we do believe that ‘Otzi,’ probably lived and died shortly after the time of Noah, as calculated from the corrected Bible record… which has to be at least 5,000 years ago, not 4,350 as indicated by the Masoretic text.
Something that was recently brought to our attention is that
there appears to be a discrepancy between the name of the Prophet that is given
at Matthew 23:35 and the one that is mentioned at Second Chronicles 24:20.
Notice that the account in Matthew tells us that Jesus said:
‘And then you will become responsible for all the righteous blood that was spilled on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of ZechariAh (the son of BarachiAh), whom you murdered between the Holy Place and the Altar.’
However, we read at Second Chronicles 24:20 in the Hebrew text that ZechariAh’s father was JehoiAda (check your own Bible).
Yet, notice that at Zechariah 1:1, ZechariAh said that his father’s name was BarachiAh. So, we trust that ZechariAh’s father’s name was BarachiAh, exactly as it is shown in Matthew’s account.
Then why the discrepancy? Well, if you read Second
Chronicles 24:20 in the Septuagint, you’ll see that the text wasn’t talking
about ZecharaAh at all, for it says there:
‘Then the Breath of God came over AzariAh the Priest (who was JehoiAda’s son)!’
As you can see, it is quite evident that there is an error in the Hebrew-based text. For it wasn’t speaking about the Prophet ZechariAh, but about the Priest AzariAh… who was in fact the son of JehoiAda.
We also find the Septuagint’s rendering of Genesis 2:8-15 – that there was no ‘Garden of Eden,’ but it was called the ‘Paradise of Delights,’ and it was located on ‘the east side of the Land of Edem’ – far more likely (see the account and the linked Notes). And there are many other scriptures where we’ve found reasons to trust the Septuagint text… but then again, we’ve also found many obvious errors in the Greek text.
One of the things you will notice in your reading of the Septuagint, is that many names and their pronunciations are quite different from what we find in Hebrew-based texts… but then, many modern spellings of Bible names also differ from what we find in the NT Greek texts.
However, when it comes to the spelling of Hebrew names; recognize that due to its original lack of vowel points and the many years that have elapsed since ancient Hebrew was spoken, no one really knows how most words and names were originally pronounced. Yet in the Septuagint, we can see how Hebrew-speaking Jews thought they should be pronounced in Greek more than two-thousand years ago… so there is more reason to trust the Greek pronunciations.
There are places in the Septuagint where you will find names totally changed from the ways that we have historically learned them to be pronounced, as in the names of the kings of Persia that are found in Ezra Chapter Four. However, recognize that these were apparently how the Jews pronounced the names of those kings back in the Third Century BCE, when the Septuagint was translated. Recognize that we do the same thing in English when we mispronounce the names of both foreign peoples and countries.
An example that involves a difference in the name of a land or country is found in the book of Job. For at Job 1:1 in the Septuagint, we read that Job lived in the land of the Ausitidi; but in the Hebrew text it says that he was from the land of Uz. Why the difference? Because the name of the land had probably changed by the time that the Greek text was translated. For more information, see the Note ‘Job.’
Yet you will notice that we have changed the spelling of many common names to more closely reflect how they were actually pronounced when the Septuagint was being translated (for those who are interested), so as to give you some idea of what those names may have meant to ancient Jews. We realize that this will be unpopular with those who prefer familiarity to accuracy, but these changes should have been made by Bible translators hundreds of years ago (for more information, see the Note, ‘Capitals in Bible Names’).
The interesting thing that we’ve found while translating OT books, is that many were written as poetry. This is true of the books of Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon. And wherever God or His spokesman was speaking in the books of the Prophets, the words were also spoken poetically… which can still be clearly seen when translating the Greek text!
Yet, when we compare the same verses in modern translations of the Hebrew text, we usually find clunky, difficult wording that could never be fit into what is obviously the original poetry, and which often makes no sense at all.
However, we have found that rendering the words poetically really makes a difference; for where we find that a song or Divine poetic statement doesn’t follow a clear order and rhythm, we are led to suspect that something may have been lost in translation and we are prompted to do more research.
We recently read an online commentary about this Bible in which the writer called our selecting the Septuagint for its OT source as foolish. For he asked: ‘What will they do when they get to the book of Isaiah, where the text is totally different from what is found in the Hebrew text?’
In reply, we ask: ‘What about the Proverbs?’ The text there is also quite different from the Hebrew, and it makes more sense! So, which should we trust as being right?
We are currently leaning toward the Septuagint, for the natural rhythm of the Greek text in the Proverbs shows that it more closely reflects the original writing of Solomon, which was obviously done as poetry.
Also, our translating of the book of Isaiah seems to make more sense than what we find in popular Hebrew texts, and this raises the question: Could it be that this most maligned Greek text is more accurate than its Hebrew counterpart? If so, this could change the meaning of some of the most important prophecies of the Bible.
We know that some Hebrew scholars claim that the Septuagint was an incomplete work and that it originally only contained the Pentateuch (Genesis through Deuteronomy). They also say that the rest of the books were a First-Century Christian fabrication, which was developed just to slander the Jews. However, we have found no words condemning Israel and the Jews that aren’t also found in the Hebrew/Aramaic texts, and since Jesus and Paul appear to have quoted other OT texts from the Septuagint, it seems clear that these claims are untrue.
Also, the fact that the majority of early First-Century Christians were Jews who are known to have had great respect for the Law and for the earlier writings that are now referred to as ‘the Old Testament,’ proves such conclusions to be illogical and unfounded.
Look at the name of this work… Septuagint (the Seventy). The reason why the ancient Jews gave it this name is because it was created by seventy Jewish scholars who translated all 37 Bible OT Bible books. And even if it were possible for such claims to be true (that the Septuagint originally only covered the Pentateuch and the remaining books were copied by Christians), the rest of the Septuagint books still represent texts that are older than any of those that are currently available to us in Hebrew, and we have no reason to trust Jewish Traditionalist scribes more than Jewish Christian scribes.
The fact is; in our translating, we have found numerous obvious errors in both the Greek and Hebrew texts. Some errors are just misspelled names, while others are totally wrong names. We have also found texts that are in conflict with other texts and accounts, and we have found major differences in chronology between the Hebrew and Greek texts. We can say this surely, because the errors are so obvious.
Understand that there is plenty of redundancy in the Bible, and we have many First-Century quotations of OT texts… so it is fairly easy to see where errors or insertions were made. In addition, we have two different texts to compare against each other, the Greek and the Masoretic. So, where we find differences in the texts, we have been prompted to do more research.
Understand that we haven’t made any changes in secret, for we have included extensive linked Notes that explain in detail why we have made such changes, and where people have written to disagree with the changes, we have included their comments.
You will also notice that for the purpose of helping readers who are familiar with the order found in American Protestant-religion Bibles (such as the King James Version), we have chosen the same names, order, and numbering of the books of Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, and Psalms, as they are found in their Bibles.
It is true that most current English copies of the Septuagint include the Apocryphal books. We have examined them, and though we agree that they may provide some valuable insights into Jewish history, we have concluded that they are uninspired writings, because they do not harmonize with the rest of the Bible. So, although we have a person who has volunteered to work on this for us, we have not made the project a priority.