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Is the LXX superior to the MT?

Discussion in 'Bible Versions & Translations' started by Calminian, Jan 29, 2019.

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  1. Calminian

    Calminian Well-Known Member
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    I'm starting to wonder. Found this video recently.



    Not sure yet what to make of it.
     
  2. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    Nope, the LXX is not better than any Hebrew mss. This video is ignorant. The truth is, there are not near as many textual variants in the Hebrew OT as there are in the Greek NT. Therefore, textual criticism on the OT is not nearly as controversial as on the NT. There is not that much difference between the Masoretic and other Hebrew texts, as was proven by the Isaiah scroll found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, which is about as old as the LXX.

    "In the case of a 'non-uniform text' (the situation of the New Testament) textual criticism focuses on a discussion of variant readings. With a 'iuniform text' (the situation of the Old Testament), however, textual criticism tends to focus on problem passages" (Ellis Brotzman, Old Testament Textual Criticism, p. 18, f.n.).

    On the other hand, there are many, many differences between the LXX and any Hebrew text. Many of those differences are due to translation errors, not transmission errors.
     
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  3. Calminian

    Calminian Well-Known Member
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    Strong statements. Please, then, by all means make your case. Show the evidence you've compiled. Hopefully you're not a post n run type of guy.

    But it's interesting you mentioned the DSS. From what I've read, they line up the LXX more so than the MT. But please share your wisdom.

    And please breakdown the specific weaknesses (ignorance) of the video.
     
  4. Squire Robertsson

    Squire Robertsson Administrator
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    JoJ a post n run type. Thanks for the laugh.
     
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  5. Calminian

    Calminian Well-Known Member
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    Also, on this subject, here's an inserting article from the Answer Research Journal.

    Methuselah’s Begetting Age in Genesis 5:25 and the Primeval Chronology of the Septuagint: A Closer Look at the Textual and Historical Evidence
    by Henry B. Smith, Jr. on August 2, 2017

    One significant difference between the LXX and MT is about 1500 years of history. Yes I'd agree no significant doctrinal differences, but definitely some timeline differences. While these don't matter theological, they do seem to have an impact apologetically.
     
  6. Calminian

    Calminian Well-Known Member
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    Here's one example, regarding the Israel's 400 year captivity in Egypt. The numbers don't add up in the MT, but the LXX solves the problem, and confirms the New Testament. To me this is signifiant and hard to ignore.

     
  7. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    Well, as anyone could tell you I don't "post and run," but right now I'm limited on time--getting ready for a 9 week block of Greek 102 starting Monday. But I will say this: any linguist or translator knows that a translation can never be as accurate as the original. For you or the guy in the video to prove that the LXX translation is closer to the originals than the Masoretic, you would have to prove that the Hebrew text underlying the LXX was closer to the originals, and no one has been able to do that.

    Furthermore, it is common knowledge among scholars that the LXX is widely divergent in its renderings. There are very literal renderings and also very free renderings. So to make the statement that the LXX is closer to the originals than the Masoretic begs the question: which part of the LXX?

    So in a lot of places the Here is a quote a bout that from famed scholar Fredric Kenyon: "It is maintained that the Greek translators were not always good Hebrew scholars, that they often made mistakes in translation, and in other respects took liberties with their text"(The Text of the Greek Bible

    The basic premise that the Greek translation is better than the original Hebrew shows ignorance of basic translation theory, the textual criticism of the OT, linguistics, etc.

    Here is a specific error. At about 4:20 he says something like, "The Masoretic text is not the Hebrew text, but is a copy." Well, duh! That's all any Hebrew or LXX manuscript of the OT is. We don't have the originals of either the Hebrew or Greek OT. This to me shows ignorance of the entire issue of the transmission of the various texts--textual criticism if you will.

    He said there that the LXX was translated in 250 BC. That is highly questionable. It actually was not a single translation, but put together from various translators in various years. So you can't say that it was translated in one specific year.
     
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  8. Calminian

    Calminian Well-Known Member
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    My apologies, JOJ. I was a little hasty with that response. I appreciate your input, and look forward to more when you have a chance.

    I'm not concrete on this issue, in fact, I'm new to it. But somethings have caught my attention. If you get a chance, read the article in the Answers Research Journal (no rush, keep to your priorities). The guy there defends the LXX from some common criticisms.

    But here are the things that intrigue me as a layman.

    1) I noticed as a young christian, NT quotes of the OT never seemed to match up. When I inquired, I was told the NT generally quotes the Septuagint. Interesting.

    2) I learned the Septuagint is 400 years older than the MT. Interesting.

    3) I learned the original Hebrew script (Paleo) was not the same as the script used in the MT.

    4) There are some timelines problems that appear in the MT, like the 400 year slavery in Egypt issue, that seem to be resolved quite nicely in the LXX.

    Those are the things that have me currently questioning the superiority of the MT. That's said, I haven't heard every argument.
     
  9. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    Well, yeah. If it's a translation you can easily "correct" everything you think is a "mistake" in the originals. That does not make the translation correct. In other words, simply because the LXX "corrects" some things that the MT has does not mean that the original Hebrew behind the LXX was better or closer to the originals. It's just easy to "correct" the originals with a translation. It happens all the time in the secular world of professional translators.
     
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  10. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    Okey dokey. I should be able to take a look at the article you linked to on Monday. (Don't have Internet at home, don't want it.) Have to go soon.
     
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  11. Calminian

    Calminian Well-Known Member
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    True and I totally agree. But the NT is authoritative and that's the part that intrigues me, in fact, you almost have to consult the NT to make any sense out of this timeline. The NT forces us, it seems, to accept the term "Egypt" as a metaphor for Egypt and Canaan, and forces us to expand the term "slave" to include mistreatment. But, low and behold, the older LXX and SP include the missing words and fix the timeline, prior to the NT.

    Don't rush to respond.
     
  12. MartyF

    MartyF Active Member

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    The Numbers in the Old Testament are unfortunately messed-up to the point one really can't be sure of any of the numbers. The mess-up is so bad one can't even deduce what the original numbers are. Some numbers may be correct while others are clearly wrong. The ages in the Hebrew could be ok, but there is not way to be sure. This video is just scratching at the surface of the problem.
     
  13. Calminian

    Calminian Well-Known Member
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    I'm definitely not that cynical, in fact I'm impressed with the LXX for several reasons. It lines up with NT quotes. It solves the 400 slavery/mistreatment in Canaan/Egypt issue, and it solves the lifespan overlap issues in Gen. 11. From an apologetics standpoint, it looks very good.
     
  14. MartyF

    MartyF Active Member

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    Those aren’t the only numbers in the Old Testament which have problems. There are major problems in Kings vs Chronicles and there is also the Number problem in Numbers. The dates in Genesis are a minor problem in comparison.
     
  15. Calminian

    Calminian Well-Known Member
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    I'm not familiar with the others.
     
  16. Calminian

    Calminian Well-Known Member
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    My all means, share.
     
  17. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    I did skim this article, but I have to admit that the topic is outside of my expertise--and I'm not really interested in the subject of the numbers and chronology of the Bible. :Coffee It does look to be quite competent and scholarly, though.
     
  18. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    No problem. :)

    The criticisms and discussion in the article are from a very limited subject which, as I said in another pose, does not draw my interest, and in which I have no expertise.

    This is a very complicated subject, difficult for those who don't know Greek (and preferably Hebrew), but I can make some comments. First of all, the NT authors quite often quoted directly from the LXX. To verify this, there is a great book on this comparing the Hebrew, LXX and NT by Gleason Archer and G. C. Chirichigno, Old Testament Quotations in the New Testament. It has 4 columns: Hebrew MT, LXX, NT, and commentary. Sometimes the differences are very small (Jesus adding the definite article to "God" in Matt. 22:32), and sometimes they are big.

    My view is that when the NT authors quoted the OT, the goto source was the LXX, since it was the OT of the Jews of the day, most of who did not read Hebrew. However, when the LXX translation did not fit their exegetical point or discourse purpose, the NT authors would re-translate their own Greek version straight from the Hebrew.
    This is actually not that relevant. The earliest complete LXX mss we have are not until the 5th century. (LXX mss until that time are brief.) So the question must be asked, how old were the mss the MT editors had?


    Here is a relevant quote from the above mentioned book on OT textual criticism: The book states that among the DSS were mss with the MT type along with those from other text types--LXX, Samaritan LXX, etc. "Some manuscripts are closely parallel to what later became known as the Masoretic text" (ibid, 43).

    Also, concerning Hebrew mss "found near the Wadi Murabba'at, south of Qumran. These finds date from the time of the rebellion of Bar-Kochba (about A.D. 135). Their main distinguishing feather is general agreement with the text form later known as Masoretic" (ibid, pp. 42-43). So the MT is obviously based on very old mss,
    Again, I think this is not relevant to the differences between the LXX and the MT. It's really very simple to transfer a document from one script to another. I've done this many times between Romanized Japanese and the two Japanese alphabets (katakana and hiragana).

    As I've said, this is outside of my areas of expertise.

    In your studies, please take into account: (1) the fact that the LXX was done by many different translators, so they would have had various different Hebrew texts, and (2) the fact that much of the LXX is very poor in translation quality. I access the LXX regularly through software and sometimes translate a verse or two, but my hard copy is Lancelot Brenton's translation (1851). Though much has been done in textual criticism since then, his comments on the translation quality are still true: "The variety of the translators is proved by the unequal character of the version: some books show that the translators were by no means competent to the task, while others, on the contrary, exhibit on the whole a careful translation. The Pentateuch is considered to be the part the best executed, while the book of Isaiah appears to be the very worst."
     
    #18 John of Japan, Feb 4, 2019
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2019
  19. Yeshua1

    Yeshua1 Well-Known Member
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    Would you treat when the Apostles used the LXX to quote from in the same way as say when they quoted from non inspired works, such as Jude did, as the Holy spirit saw that as a specific passage where the LXX was superior to the Hebrew text?
     
  20. Yeshua1

    Yeshua1 Well-Known Member
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    That is a great book to use, as DR Archer was indeed a rare bird, as think he was fluent in multiple languages?
     
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