The Septuagint and Modern Bible Versions, part 1
Dec 30, 2010
Preface by Dr. James W. Bruggeman
In the English language there are literally dozens of Bible translations and Bible versions now available on the market. In the early 1990s, I spent hundreds of hours over the course of several years researching the issue of Bible versions. I then set forth the fruits of my study in a 20-part lecture series entitled Which Bible? Which Version? It is still available from us in a CD album format (link is no longer valid) at a very inexpensive price.
Towards the end of that study, I spent a couple of hours discussing the Septuagint (abbreviated LXX), the apocrypha, and the pseudepigraphal writings.
A few years ago, someone who was obviously familiar with my work submitted their own manuscript to me dealing with the topic of the LXX, and then a more general discussion of Bible versions. When I received it, I set it aside, intending to read it soon. But as often happens when one receives so many interesting things to read (and multiply that times one hundred when including the internet), it got covered with other things. I recently “rediscovered” it in a “stack of stuff.” I took it home, read it, and was impressed enough with the research, that I decided to share it with the world on the web. It is a relatively long work, and thus I will serialize it here in this space over a period of weeks.
Evidently I discarded the package in which had arrived. The paper manuscript now in my hands bears only a nickname at the end, no last name, and the nickname could be a person of either gender. Therefore, I say thank you to the author and if he/she recognizes their work, I will be happy to credit him/her.
Disclaimer reminder: There are only two types of material on this website with which we, Stone Kingdom Ministries, agree 100 percent: (1) the Word of God, the Holy Bible; and (2) our own writings.
Insofar as our own material, however, we reserve the right to be wrong in our own understanding. Thankfully, the Word of God is never in error, and we can make corrections to our own material as we gain more truth.
All other material placed on this website, or linked to it, is published with the understanding that each item has something of importance to offer the reader, but it in no way connotes that we are in total (or even substantial) agreement with materials by others on this website or linked to it. Caveat lector.
That said, we are in substantial agreement with this work.
I say “substantial,” not complete. I let many of my disagreements pass while editing, but my most serious disagreements will be noted as they arise within the text and set apart in [brackets—JWB, like this]. Moreover, I have felt it necessary not only to reformat the work for presentation on the web, but I have also edited the text in numerous places, primarily for clarity. We have also taken all the endnotes and incorporated them within the text itself.
May I caution the reader not to arrive at a conclusion about the work prematurely because the author does quote from sources with whom he/she ultimately disagrees but presents it as part of the picture. I hope the work will be instructive to many of you who have little or no knowledge about the Septuagint…and the various English Bible versions.
The Septuagint and Modern Bible Versions
(author unknown, written April 2004)
The story and the study of the Septuagint and other related documents is a fascinating story, but one fraught with difficulties unless explored with an understanding of what is being reviewed and revealed. For this small essay, many articles, books and reviews on this topic were read over many hours, and in presenting this small paper to you, it is my hope that you will gain insight and understanding, from which wisdom is derived. I have endeavored to quote and cite works as accurately as possible, to bring the flavor of all the works closer to you, the reader, for facts are stubborn things, while endeavoring to leave out nothing that is essential to an accurate understanding of the issues. Any errors herein are mine, and to those who have gone before me in exploring these matters, I salute them for their diligent efforts and endeavors to bring us all closer to the true Word of God.
The Septuagint is one of the discoveries of antiquity that has left many people perplexed as to whether or not it holds or should hold a high position of authority in our lives, or whether it is one of those murky traditions from the past that has supplanted itself over our minds, to our present and often lasting detriment. In this small article, I shall lay out what I know of the Septuagint and the KJV, and ask you to judge the facts, for it is facts that determine the truth and not tradition, no matter how endearing and enduring they may appear to be. Indented sections are literal copying from the works cited. When you, the reader, have finished reading this paper, I pray that your understanding of this matter will be edified to the glory of God. As an old fox once said, it isn’t always what we don’t know that hurts us, but what we think is true, that really isn’t so.
Many of our modem Bibles affirm or acknowledge debts to previous records and translations that they consulted, with many ascribing thanks to the Septuagint. So what exactly is this Septuagint that so many modem translations refer to? The name Septuagint refers to the number of70 (actually 72) Hebrew scholars who purportedly translated the Hebrew texts into Greek about 250 B.C. [Figures of Speech Used in the Holy Bible-Explained and Illustrated, E.W. Bullinger, D.D., under his List of Abbreviations, for LXX (Septuagint) Dr. Bullinger notes that it was made about 325 B.C. Published in 1898 by Eyre & Spottiswoode, London, reprinted by Baker Books, 23rd printing, 2003] during the time of a Levitical High Priest named Eleazar. It is claimed that these especially sought out, learned and pious Hebrew’s left Judea with a special commission to go to Egypt for this special purpose. The Roman numeral abbreviation for the Septuagint is LXX, their number for 70. Here is how this curious number came about.
According to a document called the Letter of Aristeas, six Hebrews from each of the twelve tribes (6 x 12 = 72) were commissioned to translate the Hebrew Bible into the Greek language. Greek was the primary language used by the Jewish population living in Egypt at that time, thereby one of the reasons being their assumed incapability of understanding Hebrew for their worship services. Another major reason for this alleged event was the desire of the ruling monarch, Ptolemy II Philadelphus (308-246 BC) to get a copy of the scriptures, at the behest of his librarian, Demetrius of Ph ale rum (though other reputable sources state that his appointed librarian was Callimachus). This portion of the account comes from Eusebius (260-339 AD), an early Church historian. (The Ptolemys were the Greco-Macedonian rulers of Egypt, from 323-30 BC. The last of the Ptolemy line was Cleopatra VII, formerly the mistress of Julius Caesar, and the later wife of Mark Antony.)
Many modem Bible scholars proclaim that Jesus and the Apostles used this Greek Septuagint (LXX) translation instead of the Hebrew texts in their normal conversations. When historians such as Josephus, Philo or Eusebius tell us their accounts, all of them refer to, and revolve around a document called the Letter of Aristeas. In fact, all other historical evidence either quotes or refers to this letter for what they attribute as being truthful in whole or in part, to their telling of the LXX story. [Answers To Your Bible Version Questions, by David W. Daniels, B.A., M. Div., page 47, Chick publications 2003] Let me illustrate why this issue is important and why it is so perplexing in its stubbornness of thought and belief.
One of the hobgoblins in our modem times that Christians were ill prepared to deal with when it first appeared was the Theory of Evolution. Today it is taught in schools as if it was fact and the word ‘theory’ is hardly or never mentioned by those who teach its alleged merits. A well prepared Christian Israelite could easily deal with such an issue if it were them defending the scriptures in court today, but an aging pulpit pounding preacher named William Jennings Bryan became easy meat for a crafty lawyer who was well prepared in advance to meet this issue in an early twentieth century secular court. Despite the outcome, the evolutionist’s missing link is still missing after all these additional years, much like the many New World cities and civilizations proclaimed as history by many of the Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormon) founders and prophets.
The FBI maintains a web site for FOIA discovery of records on famous persons, releasable after their death. On the site http://foia.fbi.gov/darrow/darrow1.pdfwe see where an interesting analysis of Clarence Darrow is discussed within the FBI, part of which follows for J. Edgar Hoover’s consideration:
‘There appeared in the May issue of “Esquire” an article entitled “Attorney for the Defense” by Clarence Darrow. This article appears to be a frank discussion of the interworking of the minds of criminal lawyers as exemplified by Clarence Darrow. It is thought that possible portions of this article might be helpful to the Director in making future addresses, at which time he might wish to point out how unscrupulous criminal lawyers stimulate disrespect for law and influence crime conditions.’
What will follow now are areas where unscrupulous efforts, or uncritical and wishful thinking, following traditions like the Pharisees and Sadducees or the Roman Catholic church, has led to a serious disrespect and even a disregard for the facts, much as when Clarence Darrow made a public mockery of the Holy Bible in the Scopes monkey trial almost a century ago. These are but a minor fraction of materials readily available to any researcher who but looks for them and sees what they freely admit.
End of part 1
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