Monthly Archives: January 2019

The Septuagint and the Canon

Septuagint History & Purpose

The Septuagint is generally thought of as a translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek. Yet, as professor Peter Gentry writes, this is imprecise.

What is meant by the term Septuagint? A lack of precision is common in both popular and scholarly use of the word. Mainly responsible for this lack of precision are uncertainties about the history of the process of translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek.[1]

The Pentateuch (also known as the five books of Moses), was translated sometime between 285-240 BC. Alfred Edersheim says the Septuagint contained only the Pentateuch,[2] but scholars differ on this point. The Letter of Aristeas describes the supposed miraculous origins of the Septuagint, but only mentions the Pentateuch.[3] We do not know whether translating the Pentateuch alone was the original intent, but nonetheless, the translation work continued. Alfred Edersheim cites evidence from the prologue to the Wisdom of Solomon and argues the Septuagint was completed by 221 BC. In 2009, Peter J. Gentry claims the Septuagint was completed by 130 B.C.E.; just five years later he claims it was completed by 100 B.C.E.[4] Scholars differ in their dating in part due to their differing assumptions about where the task of translation ends and recension (editing) begins, and in part due to differing assumptions about the extent of the canon. Alfred Edersheim, for example, is arguing for the truncated Protestant canon and therefore claims an earlier date.

There are differences of opinion as to why the Septuagint was created. As described by Peter Gentry, there are five reasons given for the translation.

Five major hypotheses have been advanced: (1) a generation of Greek-speaking Jews in the Hellenistic period begun by the conquest of Alexander the Great (333-323 B.C.E.) required Greek scriptures for their liturgy, or (2) for the education of their young; (3) the translation was required as a legal document or (4) as cultural heritage for the royal library being assembled in Alexandria; (5) Aristarchus’ new edition of Homer around 150 B.C.E. employed textual criticism to produce an authoritative text and served as a model to produce an authoritative text of the Bible for Alexandrian Jews (hence early revisions and The Letter of Aristeas).[5]

It should be clear that these five reasons are not mutually exclusive. Like all human endeavors, there were likely many reasons for the translation. What is clear is that the Jewish diaspora needed the translation, as many of them no longer spoke Hebrew. Even in Palestine, where Hebrew was the sacred language,[6] the “diaspora synagogues”[7] used the Septuagint and considered it authoritative.[8] One side effect of the Septuagint was that Jewish religion and culture became part of the mainstream and available to anyone who spoke Greek. Of the period prior to the existence of the Septuagint, the scholar Jaroslav Pelikan writes:

The Jewish religion was enshrined, but therefore was also locked, in a sacred book, in a code of conduct, and in a liturgical ritual that were purposely being kept hidden from the outside world in one of the most esoteric of all those exotic languages and therefore virtually unavailable, except in bits and pieces, to anyone who did not know Hebrew.[9]

From an obscure religion of a backwater country, Judaism became well known and respected, even gaining a special legal status in the Roman Empire.[10] This rise to respectability came about because the Septuagint made the Jewish faith accessible to the Gentiles. Jaroslav Pelikan observed:

It had long been part of the hope of Israel, voiced by the prophets, that peoples “far and remote” would finally come to Mount Zion and learn the Torah, which was intended and revealed by the One True God for all peoples, not only for the people of Israel. Yet without their learning to read Hebrew, that hope was largely beyond realization. But when we read the account of Pentecost in the New Testament, we hear of “devout Jews drawn from every nation under heaven, Parthians, Medes, Elamites; inhabitants of Mesopotamia, of Judaea and Cappadocia, of Pontus and Asia, of Phrygia and Pamphylia, of Egypt and the districts of Lybia around Cyrene; visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs.” Many of the “Jews” in this mouth-filling catalog must have been Gentiles by birth but were now converted Jews, “proselytes,” by faith and observance. From an obscure sect turned inward, huddled around its Torah and reciting its Shema, Judaism had now become a world religion, a significant force in the civilization of the Mediterranean world.[11]

The Septuagint was a boon for the Jewish people, as the Septuagint resulted in large numbers of Gentile adherents known as the God-Fearers. The sociologist Rodney Stark describes the God-Fearers as gentiles who admired “the moral teachings and monotheism of the Jews, but who would not take the final step of fulfilling the law [circumcision, dietary restrictions, and the like].”[12] The Septuagint was used by Jews for 250 years, and only became a problem for Jews after Christians adopted it as scripture.[13] The Septuagint used by the New Testament authors and the church fathers contained the books Protestants now call the Apocrypha.[14] J.N.D. Kelly writes:

It should be observed that the Old Testament thus admitted as authoritative in the Church was somewhat bulkier and more comprehensive [than the Protestant Bible]. …It always included, though with varying degrees of recognition, the so-called apocrypha or deuterocanonical books. The reason for this is that the Old Testament which passed in the first instance into the hands of Christians was not the original Hebrew version, but the Greek translation known as the Septuagint.[15]

The Evolutionary History of the Hebrew Text

Robert Alter notes: “It is an old and in some ways unfair cliché to say that translation is always a betrayal.”[16] This is because the translator is presented with a text that contains shades of meaning, and has to choose one of those shades to represent in the translated text. In some cases, the translation actually changes the meaning of the text. Robert Alter notes:

The unacknowledged heresy underlying most modern English versions of the Bible is the use of translation as a vehicle for ‘explaining’ the Bible instead of representing it in another language, and in the most egregious instances this amounts to explaining away the Bible. This impulse may be attributed not only to a rather reduced sense of the philological enterprise but also to a feeling that the Bible, because of its canonical status, has to be made accessible — indeed, transparent — to all.[17]

This is not the case with the Septuagint, as the modern concept of canonicity did not exist, nor the modern preoccupation with understandability. The translation of the Septuagint was not meant for the illiterate masses, but for educated people who would read and explain the scriptures. As scholars know, today’s Hebrew Scriptures are edited versions of the original texts. Even the alphabet has changed from the original Paleo-Hebrew to the so-called Square Script used today. The Jewish Virtual Library notes:

The square script belongs to the Aramaic branch of Semitic writing. …[By] the second century C.E. it is already possible to speak of the square script proper (figure 7). By the seventh century (figure 8) almost every letter of the alphabet had either a top bar or a head, while many had a base as well.[18]

The Babylonian Talmud mentions there being different scripts: Paleo-Hebrew is called “Ivri,” and the script brought back from Babylon by Ezra is called “Ashuri.” The Talmud states:

Mar Zutra or, some say, Mar Ukba said: Originally the Torah was given to Israel in Ivri (Paleo-Hebrew) letters and in the sacred Hebrew language. Later, in the times of Ezra, the Torah was given in Ashuri script and Aramaic language. Finally, they selected for Israel the Ashuri script and Hebrew language, leaving the original Hebrew characters and Aramaic language for the ignorant people. Rebbe Yose said: Why is it called Ashuri (Assyrian) script? Because they brought it with them from Assyria.[19]

Robert Alter cites the Israeli linguist Abba ben David (in a text available only in Hebrew) as saying that a “new kind of Hebrew” emerged in the “pre-Christian” (or Second Temple) period.

It is widely recognized that this new Hebrew reflected the influence of the Aramaic vernacular in morphology, in grammar, and in some of its vocabulary, and that, understandably, it also incorporated a vast number of Greek and Latin loanwords. …Ben David, observing, as have others before him, that there are incipient signs of an emergent rabbinic Hebrew in late biblical books like Jonah and the Song of Songs, makes the bold and, to my mind, convincing proposal that rabbinic Hebrew was built upon an ancient vernacular that for the most part had been excluded from the literary language used for the canonical texts.[20]

The alphabet changed, the spelling changed, the language changed, and in some cases, the meaning changed. This is important to an understanding of the Septuagint and provides the basis for understanding the importance of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The scholar Martin Hengel notes some Dead Sea Scrolls are manuscripts written in the “paleo-Hebrew script” which dates from the early third century BC and seems to be the earliest biblical manuscript in existence. Hengel also notes the Masoretic text is “significantly inferior …to the LXX exemplar.”[21]

The Masoretic text is written in a different script than was used during the time of the Old Testament; if Moses were alive today, he would be unable to read the Pentateuch. Not only did the alphabet change, but the texts were altered. First, the spelling changed; second, the manuscripts slowly began using consonants to represent vowels; third, the meaning itself changed.[22] And let us not forget about the textual variants; one of the more noticeable examples is Psalm 14:3. In the King James Version, this verse reads: “They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” The Septuagint, by contrast, is much longer.

They are all gone out of the way, they are together become good for nothing, there is none that does good, no not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; their feet are swift to shed blood: destruction and misery are in their ways; and the way of peace they have not known: there is no fear of God before their eyes.[23] (Ps 14:3) [English translation by L.C.L. Brenton]

Deacon Joseph Gleason writes: “In Romans 3:10, St. Paul writes, ‘It is written,’ a common indicator in the biblical literature that the Scriptures are being referenced. Then, in verses ten through eighteen, he offers an extended quotation from the Psalm.”[24] This extended quotation, which the apostle Paul cites as Scripture, is quoting the longer passage from the Septuagint, rather than the shorter passage found in the Masoretic text.

Fundamentalists and Evangelicals find this shocking and problematic. Because they read modern notions of literacy, authorship, and textual authority back into the ancient world, they are unable to comprehend a world in which an author was merely an authority under which a text was written (and edited). They fail to realize the primacy of oral transmission of knowledge and the inferiority of the written text. They fail to understand a religion where sacred rituals took precedence over sacred text.

People often notice the New Testament quotations usually don’t match the Old Testament source texts, as we made clear in the examples cited above. What they don’t know is the manuscripts used to create the English translations did not exist; the Masoretic Text was created later. Scholars trace portions of the Masoretic Text back to textual variants within the Dead Sea Scrolls,[25] but the Masoretic Text is an edited version of those texts.

One of the more curious differences between the Septuagint and the Masoretic text is in the ages of the patriarchs. The Oxford scholar James Barr notes the ages of the patriarchs, “at the time when the first son was born …were different, and in most cases 100 years higher at each birth.” Barr goes on to say that the generations of the patriarchs are about 1,000 years longer in the Septuagint than in the Hebrew text. [26]

The version of Ezra in the Masoretic text begins with the last two verses of 2 Chronicles. By contrast, the Septuagint version of 1 Esdras begins with the last two chapters of 2 Chronicles. 1 Esdras also contains the story of the three youths (1 Esdras 3:4 to 4:4), which turns the core of 1 Esdras into literary chiasmus.[27] Since chiastic structures were a common feature of ancient literature, this suggests the Masoretic text has been artificially truncated.

Translation Styles and the Authoritative Text

R. H. Charles states that the Masoretic Text is the result of “conscious recension” and “unconscious change.” He writes:

Both before and after the Christian era the Hebrew text did not possess any hard and fast tradition. It will further be obvious that the Massoretic [sic] form of this text, which has so long been generally assumed as conservative of the most ancient tradition and as therefore final, is after all only one of the many phases through which the text passed in the process of over 1,000 years, i.e. 400 B. C. till A. D. 600, or thereabouts.[28]

What the Masoretes did is to select and establish a particular strain of Jewish interpretation, and is therefore what Adam Clarke describes as a “gloss” on the text.[29] A curious historical anomaly is that the manuscripts for the Septuagint are older than the manuscripts for the Hebrew Scriptures, and therefore represent the Old Testament text as it existed during the early Second Temple period. By contrast, the Hebrew Scriptures, being the product of the Masoretic tradition, represents the Old Testament as it existed for the Jews during the medieval period. This means the Septuagint represents the earlier text, making it of interest to anyone trying to discover an original or authoritative text.

The existence of earlier alternate texts presents a problem for those who claim the English language translations are accurate representations of the Scriptures. Bruce Metzger comments:

The importance of the Septuagint as a translation is obvious. Besides being the first translation ever made of the Hebrew Scriptures, it was the medium through which the religious ideas of the Hebrews were brought to the attention of the world. It was the Bible of the early Christian church, and when the Bible is quoted in the New Testament, it is almost always from the Septuagint version. Furthermore, even when not directly quoted in the New Testament, many of the terms used and partly created by the Septuagint translators became part and parcel of the language of the New Testament.[30]

As Bruce Metzger points out, the Septuagint was the Bible for the earliest Christians. The existence of an earlier and substantially different text pose problems for those who assume their Bible represents the original text. The existence of alternate texts is also a problem for scholars who prefer a literal, word for word English translation. The Septuagint is based on an earlier text and represents a grab bag of translation techniques. Bruce Metzger informs us the translators “avoided literalistic renderings of phrases congenial to another age and another language.”[31] Peter J. Gentry describes the translation styles as follows.

Individual books [of the Septuagint] vary in character and quality of translation and exhibit a full spectrum from extreme formal correspondence and literal translation to dynamic and functional translation and even paraphrase.[32]

Bruce Metzger gives us a list Septuagint books falling into the literal vs. paraphrastic translation styles.

The various books in the Septuagint vary as to literal and free translation. Examples of free (or even sometime paraphrastic) translations are Job, Proverbs, Isaiah, Daniel, and Esther; literal translations are the books of Judges (the B text), Psalms, Ecclesiastes, Lamentations, Ezra-Nehemiah, and Chronicles.[33]

Oxford professor Jan Joosten writes concerning the conflicting exegetical tendencies in the Septuagint.

Even within each individual translation unit, a multiplicity of factors comes into play. While most Septuagint translators basically attempt to give a faithful rendering of their Hebrew source text in the target language, several other elements determine the outcome in the translation. To begin with the translators’ comprehension of the source text is in many places predetermined by existing interpretative traditions. In many instances, the traditions surfacing in the Septuagint later turn up in Rabbinic sources, which led Zecharia Frankel to speak of the influence of Palestinian exegesis on the hermeneutics of the Septuagint. Another factor influencing the work of the translators is their knowledge of the biblical context in the largest sense of the word. Many renderings reveal the more or less unconscious working of an enormous web of intertextuality, of which the harmonization of parallel passages is only the most prominent symptom. A third factor is the culture, world view and theology of the Diaspora Jews among whom the version came into being. Admittedly, little is known about the culture, world view and theology of Alexandrian Judaism – making it difficult to determine influences with any degree of certainty.

The multiplicity of factors – several others could be thought of – leads to a layering of meanings in the Septuagint as a whole. The plain meaning of a passage may stand in contrast to the vocabulary used; different meanings may emerge according to whether a phrase is read in light of the near or the larger context; a simple and straightforward passage may contain one puzzling expression throwing the meaning of the whole into doubt. [34]

It is not always clear why one translation style was chosen over another; within each category of styles, we find historical books and wisdom literature. Some of the Major Prophets (Isaiah and Daniel) are paraphrased while the Psalms are rendered literally. Christ, the apostles, and the early church used a bible that based on different texts and translated using various methods, methods that would not pass muster with most scholars today. Yet the New Testament authors referred to the Septuagint as Scripture, and the Septuagint was the Bible of the early church. The style of translation is not as important as we think it is, which suggests problems with the modern idea of verbal, plenary inspiration.[35]

Leaving aside the issue of translation style (or exegetical tendencies), the Septuagint is not a book in the modern sense, but instead an undefined collection of scrolls. Eventually, Christians began cutting the scrolls into sheets and sewing them together to form what we call a codex. Many examples of codices exist, but they are not books in the modern sense. As Fr. Stephen Freeman notes, these were liturgical items, intended for use in and by the “worshipping Church.”

The Orthodox still use the Scriptures in this form – the Gospels as a book (it rests on the altar), and the Epistles as a book (known as the Apostol). They are bound in such a manner for their use in the services of the Church, not as private “Bibles.” These are outstanding examples of the Scriptures organized in their liturgical format for their proper use: reading in the Church. They are Churchly items – not “The Book” of later Protestantism. They are the Scriptures of the worshipping Church.[36]

The Manuscript Problem

Since the manuscripts of the Septuagint were copied by hand and by people of differing abilities, there were differing versions of the Septuagint in existence. The translation of the book of Daniel was so poor that the 2nd-century translation attributed to Theodotion replaced it.[37]

By the 3rd century, the textual problem had become so bad that Origen collected all the existing versions of the Septuagint and created a six-column work called the Hexapla.[38] The Hexapla compares different Septuagint texts against the Hebrew texts and other Greek translations. Bruce Metzger (and others) claim the fifth column of the Hexapla was Origen’s “corrected” text of the Septuagint.[39] Martin Hengel writes:

Origen created the Hexapla to obtain an overview of the confusing chaos. But he too defended the LXX text as approved by the church since it represented the translation that had come into existence by God’s providence and was binding in the churches.[40]

In the early 4th century Pamphilus and Eusebius published Origen’s corrected text; there were other 4th century recensions of the Septuagint as well.[41] This is not the full story of the Origen’s Hexapla. Andrew Louth claims that Origen’s purpose was not to determine the correct text of the Septuagint. Instead, its purpose was: “to lay bare the richness of meaning contained in the Scriptures of the Old Testament.” As evidence, he points to the following:

Passages from the other columns of the Hexapla found their way into Christian copies of the Septuagint — so-called ‘Hexaplaric’ readings — and it is these readings that we often find in patristic commentaries on Scripture, as well as in the texts included in the services in the Byzantine liturgy.[42]

This means our bibles today are products of a manuscript tradition.[43] Not only that, but there is no single authoritative text of the Old Testament, at least not in the sense used by Evangelical Protestants. Instead, Andrew Louth indicates that part of the manuscript tradition is an exploration of everything contained in the various texts.[44] Constantine Siamakis writes:

The ancient manuscripts of a text, together with quotations from it in other texts of similarly ancient or later date, and any surviving ancient translations of it which are also in ancient manuscript form, constitute the manuscript tradition of that text. Every printed edition of an ancient text derives directly or indirectly from its manuscript tradition.[45]

While we can speak of the manuscript tradition as a whole, there are different ways of interpreting that tradition. These methods of interpreting the manuscript tradition use various criteria, leading to variant authoritative texts. Today there are three families of texts used to translate the New Testament: the Textus Receptus, the Critical Text, and the Majority Text.

The Textus Receptus was created by the 16th-century scholar Erasmus using the best texts available at the time,[46] and is the basis for most of the vernacular translations produced during the Reformation, including the King James Bible. Later manuscript discoveries and scholarship resulted in the Critical Text, which is used for nearly all modern translations and scholarship. The Critical Text is based upon Alexandrian manuscripts which constitute only about 10% of the manuscripts in existence. By contrast, the Majority Text, also known as the Byzantine Majority text, is supported by around 90% of the existing manuscripts.[47] The Textus Receptus is based on the Byzantine Majority family of texts but uses the Masoretic texts as opposed to the Septuagint.

There are two basic textual families within the Old Testament manuscript tradition. The Masoretic Text is the text produced by medieval Jewish scholars and is the basis for their Hebrew Scriptures as well as the Protestant Old Testament. The Septuagint, as we have been discussing, was the Greek Translation of earlier editions of the Hebrew Scriptures; this was the text used by most New Testament writers for their quotations from the Old Testament.

There are some Fundamentalists who dismiss the importance of the Septuagint. Samuel C. Gipp, Th. D. calls the Septuagint: “A figment of someone’s imagination.” Gipp considers the Letter of Aristeas to be: “the sole evidence for the existence of this mystical document. [emphasis in the original]” He dismisses the textual evidence for the Septuagint as follows: “There are absolutely NO Greek Old Testament manuscripts existent with a date of 250 BC or anywhere near it. Neither is there any record in Jewish history of such a work being contemplated or performed. [emphasis in the original]” He claims Origen’s Hexapla is the sole evidence for the existence of the Septuagint. Gipp’s arguments are widespread among the King James Only movement.[48] Beginning with the proposition that the King James Version is the only inspired translation, they must then discredit all others, including the biblical manuscripts used by other translations.

We need not address his issues point by point, as the contents of this chapter have already done that. However, we should note that the test of an ancient document’s authenticity is NOT the existence of manuscripts from the time of the document’s creation. If that were the case, we would have to dismiss the entire Old Testament.[49] The oldest manuscript evidence for the Masoretic text is from the 9th and 10th century AD, while the manuscript evidence for the Septuagint dates from 150 BC – 70 AD. When he says, there are no Greek manuscripts going back to the 3rd century BC, the same is true of Hebrew manuscripts. In effect, Samuel C. Gipp is arguing against his own bible.

Even Protestants who accept the importance of the Septuagint generally choose not to use it for their bible texts. When I was Lutheran, I raised the question of why we didn’t use the Septuagint instead of the Masoretic text as the basis for our new Lutheran Study Bible, to which one pastor replied: “Which Septuagint?” This is a reasonable question for a Protestant to ask, especially given what we now know about the translation and copying of the Septuagint during the first four centuries of the Christian era.[50] But we could just as well ask which Bible, as there are multiple canons in use among the different Christian communities. Moreover, there are differing textual families, each with seemingly valid arguments for their use. When confronted by multiple Old Testament canons, each authoritative for different Christian communities, the standard question is which canon is correct? But instead, what if we asked ourselves why the question of canon is so important? To answer this, it may help to examine the question of how the canon(s) were formed in the first place.


Table 1: The American KJV and the Septuagint

King James Bible Septuagint
Genesis Genesis
Exodus Exodus
Leviticus Leviticus
Numbers Numbers
Deuteronomy Deuteronomy
Joshua Joshua
Judges Judges
Ruth Ruth
1 Samuel 1st Kingdoms
2 Samuel 2nd Kingdoms
1 Kings 3rd Kingdoms
2 Kings 4th Kingdoms
1 Chronicles 1 Chronicles
2 Chronicles 2 Chronicles
– Prayer of Manasseh
1 Esdras (the Greek Ezra)
Ezra 2 Esdras
Esther Esther with additional material
1 Maccabees
2 Maccabees
3 Maccabees
Job Job
Psalms Psalms
Psalm 151
Proverbs Proverbs
Ecclesiastes Ecclesiastes
Song of Solomon Song of Solomon or Canticles
Wisdom, or Wisdom of Solomon
Sirach or Ecclesiasticus
Psalms of Solomon[51]
Isaiah Isaiah
Jeremiah Jeremiah
Baruch and the Epistle of Jeremy
Lamentations Lamentations
Ezekiel Ezekiel
Daniel Daniel with additions
– Susanna
– Prayer of Azariah
– Song of the Three Holy Youths
– Bel and the Dragon
Minor Prophets (The Twelve)
Hosea – Hosea
Joel – Joel
Amos – Amos
Obadiah – Obadiah
Jonah – Jonah
Micah – Micah
Nahum – Nahum
Habakkuk – Habakkuk
Zephaniah Zephaniah
Haggai Haggai
Zechariah Zechariah
Malachi Malachi

Table 2 Chiastic Structure of 1 Esdras

Masoretic Text Septuagint Summary
(II Chr. 35) (I Esd. 1:1-33) Continuation ofParalipomenon

(i.e., “Things Set Off” from Esdras)

(II Chr. 36) (I Esd. 1:34-58)
Begin Ezra
Ezr. 1 I Esd. 2:1-14 Cyrus’s edict to rebuild the Temple
Ezr. 4:7-24 I Esd. 2:15-30a Flash forward to Artaxerxes’ reign (prolepsis)
Core: Chiasm of Celebration
I Esd. 2:30b Inclusio: Work hindered until second year of Darius’s reign
I Esd. 3 AFeast in the court of Darius with Darius contest
I Esd. 4 BDarius vows to repatriate the exiles
I Esd. 5:1-6 XThe feast of those who returned to Jerusalem
Ezr. 2 I Esd. 5:7-46 B’List of former exiles who returned
Ezr. 3 I Esd. 5:47-65 A’Feast of Tabernacles
Ezr. 4:1-5 I Esd. 5:66-73 Inclusio: Work hindered until second year of Darius’s reign
Ezr. 5 I Esd. 6:1-22 In the second year of Darius’s reign
Ezr. 6 I Esd. 6:23 — 7 The temple is finished
Ezr. 7 I Esd. 8:1-27 In Artaxerxes’ reign
Ezr. 8 I Esd. 8:28-67 List of latter exiles who returned
Ezr. 9 I Esd. 8:68-90 Repentance from miscegenation
Ezr. 10 I Esd. 8:91-9:36 Putting away of foreign wives and children
(Neh. 7:73-8:12) (I Esd. 9:37-55)


Alter, R. (2019). The Hebrew Bible: A Translation with Commentary (First Edition ed., Vol. 1). New York: W. W. Norton & Company.

Askowith, D. (1915). The Toleration and Persecution of the Jews in the Roman Empire (Part I). New York: Columbia University.

Barr, J. (1985). Why the World Was Created In 4004 B.C.: Archbishop Ussher And biblical Chronology. Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, 67(2), 575-608.

Barrera, J. T. (1998). The Jewish Bible and the Christian Bible; An Introduction to the History of the Text. (W. G. Watson, Trans.) Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Bivin, D., & Blizzard Jr., R. (1994). Understanding the Difficult Words of Jesus: New Insights From a Hebrew Perspective (Revised Edition ed.). Shippensburg: Destiny Image Publishers.

Brenton, L. (n.d.). Psalms 13. Retrieved October 12, 2014, from Elpenor’s Bilingual (Greek / English) Old Testament:

Charles, R. H. (1913). The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament in English; Volume II, Pseudopedigrapha. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Clarke, A. (1833). The Holy Bible: containing the Old and New Testaments, with a commentary and critical notes (Royal Octavo Stereotype Edition ed., Vol. I). New York: B. Waugh and T. Maxon.

Edersheim, A. (1993). The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah: New Updated Edition. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.

Epstein, I. (Ed.). (n.d.). Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Sanhedrin. Retrieved January 27, 2015, from Come and Hear:

Fores, V. (1996, December 9). The Majority Text vs. The Critical Text. Retrieved January 25, 2015, from Teoria Universitat de València Press:

Freeman, S. (2014, October 10). The Church and the Scriptures. Retrieved October 13, 2014, from Glory to God for All Things:

Gentry, P. J. (2009). The Text of the Old Testament. Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, 52(1), 19-45.

Gentry, P. J. (2014). The Great Code: Greek Bible and the Humanities. Midwestern Journal of Theology, 13(1), 50-80.

Gipp, S. C. (2016). What is the Septuagint? Retrieved October 28, 2016, from

Gleason, J. (2014, October 1). The Apostle Paul’s Reading of Psalm 14. Retrieved October 12, 2014, from On Behalf of All:

Hengel, M. (1989). The ‘Hellenization’ of Judea in the First Century after Christ. Eugene: Wipf and Stock Publishers.

Hengel, M. (2002). The Septuagint as Christian Scripture. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic.

Joosten, J. (2008). To See God: Conflicting Exegetical Tendencies in the Septuagint. Retrieved February 6, 2018, from

Kelly, J. N. (1976). Early Christian Doctrines (5th Edition ed.). San Francisco: Harper & Row, Publishers.

Louth, A. (2013). Introducing Eastern Orthodox Theology. Downers Grove: IVP Academic.

Metzger, B. M. (2001). The Bible in Translation (Kindle Edition ed.). Grand Rapids: Baker Publishing Group.

Pelikan, J. (2005). Whose Bible Is It: A Short History of the Scriptures (Kindle Edition ed.). New York: Penguin Group US.

Samworth, H. (n.d.). What is the Textus Receptus? Retrieved January 25, 2015, from Sola Scriptura:

Siamakis, C. (1997). Transmission of the Test of the Holy Bible. (A. Gerostergios, Ed., & A. Hendry, Trans.) Belmont: Institute for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies.

Stark, R. (1996). The Rise of Christianity. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.

The Gale Group. (2008). Hebrew: History of the Aleph-Bet. Retrieved January 27, 2015, from Jewish Virtual Library:


  1. (Gentry, The Great Code: Greek Bible and the Humanities, 2014, p. 51)
  2. Edersheim 1993, 17-18. Martin Hengel describes Septuagint studies as a “realm [for] Old Testament and Patristics scholars.” He also says it is “one of the most exclusive — because it is so complicated — specialties of theology of philologia sacra.” (Hengel, The Septuagint as Christian Scripture 2002, 19) We will not be delving that deeply into the subject.
  3. (Hengel, The Septuagint as Christian Scripture, 2002, p. 76) Although a number of church fathers from Justin Martyr held to the miraculous origins of the Septuagint, the historical evidence suggests the translation of the obscure Hebrew text into Greek was a product of the Jewish diaspora.
  4. (Gentry, The Text of the Old Testament, 2009, p. 24) (Gentry, The Great Code: Greek Bible and the Humanities, 2014, p. 51)
  5. (Gentry, The Great Code: Greek Bible and the Humanities, 2014, p. 52)
  6. The scriptures clearly state that Jesus spoke Hebrew (Acts 26:14), and Paul spoke Hebrew (Acts 21:40). The charge against Jesus, which Pilate had affixed to Jesus’ cross, was written in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew (Lu 23:38). While Aramaic was the language spoken immediately after the Jews returned from Babylon, the Hasmonean dynasty appear to have changed the language back to Hebrew. (Bivin & Blizzard Jr., 1994, p. Chapter 2) Alfred Edersheim explicitly states of Jesus: “He spoke Hebrew, and used and quoted the Scriptures in the original.” (Edersheim, 1993, p. 175)
  7. (Hengel, The ‘Hellenization’ of Judea in the First Century after Christ, 1989, p. 13)
  8. (Edersheim, 1993, p. 20)
  9. (Pelikan, 2005, p. 46)
  10. The term religio licita is a term attributed to Tertullian but is not a term derived from Roman law. The equivalent Roman term is collegia licita, which designated religious groups authorized to organize and hold services. The Jews were collegia licita, and Christians were not. (Askowith, 1915, p. 173)
  11. (Pelikan, 2005, p. 54)
  12. (Stark, 1996, p. 58); “The finance minister of the Ethiopian kingdom of Napata-Meroe (Acts 8.27), presumably a godfearer, was one example.” (Hengel, The ‘Hellenization’ of Judea in the First Century after Christ 1989, 13-14) We may also presume Cornelius the Centurian (Acts 10) was a Godfearer. Even today, one may be an adherent of Judaism without being a convert. Stories abound of rabbis who attempt to dissuade converts on the grounds that adherents have to keep the 10 commandments, but converts have to keep the entire 613 commandments of the Law.
  13. There were multiple textual variants (or traditions) circulating in the time of Christ. After the rise of Christianity and the fall of Jerusalem, everything changed. Dempster writes:

    After the fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE changes within Judaism led to the ascendancy of one tradition—what has come to be known as rabbinic Judaism. …One of the accompanying results was the ascendancy of the form of the Jewish Scriptures used by that group. In the second century CE, revisions of the older [Greek] texts were made by Aquila, Symmachus, Theodotion, and others. Their goal was apparently to bring the translations into line with the authoritative textual stream of their day, the rabbinic text. (Dempster 2008, Kindle Locations 2599-2602; 2628-2633)

  14. (Hengel, The Septuagint as Christian Scripture, 2002, pp. 22-23)
  15. (Kelly, 1976, p. 53) We now know the Septuagint better represents the original text of the Hebrew Scriptures, as demonstrated by the existence of texts in the Dead Sea Scrolls which match the Septuagint version.
  16. (Alter, 2019, p. xiii)
  17. (pp. Ibid, xv)
  18. (The Gale Group, 2008)
  19. (Epstein)
  20. (Alter, 2019, p. xxv)
  21. (Hengel, The Septuagint as Christian Scripture, 2002, pp. 84-85)
  22. (Barrera, 1998, pp. 60-64)
  23. (Brenton)
  24. (Gleason, 2014)
  25. (Barrera, 1998, p. 284)
  26. (Barr, 1985, p. 582)
  27. 1 Esdras 3:4 to 4:4. A chiasm (or chiasmus) is a symmetric literary structure whereby a series of ideas are presented (A and B), with variant ideas (A’ and B’) being presented in reverse order (A, B, B’, A’). Sometimes you might have a central idea (X) around which the other ideas are arranged (A, B, X, B’, A’).
  28. (Charles, 1913, p. 5)
  29. (Clarke, 1833, p. iii) A “gloss,” in this context, is an interpretation or explanation. We will examine this contention further in Part III of this book.
  30. (Metzger, 2001, pp. Kindle Locations 302-306)
  31. (pp. Ibid, Kindle Locations 266-267)
  32. (Gentry, The Text of the Old Testament, 2009, p. 24)
  33. (Metzger, 2001, pp. Kindle Locations 285-287)
  34. (Joosten, 2008)
  35. Plenary is a term that means unqualified and absolute.
  36. (Freeman, 2014) The formal name for the Apostol is the Apostolos, and it contains the New Testament with markings indicating the lectionary readings — the readings appointed for that day. The Old Testament lectionary readings, which includes what Protestants call the Apocrypha, are contained in a third volume called the Prophetologion. The Psalter contains the text of the Psalms, along with other texts appropriate to their use both in Church and in prayer.
  37. (Metzger, 2001, p. Kindle Location 298) For a variety of reasons, scholars now doubt that Theodotion was the actual source of the translation of Daniel we find in the later versions of the Septuagint.
  38. The Hexapla was such a massive work that it seems unlikely the entire work was ever copied. The original was maintained in the library of Pamphilus at Caesarea of Palestine, where it existed until 638 when the city was conquered by the Muslims (Saracens). (Metzger, 2001, pp. Kindle Locations 326-330)
  39. (Metzger, 2001, pp. Kindle Locations 311-323)
  40. (Hengel, The Septuagint as Christian Scripture, 2002, p. 36)
  41. (Barrera, 1998, pp. 330-334)
  42. (Louth, 2013, p. 12)
  43. Some, like Martin Hengel, draw different conclusions from the Hexapla, conclusions that are unsupported by the evidence, and are based on a preexisting bias.

    Nevertheless, he never mentions the [Septuagint] translation or even the inspiration legend. For him, the Hebrew original gained a certain importance once again. Indeed, the first two columns of his magnum opus were devoted to it. Thereby the church was continually reminded that the LXX is only a translation that can never exceed the Hebrew original in dignity, but must, rather, always succeed it.” (Hengel, The Septuagint as Christian Scripture, 2002, p. 34)

  44. (Louth, 2013, p. 12)
  45. (Siamakis, 1997, p. 8)
  46. (Samworth)
  47. (Fores, 1996)
  48. (Gipp, 2016) Our KJV is not the original 1611 version. Benjamin Blayney’s Oxford edition of 1769 is a reworking of Francis Sawyer Parris’ Cambridge edition. The King James Only movement praises the King James Version of 1611 as being inspired but uses the Oxford edition of 1769. They claim the Oxford edition merely corrected errors, but never address how an inspired text can be edited to correct errors.
  49. If we dismissed the Septuagint because we have no examples dating to the time of their writing, we would also have to dismiss most of the Bible. The Hebrew Scriptures are among the best-attested ancient documents, with more than ten thousand manuscripts. However, because the Jews destroy worn out scrolls, few manuscripts exist earlier than the 13th century, and most of those exist in fragments. By way of contrast, Homer’s Iliad is preserved in 647 manuscripts; the history of Rome composed by Velleius Paterculus survived in a single incomplete copy which was lost after being copied; the only manuscript of the Epistle to Diognetus was destroyed in a library fire.
  50. The answer, which no right-thinking Protestant would accept, is to use the version of the Septuagint delivered to us by the Church. This is, however, the basis upon which Protestants accept their canon — it is the canon delivered to them.
  51. The Psalms of Solomon are contained in the Septuagint but are not generally considered to be Jewish or Christian Scripture. There are some Orthodox clergy who consider them to be Scripture, but the wider Orthodox community does not.