Origin of the Bible

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Septuagint (250 BC to 150 BC) – the Greek Septuagint, abbreviation Lxx, the earliest extant Greek translation of the Old Testament from the original Hebrew. The Septuagint was presumably made for the Jewish community in Egypt when Greek was the common language throughout the region. Analysis of the language has established that the Torah, or Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament), was translated near the middle of the 3rd century BC and that the rest of the Old Testament was translated in the 2nd century BC.

The name Septuagint (from the Latin septuaginta, “70”) was derived later from the legend that there were 72 translators, 6 from each of the 12 tribes of Israel, who worked independently to translate the whole and ultimately produced identical versions. Another legend holds that the translators were sent to Alexandria by Eleazar, the chief priest at Jerusalem, at the request of Ptolemy II Philadelphus (285–246 BCE), though its source, the Letter of Aristeas, is unreliable. Despite the tradition that it was perfectly translated, there are large differences in style and usage between the Septuagint’s translation of the Torah and its translations of the later books in the Old Testament. In the 3rd century CE Origen attempted to clear up copyists’ errors that had crept into the text of the Septuagint, which by then varied widely from copy to copy, and a number of other scholars consulted the Hebrew texts in order to make the Septuagint more accurate.

The whole story was recorded by Josephus Antiquities 12:2-7 (Whiston, pg 309-312)

Advantage: the translators had no political prejudice. They were asked to translate for knowledge sake, as it was commissioned by Ptolemy II for broadening knowledge for the Library of Alexandria. Research found that 93 percent of new Testament are quoted from the Septuagint.

Disadvantages: certain sections in Jeremiah seemed deleted (Jer 8:11-12 God to punish abomination; 10:7-8 other nations to fear Israel’s God; 17:1-4; Judah’s heritage; 27:7, 13 all nations to serve Nebuchadnezzar and his sons; 29:16-20 throne of David; 30:10-11 save Israel but end to all others; 30:22 God favours Israel; 33:14-26 God to bring back Judah and Israel (Joseph); 39:4-13 captivity (fulfilment of Jeremiah’s prophecy); under King David.

~ by Joel Huan on June 13, 2019.

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