Septuagint: Wikis


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The Septuagint: A column of uncial text from 1 Esdras in the Codex Vaticanus, the basis of Sir Lancelot Charles Lee Brenton's Greek edition and English translation.

The Septuagint (pronounced /ˈsɛptʊ.ədʒɪnt/), or simply "LXX", referred to in critical works by the abbreviation  \mathfrak{G} ,[1] is the Koine Greek version of the Hebrew Bible, translated in stages between the 3rd and 1st centuries BCE in Alexandria.[2] It was begun by the third century BCE and completed before 132 BCE.[3]

It is the oldest of several ancient translations of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, lingua franca of the eastern Mediterranean Basin from the time of Alexander the Great (356-323 BCE).

The Septuagint was held in great respect in ancient times; Philo and Josephus (associated with Hellenistic Judaism) ascribed divine inspiration to its authors.[4] Besides the Old Latin versions, the LXX is also the basis for the Slavonic, the Syriac, Old Armenian, Old Georgian and Coptic versions of the Old Testament.[5] Of significance for all Christians and for Bible scholars, the LXX is quoted by the New Testament and by the Apostolic Fathers.


Creation of the Septuagint

Jewish scholars (see also Hellenistic Judaism) first translated the Torah into Koine Greek in the third century BCE[6]. According to the record in the Talmud,

'King Ptolemy once gathered 72 Elders. He placed them in 72 chambers, each of them in a separate one, without revealing to them why they were summoned. He entered each one's room and said: 'Write for me the Torah of Moshe, your teacher.' God put it in the heart of each one to translate identically as all the others did'[7]

Further books were translated over the next two centuries. It is not altogether clear which was translated when, or where; some may even have been translated twice, into different versions, and then revised.[8] The quality and style of the different translators also varied considerably from book to book, from the literal to paraphrasing to interpretative. According to one assessment "the Pentateuch is reasonably well translated, but the rest of the books, especially the poetical books, are often very poorly done and even contain sheer absurdities".[9]

As the work of translation progressed gradually, and new books were added to the collection, the compass of the Greek Bible came to be somewhat indefinite. The Pentateuch always maintained its pre-eminence as the basis of the canon; but the prophetic collection (out of which the Nevi'im were selected) changed its aspect by having various hagiographa incorporated into it. Some of the newer works, those called anagignoskomena in Greek, are not included in the Jewish canon. Among these books are Maccabees and the Wisdom of Ben Sira. Also, the Septuagint version of some works, like Daniel and Esther, are longer than those in the Masoretic Text.[10] Some of the later books (Wisdom of Solomon, 2 Maccabees, and others) apparently were composed in Greek.[11]

The authority of the larger group of "writings", out of which the ketuvim were selected, had not yet been determined, although some sort of selective process must have been employed because the Septuagint did not include other well-known Jewish documents such as Enoch or Jubilees or other writings that are now part of the Pseudepigrapha. It is not known what principles were used to determine the contents of the Septuagint beyond the "Law and the Prophets", a phrase used several times in the New Testament.

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Naming and designation

The Septuagint derives its name from Latin Interpretatio septuaginta virorum, (Greek: ἡ μετάφρασις τῶν ἑβδομήκοντα, hē metáphrasis tōn hebdomēkonta), "translation of the seventy interpreters".[2]

As stated in the Tractate Megillah of the Babylonian Talmud (pages 9a-9b), and later narrated by Philo of Alexandria, 72 Jewish translators were used to complete the translation while kept in separate chambers. They all produced identical versions of the text in seventy-two days. This story underlines the fact that Jews in antiquity wished to present the translation as authoritative in order to prevent criticism by non-Jews based on divergent translations.[4] The text in Megillah identifies fifteen specific unusual translations made by the scholars. Only two of these translations are found in the extant LXX.

The word septuaginta[12] means "seventy" in Latin (hence the abbreviation LXX), based on the Jewish source for the translation event that refers to the account, also found in the pseudepigraphic Letter of Aristeas which repeats the story of how seventy-two Jewish scholars were forced[13] by the Greek King of Egypt Ptolemy II Philadelphus in the 3rd century BCE to translate the Torah (or Pentateuch) from Biblical Hebrew into Greek for inclusion in the Library of Alexandria.[4] In Hebrew it is known as Targum Shiv'im - "the translation of the 70".

Textual history

The inter-relationship between various significant ancient manuscripts of the Old Testament (some identified by their siglum). LXX here denotes the original septuagint.

Modern scholarship holds that the LXX was written during the 3rd through 1st centuries BCE. But nearly all attempts at dating specific books, with the exception of the Pentateuch (early- to mid-3rd century BCE), are tentative and without consensus.[4]

Later Jewish revisions and recensions of the Greek against the Hebrew are well attested, the most famous of which include the Three: Aquila (AD 128), Symmachus, and Theodotion. These three, to varying degrees, are more literal renderings of their contemporary Hebrew scriptures as compared to the Old Greek. Modern scholars consider one or more of the 'three' to be totally new Greek versions of the Hebrew Bible.[14]

Around AD 235, Origen, a Christian scholar in Alexandria, completed the Hexapla, a comprehensive comparison of the ancient versions and Hebrew text side-by-side in six columns, with diacritical markings (a.k.a. "editor's marks", "critical signs" or "Aristarchian signs"). Much of this work was lost, but several compilations of the fragments are available. In the first column was the contemporary Hebrew, in the second a Greek transliteration of it, then the newer Greek versions each in their own columns. Origen also kept a column for the Old Greek (the Septuagint) and next to it was a critical apparatus combining readings from all the Greek versions with diacritical marks indicating to which version each line (Gr. στἰχος) belonged.[15] Perhaps the voluminous Hexapla was never copied in its entirety, but Origen's combined text ("the fifth column") was copied frequently, eventually without the editing marks, and the older uncombined text of the LXX was neglected. Thus this combined text became the first major Christian recension of the LXX, often called the Hexaplar recension. In the century following Origen, two other major recensions were identified by Jerome, who attributed these to Lucian and Hesychius.[4]

The oldest manuscripts of the LXX include 2nd century BCE fragments of Leviticus and Deuteronomy (Rahlfs nos. 801, 819, and 957), and 1st century BCE fragments of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, and the Minor Prophets (Rahlfs nos. 802, 803, 805, 848, 942, and 943). Relatively complete manuscripts of the LXX postdate the Hexaplar rescension and include the Codex Vaticanus and the Codex Sinaiticus of the 4th century and the Codex Alexandrinus of the 5th century. These are indeed the oldest surviving nearly-complete manuscripts of the Old Testament in any language; the oldest extant complete Hebrew texts date some 600 years later, from the first half of the 10th century.[5][16] While there are differences between these three codices, scholarly consensus today holds that one LXX — that is, the original pre-Christian translation — underlies all three. The various Jewish and later Christian revisions and recensions are largely responsible for the divergence of the codices.[4]


Relationship between the Septuagint and the Masoretic text

The sources of the many differences between the Septuagint and the Masoretic text have long been discussed by scholars. The most widely accepted view today is that the original Septuagint provided a reasonably accurate record of an early Semitic textual variant, now lost, that differed from ancestors of the Masoretic text. Ancient scholars, however, had no reason to suspect such a possibility. Early Christians—who were largely unfamiliar with Hebrew texts, and were thus only made aware of the differences through the newer Greek versions—tended to dismiss the differences as a product of uninspired translation of the Hebrew in these new versions. Following the Renaissance, a common opinion among some humanists was that the LXX translators made a poor translation from the Hebrew and that the LXX became more corrupt with time.

These issues notwithstanding, the text of the LXX is generally close to that of the Masoretes. For example, Genesis 4:1-6 is identical in both the LXX and the Masoretic Text. Likewise, Genesis 4:8 to the end of the chapter is the same. There is only one noticeable difference in that chapter, at 4:7, to wit:

Genesis 4:7, LXX (NETS)
Genesis 4:7, Masoretic (NRSV)
If you offer correctly but do not divide correctly, have you not sinned? Be still; his recourse is to you, and you will rule over him. If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.

This instance illustrates the complexity of assessing differences between the LXX and the Masoretic Text. Despite the striking divergence of meaning here between the two, nearly identical consonantal Hebrew source texts can be reconstructed. The readily apparent semantic differences result from alternative strategies for interpreting the difficult verse and relate to differences in vowelization and punctuation of the consonantal text.

The differences between the LXX and the MT thus fall into four categories.[17]

  1. Different Hebrew sources for the MT and the LXX. Evidence of this can be found throughout the Old Testament. Most obvious are major differences in Jeremiah and Job, where the LXX is much shorter and chapters appear in different order than in the MT, and Esther where almost one third of the verses in the LXX text have no parallel in the MT. A more subtle example may be found in Isaiah 36.11; the meaning ultimately remains the same, but the choice of words evidences a different text. The MT reads " tedaber yehudit be-'ozne ha`am al ha-homa" [speak not the Judean language in the ears of (or — which can be heard by) the people on the wall]. The same verse in the LXX reads according to the translation of Brenton "and speak not to us in the Jewish tongue: and wherefore speakest thou in the ears of the men on the wall." The MT reads "people" where the LXX reads "men". This difference is very minor and does not affect the meaning of the verse. Scholars at one time had used discrepancies such as this to claim that the LXX was a poor translation of the Hebrew original. With the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, variant Hebrew texts of the Bible were found. In fact this verse is found in Qumran (1QIsaa) where the Hebrew word "haanashim" (the men) is found in place of "haam" (the people). This discovery, and others like it, showed that even seemingly minor differences of translation could be the result of variant Hebrew source texts.
  2. Differences in interpretation stemming from the same Hebrew text. A good example is Genesis 4.7, shown above.
  3. Differences as a result of idiomatic translation issues (i.e. a Hebrew idiom may not easily translate into Greek, thus some difference is intentionally or unintentionally imparted). For example, in Psalm 47:10 the MT reads "The shields of the earth belong to God". The LXX reads "To God are the mighty ones of the earth." The metaphor "shields" would not have made much sense to a Greek speaker; thus the words "mighty ones" are substituted in order to retain the original meaning.
  4. Transmission changes in Hebrew or Greek (Diverging revisionary/recensional changes and copyist errors)

Dead Sea Scrolls

The discovery of many Biblical fragments in the Dead Sea scrolls that agree with the Septuagint rather than the Masoretic Text proved that many of the variants in Greek were also present in early Semitic manuscripts.[18]

Many of the oldest Biblical fragments among the Dead Sea Scrolls, particularly those in Aramaic, correspond more closely with the LXX than with the Masoretic text (although the majority of these variations are extremely minor, e.g. grammatical changes, spelling differences or missing words, and do not affect the meaning of sentences and paragraphs).[2][19][20] This confirms the scholarly consensus that the LXX represents a separate Hebrew-text tradition from that which was later standardized as the Masoretic text.[2][21]

Use of the Septuagint

Jewish use

In the 3rd century BCE, most Jewish communities were located in the Hellenistic world where Greek was the lingua franca. It is believed that the LXX was produced because many Jews outside of Judea needed a Greek version of the scripture for use during synagogue readings[22][23] or for religious study.[24] Some theorise that Hellenistic Jews intended the septuagint as a contribution to Hellenistic culture.[4] Alexandria held the greatest diaspora Jewish community of the age and was also a great center of Greek letters. Alexandria is thus likely the site of LXX authorship, a notion supported by the legend of Ptolemy and the 72 scholars.[25] The Septuagint enjoyed widespread use in the Hellenistic Jewish diaspora and even in Jerusalem, which had become a rather cosmopolitan (and therefore Greek-speaking) town. Both Philo and Josephus show a reliance on the Septuagint in their citations of Jewish scripture.

Starting approximately in the 2nd century AD (see also Council of Jamnia), several factors led most Jews to abandon use of the LXX. The earliest gentile Christians of necessity used the LXX, as it was at the time the only Greek version of the bible, and most, if not all, of these early non-Jewish Christians could not read Hebrew. The association of the LXX with a rival religion may have rendered it suspect in the eyes of the newer generation of Jews and Jewish scholars.[5] Perhaps more importantly, the Greek language—and therefore the Greek Bible—declined among Jews after most of them fled from the Greek-speaking eastern Roman Empire into the Aramaic-speaking Persian Empire when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans. Instead, Jews used Hebrew/Aramaic Targum manuscripts later compiled by the Masoretes; and authoritative Aramaic translations, such as those of Onkelos and Rabbi Yonathan ben Uziel.[26]

What was perhaps most significant for the LXX, as distinct from other Greek versions, was that the LXX began to lose Jewish sanction after differences between it and contemporary Hebrew scriptures were discovered. Even Greek-speaking Jews — such as those remaining in Palestine — tended less to the LXX, preferring other Jewish versions in Greek, such as that of Aquila, which seemed to be more concordant with contemporary Hebrew texts.[5] While Jews have not used the LXX in worship or religious study since the second century AD, recent scholarship has brought renewed interest in it in Judaic Studies.

Christian use

The Early Christian Church used the Greek texts since Greek was a lingua franca of the Roman Empire at the time, and the language of the Greco-Roman Church (Aramaic was the language of Syriac Christianity, which used the Targums). In addition the Church Fathers tended to accept Philo's account of the LXX's miraculous and inspired origin. Furthermore, the New Testament writers, when citing the Jewish scriptures or when quoting Jesus doing so, freely used the Greek translation, implying that Jesus, his Apostles and their followers considered it reliable.[27]

When Jerome undertook the revision of the Old Latin translations of the Septuagint, he checked the Septuagint against the Hebrew texts that were then available. He came to believe that the Hebrew text better testified to Christ than the Septuagint.[28] 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; a flood of still less moderate criticism came from those who regarded Jerome as a forger. But with the passage of time, acceptance of Jerome's version gradually increased until it displaced the Old Latin translations of the Septuagint.[5]

The Hebrew text diverges in some passages that Christians hold to prophesy Christ[29] and the Eastern Orthodox Church still prefers to use the LXX as the basis for translating the Old Testament into other languages. The Eastern Orthodox also use LXX untranslated where Greek is the liturgical language, e.g. in the Orthodox Church of Constantinople, the Church of Greece and the Cypriot Orthodox Church. Many modern critical translations of the Old Testament, while using the Masoretic text as their basis, consult the Septuagint as well as other versions in an attempt to reconstruct the meaning of the Hebrew text whenever the latter is unclear, undeniably corrupt, or ambiguous.[5]


The Septuagint includes some books not found in the Hebrew Bible. Many Protestant Bibles follow the Jewish canon and exclude the additional books. Roman Catholics, however, include some of these books in their canon while Eastern Orthodox Churches use all the books of the Septuagint (except the Psalms of Solomon[30]). Anglican lectionaries also use all of the books except Psalm 151, and the full Authorized (King James) Version includes these additional books in a separate section labelled the "Apocrypha".

Language of the Septuagint

Some sections of the Septuagint may show Semiticisms, or idioms and phrases based on Semitic languages like Hebrew and Aramaic.[27] Other books, such as LXX Daniel and Proverbs, show Greek influence more strongly.[4] The book of Daniel that is found in almost all Greek bibles, however, is not from the LXX, but rather from Theodotion's translation, which more closely resembles the Masoretic Daniel.[4]

The LXX is also useful for elucidating pre-Masoretic Hebrew: many proper nouns are spelled out with Greek vowels in the LXX, while contemporary Hebrew texts lacked vowel pointing.[31] One must, however, evaluate such evidence with caution since it is extremely unlikely that all ancient Hebrew sounds had precise Greek equivalents.[32]

Books of the Septuagint

See also Table of books below.

All the books of western canons of the Old Testament are found in the Septuagint, although the order does not always coincide with the Western ordering of the books. The Septuagint order for the Old Testament is evident in the earliest Christian Bibles (5th century).[4]

Some books that are set apart in the Masoretic text are grouped together. For example the Books of Samuel and the Books of Kings are in the LXX one book in four parts called Βασιλειῶν ("Of Reigns"); scholars believe that this is the original arrangement before the book was divided for readability. In LXX, the Books of Chronicles supplement Reigns and it is called Paraleipoménon (Παραλειπομένων—things left out). The Septuagint organizes the minor prophets as twelve parts of one Book of Twelve.[4]

Some scripture of ancient origin are found in the Septuagint but are not present in the Hebrew. These include additions to Daniel and Esther. For more information regarding these books, see the articles Biblical apocrypha, Biblical canon, Books of the Bible, and Deuterocanonical books.

The New Testament makes a number of allusions to and may quote the additional books. The books are Tobit, Judith, Wisdom of Solomon, Wisdom of Jesus Sirach, Baruch, Epistle of Jeremy (which later became chapter 6 of Baruch in the Vulgate), additions to Daniel (The Prayer of Azarias, the Song of the Three Children, Sosanna and Bel and the Dragon), additions to Esther, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, 3 Maccabees, 4 Maccabees, 1 Esdras, Odes, including the Prayer of Manasses, and Psalm 151. The canonical acceptance of these books varies among different Christian traditions, and there are canonical books not derived from the Septuagint; for a discussion see the article on Biblical apocrypha.

Extracts from Theodotion

In most ancient copies of the Bible which contain the Septuagint version of the Old Testament, the Book of Daniel is not the original Septuagint version, but instead is a copy of Theodotion's translation from the Hebrew[33]. The Septuagint version of the Book of Daniel was discarded, in favour of Theodotion's version, in the second to third centuries; in Greek-speaking areas, this happened near the end of the second century, and in Latin-speaking areas (at least in North Africa), it occurred in the middle of the third century[33]. History does not record the reason for this, and Jerome basically reports, in the preface to the Vulgate version of Daniel, this thing 'just' happened[33].

The canonical Ezra-Nehemiah is known in the Septuagint as "Esdras B", and 1 Esdras is "Esdras A". 1 Esdras is a very similar text to the books of Ezra-Nehemiah, and the two are widely thought by scholars to be derived from the same original text. It has been proposed, and is thought highly likely by scholars, that "Esdras B" - the canonical Ezra-Nehemiah - is Theodotion's version of this material, and "Esdras A" is the version which was previously in the Septuagint on its own[33].

Printed editions

The texts of all printed editions are derived from the three recensions mentioned above, that of Origen, Lucian, or Hesychius.

  • The editio princeps is the Complutensian Polyglot. It was based on manuscripts that are now lost, but seems to transmit quite early readings.[34]
  • The Aldine edition (begun by Aldus Manutius) appeared at Venice in 1518. The text is closer to Codex Vaticanus than the Complutensian. The editor says he collated ancient manuscripts but does not specify them. It has been reprinted several times.
  • The most important edition is the Roman or Sixtine, which reproduces the Codex Vaticanus" almost exclusively. It was published under the direction of Cardinal Caraffa, with the help of various savants, in 1586, by the authority of Sixtus V, to assist the revisers who were preparing the Latin Vulgate edition ordered by the Council of Trent. It has become the textus receptus of the Greek Old Testament and has had many new editions, such as that of Robert Holmes and James Parsons (Oxford, 1798-1827), the seven editions of Constantin von Tischendorf, which appeared at Leipzig between 1850 and 1887, the last two, published after the death of the author and revised by Nestle, the four editions of Henry Barclay Swete (Cambridge, 1887-95, 1901, 1909), etc.
  • Grabe's edition was published at Oxford, from 1707 to 1720, and reproduced, but imperfectly, the "Codex Alexandrinus" of London. For partial editions, see Fulcran Vigouroux, Dictionnaire de la Bible, 1643 sqq.
  • Alfred Rahlfs, a longtime Septuagint researcher at Göttingen, began a manual edition of the Septuagint in 1917 or 1918. The completed Septuaginta was published in 1935. It relies mainly on Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, and Alexandrinus, and presents a critical apparatus with variants from these and several other sources.[35]
  • The Göttingen Septuagint (Vetus Testamentum Graecum: Auctoritate Academiae Scientiarum Gottingensis editum) is a major critical version, comprising multiple volumes published from 1931 to 2006 and not yet complete. Its two critical apparatuses present variant Septuagint readings and variants from other Greek versions.[36]
  • In 2006, a revision of Alfred Rahlfs's Septuaginta was published by the German Bible Society. This editio altera includes over a thousand changes to the text and apparatus.[37]
  • The Apostolic Bible Polyglot contains a Septuagint text derived mainly from the agreement of any two of the Complutensian Polyglot, the Sixtine, and the Aldine texts.[38]

English Translations of the Septuagint

The Septuagint has been translated a few times into English, the first one (though excluding the Apocrypha) being that of Charles Thomson in 1808; his translation was later revised and enlarged by C. A. Muses in 1954. The translation of Sir Lancelot C. L. Brenton, published in 1851, is a long-time standard. For most of the time since its publication it has been the only one readily available, and has continually been in print. It is based primarily upon the Codex Vaticanus and contains the Greek and English texts in parallel columns. There also is a revision of the Brenton Septuagint available through Stauros Ministries, called The Apostles' Bible, released in January 2008. [2]

The International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies (IOSCS) has produced A New English Translation of the Septuagint and the Other Greek Translations Traditionally Included Under that Title (NETS), an academic translation based on standard critical editions of the Greek texts. It was published by Oxford University Press in October 2007.

The Apostolic Bible Polyglot, published in 2007, includes the Greek books of the Hebrew canon along with the Greek New Testament, all numerically coded to the AB-Strong numbering system, and set in monotonic orthography. Included in the printed edition is a concordance and index.

The Orthodox Study Bible was released in early 2008 with a new translation of the Septuagint based on the New King James Version. It also includes extensive commentary from an Eastern Orthodox perspective.[39]

The Eastern / Greek Orthodox Bible (EOB) is an extensive revision and correction of Brenton’s translation which was primarily based on Codex Vaticanus. Its language and syntax has been modernized and simplified. It also includes extensive introductory material and footnotes featuring significant inter-LXX and LXX/MT variants.

International Septuagint Day

The International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies (IOSCS), a nonprofit, learned society formed to promote international research in and study of the Septuagint and related texts,[40] has established February 8 annually as International Septuagint Day, a day to promote the discipline on campuses and in communities.

Defining Septuagint

Although the integrity of the Septuagint as a text distinct from the Masoretic text is supported by Dead Sea scroll evidence, the LXX does show signs of age in that textual variants are attested. There is at least one highly unreliable nearly complete text of the LXX, Codex Alexandrinus. Nearly complete texts of the Septuagint are also found in the Codex Vaticanus Graecus 1209 and Codex Sinaiticus, which do not perfectly coincide. But the LXX is a particularly excellent text when compared to other ancient works with textual variants. It has been argued that it is unjustified to reject the existence of a Septuagint merely on the basis of variation due to editorial recension and typographical error.[41][42]

The title "Septuagint" should not to be confused with the seven or more other Greek versions of the Old Testament, most of which do not survive except as fragments. These other Greek versions were once in side-by-side columns of Origen's Hexapla, now almost wholly lost. Of these the most important are "the three:" those by Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion, which are identified by particular Semiticisms and placement of Hebrew and Aramaic characters within their Greek texts.

One of two Old Greek texts of the Book of Daniel has been recently rediscovered and work is ongoing in reconstructing the original form of the Septuagint as a whole.[4]

Table of books

The Orthodox
Old Testament [2][19][43]
English name
Γένεσις Génesis Genesis
Ἔξοδος Éxodos Exodus
Λευϊτικόν Leuitikón Leviticus
Ἀριθμοί Arithmoí Numbers
Δευτερονόμιον Deuteronómion Deuteronomy
Ἰησοῦς Nαυῆ Iêsous Nauê Joshua
Κριταί Kritaí Judges
Ῥούθ Roúth Ruth
Βασιλειῶν Αʹ[44] I Reigns I Samuel
Βασιλειῶν Βʹ II Reigns II Samuel
Βασιλειῶν Γʹ III Reigns I Kings
Βασιλειῶν Δʹ IV Reigns II Kings
Παραλειπομένων Αʹ I Paralipomenon[45] I Chronicles
Παραλειπομένων Βʹ II Paralipomenon II Chronicles
Ἔσδρας Αʹ I Esdras 1 Esdras;
Ἔσδρας Βʹ II Esdras Ezra-Nehemiah
Ἐσθήρ Esther Esther with additions
Ἰουδίθ Ioudith Judith
Τωβίτ[46] Tobit Tobit or Tobias
Μακκαβαίων Αʹ I Makkabees 1 Maccabees
Μακκαβαίων Βʹ II Makkabees 2 Maccabees
Μακκαβαίων Γʹ III Makkabees 3 Maccabees
Ψαλμοί Psalms Psalms
Ψαλμός ΡΝΑʹ Psalm 151 Psalm 151
Προσευχὴ Μανάσση Prayer of Manasseh Prayer of Manasseh
Ἰώβ Iōb Job
Παροιμίαι Proverbs Proverbs
Ἐκκλησιαστής Ecclesiastes Ecclesiastes
Ἆσμα Ἀσμάτων Song of Songs Song of Solomon
Σοφία Σαλoμῶντος Wisdom of Solomon Wisdom
Σοφία Ἰησοῦ Σειράχ Wisdom of Jesus the son of Seirach Sirach or Ecclesiasticus
Ψαλμοί Σαλoμῶντος Psalms of Solomon Psalms of Solomon[47]
Δώδεκα The Twelve Minor Prophets
Ὡσηέ Αʹ I. Osëe Hosea
Ἀμώς Βʹ II. Ämōs Amos
Μιχαίας Γʹ III. Michaias Micah
Ἰωήλ Δʹ IV. Ioel Joel
Ὀβδίου Εʹ[48] V. Obdias Obadiah
Ἰωνᾶς Ϛ' VI. Ionas Jonah
Ναούμ Ζʹ VII. Naoum Nahum
Ἀμβακούμ Ηʹ VIII. Ambakum Habakkuk
Σοφονίας Θʹ IX. Sophonias Zephaniah
Ἀγγαῖος Ιʹ X. Ängaios Haggai
Ζαχαρίας ΙΑʹ XI. Zacharias Zachariah
Ἄγγελος ΙΒʹ XII. Messenger Malachi
Ἠσαΐας Hesaias Isaiah
Ἱερεμίας Hieremias Jeremiah
Βαρούχ Baruch Baruch
Θρῆνοι Lamentations Lamentations
Επιστολή Ιερεμίου Epistle of Jeremiah Letter of Jeremiah
Ἰεζεκιήλ Iezekiêl Ezekiel
Δανιήλ Daniêl Daniel with additions
Μακκαβαίων Δ' Παράρτημα IV Makkabees 4 Maccabees[49]

See also


  1. ^ Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, for instance.
  2. ^ a b c d e Karen Jobes and Moises Silva, Invitation to the Septuagint ISBN 1-84227-061-3, (Paternoster Press, 2001). - The current standard for Introductory works on the Septuagint.
  3. ^ Life after death: a history of the afterlife in the religions of the West, Alan F. Segal, p.363
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Jennifer M. Dines, The Septuagint, Michael A. Knibb, Ed., London: T&T Clark, 2004
  5. ^ a b c d e f Ernst Würthwein, The Text of the Old Testament, trans. Errol F. Rhodes, Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1995.
  6. ^ Josephus, Flavius, Antiquities of the Jews, 12.2.11-15; Whiston, William; The Complete Works of Josephus; Hendrickson Publishers, (Nashville, Tennessee, 1987); ISBN 0-913573-86-8
  7. ^ Tractate Megillah 9
  8. ^ Joel Kalvesmaki, The Septuagint
  9. ^ Sir Godfrey Driver, Introduction to the Old Testament of the New English Bible (1970)
  10. ^ Rick Grant Jones, Various Religious Topics, "Books of the Septuagint," (Accessed 2006.9.5).
  11. ^ See Books of the Bible
  12. ^ The Canon Debate, McDonald & Sanders editors, chapter by Sundberg, page 72, adds further detail: "However, it was not until the time of Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD) that the Greek translation of the Jewish scriptures came to be called by the Latin term septuaginta. [70 rather than 72] In his City of God 18.42, while repeating the story of Aristeas with typical embellishments, Augustine adds the remark, "It is their translation that it has now become traditional to call the Septuagint" ...[Latin omitted]... Augustine thus indicates that this name for the Greek translation of the scriptures was a recent development. But he offers no clue as to which of the possible antecedents led to this development: Exod 24:1-8, Josephus [Antiquities 12.57, 12.86], or an elision. ...this name Septuagint appears to have been a fourth to fifth-century development."
  13. ^ Translation of Torah into other languages was forbidden by Halakha
  14. ^ Compare Dines, who is certain only of Symmachus being a truly new version, with Würthwein, who considers only Theodotion to be a revision, and even then possibly of an earlier non-LXX version.
  15. ^ Jerome, From Jerome, Letter LXXI (404 AD), NPNF1-01. The Confessions and Letters of St. Augustin, with a Sketch of his Life and Work, Phillip Schaff, Ed.
  16. ^ Due to the practice of burying Torah scrolls invalidated for use by age, commonly after 300-400 years
  17. ^ See, Jinbachian, Some Semantically Significant Differences Between the Masoretic Text and the Septuagint, [1].
  18. ^ Jones, Table: Dead Sea Scrolls-Septuagint Alignments Against the Masoretic Text.
  19. ^ a b Timothy McLay, The Use of the Septuagint in New Testament Research ISBN 0-8028-6091-5. — The current standard introduction on the NT & LXX.
  20. ^ V.S. Herrell, The History of the Bible, "Qumran: Dead Sea Scrolls."
  21. ^ William Priestly, "The Dead Sea Scrolls." — A detailed explanation with scholarly apparatus.
  22. ^ L.L. Grabbe, Judaism from Cyrus to Hadrian. I. Persian and Greek Periods. II. Roman Period, London: SCM Press, 1994.
  23. ^ Joachim Schaper, Eschatology in the Greek Psalter, Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1995.
  24. ^ H. Orlinsky, "The Septuagint and its Hebrew Text," in The Cambridge History of Judaism, vol. II, The Hellenistic Age, W. Davies and L. Finkelstein, Eds., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989.
  25. ^ There is some debate, however, regarding the location of the translations of the non-Pentateuch books. See Dines. One theory, that even the Pentateuch reflects variant "local" forms, is criticized in Emmanuel Tov, The Text Critical Use of The Septuagint in Biblical Research, 2nd ed., Jerusalem: Simor, 1997.
  26. ^ Greek-speaking Judaism (see also Hellenistic Judaism), survived, however, on a smaller scale into the medieval period. Cf. Natalio Fernández Marcos, The Septuagint in Context: Introduction to the Greek Bible, Leiden: Brill, 2000.
  27. ^ a b H. B. Swete, An Introduction to the Old Testament in Greek, revised by R.R. Ottley, 1914; reprint, Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 1989.
  28. ^ Jerome; Translated by Kevin P. Edgecomb (2007-09-06). "Beginning of the Prologue of Saint Jerome the Presbyter on the Pentateuch". Retrieved 2009-02-04.  
  29. ^ name=
  30. ^
  31. ^ Hoffman, Book Review,, 2004.
  32. ^ Paul Joüon, SJ, A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew, trans. and revised by T. Muraoka, vol. I, Rome: Editrice Pontificio Instituto Biblico, 2000.
  33. ^ a b c d This article incorporates text from the 1903 Encyclopaedia Biblica article "TEXT AND VERSIONS", a publication now in the public domain.
  34. ^ Joseph Ziegler, "Der griechische Dodekepropheton-Text der Complutenser Polyglotte," Biblica 25:297-310, cited in Würthwein.
  35. ^ Rahlfs, A. (Ed.). (1935/1979). Septuaginta. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft.
  36. ^ IOSCS: Critical Editions of Septuagint/Old Greek Texts
  37. ^ German Bible Society
  38. ^ Introduction to the Apostolic Bible
  39. ^ About the Orthodox Study Bible
  40. ^
  41. ^ Priestly
  42. ^ "A New Look at the Septuagint"
  43. ^ The canon of the original Old Greek LXX is disputed. This table reflects the canon of the Old Testament as used currently in Orthodoxy.
  44. ^ Βασιλειῶν (Basileiōn) is the genitive plural of Βασιλεῖα (Basileia).
  45. ^ That is, Things set aside from Ἔσδρας Αʹ.
  46. ^ also called Τωβείτ or Τωβίθ in some sources.
  47. ^ Not in Orthodox Canon, but originally included in the LXX.
  48. ^ Obdiou is genitive from "The vision of Obdias," which opens the book.
  49. ^ Originally placed after 3 Maccabees and before Psalms, but placed in an appendix of the Orthodox Canon

Other references

  • Kantor, Mattis, The Jewish time line encyclopedia: A yearby-year history from Creation to the present, Jason Aronson Inc., London, 1992

External links


Texts and translations

The LXX and the NT


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

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From Latin septuāgintā (the seventy), for the reputed 70 scholars who did the work.

Proper noun




  1. An ancient translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, undertaken by Jews resident in Alexandria for the benefit of Jews who had forgotten their Hebrew (well before the birth of Jesus); abbreviated as LXX. The LXX is the untranslated standard version of the Old Testament for the Greek Orthodox Church, but not for the Western Church, which since Jerome, has adhered to the Masoretic text. In the original Greek New Testament, when Jesus quotes the Old Testament, he is made to quote the LXX, which tends to disagree with the Masoretic text.


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The Targums

After the return from the Captivity, the Jews, no longer familiar with the old Hebrew, required that their Scriptures should be translated for them into the Chaldaic or Aramaic language and interpreted. These translations and paraphrases were at first oral, but they were afterwards reduced to writing, and thus targums, i.e., "versions" or "translations", have come down to us. The chief of these are, (1.) The Onkelos Targum, i.e., the targum of Akelas=Aquila, a targum so called to give it greater popularity by comparing it with the Greek translation of Aquila mentioned below. This targum originated about the second century after Christ. (2.) The targum of Jonathan ben Uzziel comes next to that of Onkelos in respect of age and value. It is more a paraphrase on the Prophets, however, than a translation. Both of these targums issued from the Jewish school which then flourished at Babylon.

The Greek Versions

(1.) The oldest of these is the Septuagint, usually quoted as the LXX. The origin of this the most important of all the versions is involved in much obscurity. It derives its name from the popular notion that seventy-two translators were employed on it by the direction of Ptolemy Philadelphus, king of Egypt, and that it was accomplished in seventy-two days, for the use of the Jews residing in that country. There is no historical warrant for this notion. It is, however, an established fact that this version was made at Alexandria; that it was begun about 280 B.C., and finished about 200 or 150 B.C.; that it was the work of a number of translators who differed greatly both in their knowledge of Hebrew and of Greek; and that from the earliest times it has borne the name of "The Septuagint", i.e., The Seventy.

"This version, with all its defects, must be of the greatest interest, (a) as preserving evidence for the text far more ancient than the oldest Hebrew manuscripts; (b) as the means by which the Greek Language was wedded to Hebrew thought; (c) as the source of the great majority of quotations from the Old Testament by writers of the New Testament.

(2.) The New Testament manuscripts fall into two divisions, Uncials, written in Greek capitals, with no distinction at all between the different words, and very little even between the different lines; and Cursives, in small Greek letters, and with divisions of words and lines. The change between the two kinds of Greek writing took place about the tenth century. Only five manuscripts of the New Testament approaching to completeness are more ancient than this dividing date.

The first, numbered A, is the Alexandrian manuscript. Though brought to this country by Cyril Lucar, patriarch of Constantinople, as a present to Charles I., it is believed that it was written, not in that capital, but in Alexandria; whence its title. It is now dated in the fifth century A.D.

The second, known as B, is the Vatican manuscript.

The Third, C, or the Ephraem manuscript, was so called because it was written over the writings of Ephraem, a Syrian theological author, a practice very common in the days when writing materials were scarce and dear. It is believed that it belongs to the fifth century, and perhaps a slightly earlier period of it than the manuscript A.

The fourth, D, or the manuscript of Beza, was so called because it belonged to the reformer Beza, who found it in the monastery of St. Irenaeus at Lyons in 1562 A.D. It is imperfect, and is dated in the sixth century.

The fifth (called Aleph) is the Sinaitic manuscript.

The Syriac Versions

(See Syriac)

The Latin Versions

A Latin version of the Scriptures, called the "Old Latin," which originated in North Africa, was in common use in the time of Tertullian (A.D. 150). Of this there appear to have been various copies or recensions made. That made in Italy, and called the Itala, was reckoned the most accurate. This translation of the Old Testament seems to have been made not from the original Hebrew but from the LXX.

This version became greatly corrupted by repeated transcription, and to remedy the evil Jerome (A.D. 329-420) was requested by Damasus, the bishop of Rome, to undertake a complete revision of it. It met with opposition at first, but was at length, in the seventh century, recognized as the "Vulgate" version. It appeared in a printed from about A.D. 1455, the first book that ever issued from the press. The Council of Trent (1546) declared it "authentic." It subsequently underwent various revisions, but that which was executed (1592) under the sanction of Pope Clement VIII. was adopted as the basis of all subsequent editions. It is regarded as the sacred original in the Roman Catholic Church. All modern European versions have been more or less influenced by the Vulgate. This version reads ipsa_ instead of _ipse in Gen 3:15, "She shall bruise thy head."

Other Ancient Versions

There are several other ancient versions which are of importance for Biblical critics, but which we need not mention particularly, such as the Ethiopic, in the fourth century, from the LXX.; two Egyptian versions, about the fourth century, the Memphitic, circulated in Lower Egypt, and the Thebaic, designed for Upper Egypt, both from the Greek; the Gothic, written in the German language, but with the Greek alphabet, by Ulphilas (died A.D. 388), of which only fragments of the Old Testament remain; the Armenian, about A.D. 400; and the Slavonic, in the ninth century, for ancient Moravia. Other ancient versions, as the Arabic, the Persian, and the Anglo-Saxon, may be mentioned.

English Versions

The history of the English versions begins properly with Wyckliffe. Portions, however, of the Scriptures were rendered into Saxon (as the Gospel according to John, by Bede, A.D. 735), and also into English (by Orme, called the "Ormulum," a portion of the Gospels and of the Acts in the form of a metrical paraphrase, toward the close of the seventh century), long before Wyckliffe; but it is to him that the honour belongs of having first rendered the whole Bible into English (A.D. 1380). This version was made from the Vulgate, and renders Gen. 3:15 after that Version, "She shall trede thy head."

This was followed by Tyndale's translation (1525-1531); Miles Coverdale's (1535-1553); Thomas Matthew's (1537), really, however, the work of John Rogers, the first martyr under the reign of Queen Mary. This was properly the first Authorized Version, Henry VIII. having ordered a copy of it to be got for every church. This took place in less than a year after Tyndale was martyred for the crime of translating the Scriptures. In 1539 Richard Taverner published a revised edition of Matthew's Bible. The Great Bible, so called from its great size, called also Cranmer's Bible, was published in 1539 and 1568. In the strict sense, the "Great Bible" is "the only authorized version; for the Bishops' Bible and the present Bible [the A.V.] never had the formal sanction of royal authority." Next in order was the Geneva version (1557-1560); the Bishops' Bible (1568); the Rheims and Douai versions, under Roman Catholic auspices (1582, 1609); the Authorized Version (1611); and the Revised Version of the New Testament in 1880 and of the Old Testament in 1884.

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

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