The "QUOTES" in Scripture, the so called Greek Septuagint and the phrase “IT IS WRITTEN”
The "QUOTES" in Scripture, the so called Greek Septuagint and the phrase “IT IS WRITTEN”
NO LXX - The Fictitious Use of the so-called Greek Septuagint
Short Version -
There was no pre-Christian, official and authoritative so called Greek Septuagint. What passes for the LXX today is nothing more than the Vaticanus, Sinaiticus and Alexandrinus manuscripts, all of which were written some 250 to 300 years AFTER the New Testament was already complete.
If there had been an authoritative pre-Christian LXX in wide use and circulation, there would not have been any need for people like Jerome, Aquila, Symmachus, Theodotian, Lucian and Hesychius to make their own translations years later. There are several so called Septuagints out there and none of them agree with the others.
There are only a few remaining scraps that could possibly be dated as B.C. writings, and even those sites that mention them tell us that they do not agree with other Septuagint copies. In all likelihood they are nothing more than the confused remnants of an independent individual's own attempt at a translation, just as several others did at a later date.
There is no such thing as "the" Greek Septuagint. There are several of them, and they all differ from each other. Three are three different readings on how tall Goliath was.
Just look at a modern version like the NIV and what they tell us in their own footnotes. For example, go to the book of Judges in the NIV 2011 edition. Notice the footnotes in places like Judges 10:12 "SOME Septuagint mss. read...."; 14:15 "Some Septuagint mss. read...."; 16:13-14 "SOME Septuagint mss. read...."; 16:19 "SOME Septuagint mss. read...."; 18:7 "Some Septuagint mss."; 18:30 "Many Hebrew mss, SOME Septuagint mss. read..."20:33 "SOME Septuagint mss... the meaning of the Hebrew for this word is uncertain."
If a person knows anything about the so called Greek LXX, then they know it is a horrible translation, almost a total paraphrase and it differs by literally hundreds of whole verses either added to or omitted from what we have in the Hebrew Scriptures and it differs A LOT in many places from what the Hebrew O.T. says.
A Few Quotes from recognized scholars -
Dr. F. F. Bruce points out that, strictly speaking, the LXX deals only with the Law and not the whole Old Testament. Bruce writes, " The Jews might have gone on at a later time to authorize a standard text of the rest of the Septuagint, but . . . lost interest in the Septuagint altogether. With but few exceptions, every manuscript of the Septuagint which has come down to our day was copied and preserved in Christian, not Jewish, circles." (The Books and the Parchments, p.150). This is important to note because the manuscripts which consist of our LXX today date to the third century AD.
John Owen - "the LXX - IF ANY SUCH LXX THERE WERE"
In his massive exposition of Hebrews, John Owen makes some interesting observations regarding the relationship of the book of Hebrews to the LXX. He was well schooled in Greek, Hebrew, Latin, and Syriac. He possessed a vast knowledge of manuscripts and other translations. In his work on the book of Hebrews, Owen discusses each passage in great detail about the Hebrew and Greek, along with comments about the LXX translations done by Aquila, Theodotian, and Symmachus. (These last three men mentioned each attempted a Greek translation of the O.T. after the N.T. was already completed. Today, there is little left of their writings, but we know that they all three differed from each other.)
In his commentary, John Owen makes this amazing statement: "It is evident that they are exceedingly mistaken who affirm that the apostle cites all his testimonies out of the translation of the LXX, as we intimated is by some pleaded... Should he [Paul] have had any respect unto that translation [LXX], it were impossible to give any tolerable account whence he should so much differ from it almost in every quotation, as is plain that he doth... And thus, in those testimonies where there is a real variation from the Hebrew original, THE APOSTLE TOOK NOT HIS WORDS FROM THE TRANSLATION OF THE LXX, BUT HIS WORDS WERE AFTERWARDS INSERTED INTO THAT TRANSLATION... Whereas the reasons of the apostle for his application of the testimonies used by him in his words and expressions are evident, as shall in particular be made to appear, so no reason can be assigned why THE LXX - IF ANY SUCH LXX THERE WERE - who translated the Old Testament, or any other translators of it, should so render the words of the Hebrew text." Exposition Of Hebrews, Vol I, Exercitation V. (CAPS are mine)
John Gill comments on Psalm 14:3 - "Here follows in the Septuagint version, ACCORDING TO THE VATICAN COPY, all those passages quoted by the apostle, (Romans 3:13-18) ; which have been generally supposed to have been taken from different parts of Scripture."
John Lightfoot, the well known Bible commentary writer, give his opinion of the LXX version saying: "Before the bible had been translated for Ptolemy - AS IT IS SUPPOSED - into the Greek tongue, there were an infinite number of copies in the Hebrew in Palestine, Babylon, Egypt, even everywhere, in every synagogue: and it is a marvellous thing, that in all antiquity there should not be the least hint or mention of so much as one Hebrew copy amongst all these that agrees with the Greek version. WE HAVE VARIOUS EDITIONS OF THAT VERSION WHICH THEY CALL THE SEPTUAGINT, AND THOSE PRETTY MUCH DISAGREEING AMONG THEMSELVES... The interpreters have still abounded in their own sense, not very strictly obliging themselves to the Hebrew text...IT IS PLAIN ENOUGH TO ANY ONE THAT DILIGENTLY CONSIDERS THE GREEK VERSION THROUGHOUT, THAT IT WAS COMPOSED BY DIFFERENT HANDS, WHO GREATLY VARIED FROM ONE ANOTHER, BOTH IN STYLE AND WIT."
End of "Short Version"
THE NEW TESTAMENT “QUOTES”
Since the Lord Jesus Christ is the Author of Scripture, He has the right to change, modify, explain, or apply His own words to any situation or context He wishes. There is no need to alter either the underlying Hebrew or the Greek texts. All we have to do is just THINK about what God is saying in both references, and then we can see the connection.
There are many Biblical examples of God, the apostles or other men "quoting" something in different words from different sections of Scripture. One clear example of God “quoting” something in this way is found in Genesis 18:12-13.
Notice exactly what Sarah says and then how God "quotes" her. "Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, "After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?"
And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, "Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old?"
God did not give an exact quote of what Sarah had actually said; instead He uses different words to express the intent of what she had said out loud.
Another example of using different words to express essentially the same thing is found in 1 Samuel 15 verses 2 and 3 compared to 15:18. In verses 3-4 we read: "Thus saith the LORD of hosts...Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass."
Yet in this same chapter where Samuel rebukes Saul for his disobedience, he says to him: "And the LORD sent thee on a journey, AND SAID, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed."
Not the same words, are they. Yet in both cases we have "and the LORD said"
“IT IS WRITTEN”
1 Corinthians 2:9 with Isaiah 64:4 and the so called Greek Septuagint.
In 1 Corinthians 2:9 we read: "But as IT IS WRITTEN, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him."
Yet when we look at the Hebrew text of Isaiah 64:4 we see that what “IS WRITTEN" is quite different.
In Isaiah 64:4 we read: "For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him."
And when we get to the so called Greek Septuagint, it gets even more confusing. The LXX is very different from both the Hebrew text and from the Greek text of the New Testament.
It reads: "From of old, we have not heard, neither have our eyes seen a God beside thee, and thy works which thou wilt perform to them that wait for mercy."
It should be obvious that the apostle Paul is NOT quoting from some alleged Greek Septuagint, nor even from the Hebrew text in a verbatim manner. Instead, under the guidance of the Holy Ghost, is taking a verse of the Hebrew Scriptures and adapting them to the context of 1 Corinthians chapter two.
In Romans 4:13 the apostle Paul referring to Abraham writes: “For the promise, that he should be THE HEIR OF THE WORLD, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.”
Yet when we look back to the Old Testament to find this promise what we read is not that he should be heir of the world, but: “And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, THE LAND, wherein thou art a stranger, ALL THE LAND OF CANAAN, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God. (Genesis 17:8).
Yet the apostle “quotes” this reference in an expanded fashion according to the now further revealed purpose of God.
Again, in Ephesians 6:3 the apostle Paul is quoting a clear O.T. reference when he says: “Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long ON THE EARTH.”
However when we refer back to the Scripture he “quotes” from, what we read there in Exodus 20:12 is: “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy DAYS may be long UPON THE LAND which the LORD thy God giveth thee.”
The quote has once again been expanded.
On a merely human level recorded in Scripture we find the king David saying to Joab and his men: “Deal gently for my sake with the young man, even with Absalom. And all the people heard when the king gave all the captains charge concerning Absalom.”
Yet just seven verses later we hear a man repeating to Joab what David had just said as: “for in our hearing the king charged the and Abishi and Itai, saying, Beware that none touch the young man Absalom.”
Did he misunderstand or misquote king David? No, he was merely expressing the intent of what was previously stated.
The Greek phrase “AS IT IS WRITTEN" is a common one in ancient Greek writings. It is never an indication of an exact quote - in the New Testament or anywhere else.
Frederick Spitta wrote a century ago, "According to the unvarying practice in the New Testament, the citation formula “AS IT IS WRITTEN” is never the introductory clause but rather always follows a report of something seen as the fulfillment of a prophetic word."
The phrase implies not a quotation but a reference to a fulfillment of a prediction or a prophecy. This was clear to the Reformed theologians and many of the old Church of England writers.
Any man or author is able to freely quote HIMSELF if he wants to. But no one has the right to freely quote another and put words into his mouth; this is bearing false witness. God can freely-quote or explain further what He means if He wants to, but we do not have the right to change His words.
There are many such examples in the gospels where the sense of an O.T. passage is given, rather than a literal quote.
For example, in Matthew 12:17-21 we read: "That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Behold my servant, WHOM I HAVE CHOSEN; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall SHEW judgment to the Gentiles. HE SHALL NOT STRIVE, nor cry; neither SHALL ANY MANY HEAR his voice in the streets. A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he SEND forth judgment unto VICTORY. AND IN HIS NAME SHALL THE GENTILES TRUST.”
The "quote" in Isaiah 42:1-4 is a quite different, but we can see the same general sense and expanded meaning given to us in Matthew's gospel.
Isaiah 42:1-2 says: "Behold my servant, WHOM I UPHOLD; MINE ELECT,, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall BRING FORTH judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, NOR LIFT UP, nor CAUSE HIS VOICE TO BE HEARD in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall BRING forth judgment unto TRUTH. HE SHALL NOT FAIL NOR BE DISCOURAGED, TILL HE HAVE SET JUDGMENT IN THE EARTH; AND THE ISLES SHALL WAIT FOR HIS LAW.
Yet if we were to compare the Septuagint reading, we find that it gives a very different meaning than the one found in either the New Testament or the Hebrew text of Isaiah 42.
In the LXX version we read: "JACOB IS MY SERVANT, I WILL HELP HIM. ISRAEL IS MY CHOSEN, MY SOUL HAS ACCEPTED HIM; …nor shall his voice be heard without....HE SHALL SHINE OUT, AND SHALL NOT BE DISCOURAGED…”
It should be obvious that Matthew, under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, is not quoting some LXX version. Rather, he is restating the same truths found in the Hebrew text by placing the same ideas in different terms. God has the right to do this, because He is referring to what He Himself has inspired. We, on the other hand, do not have the right to alter God's words or thoughts.
If I were to say to my young son: "I don't want you to play with that John Baker kid anymore. He is too rough and hurts other kids", then several days later I saw my son again with this boy and I now tell him: "Didn't I tell you not to hang around with Johnny because he is a bully?", would it be fair to say I hadn't told him that before?
And this is just a human example. How much more can God vary His own specific words according to His design and purpose?
One of many good examples of this is found in the book of 1 Corinthians 14:21 where the apostle Paul says regarding the use of the gift of tongues in the church for the edifying of the saints: "In the law IT IS WRITTEN, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord."
Yet when we look of the specific reference as found in the Hebrew texts of Isaiah 28:10-12 we find that this "quote" does not match the meaning of the context found in Isaiah 28, nor does it match the Hebrew and much less what is found in what passes today as the so called Greek Septuagint.
The context of Isaiah 28 is speaking of bringing judgment upon the rebellious people of Israel, not the edification of the saints. And the Hebrew text reads as does the King James Bible and basically all other versions as well.
It reads: "For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little: For WITH STAMMERING LIPS AND ANOTHER TONGUE WILL HE SPEAK TO THIS PEOPLE, TO WHOM HE SAID, THIS IS THE REST WHEREWITH YE MAY CAUSE THE WEARY TO REST; AND THIS IS THE REFRESHING: YET THEY WOULD NOT HEAR."
However when we look at the Greek "Septuagint" we find a TOTALLY different reading. There instead of the Hebrew text the present day LXX says in Isaiah 28:10-12: "EXPECT THOU AFFLICTION, HOPE UPON HOPE: YET A LITTLE, AND YET A LITTLE, BY REASON OF THE CONTEMPTUOUS WORDS OF THE LIPS, BY MEANS OF ANOTHER LANGUAGE; FOR THEY SHALL SPEAK TO THIS PEOPLE, SAYING TO THEM, THIS IS THE REST TO HIM THAT IS HUNGRY, AND THIS IS THE CALAMITY; BUT THEY WOULD NOT HEAR."
It should be abundantly obvious that the apostle Paul is not "quoting from the Septuagint" when he makes reference to "IN THE LAW IT IS WRITTEN."
Instead, he is making a general reference to a section of the Hebrew text and making a new application of it to the then present situation within the church at Corinth and the proper use of speaking in tongues.
CAN A TRANSLATION BE INSPIRED?
Yes, most definitely. One of several biblical examples is found in Acts 21:40 - 22:21. Here Paul preached a whole sermon in the Hebrew tongue, yet the sermon is translated by Luke into Greek and thus it stands in the New Testament. This is one example of many found in the Holy Bible proves that a translation can be the inspired words of God.
We also have the case in Acts 20:35 where Paul is addressing the elders of Ephesus and tells them "to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how HE SAID, It is more blessed to give than to receive."
You will search in vain for these exact words of the Lord Jesus in any of His discourses, yet several of the things He taught can rightly be summed up in this way.
God, Who inspired every word of the Holy Bible, has every right to quote Himself by way of expansion, explanation, summation or variety of form; but you and I do not have the right to "correct, edit, or call into question" what He has said.
For much more information on the so called Greek Septuagint, see
NO LXX - The Fictitious Use of the so-called Greek Septuagint
Scatterbrained Septuagint Silliness - Judges 16:13; 1 Samuel 14:41; 1 Samuel 17:4, 2 Samuel 7:16; 2 Samuel 13:21, 34; 2 Samuel 14:30; 1 Kings 5:17-18; 6:1; 1 Kings 10:22, Jonah 3:4; Ezekiel 8, 40, 45 examples.
And Can A Translation Be Inspired?
The King James Bible is always right. Get used to it.
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