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The Septuagint, where the Old Testament came from

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The Greek language throughout the known world came about at the command of Alexander the Great after gaining the Babylonian Empire. As a result, the Greek language became the main dialect of the majority in every nation, including the Jews.

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Hebrew had fallen in disuse and spoken only in Synagogues ceremonially, just as Latin is used in the Roman Catholic Church. Among the many arguments against the Septuagint is one that states that there were no official Jewish communities in Egypt.

However, historical evidence seems to contradict this argument with the following, “Papyri from Elephantine shows a recognized Jewish population there as early as 495 BCE. After Alexander's capture of the Persian Empire, Alexandria became home to a large Greek-speaking Jewish populace.” (Jobes and Silva 34)

History tells us the young Ptolemy Philadelphus II financed the writing of the Greek Bible. Ptolemy sent Andreas, the known Captain of his guard, and Aristeas who had worked with the Jews before to Jerusalem. Bringing gifts for the Temple they asked the Chief Priest, Eleazar, to choose his best translators for the multiyear project. (Thackeray 89-117)

Their job was to translate the Hebrew Canon to Greek, which in theology is the official collection of the Sacred Writings. From the book Fundamental Christian Theology,

The Old Testament Collection doubtless began to be made by the leading men and priests under the supervision or leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah, to which Zechariah and Malachi and some other later books were added, as they were written. But the Septuagint Translation of all was made B.C. 287, and has come down to us from that time.” (Hills 62)

Scholars who are critical of their free coffee in the morning become critically predisposed about anything they write. Some say the Septuagint is a phenomenon of an imaginative mind; some say that it is an ancient document that has conflicts with the Masoretic text and the New Testament quotes from the Old Testament.

A well-known ancient Greek text authority states, “When one examines the citations of the Old Testament in the New Testament, he finds that the majority are derived correctly from the Septuagint.” (Wallace 134)

You might ask why the Early Writings were in Greek? The language of the early church was Greek, and the version of the Old Testament in use among both Christians and Jews of the diaspora was the Septuagint. The Septuagint contains books (sometimes termed “the Apocrypha”) not included in the Jamnian canon.

As the Septuagint’s prophecies of the Messiah frequently were used polemically by Christians, the translation fell out of favor among the Jews. In time, non-Palestinian Jews accepted the decisions of Jamnia. New translations of the Old Testament scriptures were made based on the Jamnian standard text. (Jones 9)

To sum up this brief summary of the Septuagint: it is a document written by Jewish scholars who meticulously made the Old Testament books into readable Greek text. The dates between which the Septuagint’s life started and ended are not nearly as useful when compared to whether the work be blessed by God?

When alone considering the longevity of the document, God has blessed it. Many of the Jews by this time had lost the native language of Hebrew and spoke Greek only. The Septuagint became the Jews introduction to the actual words taught since birth, and also gave the Gentiles an introduction to the forthcoming Messiah.

I hope you have enjoyed this brief introduction to the Septuagint, and that you're learning. The Septuagint is important as a source in which our current Bibles included the Old Testament; which is half the love story between God and His creation, you and I and all we see and do not see as well.

My objective in writing the articles is that you learn, and grow to search the scriptures daily to see if it is so. (Acts 17.11) Become like a Berean and use the Bible daily to grow and become the woman or man of God He desires each of us to be.

I would like to know if you are reading the articles, and how they are useful to you. You may email me at I look forward to hearing from you. The signs of the times are converging on the Word of God. Study and come to your own conclusions.

Works Cited:

Hills, Aaron Merritt. Fundamental Christian Theology Abridged Edition. Kansas City: C. J. Kinne Publishing, 1932. Print.

Jobes, Karen H., and Moisés Silva. Invitation to the Septuagint. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic. 2000. Print.

Jones, R. Grant. "Church History Timeline." R. Grant Jones. N.p., 1 Feb. 2006. Web. 28 June 2013.

Thackeray, H. St. J.. A grammar of the Old Testament in Greek according to the Septuagint: by Henry St. John Thackeray. Vol. 1.. Cambridge: University Press, 1909. Print.

Wallace, Daniel B.. The basics of New Testament syntax: an intermediate Greek grammar. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2000. Print.



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