Wednesday 1 January 2014

The importance of the Septuagint

From a conversation with Richard Amalanathan, SDB: the Seventy, the translators of what we now call the Septuagint, had translated a large number of books, which they divided into those meant for all, and those meant only for an elite. Only the Ethiopians, the Geez church, have all these books. (This was really surprising for me: I had never heard that the LXX had translated a large number of esoteric books, and that the Ethiopians still had them. Wow.)

Again: in Jesus' time, in Paul's time, in the period of the composition of the New Testament, therefore, it was the Septuagint rather than the Masoretic that was used. So the Septuagint is all important for us Christians. That it was the Septuagint that was commonly used is confirmed more and more by the Qumran documents.

Yet again: the Hebrew bible (the Tanakh) was fluid for a long time. When the LXX worked, it was fluid. Even in New Testament times, there was as yet no Jewish canon. There are many biblical quotes in the New Testament that we cannot trace back to the known books of the Old Testament.


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