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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Posted: Sun, Jan 17 2016 3:43 PM

From Why Use the Septuagint? by Michael S. Heiser in LogosTalk

Why Use the Septuagint?

Today’s guest blogger is Dr. Michael Heiser, Academic Editor at Logos.
Logos recently announced the creation of the Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint on the Pre-Pub page. Many pastors, seminary students, and lay people devoted to Bible study might wonder about the value of the Septuagint for Bible study. The Septuagint, of course, is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament. The Septuagint was the Old Testament of the early Greek-speaking church, and it is by far the version of the Old Testament most frequently quoted by Jesus and the apostles in the New Testament. Rather than try to persuade you of the value of the Septuagint by means of these kinds of arguments, I thought it might be helpful to provide a practical example where the Septuagint explains what seems to be a New Testament theological blunder. I’m betting most of us are interested in that sort of thing!
Below is Deuteronomy 33:1-2 side-by-side in two translations. On the left is my literal rendering of the traditional Hebrew text of the Old Testament, the Masoretic text. On the right is an English translation of the Septuagint at this passage. I have boldfaced significant differences for some discussion.

Traditional Masoretic Hebrew Text Septuagint
1 This is the blessing with which Moses, the man of God, blessed the Israelites before his death.
2 He said: Yahweh came from Sinai, and He shone upon them from Seir. He appeared in radiance from Mount Paran, and approached from Ribeboth-Kodesh, from his right lightning flashed at them.
3 Indeed, he loved the people, all his holy ones at your hand. And they followed at your feet; he bears your words,
4 the law which Moses commanded us, an inheritance for the assembly of Jacob.
1 This is the blessing with which Moses, the man of God, blessed the Israelites before his death.
2 He said: The LORD came from Sinai, and He shone to us from Seir; He made haste from Mount Paran with ten thousands of Kadesh, his angels with him.
3 And He had pity on his people, and all the holy ones were under your hands; and they were under you; and he received his words,
4 the law which Moses charged us, an inheritance to the assemblies of Jacob.

What Are We Looking At?
Some English translations (ESV, NIV, NASB) are close to the Septuagint or sound like a mixture of the two choices. As the traditional Hebrew text goes, the Hebrew phrase in verse 2 underlying “Ribeboth-Kodesh” is the same (except for spelling) as what occurs at Deut. 32:51 (“Meribath Kadesh”). This is why most scholars today consider the phrase to be a geographical place name, and I agree. The Septuagint, however, obviously has something else going on! While it is possible to get “ten thousands of Kadesh” from the Hebrew consonants of the traditional Masoretic text, the very common Hebrew word for angels (mal’akim) does not appear in the traditional Masoretic text. The Septuagint translation (aggeloi) came from a different Hebrew text.
One more observation: In verse 3 the Masoretic Text seems to equate “the people” with “all his holy ones.” Yahweh’s people, his holy people, are under his authority (“under your hand”). They follow at the LORD’s feet and receive the Law. Note that the singular pronoun “he” in “he bears your words” likely refers to Israel collectively (i.e., ISRAEL bears your words). Israel is often referred to as a singular entity in the Bible (“my son,” Exod. 4:21-23; “my servant,” Isa. 44:1). The Septuagint, however, gives the reader the feel that “his people” and “all the holy ones” are different groups. In the Septuagint, God pities his people and his holy ones–the angels referred to in the previous verse–are under his authority. Israel, of course, receives the law.
So What?
So who cares? Well, the Septuagint here helps us understand an oddity mentioned in several places in the New Testament-the idea that the Mosaic Law, given at Sinai, was actually given by angels. Check out these New Testament passages:

Acts 7:52-53
52 Which of the prophets did not your fathers persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, 53 you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.”
Hebrews 2:1-2a
1 Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. 2 For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, 3 how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?
Galatians 3:19
19 Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary.

Simply put, if you stick to the traditional Masoretic Hebrew text for your Old Testament, there is no place that the New Testament writers could have drawn such an idea. The closest you come to that is in Psalm 68:17. While that verse has a multitude of angelic beings at Sinai, it says zilch about the Law.
The point is that the New Testament references have provided fodder for biblical critics who want the New Testament to be guilty of either an outright error in thought, or just contriving a doctrinal point out of thin air. The Septuagint shows us that those perspectives are just simply incorrect. The New Testament writers weren’t nitwits or dishonest. They were using the Septuagint.

From An Alternate Book of Esther by Vincent Setterholm in LogosTalk:

An Alternate Book of Esther

I was flipping through the Esther volume of the Göttingen Septuagint and saw something unusual:

Göttingen Septuagint

If you examine this page carefully, you’ll see that the top section contains Greek text of a portion of Esther. Under that is a critical apparatus – a shorthand method of documenting manuscript evidence, showing which manuscripts agree with the text above and which manuscripts disagree, and how they disagree.
Then under the apparatus there is second section of Greek text (market by an L in the margin) followed by a second apparatus. We’ve seen something like this before. The ancient Greek book of Daniel, for example, exists in both the Old Greek and the Theodotion versions, and other editions of the LXX, such as Rahlfs and Swete, have presented both versions of that text either on facing pages or with one version on top of the other. Similar parallel texts are presented for the shorter and longer versions of Tobit and those parts of Joshua and Judges where codices Alexandrinus and Vaticanus disagree. But I’ve never seen this phenomenon in a printed edition of Esther before.
The marginal ‘L’ indicates that the text is thought by some scholars to be a Lucianic recension, or revision, of the Septuagint. Lucian was a Christian martyr who died in 312 AD and was famous for comparing the various Greek translations with the Hebrew Scriptures and preparing new Greek texts that were in greater agreement with the Hebrew originals.
However, the L-Text of Esther is different from the Septuagint text in some surprising ways that seem, to some scholars, inconsistent with the Lucianic reforms. The LXX and the L-Text both contain the so-called ‘Additions to Esther’ not found in the Hebrew Massoretic Text (MT), and the L-Text and LXX are significantly similar for those Additions. But in places where the L-Text and the LXX are clearly translating the same Hebrew, there is very little word for word correspondence. And at several junctures, it seems that the L-Text must be translating a different Hebrew source all-together. Carey Moore in his Anchor Bible volume on Esther, and elsewhere, has argued that the L-Text of Esther is really a fresh translation from a Hebrew original that is, at points, very different from the Hebrew (MT) that we have today. Followers of this line of reasoning usually refer to this as the Alpha-Text or A-Text of Esther, rather than the L-Text. If Moore is right, then the A-Text of Esther isn’t so much useful for determining the original text of the Massoretic version of Esther, but is rather more valuable for illuminating a version of Esther that no longer exists in any Hebrew manuscript known today.
Right now the Göttingen Septuagint is gathering interest on our prepublication program, listed at less than 1/10th of the retail price of the print volumes! The prepub has been well received, but we still need a few more orders to confirm that there is enough interest in getting the best Septuagint available into Logos Bible Software. So if you were sitting on the fence with this one wondering what you’d get that isn’t already in Rahlfs’ or Swete’s LXX, the A-Text of Esther is one example of the cool, useful things you’ll only see in Göttingen.
P.S. If you’re interested in the Septuagint, you might take a peek at Biblical Languages: Reference Grammars and Introductions (19 Vols.), which contains three volumes on the Septuagint: Swete’s classic Introduction (which examines the Lucianic recension on pages 80-86), the introductory grammar and chrestomathy by Conybeare and Stock and the reference grammar by Thackeray. If you want to lock in the early bird price, now is the time.

from Why Use the Targum? by Vincent Setterholm in LogosTalk

Why Use the Targums?

Two weeks ago my esteemed colleague Dr. Heiser wrote an insightful post about the importance of the Septuagint (LXX) for New Testament (NT) students and scholars. He used an example from Deuteronomy 33:2, showing how in three different verses, New Testament authors alluded to angels being present at the giving of the Law. In the Masoretic Text (MT) of the Hebrew Bible that we have today, there is no use of the word mal’akhim, or angels, but the Septuagint does mention angeloi in Deuteronomy 33:2. Dr. Heiser’s conclusion is that the NT authors must have used the Septuagint. But is this the only possible conclusion?
The phrase in question in the Hebrew Bible is ‘merivvoth qodesh’. Dr. Heiser reads this as a place name, but allows that it could mean “Ten thousands of Kadesh” with Kadesh also being a place name. (This is how the LXX translates this phrase, transliterating qodesh as Kades as if it is a place name.) But the MT points the word qodesh, not qadesh. So it could also be better rendered “Ten thousands of holiness” or “Ten thousands of holy ones”. Now this still isn’t using the word ‘angels’ and so doesn’t completely explain the Septuagint translation. After all, ‘holy ones’ could refer to righteous men or priests (like it does in certain Ugaritic tablets – maybe we need a follow up post on “Why use Ugaritic?”) rather than angels. Indeed, in Dr. Tov’s alignment of the LXX and the MT, angeloi is aligned to a different phrase than merivvoth qodesh altogether – being tentatively aligned with a very difficult portion of the MT which is often translated as fire or lightening flashing down from Yahweh’s right hand, or the law being brought forth from fire. But this ought to show that it is possible for ‘merivvoth qodesh’ to be interpreted as a large assembly of angels from the MT alone.
But is there any evidence outside of the Septuagint that this interpretation of the passage was widely held? Turn with me in your Targums to Targum Onqelos (TO) on Deuteronomy 33:2. It reads:

And he (Moses) said, “The Lord was revealed from Sinai, and the brightness of His glory appeared to us from Seir. He was revealed in His power upon the mountain of Pharan, and with Him were ten thousand holy ones; He gave us, written with His own right hand, the law from the midst of the fire.”

The Targums were an oral tradition long before they were written down. The basic practice was to read the scriptures in Hebrew and then translate them into Aramaic for those who couldn’t understand Hebrew. The translations are sometimes quite literal, and sometimes expanded with interpretive comments. Over time, some Targums came to be written down and achieved some authority in the communities that used them. Targum Onqelos is a fairly literal rendering of the MT in this verse, and it is obvious that the interpretation in the synagogues that produced TO that ‘merivvoth qodesh’ is referring to a myriad of holy ones instead of a place name. But still no mention of the specific word mal’akhim, or angels.
Now turn to Targum Pseudo-Jonathan (TgPsJ) on Deuteronomy 33:2. It contains a much-expanded reading compared to MT, LXX and TO:

The Lord was revealed at Sinai to give the law unto His people of Beth Israel, and the splendor of the glory of His Shekinah arose from Gebal to give itself to the sons of Esau: but they received it not. It shined forth in majesty and glory from mount Pharan, to give itself to the sons of Ishmael; but they received it not. It returned and revealed itself in holiness unto His people of Beth Israel, and with Him ten thousand times ten thousand holy angels. He wrote with His own right hand, and gave them His law and His commandments, out of the flaming fire.

Now we see that qodesh has become an adjective describing mal’akhim (actually, mal’akhin in Aramaic, with n replacing m as the plural suffix – but the word is the same). We’ve gone from ten thousands of his holy ones to ten thousand ten thousands of his holy angels! And all without losing the difficult section of the MT that is here translated as giving the Law from the midst of the fire.
To finish our tour of the Targums on Deuteronomy 33:2, you can turn to either Targum Neofiti or the Palestinian Fragment Targums to the Pentateuch – they both read about the same thing here, and the verse seems to be expanded even a little further than TgPsJ:

And he said: The Lord was revealed from Sinai to give the law unto His people of Beth Israel. He arose in His glory upon the mountain of Seir to give the law to the sons of Esau; but after they found that it was written therein, Thou shalt do no murder, they would not receive it. He revealed Himself in His glory on the mountain of Gebala, to give the law to the sons of Ishmael; but when they found that it was written therein, Ye shall not be thieves, they would not receive it. Again did He reveal Himself upon Mount Sinai, and with Him ten thousands of holy angels; and the children of Israel said, All that the Word of the Lord hath spoken will we perform and obey. And He stretched forth His hand from the midst of the flaming fire, and gave the Law to His people.

So what?
None of this proves whether the NT authors used the LXX or not. TO clearly translates MT. The other Targums may translate the MT but reflect an interpretive tradition that is similar to the one which produced the LXX, or both the LXX and the other Targums might be translations of a Hebrew text that is somewhat different from MT. But it does go to show that the interpretation of Deuteronomy 33:2 that is found in the New Testament might have also been found in the local, Aramaic speaking synagogue without any reference to Greek translations. And figuring out which text the NT writers are quoting or alluding to isn’t as simple as just reading the LXX and the MT and picking between the two. How many other places have theologians turned to Greek sources like the LXX or Philo when a trip to the local synagogue would have hit closer to home? Let’s not forget the Targums!

from Why (and How) Protestants Should Study the Latin Vulgate by Tyler Smith in LogosTalk.

Why (and How) Protestants Should Study the Latin Vulgate

latin vulgate

Following the Council of Trent in the sixteenth century, the Latin Vulgate became the official Latin Bible of the Roman Catholic church—and that after centuries of dominance as the preferred Bible of the Western world. The Reformation revived interest in the original languages, and a slew of new translations followed. Following that, Protestantism largely left the Vulgate behind. But this ancient translation still has much to offer the serious student of the Bible, providing a unique glimpse into lost manuscripts undergirding modern translations, and illuminating how great theologians like John Calvin referenced Scripture.

I sat down with Andrew Curtis, a Latin-language editor at Faithlife and co-editor of the forthcoming The Lexham Latin-English Interlinear Vulgate BibleHe explained the history of the Vulgate, it’s importance for Bible study, and how Lexham’s new Interlinear opens up the Vulgate to anyone—even if they don’t know Latin.

Tell us a little about the history of the Vulgate and how it was put together.
In the year 382, the great patristic biblical scholar Jerome was asked by Pope Damasus to revise the old Latin translation of the Gospels in light of the original Greek. Within a few years Jerome also ended up producing two different revised translations of the Psalms. Later, from AD 390 to 405, Jerome translated the Hebrew Scriptures into a new Latin version generally credited as the first direct Hebrew-to-Latin translation.

Prior to this time, virtually the whole Bible existed in Latin, but it was a patchwork of different translations. By translating the whole Hebrew canon afresh and revising portions of the New Testament and the deuterocanonical books, Jerome standardized the Latin Bible, put it all in one place. It was an unprecedented feat. The Vulgate is still a composite text, with some books preserving their old Latin form more or less unrevised, but Jerome’s translation brought a new consistency to the style and vocabulary of Scripture while remaining close to the letter of the original languages. This is a point worth emphasizing—the Latin Vulgate makes the whole Bible into a single linguistic corpus, bridging the language gap between the New and Old Testaments.

You’ve mentioned to me that the Vulgate can be really helpful for textual criticism and original-language study. Why is that?
Well, for one thing, Jerome had access to the best manuscripts out there in the fourth century. When he compiled, translated, and revised the texts that would become the Vulgate, he was able to consult manuscripts that were already ancient in his time. He traveled to Rome and Bethlehem and accessed the knowledge and manuscripts of the great rabbis. It was a sophisticated process.

Most exciting for text-critical study is the fact that the Vulgate gives important insights into the text of Hebrew and Greek manuscripts now lost. The Vulgate is in many ways a transparent translation; the original languages shine through, offering a window into the readings of the manuscripts available in Jerome’s day. So in critical editions of the Septuagint, the Hebrew Scriptures, and the Greek New Testament, the Vulgate is often consulted for its value as a secondary witness to the original languages. For instance, the 1917 translation of the Tanakh by the Jewish Publication Society used the Vulgate as one of its sources.

Is the average Protestant pastor or seminary student going to get anything out of studying the Vulgate?
Definitely. The Vulgate was the basis of most Latin scriptural quotations in the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the Reformation. Many people who study the Bible all the time don’t often think about the fact that the Vulgate is the Bible Martin Luther grew up with! There were vernacular translations before Luther, but most literate people at the time used the Vulgate as their Bible. Biblical commentary and exegesis as well as secular literature commonly drew on the Vulgate: John Calvin, Theodore Beza, and Thomas Hobbes all quote it in Latin. Even into the twentieth century, the Vulgate was the nearly universal source of Latin scriptural references in scholarly discourse.

Further, the Vulgate can help bridge the gap between the Old and New Testaments. You have to breathe with both lungs as a Christian. You have to incorporate both the Old and New Testaments. Every Christian knows that concepts carry over from the Old Testament into the New—grace, the Spirit, hospitality, love, justification, and much more. To establish linguistic correspondences when studying those concepts, the Latin Vulgate is very helpful because, as I mentioned before, it’s linguistically unified.

You’re one of the editors working on the new Lexham Vulgate interlinear and reverse interlinear. Talk a little bit about what these are, and why Logos users should be excited for them.
The Lexham Latin-English Interlinear Vulgate Bible will include hand-tagged Latin lemmas, morphology, and English lexical glosses for both the New and the Old Testament. The benefits of this linguistic data go both ways: if you know some Latin, the interlinear will help you delve more deeply into the Vulgate, providing quick information on unfamiliar words or forms and helping you find out where and how particular words are used throughout Scripture; if you’re not proficient in Latin, the glosses allow you to search in English to discover the corresponding Latin words; then the lemma and morphology tags help you understand how the Latin is working, making it easy to tap into the Vulgate text and compare it, for example, to one of the many vernacular translations based on or influenced by the Vulgate (e.g. the Wycliffe Bible).

The Lexham Reverse Interlinear Vulgate Bible will be especially exciting if you are interested in textual criticism and original-language study. Bringing reverse interlinear functionality to the Latin Vulgate is a big deal. This new feature will give you the same kind of original-language information for Greek and Hebrew that you would get in your KJV reverse interlinear, but the “surface text” on the top line will be Latin rather than English and will come with complete Latin lemma and morphology tagging. Since the Vulgate has been one of the most historically influential translations of the Bible after the Septuagint, this is an important new contribution to the field of biblical studies. To my knowledge, there is no other Vulgate resource of this kind currently on the market.

That means you had to develop a Latin morphology to match the Greek and Hebrew morphology Logos already uses.
Yes. We already have well-established models for categorizing the morphology of Greek and Hebrew. That’s the data that drives the word studies and search functionality of Logos. It’s the kind of data that lets you run complex queries like, “Where does this word in this form appear throughout the Bible? How is it translated?” Those sorts of questions existed long before Bible software, of course, and we used some of the pre-existing morphological systems as we built Logos. But we now also have our own morphology for Greek and Hebrew. My task is to help refine a similar framework that we have developed for Latin morphology over the past few years.

How will the work you’re doing now be applied in the future?
Well, obviously the Bible is the central text for what we do at Faithlife. So having Latin morphology integrated with the text of Scripture will be huge for us. Our Latin morphology, though, can also be carried over and applied to other Latin resources in the future—the framework will all be there. I wish I had had the language-study tools that our software provides when I was a Latin student digging into Virgil’s Aeneid for the first time. These tools have a lot to offer people reading and studying texts of all kinds.


My apologies but I find no similar article for the Syriac Peshitta.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Bruce Dunning | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Jan 17 2016 4:46 PM

Thanks for posting all these in one place.

MJ. Smith:

I had not seen this post. As a result I have placed my pre-order for this - https://www.logos.com/product/55254/lexham-latin-english-interlinear-vulgate-bible My Latin is very poor but maybe this might help.

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