Hebrew vs Greek OT

I believe we can all agree (both catholic christians and non catholic christians) that the early church had the ability to determine what was in fact inspired sacred scripture within the NT - yet after the protestant reformation - those reformers went back to the Hebrew OT vs the Greek OT in which the early church has always used and the catholic church today still uses.

My question is quite simple - if the early church was able to determine which NT books were in fact inspired sacred scripture - then why not the OT?

It’s not so much a matter of the Church not being able to determine inspired from uninspired books, methinks, but a matter of personal opinion and theology. Because if you can interpret the Word yourself, personally, than why not say why books are to be included in the Word? It’s all about playing God.

Most modern Catholic translations actually base themselves off the Hebrew, not the LXX. And before we started doing that (in the reign of HH Pius XII), we always translated from the Vulgate, which was actually translated from the Hebrew, not the LXX.

So really, the Catholic Church hasn’t used the Septuagint since Jerome’s time. Although, of course, we follow the LXX canon (mostly).

The Hebrew texts Jerome used are now long vanished. And he based his translations of the deuteros on the LXX anyway.

The thing about MODERN Hebrew texts is that they are actually not very old. Most Hebrew texts now used date back only to the Middle Ages and are full of errors. They have to be corrected from the LXX in modern translations, even though in the case of many discrepancies the Hebrew text tends to be favoured.

Very true. But they are vanished no longer (Dead Sea Scrolls). Incidentally they favor the LXX.

I’m an LXX man all the way! Many of the so-called Bible contradictions that are pointed out by skeptics is because they quote the Masoretic Text, which is full of textual errors and can be cleared up by the Greek LXX.

Hi Texan77- you made an assumption in your question when you referenced the Greek OT (Septuagent) which you said “the early church has always used.”.

Actually - this “fact” is not so clear and history suggests that in the first several hundred years of Church history when the “cannon” was been established, there were counsel’s and Popes (and early Church fathers) who adopted the palestinian cannon (without the DC books) as oppossed to the Septuagent cannon (including the 7 DC books). There were subsequent “local counsels” which referenced the DC books and, of course, the formal position taken by the Church in the 15th or 16th century stating that the cannon includes the DC books.

Personally - I find the DC books very valuable and relevant information regarding what Jewish thinkers of the day were writing and believed - but don’t hold them to the level of infallible cannon. That being said, having read them all, I dont think that any issues relating to the gospel or God’s salvation plan are affected by their be given cannon status or not.

The simple fact that always stands out in my mind is that:
Either the Church councils were protected from error and got it ALL right the first time, or they were not protected and NONE of the canon can be trusted. It is just that simple.
I have seen protestants on these boards go through all sorts of hoops trying to explain away this simple fact.

This is one of the reasons I could never accept the Protestant viewpoint during the time I was away from the Church. How can people preach Sola, or Prima Scriptura when the very book they claim as complete and inerrant has been tampered with?


You are overstating your case a bit. The DSS do not favor LXX as completely as you imply. There are parts of the MT which are closer to DSS than the LXX version is. The MT has a long oral tradition and has been shown quite accurate. It also has the added benefit of being written in the original languages. Its literary forms match that of semitic literature from the time the OT was orignally written. The LXX tends to try to clean up and explain certain verses. The harder reading is to be prefered when discussing originality. LXX is fine for reference and clearing up difficult passages. It also clears up why we pronounce certain things the way we do (i.e. Gaza and Gomorah instead of Aza and Amorah); but if David spoke Hebrew, should we not read it?

You are correct that not all the DSS favor the LXX, but as you know there is a lot that does, in fact it has proven that the LXX was not in error in many passages that were before thought to be errors. The big mistake that many people make is making the MT the standard text. It is full of textual errors.

The LXX in my opinion is even more reliable that the DSS because it is a translation of a Hebrew and Aramaic text that is more ancient than the DSS. The MT is a Pharisee revision, and has a tone that conflicts with the New Testament whereas the LXX is in great harmony with it.

The first thing to clarify in the OP is the use of the word “determine”. Do you mean decide, which is not even the Catholic view, or recognize which is I believe more along the lines of what both Protestant and Catholic agree on.

Let us remember that the first Vatican Council directly states it was not the “subsequent” authority of the Church that made it scripture, but was because God himself is the author. Your words, not mine.:slight_smile:


What do you think of the NETS?

NETS is wonderful. As a matter of fact one of the main editors of the NETS was a big help to me when I was working on an interlinear of the Old Greek Version of Daniel, I really picked his brain. I’ve got the NETS on my website

Texan 77 didn’t make an error – the catholic church still uses the Greek OT in some places and never had used any other form. The Orthodox trace their lineage back to the twelve Apostles – and they clearly DO use the LXX and always have; etc.

Whether or not one argues that “part” of the church did not would not falsify the statement made by Texan77.


Well now, what about those books that WEREN"T FOUND IN HEBREW?
They were and are included in Catholic Bibles, and Jerome – though he voiced a doubt about them (not a certanty) – never denied the Church the authority to approve of them in the Vulgate (the translation of Jerome). So, where did we (and still do) get the text for those books???

Hi HT - I understand where you are coming from, but before Nicea and Constantine, its hard to determine “who the Church is/was” as distinguished from the “early Church fathers” who did not speak with a single voice.

Jerome rejected the DC books and, to the best of my recollection, there was an early papal councel which noted the OT books without the DC books as cannon - there was a later “local” counsel which included the DC books.

Again - I like the DC books - they are useful, they just have not always/consistently been treated as scripture by the Catholic Church - they were not and are not treated as scripture by the Jews (since 129 or so AD).

I’d like to believe that the Catholic Church has been unchanged since the 12 apostles - it would make life simpler and I tried to go there - taking RCIA and getting close - but my reading of Church history, and particularly the writings of the early Church fathers (who many Catholics rely on to support doctrines not clearly supported by doctrine (e.g., marion doctrines) showed me some extreme antisemitism which is not consistent with scripture and gave me pause.

I love much of Catholic doctrine - I have tremendous respect for, and admiration of the Church in much of what he has done to maintain unitity in the body, but I do not believe it has remain unchanged since the early Church years and I do not subscribe the doctrine of papal infallibililty. The DC books as cannon (as oppossed to useful history) is one of those areas where I think history reveals some “muddy waters.”



Jerome did not reject the DC books. This is an argument that some protestants want to raise but is untrue.
He may have had problems with them and felt they should not have been included, but he also submitted his personal opinion to that of the Spirit Guided Church and translated the DC’s into the Canon of the Vulgate.


The fact is that there is no reason to believe that Greek speaking (only) peoples rejected the Greek Texts – ever – and therefore the whole of the christian & catholic church. I would rather think the onus is on you to prove that no Catholic used them pre-Nicea – if you can’t prove there were no Catholics (whether or not they are named such), then please be more careful how you phrase things.

By the time of Jerome – it is quite clear that the Pelagian Heresy issue was beginning to draw up “sides”. Anti-Greek sentiments are not surprising – and rash statements — but that does not change the fact that the deuterocanonicals were used by a significant portion of Christians before that time – and that this usage traces all the way back to the time of the Apostles.

There are quotes in the NT that clearly refer to the deutero-canonicals – and although these don’t prove or disprove scripturality – they show the church DID use them. Ergo, texan77 is still correct in general – even if one were to able to do majic with muddy waters…until there is an official cannon for the WHOLE church, one can’t deny their use.

Jerome stated, to my knowledge, that he didn’t believe they were authentic because he couldn’t find Hebrew Originals. But there is nothing said by the church before that time which would require scripture to have been written in Hebrew first.
Jerome, then, is just offering a scholarly opiniion – not a statement of fact.
To be honest – he couldn’t even find the original of several Hebrew texts – there were many variants that he had to “choose” between. Odd how he judges…

You bring out an interesting point about this and it has long been my contention that St Paul even endorses the Greek OT when he says “All Scripture is useful…” Given that St Paul and Timothy, to whom he was writing, did their evangelizing and teaching in the Greek Speaking world, it seems to indicate that Paul diod not have a problem with the Septuigent.


Quite right! In fact, you’ll find that many times Paul quotes from the Septuagint.


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