NT quoting Septuagint? How does that work?


#1

I am confused by some apologia that is provided by Catholic apologists who maintain that the New Testament quotes the Septuagint.

Isn’t the Septuagint the same thing as the Hebrew OT, except that it was written in Greek and includes the deuterocanon?

So what does it mean by saying that the NT quotes or cites the Septuagint? Wouldn’t that simply mean that it quotes the deuterocanon?


#2

No, they’re not exactly “the same thing.” The Septuagint and the Masoretic Hebrew text have textual differences from each other (partly because some of the books were most likely translated from a Hebrew version different from the one which later evolved into the Masoretic text, and partly because of the fact that it’s a translation - differences with the original text are inevitable). When people say that the NT authors used “the Septuagint,” what that simply means is that the NT books quote/allude from and follow the reading of the Greek version of the OT as opposed to the Hebrew, which is true most of the time (but of course, not always).

Read Emmanuel Tov’s article on the Septuagint (The Septuagint Translation of the Hebrew Bible: Its Nature and Importance for Scholarship) to get a feel for the difference between it and the Hebrew text.


#3

Can you cite some examples of these NT quotes and how they refer to the Greek version and not the Masoretic text?

And since Jesus and the Apostles spoke, most likely, Aramaic, how is it that the author knew that they were citing the Greek version of the OT?


#4

Here’s one example: Matthew 12:18-21, quoting Isaiah 42:1-4. Where the Masoretic text has “He will not fail or be discouraged / till he has established justice in the earth; / and the coastlands wait for his law” (RSV), Matthew (following the Greek reading) has: “and in his name the nations will hope.” Another example is Matthew 21:16: “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast brought perfect praise” as opposed to “Thou whose glory above the heavens is chanted / By the mouth of babes and infants, / Thou hast founded a bulwark because of thy foes …” of the Hebrew. (The general rule is that when Matthew quotes from Isaiah - which he often does - he uses the Septuagint version.)

Luke also uses the Greek translation of Isaiah both when he applies Isaiah 40:3-5 to John the Baptist (Luke/LXX: “and all flesh shall see the salvation of God” as opposed to the Hebrew’s “and all flesh shall see [it] together”) and when he has Jesus read from Isaiah 61 in Luke 4:18-19. The Hebrew version of chapter 61 goes like this (RSV again):

The Spirit of the LORD God is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to bring good tidings to the afflicted;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, …]

Luke’s version, however, goes:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,

to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”

Here’s a nice list. And another good one.

And since Jesus and the Apostles spoke, most likely, Aramaic, how is it that the author knew that they were citing the Greek version of the OT?

I hope you’re not imagining here that the NT authors jotted down every actual bit of dialogue Jesus and the apostles spoke word-for-word, as if they’re listening to a tape recording, translating what they heard word-for-word, and then jotting them down. :wink: I think one of the reasons the authors used the Greek version is because it’s convenient: I mean, even nowadays, whenever we cite Scripture, most of us wouldn’t bother translating the original texts on our own, right? Very often we would just often cite from particular translations (or sometimes, if we are familiar with the passage, we go by memory - very often using the wording of one or more preexisting translations). Same with the NT authors: most of them used the Septuagint because as far as we know, they’re writing in Greek, and it is a Greek version of the Scriptures they and their audience are familiar with. Now some NT authors are adventurous and provide a quotation or allusion that differs from the Septuagint text: even habitual Septuagint users will at times use a different translation of the passage if that proved to be more suitable to their needs.

This is actually a beef I have with people who simply say that “Jesus used the Septuagint.” Well, that’s an oversimplification. We don’t have tapes or videos of Jesus speaking or preaching or books authored by Him personally, so to be honest, we don’t know at all how He cited Scripture or in what language He read them. What we only have is the writings of people who knew Jesus, and people who knew people who knew Jesus, written in a language different from what Jesus would have spoken in everyday life (most likely Aramaic) - so that’s two to three degrees of separation. It’s more accurate to say that “the NT authors often used the Septuagint when they needed to cite or allude to Scripture.”


#5

A key example is Matthew 1:23, which quotes Isaiah 7:14. Matthew quotes the Septuagint, which states that “A virgin will conceive” as compared with the Hebrew’s “young woman.”


#6

This has nothing to do with it. Jesus and the disciples likely used the Hebrew in worship, which is why the “Jesus used the Septuagint” argument is just ridiculous coming from some armchair apologists.

It’s not whether Jesus used the Septuagint (which he likely didn’t) but what the New Testament authors quoted from. The New Testament is written in Greek, so it would only make sense to quote from the most popular Greek Old Testament translation in use at the time. Even if the New Testament writer puts an LXX quote into the mouth of Jesus, it’s just the author using the LXX as a suitable Greek text, no matter what language Jesus actually spoke.


#7

Ah, I see, then. Very good.

Thanks for the 'splanations! :thumbsup:


#8

As for examples where the OT quotes align more with the Hebrew text than the Greek, I think the most famous example would be Jesus’ cry from the cross: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” which is closer to what the Hebrew says as opposed to the Septuagint’s “O God, my God, attend to me: why hast thou forsaken me?” Matthew’s quotation of Hosea 11:1 (“Out of Egypt I called my son”) also agrees with the Hebrew against the Septuagint’s “And out of Egypt I recalled his [Israel’s] children.”

There’s also John 19:37 quoting/paraphrasing Zechariah 12:10: “They shall look on him whom they have pierced” is closer to the Hebrew’s “So that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced …” compared to the Septuagint’s “And they shall look to me because they have danced triumphantly.” (This is an interesting case of a misreading on the Greek translator’s part: the letters ד (daleth, d) and ר (resh, r) look almost exactly the same - especially when handwritten - so that the translator apparently read rāqādû* “they danced” for dāqār**û* “they have pierced.”)

Here’s another good website, BTW.


#9

Patrick,

I understand that the written length of the OT is substantially longer in Greek than in Hebrew. If true, does this play any role in what the apostles quoted?

Tx,

PnP


#10

If I quote from the Scriptures in English, you can recognize whether I’m specifically quoting from a pre-existing translation (say, the very noticeable style of the KJV) as opposed to making my own translation from the original languages (not that I can do that, but some people can). In the same way, even though the whole NT is in Greek, it’s possible to recognize that some of the OT quotations come directly from the Septuagint rather than being independently translated from the Hebrew.

Usagi


#11

The septuagint uses the word parthenos which can mean Virgin and Young women. While almah simply means young women.


#12

Why the unknown Authors of the NT used the Septuagint was because they most likely were non-jewish educated greeks/gentiles.

If you buy the Christian story the septuagint will be a thorn in Your eye.


#13

How so?


#14

Because poor, uneducated fishermen are not able to read koine greek let alone write a work like the gospels.

Which is why no serious bible scholar accepts the christian story which did not show up in history until the time of Irenaeus.


#15

Can you cite a source that states that Paul, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John were poor, uneducated fisherman? :confused:

Which is why no serious bible scholar accepts the christian story which did not show up in history until the time of Irenaeus.

The Christian story did not show up until Ireneaus? That’s one I haven’t heard before.

So where did Irenaeus get the idea from? He made it up?


#16

Can you cite a source that states that Paul, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John were poor, uneducated fisherman?

Matthew 4:21. Mark 1:19 Matthew 4:18 are some examples.

I did not include Paul in the uneducated Fisherman part.

The Christian story did not show up until Ireneaus? That’s one I haven’t heard before.

You will not find the gospels being attributed to anyone of the 4 before Ireneaus.

So where did Irenaeus get the idea from?

That is irrelevant. Whats relevant is that there is no evidence for the christian story.

However to answer Your question. back than pseudepigrapha was normal , so its no surprise the authors suddenly poped into history like that

He made it up?

That possible yes. As pseudepigrapha was normal back than.


#17

Can you tell us where the Catholic Church declares that Matthew the fisherman is the author of the Gospel of Matthew?

And you still have to tell us where the authors of the Gospels of Mark, Luke and John were uneducated fishermen.

I did not include Paul in the uneducated Fisherman part.

Since Paul wrote a majority of the NT epistles, it’s curious that you didn’t include him.

In fact, I don’t think you’ve shown where a single author of the NT was an uneducated fisherman.

You will not find the gospels being attributed to anyone of the 4 before Ireneaus.

That is why Sacred Tradition is so important to Catholicism, Aristocles.

That is irrelevant. Whats relevant is that there is no evidence for the christian story

You have to account for Sacred Tradition, first.

(I hope that you know what that is, Aristocles!)

And just so you know: the Catholic faith was whole and entire before a single word of the NT was ever put to writ.

We do not get our doctrines from the pages of a book, no matter how holy.


#18

Most modern scholars believe that all four Gospels were written in the first century AD. Most Study Bibles and commentaries that I have relate that Mark was written 65-70 AD, Matthew and Luke 80-90 AD and John 90-95 AD. All these Gospels were written and well established in the Liturgy of the Church by the time Irenaes mentions their names in 180 AD.

Whether the four Gospels were written by the apostles themselves or by later Christian writers and attributed to them, does not matter, they are written in the ‘apostolic period’ of the Church (first century AD) and are inspired by the Holy Spirit.


#19

You seem to be insinuating (maybe I’m wrong) that pseudepigrapha means that the contents of a written work was made up. Pseudepigrapha means that the written work has a false title (see Oxford Dictionary). As you mentioned, this was normal in ancient times. It does not mean, that the Gospels are made up stories, but only that they were written by later Christians (in the first century) and attributed to the Apostles (Matthew and John) or Apostolic men (Mark and Luke). This is a theory of modern scholarship, I am sure others on this forum will way in differently!


#20

If one were to study Jewish History one finds that nearly all Jewish men knew how to read since they would be called to read from the Torah in the Synagogues. This does not mean that Jewish men knew how to write, but there were scribes who were trained in how to write. What it means that the Apostles were uneducated is that they were not formally trained as were the Pharisees and Sadducees and the Sanhedrin. So saying that the Apostles were uneducated as in that they did not know how to read or write is false. This does not mean that none of the Apostles did not know how to read or write Greek since they lived in an area where Geek was spoken for the most part, not Just Hebrew or Aramaic. Also they had the Holy Spirit to help them in speaking in whatever language, IOW’s when they spoke they were understood by those who spoke a different language then they spoke.


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