The Psalter - Masoretic vs. Septuagint


#1

So I recently picked up a copy of “The Psalter According To The Seventy”, by Holy Transfiguration Monastery. First of all, I must say, that it’s an absolutely beautiful translation - one of the most beautiful that I’ve ever read - and the book is extremely high quality. I would strongly recommend it for all intents and purposes. The only quirk that I have with it, is that it’s a Septuagint translation rather than a Masoretic one. In the introduction, they claim that the Masoretic Psalms underwent a significant Karaite revision, which altered them significantly from the Masoretic originals, and as such the Septuagint translation is actually much more accurate and closer to the originals, as it was translated before. Is this just a sales pitch or is there any truth to it?


#2

I kinda highly doubt it. I’m assuming that by “the Masoretic Psalms underwent a significant Karaite revision, which altered them significantly from the Masoretic originals” you (or rather they) mean that the Masoretic Psalms were ‘altered’ by Karaite Jews.

There’s a grain of truth in this in that the majority of the Masoretes (the scribes who codified the Masoretic Text) were thought to be Karaites. But I think this is ultimately just another variation on the old Christian canard of Jews consciously and systematically altering OT passages to remove any prophecies pointing to Jesus. So IMHO I wouldn’t take this claim at face value.

I mean, you also need to keep in mind that the Septuagint Psalms is itself a translation (strongly formal, not always entirely ‘literal’) of the Hebrew original, and that this Hebrew original may be a slightly different version of the Psalms than the one that is preserved in the Masoretic text (so that we’re talking of two similar but not exactly the same Hebrew source texts - what scholars would call in German Vorlage). If that’s the case, then there actually isn’t any ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ here, since we’re talking about two different versions that descended from two different source texts.


#3

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