When Paul restated, how accurate was he?

In the book of Jeremiah, it gives the prophecy of the new covenant:

Jeremias 31:31-33

Behold the days shall come, saith our Lord: and I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Juda: not according to the covenant, which I made with their fathers in the day that I took their hand, to bring them out of the Land of Ægypt: the covenant which they made void, and I had the dominion of them, saith our Lord. But this shall be the covenant, that I will make with the house of Israel: after those days saith our Lord: I will give my law in their bowels, and in their heart I will write it: and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Paul reminds again in his Epistle to the Hebrews:

Hebrews 8:7-10

For if that former had been void of fault, there should not certainly a place of a second been sought. For blaming them, he saith: Behold the days shall come, saith our Lord: and I will
consummate upon the house of Israel, and upon the house of Juda a new Testament: Not according to the testament which I made to their fathers in the day that I took their hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt. because they did not continue in my testament: and I neglected them, saith our Lord. For this is the testament which I will dispose to the house of Israel after those days, saith our Lord: Giving my laws into their mind, and in their heart will I superscribe them: and I will be their God, and they shall be my people:

Now, when Paul reminds again of the prophecy, the wording is different but it means the same thing. What I want to know is did Paul render it differently, or is it just my bible (Douay-Rheims) giving it a different rendering?

Hi Slayer,

The Douay Old Testament was translated from the Latin which was translated from the Hebrew. There is a translation into Greek called the Septuagint, which has been widely used by the first Christians and the Church thereafter. One explanation would be that St. Paul used the Septuagint as his source, whereas the Douay ultimately derives from the Hebrew.

I have checked the Greek of the Septuagint against the Greek of Hebrews and it is not exactly the same. St. Paul is not using the Septuagint as we know it

There are different possibilities :

  1. St. Paul may have used a different Greek translation than what we have inherited in the Septuagint. There were several.

  2. St. Paul, who was certainly familiar with the Hebrew may done his own translation for that particular passage.

  3. St. Paul may be quoting the Septuagint from memory and using synonyms

There are other possibilities that a biblical scholar could go into and that are beyond my competence. The important thing is the point that St. Paul is making.

Verbum

I think this is the most likely scenario. Paul was a Pharisee and was very familiar with Hebrew. I tend to think either Paul translated this in his own words from memory because he probably didn’t have the scriptures laying around.

Either Hebrew or Greek, I think Paul was quoting mainly from memory. Using the thought of the scripture not the word for word translation.

More then likely Paul himself DID not write Hebrews. It was probably written by Pauline school. This was in doubt in the early Church. All pauline epistles are grouped together- not in chronological order- but in length order.Notice how Hebrews was set apart.- this was done on purpose.# The anonymous “Letter to the Hebrews” comes immediately after the Pauline letters because people used to think it too was written by Paul; it may have been written by one of his followers, but was almost certainly not written by Paul himself.No mention of Paul is made- nor is it directed to a specific church…Having said that inspired is inspired- no matter who the author is.

The Epistle (or Letter) to the Hebrews
Abbreviation: Heb (full text) [study guide]
Attributed Author: none attributed - an anonymous writing!
Named Recipients: “Hebrews” are not explicitly named; but they were Christians familiar with Jewish rituals
Date: possibly 60’s, more likely 80’s, but before 95 (when passages of Heb are quoted in 1 Clement)
Where From: unknown; possibly Rome (cf. greetings from “those from Italy” - 13:24b)
Authenticity: the work itself does not even claim to be by Paul, but the mention of “our brother Timothy” (13:23) has led some people to assume (incorrectly) that it was written by Paul
Unity & Integrity: not disputed; a single writing
Literary Genre: not really a letter, but an “exegetical sermon” or scriptural exhortation, with an epistolary ending (i.e. only the end, 13:20-25, looks like a typical ancient letter); the author himself refers to this work as a “word of exhortation” (13:22)
Language: fairly sophisticated literary Greek
Purpose:

argues that Christians do not need to be or become Jewish, since Christ is superior to the structures and rituals of Judaism; people have access to God directly through Christ; thus, it exhorts Christians to live according to Christ’s example of faithfulness to God.
(back to index)

From Catholic-resources.org

Another thing that you might want to consider is that tradition from the Church Fathers (St. Clement of Alexandria) tells us that St. Paul wrote Hebrews in the Hebrew language for the Hebrew people, and then St. Luke translated it into Greek. So the Greek version of Hebrews is obviously going to vary from the Greek Septuagint somewhat.

My humble little opinion is that the Septuagint is a superior version against the Hebrew Masoretic Text because the translators of the Septuagint had a much better and older Hebrew version to translate from. And I believe that Paul quoted from that very Hebrew version that the Septuagint translators used, and then Luke translated Paul’s letter into Greek.

But St. Jerome unfortunately standardized his Vulgate to the Hebrew version of his day which is a “different” Hebrew version than the Septuagint translators and the Apostles used, which is the reason why you see different readings between the OT and the citations of the OT in the NT.

That is very interesting. But didn’t the dead sea scrolls confirm the accuracy of the Hebrew Masoretic Text?

That is very interesting. But didn’t the dead sea scrolls confirm the accuracy of the Hebrew Masoretic Text?

Actually the Dead Sea Scrolls proved that the Septuagint was not full of mistakes as suspected by scholars in modern times, because they thought that the Masoretic Text was the standard and they thought that wherever the MT varied from the Septuagint was simply a Septuagint error, but the DSS proved that there was an older independent Hebrew text. The Masoretic Text is a Pharisee revision that became standardized after the time of Christ.

Hi Copland,

What you say is true in the main; but I do not agree that the ancient translators had necessarily a “better” text to work from. The critical texts that we have today result from a very scientific approach relying on the “genealogy” of the manuscripts as well as the analysis of the ancient versions ; syriac etc.

In ancient days, trying to get good manuscripts of the whole bible was a life’s work. Translators had less security then than they have today.

Verbum

Hi Copland,

What you say is true in the main; but I do not agree that the ancient translators had necessarily a “better” text to work from. The critical texts that we have today result from a very scientific approach relying on the “genealogy” of the manuscripts as well as the analysis of the ancient versions ; syriac etc.

In ancient days, trying to get good manuscripts of the whole bible was a life’s work. Translators had less security then than they have today.

Verbum

I think we agree on the principles of textual criticism, but my main point is that the LXX is a more reliable version than the Masoretic Text and comes from a better Hebrew manuscript tradition. The translators took the best manuscripts to Egypt, which happen to be the same manuscript tradition that was used by the Apostles and the Early Church. I believe the Masoretic Text is highly over rated and the best OT readings come from the LXX and the Dead Sea Scrolls. In my own studies I use the LXX with a critical apparatus and the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Peshitta and MT are a tradition that came after the Christian era began, whereas the LXX and DSS are before Christ.

Hi Copland,

I think your choice is dictated more by love than reason. (s) St. Jerome himself chose the Hebrew rather than the Greek… and St. Augustine was not always happy about it.

It’s not as if modern translators ignored the Greek, the Vulgate and all other versions. I am presently looking through my Bible de Jérusalem and I see many references to the Greek and other versions. They do often choose the Greek reading. All manuscripts are “witnesses” (more or less reliable) to the original text, which we have lost. All the tools must be used. And it makes sense to use the best current Hebrew manuscripts as a foundation, because that is the original language of most of the Old Testament.

Of course, this will not convince you, but it might enlighten others less well versed in the matter. (s)

Verbum

Hi Copland,

I think your choice is dictated more by love than reason. (s) St. Jerome himself chose the Hebrew rather than the Greek… and St. Augustine was not always happy about it.

It’s not as if modern translators ignored the Greek, the Vulgate and all other versions. I am presently looking through my Bible de Jérusalem and I see many references to the Greek and other versions. They do often choose the Greek reading. All manuscripts are “witnesses” (more or less reliable) to the original text, which we have lost. All the tools must be used. And it makes sense to use the best current Hebrew manuscripts as a foundation, because that is the original language of most of the Old Testament.

Of course, this will not convince you, but it might enlighten others less well versed in the matter. (s)

Verbum

This is where I think Jerome erred because he, like many today, believe that since the “current” Hebrew text is in Hebrew that that in itself brings more authority to it just because Hebrew was the original language, meanwhile it is a Pharasic revision that is inferior to a more ancient Hebrew text. I know that most modern versions consult the Greek, Latin, Aramaic, etc, but they show great favortism to the MT, that is why you see NT citations of the OT differing just about everytime, whereas if you translated from the LXX it would harmonize much better. That is not a position of love on my part but good reasoning.:slight_smile:

Trust me, I am as big of a supporter of textual critisism as you will find, I just believe that the MT is an inferior version of the OT.

i was a but confused at first as to why if the NT quotes the OT it is a different rendering. I guess now I know. I really wished it would of been all in sync. :frowning:

i was a but confused at first as to why if the NT quotes the OT it is a different rendering. I guess now I know. I really wished it would of been all in sync.

There has been a resurgence in LXX studies and there are some great English translations that have been produced, such as the NETS (New English Translation of the Septuagint) ccat.sas.upenn.edu/nets/edition/

And my friend Peter Papoutsis has a great project going right now where he is translating the LXX, and he has some volumes already done. peterpapoutsis.com/

My hope is that the Church will one day produce a version of the Bible using the LXX for the OT.

We’re so used to everyone having their own personal Bible in handy book form where it’s easy to look up verses. Such was not the case in the first century. We do not know the circumstances surrounding the writing of this epistle. Eg. Did Paul even have an OT scroll/book from which to copy texts. (I don’t know how many private individuals had Old Testament scrolls.) By the time he was writing this letter, he may no longer have had access to his former Jewish resources. It’s very possible he was citing those verses (Hebrews 8:7-10), from memory. Paul was a Scripture scholar, but that doesn’t mean he had it all memorized verbatim.

Hi Nita,

We’re so used to everyone having their own personal Bible in handy book form where it’s easy to look up verses

As a matter of fact, there were not even chapters and verses in those days.You are reminding us of a fact so basic and so important: no one in ancient times was in a position to have a reading of the Bible as accurate as we have today.

Verbum

How do we know that the Septuagint is the same version used by the Apostles? And how is it that the Masoretic Texts are a Pharasic revision?

I have heard it said that in rabbinical schools, such as the one run by Gamaliel that St. Paul studied at, the students had to eventually memorize the entire Torah and other key scriptures. If so, it would make sense that the memorization might not be word-for-word.

How do we know that the Septuagint is the same version used by the Apostles? And how is it that the Masoretic Texts are a Pharasic revision?

About 85% of the OT citations in the NT are citations from the Septuagint.

When I say a Pharisic revision, that means that the Pharisees eventually standardized a Hebrew text. When you study ancient Bible manuscripts you will find that there are variant readings among them. The Pharisees wanted to make sure that they all were reading exactly the same text so they carefully revised a text to go by and they did a very good job preserving it. That was done after the Christian era. The problem is, is that there were Jews who despised Christianity and the fact that Christians were proving that Jesus is the Messiah by using the OT prophecies, so they altered some of the prophecies in their revision in order to try to make the prophecy invalid in their version. Some people might say that the Jews would not do that since they were so meticulous with the Scriptures, but keep in mind that they were so hard hearted that they rejected the Messiah even when He left them no room for doubt, so altering the Scriptures is even a less act of hard heartedness. Prophecies such as Psalm 22:16 the Septuagint has “they pierced my hands and feet” while the Jews changed it to “like a lion, my hands and feet”, which makes no sense.

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