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Re: [lxx] Masoretic vs lxx

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  • james and tatiana miller
    George: I ll offer some feedback on your posting. These are complex issues, and your source is playing fast and loose with terms and concepts. There is
    Message 1 of 23 , May 6, 2000
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      George:

      I'll offer some feedback on your posting.

      These are complex issues, and your source is playing fast and loose with
      terms and concepts. There is certainly a degree of truth in what they're
      saying, but they're also oversimplifying some things. As to the Talmud, my
      Harper's Bible Dictionary says it "emerged about 200 AD under Rabbi Judah
      the Prince." (HBD, "Talmud", 1016) If one takes the Letter of Aristeas as
      containing straightforward historical data, then the Greek translation of
      Hebrew scripture it alludes to was done some 400 years prior to the
      appearance of the Talmud. Problem is, not everyone takes the letter of
      Aristeas as containing straightforward historical data. Even some who would
      take it that way would say that it needs to be situated in a later era than
      the 3rd century BC. Still others would have no problem with granting
      historical credibility to the Aristeas document, but they would argue that
      only a limited portion of the Hebrew scriptures - i.e., the "Law" or Torah
      - was translated in the 3rd century BC. Simply stated, there are some
      problems with the unqualified assertion that the LXX text is older than the
      Talmud.

      As to extant copies of the Hebrew text translated in ancient times into
      Greek, the short answer is "no, there are no such texts extant." It seems
      that the MT tradition which is represented in modern printed Bibles was one
      of a gradual homogenization of an originally more fluid text tradition. By
      the 10th century, the Masoretic text was "fixed" down to fine levels of
      detail, and substantially variant readings are virtually unattested in
      later MSS. Earlier Hebrew text traditions seem to have been more fluid. The
      Dead Sea Scrolls, for example, provide us with some scattered, alternate
      Hebrew readings within the biblical books. Most noteworthy, with respect to
      your question about alternate Hebrew texts being available are some scraps
      of the prophecy of Jeremiah. These provide one possible example of an
      ancient Hebrew text which shows greater agreement with the Greek
      translation now known to us than to the Masoretic version of Jeremiah. Any
      conclusion as to the Greek's greater fidelity to a Hebrew original must be
      tempered though, by realization of the fact that only a very minute portion
      of the book is represented by the DSS scraps, and we can only guess at how
      representative they are of the character of the larger Hebrew text of
      Jeremiah they were once a part of.

      This begins to touch on the most complex question of all, and the one which
      your source seems to distort the worst. That is the question: What is the
      relation of the oldest known Hebrew texts - i.e., the DSS - to the later
      Masoretic readings? This area needs more study, to be sure. The simple
      reply to the issue of relationship is that they're pretty harmonious. I did
      a limited study of the "greater Isaiah Scroll" ("greater" becuase it
      contains virtually the whole of the book), and looked at the work of others
      who have compared it with LXX (Ziegler) or MT (Kutscher) readings. It shows
      variations, to be sure, from MT. But it is not a simple matter of the text
      showing an alternate Hebrew original on which the LXX translation was
      based. Nor can it be said, as your source seems to wish to lead readers to
      believe, that the Masoretic text is some later composition. There is an
      undeniable relation between the Hebrew text seen in the Greater Isa. Scroll
      and MT Isaiah, and the continuity is especially striking given the fact
      that the two texts are separated by more than 1000 years.

      LXX studies are definitely driven, to some extent, by the hope of
      recovering the Hebrew original from which the translations were made.
      Reconstructing the "Old Greek" - still apparently the main focus of the
      Gottingen enterprise (the chief, modern critical project dealing with the
      LXX) - has been seen by some, at least, as a step toward uncovering more of
      the the ancient (i.e., pre-Masoretic) Hebrew text tradition (the original
      Greek translation being, presumably, correspondingly closer to its Hebrew
      original and thus more susceptible of reliable retroversion).

      These are some offhand responses to the issues raised in your post. Hope it
      helps.

      Sincerely, James Miller

      At 08:50 AM 5/6/00 PDT, you wrote:
      >The following is taken from:
      >
      >http://www.geocities.com/sj_russian/HA/lesna.htm#Noach
      >
      >I am very ignorant of the matters it brings up, but was surprised to find
      >that the Talmudic text is younger[???] than the lxx, and was created
      >AFTER[???] it. I had been assuming that all Hebrew versions of the OT were
      >naturally by language superior to the lxx, because the OT was written in
      >Hebrew originally. Do copies of the Hebraic text from which the lxx was
      >translated even exist any longer?
      >
      >Here are some excerpts:
      >
      >_________________________________________________
      >
      >Judaism itself has never been a monolithic entity. Even after the
      >destruction of the 2nd Temple, there were divisions. Talmudic Judaism
      >(i.e. Orthodox Judaism) did not really triumph until the middle ages...
      >Hellenic Jews interpreted the Hebrew Bible as allegory (i.e. Philo Judaeus).
      >Christianity is rooted in Hellenistic Judaism and not Pharasaical or
      >Talmudic Judaism. Early Christian Fathers were never Fundamentalists, having
      >been rooted in the allegorical tradtion to begin with...
      >
      >A mention of the canon of the Jewish Bible also needs to be made at this
      >point. At the time of the fall of the 2nd Temple, the most widely used text
      >was actually the Greek Septuagint. The Masoretic text was not even in
      >existence yet...
      >
      >There are significant differences in many passages relating to the coming
      >Messiah.There are significant differences in many passages relating to the
      >coming Messiah. Accusations that the early Christian writers changed the
      >texts to support their claims cannot hold water because these writers were
      >relying on the older text of the Septuagint. If any changes were made, they
      >would have to be in the Masoretic which was produced after the Common Era
      >and at a time when the rising sect of the Notzrim (Nazarines, i.e.
      >Christians) was gaining strength and was perceived as a threat to the
      >Pharasees...
      >
      >This divergence between the Septuagint and the Masoretic Text is the real
      >problem with any debate or dialogue between Orthodox Jews and Christians.
      >The former rely on the Masoretic and the latter on the Septuagint. It is a
      >proverbial case of "apples and oranges." Fundamentalist Christians used the
      >Hebrew (likely Masoretic) KJV translation for the Hebrew Canon. It is not
      >surprising that most arguments of Judaism against Christianity can appear
      >valid when this is relied on. Early Christians strictly used the Septuagint,
      >knowing the Masoretic to be a text that wiped out the messianic references
      >found in the Septuagint.
      >_________________________________
      >
      >George Blaisdell
      >
      >________________________________________________________________________
      >Get Your Private, Free E-mail from MSN Hotmail at http://www.hotmail.com
      >
      >
      >------------------------------------------------------------------------
      >Would you like to save big on your phone bill -- and keep on saving
      >more each month? Join beMANY! Our huge buying group gives you Long Distance
      >rates which fall monthly, plus an extra $60 in FREE calls!
      >http://click.egroups.com/1/2567/9/_/11887/_/957628249/
      >------------------------------------------------------------------------
      >
      >
      >
    • George Blaisdell
      Thank-you James... I am woefully ignorant, and had just assumed this Hebrew superiority as the original language of the OT, and was very surprised to read that
      Message 2 of 23 , May 6, 2000
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        Thank-you James...

        I am woefully ignorant, and had just assumed this Hebrew superiority as the
        original language of the OT, and was very surprised to read that the lxx is
        actually older that the Hebraic texts which I had assumed to be superior.
        "My" source wrote the article for Orthodox Christians to have a basis to
        hold their [verbal] own in the face of Orthodox Jews, so it is probably not
        very well balanced, yet the fundamentals should, it seemed to me, be fairly
        easy to ascertain. Your post has pretty much disabused me of this notion!

        Did you read the source article? It is not at all kindly disposed to
        Talmudic Judaism, and does indeed seem to want to argue for the superiority
        of the lxx over the Masoretic text, which it claims was written a lot later
        and with a religious-political agenda.

        So thanks again...

        George Blaisdell


        >From: james and tatiana miller <jamtat@...>
        >Reply-To: lxx@egroups.com
        >To: lxx@egroups.com
        >Subject: Re: [lxx] Masoretic vs lxx
        >Date: Sat, 06 May 2000 17:47:27 -0500
        >
        >George:
        >
        >I'll offer some feedback on your posting.
        >
        >These are complex issues, and your source is playing fast and loose with
        >terms and concepts. There is certainly a degree of truth in what they're
        >saying, but they're also oversimplifying some things. As to the Talmud, my
        >Harper's Bible Dictionary says it "emerged about 200 AD under Rabbi Judah
        >the Prince." (HBD, "Talmud", 1016) If one takes the Letter of Aristeas as
        >containing straightforward historical data, then the Greek translation of
        >Hebrew scripture it alludes to was done some 400 years prior to the
        >appearance of the Talmud. Problem is, not everyone takes the letter of
        >Aristeas as containing straightforward historical data. Even some who would
        >take it that way would say that it needs to be situated in a later era than
        >the 3rd century BC. Still others would have no problem with granting
        >historical credibility to the Aristeas document, but they would argue that
        >only a limited portion of the Hebrew scriptures - i.e., the "Law" or Torah
        >- was translated in the 3rd century BC. Simply stated, there are some
        >problems with the unqualified assertion that the LXX text is older than the
        >Talmud.
        >
        >As to extant copies of the Hebrew text translated in ancient times into
        >Greek, the short answer is "no, there are no such texts extant." It seems
        >that the MT tradition which is represented in modern printed Bibles was one
        >of a gradual homogenization of an originally more fluid text tradition. By
        >the 10th century, the Masoretic text was "fixed" down to fine levels of
        >detail, and substantially variant readings are virtually unattested in
        >later MSS. Earlier Hebrew text traditions seem to have been more fluid. The
        >Dead Sea Scrolls, for example, provide us with some scattered, alternate
        >Hebrew readings within the biblical books. Most noteworthy, with respect to
        >your question about alternate Hebrew texts being available are some scraps
        >of the prophecy of Jeremiah. These provide one possible example of an
        >ancient Hebrew text which shows greater agreement with the Greek
        >translation now known to us than to the Masoretic version of Jeremiah. Any
        >conclusion as to the Greek's greater fidelity to a Hebrew original must be
        >tempered though, by realization of the fact that only a very minute portion
        >of the book is represented by the DSS scraps, and we can only guess at how
        >representative they are of the character of the larger Hebrew text of
        >Jeremiah they were once a part of.
        >
        >This begins to touch on the most complex question of all, and the one which
        >your source seems to distort the worst. That is the question: What is the
        >relation of the oldest known Hebrew texts - i.e., the DSS - to the later
        >Masoretic readings? This area needs more study, to be sure. The simple
        >reply to the issue of relationship is that they're pretty harmonious. I did
        >a limited study of the "greater Isaiah Scroll" ("greater" becuase it
        >contains virtually the whole of the book), and looked at the work of others
        >who have compared it with LXX (Ziegler) or MT (Kutscher) readings. It shows
        >variations, to be sure, from MT. But it is not a simple matter of the text
        >showing an alternate Hebrew original on which the LXX translation was
        >based. Nor can it be said, as your source seems to wish to lead readers to
        >believe, that the Masoretic text is some later composition. There is an
        >undeniable relation between the Hebrew text seen in the Greater Isa. Scroll
        >and MT Isaiah, and the continuity is especially striking given the fact
        >that the two texts are separated by more than 1000 years.
        >
        >LXX studies are definitely driven, to some extent, by the hope of
        >recovering the Hebrew original from which the translations were made.
        >Reconstructing the "Old Greek" - still apparently the main focus of the
        >Gottingen enterprise (the chief, modern critical project dealing with the
        >LXX) - has been seen by some, at least, as a step toward uncovering more of
        >the the ancient (i.e., pre-Masoretic) Hebrew text tradition (the original
        >Greek translation being, presumably, correspondingly closer to its Hebrew
        >original and thus more susceptible of reliable retroversion).
        >
        >These are some offhand responses to the issues raised in your post. Hope it
        >helps.
        >
        >Sincerely, James Miller
        >
        >At 08:50 AM 5/6/00 PDT, you wrote:
        > >The following is taken from:
        > >
        > >http://www.geocities.com/sj_russian/HA/lesna.htm#Noach
        > >
        > >I am very ignorant of the matters it brings up, but was surprised to find
        > >that the Talmudic text is younger[???] than the lxx, and was created
        > >AFTER[???] it. I had been assuming that all Hebrew versions of the OT
        >were
        > >naturally by language superior to the lxx, because the OT was written in
        > >Hebrew originally. Do copies of the Hebraic text from which the lxx was
        > >translated even exist any longer?
        > >
        > >Here are some excerpts:
        > >
        > >_________________________________________________
        > >
        > >Judaism itself has never been a monolithic entity. Even after the
        > >destruction of the 2nd Temple, there were divisions. Talmudic Judaism
        > >(i.e. Orthodox Judaism) did not really triumph until the middle ages...
        > >Hellenic Jews interpreted the Hebrew Bible as allegory (i.e. Philo
        >Judaeus).
        > >Christianity is rooted in Hellenistic Judaism and not Pharasaical or
        > >Talmudic Judaism. Early Christian Fathers were never Fundamentalists,
        >having
        > >been rooted in the allegorical tradtion to begin with...
        > >
        > >A mention of the canon of the Jewish Bible also needs to be made at this
        > >point. At the time of the fall of the 2nd Temple, the most widely used
        >text
        > >was actually the Greek Septuagint. The Masoretic text was not even in
        > >existence yet...
        > >
        > >There are significant differences in many passages relating to the coming
        > >Messiah.There are significant differences in many passages relating to
        >the
        > >coming Messiah. Accusations that the early Christian writers changed the
        > >texts to support their claims cannot hold water because these writers
        >were
        > >relying on the older text of the Septuagint. If any changes were made,
        >they
        > >would have to be in the Masoretic which was produced after the Common Era
        > >and at a time when the rising sect of the Notzrim (Nazarines, i.e.
        > >Christians) was gaining strength and was perceived as a threat to the
        > >Pharasees...
        > >
        > >This divergence between the Septuagint and the Masoretic Text is the real
        > >problem with any debate or dialogue between Orthodox Jews and Christians.
        > >The former rely on the Masoretic and the latter on the Septuagint. It is
        >a
        > >proverbial case of "apples and oranges." Fundamentalist Christians used
        >the
        > >Hebrew (likely Masoretic) KJV translation for the Hebrew Canon. It is not
        > >surprising that most arguments of Judaism against Christianity can appear
        > >valid when this is relied on. Early Christians strictly used the
        >Septuagint,
        > >knowing the Masoretic to be a text that wiped out the messianic
        >references
        > >found in the Septuagint.
        > >_________________________________
        > >
        > >George Blaisdell
        > >
        > >________________________________________________________________________
        > >Get Your Private, Free E-mail from MSN Hotmail at http://www.hotmail.com
        > >
        > >
        > >------------------------------------------------------------------------
        > >Would you like to save big on your phone bill -- and keep on saving
        > >more each month? Join beMANY! Our huge buying group gives you Long
        >Distance
        > >rates which fall monthly, plus an extra $60 in FREE calls!
        > >http://click.egroups.com/1/2567/9/_/11887/_/957628249/
        > >------------------------------------------------------------------------
        > >
        > >
        > >

        ________________________________________________________________________
        Get Your Private, Free E-mail from MSN Hotmail at http://www.hotmail.com
      • Will Pratt
        ... The results of Dead Sea Scroll studies bear on this. The large majority of biblical texts agree very closely with the Masoretic Text, confirming
        Message 3 of 23 , May 6, 2000
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          <snip>

          > This divergence between the Septuagint and the Masoretic
          > Text is the real
          > problem with any debate or dialogue between Orthodox Jews
          > and Christians.
          > The former rely on the Masoretic and the latter on the
          > Septuagint. It is a
          > proverbial case of "apples and oranges." Fundamentalist
          > Christians used the
          > Hebrew (likely Masoretic) KJV translation for the Hebrew
          > Canon. It is not
          > surprising that most arguments of Judaism against
          > Christianity can appear
          > valid when this is relied on. Early Christians strictly
          > used the Septuagint,
          > knowing the Masoretic to be a text that wiped out the
          > messianic references
          > found in the Septuagint.


          The results of Dead Sea Scroll studies bear on this. The large
          majority of biblical texts agree very closely with the Masoretic Text,
          confirming the accuracy of it's transmission from that point, and some
          of these witnesses for the MT are as old as 150 BCE, based on
          radiocarbon dating. A smaller group of texts (ca 10%), though, agree
          with LXX readings. The conclusion drawn from this is that there were
          at least two contemporary textual traditions, one leading to the MT as
          we have it, the other to the LXX. Caveats: There may have been
          additional traditions not represented in the Qumran library. And the
          ratio of MT to LXX tradition in the Qumran mss is probably skewed by
          the theological approach of the Essenes.

          Although the LXX does reflect a textual tradition, the text as we have
          it probably also reflects the vicissitudes of scribal transmission.
          There is no reason to suppose that the LXX text was any less subject
          to scribal error and editing than the NT text bound in the same
          codices. The traditional set of tests and checksums used to check for
          errors by sopherim seems to have resulted in a "cleaner" transmission
          in the case of the MT than that of the LXX and NT. Not perfect
          transmission by any means, but less error prone than that the LXX and
          NT were subjected to.

          Will

          Will Pratt
          prattw@...
        • David C. Hindley
          George, ... find that the Talmudic text is younger[???] than the lxx, and was created AFTER[???] it. I had been assuming that all Hebrew versions of the OT
          Message 4 of 23 , May 7, 2000
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            George,

            On Sat, 06 May 2000, George Blaisdell <maqhth@...> asked:

            >>I am very ignorant of the matters it brings up, but was surprised to
            find that the Talmudic text is younger[???] than the lxx, and was
            created AFTER[???] it. I had been assuming that all Hebrew versions
            of the OT were naturally by language superior to the lxx, because the
            OT was written in Hebrew originally. Do copies of the Hebraic text
            from which the lxx was translated even exist any longer?<<

            Perhaps you might want to look into the theory of competing textual
            traditions offered by Frank Moore Cross (starting in the 1960's) as an
            explanation for the variations between Qumran textual mss. He would
            say that individual Babylonian, Egyptian and Palestinian traditions
            had existed, corresponding to the proto-texts underlying the MT, LXX
            and Samaritan Pentateuch. This theme has been taken up, and expanded,
            by others, but I am not up-to-date on the names and works. I'd conduct
            a search on "Cross, F M" through your local library catalogues. I am
            not sure what you might get if you did so on the Internet. Internet
            URLs tend to be a tad biased towards one extreme or another, but there
            *are* sites out there that are gems. Use discretion ...

            The article you cited does not seem to go into the issue of the
            various revisions of the LXX that were undertaken in antiquity.
            Between the first major effort at translation (3rd century BCE, likely
            only the Pentateuch, but later including the Prophets, then the
            Writings) and the revisions or re-translations created by Symmachus,
            Theodotian, et al, through the 2nd century CE (and later), it is
            sometimes difficult to be certain just which of these translations and
            revisions the surviving LXX mss represent. We have fairly good ideas
            when it comes to Daniel and Ezra-Nehemia, but of many others
            (particularly books of the Prophets and Writings) this is still an
            open question.

            Some early Christians compared the LXX (their "bible") against the
            Hebrew scriptures then current among the Jews in an attempt to accuse
            Jews of eliminating passages that they believed prophesied about Jesus
            Christ. Some are legitimate variants that, in the LXX, could be
            interpreted in a messianic sense where the Hebrew could not. However,
            a number of these examples of "excised" passages are *also* not
            present in the LXX as transmitted by Christian scribes. These
            apologists were apparently relying upon lists of proof texts that
            mixed excerpts from the LXX with apocryphal and apocalyptic
            literature, with the apologists not being aware of this fact. Either
            that or there were some really weird LXX translations in circulation
            in the first few centuries CE.

            Regards,

            Dave Hindley
            Cleveland, Ohio, USA
          • George Blaisdell
            Pardon my ignorance of these matters... The idea that Orthodox Jews and Orthodox Christians use two differing OT texts is news to me, and the idea that the
            Message 5 of 23 , May 7, 2000
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              Pardon my ignorance of these matters... The idea that Orthodox Jews and
              Orthodox Christians use two differing OT texts is news to me, and the idea
              that the Masoretic Text is the lxx written into Hebrew with messianic
              references edited out seems outrageous. Are there any Orthodox Jews on this
              list who can put this matter into some additional light?

              George Blaisdell



              >From: "Will Pratt" <prattw@...>
              >Reply-To: lxx@egroups.com
              >To: <lxx@egroups.com>
              >Subject: RE: [lxx] Masoretic vs lxx
              >Date: Sat, 6 May 2000 19:15:40 -0700
              >
              ><snip>
              >
              > > This divergence between the Septuagint and the Masoretic
              > > Text is the real
              > > problem with any debate or dialogue between Orthodox Jews
              > > and Christians.
              > > The former rely on the Masoretic and the latter on the
              > > Septuagint. It is a
              > > proverbial case of "apples and oranges." Fundamentalist
              > > Christians used the
              > > Hebrew (likely Masoretic) KJV translation for the Hebrew
              > > Canon. It is not
              > > surprising that most arguments of Judaism against
              > > Christianity can appear
              > > valid when this is relied on. Early Christians strictly
              > > used the Septuagint,
              > > knowing the Masoretic to be a text that wiped out the
              > > messianic references
              > > found in the Septuagint.
              >
              >
              >The results of Dead Sea Scroll studies bear on this. The large
              >majority of biblical texts agree very closely with the Masoretic Text,
              >confirming the accuracy of it's transmission from that point, and some
              >of these witnesses for the MT are as old as 150 BCE, based on
              >radiocarbon dating. A smaller group of texts (ca 10%), though, agree
              >with LXX readings. The conclusion drawn from this is that there were
              >at least two contemporary textual traditions, one leading to the MT as
              >we have it, the other to the LXX. Caveats: There may have been
              >additional traditions not represented in the Qumran library. And the
              >ratio of MT to LXX tradition in the Qumran mss is probably skewed by
              >the theological approach of the Essenes.
              >
              >Although the LXX does reflect a textual tradition, the text as we have
              >it probably also reflects the vicissitudes of scribal transmission.
              >There is no reason to suppose that the LXX text was any less subject
              >to scribal error and editing than the NT text bound in the same
              >codices. The traditional set of tests and checksums used to check for
              >errors by sopherim seems to have resulted in a "cleaner" transmission
              >in the case of the MT than that of the LXX and NT. Not perfect
              >transmission by any means, but less error prone than that the LXX and
              >NT were subjected to.
              >
              >Will
              >
              >Will Pratt
              >prattw@...
              >

              ________________________________________________________________________
              Get Your Private, Free E-mail from MSN Hotmail at http://www.hotmail.com
            • Will Pratt
              ... I m not sure that this was actually addressed to me, since the above doesn t reflect what I said. Piggybacking? None the less, I am Jewish, so . . . What
              Message 6 of 23 , May 7, 2000
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                > Pardon my ignorance of these matters... The idea that
                > Orthodox Jews and
                > Orthodox Christians use two differing OT texts is news to
                > me, and the idea
                > that the Masoretic Text is the lxx written into Hebrew with
                > messianic
                > references edited out seems outrageous. Are there any
                > Orthodox Jews on this
                > list who can put this matter into some additional light?

                I'm not sure that this was actually addressed to me, since the above
                doesn't reflect what I said. Piggybacking?

                None the less, I am Jewish, so . . .

                What is meant by "Orthodox" Xtians, in this case, I believe, is the
                Orthodox or Eastern Church. At any rate, they continue to use the LXX
                as their primary OT, at least officially. (In the US the inability of
                most to read Koine Greek even if they can speak a bit of modern Greek,
                leaves the laity dependent on Protestant or Roman Catholic
                translations.)

                The official OT of the RC Church from around 425 CE to (present?) was
                the Vulgate, a direct translation into Latin from the Hebrew textual
                tradition which today we call the Masoretic, by Jerome. (Jerome had a
                low opinion of the LXX.)

                More recently the RC Church has produced a couple of very good English
                translations direct from the MT, but I don't know whether any is
                "official". Up to the appearance of the Jerusalem Bible, the standard
                English-language RC bible was the Douay-Rheims, an English translation
                of the Vulgate. The main English Protestant trasnlation, until the
                Middle 20th century, of course, was the King James version. This was
                not a comptete translation, de novo, but was a reworking of previous
                English translations, which _had_ been made from the MT, with careful
                checking for accuracy against the MT. (And against the Greek text for
                the NT.) All the recent proliferation of translations has been direct
                from the MT. The last English translation of the LXX was made in the
                middle 19th century, though there is now a group working on a new
                translation.

                There are several good Jewish translations of the MT, incidentaly.
                The easiest to get hold of is the Jewish Publication Society's 1985
                _Tanakh - The Holy Scriptures_ which is often available in the Bible
                section of chain bookstore, in an inexpensive trade paperback edition.

                A crude description of the translation style in the LXX, doing great
                violence to the details of the evidence, is that it varies from
                section to section. Some are very nearly a transliteration from
                Hebrew to Greek, some are well done formally equivalent translations,
                some dynamically equivalent, and some seemingly paraphrases. The
                joker in the deck, though, is that with the realization that there
                were distinct textual traditions leading to the MT and to the LXX, we
                are left to wonder whether it is the translation in the LXX, or the
                Hebrew text it was translated from, that bore these relations to the
                MT.

                Will

                Will Pratt
                prattw@...
              • petersig@ccat.sas.upenn.edu
                ... I have not responded before now, because the responses to your first posting have been generally knowledgeable and informative. My religion is Judaism, and
                Message 7 of 23 , May 7, 2000
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                  According to George Blaisdell:
                  >
                  > Pardon my ignorance of these matters... The idea that Orthodox Jews and
                  > Orthodox Christians use two differing OT texts is news to me, and the idea
                  > that the Masoretic Text is the lxx written into Hebrew with messianic
                  > references edited out seems outrageous. Are there any Orthodox Jews on this
                  > list who can put this matter into some additional light?
                  >
                  > George Blaisdell
                  >

                  I have not responded before now, because the responses to your first
                  posting have been generally knowledgeable and informative.
                  My religion is Judaism, and within that religion I am fairly orthopractic.
                  I am also a graduate student in Religious Studies at the University of
                  Pennsylvania. Judaism, like Islam, is oriented towards practice, rather
                  than belief.

                  This is reflected in the development of the Masoretic text by a family who
                  took it upon themselves to record the reading traditions of those who were
                  trained in reading the Torah (=Pentateuch) and other books of the Hebrew
                  and Aramaic Jewish Scriptures.

                  The differences between Greek and Hebrew-Aramaic texts of the Jewish
                  Scriptures at the level of words are fairly minor and turn on fairly
                  obvious errors in translation or transmission. The major difference
                  between the "Hebrew Bible" and the "Old Testament" is in the arrangement
                  of the books.

                  Christians have arranged the Old Testament to reflect the literary and
                  religious judgment and interpretation that the prophetic books should be
                  placed at the end. The arrangement of the Torah-Neviim-Ketuvim
                  (Teaching/Law/Pentateuch-Prophets-Writings), abbreviated TaNaKh, puts the
                  histories and books of the Major and Minor prophets in the middle. This
                  arrangement seems to be based on chronological/narrative considerations,
                  Thus TaNaKah ends with the writings/Ketuvim, a section which includes the
                  book of Daniel. Daniel and Esther vie for the honors of the last canonical
                  book to have been composed. The canonical books are the same in Judaism
                  and Christianity, although Greek additions to Esther and Daniel exist, as
                  do some additional psalms found in Syriac. These are included in the NRSV
                  translation.

                  There are differences between the editions of I Samuel/Shmuel (HB) and the
                  corresponding portion of Reigns in the Old Greek (incorrectly termed the
                  LXX), as well as the edition of Jeremiah, between the surviving Old Greek
                  and the Hebrew of these books, as has already been noted here on the list.

                  Very few Jews who have been raised and trained in Orthodox Judaism

                  a) know the Bible (in any definition) beyond the Torah and the Psalms,
                  the scrolls and other books used for the holidays (Lamentations/Eikha,
                  Jonah, Qohelet/Ecclesiastes, Esther, Song of Songs/Shir haShirim, and
                  Ruth) and beyond the Haftarot--selections from history and the prophets
                  that are keyed to the Torah selection of the week.

                  b) most Jews don't care at all where the text comes from, or how
                  it differs between Jewish and Christian versions. Jews, even Orthodox
                  Jews, have traditionally had little interest in what anyone in another
                  religion does with the same texts they use. Very few know that "Judaism
                  spoke Greek" for 400 or 500 years, with pockets that continued to speak
                  Greek for another 500 or so years.

                  c) on the other hand, many Orthodox Jews undertake weekly study of the
                  Torah portion, and daily study of the Talmud. They are not ignorant of
                  the contents of these texts, although the emphasis is different.

                  That is to say, to most Jews the Hebrew text inscribed on scrolls and in
                  editions of TaNaKh is the given text, ancient, spoken in the language
                  spoken by God "in the beginning of God's creating."

                  --------

                  The manuscript evidence from Qumran (the Dead Sea Scrolls) is described
                  anachronistically by Frank Moore Cross, who was mentioned earlier, in
                  terms of three text families. The users of the Qumran texts were probably
                  not aware that they were supposed to use established texts from specific
                  "families" of texts--they used what came to hand or could be purchased or
                  was developed in somebody's scribal shop or was dictated by someone who
                  was a walking Torah or had been edited by somebody's uncle. In the words
                  of Emanuel Tov, who is the General Editor of the Dead Sea Scrolls, they
                  were "just texts."

                  Hebrew is a language without vowels, so that words are pronounced
                  according to conventions and traditions that supply the vowels. We don't
                  know what these were at the time of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The
                  last sentence would become W DNT KNW WHT THS WR T TH TM F TH DD S
                  SCRLLS. Sometimes the meaning of a passage can change according to the
                  vowels supplied, or the way in which an unbroken chain of consonants is
                  broken apart. Oral traditions and memorized texts, however, are described
                  in a number of Jewish sources. From collateral evidence of the Rg Vedas in
                  Hinduism, which were of exceedingly ancient origin, written down
                  until the 19th century, with North Indian oral traditions differing little
                  from South Indian traditions, we know that with a fixed oral tradition in
                  place, text can be accurately preserved over centuries. That religion
                  fosters such preservation can be intuited by anyone who recalls the
                  Episcopal Church's furor and divisions over replacing the 1928 Book of
                  Common Prayer with a more up-to-date version.

                  What fuels the Orthodox Jewish side of an Orthodox Christian/Orthodox
                  Jewish conversation about LXX/Old Greek versus TaNaKh is the ingrained
                  prejudice against things Greek and the Greek language, the "Hellenizers"
                  who opposed the followers of Judah the Maccabee, the Greek-speaking
                  oppressor Antiochus Epiphanes who was the original model for Haman in
                  Esther. And the sense that of course Hebrew came first.

                  Of course it did, you know.

                  You should know, however, that rabbinic Judaism recognized the LXX as an
                  inspired translation which could be used for the Torah reading in
                  Synagogues in areas where Jews spoke Greek as their mother tongue. In
                  contrast, if Aramaic was necessary for understanding, the Hebrew text was
                  read first, and an Aramaic translation was provided. This practice was the
                  source of the Aramaic targum tradition.

                  I hope this has provided some information you can use to deepen
                  understanding of the material you quoted at the beginning of this
                  discussion.

                  Sigrid Peterson University of Pennsylvania petersig@...
                • Joel D Kalvesmaki
                  Hi Dave, Thanks for your excellent post. I appreciate hearing about Cross working idea -- there is an attractive elegance to his theory. ... A question about
                  Message 8 of 23 , May 7, 2000
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                    Hi Dave,

                    Thanks for your excellent post. I appreciate hearing about Cross' working
                    idea -- there is an attractive elegance to his theory.

                    > Some early Christians compared the LXX (their "bible") against the
                    > Hebrew scriptures then current among the Jews in an attempt to accuse
                    > Jews of eliminating passages that they believed prophesied about Jesus
                    > Christ. Some are legitimate variants that, in the LXX, could be
                    > interpreted in a messianic sense where the Hebrew could not. However,
                    > a number of these examples of "excised" passages are *also* not
                    > present in the LXX as transmitted by Christian scribes. These
                    > apologists were apparently relying upon lists of proof texts that
                    > mixed excerpts from the LXX with apocryphal and apocalyptic
                    > literature, with the apologists not being aware of this fact. Either
                    > that or there were some really weird LXX translations in circulation
                    > in the first few centuries CE.

                    A question about sources. Is there anyone besides Justin the Martyr who can
                    be adduced to substantiate this claim that Christians accused Jews of
                    changing their scriptures? I am pretty familiar with the Septuagint vs.
                    Hebrew discourse by Justin Martyr (_Dialogue Agaist Trypho_ , 70-73), but,
                    as far as I can remember, he is the only figure of the 2nd or 3rd c. to use
                    this argument. Irenaeus (Adv. Haer. 3.21) comes close, but his gripe is with
                    the translations of Theodotian, Aquila et al. He doesn't seem to accuse the
                    Jews of tampering with the Hebrew. If Justin is our only source, how
                    plausible is it to reconstruct or generalize Christian-Jewish debates upon
                    it? Or is this theme resumed in the 4th and 5th c.?

                    I think this is an important point since scholars as notable as Daniel
                    Boyarin have sought to make general theories of Jewish-Christian relations
                    based, to a large degree, on Justin's corpus of writings. But if other
                    Christians don't employ this argument in treatises against the Jews, written
                    before or after Justin, it seems that we must at least rethink or qualify
                    our claims about this period.

                    Anyway, just some questions worth thinking about. Thanks again,

                    jk
                    untitledJoel D Kalvesmaki 16kalvesmaki@...
                    http://arts-sciences.cua.edu/ecs/jdk/ Graduate Student, Early Christian
                    Studies Catholic University of America Washington, DC




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                  • David C. Hindley
                    On Sun, 7 May 2000 Choufrine, Arkadi ... about 200 AD under Rabbi Judah the Prince. (HBD, Talmud , 1016)/// Simply stated,
                    Message 9 of 23 , May 8, 2000
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                      On Sun, 7 May 2000 "Choufrine, Arkadi" <arkadi.choufrine@...>
                      stated:

                      >>As to the Talmud, my Harper's Bible Dictionary says it "emerged
                      about 200 AD under Rabbi
                      Judah the Prince." (HBD, "Talmud", 1016)/// Simply stated, there are
                      some problems with the unqualified assertion that the LXX text is
                      older than the Talmud.<<

                      Be careful not to confuse the TaNaKh (Jewish scriptures) with the
                      Talmud (a book of Study consisting of Rabbinical teachings and
                      traditions).

                      The excerpt above is not really correct. What R. Judah compiled about
                      200 CE was the Mishna, a set of legal interpretations that, along with
                      a commentary of it, comprises the (later) Talmud. The Talmud itself
                      was compiled over several hundred years.

                      But, getting to your comment, how does the fact of the Mishna being
                      compiled 200 CE (that is the neutral term for the Christian <or
                      "Commonly used"> Era) make it younger than the LXX, compiled between
                      3rd century BCE (that's the neutral term for the Christian BC)?

                      Did you mean to question that the LXX is older than the Masoretic Text
                      (MT)? No one has stated that. I think that you may have confused some
                      terms, or are not following the dates being used (and that is why I
                      provided an explanation of the terms BCE/CE above).

                      If the MT was standardized about the 8-9th century CE (and I am
                      winging it here, so dates are approximate) and the old Greek (LXX)
                      translations were made ca. 250-50 BCE, then the Hebrew/Aramaic text
                      that had been translated would have to be an earlier form of the
                      Hebrew text than what was in use almost 1,000 years later when the MT
                      was standardized.

                      George Blaisdell also asked:

                      >>Pardon my ignorance of these matters... The idea that Orthodox Jews
                      and Orthodox Christians use two differing OT texts is news to me, and
                      the idea that the Masoretic Text is the lxx written into Hebrew with
                      messianic references edited out seems outrageous. Are there any
                      Orthodox Jews on this list who can put this matter into some
                      additional light?<<

                      Hmmm. I do not recall quite saying *that*. <g> What I mentioned was
                      that F M Cross suggested that there were three "families" of *Hebrew*
                      mss. One family, the one preserved for the most part in Babylon, was
                      that upon which the MT was standardized ca. 8-9th century CE. Another
                      family, the one preserved for the most part in Egypt, was the one
                      which was used as the *basis* for the *Greek* translation of the
                      Torah/Law ca. 250 BCE. The MT was *not* a re-translation into Hebrew
                      of the Greek LXX translation of the ancient Hebrew (if that is what
                      you meant).

                      Keep in mind that since the Greek period started in 311 BCE, many Jews
                      (who for various reasons lived outside Palestine, including Egypt,
                      Syria, Asia Minor, Achaia, Italy, and N. Africa) did not know Hebrew.
                      The LXX was produced, most likely, by Jews in order to serve as a
                      version that these "Diaspora" Jews could use. That is why Judaism
                      originally thought so highly of the LXX, even though it *was* somewhat
                      different than the Hebrew in various places (mostly in the later
                      books, i.e., the Prophets and Writings, but even in the law the ages
                      of the ancient patriarchs are quite different).

                      However, curious Greek speaking Gentiles also found it of interest, so
                      the LXX was presented to Gentiles as a educational tool. The
                      pseudepigraphical Letter of Aristeas is an example. It was not until
                      Christians, who for the most part were Gentiles unable to read Hebrew
                      and used Greek translations like the LXX as their primary scriptures,
                      started to point to particular readings in the Greek as prophesies of
                      Jesus Christ, that the Rabbi began to object to it.

                      Several of the later Greek revisions or re-translations of the Hebrew
                      scriptures were undertaken by Jews who sought to make either literal
                      translations of the Hebrew, or to preserve the Hebrew sense in better
                      Greek idiom than did the Old Greek/LXX. In time, the frictions with
                      Christians (who themselves often adopted the newer Jewish translations
                      mentioned above) caused many Rabbis to emphasize the Hebrew scriptures
                      as the ultimate source of authority. It took several centuries, but
                      the rabbis succeeded in improving overall Jewish ability to understand
                      the Hebrew scriptures and de-emphasized the use of the Greek
                      translations, until the Greek translations fell out of general Jewish
                      use.

                      My advice, for those getting flustered, would be to read up a bit. The
                      trick is being aware of what to look for.

                      Joel D Kalvesmaki noted:

                      >>I am pretty familiar with the Septuagint vs. Hebrew discourse by
                      Justin Martyr (_Dialogue Agaist Trypho_ , 70-73), but, as far as I can
                      remember, he is the only figure of the 2nd or 3rd c. to use this
                      argument. Irenaeus (Adv. Haer. 3.21) comes close, but his gripe is
                      with the translations of Theodotian, Aquila et al. He doesn't seem to
                      accuse the Jews of tampering with the Hebrew. If Justin is our only
                      source, how plausible is it to reconstruct or generalize
                      Christian-Jewish debates upon it? Or is this theme resumed in the 4th
                      and 5th c.?<<

                      I was shooting from the hip. But you may well be right. I do not know
                      for a fact whether other early Christians did what Justin Martyr did
                      in his _Dailogue with Trypho_. If not, then the question whether his
                      tactic was employed aggressively or not by other early Christians
                      would have to remain a matter of conjecture. Even so, it *does* offer
                      a plausible motivation for later Jewish revisions of the LXX and the
                      fresh translations, and ultimately their program to replace dependency
                      upon translations with dependency upon the original Hebrew.

                      Sigrid Peterson then noted:

                      >>The manuscript evidence from Qumran (the Dead Sea Scrolls) is
                      described anachronistically by Frank Moore Cross, who was mentioned
                      earlier, in terms of three text families. The users of the Qumran
                      texts were probably not aware that they were supposed to use
                      established texts from specific "families" of texts--they used what
                      came to hand or could be purchased or was developed in somebody's
                      scribal shop or was dictated by someone who was a walking Torah or had
                      been edited by somebody's uncle. In the words of Emanuel Tov, who is
                      the General Editor of the Dead Sea Scrolls, they were "just texts."<<

                      I did not mean to suggest that Cross is 100% on target. He has drawn
                      criticism, true, but I am not up to date on the debate. I would think
                      that his proposals would be affected by when, exactly, the various
                      books of the TaNaKh were composed or at least brought into their
                      currently known forms. Also, my use of the phrase "textual families"
                      may give the impression that each individual mss followed a set
                      tradition almost without variation. This is certainly not the case. No
                      one mss, even the DSS Isaiah scroll(s) mentioned in earlier posts, is
                      100% "MT". They all exhibit *mixtures* of readings from the various
                      family groups proposed by Cross.

                      It has been my impression that the process of grouping Hebrew mss
                      readings into textual families is similar to the way that variant
                      readings found in Greek NT mss are grouped into families. The mss
                      themselves, though, are associated with a text family based on the
                      family group that the majority of readings tend to follow (and I am
                      sure I am simplifying things tremendously).

                      Regards,

                      Dave Hindley
                      Cleveland, Ohio, USA
                    • George Blaisdell
                      ... Sorry Will - I was indeed piggybacking, although in my defense my lawyer might argue that my having started this thread has some mitigative value!! ... I
                      Message 10 of 23 , May 8, 2000
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                        >From: "Will Pratt"

                        > > Pardon my ignorance of these matters... The idea that
                        > > Orthodox Jews and Orthodox Christians use two differing > OT texts is
                        >news to me, and the idea that the Masoretic > Text is the lxx written into
                        >Hebrew with messianic
                        > > references edited out seems outrageous. Are there any
                        > > Orthodox Jews on this list who can put this matter into > some
                        >additional light?

                        >I'm not sure that this was actually addressed to me, since the above
                        >doesn't reflect what I said. Piggybacking?

                        Sorry Will - I was indeed piggybacking, although in my defense my lawyer
                        might argue that my having started this thread has some mitigative value!!
                        :-)

                        >None the less, I am Jewish, so . . .

                        >What is meant by "Orthodox" Xtians, in this case, I believe, is the
                        >Orthodox or Eastern Church. At any rate, they continue to use the >LXX as
                        >their primary OT, at least officially. (In the US the >inability of most
                        >to read Koine Greek even if they can speak a bit of >modern Greek, leaves
                        >the laity dependent on Protestant or Roman >Catholic translations.)

                        I understand that even Orthodox Greeks in Greece are unable to read the
                        koine, and have the bible translated into modern Greek so that they can read
                        it. I have not heard of the Bible having hundreds upon hundreds of
                        'versions' there in modern Greek, however.

                        >The official OT of the RC Church from around 425 CE to (present?) was
                        >the Vulgate, a direct translation into Latin from the Hebrew textual
                        >tradition which today we call the Masoretic, by Jerome. (Jerome had >a low
                        >opinion of the LXX.)

                        More news to me, Thank-you. Do you happen to have any of his basis for that
                        low opinion?

                        Now I am wondering if the Vulgate translation from the Masoretic text had
                        anything to do with the RC-EO split in 1054...

                        >More recently the RC Church has produced a couple of very good >English
                        >translations direct from the MT, but I don't know whether any is
                        >"official". Up to the appearance of the Jerusalem Bible, the standard
                        >English-language RC bible was the Douay-Rheims, an >English translation of
                        >the Vulgate. The main English Protestant >trasnlation, until the Middle
                        >20th century, of course, was the King >James version. This was not a
                        >comptete translation, de novo, but was >a reworking of previous English
                        >translations, which _had_ been made >from the MT, with careful checking for
                        >accuracy against the MT. (And >against the Greek text for the NT.) All
                        >the recent proliferation of >translations has been direct from the MT. The
                        >last English >translation of the LXX was made in the middle 19th century,
                        >though >there is now a group working on a new translation.
                        >
                        >There are several good Jewish translations of the MT, incidentaly.
                        >The easiest to get hold of is the Jewish Publication Society's 1985
                        >_Tanakh - The Holy Scriptures_ which is often available in the Bible
                        >section of chain bookstore, in an inexpensive trade paperback >edition.

                        I will keep an eye out for that one...

                        >A crude description of the translation style in the LXX, doing great
                        >violence to the details of the evidence, is that it varies from
                        >section to section. Some are very nearly a transliteration from
                        >Hebrew to Greek, some are well done formally equivalent translations,
                        >some dynamically equivalent, and some seemingly paraphrases. The
                        >joker in the deck, though, is that with the realization that there
                        >were distinct textual traditions leading to the MT and to the LXX, we
                        >are left to wonder whether it is the translation in the LXX, or the
                        >Hebrew text it was translated from, that bore these relations to the
                        >MT.

                        Exactly! The author of the [biased] article cited at the beginning of this
                        thread seems to be saying that the MT was created by Jews translating the
                        LXX into Hebrew as a countermeasure to the then prevalently used Greek text,
                        and that is a wild card indeed! And especially so if there are really no OT
                        texts in Hebrew predating the LXX.

                        >Will

                        Thanks, Will...

                        George Blaisdell

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                      • George Blaisdell
                        I hope this has provided some information you can use to deepen understanding of the material you quoted at the beginning of this discussion. Sigrid Peterson
                        Message 11 of 23 , May 8, 2000
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                          I hope this has provided some information you can use to deepen
                          understanding of the material you quoted at the beginning of this
                          discussion.

                          Sigrid Peterson

                          In a big way, thank-you. I am starting to get a few bearings from which to
                          discern directions, and a whole lot of them from your excellent post.

                          George Blaisdell
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                        • George Blaisdell
                          David C. Hindley wrote: What I mentioned was that F M Cross suggested that there were three families of *Hebrew* mss. One family, the one preserved for the
                          Message 12 of 23 , May 8, 2000
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                            David C. Hindley wrote:

                            What I mentioned was
                            that F M Cross suggested that there were three "families" of *Hebrew*
                            mss. One family, the one preserved for the most part in Babylon, was
                            that upon which the MT was standardized ca. 8-9th century CE. Another
                            family, the one preserved for the most part in Egypt, was the one
                            which was used as the *basis* for the *Greek* translation of the
                            Torah/Law ca. 250 BCE. The MT was *not* a re-translation into Hebrew
                            of the Greek LXX translation of the ancient Hebrew (if that is what
                            you meant).

                            Thank-you!

                            That was indeed what I meant. It would almost have had to have been a
                            "back-translation", which seemed pretty rough to do... I think there have
                            been that kind of attempts to back-translate the GNT into Aramaic, for
                            instance, with predictable and massive difficulties.

                            So do we HAVE the old texts of these two traditions [Egypt and Babylon]?
                            And if we do not, then how do we know that there are indeed two? Did the
                            Babylonian text exist when the MT was created from it? Or was it orally
                            memorized? And WHEN was the MT created exactly? You indicate 8th to 9th
                            century CE for its standardization - On what basis was it standardized?

                            Too many questions!!

                            Can the competing texts be reconciled? Or is reconciliation even desirable?
                            Is the LXX the oldest extant version of the OT now available? The ms on
                            which it was based no longer exists, nor does that of the MT, if I have it
                            right, and the MT seems to have been at least in part a self-defense effort
                            on the part of Jews who objected to Christian 'mis-use' of the LXX, and so
                            got the whole matter 'back' to its rightful language, Hebrew. And the
                            question is, HOW did they get it 'back'???

                            And a part of what I am hearing is that they don't care, because they are
                            concerned with practice, not theory...

                            So I apologize for the avalanche of questions that lack cohesion but only
                            reflect my ignorance. I am just trying to make sense of the whole of things
                            here in terms of the differing perspectives.

                            George Blaisdell
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                          • David C. Hindley
                            On Mon, 08 May 2000, George Blaisdell responded ... a back-translation , which seemed pretty rough to do... I think there have been
                            Message 13 of 23 , May 9, 2000
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                              On Mon, 08 May 2000, "George Blaisdell" <maqhth@...> responded
                              to a post by Dave Hindley:

                              >>That was indeed what I meant. It would almost have had to have been
                              a "back-translation", which seemed pretty rough to do... I think
                              there have been that kind of attempts to back-translate the GNT into
                              Aramaic, for instance, with predictable and massive difficulties.

                              Yeah. I think that James Robinson, Matthew Black and others have been
                              back-translating certain passages from the synoptic gospels into
                              Aramaic in an attempt to see whether the resulting Aramaic version of
                              the passage is anything close to what would be expected from a native
                              speaker of the language. The meaning of a sentence or phrase in one
                              language cannot be captured *exactly* by a sentence or phrase in
                              another one.

                              If you have a bible with the Apocrypha, look at the prologue to the
                              book of _The Wisdom of Jesus Ben Sira_ (a.k.a. Ecclesiasticus). Ben
                              Sira's grandson translated this Hebrew book into Greek about 50 years
                              after it was originally written, and explained some of the problems he
                              encountered capturing the sense of the original.

                              >>So do we HAVE the old texts of these two traditions [Egypt and
                              Babylon]? And if we do not, then how do we know that there are indeed
                              two? Did the Babylonian text exist when the MT was created from it?
                              Or was it orally memorized?<<

                              Like I said, there is no such thing as "the" text, but groupings of
                              variant readings that tend to go this way or that. That, I think, is
                              what Sigrid lamented about Cross' hypothesis. The groupings can tend
                              to be more or less subjective, and then what do you really have (this
                              is also a criticism of NT mss family groupings as well, I suppose)?

                              But yes, the Dead Sea scrolls included a number of biblical books that
                              exhibited more variants than originally expected. About 10% of them, I
                              understand, follow readings that seem to be more closely related to
                              those that must have been in the Hebrew text that was translated to
                              produce the Old Greek LXX or from which the Samaritan version of the
                              (Hebrew) Pentateuch was derived, than they do the MT. The biblical
                              citations used in the "sectarian" books of the DSS show even more
                              variation

                              >>And WHEN was the MT created exactly? You indicate 8th to 9th
                              century CE for its standardization - On what basis was it
                              standardized?<<

                              Well, here is where I show *my* ignorance! <g> All I can do, for now,
                              is point you to an Encyclopedia and look up the entry under
                              Mas(s)oretic Text (spelling varies). While I *think* I have an account
                              somewhere about, off hand I cannot recall *where*!

                              Regards,

                              Dave Hindley
                              Cleveland, Ohio, USA
                            • Will Pratt
                              ... First, its frequent deviation from the Hebrew text that he was personally familiar with. Also, apparently the great variation between the LXX
                              Message 14 of 23 , May 9, 2000
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                                <snip>

                                > >The official OT of the RC Church from around 425 CE to (present?) was
                                > >the Vulgate, a direct translation into Latin from the Hebrew textual
                                > >tradition which today we call the Masoretic, by Jerome. (Jerome
                                > had >a low
                                > >opinion of the LXX.)
                                >
                                > More news to me, Thank-you. Do you happen to have any of his
                                > basis for that
                                > low opinion?

                                First, its frequent deviation from the Hebrew text that he was personally
                                familiar with. Also, apparently the great variation between the LXX codices
                                that he knew. The fact that St. Augustine favored the LXX was probably a
                                factor as well, and vice versa.

                                > Now I am wondering if the Vulgate translation from the Masoretic text had
                                > anything to do with the RC-EO split in 1054...

                                Since the Vulgate translation was completed ca 425 CE, it seems unlikely.

                                <snip>
                                >
                                > >A crude description of the translation style in the LXX, doing great
                                > >violence to the details of the evidence, is that it varies from
                                > >section to section. Some are very nearly a transliteration from
                                > >Hebrew to Greek, some are well done formally equivalent translations,
                                > >some dynamically equivalent, and some seemingly paraphrases. The
                                > >joker in the deck, though, is that with the realization that there
                                > >were distinct textual traditions leading to the MT and to the LXX, we
                                > >are left to wonder whether it is the translation in the LXX, or the
                                > >Hebrew text it was translated from, that bore these relations to the
                                > >MT.
                                >
                                > Exactly! The author of the [biased] article cited at the
                                > beginning of this
                                > thread seems to be saying that the MT was created by Jews translating the
                                > LXX into Hebrew as a countermeasure to the then prevalently used
                                > Greek text,
                                > and that is a wild card indeed! And especially so if there are
                                > really no OT
                                > texts in Hebrew predating the LXX.

                                There is a problem with this. The DSS biblical mss were deposited ca 69 CE
                                (majority opinion, there is a minority opinion for a deposition ca 63 BCE)
                                _before_ any serious conflicts developed. The age of the actual mss (based
                                on paleography and 14C dating) ranges from 150 BCE to ca 68 CE, with a
                                majority dating to before the estimated range of dates for the crucifixion,
                                which pretty well lets out Jewish-Xtian animosities.

                                If you want to examine the evidence for yourself, get a copy of Abegg,
                                Flint, and Ulrich, _The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible_ (San Francisco: Harper,
                                1999). The footnotes will tell you to which passages differ from the LXX,
                                the MT, or the Samaritan Pentateuch, and which Qumran mss have which
                                variant.

                                Will

                                --
                                William L. Pratt
                                prattw@...
                              • Katina Peters
                                Hello, I am the author of the biased article and wanted to clear up a misunderstanding. I do not state or even intimate that the MT was created by Jews
                                Message 15 of 23 , May 11, 2000
                                • 0 Attachment
                                  Hello,

                                  I am the author of the "biased" article and wanted to clear up a
                                  misunderstanding.

                                  I do not state or even intimate that the MT was created by Jews
                                  translating the LXX in to Hebrew. No, I am saying the same thing that
                                  most in this thread have been saying - the appearance of LXX is older
                                  than the appearance of MT. Of course over the years there are variants
                                  in LXX as well. The LXX existed before the common era and MT doesn't
                                  take shape until long after the beginning of the common era. Of
                                  course there were Hebrew texts in use before the Common Era. I would
                                  agree that just because MT appears later that MT didn't have old
                                  textual sources.

                                  If MT redactors are going to choose between a reading that supports
                                  Christian claims and variant readings that do not, it is not hard to
                                  see which they will use. The lack of vowels in pre-MT hebrew texts
                                  will allow easily for some variant readings.

                                  Certainly, Christians will likely exploit the same to their own
                                  advantage.

                                  The reason for the comparison in the first place was to demonstrate
                                  that in the area of Judeo-Christian dialogue or polemic, relying on
                                  Old Testament/Hebrew Scripture passages is useless. Since the Jew
                                  will stick to MT and the Orthodox Christian to LXX, there will never
                                  be any agreement based on scriptural "proofs". For a Christian not
                                  aware of the differences in the two texts, s/he may be convinced by
                                  the Jewish arguments and be led to believe that Christians
                                  deliberately altered the Hebrew Text. The Jew in polemic will not
                                  even bring up that the supposed mis-translations are actually accurate
                                  translations of the Greek text.

                                  Jews attack Christians with biblical quotes and vice versa. Neither
                                  side is going to get anywhere with this approach. The bulk of my
                                  article dealt with Rabbinical vs. Orthodox Christian notions of God
                                  and salvation, which in my opinion can form the only basis for any
                                  discussion of the merits or deficiencies of Judaism or Christianity.

                                  Hope this clarifies things a bit.

                                  In Christ,
                                  Katina

                                  >
                                  > Exactly! The author of the [biased] article cited at the beginning
                                  of this
                                  > thread seems to be saying that the MT was created by Jews
                                  translating the
                                  > LXX into Hebrew as a countermeasure to the then prevalently used
                                  Greek text,
                                  > and that is a wild card indeed! And especially so if there are
                                  really no OT
                                  > texts in Hebrew predating the LXX.
                                  >
                                  > >Will
                                  >
                                  > Thanks, Will...
                                  >
                                  > George Blaisdell
                                  >
                                  >
                                  __________________________________________________
                                  ______________________
                                  > Get Your Private, Free E-mail from MSN Hotmail at
                                  http://www.hotmail.com
                                • George Blaisdell
                                  ... Sorry, Katina, for my usage of that word. I meant that your article was designed with the purpose of assisting Orthodox Christians in their dialog with
                                  Message 16 of 23 , May 12, 2000
                                  • 0 Attachment
                                    >From: "Katina Peters"

                                    >I am the author of the "biased" article and wanted to clear up a
                                    >misunderstanding.

                                    Sorry, Katina, for my usage of that word. I meant that your article was
                                    designed with the purpose of assisting Orthodox Christians in their dialog
                                    with Orthodox Jews, and was "biased" toward that [polemical] purpose, and
                                    was not written to assist Orthodox Jews. Do I even have THAT right??

                                    >I do not state or even intimate that the MT was created by Jews translating
                                    >the LXX in to Hebrew. No, I am saying the same thing that most in this
                                    >thread have been saying - the appearance of LXX is older than the
                                    >appearance of MT.

                                    >Of course over the years there are variants in LXX as well.

                                    >The LXX existed before the common era and the MT doesn't
                                    >take shape until long after the beginning of the common era. Of course
                                    >there were Hebrew texts in use before the Common Era.

                                    >I would agree that just because MT appears later that MT didn't have old
                                    >textual sources.

                                    I am having trouble with the syntax of that sentence. Are you saying that
                                    the MT DOES have old textual sources? Or that it probably had them? I am
                                    wondering what Jewish Scholars think are its basis. An earlier writer
                                    stressed that their focus is more practical, and that the tracing of textual
                                    ancestry is not seen as all that important.

                                    >If MT redactors are going to choose between a reading that supports
                                    >Christian claims and variant readings that do not, it is not hard to
                                    >see which they will use. The lack of vowels in pre-MT hebrew texts
                                    >will allow easily for some variant readings.

                                    This is exactly where the question seems to turn. WERE there ancient
                                    consonant only Hebrew texts that were used in the creation of the MT? And if
                                    yes, how do we know? Is there an oral Jewish tradition that attests to the
                                    origins of the MT?

                                    >Certainly, Christians will likely exploit the same to their own
                                    >advantage.

                                    Only if they read Hebrew, yes? And this is why it is important, at least in
                                    the US, because most protestand theological training requires that their
                                    students learn Greek AND Hebrew, and that requirement is based on the
                                    understanding that the Hebrew, and not the Greek, is the proper language to
                                    read the OT in 'its' original and rightful language. And I am assuming
                                    [again] that the MT is the text that they approach to translate. There is
                                    almost NO lxx translation taught at these seminaries of which I am aware,
                                    but that is not saying much, for I am very unaware in this arena. [Most of
                                    this is conjecture for me, sorry!]

                                    >The reason for the comparison in the first place was to demonstrate
                                    >that in the area of Judeo-Christian dialogue or polemic, relying on
                                    >Old Testament/Hebrew Scripture passages is useless. Since the Jew
                                    >will stick to MT and the Orthodox Christian to LXX, there will never
                                    >be any agreement based on scriptural "proofs". For a Christian not
                                    >aware of the differences in the two texts, s/he may be convinced by
                                    >the Jewish arguments and be led to believe that Christians
                                    >deliberately altered the Hebrew Text. The Jew in polemic will not
                                    >even bring up that the supposed mis-translations are actually >accurate
                                    >translations of the Greek text.

                                    >Jews attack Christians with biblical quotes and vice versa. Neither
                                    >side is going to get anywhere with this approach. The bulk of my
                                    >article dealt with Rabbinical vs. Orthodox Christian notions of God
                                    >and salvation, which in my opinion can form the only basis for any
                                    >discussion of the merits or deficiencies of Judaism or Christianity.

                                    >Hope this clarifies things a bit.

                                    A lot for me, thank-you.

                                    Sorry to see your treatment on the ortho-n.g. btw.

                                    George Blaisdell

                                    geo
                                    ________________________________________________________________________
                                    Get Your Private, Free E-mail from MSN Hotmail at http://www.hotmail.com
                                  • Rachel Peters
                                    ... Yes and no. The original printing of this article was in Free Republic as an answer to a member of the B nei Noah that had gotten in a scriptural-quoting
                                    Message 17 of 23 , May 12, 2000
                                    • 0 Attachment
                                      George Blaisdell wrote:
                                       
                                       

                                      >From: "Katina  Peters"

                                      >I am the author of the "biased" article and wanted to clear up a
                                      >misunderstanding.

                                      Sorry, Katina, for my usage of that word.  I meant that your article was
                                      designed with the purpose of assisting Orthodox Christians in their dialog
                                      with Orthodox Jews, and was "biased" toward that [polemical] purpose, and
                                      was not written to assist Orthodox Jews.  Do I even have THAT right??


                                      Yes and no.  The original printing of this article was in Free Republic as an answer to a member of the B'nei Noah that had gotten in a scriptural-quoting
                                      flame war with some Christians.  Similarly, B'nei Noah occasionally spam Orthodox lists and newsgroups so I wanted to print this response for the general
                                      interest of Orthodox Christians.  The B'nei Noah poster claimed that even the way of writing the letters of the Torah scroll were handed down on Mt. Sinai!
                                       

                                       

                                      >I do not state or even intimate that the MT was created by Jews translating
                                      >the LXX in to Hebrew.  No, I am saying the same thing that most in this
                                      >thread have been saying - the appearance of LXX is older than the
                                      >appearance of MT.

                                      >Of course over the years there are variants in LXX as well.

                                      >The LXX existed before the common era and the MT doesn't
                                      >take shape until long after the beginning of the common era.  Of course
                                      >there were Hebrew texts in use before the Common Era.

                                      >I would agree that just because MT appears later that MT didn't have old
                                      >textual sources.

                                      Probably - but of course we cannot be sure!  Let's face it, its all theory at this point.
                                       
                                       
                                      I am having trouble with the syntax of that sentence.  Are you saying that
                                      the MT DOES have old textual sources?  Or that it probably had them?  I am
                                      wondering what Jewish Scholars think are its basis.  An earlier writer
                                      stressed that their focus is more practical, and that the tracing of textual
                                      ancestry is not seen as all that important.

                                      >If MT redactors are going to choose between a reading that supports
                                      >Christian claims and variant readings that do not, it is not hard to
                                      >see which they will use.  The lack of vowels in pre-MT hebrew texts
                                      >will allow easily for some variant readings.
                                       

                                      This is exactly where the question seems to turn.  WERE there ancient
                                      consonant only Hebrew texts that were used in the creation of the MT? And if
                                      yes, how do we know?  Is there an oral Jewish tradition that attests to the
                                      origins of the MT?


                                      They would have relied on their Torah scrolls for their texts.  How ancient these are I cannot say.  I remember learning from Jewish sources that the vocalisation traditions were standardized around 100 c.e..  Cannot document this, however because it was taught orally in a Jewish History class.

                                       

                                      >Certainly, Christians will likely exploit the same to their own
                                      >advantage.
                                       

                                      You are right in the below statement.  Perhaps one of the reasons Christian faith has suffered in the last few centuries is the decreased knowledge of the LXX in favor of MT.

                                      BUT my statement above was refering more to early Christians.

                                       
                                      Only if they read Hebrew, yes?  And this is why it is important, at least in
                                      the US, because most protestand theological training requires that their
                                      students learn Greek AND Hebrew, and that requirement is based on the
                                      understanding that the Hebrew, and not the Greek, is the proper language to
                                      read the OT in 'its' original and rightful language.  And I am assuming
                                      [again] that the MT is the text that they approach to translate.  There is
                                      almost NO lxx translation taught at these seminaries of which I am aware,
                                      but that is not saying much, for I am very unaware in this arena. [Most of
                                      this is conjecture for me, sorry!]

                                      >The reason for the comparison in the first place was to demonstrate
                                      >that in the area of Judeo-Christian dialogue or polemic, relying on
                                      >Old Testament/Hebrew Scripture passages is useless.  Since the Jew
                                      >will stick to MT and the Orthodox Christian to LXX, there will never
                                      >be any agreement based on scriptural "proofs".  For a Christian not
                                      >aware of the differences in the two texts, s/he may be convinced by
                                      >the Jewish arguments and be led to believe that Christians
                                      >deliberately altered the Hebrew Text.  The Jew in polemic will not
                                      >even bring up that the supposed mis-translations are actually >accurate
                                      >translations of the Greek text.

                                      >Jews attack Christians with biblical quotes and vice versa.  Neither
                                      >side is going to get anywhere with this approach.  The bulk of my
                                      >article dealt with Rabbinical vs. Orthodox Christian notions of God
                                      >and salvation, which in my opinion can form the only basis for any
                                      >discussion of the merits or deficiencies of Judaism or Christianity.

                                      >Hope this clarifies things a bit.

                                      A lot for me, thank-you.

                                      Sorry to see your treatment on the ortho-n.g. btw.
                                       


                                      Thanks for the sympathy.  I only got into the discussion due to a slow day at work and I couldn't stand for the misinformation being bandied about.  In general, the ortho newsgroup is a useless waste of my time.  My opponents are in my prayers and I bear no ill will towards them.
                                      :-)+<

                                      Katina

                                      George Blaisdell

                                      geo
                                      ________________________________________________________________________
                                      Get Your Private, Free E-mail from MSN Hotmail at http://www.hotmail.com



                                    • Will Pratt
                                      WLP: I ve got a problem with nomenclature here. Normally, Orthodox applies to a particular movement of Judaism, and to a particular recognized movement, or
                                      Message 18 of 23 , May 12, 2000
                                      • 0 Attachment
                                        WLP:

                                        I've got a problem with nomenclature here. Normally, Orthodox applies
                                        to a particular movement of Judaism, and to a particular recognized
                                        movement, or group of movements, in Xtianity, the Eastern Orthodox
                                        Church that has it's origins in the Eastern Roman Empire and mostly
                                        uses Greek for liturigcal purposes, and the Greek scriptures as it's
                                        official Bible.

                                        In this thread, does "Orthodox Christian" mean that group, or does it
                                        mean "orthodox" Xtians as compared to such groups as Latter Day Saints
                                        and Jehovah's Witnesses, who are defined as fringe groups by the main
                                        run of Xtians?


                                        -----Original Message-----
                                        From: katina@... [mailto:katina@...]On Behalf Of Rachel
                                        Peters
                                        Sent: Friday, May 12, 2000 12:02 PM
                                        To: lxx@egroups.com
                                        Subject: Re: [lxx] Masoretic vs lxx


                                        George Blaisdell wrote:


                                        >From: "Katina Peters"
                                        >I am the author of the "biased" article and wanted to clear up a
                                        >misunderstanding.
                                        Sorry, Katina, for my usage of that word. I meant that your article
                                        was
                                        designed with the purpose of assisting Orthodox Christians in their
                                        dialog
                                        with Orthodox Jews, and was "biased" toward that [polemical] purpose,
                                        and
                                        was not written to assist Orthodox Jews. Do I even have THAT right??

                                        Yes and no. The original printing of this article was in Free
                                        Republic as an answer to a member of the B'nei Noah that had gotten in
                                        a scriptural-quoting
                                        flame war with some Christians. Similarly, B'nei Noah occasionally
                                        spam Orthodox lists and newsgroups so I wanted to print this response
                                        for the general
                                        interest of Orthodox Christians. The B'nei Noah poster claimed that
                                        even the way of writing the letters of the Torah scroll were handed
                                        down on Mt. Sinai!


                                        WLP:

                                        As best I can conclude from the scant material on the net, the B'Nei
                                        Noach are a messianic sect who either somehow mange to be considered
                                        Jews in Israel, or who claim to? If correct, that would put them at
                                        least into the far fringes of normative Judaism. Certainly your Ben
                                        Noach was round the bend from the viewpoint of main-line Jewish
                                        scholarship, which is essentially identical to main-line Xtian
                                        scholarship. I assume from the tone of your post you are at least to
                                        some degree aware of the history of the alphabet. If not, I can give
                                        a quick outline.
                                        End WLP.


                                        >I do not state or even intimate that the MT was created by Jews
                                        translating
                                        >the LXX in to Hebrew. No, I am saying the same thing that most in
                                        this
                                        >thread have been saying - the appearance of LXX is older than the
                                        >appearance of MT.
                                        >Of course over the years there are variants in LXX as well.
                                        >The LXX existed before the common era and the MT doesn't
                                        >take shape until long after the beginning of the common era. Of
                                        course
                                        >there were Hebrew texts in use before the Common Era.
                                        >I would agree that just because MT appears later that MT didn't have
                                        old
                                        >textual sources.
                                        Probably - but of course we cannot be sure! Let's face it, its all
                                        theory at this point.


                                        I am having trouble with the syntax of that sentence. Are you saying
                                        that
                                        the MT DOES have old textual sources? Or that it probably had them?
                                        I am
                                        wondering what Jewish Scholars think are its basis. An earlier writer
                                        stressed that their focus is more practical, and that the tracing of
                                        textual
                                        ancestry is not seen as all that important.
                                        >If MT redactors are going to choose between a reading that supports
                                        >Christian claims and variant readings that do not, it is not hard to
                                        >see which they will use. The lack of vowels in pre-MT hebrew texts
                                        >will allow easily for some variant readings.

                                        This is exactly where the question seems to turn. WERE there ancient
                                        consonant only Hebrew texts that were used in the creation of the MT?
                                        And if
                                        yes, how do we know? Is there an oral Jewish tradition that attests
                                        to the
                                        origins of the MT?

                                        They would have relied on their Torah scrolls for their texts. How
                                        ancient these are I cannot say. I remember learning from Jewish
                                        sources that the vocalisation traditions were standardized around 100
                                        c.e.. Cannot document this, however because it was taught orally in a
                                        Jewish History class.


                                        WLP:

                                        There is a lot of information on this now available, with the
                                        publication of the Biblical Dead Sea Scrolls (Abegg, Flint, and
                                        Ulrich, _The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible_, San Francisco: Harper, 1999).
                                        Unfortunately, no separate study is available, it's imbedded in the
                                        translators' notes.

                                        We now have 215-235 Biblical mss from the Dead Sea region, depending
                                        upon your particular take on canonicity. These range in C-14 date
                                        from 250 BCE to about 68 CE, the date of deposit. They include
                                        portions of most books of the Jewish/Protestant canon, except for
                                        Esther, and a couple of the apocrypha.

                                        The significant thing about them for the resent discussion is that
                                        they document the existance of a range of textual variations, mostly
                                        close to the Masoretic text, but with a minority closer to the LXX
                                        readings. Speculatively, this may have been related to a theological
                                        preference by the Qumran Essenes, whose library they were, for one
                                        form over the other, or it may simply reflect a greater access to
                                        texts out of the Babylonian school than the Alexandrian. The oldest
                                        known LXX fragment (according to limited sources) is ca 125 BCE, Rolf
                                        801, part of one column of Lev. 26 (F.G.Kenyon, _The Text of the Greek
                                        Bible_, 3rd ed. London: Duckworth, 1975, p 39), also known as
                                        4QLXXLev^a:26:2-26, from Qumran cave 4 (Abegg et al, p 105). It
                                        may not actually be in the LXX tradition: it contains 10 unique
                                        readings in less than one column, but it seems to be the oldest
                                        possible LXX mss remnant.

                                        So what we have is the MT, with largely complete mss from 890 CE, and
                                        unvocalized Hebrew mss agreeing with the MT back to about 250 BCE and
                                        the LXX with largely complete texts from ca 325 CE, definite fragments
                                        from the 1st century CE and a possible fragment from 125 BCE, with
                                        unvocalized Hebrew texts following LXX wording to about 250 BCE.

                                        In the case of both, we have traditions of older texts, but no
                                        definite evidence as to what they may have looked like. The
                                        traditional dating of the LXX to ca 250 BCE is based on the "Letter of
                                        Aristeas", generally considered to have been a forgery (see
                                        http://www.sentex.net/~tcc/farist.html and also
                                        http://wesley.nnc.edu/noncanon/ot/pseudo/aristeas.htm for a full
                                        text). The DSS would seem to contain witnesses to both textual
                                        traditions back into the third century, however.

                                        Of particular interest, we have several unvocalized Hebrew texts from
                                        Massada and one from Qumran, dating from the late first century, which
                                        follow the MT wording _exactly_, without deviation or misspelling,
                                        suggesting that the text vocalized and annotated by the Massoretes had
                                        been fixed by that date. These are 4QEzra, from Qumran Cave 4 (Abegg
                                        et. al.,634-5); MasLev^a 4:3-9 (p 81-2); MasLev^b 8:31, 33-34 (p 85);
                                        MasDeut 33:17-21 (p 193); MasPs^a 18:25-28 [MT18:26-29] (p 517);
                                        MasPs^b 81:1-16 [MT81:2-17] (p 535).

                                        Will

                                        Will Pratt
                                        prattw@...

                                        <snip>
                                      • Rachel Peters
                                        Specifically Eastern Orthodox Christians - i.e. Russian or Greek Orthodox.
                                        Message 19 of 23 , May 15, 2000
                                        • 0 Attachment
                                          Specifically Eastern Orthodox Christians - i.e. Russian or Greek Orthodox.
                                           
                                           

                                          Will Pratt wrote:

                                           
                                          WLP:

                                          I've got a problem with nomenclature here.  Normally, Orthodox applies
                                          to a particular movement of Judaism, and to a particular recognized
                                          movement, or group of movements, in Xtianity, the Eastern Orthodox
                                          Church that has it's origins in the Eastern Roman Empire and mostly
                                          uses Greek for liturigcal purposes, and the Greek scriptures as it's
                                          official Bible.

                                          In this thread, does "Orthodox Christian" mean that group, or does it
                                          mean "orthodox" Xtians as compared to such groups as Latter Day Saints
                                          and Jehovah's Witnesses, who are defined as fringe groups by the main
                                          run of Xtians?
                                           

                                          -----Original Message-----
                                          From: katina@... [mailto:katina@...]On Behalf Of Rachel
                                          Peters
                                          Sent: Friday, May 12, 2000 12:02 PM
                                          To: lxx@egroups.com
                                          Subject: Re: [lxx] Masoretic vs lxx
                                           

                                          George Blaisdell wrote:
                                           

                                          >From: "Katina  Peters"
                                          >I am the author of the "biased" article and wanted to clear up a
                                          >misunderstanding.
                                          Sorry, Katina, for my usage of that word.  I meant that your article
                                          was
                                          designed with the purpose of assisting Orthodox Christians in their
                                          dialog
                                          with Orthodox Jews, and was "biased" toward that [polemical] purpose,
                                          and
                                          was not written to assist Orthodox Jews.  Do I even have THAT right??

                                          Yes and no.  The original printing of this article was in Free
                                          Republic as an answer to a member of the B'nei Noah that had gotten in
                                          a scriptural-quoting
                                          flame war with some Christians.  Similarly, B'nei Noah occasionally
                                          spam Orthodox lists and newsgroups so I wanted to print this response
                                          for the general
                                          interest of Orthodox Christians.  The B'nei Noah poster claimed that
                                          even the way of writing the letters of the Torah scroll were handed
                                          down on Mt. Sinai!
                                           

                                          WLP:

                                          As best I can conclude from the scant material on the net, the B'Nei
                                          Noach are a messianic sect who either somehow mange to be considered
                                          Jews in Israel, or who claim to?  If correct, that would put them at
                                          least into the far fringes of normative Judaism.  Certainly your Ben
                                          Noach was round the bend from the viewpoint of main-line Jewish
                                          scholarship, which is essentially identical to main-line Xtian
                                          scholarship.  I assume from the tone of your post you are at least to
                                          some degree aware of the history of the alphabet.  If not, I can give
                                          a quick outline.
                                          End WLP.
                                           

                                          >I do not state or even intimate that the MT was created by Jews
                                          translating
                                          >the LXX in to Hebrew.  No, I am saying the same thing that most in
                                          this
                                          >thread have been saying - the appearance of LXX is older than the
                                          >appearance of MT.
                                          >Of course over the years there are variants in LXX as well.
                                          >The LXX existed before the common era and the MT doesn't
                                          >take shape until long after the beginning of the common era.  Of
                                          course
                                          >there were Hebrew texts in use before the Common Era.
                                          >I would agree that just because MT appears later that MT didn't have
                                          old
                                          >textual sources.
                                          Probably - but of course we cannot be sure!  Let's face it, its all
                                          theory at this point.
                                           

                                          I am having trouble with the syntax of that sentence.  Are you saying
                                          that
                                          the MT DOES have old textual sources?  Or that it probably had them?
                                          I am
                                          wondering what Jewish Scholars think are its basis.  An earlier writer
                                          stressed that their focus is more practical, and that the tracing of
                                          textual
                                          ancestry is not seen as all that important.
                                          >If MT redactors are going to choose between a reading that supports
                                          >Christian claims and variant readings that do not, it is not hard to
                                          >see which they will use.  The lack of vowels in pre-MT hebrew texts
                                          >will allow easily for some variant readings.

                                          This is exactly where the question seems to turn.  WERE there ancient
                                          consonant only Hebrew texts that were used in the creation of the MT?
                                          And if
                                          yes, how do we know?  Is there an oral Jewish tradition that attests
                                          to the
                                          origins of the MT?

                                          They would have relied on their Torah scrolls for their texts.  How
                                          ancient these are I cannot say.  I remember learning from Jewish
                                          sources that the vocalisation traditions were standardized around 100
                                          c.e..  Cannot document this, however because it was taught orally in a
                                          Jewish History class.
                                           

                                          WLP:

                                          There is a lot of information on this now available, with the
                                          publication of the Biblical Dead Sea Scrolls (Abegg, Flint, and
                                          Ulrich, _The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible_, San Francisco: Harper, 1999).
                                          Unfortunately, no separate study is available, it's imbedded in the
                                          translators' notes.

                                          We now have 215-235 Biblical mss from the Dead Sea region, depending
                                          upon your particular take on canonicity.  These range in C-14 date
                                          from 250 BCE to about 68 CE, the date of deposit.  They include
                                          portions of most books of the Jewish/Protestant canon, except for
                                          Esther, and a couple of the apocrypha.

                                          The significant thing about them for the resent discussion is that
                                          they document the existance of a range of textual variations, mostly
                                          close to the Masoretic text, but with a minority closer to the LXX
                                          readings.  Speculatively, this may have been related to a theological
                                          preference by the Qumran Essenes, whose library they were, for one
                                          form over the other, or it may simply reflect a greater access to
                                          texts out of the Babylonian school than the Alexandrian.  The oldest
                                          known LXX fragment (according to limited sources) is ca 125 BCE, Rolf
                                          801, part of one column of Lev. 26 (F.G.Kenyon, _The Text of the Greek
                                          Bible_, 3rd ed. London: Duckworth, 1975, p 39), also known as
                                          4QLXXLev^a:26:2-26, from Qumran cave 4 (Abegg et al, p 105).  It
                                          may not actually be in the LXX tradition: it contains 10 unique
                                          readings in less than one column, but it seems to be the oldest
                                          possible LXX mss remnant.

                                          So what we have is the MT, with largely complete mss from 890 CE, and
                                          unvocalized Hebrew mss agreeing with the MT back to about 250 BCE and
                                          the LXX with largely complete texts from ca 325 CE, definite fragments
                                          from the 1st century CE and a possible fragment from 125 BCE, with
                                          unvocalized Hebrew texts following LXX wording to about 250 BCE.

                                          In the case of both, we have traditions of older texts, but no
                                          definite evidence as to what they may have looked like.  The
                                          traditional dating of the LXX to ca 250 BCE is based on the "Letter of
                                          Aristeas", generally considered to have been a forgery (see
                                          http://www.sentex.net/~tcc/farist.html and also
                                          http://wesley.nnc.edu/noncanon/ot/pseudo/aristeas.htm for a full
                                          text).  The DSS would seem to contain witnesses to both textual
                                          traditions back into the third century, however.

                                          Of particular interest, we have several unvocalized Hebrew texts from
                                          Massada and one from Qumran, dating from the late first century, which
                                          follow the MT wording _exactly_, without deviation or misspelling,
                                          suggesting that the text vocalized and annotated by the Massoretes had
                                          been fixed by that date. These are 4QEzra, from Qumran Cave 4 (Abegg
                                          et. al.,634-5); MasLev^a 4:3-9 (p 81-2); MasLev^b 8:31, 33-34 (p 85);
                                          MasDeut 33:17-21 (p 193); MasPs^a 18:25-28 [MT18:26-29] (p 517);
                                          MasPs^b 81:1-16 [MT81:2-17] (p 535).

                                          Will

                                          Will Pratt
                                          prattw@...

                                          <snip>



                                        • Joel D Kalvesmaki
                                          Hi Moshe, Thanks for your post. ... I agree with this, in spite of the fact that we really don t know what happened. However, the LXX took on a larger meaning
                                          Message 20 of 23 , May 17, 2000
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                                            Hi Moshe,

                                            Thanks for your post.

                                            > 1. The original LXX was only of the first 5 books.

                                            I agree with this, in spite of the fact that we really don't know what
                                            happened. However, the LXX took on a larger meaning than the one modern
                                            scholars generally give the text these days. In later years the LXX came to
                                            mean *all* the OT, both that which was translated under the Ptolemy and
                                            other texts shortly after (as filtered through the tradition). What prevents
                                            us from working with an understanding of the LXX as the chief translation
                                            tradition of the 3rd-1st c. BCE?

                                            An analogy might help. In Christian Circles we refer to the Nicene Creed not
                                            as the creed which came out of the Council of Niceae (325), but the final
                                            version of that Creed in the Council of Constantinople (381). This is the
                                            traditional way of referring to this creed. Yet no one feels that the
                                            historical fact that it received its final shape in Const. prevents us from
                                            calling this creed the Nicene Creed (scholars more exact will call it the
                                            Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed).

                                            Unlike the LXX tradition, we can separate much of what belonged to the
                                            Nicene period from the Constantinopolitan. We cannot do this with the LXX.
                                            If we could, however, might we not find a similar relationship at work? We
                                            may find that there was indeed a 3rd c. LXX (possibly more extensive than
                                            the first five books) with later installments in Alexandrine literary
                                            circles. This is a speculative situation, of course, but a plausible one.
                                            This may drive us to start calling the LXX the Alexandro-LXX, but would such
                                            a refinement substantially challenge the traditional nomenclature, "LXX?"

                                            I point this out since many ancients worked with a hermeneutic which many of
                                            us moderns have only begun to appreciate this last century -- literary
                                            objects transcend their initial creation and can legitimately grow while
                                            remaining true to their original source or teacher. Hence the layering of
                                            Isaiah and Daniel by different hands, all of whom are legitimately Isaiah
                                            and Daniel. Can we not also appreciate this, particularly given the changes
                                            in epistemology and hermeneutics made in the 20th c.?

                                            > While the LXX/GB can be valuable at times, it has little relationship to
                                            > the traditional LXX.

                                            I wonder how this claim might be justified. How 'little' is little? Just
                                            restricting ourself to the Penteteuch, would you say there is a 50%
                                            correlation? 25% correlation? Less? How do we know? What prevents us from
                                            saying that there is a 95% correlation?

                                            Thanks again for a stimulating post,

                                            jk
                                            untitledJoel D Kalvesmaki 16kalvesmaki@...
                                            http://arts-sciences.cua.edu/ecs/jdk/ Graduate Student, Early Christian
                                            Studies Catholic University of America Washington, DC




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                                          • Moshe Shulman
                                            ... It is hard to quantify this. moshe shulman mshulman@NOSPAMix.netcom.com 718-436-7705 CHASSIDUS.NET - Yoshav Rosh http://www.chassidus.net
                                            Message 21 of 23 , May 17, 2000
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                                              At 11:04 AM 05/17/2000 -0400, Joel D Kalvesmaki wrote:
                                              >> While the LXX/GB can be valuable at times, it has little relationship to
                                              >> the traditional LXX.
                                              >I wonder how this claim might be justified. How 'little' is little? Just
                                              >restricting ourself to the Penteteuch, would you say there is a 50%
                                              >correlation? 25% correlation? Less? How do we know? What prevents us from
                                              >saying that there is a 95% correlation?

                                              It is hard to quantify this.

                                              moshe shulman mshulman@... 718-436-7705
                                              CHASSIDUS.NET - Yoshav Rosh http://www.chassidus.net
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                                            • George Blaisdell
                                              ... That is fairly close... It does indeed use Greek liturgically in Greece, and mostly Greek in Greek Orthodox diaspora parishes [say in the US.] However it
                                              Message 22 of 23 , May 20, 2000
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                                                >From: "Will Pratt"

                                                >I've got a problem with nomenclature here. Normally, Orthodox applies to
                                                >... the Eastern Orthodox Church that has it's origins in the Eastern Roman
                                                >Empire and mostly uses Greek for liturigcal purposes, and the Greek
                                                >scriptures as it's official Bible.

                                                That is fairly close... It does indeed use Greek liturgically in Greece,
                                                and mostly Greek in Greek Orthodox diaspora parishes [say in the US.]
                                                However it translates the Bible into the language of the people whom it
                                                converts, and provides liturgical services in their language as well... And
                                                the koine [not modern] Greek Bible is its 'official' Bible, I would guess -
                                                It is the one referenced when discussions get precise...

                                                >In this thread, does "Orthodox Christian" mean that group,

                                                Yes. They regard the LXX as authoritative, in the same way that Jews regard
                                                the MT as authoritative. Hence the interest in their comparison and
                                                relationship.

                                                >or does it mean "orthodox" Xtians as compared to such groups as Latter Day
                                                >Saints and Jehovah's Witnesses, who are defined as fringe groups by the
                                                >main
                                                >run of Xtians?

                                                No. These groups are not a factor in this usage of the term Orthodox. The
                                                issue of protestant scholarship does arise, however, because as I understand
                                                it, they see the MT text as authoritative, as does the RCC, if I am
                                                understand things aright. So Eastern Orthodoxy is the main champion of the
                                                LXX, and perhaps its ONLY champion among todays scholars...


                                                George Blaisdell
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