The Septuagint and Modern Bible Versions, Part 5

Jan 26, 2011

Author unknown; edited by Dr. James W. Bruggeman. All underlining is emphasis by JWB. Also, all comments in [brackets] is by JWB, except author’s source references are also in brackets.

One of the points of disagreement that people have regarding the various text streams is concerning the discoveries, either whole or in fragments, of the Dead Sea Scrolls or Qumran Cave Scrolls. Some of the fragment evidence recovered of the books of Joshua and Samuel favors the LXX over the KJV, but the crown jewel, the intact scroll of the book of Isaiah shows it to follow the majority text, i.e., the Masoretic Text (MT), proving that the MT was in existence in pre-Christian times. The Masoretic Text is what the KJV follows. [How We Got the Bible, by Neil R. Lightfoot, page 136, Baker Books, 3rd Edition, © 2003]

They are at least a thousand years earlier than the oldest Hebrew manuscripts handed down by the Masoretes that are extant today. It has left scholars wondering if this colony, being so divorced from Jerusalem, and which was the hub of a breakaway religious sect, might have actually been closer to Alexandria in religious thought and outlook. This remains speculative because both types of textual evidence are found here, as well as some commentary works and other variant readings of the scriptures. Additional scroll finds were found in the nearby caves at Murabbaat and Mird, with the scrolls secreted at Murabbaat being overwhelmingly in the majority text (KJV) tradition. [The Old Testament: Its claims and Its Critics, by Oswald T. Allis, pages 169-170, The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, © 1972]

From this it is possible to speculate that someone or a group of people were carefully following the MT at Qumran and knew that these were different in some special manner from many of the other documents, hence their being segregated apart from the other unsorted materials.

The claim of a great number of errors in the MT Old Testament is often offered as an argument (though many times made without proof), damning its trustworthiness and authority. There are indeed errors, the Masoretes searched for and found a total of 1,353 errors in the readings, most being of minor importance, and all are noted in the margins of the Masoretic Bible.

Many simply represent differences in spelling, but these problem areas were all commented upon in the margin and not placed into the text. One of the simpler but troubling problems is that in early Hebrew spelling, the letters “d” and “r” were much different, but in later times they grew much more alike in appearance, and thus scribal haste, poor light, cold, cramped and shivering weak hands, worn brushes, ink running and so forth affected letter quality.

None of these discovered problems are corrected inside the fence of the MT, thus proving how tightly the scribes were now controlling things, since they copied errors deliberately and noted their correction by comments made in the margin outside the columns. While the names of twenty-four foreign kings are rendered in the MT with an astounding accuracy in terms of historical accounting, equally remarkable is the fact that the scribes safeguarding the text faithfully copied all the textual errors for century after century, with corrective margin notes, showing a degree of fealty that is perhaps unrivaled in any other ancient to modem copying and reproductive effort. [The Old Testament: Its Claims and Its Critics, by Oswald T. Allis, pages 169-170, The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, pages 166-168]

The two main groups or pools of documents used in Bible translation agree with each other about 90 percent of the time. They are those of the Majority Text, and those of the Alexandrian tradition. The Alexandrian texts include Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, Alexandrinus, and of course the Septuagint, which from Origen, was the base for these Alexandrian-derived manuscripts. These manuscripts are the ones that Drs. Westcott and Hort relied upon so heavily for their new translation (the Revised Version), and many times they do not even agree with each other.

For instance, Vaticanus and Sinaiticus disagree with each other over 3,000 times in the gospels alone. The manuscript that we call Vaticanus was written on fine vellum, being found in the Vatican library in 1481 A.D., but withheld from the world for centuries more. Despite its generally good condition, it omits Genesis 1:1-46:28, Psalms 106-138, Matt 16:2-3, the Pauline Pastoral Epistles, Hebrews 9:14-13:35, and all of Revelation. Some of these were probably left out deliberately.

In the four gospels it leaves out 237 words, 452 clauses and 748 whole sentences, while there are hundreds of other existing ancient manuscripts all in agreement that those “missing” words, clauses and sentences do indeed exist in the text. Vaticanus also contains the Apocrypha.

There are 5,309 manuscripts that contain part or all of the New Testament, the Alexandrian stream is a minority of this vast stream. Since the vast stream follows the Textus Receptus, modem translators had to use the TR for their translation, but when it disagrees with Sinaiticus or Vaticanus, they chose to follow these corrupt manuscripts. [Let’s Weigh The Evidence, by Barry D. Burton, page 57-58, Chick Publications, © 1983]

Sinaiticus is a manuscript that was literally found in a trash pile at a monastery by the noted higher textual critic, Dr. Constantin Tischendorf. It was about to be burned as waste suitable for kindling. Sinaiticus contains nearly all the New Testament but adds to that the Epistle of Barnabas and the Shepherd of Hermes. The Shepherd of Hermes advocates taking the mark of the beast instead of avoiding it, as the book of Revelations advises.

Both the Vaticanus and Siniaticus also leave out the last twelve verses of Mark concerning the resurrection of Jesus Christ. There is not a single other uncial or cursive manuscript that leaves it out—a damning indictment by 618 manuscripts against these two. Yet these two Alexandrian texts are held by modern higher critics to be the “oldest and best manuscripts.” [Let’s Weigh The Evidence, by Barry D. Burton, page 57-58, Chick Publications, pages 61-62] “Oldest and best manuscripts”— Now you understand the dirty secret behind those weasel words frequently used in a multitude of modern translations. Where the sacred text is either altered or completely missing, the weasel phrase is widely used as justification in the marginal notes of many newer Bibles.

Jerome, who translated the scriptures afresh from Hebrew and Greek in his Latin Vulgate, judiciously declined to view the Apocryphal books as canonical, yet they were eventually added with notes, whether by him or others, explaining to the readers that they were edifying manuscripts. He had also taken the additions to some of the other canonical books and marked them likewise.

Through the ages, these books would now pose problems for many church councils and theologians. The Reformers, especially Martin Luther, rejected them from the Holy Writ based upon their unscriptural teachings, such as salvation by works, prayers for the dead, and purgatory. The Roman Catholic church at the Council of Trent (1545-1563) declared them to be canonical, and since then a great gulf has existed between Protestant and Catholic Bibles.

In sum, these books in Greek were never in the recognized Hebrew manuscripts. Since the Council of Trent, a few other books have also crept into the Roman Catholic Bibles, though never formalized as canonical by them for their own use. The Greek Orthodox Church at the 1672 Synod in Jerusalem accepted some of these Apocryphal books, while conversely the Russian Orthodox Church agreed with the vast majority of Protestantism and rejected them in their entirety as being non-canonica1.
[The Oxford Illustrated History of the Bible, edited by John Rogerson, page 28-29, Oxford University Press, © 2001]

It is also interesting to note that neither Jesus nor the Apostles ever mentioned, corrected or quoted the Apocryphal books, though they often cited the Hebrew canon of the Old Testament. If the Apocryphal books were canonical, this is a most curious omission.

Earlier we had stated that the Hebrew texts were becoming a mess to figure out from scribal tampering three centuries or more before Jesus Christ was born, and that the scribes in the temple then began word-counting to ensure that the texts remained constant, without change. They also identified and noted over 1,300 errors in the margins, but copied the errors anyway to avoid making mistakes in copying what they had.

In ancient times there were families of scholars who kept the manuscripts in Babylon, Palestine and Tiberius. They originally copied the consonants only. For instance, the word “water,” would be copied in the Hebrew style as “wtr”. Because the word water (using our language as an example), written in Hebrew style could also mean “waiter,” they then began applying vowel points to establish the word as “water”, and not “waiter”.
[Defending the King James Bible, by Pastor D.A. Waite, Th.D., Ph.D., page 26, The Bible For Today Press, © 1992, 2002, eighth printing] This became standardized by the Qaraite scribal community in Babylon about 600-700 A.D.

The Ben Chayyim Masoretic Text, published in 1524-1525 by David Bomberg became the standard Hebrew text for the next four hundred years. This is the text that underlies the KJV. Rudolph Kittel used this text in the first two editions of Biblia Hebraica, were dated 1906 and 1912 respectively. In 1937, Kittel changed his Hebrew edition and used the Alexandrian- derived Ben Asher Masoretic Text, which Maimonides said was the Textus Receptus, instead of the Ben Chayyim Textus Receptus Masoretic Text. The Ben Asher textual foundation is found in the Leningrad Manuscript (B 19a or L, as it is cataloged). This manuscript—unfortunately the original was lost during WW II—was dated 1008 A.D. In addition to the changes in the text, there are suggested by Kittel yet another 20,000 to 30,000 changes in the footnotes.
[Defending the King James Bible, by Pastor D.A. Waite, Th.D., Ph.D., page 26, The Bible For Today Press, page 27-28] The colophon in the Leningrad manuscript says that it was written in 1009 and was then “subsequently corrected” according to the “most exact texts of Ben Asher.” [The Oxford Illustrated History of the Bible, page 64] (Date confusions noted here.)

This Ben Asher Leningrad manuscript is almost certainly of Khazar handling, because the Khazars started marrying into the scholarly scribal families and priest lines when their whole non-Semitic, Turko-Mongolian, Japhetic tribe converted to Judaism centuries earlier. They now constitute at a minimum, 90 percent of all the modern Jews living today. Families of these Jews, whose names are Cohen, Chase and those with similar variants are being sought for sons to come study and become rabbis for resuming animal sacrifices when a new temple is built in Jerusalem one day. What a terrible blasphemy it is for so-called Christians to be helping the Jews in Israeli accomplish this, thereby denying by their deeds and prayer support, the perfect sacrifice in Jesus Christ. [See Hebrews 9:11-14; 9:28 with Hebrews 6:6]

Another revision occurred in 1967/77 of Kittel’s Biblia Hebraica called the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, again based on the Ben Asher Leningrad text. From this as its foundation, modern Bible translations have enough room to tailor the message that they wish to give. Of 103 sampled departures from the text listed in one survey, the American Standard Version, New American Standard Version and the New International Version depart from the Old Testament to the Septuagint 35 percent of the time. They go with conjecture, or wild guessing 32 percent of the time, because it sounded better to the editors and writers.

They used the Syriac version 10 percent of the time, and for the remaining 23 percent or so, they used an assortment of other Hebrew manuscripts such as the Dead Sea scrolls, the Latin Vulgate, Aquila, the Samaritan Pentateuch, quotations from Jerome, Josephus, scribal traditions and other variant readings of the Septuagint like Symmachus and Theodotion. [The Oxford Illustrated History of the Bible, page 29-31] Origen was but an early template of Biblical scholars for what was to come in the future. The KJV is faithful to the vast sea of ancient majority texts; can the same be said for any of the modern versions? I don’t think so. (End of part 5. To be continued.)

Category: Teaching