Once upon a time
there was a tribe living in the Middle East that had a collection of
sacred texts written in Hebrew, Chaldean and Aramaic. It is the
nature of sacred tests to be venerated and transmitted from
generation to generation unaltered.
As time passed
members of this tribe emigrated to areas where Hebrew and Aramaic
and Chaldean were not spoken. A large community settled and
prospered in the city of Alexandria in Egypt. Greek replaced their
tribal language. They needed an accurate translation of their
venerated documents into Greek.
Around 250 B.C.
seventy rabbis translated the sacred texts into Greek. This
translation was not a bootleg edition. The project was approved by
the High Priest and the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem. The Septuagint, the
translation of the seventy, was an official document.
A Hebrew Bible
exists today. It is used by Jews everywhere. It is called the
Masoretic text. It was compiled around 700 A.D.
It is almost one
thousand years newer than the Septuagint. The rabbis who compiled
the Masoretic text were not accountable to the High Priest in
Jerusalem. There no longer was a High Priest. The rabbis who
compiled the Masoretic text were not accountable to the Sanhedrin in
Jerusalem. There no longer was a Sanhedrin.
predates the first appearance of the Masoretic text by almost ten
centuries. The Septuagint is based upon Hebrew texts at least twelve
centuries older than the texts upon which the Masoretic version is
based. Yet, modern Christian translations of the Old Testament rely
on the Masoretic Text, not the Septuagint.
Where is the
Most of the
quotations from the Old Testament in the New Testament used the
Septuagint as their primary source. The integrity and truthfulness
of the Septuagint is completely dependent on the Septuagint being a
truthful translation. Discredit the Septuagint and there is no New
There was no
controversy about the integrity of the Septuagint from 250 B.C.
until 135 A. D.
happened to provoke dissatisfaction with the Septuagint among the
Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin had rejected the messianic claims of
Jesus. The New Testament documents had been written and were
circulating by A.D. 70. The Jews knew that the credibility of the
Christian Gospels depended on the credibility of the Septuagint.
Something had to be done.
Around 95 A.D. Rabbi Akiva, who later proclaimed Bar Kochba as the
messiah, hired a man named Aquila to translate a Hebrew to Greek
version of the Old Testament that would undermine the messianic
claims of Jesus found in the Septuagint. Some scholars believe that
the Masoretic text was based in part on this tendentious translation
How is the
Masoretic text different from the Septuagint?
Psalm 22:16 the
word “pierced” has been replaced by “lion”.
Psalm 145: 13
Isaiah 53:11 the
word “light” is omitted.
On 134 occasions
the Tetragrammaton, the name of God, has been replaced by “Adonai”.
Psalm 151 was
omitted entirely. (It is now omitted by almost all Christian
Exodus 1: The
number 75 replaced by 70
some generations removed.
“Angels Of Elohim” replaced with “children of Israel.”
verses 6 and 7 have been added in the Masoretic.
Psalm 96:10 “Say
among the nations, YHWH reigns from the wood” omitted.
“city of righteousness” changed to the “city of the sun” or in some
versions “the city of destruction.”
scribes purposely and willfully rearranged the original chapter
order in the prophetic Book of Daniel, so that the chapters make no
“recovery of sight to the blind.”. Omitted.
In Psalm 40:6 “a
body you have prepared for me” was replaced by “you opened my ears.”
32:43 ‘Let all the messengers of Elohim worship him.’” Omitted.
“Let us go into the field” is omitted.
32:43. Moses’ song is shortened.
contains 10 spelling differences, 4 stylistic changes and 3 missing
letters for light in verse 11, for a total of 17 differences.
“Virgin” replaced by “young woman.”
made his Greek translation of the Old Testament at the behest of
Rabbi Akiva, he changed the Septuagint’s “virgin” into “young
woman”. The Masoretic compilers may have followed his lead.)
text differs from the Septuagint in hundreds of places.
How do we know
which text is accurate?
The Dead Sea
Scrolls were discovered just after World War II.
carbon dating, textual analysis, and handwriting analysis the
documents were written at various times between the middle of the
2nd century BC and the 1st century AD. There are fragments from all
of the books of the Hebrew Bible fragments except the Book of Esther
and the Book of Nehemiah.
In addition an
independent Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Bible exists, the
Control of the
Dead Sea Scrolls was a military objective of Israelis. It was
achieved by their victory in the Six Days War.
of the scrolls slowed to a trickle.
After 1971, the
international team even refused to allow the publication of
photographs of the material. They excluded scholars who wanted to
make independent evaluations.
The embargo was
not broken until 1991.
An addition to
the Dead Sea Scrolls, scholars can use the Peshitta to decide
between the Masoretic text and the Septuagint.
I have given
examples above of some of the places the Dead Sea Scrolls, the
Peshitta, and the Septuagint agree.
Text is part of a tradition that began with Rabbi Akiva. Rabbis
rewrote the Jewish Bible to destroy the credibility of the New
versions of the Old Testament have been used to proclaim scores of
“messiahs” . The Septuagint was only used once.