Comparing the Septuagint to the Masoretic Text

by ILoveTTATT2 11 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • ILoveTTATT2

    I am going to start a thread comparing the Septuagint to the Masoretic text.

    For those who do not know what the Septuagint and the Masoretic text are, here's an introduction on Wikipedia:

    I think that, more than anything else, the fact that the Septuagint and the Masoretic text are so different, is what made me stop believing in the Bible.

    Since the New Testament writers quoted from the Septuagint, not from the Masoretic Text, one would think that the Septuagint should be in all the current Bibles, but the case is that most Bibles today use the Masoretic Text as the basis of their Old Testament. But using the Septuagint would be a disaster for Jehovah's Witnesses, given that the major objection that Jehovah's Witnesses would have to it is that YHWH DOESN'T APPEAR AT ALL IN THE SEPTUAGINT.

    Some people have said that the Dead Sea Scrolls confirm the authenticity of the Masoretic Text. Not so! In many cases the Masoretic Text, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the Septuagint say different things, sometimes the Dead Sea Scrolls (hereafter called DSS) align more with the Septuagint (hereafter called LXX) than the Masoretic Text (hereafter called MT).

    I haven't found something like this online anywhere else, a text-by-text comparison of the entire Septuagint, trying to find the major differences, so I will start it here.

  • TheWonderofYou

    The theologicyl terms that were used by the early biblewriters and christians they used as they were written in the Septuagint,."law", "mercy", "truth"....Generally important is that if somebody read the greek bible, automatically the greek understanding of a word was in his mind and not so much the ancient hebrew interpretaion.

    Separated from LXX the NT would have been almost unintelligible to the contemporary reader, according to B. Atkinson.

    Text of Septuagint



    English - Greek

    Which text do you use? Certainly you have everything on DVD.

    Septuagint German with comments set for € 149,-

    this is an example how the comments to Genesis 1ff look like. Harmonization

  • Earnest

    Any JW worth his salt could tell you that YHWH does indeed appear in the Septuagint. As far back as the first NWT translation of the Christian Greek scriptures in 1950 the foreword discussed this (pp.11,12).

    This popular theory has now been flatly disproved by the recently found remains of a papyrus roll of LXX. This contains the second half of the book of Deuteronomy. Not one of these fragments shows an example of kyrios or theos used instead of the divine name, but in each instance the tetragrammaton is written in Aramaic characters. By permission of its owners we have reproduced photographs of fragments of the papyrus rolI that our readers may examine these occurrences of the tetragrammaton in such an early copy of LXX. Authorities fix the date for this papyrus at the 2d or 1st century B.C. This means about a century or two after the LXX was begun. It proves that the original LXX did contain the divine name wherever it occurred in the Hebrew original. Considering it a sacrilege to use some substitute as kyrios or theos, the scribes inserted the tetragrammaton at its proper place in the Greek version text.
  • TheWonderofYou
    Earnest - Considering it a sacrilege to use some substitute as kyrios ortheos, the scribes inserted the tetragrammaton at its proper place in the Greek version text.

    There were obvioulsy several different Septuagint in usage, if I remember correct, and we dont have it today anymore. Perhaps on my next Israel trip I can find a scroll in a tomb.

    But this does not change anything in the fact that the Tetragram was not spoken out since the Jews returned from Babylon only by the priests, althought the holy texts were copied with the four letters.

    They may have read YHWH in some LXX exemplar but they didnot spell it . They always replaced it by Adonai or other terms. Translating the Lords Name with kyrios was no sacrileg at all, because it was always to see that the NAME OF GOD was meant but simply should not been spelled. There were more conservatice translators and more progressive ones but both are right.

    Certainly jesus often quoted from the Septuagint and used Kyrios and did not spell loud the four letters of the Tetragram nor spell the name in hebrew or aramaic, because he would have been stoned for such blasphemy.

    Hey everyone who spoke greek if he addressed god said KYRIOS at that time.Therefore the bible was translated into greek and it said Kyrios. Simple they didnt want that people began to spell the holy sacried name as "Yohawuah, or Yehiwei". They wanted to avoid this and that people used it in daily things and said,

    "Oh Yehiwei helped me to find my keys again, Oh thank you Yehiwei that my Iphone doesn hangup.", Or "Yehiwehi please please please help to find a girl",

    The worst: "Mum, I swear in Yehiwehis name that I learned for the math test."
    "Please Yehiwehi dont kill me in Armageddon, and dont let me die without blood"

    They didnt like the profan usage of G-Ds name those extrem conversative Jews at Jesus time.


    A fictive story:

    One evening Jesus met his apostels and he told them:

    "I tell you now the name of God because i want it to proclaim to you,

    did you already hear how the highpriest spells the Tetragram in the temple while the other priest are singing so that nobody can hear it, what do you mean, Peter?"

    "You dare asking me such a question, you know we are not allowed to spell it, Master".

    "You dont understand me yet, i am speaking of something else when I say I proclaim the name to you "

    "Proclaiming _ -? -*** doesnt not mean spell out the Tetragram?" asked Peter rethorically.

    3"For I proclaim the name of the LORD; Ascribegreatness to our God! 4"The Rock! His work is perfect, For all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He.…
  • ILoveTTATT2

    First differences I consider to be important (of course, the one that runs throughout the entire LXX is that YHWH never appears as YHWH, it is always "Lord"):

    Genesis 2:18, LXX (NETS):

    Then the Lord God said, "It is not good that the man is alone; let us make him a helper corresponding to him."

    Genesis 2:18, MT (NWT):

    18 And Jehovah God went on to say: “It is not good for the man to continue by himself. I am going to make a helper for him, as a complement of him.”

    Comment: Eve was made with help in LXX, only God made Eve in the MT.

    Genesis 2:19, LXX (NETS):

    And out of the earth God furthermore formed all the animals of the field and all the birds of the sky and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them, and anything, whatever Adam called it as living creature, this was its name.

    MT (NWT):

    (Genesis 2:19) 19 Now Jehovah God was forming from the ground every wild beast of the field and every flying creature of the heavens, and he began bringing them to the man to see what he would call each one; and whatever the man would call it, each living soul, that was its name.

    Comment: Adam doesn't appear in MT until Genesis 3:17, but appears in LXX in Genesis 2:19.

    Genesis 2:23, LXX (NETS):
    And Adam said, "This now is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called Woman, for out of her husband she was taken."

    Genesis 2: 23, MT (NWT):

    Then the man said:“This is at last bone of my bonesAnd flesh of my flesh.This one will be called Woman,Because from man this one was taken.”

    Comment: Different meanings in the LXX vs the MT.

    Genesis 3:5, LXX (NETS):

    for God knew that on the day you eat of it, your eyes would be opened, and you would be like gods knowing good and evil."
    Genesis 3:5, MT (NWT):

    (Genesis 3:5) 5 For God knows that in the very day of YOUR eating from it YOUR eyes are bound to be opened and YOU are bound to be like God, KNOWING good and bad.”
    Comment: HUGE difference in theological implications. In the LXX, there is the implication that there are many gods, and that once you become a god, you know good and bad. In the MT there is the implication that only God knows what's good and bad.

    Genesis 3:10, LXX (NETS):

    And he said to him, "I heard the sound of you walking about in the orchard, and I was afraid, because I am naked, and I hid myself."

    Genesis 3:10, MT (NWT):
    10 Finally he said: “Your voice I heard in the garden, but I was afraid because I was naked and so I hid myself.”

    Comment: It is possible that the WT tries to hide the more anthropomorphic version of God in the LXX, since in the LXX God is walking about in the garden.

    Genesis 3:15, LXX (NETS):

    And I will put enmity between you and between the woman and between your offspring and between her offspring; he will watch your head, and you will watch his heel.

    Genesis 3:15, MT (NW):

    15 And I shall put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed. He will bruise you in the head and you will bruise him in the heel.”
    Comment: Quite a different thing! One thing is to watch someone's body part, and another to bruise it!

    Genesis 4:5-7, LXX (NETS):

    but on Kain and on his offerings he was not intent. And it distressed Kain exceedingly, and he collapsed in countenance. And the Lord God said to Kain, "Why have you become deeply grieved, and why has your countenance collapsed? If you offer correctly but do not divide correctly, have you not sinned? Be still; his recourse is to you, and you will rule over him."

    Genesis 4:5-7, MT (NWT): 5 he did not look with any favor upon Cain and upon his offering. And Cain grew hot with great anger, and his countenance began to fall. 6 At this Jehovah said to Cain: “Why are you hot with anger and why has your countenance fallen? 7 If you turn to doing good, will there not be an exaltation? But if you do not turn to doing good, there is sin crouching at the entrance, and for you is its craving; and will you, for your part, get the mastery over it?”
    Comment: COMPLETELY DIFFERENT! In the LXX, it seems like God liked the offering but not how it was split, and it seems like God is saying to Cain, "don't worry, you will rule over Abel at the end of the day". Cain was portrayed as being saddened, even grieving. In the MT, Cain is portrayed as evil and angry and has an anachronism, where animals are supposedly man-eaters before the flood.

    Interesting topic, thanks ILOVETTATT.

    I've never compared the different texts before and think it is interesting to do so.

    I remember reading that there are hundreds of ancient copies of the Septuagint and also reading that Jesus used it as well.

  • Crazyguy

    The oldest bible put together codex sicanicus (spelling) never says Jesus was the son of God either. As one chips away at the older bibles and individual bible texts it show a lot different ideas then we see in print today. Like you said the words lord or Elohim are in the Septuagint but not the Tetragrammaton . It's also important to know that in the oldest bibles they have the apocrypha books or at least some of them. And in the Dead Sea scrolls there's other books not even in the bible yet these writing were very important to some of the Jews .

  • smiddy

    A very interesting topic thank you TTATT2 , I look forward to reading /comparing more texts.

  • ILoveTTATT2

    Genesis 4:26, LXX (NETS):

    And to Seth a son was born, and he named his name Enos. He hoped to invoke the name of the Lord God.

    Genesis 4:26, MT (NWT):

    And to Seth also there was born a son and he proceeded to call his name E′nosh. At that time a start was made of calling on the name of Jehovah.

    Comment: Again, completely different meanings leading to completely different theological conclusions.


  • Earnest

    TheWonderofYou - You are quite right that the Greek Septuagint changed over time and one of the changes was the replacement of the tetragrammaton with kyrios (lord). This is evident by the fact that the earliest texts of the Septuagint recovered with the Dead Sea Scrolls and elsewhere contain the tetragrammaton. For example, the papyrus I referred to in my earlier post is the Fouad Papyrus 266. Not all scholars accept that the tetragrammaton was the original reading but quite a number do.

    Whether or not they actually read God's name instead of substituting 'Lord' we simply do not know. The records that we have of this superstitious practice only came about after the destruction of the temple and were written by the rabbinical Jews who followed this practice. What the practice was among the common people in the time of Jesus, those who were not rabbis or priests but shepherds and fishermen, we do not know. But we do know that Jews outside of the rabbinical tradition (e.g. Karaites) have continued to use God's name and still do so today.

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