LXX - term of scholarly confusion, misused can support bogus textual theories - GOT and Old Greek

Steven Avery

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This discussion of semantics is from:

[TC-Alternate-list] LXX - term of scholarly confusion, misused can support bogus textual theories - GOT and Old Greek
Steven Avery - June 20,2013
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TC-Alternate-list/message/5737

Brought here on May 5, 2019.
And is planned for update:

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Hi Folks,

The purpose here is to show that "LXX" is not a settled term, "LXX" has a lot of scholarly usage questioning, and even contradiction, leading to:

"confusion, misunderstanding and unnecessary controversy" - Albert Pietersma

This is a usage over which other scholarly areas, including NT textual analysis and Hebraic-->Greek studies, often trip. This question has come up recently on the b-hebrew forum in discussions trying to support the claim (or probability or possibility) that the original NT Greek autographs were written with the Hebrew Tetragram embedded. In those discussions, using "LXX" in its widest, generic (and most confusing) manner has been a major part of the embedded Tetragram argumentation.

Note that, while I have given substantial documentation below, in some cases if you go to the url you will find footnotes documenting more the internal quotes and sources given.

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There are three principle distinct, specific terms discussed.

1) LXX
2) The Old Greek
3) Greek Old Testament == GOT (alternatively Greek Tanach)

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Overall, even in scholarly discourse:

LXX is used with a variety of very distinct meanings.

1) the translation of the 70 (or 72) in 200 B.C. of the Pentateuch in the letter of Aristeas, fable or truth or bit of both

2) pre-Christian GOT that may have a lineage from the earliest (Aristeas-era) manuscripts

3) All ancient Jewish-based Greek Old Testaments in the early centuries, possibly including, or not, the translations of Aquila, Theodotus or Symmacheus, these are texts that may (or may not) have been used by Josephus, Philo, and the Apostles

4) Greek editions of the Old Testament, like Brentons or those from the Greek Orthodox, which can vary widely in text

5) Any Greek Old Testament of any books from any time.

Another possibility, relating to the variants chose rather than the overall text, is described below:

6) a textual scholar's determination of what is the earliest Greek Old Testament reading, whenever originated.

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Now we begin our studies from the scholars who are often painfully aware of the problem:

Ken Schenck –
Dean of Wesley Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan University
http://kenschenck.blogspot.com/2007/09/classroom-snippets-septuagint.html
... many Purists only use the word Septuagint to refer to the translation of the Pentateuch into Greek as related in the Letter of Aristeas ... Purists refer to the rest of the Greek Old Testament as the Old Greek translation.

Schenck is reasonable, although his “rest of” is ambiguous. And, practically speaking, the purists would consider best usage of “LXX”, if it is to have any real meaning, to be #1 and maybe #2 above.

The History of the Septuagint; Terminology (2013 updated)
Joel Kalvesmaki, Scholar in early Christian studies (PhD, Catholic University of America)
http://www.kalvesmaki.com/lxx/

The term Septuagint could refer to any historical stage of the Greek translation of the Old Testament. A strict, purist use of Septuagint would allow the term to be used only of the earliest, (probably) unrecoverable translation of the Pentateuch made by the Jewish scholars around 282 BCE. Some refer to this earliest stage as the "Old Greek," but with some confusion, since this suggests that the term Septuagint should be applied only to texts with no connection to the legend of the seventy-two.
However, scholarship is all over the map .. as pointed out by:

Stanley E. Porter
President and Dean of Theology, and Professor of New Testament - McMaster Divinity College
http://www.mcmasterdivinity.ca/faculty/core/stanley-e-porter

As It Is Written: Studying Paul’s Use of Scripture (2008)
Stanley E. Porter
http://books.google.com/books?id=FwxqQacv9b4C&pg=PA120

As an initial point on terminology, "LXX" has taken on a variety of different meanings and is often used in ambiguous and unqualified ways in New Testament studies. As R. Timothy McLay observes ( The Use of the Septuagint in New Testament Research [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003), 5),

"Sometimes 'LXX' refers to the reading in the Greek Jewish Scriptures that has been judged by the editor of a critical text to be most likely the original reading, that is, what is believed to be the closest approximation that we can make to what was probably written originally by the translator. In other cases 'LXX' may refer to any reading that is found in any Greek manuscript of the Jewish Scriptures, which is not necessarily the original or even a very early reading, it could be any reading or word that appears in any Greek manuscript of a book in the LXX. In the same way, it is often stated that the NT writer quotes the 'LXX' version of a biblical text, as opposed to the Hebrew version or the MT. without any qualification."

This ambiguity has led several recent scholars to speak of the Greek Bible in use during the time of the New Testament authors as the "Old Greek" text. See also Leonard Greenspoon. "The Use and Abuse of the Term 'LXX' and Related Terminology in Recent Scholarship," BIOSCS 20 (1987): 21-29; Christopher D. Stanley, "Pearls before Swine": Did Paul's Audience Understand His Biblical Quotations?" NovT 41 (1999): 124-44, here 126-28.
For those interested, Stanley E. Porter is also very significant in the Granville Sharp Rule discussions, having written rather forthrightly about the Daniel Wallace scholarship. Porter also has been in the forefront of those expressing concern about the infamous Daniel Wallace ambush announcement of Real Soon Now probably 1st century ancient papyri in the Bart Ehrman debate.

Note that this "LXX" terminology issue is such a problem that there was a paper:

“The Use and Abuse of the Term ‘LXX’ and Related Terminology in Recent Scholarship

by Leonard Jay Greenspoon (1987).

"The Use and Abuse of the Term 'LXX' and Related Terminology in Recent Scholarship," BIOSCS 20 (1987): 21-29
Leonard J. Greenspoon
http://biblio.ebaf.info/cgi-bin/koha/opac-ISBDdetail.pl?biblionumber=162761

"It's All Greek to Me: The Septuagint in Modern English Translations of the Hebrew Bible," in VII Congress of the IOSCS, ed. C. Cox, SCS 31 (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1991), pp. 1-21;
Leonard J. Greenspoon
https://www.zotero.org/kmpenner/items/itemKey/SVI8WEW7

Here is the Stanley paper available online.

"Pearls before Swine": Did Paul's Audience Understand His Biblical Quotations? - NovT 41 (1999): 124-44
Christopher D. Stanley
http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/1561153?uid=3739832&uid=2129&uid=2&uid=70&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=21102348511021
Christopher Stanley - Professor of Theology, St. Bonaventure University.
http://www.sbu.edu/About_SBU.aspx?id=11500

Here is are examples of trying to grapple with the problem, I added emphasis to one phrase.

The use of the Septuagint in New Testament research (2003)
R. Timothy McLay - independent scholar, formerly Associate Professor, St. Stephen's University, New Brunswick
http://books.google.com/books?id=41rx-TDIF9gC&pg=PA5

The Terminology: LXX and OG
An example of the unfamiliarity of some NT scholars with the more fundamental issues of the LXX is reflected in the misuse of the Septuagint texts and versions. For example, one often finds references in the footnotes of English translations of the Bible to a reading of the "LXX" without any explanation. To what does this mysterious "LXX" refer? Sometimes "LXX" refers to the reading in the Greek Jewish Scriptures that has been judged by the editor of a critical text to be most likely the original reading, that is, what is believed to be the closest approximation that we can make to what was probably written originally by the translator. In other cases "LXX" may refer to any reading that is found in any Greek manuscript of the Jewish Scriptures, which is not necessarily the original or even a very early reading. It could be any reading or word that appears in any Greek manuscript of a book in the LXX. In the same way, it is often stated that the NT writer quotes the "LXX" version of a biblical text, as opposed to the Hebrew version or the MT, without any clarification

(footnote of the two Greenspoon papers). Which Greek text is being quoted? Do we actually have a Greek witness with that reading or is it labeled a Septuagintal quote because it does not reflect what we have in the Hebrew? How is the use of a Greek text as opposed to the Hebrew reflected in the theology of the writer? Does it make any difference?

Part of the problem of the use of “LXX” is related to terminology. The name Septuagint derives from the tradition in the Letter of Ansteas that
seventy-two (or seventy; hence the abbreviation LXX) elders translated the Pentateuch into Greek. Strictly speaking then, LXX referred originally to the translation of the Pentateuch into Greek. However, the term Septuagint is generally employed to refer to the Greek Jewish Scriptures, which consist primarily of translations of the books of the HB. These Greek Jewish Scriptures also contain additions to some of the books in the HB as well as independent works. Some of these additions and other works were translations from Hebrew or Aramaic, while other books were composed in Greek. A terminological difficulty is encountered when nonspecialists employ a reading from printed editions of the LXX (Rahlfs or Brooke-McLean) or a manuscript and refer to it as the reading of the Septuagint as though it represents the oldest recoverable form of the Greek text of that book. … most specialists now reserve the term Old Greek (OG) to designate a text that in the judgment of the scholar represents the original translation of a book.


The use of the Old Testament in Hebrews: A Case Study in Early Jewish Bible Interpretation (2009)
Susan E. Docherty
http://books.google.com/books?id=m_ibMxphF_MC&pg=PA123

4.2.1 Terminology: 'Septuagint' Versus 'Old Greek'
The search to establish a more precise terminology is a priority for scholars in this field. 'Sepluagint' is the term which has long been used to refer to the ancient Greek translation of either the Hebrew scriptures in general or an individual biblical book, even though the original legends about the seventy translators describe only the translation into Greek of the Pentateuch. Sometimes an alternative like "the Greek bible' is preferred, because it highlights the fact that the scriptures as transmitted in Greek do not look exactly like the Hebrew bible, incorporating as they do more books in a different order. However, the key point at issue is whether the term 'Septuagint' can be used of both the original Greek translation of the scriptures and its later revisions. In certain cases, for example the Book of Daniel, the Septuagint version has to be distinguished from other translations like that of Theodotion which virtually displaced it. An increasing number of commentators are therefore following Greenspoon in drawing a distinction between 'Old Greek', meaning the earliest stage of Greek translation that can be reconstructed for any biblical book, and 'Septuagint' as descriptive of the whole transmitted tradition of Greek versions, the sense in which the term is used in this study. Some New Testament commentators like Timothy McLay are beginning to pick up on this need for clearer definitions.
My view is that:'Septuagint' as descriptive of the whole transmitted tradition of Greek versions is a very dubious use. Referencing all the GOT should be "Greek Old Testament", or, in some circumstances, the identical sense of "Greek Tanach". On a popular level, this usage of the "LXX" as all the Greek Old Testaments only leads to confusion and problems. YMMV.

Note that using the Greenspoon terminology, you would no longer ask if Jesus or the Apostles used the LXX, the question would be whether they used Old Greek manuscripts.

To make it more complex, we have seen other scholars like the purists referenced by Ken Schenck, quite properly desiring to go the other way. Limiting LXX to an ancient definition, and using Greek Old Testament for the “whole transmitted tradition of Greek versions”. Personally I see the Greenspoon proposal as handling the issue backwards.

Notice above Joel Kalvesmaki:

Some refer to this earliest stage as the “Old Greek,” but with some confusion, since this suggests that the term Septuagint should be applied only to texts with no connection to the legend of the seventy-two.


The term LXX should be connected to the seventy-two, and possibly allowing manuscripts believed to be from that lineage. Or at least the lineage of the period, such as in the DSS texts.

“Strictly speaking, there is really no such thing as the Septuagint. This may seem like an odd statement in a book entitled Invitation to the Septuagint, but unless the reader appreciates the fluidity and ambiguity of the term, he or she will quickly become confused by the literature... The reader is cautioned, therefore, that there is really no such thing as the Septuagint.” Invitation to the Septuagint, Karen Jobe and Moises Silva, 2000, p. 30, 32


A Quest for the Assumed LXX Vorlage of the Explicit Quotations in Hebrews (2011)
Gert Jacobus Steyn
http://books.google.com/books?id=QGk5oSoKJDYC&pg=PA21
After the publication of Alfred Rahlfs' "Septuaginta" in 1935 a printed standardised "Septuagint" edition became available which the current generation of scholars could hold in their hands and refer to as "the LXX". Although supplemented by Codices A and Aleph, it was based mainly on Codex B, which is only one fourth century text, a mixed one and certainly "not to be trusted" in at least Isaiah. Septuagint scholars have thus warned that "simply citing a diplomatic text, such as the text of Codex Vaticanus or of Codex Alexandrinus, is basically misleading, since it gives the impression that the LXX is being cited. At the most, "the LXX" can only technically be used as a collective term - but then again, in what form? Using a uniform name could lead to the idea that this is the work of a single hand. Therefore, "there is really no such thing as the Septuagint" and the name "is used to refer to several quite different things". Septuagintists thus present a range of possible meanings when scholars use the term without qualification, confirming

"that different meanings left undifferentiated in a dialogue or conversation about exegesis in the body of literature generally called 'the Septuagint' can lead to confusion, misunderstanding and unnecessary controversy".

Quote from:

Septuagint Research: Issues And Challenges in the Study of the Greek Jewish Scriptures
Exegesis in the Septuagint: Possibilities and Limits (The Psalter as a Case in Point) (2006)
Albert Pietersma
http://books.google.com/books?id=M-oXuG_2wLIC&pg=PA34

Let me be clear: I am not contending that there is only one correct way of using the term "the Septuagint." but simply that different meanings left undifferentiated in a dialogue or conversation about exegesis in the body of literature generally called "the Septuagint" can lead to confusion, misunderstanding and unnecessary controversy. Allow me to illustrate.

(1) When one speaks of "the Septuagint" one may mean the Hebrew biblical corpus in Greek form, undifferentiated. That is to say, no distinction is made between

(a) its interpretational and its textual difference from our Hebrew Textus Rcceptus. the MT. and

(b) no distinction is made between its original form and meaning and its subsequent reception history; One may want to use the term "Septuagint" in this undifferentiated manner when speaking of the reception history of the Bible as a whole, but scarcely, 1 should think, when seeking to address the question of hermeneutics specific to the Greek text.

(2) When one refers to "the Septuagint" one may have in mind the Greek text minus those elements that rest on a Hebrew base different from MT. Here again, one might use the term in such a manner in a discussion of the reception history of the Bible as a whole. Yet, since in this case the aspects of the original Septuagint versus the Septuagint at some stage during its reception history are left undifferentiated, one would scarcely so use the term, I would submit, in a context of Scptuagintal hermeneutics, the more since, prototypically. differences in text have nothing to contribute to exegesis. One might, however, so use the term if one were speaking of the history of interpretation of the Septuagint from, for instance, the third century B.C.E. to the third century C.E.

(3) When one speaks of "the Septuagint" one may have in contrast to the subsequent reception history of that text. In other words, what the translator made of his source text, in distinction from what others made of the translator's target text. If the distinctions I am making are not exactly to your liking, for purely illustrative purposes here a simpler contrast will do, evoked, for example, by the title of a recent book by Martin Hengel (with an Introduction by Robert Hanhart): The Septuagint as Christian Scripture; thus the Septuagint of the Christians, in distinction from the Septuagint of the Jews. As I see it, distinctions of the kind I have suggested are of vital importance in the exegetical enterprise, since each carries with it its own set of procedures. In this paper I am interested only in the third named "Septuagint," namely, the original Septuagint as an exegesis of its Hebrew source text: hence "the Septugint' as a sub-category of "the Septuagint of the Jews."

Thus ANY usage of the word LXX or Septuagint without making clear the actual meaning and usage, what mss, Jewish and Christian mss, the variety of 2nd century editions, the discontinuities in the scribal transmission process, is likely to shed no light on a topic, and even lead to:

"confusion, misunderstanding and unnecessary controversy" - Albert Pietersma

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HISTORICAL NET NOTE

For the purposes here, I am taking some earlier discussions, including one I put together from 2010:

Let the Minutiae Speak
September 3, 2010 - Steven Avery
http://kjvonlydebate.com/2010/0 8/31/let-the-minutiae-speak/comment-page-1/#comment-4308

And doing significant quote enhancement for our post, and with the RTF (color, font) advantage. The earlier discussion is more for historical purposes, this post will include most all the substance there, and more.

Note that the forum above no longer accepts my posts, so I may occasionally discuss their discussions here, such as Sam Gipp-James White or the Jan Krans-Thomas Holland material. Note these earlier LXX rough-and-tumble discussions:

King James Only Believers And The LXX
August 2, 2009
http://kjvonlydebate.com/2009/08/02/king-james-only-believers-and-the-lxx/
119 comments

The King James Translators & the Septuagint (LXX)
April 20, 2010
http://kjvonlydebate.com/2010/04/20/the-king-james-translators-the-septuagint-lxx/
109 comments

A Reader Comments on Manuscript Evidence for a Pre-Origen Septuagint
June 2, 2010
http://kjvonlydebate.com/2010/06/02/a-reader-comments-on-manuscript-evidence-for-a-pre-origen-septuagint/
17 comments

These discussions are often good examples of how the confusion about the term LXX leads to people talking past each other, or making dubious claims and assertions based on the private definition of convenience.

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Archived at:

[TC-Alternate-list] LXX - term of scholarly confusion, misused can support bogus textual theories - GOT and Old Greek
Steven Avery - June 20,2013
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TC-Alternate-list/message/5737

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Yours in Jesus,
Steven Avery
 
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