Center for Biblical Theology and Eschatology

Lesson Eight: The Hebrew Masoretic Text and Greek Septuagint

What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.

(Rom. 3:1-2)

According to the Bible, the Hebrews were given charge of keeping and copying God's word. The word oracle means revelation, prophecy, canon, or edict. It was unto the Jew, that the Old Testament revelation and canon were committed. This is why twice in the Old Testament they were instructed not to add to or take from the word of God. "Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you." (Deut. 4:2). "Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar." (Prov. 30:6).

The faithful Hebrew scribe took this task very seriously. Precise steps were taken by the scribes in preparing both the parchment upon which they wrote, and in preparing themselves in order to copy God's Holy word. According to the Hebrew Talmud, the rules of the scribe consisted of the following:

1) The skins of the parchments had to be prepared in a special way and dedicated to God so that they would be clean in order to have God's words written on them.

2) The ink which was used was black and made in accordance to a special recipe used only for writing scripture.

3) The words written could not be duplicated by memory but must be reproduced from an authentic copy which the scribe had before him. And, the scribe had to say each word aloud when he wrote them.

4) Each time the scribe came across the Hebrew word for God, he had to wipe his pen clean. And when he came across the name of God, Jehovah (YHWH), he had to wash his whole body before he could write it.

5) If a sheet of parchment had one mistake on it, the sheet was condemned. If there were three mistakes found on any page, the whole manuscript was condemned. Each scroll had to be checked within thirty days of its writing, or it was considered unholy.

6) Every word and every letter was counted. If a letter or word were omitted, the manuscript was condemned.

7) There were explicit rules for how many letters and words allowed on any given parchment. A column must have at least 48 lines and no more than 60. Letters and words had to be spaced at a certain distance and no word could touch another.

Commenting on these rules, Dr. H.S. Miller writes, "Some of these rules may appear extreme and absurd, yet they show how sacred the Holy Word of the Old Testament was to its custodians, the Jews (Rom. 3:2), and they gave us strong encouragement to believe that we have the real Old Testament, the same on which our Lord had and which was originally given by inspiration of God." (General Biblical Introduction, p. 185).

In his book, The Text of the Old Testament, Dr. Ernst Wurthwein writes, "This was the purpose of the scribes' meticulous work. They counted the verses, words, and letters of the Law and other parts of the Scriptures as a procedural aid in preparing manuscripts and in checking their accuracy." (Eerdmans Publishing, 1979, p. 19).

The Jewish historian Josephus (37-95 AD) comments on the preciseness of the Jewish scribes and their faithfulness in copying the Old Testament scriptures. "...for during so many ages as have already passed, no one has been so bold as either to add anything to them; but it becomes natural to all Jews, immediately and from their very birth, to esteem those books to contain divine doctrines, and to persist in them, and, if occasion be, willingly to die for them." (Flavius Josephus Against Apion 1:8). Some have taken Josephus' statement to mean the contents of the Old Testament. Other have understood it to mean the canon of the Old Testament. Either way, his statement affirms the sacredness the Hebrews have for Holy Scripture.

For years it had been thought that the Bible which Christ used was the Greek Septuagint (also known as the LXX). The common thought was that the Jews at the time of Christ had all but lost their use of Hebrew. Since the international language of that day was Greek, the hypothesis was that Christ did not use the Hebrew scriptures, but read from the Greek LXX. However, with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls (which will be discussed in greater detail in lesson nine) it has been established that the Jews did not lose there use of Hebrew. In fact, most of their writings (both sacred and otherwise) were written in Hebrew.

Alan Millard has written the following about the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) and their relation to ancient languages.

"Aramaic, Greek, Latin... was Hebrew spoken too? For years scholars believed not, or that it was restricted to religious circles, synagogue readings and prayers, and the Temple. Counting in favor of a wider knowledge is the presence of Hebrew inscriptions on the other side of Hasmonean coins. That might mean no more than Latin legends on coins of recent times--a grand style which the educated could understand. However, recent discoveries have thrown new light on the question. Books in a style of Hebrew imitating the Old Testament yet distinct from it, and some in Hebrew more like that of the Mishnah make up a larger section of the Dead Sea Scrolls." (Discoveries From the Time of Jesus, Lion Pub., Oxford; p. 35. Professor Millard has served with the British Museum in the Department of Western Asiatic Antiquities and is Rankin Reader in Hebrew and Ancient Semitic languages at the University of Liverpool).

This discovery confirms what we find in the Gospels concerning the Hebrew Old Testament used by Christ. In Matthew, Jesus proclaims; "For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." (Matt. 5:18). It is interesting that He used the words jot and tittle. In the Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Dr. Homer Kent of Grace Theological Seminary writes, "Jot. Smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet (yodh). Tittle. Tiny projection on certain Hebrew letters." (p.937). The smallest part of the letters Jesus used to describe the fact that the law would not pass until all was fulfilled, were Hebrew. This would be odd if Christ were reading from a Greek Old Testament.

Further, Jesus says in Luke 11:51; "From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation." . This statement attests that Christ used the Hebrew canon of scripture. The order of books found in our Old Testament run from Genesis to Malachi. The Greek LXX has the same order but adds additional books (the Apocrypha). The Hebrew canon, while containing the same books as our Old Testament, places the order of the books differently. The Hebrew Bible runs from Genesis to 2 Chronicles with the minor prophets in the middle and not the end as in our Old Testament. We know that Abel was killed by his brother according to Genesis 4:8. Zacharias was killed in 2 Chronicles 24:20- 22. Thus showing the first and last to die according to the Jewish Bible. Dr. Merrill Tenney agrees by simply stating, "Able was the first martyr of the OT history. Zacharias was the last, according to the order of books in the Hebrew Bible, which, unlike the English Bible, ends with Chronicles." (Ibid. p. 1049). With these things in mind, we can safely say the Bible of our Lord was a Hebrew Bible.


The Masoretic Text is the traditional Hebrew Old Testament text of both Judaism and Protestantism (The Catholic Church, historically, used the Latin translation of Jerome based on the Greek LXX). Masoretic comes from the word Masora which usually refers to the notes printed beside the Hebrew text by Jewish scribes and scholars.

Until recently, the oldest manuscripts of the Hebrew Old Testament dated from the ninth century and onward. These Hebrew manuscripts of the middle ages are in general agreement. The Biblia Hebraica by Kittel is the basic Hebrew Old Testament used by scholars and translators and is based on the Masoretic Text from this time period. However, with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls (which will be discussed in our next lesson) manuscripts which date from around 168 BC to about 68 AD. Thus providing us with Hebrew manuscripts which outdate the previous manuscripts by about 1,000 years. What is interesting to the student of textual criticism and the believer in Biblical preservation, is the fact that a large number of the DSS agree with the Masoretic Text. Although there are manuscripts within the findings of the DSS which agree with the LXX and also reflect a differing Hebrew Text with a number of variants, the fact remains that we now have manuscripts dating from the time of Christ or before which agree with the Masoretic Text. This give additional credence to the preciseness and integrity of the Hebrew scribes in their accuracy of reproducing the manuscripts throughout the ages. And, most importantly, it shows the preservation of the Old Testament Text in Hebrew by God.

Dr. Emanuel Tov of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and one of the editors of the DSS writes:

" Of similar importance are the new data about the context of the biblical scrolls, since different texts are recognizable. Some texts reflect precisely the consonantal framework of the medieval MT (Masoretic Text). Others reflect the basic framework of the MT, although their spelling is different. Still others differ in many details from the MT, while agreeing with the Septuagint or Samaritan Pentateuch. Some texts do not agree with any previously known text at all, and should be considered independent textual traditions. Thus, the textual picture presented by the Qumran scrolls represents a textual variety that was probably typical for the period." (The Oxford Companion to the Bible, edited by Bruce Metzger and Michael Coogan, 1993; p.160)

Norman Geisler and William Nix attest to most of the DSS reflecting the Masoretic Text. In their book, A General Introduction to the Bible, they write, " The (Dead Sea) scrolls give an overwhelming confirmation of the fidelity of the Masoretic text." (p. 261). They go on to cite Millar Burrows' work, The Dead Sea Scrolls, " It is a matter of wonder, " states Burrows, " that through something like a thousand years the text underwent so little alteration. As I said in my first article on the scroll, 'Herein lies its chief importance, supporting the fidelity of the Masoretic tradition.'" (Ibid.). Ernst Wurthwein cites R. de Vaux as saying, " The script is more developed, the Biblical text is definitely that of the Masora, and it must be concluded from this that the documents from Qumran (i.e. DSS) are older, earlier than the second century." (Wurthwein, p. 31). Concerning the scrolls of Isaiah found in Cave 1 at Qumran, Wurthwein writes, " The scrolls (1QIsa. a.) has a popular type text which supports (the Masoretic Text) essentially, but which also offers a great number of variants. . .A second Isaiah manuscripts (1QIsa. b.) is fragmentary, but stands much closer to the Masoretic text." (Ibid. p. 32).

Fragments of Leviticus in Old Hebrew script (1QLev. a) add support to the antiquity of the Masoretic Text. These fragments cover Leviticus 19:31-34; 20:20- 23. Concerning these Wurthwein states, " These fragments are the earliest of the Old Hebrew script written on leather. . .(only) one variant from (MT) is found in 20:21" (Ibid. p.148). The one variant referred to by Wurthwein deals with one letter in a word, which does not change the meaning of the word. If the student has a Stong's Exhaustive Concordance they can see for themselves the minor difference in this word. Strong list the word as #1931 in his Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary. Both forms are listed together. The Masoretic Text uses the Hebrew word hoo while the DSS uses the Hebrew word he. It is the same Hebrew word and is a personal pronoun meaning he, she, or it. The two seem to be used interchangeably throughout the Hebrew Old Testament.

Additional manuscripts have also been found which support the Masoretic Text. Again Wurthwein informs us of the following: " Also important are the remains of fourteen scrolls with Biblical texts from the period before AD 73, discovered while excavating the rock fortress of Masada in the Judean desert in 1963-1965. These agree extensively with the traditional Biblical texts--only in the text of Ezekiel are there a few insignificant variants." (Ibid. p. 31). To these we can also add the Geniza Fragments which date from the fifth century AD. These manuscripts were discovered in 1890 at Cairo, Egypt. They were located in a type of storage room for worn or faulty manuscripts, which was called the Geniza. The fragments number around 200,000 and reflect Biblical texts in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Arabic. The Biblical texts discovered support the Masoretic Text.

In one sense, the Masoretic Text may be thought of as the Textus Receptus of the Old Testament. In fact, some scholars have referred to it as such. Like the Textus Receptus of the New Testament, the Masoretic Text is based on the majority of manuscripts and reflects the traditional text used. Although there are differences found in some Masoretic Texts, these differences are minor and usually deal with, orthography, vowel points, accents, and divisions of the text. In 1524/25, Daniel Bomberg published an edition of the Masoretic Text based on the tradition of Jacob ben Chayyim. Jacob ben Chayyim was a Jewish refugee who later became a Christian. It was his text which was used by the translators of the King James Bible for their work in the Old Testament, and it was the basis of Kittel's first two editions of his Hebrew text. Wurthwein notes that the text of ben Chayyim, " enjoyed an almost canonical authority up to our own time." (Ibid. p. 37).

For about six generations the Masoretic Text was reproduced by the ben Asher family. Moses ben Asher produced a text in 895 AD known as Codex Cairensis containing the writing of the Prophets. Codex Leningradensis dates to 1008 AD and was based on the work of Aaron ben Moses ben Asher, the son of Moses ben Asher. This Codex is the oldest manuscript containing the complete Bible. Some of the differences found within this family of manuscripts are the basis of Kittel's third edition of his Biblia Hebraica and has been used by scholars in producing modern translations of the Bible, such as the New International Version (1978), the New King James Version (1982), and the New Revised Standard Version (1989).

One example which shows the difference between the text of ben Chayyim and that of ben Asher, is found in Jeremiah 3:7. The KJB reads, " And I said after she had done all these things, Turn thou unto me. But she returned not. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it." The phrase, " And I said" is also used by the ASV of 1901 and the LXX. However, modern versions such as the NIV use the textual variant and render the verse as, " I thought that after she had done all this she would return to me but she did not, and her unfaithful sister Judah saw it.". This is also the reading of the RSV and NRSV, changing the opening phrase to " I thought". Even though the NKJB is based on the text of ben Asher, they elected to keep the reading as it is found in the KJB and the Masoretic Text of ben Chayyim. Contextually, the reading of the KJB is unquestionably superior. It is one thing for God to claim that Israel should return to Him, as stated in the text. It is quite another for God to have thought something would happen which did not. The reading as it is found in most modern versions seems to question the omniscience of God.

For the most part, scholarship agrees that the Masoretic Text became the standard authorized Hebrew text around 100 AD in connection with the completion of the New Testament. Thus we see that the Masoretic Text existed prior to the writings of the New Testament, was used as the official Hebrew Old Testament at the time of the establishing of the Biblical canon, and has been used since as the official representation of the Hebrew originals. Hence we can see in the Masoretic Text the preservation of Scripture in the Hebrew Old Testament, as we can in the Textus Receptus the preservation of Scripture in the Greek New Testament.


The most noted Old Testament translated into Greek is the Septuagint (also known as the LXX). The conventional thought is that the LXX was translated from the Hebrew text by Hellenistic Jews during the period from 275 to 100 BC at Alexandria, Egypt. And, as pointed out by scholars such as Ralph W. Klein, the LXX used a differing Hebrew text and not that of the Masorictic Text type, as reflected in some of the finding among the DSS. The LXX was used by Jerome in producing his Old Testament of the Latin Vulgate used by the Roman Catholic Church, and the LXX remains the official Old Testament of the Greek Orthodox Church. This accounts for the additional books found in the Catholic and Orthodox Churches known as the Apocrypha, because they are contained in the text of the LXX.

The association of the Latin numbers LXX (meaning 70) with the Septuagint comes from the legend concerning the origin of this Greek translation. According to the Letter of Aristeas seventy Jewish scholars were chosen to translate the Law of Moses into Greek so that it could be added to the great library of Ptolemy Philadelphus in Alexandria, Egypt. The letter states that the High Priest in Jerusalem sent 72 scholars to the Egyptian king. The High Priest writes, " In the presence of all the people I selected six elders from each tribe, good men and true, and I have sent them to you with a copy of our law. It will be a kindness, O righteous king, if you will give instruction that as soon as the translation of the law is completed, the men shall be restored again to us in safety." (Letter of Aristeas 2:34-35). Thus six scholars from the twelve tribes number seventy-two (it is to be assumed that the 70 is merely a rounding off of the 72).

One wide-spread myth concerning the LXX is an old story which states that the translators worked on their translation alone and compared their work each morning, only to find that each had translated the passage exactly the same. This, of course, has no historical foundation and some have falsely applied this story to the translators of the King James Bible. However, stories such as this one caused some to claim inspiration for the LXX. Dr. Karlfried Froehlich notes this and writes, " Inspiration was also claimed for the Greek translation of the 'Seventy', which was endorsed by Alexandrian Jewish authorities. In Christian eyes, the legend of the Septuagint's miraculous origin, first told in the Letter of Aristeas, then elaborated by Philo, and further embellished by Christian authors such as Justin Martyr, Irenaeus of Lyons, Tertullian, and Augustine, even rendered the Septuagint superior to the Hebrew original." (The Oxford Companion to the Bible, p. 310).

Even if the story given in the Letter of Aristeas were true, the Greek translation deals only with the first five books of the Old Testament. Most scholars note that there are differences in style and quality of translation within the LXX and assign a much greater time frame than the seventy-two days allotted in the Letter of Aristeas. In his book, Textual Criticism of the Old Testament: The Septuagint after Qumran, Ralph Klein notes, " the Letter of Aristeas is riddled with many historical improbabilities and errors. . .And yet, however legendary and improbable the details, many still believe that some accurate historical facts about the LXX can be distilled from Aristeas: (1) the translation began in the third century BC; (2) Egypt was the place of origin; and (3) the Pentateuch was done first." (p. 2).

Dr. F. F. Bruce correctly points out that, strictly speaking, the LXX deals only with the Law and not the whole Old Testament. Bruce writes, " The Jews might have gone on at a later time to authorize a standard text of the rest of the Septuagint, but . . . lost interest in the Septuagint altogether. With but few exceptions, every manuscript of the Septuagint which has come down to our day was copied and preserved in Christian, not Jewish, circles." (The Books and the Parchments, p.150). This is important to note because the manuscripts which consist of our LXX today date to the third century AD. Although there are fragments which pre-date Christianity and some of the Hebrew DSS agree with the LXX, the majority of manuscripts we have of the LXX date well into the Christian era. And, not all of these agree.

The most noted copy of the LXX is that found in the Hexapla by Origen. Origen produced an Old Testament with six translations paralleled together, called the Hexapla which means sixfold. The fifth column was the LXX. (The columns of the Hexapla were as follows: 1. The Hebrew text. 2. The Hebrew transliterated into Greek. 3. The Greek translation of Aquila. 4. The Greek translation of Symmachus. 5. The LXX. 6. The Greek translation of Theodotion.) However, we do not have Origen's Hexapla (with the exception of a few limited fragments). Sir Frederic Kenyon wrote, " A considerable number of MSS. exist which give information as to Origen's Hexaplaric text and particular passages in the other columns, but these do not go far towards enabling us to recover the LXX text as it existed before Origen; and this remains the greatest problem which confronts the textual student of the Septuagint. Until we can do that, we are not in a position fully to utilize the evidence of the Greek for the recovery of the pre-Masoretic Hebrew." (The Text of the Greek Bible, p.35). In other words, we cannot fully reconstruct Origen's fifth column, let alone a pre-Origenian Septuagint.

Origen's LXX was revised and edited by two of his disciples, Pamphilus and Eusebius. There were additional Greek translations of the Old Testament during this time which were also contained in the Hexapla, such as the work by Aquila and Theodotion. Some scholars believe that the translation produced by Theodotion replaced the LXX in the book of Daniel so that the readings there are really that of Theodotion and not of the LXX. However, others have claimed that this is not the case. Therefore, concerning Origen's Hexapla and the LXX the best scholars can say is that cited by Ernst Wurthwein, " Although no authentic manuscript of the Hexaplaric Septuagint has survived, there are manuscripts which represent the text of Origen more or less closely." (The Text of the Old Testament, p.57). Two such manuscripts which represent the text of Origen are Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus, which the student will recall from our study of New Testament textual criticism.


It is interesting to note in our study of manuscript evidence and the King James Bible, how the translators of the KJB viewed the LXX. This Greek work did not go unnoticed by these men as can be seen in the original preface to the KJB written by Dr. Miles Smith. The following are a few paragraphs from the KJB preface for the student to consider. Afterwards, comments will be made.

1) " Notwithstanding, though it was commended generally, yet it did not fully content the learned, no not of the Jews. For not long after Christ, Aquila fell in hand with a new Translation, and after him Theodotion, and after him Symmachus; yea, there was a fifth and a sixth edition, the Authors whereof were not known. (Epiphan. de mensur. et ponderibus.) These with the Seventy made up the Hexapla and were worthily and to great purpose compiled together by Origen."

2) " Yet for all that, as the Egyptians are said of the Prophet to be men and not God, and their horses flesh and not spirit (Isa 31:3); so it is evident, (and Saint Jerome affirmeth as much) (S. Jerome. de optimo genere interpret.) that the Seventy were Interpreters, they were not Prophets; they did many things well, as learned men; but yet as men they stumbled and fell, one while through oversight, another while through ignorance, yea, sometimes they may be noted to add to the Original, and sometimes to take from it; which made the Apostles to leave them many times, when they left the Hebrew, and to deliver the sense thereof according to the truth of the word, as the spirit gave them utterance. This may suffice touching the Greek Translations of the Old Testament."

3) " Now to the latter we answer; that we do not deny, nay we affirm and avow, that the translation of the Bible in English, set forth by men of our profession, (for we have seen none of theirs of the whole Bible as yet) containeth the word of God, nay, is the word of God. As the King's speech, which he uttereth in Parliament, being translated into French, Dutch, Italian, and Latin, is still the King's speech, though it be not interpreted by every Translator with the like graadventure so fitly for phrase, nor so expressly for sense, everywhere. . The Romanists therefore in refusing to hear, and daring to burn the Word translated, did no less than despite the spirit of grace, from whom originally it proceeded, and whose sense and meaning, as well as man's weakness would able, it did express. . .The like we are to think of Translations. The translation of the Seventy dissenteth from the Original in many places, neither doth it come near it, for perspicuity, gravity, majesty; yet which of the Apostles did condemn it? Condemn it? Nay, they used it, . . .To be short, Origen, and the whole Church of God for certain hundred years, were of another mind: for they were so far from treading under foot, (much more from burning) the Translation of Aquila a Proselyte, that is, one that had turned Jew; of Symmachus, and Theodotion, both Ebionites, that is, most vile heretics, that they joined together with the Hebrew Original, and the Translation of the Seventy (as hath been before signified out of Epiphanius) and set them forth openly to be considered of and perused by all. But we weary the unlearned, who need not know so much, and trouble the learned, who know it already."

In the first paragraph we find that the KJB translators attest to Origen's Hexapla and early Greek translations of the Old Testament which post-date the birth of Christianity. These translations, along with the LXX, paralleled in the Hexapla.

The second paragraph shows that the KJB translators saw some of the limitations of the LXX. They recognized that the LXX was produced by Interpreters and not by inspired Prophets. Although the LXX translates many things well, it also failed many times and departed from the original Hebrew (i.e. Masoretic Text). Sometimes the LXX adds to the Hebrew, and at other times it omits. Which, according the KJB translators, made the New Testament writers to, " leave them many times, when they left the Hebrew, and to deliver the sense thereof according to the truth of the word, as the spirit gave them utterance." This simply means that when a New Testament writer cites the LXX, they freely corrected the LXX when it differed from the Hebrew, or as they were moved by inspiration.

The third paragraph is lengthy to show the context. The KJB translators promoted the use of translations. Not as we have come to understand it with a variety of versions differing from one another, but the importance of having the word of God translated into the language of those who cannot read Hebrew or Greek. Their argument was against the Catholic Church which at that time made it a practice of burning Bibles which were in any language other than Latin. The Catholic Church considered such translations as corrupt and worthy of burning. The KJB translators are arguing that the history of the Church demonstrates that even when a translation is poorly done, God can still use it and it should not be burned, as the Catholic Church had a practice of doing. They illustrate their point with the Greek translations of Aquila and Theodotion, which were translated by non-believers and yet their work was not burned by believers. They claim the same with the LXX.


There are several places where the New Testament quotations of the Old Testament are said to be citations of the LXX. Several of these passages will agree simply because there is a limited way of translating Hebrew into Greek.

Such would be the case in Genesis 5:24 as compared with Hebrews 11:5. The writer of Hebrews and the LXX both use the phrase God translated him in reference to Enoch. The phrase in Greek is metetheken auton o Theos in both the NT and the LXX. The English translations are as follows:

At first glance it would seem that the NT passage in Hebrews chapter eleven is closer to the LXX than the OT Hebrew of Genesis chapter five. As we know, the NT was written in Greek, the OT in Hebrew. However, the Hebrew word for took in this passage is lawkakh which means to take or move from one place to another. The Greek way of saying the Hebrew lawkakh is methetheken which means translated. Dr. Charles Ryrie seems to agree with this. He writes, " He (Enoch) walked (lit., walked about, i.e. lived) with God, and instead of letting him die, God took him (the same Hebrew word is used for the translation of Elijah, 2 Kings 2:3,5; cf. Heb. 11:5)." (Ryrie Study Bible, p.15). This is not a citation of the LXX, but a Greek translation of the Hebrew word for took. Further, the student should notice that this verse is a statement of EVENTS found in Genesis five, not a QUOTATION of Genesis 5:24.

Another example is that of Hebrews 1:6, " And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him." The problem here is that there is no passage in the Old Testament which reads as it is cited in Hebrews chapter one. However, the LXX does have the phrase, Let all the angels of God worship him, in Deut. 32:43 as does one of the Hebrew fragments found among the DSS. Therefore some claim that the writer of Hebrews is citing either the LXX, or the Hebrew variant found in the DSS.

There is, however, another explanation. Psalm 97:7 reads, " Confounded be all they that serve graven images, that boast themselves of idols: worship him, all ye gods." The Hebrew word translated as gods is Elohim which is also translated as angels (the DSS fragment of Deut. 32:43 also uses the Hebrew word Elohim). One way to translate Elohim into English is to use the word gods. One way to translate Elohim into Greek is to use the word angelos. This being the case, the Greek way of saying Psalm 97:7 would be, proskuneton auto pantes angeloi Theou.

Additionally, Thomas Hewitt, writes, " There is no Hebrew equivalent for Let all the angles of God worship him in our existing text. It may be derived from Psalm xcvii. 7 'worship him, all ye gods' (Heb. elohim). The LXX has 'angels' instead of 'gods'. The quotation, however, is exactly found in Deuteronomy xxxii. 43 (LXX), though this may be an addition by a later hand." (Tyndale NT Commentaries in Hebrews, p. 55). It is interesting that Hewitt states that the passage found in Deut. 32:43 of the LXX may have been added by a later hand. If this is true, there very well may be additional places where the LXX simply adds to the OT by citing the NT.

The following is a list provided by the American Bible Society (ABS) of LXX readings in the NT. The OT passage is given first, followed by the NT citation of it in parentheses.

Genesis 5:24 (Heb. 11:5)
Genesis 46:27 (Acts. 7:14)
Genesis 47:31 (Heb. 11:21)
Exodus 9:16 (Rom. 9:17)
Deuteronomy 17:7 (1 Cor. 5:13)
Deuteronomy 18:15 (Acts 3:22)
Deuteronomy 27:26 (Gal. 3:10)
Deuteronomy 29:18 (Heb. 12:15)
Deuteronomy 32:17 (1 Cor. 10:20)
Deuteronomy 32:43 (Heb. 1:6)
Psalm 2:1-2 (Acts 4:25-26)
Psalm 2:9 (Rev. 2:27)
Psalm 4:4 (Eph. 4:26)
Psalm 5:9 (Rom. 3:13)
Psalm 8:2 (Matt. 21:16)
Psalm 8:5 (Heb. 2:7)
Psalm 10:7 (Rom. 3:14)
Psalm 14:3 or 53:3 (Rom. 3:12)
Psalm 16:8-11 (Acts 2:25-28)
Psalm 19:4 (Rom. 10:18)
Psalm 34:12 (1 Pet. 3:10)
Psalm 40:6 (Heb. 10:5)
Psalm 51:4 (Rom. 3:4)
Psalm 69:22-23 (Rom. 11:9-10)
Psalm 95:7-8 (Heb. 3:15; 4:7)
Psalm 102:25-27 (Heb. 1:10-12)
Psalm 104:4 (Heb. 1:7)
Psalm 116:10 (2 Cor. 4:13)
Psalm 118:6 (Heb. 13:6)
Proverbs 3:4 (2 Cor. 8:21)
Proverbs 3:34 (James 4:6; 1 Pet. 5:5)
Proverbs 3:11-12 (Heb. 12:5-6)
Proverbs 4:26 (Heb. 12:13)
Proverbs 11:31 (1 Pet. 4:18)
Proverbs 25: 21-22 (Rom. 12:20)
Isaiah 1:9 (Rom. 9:29)
Isaiah 6:9-10 (Matt. 13:14-15; Mark 4:12; Luke 8:10; John 12:40; Acts 28:26-27)
Isaiah 7:14 (Matt. 1:23)
Isaiah 10:22-23 (Rom. 9:27-28)
Isaiah 11:10 (Rom. 15:12)
Isaiah 26:11 (Heb. 10:27)
Isaiah 28:16 (Rom. 9:33; 10:11; 1 Pet. 2:6)
Isaiah 29:13 (Matt. 15:8-9;Mark 7:6-7)
Isaiah 29:14 (1 Cor. 1:19)
Isaiah 40:3-5 (Matt. 3:3; Mark 1:3; Luke 3:4-6)
Isaiah 40:6-7 (James 1:10-11; 1 Pet. 1:24)
Isaiah 40:13 (Rom. 11:34; 1 Cor. 2:16)
Isaiah 42:4 (Matt. 12:21)
Isaiah 43:20 (1 Pet. 2:9)
Isaiah 45:23 (Rom. 14:11; Phil. 2:11)
Isaiah 52:5 (Rom. 2:24)
Isaiah 52:15 (Rom. 15:21)
Isaiah 53:1 (John 12:38, 40; Rom. 10:16)
Isaiah 59:20-21 (Rom. 11:26-27)
Isaiah 61:1 (Luke 4:18)
Isaiah 65:1-2 (Rom. 10:20-21)
Jeremiah 31:32 (Heb. 8:9)
Ezekiel 28:13 (Rev. 2:7)
Hosea 13:14 (1 Cor. 15:55)
Joel 2:30-31 (Acts 2:19-20)
Amos 5:25-27 (Acts 13:34)
Amos 9:11-12 (Acts 15:16-18)
Habakkuk 1:5 (Acts 13:41)
Habakkuk 2:4 (Heb. 10:38)
Haggai 2:5 (Heb. 12:26)

As one can see, the list is rather lengthy (and I might add incomplete). It would be rather tedious to compare all the verses in this list. I have, however, provided the student with a few examples which follow. There are many times when the Greek of the LXX and the NT match word perfectly. Such would be the case of Deut. 17:7 with 1 Cor. 5:13, for a short citation; and Psalm 2:1-2 with Acts 4:25-26 for a much longer citation. Despite the verses which match, there are many places which do not. Sometimes these are translated the same, but they are not the same Greek words or word order. To explain this the ABS states, " The writers of the New Testament generally quoted or paraphrased the ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament, commonly known as the Septuagint Version," (New Testament Passages Quoted or Paraphrased from the Septuagint, found in the TEV, Thomas Nelson Pub. 1976 ed. p. 367). The problem here is that once we open the possibility that many of the citations are not quotations but paraphrases of the LXX, we cannot be certain that it was in fact the LXX that was paraphrased. In addition, many of these citations reflect only a few words differing. This would not constitute a paraphrase. Consider the following examples.


Exodus 9:16

The last phrase, and that my name might be declared throughtout all the earth is a perfect match in between the NT and the LXX, as is the phrase that I might shew. . .in thee. However, there are differences at the very beginning and in the middle. The Greek NT begins with Oti eis auto touto exegeipa se opos (For this purpose have I raised out thee, so that). The LXX begins with Kai eneken toutou dietepethes, ina (And for this purpose hast thou been preserved, that). These are two differing readings in both Greek and English. Moreover, the NT uses the Greek word dunamin (power), while the LXX uses the Greek word isxun (strength).


Deuteronomy 18:15, 19

Acts 3:22-23 quotes Deuteronomy 18:15 and 19. This is a lengthy portion of Scripture, but demonstrates that Luke was not citing the LXX word for word in Acts chapter 3. While the literal translations may be close, we are here examining the usage of the LXX in the Greek NT. The Greek of both is given below. If Luke were using the LXX we would expect the passage in Acts 3:22-23 to match the passage in Deuteronomy 18:15,19. One does not have to read Greek to see that the two passages are not a perfect match.

For those who wish a literal translation of each Greek word, the following is provided:


Psalm 69:22-23

The NT passage is close to the reading found in the LXX. Yet there are differences. The LXX adds the Greek phrase enopion auton (before them) in the first part of the phrase. Also, at the end of verse nine, the NT has the phrase kai eis antapodoma autois (and a recompence unto them). However, the LXX places the same phrase in the middle of the verse and not at the end.


Isaiah 6:9-10

In the citation given by Matthew the passage is almost a perfect match. The only difference is that the LXX has the word auton (their) after ears while the NT has it after eyes. Again, one wonders why the switch. However, the same passage cited by Mark is quite different.

The citation is very free. Once we interject the usage of freely citing OT passages (as we find many times in the NT), we can no longer be dogmatic that the translation which was used as the base translation was in fact the LXX. It becomes an assumption.


Isaiah 7:14

The verse as it reads in the Greek NT is almost a match of the Greek LXX. The difference is that the LXX uses the word lepsetai (shall be) while Matthew uses the Greek word ekzie (shall be).


Isaiah 29:13

Matt. 15:7-9

The LXX does have some alterations of the Greek NT in this passage. What is even more astounding here is that the Alexandrian Text of the NT has some omitions which are found in the LXX and TR. Both the TR and LXX begin with Eggizie moi (Draw near to me), but it is omitted in the UBS Text. Also verse eight in the LXX and TR reads to stomati auton, kai (with their mouth, and), which is not in the UBS Text.

There are likewise some differences between the LXX and the Greek NT. The LXX adds en (in) before with their mouth. The NT uses the pharse me tima (honours me). The LXX reads, auton timosi me (they honour me). The NT has didaskalias (doctrines) after didaskontes (teaching). The LXX reads kai didaskalias (and doctrines) and places it after anthrpon (of men).


Mark 7:6-7

This has been covered in Matt.15:7-9. The literal translation of the LXX reads, " And the Lord has said, This people draw nigh to me whith their mouth, and they honour me with their lips, but their heart is far from me: but in vain do they worship me, teaching the commandments and doctrines of men" (Isa. 29:13 LXX). The citation is rather loose if coming from the LXX as we have it.


Isaiah 42:1-4

Matt. 12:18-21

The LXX reads, " Jacob is my servant, I will help him: Isarel is my chosen, my soul has accepted him; I have put my Spirit upon him; he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up (his voice), nor shall his voice be heard without. A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench; but he shall bring forth judgment to truth. He shall shine out, and shall not be discouraged, until he have set judgment on the earth: and in his name shall the Gentiles trust."

With the exception of a word here or there, the only part which matches is the last phrase And in his name shall the Gentiles trust. One must conclude that Matthew is either taking liberities with the LXX, or taking liberities with his translation of the Hebrew into Greek.


Since there are differences between the NT citations and both the LXX and the Masoretic Text, the question arises as to what translation the writers of the NT used. At times it seems as if they are using the traditional Hebrew text, at other times it seems as if they are taking great liberties with the Hebrew text. Sometimes their quote matches the LXX, and at other times their citation differs from the LXX. As Bible believing Christians, how do we resolve this dilemma?

Dr. George Ladd writes, " These two texts reflect two ways of numbering Jacob's family." (The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, p.1136). Although Dr. Ladd was commenting on how the LXX and the Hebrew text derived their totals, the same may be said at how the passage in Gen. 46 and Stephen derived theirs. In his book, Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible, Dr. John W. Haley lays out the differences without referencing the LXX. Haley writes, " Jacob's children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren amounted to sixty-six (Gen. 46:8-26). Adding Jacob himself, and Joseph with his two sons, we have seventy. If to the sixty-six we add the nine wives of Jacob's sons (Judah's and simeon's wives were dead; Joseph could not be said to call himself, his own wife, or his two sons into Egypt; and Jacob is specified separately by Stephen), we have seventy-five persons, as in Acts." (Baker Book House, 1983 ed., p.389). Therefore the difference in number can be clarified by an examination of the Biblical texts and not referencing the citation to that of the LXX. Further, scrutiny of the passage in Acts clearly shows that Stephen was referring to events in Genesis 46 and not quoting the passage.


In his Epistle to the Corinthians, Clement of Rome (30-100 AD) uses a multitude of citations from the Old Testament. From the following few examples, the student can see some of the differences between the Greek of Clement and the LXX. In each of the following examples the student will find the following: 1) The OT reference allude to by Clement. 2) The English translation of Clement's epistle to the Corinthians (by Archbishop Wake). 3) The quote Greek in which Clement wrote. 4) The Greek of the LXX. Thus the student can compare for himself the Greek of both Clement and the LXX. 5) Last of all, the English translation of the LXX as provided by Sir Lancelot Brenton.


Deut. 32:8-9

Clement writes:

The Greek Clement used:

The Greek of the LXX:

The English of the LXX:

With the exception of the Greek word kai (and), the two are a perfect match. Yet notice that in verse 15 the match is not so perfect, as is so with the following examples.


Deut. 32:15

Clement writes:

The Greek that Clement used:

The Greek of the LXX:

The English of the LXX:


Gen. 15:5-6

Clement writes:

The Greek that Clement used:

The Greek of the LXX:

The English of the LXX:


Psalm. 37:9

Clement writes:

The Greek Clement used:

The Greek of the LXX:

The English of the LXX:


Dan. 7:10 with Isa. 6:3

Clement writes:

The Greek Clement used:

The Greek of the LXX:

The English of the LXX:


Isa. 60:17

Clement writes:

The Greek Clement used:

The Greek of the LXX:

The English of the LXX:


One can point to Clement and say that his citations do not match the King James Bible, nor do they always match the Masoretic Hebrew Text. This is to be expected since Clement was not using the KJB. Further, whatever text he did use, if it was not already translated into Greek he had to do so himself. And yet, if we claim that Clement was not using the Masoretic Text because his citations do not match, how can we claim that he was using the LXX since they likewise do not match? The dogma that Clement and other early Church Father strictly used the LXX seems rather remote.

In accordance with this same historical time frame, Sir Frederic Kenyon has pointed out that, " (The LXX) was not . . . accepted by the stricter Jews, who in controversy repudiated arguments based on Septuagint texts." (The Text of the Greek Bible p.29). This is also true of Josephus who rejected the LXX because of its additions to the Hebrew canon of scripture. Likewise, scholarship reconignize that the enhancement of the LXX in history came not from the Jewish scribs, but from sources within Christiandom from around the third century.

As to its value in the study of textual criticism, Dr. Ernst Wurthwein writes, "No other version has received as much attention for textual criticism as [the LXX]. Not only was it valued highly in antiquity, but in the nineteenth century many scholars practically preferred it over the Masoretic text. They believed that because of its pre-Christian origins it could assist in the recovery of an earlier, pre- Masoretic text that would be closer to the original than [the Masoretic Text]. But today we recognize that [the LXX] neither was nor was intended to be a precise scholarly translation." (The Text of the Old Testament, pp 63-64). Later, Wurthwein quotes Dr. G. Bertram as writing, "The Septuagint belongs to the history of Old Testament interpretation rather than to the history of the Old Testament text. It can be used as a textual witness only after its own understanding of the Old Testament text has been made clear." (Ibid. pp. 67-68).

Therefore we can see that the LXX does not shed light on the text of the original Hebrew, but only on how some interpreted the Hebrew text. Further, we also can see that the Biblical guardians of the Old Testament, the Jews, were not in favor of the readings found in the LXX, nor in the additions it made to the Hebrew canon of scripture. Therefore, we can see the wisdom and spiritual guidance provided for the translators of the KJB in using the Hebrew Masoretic Text for their work on the Old Testament, as well as their use of the Traditional Greek Text for the New Testament. Thus in both they were using the Text Received (Textus Receptus).


"What is King James Onlyism?"

It often depends on who is asking the question and what they mean when they refer to those who believe the KJB to be the preserved word of God for the English-speaking people. I am called, for example, a KJB only advocate. I am told that KJB only advocates such as myself believe the KJB is inspired. I have been told that other KJB only advocates, such as Dr. Ruckman, believe the KJB is inspired. However, I have never read where Dr. Ruckman has stated such, and I know for a fact that I do not believe it. However, this does depend on what someone means by the term. To me, Biblical inspiration as given in scripture, is something given first hand. It was limited to Biblical writers and not copyist and translators. Inspiration has to do with what " is given" (2 Tim. 3:16), as holy men of God were moved by the Holy Ghost (2 Pet. 1:21).

The problem in understanding what was said is because those who misconstrue it do not differ between inspiration and preservation. As has been stated in prior lessons, inspiration has to do with the producing of scripture. Preservation has to do with the keeping of scripture. It is God who inspired His words, and it is God who keeps them.

James White lists five different groups of these he refers to as KJB only advocates (The King James Only Controversy pp.1-4). I do not find myself in any of these groups listed. Since I cannot speak for others, I am left to speak only for myself in defining what I am. I believe that God gave His words without error by inspiration. I believe that God preserved these words and watched over them to keep them without error throughout all generations since their written inception. The KJB, I believe, is the preserved word of God for the English-speaking world since 1611 and stands without error. When I read the KJB I believe that I am reading the very words of God which He has provided for me through His care in keeping His words, so that they are in fact the very words of God. So if by King James Only one means that only the King James Bible is the preserved words of God without error for those who speak English since 1611, I would have to say that I am of that group.

However, some have concluded that KJB Onlyism means that this is the only translation KJB advocates use or that there was no word of God before 1611. From this comes such false arguments as stating that Psalm 12:6-7 does not refer to the KJB. James R. White is quick to point this out in stating, " My first question is, 'Where does Psalm 12 say that the words of the LORD refer to the King James Bible?'" (Ibid. p. 243). Of course, it does not. It refers to the fact that God said He would preserve His words, of which the KJB is evidence that He has done so even to this day.

Anyone reading the lessons so far must admit that evidence has been provided of the preservation of God's words long before 1611. If not, I would suggest that the student reread lesson five. And, if one insists that being a KJB only advocate limits the Bible only to English-speaking people, I would again suggest that the student reread the same lesson. The simple fact is that the preserved word of God was here before 1611 and in other languages besides English. Any statement otherwise is a perversion of the facts given and a misrepresentation of those who support and believe the KJB.

Nor does my belief in the KJB as the preserved word of God prohibit me from reading additional translations, both in English and other languages. I have freely used modern versions to support a reading in a text and I have often read from modern versions for one reason or another. If someone wishes to use a modern version, they are free to do so. I believe what the translators of the NIV said about their version, that it was made by imperfect men and would undoubtedly fall short of its goal. I think that the NIV, as all Bible translations, contain the word of God and can be used by God. This, however, does not free God from His obligation to keep and preserve his words, to keep them incorruptible, as He promised. I believe that the KJB is a fulfillment of that promise.

Yours in Christ Jesus, Thomas Holland Psalm 118:8

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