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|The Purpose for Studying the Hebrew vs. Greek Language Source Question|
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The Purspose for Studying the Hebrew vs. Greek Language Source Question
The purpose of this study is not to "disprove" that the Christian Scripture writers consulted Hebrew-language copies of the Hebrew Scriptures. The opposite is true; we know that they did use Hebrew-language manuscripts because some of their Hebrew Scripture quotations parallel the Masoretic1 (Hebrew) text rather than the Septuagint. Nor are we saying that Hebrew was not spoken during the life time of Jesus. Recent archaeology has proven otherwise.2
From the manuscripts found in the Qumran caves, it is easily verified that both Septuagint and Hebrew-language copies of the Hebrew Scriptures were used simultaneously during Jesus' day.3 Because the synagogue was the Hebrew-language training center for Jewish boys, there is no reason to think that Jesus did not read from a Hebrew-language text in the synagogue. With that—beyond mere interest in the culture of Jesus' day—the language debate could end.
However, because of the presumed presence of the Tetragrammaton (יהוה) in the Christian Scriptures, we must consider the role of Hebrew language Scriptures more completely. The answer is not an "either / or" response. When we do an adequate study of the Masoretic text and the Septuagint, we find that both Hebrew-language Scriptures and the Septuagint were used when writing the Christian Scriptures. Though there will always be some areas of difficulty when assessing short quotations or quotations comprising multiple Hebrew Scripture passages, this study is not inherently beset with bias. In most cases, when a Christian Scripture writer read a Hebrew-language text and translated it into Greek as he wrote, it is obviously paralleling the Hebrew-language text. Conversely, when he copied a passage from the Septuagint, it is also easily identified.
The important question is then, "How frequently did the inspired Christian Scripture writers refer to a Hebrew-language text when quoting the Hebrew Scriptures?" If you have not adequately examined the manuscript evidence for yourself, then you need to compare at least a sampling of Christian Scripture texts with their Hebrew Scripture counterparts. The statement is often made, "The Christian Scripture writers quoted from the Hebrew Scriptures written in Hebrew. When they saw יהוה, they would have written יהוה in the Christian Scriptures. How often do the Hebrew Scripture quotations in the Christian Scriptures follow the words of the Masoretic (Hebrew) text, and how often do they follow the words of the Septuagint? Study the evidence bearing on that statement and then come to your own conclusion.
1 The Masoretic Text (MT) is the Hebrew text of the Tanakh [Genesis through Deuteronomy] approved for general use in Judaism. It is also widely used in translations of the [Hebrew Scriptures] Old Testament of the Christian Bible. It was primarily compiled, edited and distributed by a group of Jews known as the Masoretes between the seventh and tenth centuries CE, though the consonants differ little from the text generally accepted in the early second century. It has numerous differences when compared to earlier sources such as the Septuagint, of both little and great significance. (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.) return
2 When Herod's fortress at Masada was excavated in 1963-1965, archaeologists found markings on unexposed parts of the stone columns using Hebrew numbers and letters. Stone masons would logically write numbers and letters familiar from everyday language. Hebrew script was also found on pottery, indicating its use as a common language. The fortress was build after Herod became king in 37 bce. (Masada, Yigail Yadin, 1966, Sphere Books Limited.) return
3 Though we have shown only Greek manuscripts in our IX. A Manuscript Photo Album, the Qumran caves also produced a large number of Hebrew-language documents, including the famous "Isaiah Scroll." return
In this study, you will be asking the question "Did the Christian Scripture writers refer to Hebrew manuscripts or to the Greek Septuagint when writing?" Of course, you cannot look over their shoulders in order to find your answer. A close alternative, however, is to read what they cited from the Hebrew Scriptures. Did they translate from a Hebrew text or did they copy from the Septuagint?
As you look at English translations of the original documents, you will realize that they did both. Now you need to find out how frequently they translated from a Hebrew text, and how frequently they quoted from the Septuagint. If you were doing original study, finding and comparing this information would be a daunting task. However, the work has already been done for you in the pages you will be linking to. (We will explain each step in the next few paragraphs.) The Christian Scripture Greek text, the Hebrew text, and the Septuagint text for each reference have each been grouped together for you. (The Christian Scripture Greek text is essentially that of your Kingdom Interlinear Translation which you will want to use for comparison. The Hebrew text is the Masoretic text from which the New World Translation Hebrew Scriptures was translated.)
1. The object of your search.
You want to compare the Christian Scripture verse from the Greek text with its quotation source in the Hebrew Scriptures to determine whether it was copied from the Septuagint or translated into Greek from a Hebrew-language text. For example, if you were studying the quotation at 1 Peter 2:8 (or Romans 9:33, which uses the same Hebrew Scripture source) you would compare it with Isaiah 8:14. When you finished your comparison, you would find that 1 Peter 2:8 (or Romans 9:33) was taken directly from a Hebrew-language text rather than the Septuagint. An example of the information you would find appears in the following link.
Click on the link http://www.geocities.com/r_grant_jones/Rick/Septuagint/spIs8-14.html
From this information you can compare the Septuagint Greek text with your own Kingdom Interlinear Translation. Even if you do not read Greek, you can follow the words which are highlighted on the link page in blue. In this illustration, you will see that the Greek words are grouped differently in the Kingdom Interlinear Translation than they are in the Septuagint. You can then read the English translations of the Hebrew, Septuagint, and Christian Scripture texts. Again, in this illustration you will see that the meaning of the verse is taken from the Hebrew-language text rather than the Septuagint. Finally, you can refer to the link's "Comments" section for additional information.
2. Using the search links in the main study.
There are are a total of 18 links in the study. The first three are in the introduction. Unless you are quite familiar with the Septuagint, acquaint yourself with the primary information in the introduction's "Yellow" links. There are then six links in the main study. They are:
IV. The Septuagint in the New Testament: This page will give you important preliminary information for your study. Especially look at Table 2: Sample New Testament Quotations of the Septuagint, Table 7: New Testament Quotations in Agreement with the Hebrew Against the Sense of the Septuagint, and Table 8: New Testament Quotations in Disagreement with the Hebrew and the Septuagint. (http://www.geocities.com/r_grant_jones/Rick/Septuagint/spexecsum.htm)
V. Table of Old Testament quotes in the New Testament: This table will allow you to see all of the Hebrew Scripture quotations in the Christian Scriptures. As the page itself says, however, it is of limited value for the actual study. (http://students.cua.edu/16kalvesmaki/LXX/NTChart.htm)
VI. Quotations in New Testament Order: This is the most useful resource for your study. Not only does it include all of the information in a single table, but by clicking on each verse in the "Old Testament Resource" column, you will be taken to the page comparing the Hebrew text, Septuagint text, and the Greek text of the Christian Scriptures. You could print this page and use it for your notes and further reference. (http://www.geocities.com/r_grant_jones/Rick/Septuagint/sptableNT.html)
VII. Instances where the New Testament follows the Hebrew meaning: This table will give you a list of all Christian Scripture quotations taken from the Hebrew text. However, all verse links take you back to the information given in the "Old Testament Resource" column of "VI. Quotations in New Testament Order." (To get to this link, go to "Contents" on http://www.geocities.com/r_grant_jones/Rick/Septuagint/spindex.htm and click on Instances where the New Testament follows the Hebrew meaning against the Septuagint
VIII. Instances where the Septuagint is Quoted in the New Testament: This table will give you a list of all Christian Scripture quotations taken from the Septuagint text. However, all verse links take you back to the information given in the "Old Testament Resource" column of "VI. Quotations in New Testament Order." (To get to this link, go to "Contents" on http://www.geocities.com/r_grant_jones/Rick/Septuagint/spindex.htm and click on Instances where the New Testament quotes the Septuagint against the Hebrew
IX. A Manuscript Photo Album: This section will be of interest to you because it gives actual photographic reproductions of a number of ancient Greek manuscripts. (Note that all manuscripts shown in this section are written in Greek even though the inserted יהוה is written in Hebrew.) With the exception of the example of Kurios written in a pre-Christian manuscript, none of these reproduction groups are comprehensive. There are many additional examples archived in research libraries.
We have categorized these manuscripts as follows:
- Septuagint manuscripts with יהוה in a Greek text.
- Jewish copies of the Septuagint in Greek before the Christian era. (There are many more examples, especially from the Qumran Caves)
- A bce Jewish manuscript using Kurios rather than יהוה.
- Representations of the Hebrew Tetragrammaton.
3. Supplementary links.
There are an additional 10 links (counting one in the introduction section) which have supplementary information that can be used in this study. These links are highlighted in blue-green color. You will find numerous other links within these sites.