Excerpt from theTorah.com:
The ancient Jewish translation of the Torah into Greek is named the Septuagint [LXX] after the apocryphal story of seventy (two) translators producing the same translation (see the Letter of Aristeas). As the LXX differs from MT [Masoretic text] in many details, it is clear that the translation was based on a different Hebrew text. Parts of this text are sometimes preserved among the Dead Sea Scrolls.
The enterprise of rendering the Torah into Greek in the beginning of the third century BCE in Alexandria was a Jewish enterprise, created by Jews for Gentiles and Jews alike. The Letter of Aristeas mentions King Ptolemy II Philadelphus (287–247 B.C.E.) as the person who commissioned the translation. Although the letter itself is later than the events it describes, it likely contains a kernel of truth.
This translation was probably used in Alexandria by Jews in their weekly ceremonial reading from the first century B.C.E. onwards. The Jewish background of the Greek translation of the Torah is well established, while that of the post-Pentateuchal books is not, although these too undoubtedly reflect a Jewish translation.
Abandoning the LXX in Two Steps
Jews already began to see the LXX as problematic in the pre-Christian period, since it did not reflect the proto-MT text current in Palestine. This began a process of revision of the LXX towards the proto-Masoretic Text, reflected, for example, in such Jewish revisions as Theodotion (named kaige-Theodotion in modern research), Aquila (from Asia Minor, 125 C.E.), and Symmachus, in this sequence. As these new translations became more popular, the LXX translation gradually fell into disuse.
The emergence of early Christianity made the split between Jews and the LXX a foregone conclusion. In the first century C.E., when the NT writers quoted the earlier Scripture, they used the LXX or an early revision of the LXX that was close to MT, such as the (kaige)-Theodotion revision mentioned above. That was a natural development since the New Testament was written in Greek, and it was normal for its authors to quote from earlier Scripture written in the same language.
As a result of its adoption by Christianity, the Jewish-Greek translation of the LXX was held in contempt by the Jews, and was left entirely to the church. The Christians accepted the LXX translation as it was, generally without changing its wording.
Traditional Judaism’s Relationship
to Other Text Traditions
Despite the desire to believe in MT as the sole text form of Scripture, the rabbis were long aware of other text forms, at least those of SP and LXX. Nevertheless, from the rabbinic period and on, these texts have posed no threat to the supremacy of the Masoretic Text among Jews.
LXX – The Greek Septuagint was mentioned in very few places in rabbinic literature, but those quotations were accompanied by descriptions that the translators intentionally changed the contents of Hebrew Scripture in their translation concluding that therefore the LXX should be disregarded. (The rabbis never considered the possibility that the LXX was based on a different Vorlage.)
The text of the LXX was not quoted in rabbinic literature as support for their halachic or aggadic deliberations, since no sources other than the Hebrew text was considered “scripture.” When in rare occasions the rabbis quoted from a Greek translator, they quoted from the Jewish translator Aquila, not from Symmachus or Theodotion.
–Emanuel Tov, professor emeritus of the Bible, Hebrew University, Jerusalem
 See my study “The Septuagint between Judaism and Christianity,” in Emanuel Tov, Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible, Qumran, Septuagint: Collected Essays, 449–70. It should also be mentioned that at a later stage Jerome rejected the LXX as a base for the Scripture reading in the church, replacing it between 390 and 405 CE with a Latin translation (the “Vulgate”) that was more faithful to the Hebrew text (of MT) than the LXX, and that in due course came to replace the LXX within the Catholic church.
Gary: So there you have it! The Septuagint was the preferred text of Greek-speaking Hellenized Jews. This was particularly the case, in Egypt where this Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible originated. The Septuagint was never the preferred text of Jews in Palestine. The Masoretic text was the preferred text of Jews in Palestine, going back centuries before Jesus.
Hellenized Jews in the diaspora, noticing problems in the LXX prior to the time of Jesus, decided to harmonize their Scriptures with the text used by Jews in Palestine [the proto-Masoretic text], making revisions to the Septuagint called the Theodotian, Aquila, and Symmachus translations which were closer to the Masoretic text. When Christians made the Septuagint their official text, Hellenized Jews completely abandoned this text.
Bottom line: There were multiple different texts of the Bible in use in first century Judaism during Jesus’ lifetime. We do not know which text Jesus used. The authors of the Gospels quoted the Septuagint, this is probably what led the early Church to select the Septuagint as it’s official version of the Old Testament (although Jerome would later change this, adopting the Latin Vulgate as the official version of the Church, a text derived from the MT).
So in the first century, Christians selected one text, the Septuagint, for their Old Testament while Jews unified around the Masoretic text, the text of the Pharisees and later rabbis. Neither side deceptively altered the texts.
12 thoughts on “Have Christians and Jews Been Falsely Accusing the Other of Altering the Hebrew Scriptures for the last 1900 years?”
I’m glad you came to that conclusion.
When the first blog entry came out about this, I said something like “where do these guys get the idea that the Jews changed their text so it didn’t point to Jesus?” (something like that).
I’m glad to see you’ve dug into this, and come to the same conclusion based on your own findings. We are in agreement about this, at least… 🙂
they did not change the scripture they changed their interrogation and the Greek translation,they did change that, fom LXX to Aquilla’s Tans.
Typical fundie, only you pet doctrines matter,
Gary “The Masoretic text was the preferred text of Jews in Palestine, going back centuries before Jesus.”
HinmanThe Masochist text did not exist u til the middle ages
“The Masoretic Text (MT, 𝕸, or ) is the authoritative Hebrew and Aramaic text of the Tanakh for Rabbinic Judaism. It was primarily copied, edited and distributed by a group of Jews known as the Masoretes between the 7th and 10th centuries CE. The oldest extant manuscripts date from around the 9th century.a”
Masoretic Text – Wikipedia
way after toe f Christ
GaryJews already began to see the LXX as problematic in the pre-Christian period, since it did not reflect the proto-MT text current in Palestine. This began a process of revision of the LXX towards the proto-Masoretic Text, reflected, for example, in such Jewish revisions as Theodotion (named kaige-Theodotion in modern research), Aquila (from Asia Minor, 125 C.E.), and Symmachus, in this sequence. As these new translations became more popular, the LXX translation gradually fell into disuse.
Hinman that only means there was a popular misconception because Hebrew parent Ms at Qumran are still much older, that does not change with popular opinion,
What is the dating of the “parent Ms at Qumran”?
a thousand years before the MT Answered more specifically in the material in my links.
You are missing the point.
Although the Masoretic Text was written circa 1000 CE, it’s parent text existed during the time of Jesus and even in the first century BCE. The earliest proto-Masoretic text found in the Judean desert dates to circa 50 BCE.
The scrolls at Qumran were based on a plurality of texts, not just the Hebrew parent of the Septuagint. The oldest Qumran scroll has been dated to circa 350 BCE.
So if you want to claim that the oldest existing scroll is a Septuagint or Septuagint parent text, you are probably right. But we have evidence of a proto-Masoretic text in existence before Jesus, so this text was not invented to eliminate “Jesus prophecies”. The proto-Masoretic text predates Jesus. Evidence shows that the Masoretic Text (1000 CE) and the proto-Masoretic texts (circa 50 BCE) agree at an accuracy rate of 98%!!!
With that kind of accuracy going forward, what was the accuracy going backward? If the text copied in 50 BCE was just as meticulously copied as all the texts for the next 1000 years, how many centuries back can we go and still assume that the proto-Masoretic text was still 98% accurate? We can’t say for sure, but I don’t think with that evidence you are going to convince most knowledgeable people that we can be certain that the Septuagint parent is older than the proto-Masoretic parent.
You previously said this: “…the translation of the LXX used a different set of Ms than that used latter in the MT. These are called the Hebrew Parent Text. These are what they are talking about when they say they found them at Qumran, Not actual Greek (the did have some) but mostly the Hebrew pattern of the LXX version, that’s what is a thousand years older than the MT.”
You are not mentioning the existence of the 25 scrolls found in the Judean desert, including at Masada, that are from an entirely different text than the parent text of the LXX. These texts are referred to as “proto-Masoretic” texts as they agree 98% with the Masoretic texts written 1,000 years later. Scholars believe it is safe to assume that the Masoretic text is the same text as those found in the Judean desert, the earliest copy being from circa 50 BCE. The oldest copy at Qumran is from circa 350 BCE.
So the real question is: Which Hebrew “parent” is older; the Hebrew parent of the LXX or the Hebrew parent of the Hebrew proto-MT? The fact that the oldest copy of any portion of the Hebrew Bible is from the Hebrew parent of the LXX does not prove that the LXX is the oldest text, nor, that the LXX was the original text (allegedly) written by Moses, Joshua, Jeremiah, Isaiah, et al..
Joe, you quoted this statement in a previous comment:
“The ‘biblical’ library of Qumran represents a fluid stage of the biblical text. Those documents show no influence of the rabbinic recension of the canon, the direct ancestor of the traditional Hebrew Bible. The scrolls help to place both the Pharisaic text and the canon in the era of Hillel, roughly the time of Jesus. In their selection of canonical books, the rabbis excluded those attributed to prophets or Patriarchs before Moses (e.g., the Enoch literature, works written in the name of Abraham and other Patriarchs). They traced the succession of prophets from Moses to figures of the Persian period. Late works were excluded, with the exception of Daniel, which, the rabbis presumably, attributed to the Persian period.”
This statement to me indicates that the author of this quote believes that the revisions of the Septuagint, such as the Aquila translation, are the ancestors of the modern Hebrew Bible. According to Professor Tov of Hebrew University, this statement is false. Professor Tov states that the current consensus of Bible scholars is that the parent of the modern Hebrew Bible was the proto-Masoretic text, a text for which we have absolute proof existed before Jesus. I don’t believe that Christians can prove that the revisions of the LXX were simply to erase “Jesus prophecies” since the revisions were to make the Septuagint more consistent with the proto-Masoretic text. There is no proof that I have seen yet that Jews edited Jesus out of their Bibles.
I meant the “proto-Masoretic text”.
You seem to be proceeding on the assumption that the major question is “do we want to use the MT or the LXX?” That is not the issue,no one advocates that,I brought LXX in where the messianic passages seem to contradict Hebrew. Only in that case do we need the LX.X