Why the Greek Septuagint?

INDEX:
*An Almost Accidental Discovery
*Is the Septuagint More Accurate?
*Who is Responsible for the Change to the Hebrew Text?
*Septuagint's Effect on Hebrew-based Bibles
*More Consistent with the NT
*Better Rendering of Dates
*How the Corrected Dates Align With Egypt's Historical Records
*How They Align With Other Recorded Dates
*Name Discrepancies
*Better Pronunciation of Names
*Better Poetry
*Which is the Better Text Source?
*Is the Septuagint Incomplete?
*The Changes We Have Made


An Almost Accidental Discovery

Understand that we didn't start out with the thought of creating an entire Bible, just with the intention of providing a more accurate and easier-to-read NT text. However, once that project was completed, we decided to go on and complete the OT portion. And we used the Septuagint text because:

Š No one here was qualified to translate the Hebrew and Aramaic texts (our expertise is ancient Greek)

Š We could find no accurate and easy-to-read English texts of the Septuagint, so we felt that providing one would offer another look at what Bible readers understood it to say more than two-thousand years ago.

But after starting this massive project, we were delighted with what we found. For although we had always believed that since the Hebrew and Aramaic texts were older, they were superior to the Greek texts, it soon became very clear that this isn't true. What we found was that the available copies of the Septuagint are in fact older than the available Masoretic texts. And as we were translating, we started to notice many significant errors in the existing Hebrew and Aramaic texts that have gone unnoticed by most people in western Christian religions (the Septuagint has always been the preferred text of the Eastern Orthodox religions).

Is the Septuagint More Accurate?

Understand that, as we have found errors in the Hebrew text, we have also found many errors in the Greek Septuagint text (they become clear in translating). Yet, as it has been pointed out to us many times; when we translate from the Greek text, all we are providing is a translation of a translation, for the Septuagint was a translation from the ancient Hebrew text to begin with. Therefore, the wording can be no more accurate than the abilities of the purported seventy Jewish scholars who each translated a portion of the Ancient Scriptures of Israel into Greek to create the Septuagint. Also, there are several versions of the Septuagint that are available today, between which we have found some very important differences.

However, we have also found that there are many major problems when it comes to the available Hebrew text, because the oldest versions of OT (those that are are found in 'the Dead Sea Scrolls' that date to the 1st Century BCE) read more like the Septuagint! So we must assume that the Hebrew text that the Septuagint translators used must have once read more like their translation of the Greek text.

An important thing to consider is that the Septuagint appears to have been the Bible of preference for the Apostle Paul and other early Christians… even Jesus seems to have quoted from it! And history shows that as late as the Fifth Century CE, it was the preferred Bible of all Christians. Also, modern Jewish scholars reject the Septuagint (although it was translated by Jewish scholars to begin with), because they view it as a 'Christian Bible'… which causes us to wonder why Christians ever got away from using this text that was so important to their predecessors and to Jesus' Apostles. For more information about the Septuagint and its sources, see the Wikipedia link 'Septuagint,' and also, 'Septuagint Ten Commandments.'

Who is Responsible for the Change to the Hebrew Text?

So, why are most western-religion Bibles based on the Masoretic text rather that the Septuagint? Notice this Wikipedia quotation under the topic, Old Testament: 'When Jerome undertook the revision of the Old Latin translations of the Septuagint in about 400 AD, he checked the Septuagint against the Hebrew text that was then available, and he came to believe that the Hebrew text better testified to Christ than the Septuagint. He broke with church tradition and translated most of the Old Testament of his Vulgate from Hebrew rather than Greek. His choice was severely criticized by Augustine, his contemporary, and others who regarded Jerome as a forger. But with the passage of time, acceptance of Jerome's version gradually increased in the West until it displaced the Old Latin translations of the Septuagint.'

So, were Jerome's reasons for preferring the Hebrew text to the Greek text based on fact? No, for if you examine it, you'll find that the opposite is true. Notice that the same commentary goes on to say: 'The Hebrew text differs in some passages that Christians hold to prophesy Christ.' Why did this happen? It is obvious that the Masoretic Jews were less interested in texts that prophesied about things that were fulfilled in Jesus.

So the reason why the Hebrew text is now preferred for translating the OT portion of most western Christian Bibles, is due to the mistake of Jerome. And because his early Latin translation then became the basis for the first English and Germanic Bibles, many have come to believe that the Hebrew text is superior to the Greek.

However, notice that even Jerome's Latin OT text is older than the current Masoretic texts that are used by modern translators, and that his Latin Bible also differs from those Masoretic texts. For although Jerome translated his bible around 400-CE, the Masoretes didn't come onto the scene until some 300 to 700 years later (see the Wikipedia reference, Masoretes). And notice that this is when they first inserted the Hebrew vowel points, which often differ in pronunciation from the Greek letters that are found in the much older Septuagint.

Septuagint's Effect on Hebrew-based Bibles

Few people (other than Bible translators) understand the profound effect that the Septuagint has had on western Masoretic-text Bibles. For even the names of many OT books (such as Genesis, Exodus, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Esther, etc.) are Greek pronunciations, not Hebrew. Also, many Bible names (such as Adam, Eve, David, etc.) show a Greek influence and pronunciation (see the Note Eue, Euan or Eve?). So the Septuagint has had a strong impact on western Christian Bibles even when the text has been translated from Hebrew or Aramaic.

More Consistent with the NT

So did First-Century Christians really quote from the Septuagint, not the Hebrew text? Well, either that or the Hebrew texts they used once read more like the Septuagint. Consider, for example, the content of the three following verses. One is from the Hebrew Text, the second is from the Septuagint, and the third is the way that the Christian martyr Stephen quoted that same text in the NT:

Amos 5:26 (Hebrew text): 'And will actually carry Sukkuth your king, and Kaiwan, your images, the star of your god, whom you made for yourselves.'

Amos 5:26 (Septuagint):
'But then you chose Molech's tent,
And the star of Raiphan as your gods

You made idols of them for yourselves!'

Acts 7:43 (Stephen): 'Rather, you took the images that you made for worship to the tent of Moloch and to the star of the god Rephan.'

So from Stephen's words at Acts 7:43, which rendering of Amos 5:26 does it look like he used, the current Hebrew text or the Septuagint? Judge for yourselves. Of course, there is a slight difference in the spelling of the name of the star (Raiphan and Rephan), but this is to be expected over hundreds of years.

And while speaking of stars; notice how even Jesus (when he was in heaven) seems to have preferred the wording of the Septuagint to the Hebrew texts. For at Revelation 22:16 he said of himself: 'I (Jesus) sent my messenger to [provide] you testimony about these things that are [coming] to the congregations. I am the root and the descendant of David… the bright morning star.'

Note that Jesus' words here seem to be a reference to the Septuagint rendering of Psalm 110:3, where David wrote under inspiration:
'You'll be sovereign in the day of your power,
And your holy ones will then shine.
For, since the time that you came from the womb,
I made you the [bright] morning star.'

Now, compare this to the way that the Hebrew-based text in the King James Bible renders the verse: 'Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth.'

So if Jesus was in fact quoting the Septuagint wording of the Psalms after he had gone to heaven, this is a very important thing to notice! But was he? Well, understand that Jesus always quoted OT texts to show that these prophecies were being fulfilled in him. And since Jesus mentioned David immediately before 'Morning Star' at Revelation 22:16, it appears as though he was quoting David's famous words about the Messiah as found at Psalm 110 and applying the words about the morning star to himself. Yet, notice that this reference to the morning star isn't found at all in current the Hebrew text, but it likely was in the ancient Hebrew text that the Septuagint translators used.

To read about a verse that appears to be wrong in both the Masoretic and Septuagint texts, see the Note, Captives and Gifts.

Better Rendering of Dates

Since we were busy translating the Septuagint and not looking at the corresponding Hebrew texts at the time, we were surprised when someone brought the fact to our attention that the Septuagint gives us much longer periods between the creation of Adam and the Downpour (see Genesis 5), as well as much longer periods between the Downpour and Abram's entering the land of CanaAn (see Genesis 11:10-26)… many hundreds of years! The reason for this appears to be that Masoretes didn't accept the long lifespans that their available OT texts gave before the conception of each child, so they simply deleted the word for one-hundred in several places. And this created some strangely-short periods (yes, even stranger than the long life spans) in the Bible's record of the early growth and expansion of mankind on the earth.

For example, notice that most western Bible translations show that there were only 67 years from the time of the Downpour to the birth of Shem's great-great-grandson Heber (Eber). However in the meantime, Noah's great-grandson Nimrod was already building Babylon and several other cities (see Genesis 10:6-12). So, where did all the people come from to inhabit those cities in less than 67 years? Obviously, there is something very wrong with the Masoretic text, and the Septuagint is right in adding hundreds of years to this period.

Also, the Septuagint adds another generation in the list of names between Noah and Heber, that of Kainan. This adds another 397 years from the time of the end of the downpour to the birth of Heber, which is much more reasonable and more consistent with secular history… and the added hundreds of years allows much more time for the growth in earth's population.

Was there actually a man named Kainan whose name was deleted from the Masoretic text? YES! Notice Luke's listing of the genealogy of Mary's husband Joseph, as found at Luke 3:35, 36: 'of Serug, of Reu, of Peleg, of Eber, of SheLah, of Kainan, of ArPachShad, of Shem, of Noah, of Lamech.' So if you trust the Gospel of Luke, there really was a Kainan, and the Masoretic text is WRONG!

Could the addition of this name have been a scribal error in the Septuagint that was repeated by Luke (who also used the Septuagint), as some claim? For a fact, there are other Kainans listed in the Bible. One was a great-grandson of Adam and another was a grandson of Noah through Shem (not to be confused with CanaAn, the son of Ham, who was cursed by Noah). So, Kainan appears to have been a common name at the time. However, notice that this Kainan was (according to the Septuagint) a son of Arphaxad, and he was the grandfather of Heber (from whom the Hebrews descended), who in turn was the great-great-grandfather of AbraHam. So you can see that he was from a completely different line than the other Kainan (grandson of Noah), and since he is an important ancestor in the line of the IsraElites, he should never have been deleted!

Note that most scholars agree that the Kenites (Moses' first wife was a Kenite) who originally lived in the Promised Land and were relatives of the IsraElites, descended from a man named Kainan, who is likely the same Kainan that is spoken of at Genesis 11:12 in the Septuagint. So it appears as though this deleted Kainan had an entire documented race of descendants! For more information, see the Note Kainan.

Is there any archeological proof that the ages given in the Masoretic Text are wrong? Yes! Consider what the BBC article, 'The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah' by Jessica Cecil, has to say: 'Carbon dating [for the destruction of what are believed to be Sodom and Gomorrah] put the date of [their] beams (which have to be older than the cities' destruction) at 2350 BC - the early Bronze Age.' Notice that this scientifically-accurate dating method puts the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah much earlier than the current Masoretic texts would suggest (hundreds of years)!

You can see how close this comes to what the Septuagint genealogical records indicate was the lifetime of AbraHam (who lived during the destruction of those cities). For according to our calculations based on the Septuagint text, he lived between 2375-BCE and 2200-BCE. So the radio-carbon dating of Sodom and Gomorrah lines up precisely with the Septuagint's figures (if you understand that according to archaeologists, radiocarbon dating for that period is accurate to plus or minus 100 years). But if you use the ages of the patriarchs and the genealogies as found in the Masoretic text of Genesis, Sodom's destruction could only have happened somewhere in the 1600s or 1500s BCE (or even LATER)… which reliable science has proven wrong! And note that it's because of these mistakes in the Masoretic texts that archeologists tell us that the Bible got it wrong (it didn't)!

How the Corrected Dates Align With Egypt's Historical Records

Also, look at how close our estimates of the Septuagint's date for the year of the Downpour (3242-BCE) aligns with the dates suggested by archeologists for the start of the First Egyptian Dynasty (3050-BCE – see the Wikipedia link, 'Menes'). It appears as though this first king of Egypt is the one that both the Bible Hebrew and Greek texts called Noah's grandson Mesrain, who was the progenitor of their race (see Genesis 10:13, 14)! And according to the research article Balashon - Hebrew Language Detective, the Egyptians were called the Mitzrayim (descendants of Mesrain or Menes) by the Babylonians and Jews as late as the 6th Century BCE!

Also notice how our first adjusted date for the creation of Adam (5504-BCE) according to the Septuagint aligns closely with the beginning of the supposed Pharaohs (kings) of the Pre-dynastic Period (5550-BCE)! In addition, after working out our calculations over several months, we were surprised to find that our calculations differ by just 5 years from the Byzantine calendar, which sets the date of Adam's creation at 5509-BCE.

You can also see that in the official timeline of the Pharaohs, Egyptologists list as many as thirteen kings in the Egyptian pre-Dynastic Period. And according to the Septuagint, Mesrain had twelve ancestors (during that same 2,500 years or so) that led back to Adam! So the adjusted Septuagint Bible dates and the genealogies match those given by Egyptologists without any gerrymandering!

Note that we have deviated from common Bible chronologies that set the date of the Exodus much later and associate the Egyptian king with whom Moses dealt as being Ramesses I (1292-1290 BCE), because this is an impossibility! Rather, the bulk of Biblical and historical evidence seems to prove that Ahmose was most likely the PharaOh of the Exodus. To find out why we can confidently say this, please see the linked document, Which Was the Pharaoh of the Exodus?

If you're wondering why we trust the Bible's chronology and dating of such things, you've probably wandered into this web page by mistake. For it's impossible to call oneself a 'Jew' if you don't believe in your ancestors or a 'Christian' if you don't believe in the people, places, and events of which Jesus taught. For more information see the linked document, 'The Bible's Internal Proofs of its Authentic History.'

How They Align With Other Recorded Dates

It is also interesting to note that the much-argued radiocarbon dating for the destruction of the ancient city of Jericho (which has been used to prove that the Bible's chronology is flawed) works in well with the 1500-BCE period that we have estimated for the Exodus. For the Bible tells us that Jericho fell forty years after IsraEl left Egypt, which our calculations put as happening in the early 15th or the late 16th Century BCE See the Wikipedia article 'Jericho' under the subheading, Bronze Age).

In addition, consider the fact that archaeologists say that the Chinese civilization can be traced back some 5,000 years. And while Bible chronology using the Masoretic text sets the Downpour (global flood) at about 4,350 years ago, the chronology from the Septuagint sets it closer to 5,200 years ago, which (as you can see) works better with the dating of archaeologists and the historical records.

Consider too the calendars of the Mayans. Notice that according to their mythology, there have been five ages, the fifth of which ended on December 23rd 2012 (when many people expected 'the end of time'). And according to the Mayan calendar, the fourth age ended by water (the Flood of the time of Noah?) in 3113-BCE. Yes, that is off from our calculations of the date of the Downpour, but by only 104 years! So, how many witnesses have to be provided in order to prove the Masoretic text to be in error?

A fairly recent find, 'Otzi,' the ancient almost-complete body of 'the ice man' that was discovered frozen into the glacial ice in the Italian Alps, has been radio-carbon dated to have lived about 5,000 years ago. Yet, every indication is that he died there after the Great Downpour of Noah's day, since his DNA shows that he is closely related to the people who still live in that part of Italy.

But can we trust the radio-carbon dating? Yes, because there is good scientific evidence of its accuracy up to 5,000 years ago. However much beyond that it can't be trusted, because (as those who do such dating admit), the creation of radiocarbon has been proven to be inconsistent through the years due to atmospheric changes (changes in the amount of hard radiation reaching the earth's surface). Therefore, the pre-flood atmospheric conditions would have greatly skewed the results, thus lengthening the periods prior to that time. So we do believe that 'Otzi,' probably lived and died shortly after the time of Noah, as calculated from the corrected Bible record… which has to be at least 5,000 years ago, not 4,350 as indicated by the Masoretic text.

Name Discrepancies

Something that was recently brought to our attention, is there appears to be a discrepancy between the names found at Matthew 23:35 and Second Chronicles 24:20. The account in Matthew reads, 'And then you will become responsible for all the righteous blood that was spilled on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of ZechariAh (the son of BarachiAh), whom you murdered between the Holy Place and the Altar.'

However, the account in Second Chronicles says that ZechariAh's father was JehoiAda (check your own Bible).

Then, when we compared the available Aramaic text of Matthew, we found the same names (with spelling variations) as in the Greek text of Matthew, and that ZechariAh's father was in fact BarachiAh (we trust the Aramaic text of Matthew more than the current Greek text). Also, ZechariAh himself said his father's name was BarachiAh, at Zechariah 1:1. So we trust the name of ZechariAh's father as it is shown in Matthew's account.

Then why the discrepancy? Well, the Septuagint seems to be speaking of other people at Second Chronicles 24:20, for there it says: 'Then the Breath of God came over AzariAh the Priest (who was JehoiAda's son)!'

So, why does the Hebrew Bible text of Second Chronicles 24:20 say that ZechariAh's father was JehoiAda? Notice that the Septuagint (Greek text) says there, 'Then the Breath of God came over AzariAh the Priest (who was JehoiAda's son)…' As you can see, it is quite evident that there is an error in the Hebrew-based text that is corrected in the Septuagint. For it wasn't the Prophet ZechariAh that was speaking, but the Priest AzariAh… who was the son of JehoiAda. And ZechariAh's father was truly BarachiAh.

We also find the Septuagint's rendering of Genesis 2:8-15 (that there was no 'Garden of Eden,' but it was called the 'Paradise of Delights,' and it was located on 'the east side of the Land of Edem') far more likely (see the account and the linked Notes). And there are many other scriptures where we've found reasons to trust the Septuagint text… but then again, we've also found many obvious errors in the Greek text.

Better Pronunciation of Names

One of the things you will notice in your reading of the Septuagint, is that many names and their pronunciations are quite different from what we find in Hebrew-based texts… but then, many modern spellings of Bible names also differ from what we find in the NT Greek texts. However, when it comes to the spelling of Hebrew names; recognize that due to its lack of vowels and the many years that have elapsed since ancient Hebrew was spoken, no one really knows how most words and names were originally pronounced. Yet in the Septuagint, we can see how Hebrew-speaking Jews thought they should be pronounced in Greek more than two-thousand years ago, so there is more reason to trust the Greek pronunciations. In certain instances, you will find names totally changed (as in the names of the kings of Persia that are found in Ezra Chapter Four); but these were apparently what the Jews called those kings in their land in the Third Century BCE, when the Septuagint was translated.

An example that involves a difference in the name of a land or country is found in the book of Job. For at Job 1:1 in the Septuagint, we read that Job lived in the land of the Ausitidi; but in the Hebrew text it says that he was from the land of Uz. Why the difference? Because the name of the land had probably changed by the time that the Greek text was translated. For more information, see the Note 'Job.'

You will notice that we have changed the spelling of many common names to more closely reflect how they were actually pronounced when the Septuagint was being translated (for those who are interested), to give you some idea of what those names may have meant to ancient Jews. We realize that this will be unpopular with those who prefer familiarity to accuracy, but these changes should have been made by Bible translators hundreds of years ago (for more information, see the Note, 'Capitals in Bible Names').

Better Poetry

The interesting thing that we've found while translating many of the OT books, is that many were written as poetry. This is true of the books of Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon. And wherever God or His spokesman was speaking in the books of the Prophets, the words were also spoken poetically… and this can still be clearly seen in the Greek text! Yet when we compare the same verses in modern translations of the Hebrew text, we usually find clunky, difficult wording that could never be fit into what is obviously the original poetry, and which often makes no sense at all. However, we have found that rendering the words poetically really makes a difference; for where we find that a song or Divine poetic statement doesn't follow a clear order and rhythm, we are led to suspect that something may have been lost in translation and we are prompted to do more research.

Which is the Better Text Source?

We recently read an online commentary about this Bible in which the writer called our selecting the Septuagint for its source as foolish. For he asked: 'What will they do when they get to the book of Isaiah where the text is totally different from what is found in the Hebrew text?'

In reply, we ask: 'What about the Proverbs?' The text there is also quite different from the Hebrew, and it makes more sense! So, which should we trust as being right? We are currently leaning toward the Septuagint, for the natural rhythm of the Greek text in the Proverbs shows that it more closely reflects the original writing of Solomon, which was obviously done as poetry.

Also, our translating of the book of Isaiah seems to make more sense than what we find in popular Hebrew texts, and this raises the question: Could it be that this most maligned Greek text is more accurate than its Hebrew counterpart? If so, this could change the meaning of some of the most important prophecies of the Bible.

Is the Septuagint Incomplete?

We know that some Hebrew scholars claim that the Septuagint was an incomplete work and that it originally only contained the Pentateuch (Genesis through Deuteronomy). They also say that the rest of the books were a First-Century Christian fabrication, which was developed just to slander the Jews. However, we have found no words condemning Israel and the Jews that aren't also found in the Hebrew/Aramaic texts, and since Jesus and Paul appear to have quoted other OT texts from the Septuagint, it seems clear that these claims are untrue. Also, the fact that the majority of early 1st Century Christians were Jews who are known to have had great respect for the Law and the earlier writings that are now referred to as 'the Old Testament,' proves such conclusions to be illogical and unfounded.

Look at the name of this work… Septuagint (the Seventy). The reason why the ancient Jews gave it this name is because it was created by seventy Jewish scholars who translated all 37 Bible OT Bible books. And even if it were possible for such claims to be true (that the Septuagint originally only covered the Pentateuch and the remaining books were copied by Christians), the rest of the Septuagint books still represent texts that are older than those which are currently available to us in Hebrew, and we have no reason to trust Jewish Traditionalist scribes more than Jewish Christian scribes.

The Changes We Have Made

The fact is, in our translating we have found numerous obvious errors in both the Greek and Hebrew texts. Some are misspelled names; others are scribal notes that were included as text but shouldn't have been; we have found portions or words that were copied from the wrong line, and we have found major differences in chronology between the Hebrew and Greek texts. We can say this with surety, because the errors are so obvious. Also, there is enough redundancy in the Bible and we have many 1st Century quotations of OT texts, so it is fairly easy to see where errors or insertions were made. In addition, we have two different texts to compare against each other, the Greek and the Masoretic, so where we find differences, we have been prompted to do more research.

Understand that we haven't made any changes in secret, for we have included extensive linked Notes that explain in detail why we have made such changes, and where someone has written to disagree with it, we have included their comments.

You will also notice that for the purpose of helping readers who are familiar with the order found in American Protestant-religion Bibles (e.g. King James), we have chosen the same names, order, and numbering of the books of Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, and Psalms, as they are found in their Bibles.

It is true that most current English copies of the Septuagint include the Apocryphal books. We have examined them, and although we agree that they may provide some valuable insights into Jewish history, we have concluded that they are uninspired writings, because they do not harmonize with the rest of the Bible. So although we have a person who has volunteered to work on this for us, we have not made the project a priority.

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