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Codex Vaticanus (1 Esdras 1-55 to 2-5) (The S.S. Teacher's Edition-The Holy Bible).jpg
Fragment of a Septuagint: A column of uncial book from 1 Esdras in the Codex Vaticanus c. 325–350 CE, the basis of Sir Lancelot Charles Lee Brenton's Greek edition and English translation
Also known as
Datec. 3rd century BCE
Language(s)Koine Greek

The Greek Old Testament, or Septuagint (from the Latin: septuāgintā, lit. 'seventy'; often abbreviated 70; in Roman numerals, LXX), is the earliest extant Koine Greek translation of books from the Hebrew Bible, various biblical apocrypha, and deuterocanonical books.[1] The first five books of the Hebrew Bible, known as the Torah or the Pentateuch, were translated in the mid-3rd century BCE; they did not survive as original translation texts, however, except as rare fragments.[2] The remaining books of the Greek Old Testament are presumably translations from 200 BCE to 50 CE.[3][4][5]

The full title (Ancient Greek: Ἡ μετάφρασις τῶν Ἑβδομήκοντα, lit. 'The Translation of the Seventy') derives from the story recorded in the Letter of Aristeas that the Hebrew Torah was translated into Greek at the request of Ptolemy II Philadelphus (285–247 BCE) by 70 Jewish scholars or, according to later tradition, 72: six scholars from each of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, who independently produced identical translations. The miraculous character of the Aristeas legend might indicate the esteem and disdain in which the translation was held at the time; Greek translations of Hebrew scriptures were in circulation among the Alexandrian Jews.[6] Egyptian papyri from the period have led most scholars to view as probable Aristeas' dating of the translation of the Pentateuch to the third century BCE. Whatever share the Ptolemaic court may have had in the translation, it satisfied a need felt by the Jewish community (in whom the knowledge of Hebrew was waning among the demands of every-day life).[7]

Greek scriptures were in wide use by the time of Jesus and Paul of Tarsus (early Christianity) because most Christian proselytes, God-fearers, and other gentile sympathizers of Hellenistic Judaism could not read Hebrew. The text of the Greek Old Testament is quoted more often than the original Hebrew Bible text in the Greek New Testament[8][2] (particularly the Pauline epistles)[9] by the Apostolic Fathers, and later by the Greek Church Fathers. Modern critical editions of the Greek Old Testament are based on the Codices Alexandrinus, Sinaiticus, and Vaticanus. The fourth- and fifth-century Greek Old Testament manuscripts have different lengths, so there is no single Septuagint canon. The Codex Alexandrinus, for example, contains all four books of the Maccabees; the Codex Sinaiticus contains 1 and 4 Maccabees, and the Codex Vaticanus contains none of the four books.


"Septuagint" is derived from the Latin phrase versio septuaginta interpretum ("translation of the seventy interpreters"), which was derived from the Ancient Greek: Ἡ μετάφρασις τῶν Ἑβδομήκοντα, romanizedhē metáphrasis tōn hebdomḗkonta, lit. 'The Translation of the Seventy'.[10] It was not until the time of Augustine of Hippo (354–430 CE) that the Greek translation of the Jewish scriptures was called by the Latin term Septuaginta.[11] The Roman numeral LXX (seventy) is commonly used as an abbreviation, in addition to [12] or G.


Jewish legend[edit]

Fragment of a Greek manuscript
Beginning of the Letter of Aristeas to Philocrates (Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, 11th century)

According to the legend, seventy-two Jewish scholars were asked by Ptolemy II Philadelphus, the Greek king of Egypt, to translate the Torah from Biblical Hebrew to Greek for inclusion in the Library of Alexandria.[13] This narrative is found in the pseudepigraphic Letter of Aristeas to his brother Philocrates,[14] and is repeated by Philo of Alexandria, Josephus (in Antiquities of the Jews),[15] and by later sources (including Augustine of Hippo).[16] It is also found in the Tractate Megillah of the Babylonian Talmud:

King Ptolemy once gathered 72 Elders. He placed them in 72 chambers, each of them in a separate one, without revealing to them why they were summoned. He entered each one's room and said: "Write for me the Torah of Moshe, your teacher". God put it in the heart of each one to translate identically as all the others did.[17]

Philo of Alexandria, who relied extensively on the Septuagint,[2][better source needed] writes that the number of scholars was chosen by selecting six scholars from each of the twelve tribes of Israel. According to later rabbinic tradition (which considered the Greek translation as a distortion of sacred text and unsuitable for use in the synagogue), the Septuagint was given to Ptolemy two days before the annual Tenth of Tevet fast.[2][18]


The 3rd century BCE is supported for the Torah translation by a number of factors, including its Greek being representative of early Koine Greek, citations beginning as early as the 2nd century BCE, and early manuscripts datable to the 2nd century.[19] After the Torah, other books were translated over the next two to three centuries. It is unclear which was translated when, or where; some may have been translated twice (into different versions), and then revised.[20] The quality and style of the translators varied considerably from book to book, from a literal translation to paraphrasing to an interpretative style.

The translation process of the Septuagint and from the Septuagint into other versions can be divided into several stages, during which the translators' social milieu shifted from Hellenistic Judaism to Early Christianity. The translation began during the 3rd century BCE and was completed by 132 BCE,[21][22] initially in Alexandria but elsewhere as well.[10] The Septuagint is the basis of the Old Latin, Slavonic, Syriac, Old Armenian, Old Georgian, and Coptic versions of the Christian Old Testament.[23]


The Septuagint is written in Koine Greek. Some sections contain Semiticisms, idioms and phrases based on Semitic languages such as Hebrew and Aramaic.[24] Other books, such as Daniel and Proverbs, have a stronger Greek influence.[13]

The Septuagint may also clarify pronunciation of pre-Masoretic Hebrew; many proper nouns are spelled with Greek vowels in the translation, but contemporary Hebrew texts lacked vowel pointing. However, it is unlikely that all biblical-Hebrew sounds had precise Greek equivalents.[25]

Canonical differences[edit]

As the translation progressed, the canon of the Greek Bible expanded. The Hebrew Bible, also called the Tanakh, has three parts: the Torah (law), the Nevi'im (prophets), and the Ketuvim (writings). The Septuagint has four: law, history, poetry, and prophets. The books of the Apocrypha were inserted at appropriate locations.[5]

Extant copies (dating from the 4th century CE) of the Septuagint contain books and additions[26] which are not present in the Hebrew Bible (not found in the Palestinian Jewish canon),[27] and are not uniform in their contents. According to some scholars, the original Septuagint did not include these additional books.[28][29][3] These copies of the Septuagint include books known as anagignoskomena in Greek and in English as deuterocanon (derived from the Greek words for "second canon"), books not included in the Jewish canon.[30][31]

These books are estimated to have been written between 200 BCE and 50 CE. Among them are the first two books of Maccabees; Tobit; Judith; the Wisdom of Solomon; Sirach; Baruch (including the Letter of Jeremiah), and additions to Esther and Daniel. The Septuagint version of some books, such as Daniel and Esther, are longer than those in the Masoretic Text.[32] The Septuagint Book of Jeremiah is shorter than the Masoretic Text.[33] The Psalms of Solomon, 3 Maccabees, 4 Maccabees, the Epistle of Jeremiah, the Book of Odes, the Prayer of Manasseh and Psalm 151 are included in some copies of the Septuagint.[34]

Several reasons have been given for the rejection of the Septuagint as scriptural by mainstream rabbinic Judaism since Late Antiquity. Differences between the Hebrew and the Greek were found.[2] The Hebrew source texts in some cases (particularly the Book of Daniel) used for the Septuagint differed from the Masoretic tradition of Hebrew texts, which were affirmed as canonical by the rabbis. The rabbis also wanted to distinguish their tradition from the emerging tradition of Christianity, which frequently used the Septuagint.[2] As a result of these teachings, other translations of the Torah into Koine Greek by early Jewish rabbis have survived only as rare fragments.

The Septuagint became synonymous with the Greek Old Testament, a Christian canon incorporating the books of the Hebrew canon with additional texts. Although the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches include most of the books in the Septuagint in their canons, Protestant churches usually do not. After the Protestant Reformation, many Protestant Bibles began to follow the Jewish canon and exclude the additional texts (which came to be called the Apocrypha) as noncanonical.[35][36][37] The Apocrypha are included under a separate heading in the King James version of the Bible.[38]

Deuterocanonical and apocryphal books in the Septuagint
Greek name[10][39][40] Transliteration English name
Προσευχὴ Μανασσῆ Proseuchē Manassē Prayer of Manasseh
Ἔσδρας Αʹ 1 Esdras 1 Esdras or 1 Ezra
Τωβίτ (called Τωβείτ or Τωβίθ in some sources) Tōbit (or Tōbeit or Tōbith) Tobit
Ἰουδίθ Ioudith Judith
Ἐσθήρ Esthēr Esther (with additions)
Μακκαβαίων Αʹ 1 Makkabaiōn 1 Maccabees
Μακκαβαίων Βʹ 2 Makkabaiōn 2 Maccabees
Μακκαβαίων Γʹ 3 Makkabaiōn 3 Maccabees
Μακκαβαίων Δ' Παράρτημα 4 Makkabaiōn Parartēma 4 Maccabees[41]
Ψαλμός ΡΝΑʹ Psalmos 151 Psalm 151
Σοφία Σαλoμῶντος Sophia Salomōntos Wisdom or Wisdom of Solomon
Σοφία Ἰησοῦ Σειράχ Sophia Iēsou Seirach Sirach or Wisdom of Sirach
Βαρούχ Barouch Baruch
Ἐπιστολὴ Ἰερεμίου Epistolē Ieremiou Epistle or Letter of Jeremiah
Δανιήλ Daniēl Daniel (with additions)
Ψαλμοί Σαλoμῶντος Psalmoi Salomōntos Psalms of Solomon[a]

Final form[edit]

All the books in Western Old Testament biblical canons are found in the Septuagint, although the order does not always coincide with the Western book order. The Septuagint order is evident in the earliest Christian Bibles, which were written during the fourth century.[13]

Some books which are set apart in the Masoretic Text are grouped together. The Books of Samuel and the Books of Kings are one four-part book entitled Βασιλειῶν (Of Reigns) in the Septuagint. The Books of Chronicles supplement Reigns, known as Παραλειπομένων (Of Things Left Out). The Septuagint organizes the minor prophets in its twelve-part Book of Twelve.[13]

Some ancient scriptures are found in the Septuagint, but not in the Hebrew Bible. The additional books are Tobit; Judith; the Wisdom of Solomon; Wisdom of Jesus son of Sirach; Baruch and the Letter of Jeremiah, which became chapter six of Baruch in the Vulgate; additions to Daniel (The Prayer of Azarias, the Song of the Three Children, Susanna, and Bel and the Dragon); additions to Esther; 1 Maccabees; 2 Maccabees; 3 Maccabees; 4 Maccabees; 1 Esdras; Odes (including the Prayer of Manasseh); the Psalms of Solomon, and Psalm 151.

Fragments of deuterocanonical books in Hebrew are among the Dead Sea Scrolls found at Qumran. Sirach, whose text in Hebrew was already known from the Cairo Geniza, has been found in two scrolls (2QSir or 2Q18, 11QPs_a or 11Q5) in Hebrew. Another Hebrew scroll of Sirach has been found in Masada (MasSir).[43]:597 Five fragments from the Book of Tobit have been found in Qumran: four written in Aramaic and one written in Hebrew (papyri 4Q, nos. 196-200).[43]:636 Psalm 151 appears with a number of canonical and non-canonical psalms in the Dead Sea scroll 11QPs(a) (also known as 11Q5), a first-century-CE scroll discovered in 1956.[44] The scroll contains two short Hebrew psalms, which scholars agree were the basis for Psalm 151.[43]:585–586 The canonical acceptance of these books varies by Christian tradition.

Theodotion's translation[edit]

In the most ancient copies of the Bible which contain the Septuagint version of the Old Testament, the Book of Daniel is not the original Septuagint version but a copy of Theodotion's translation from the Hebrew which more closely resembles the Masoretic text. The Septuagint version was discarded in favor of Theodotion's version in the 2nd to 3rd centuries CE. In Greek-speaking areas, this happened near the end of the 2nd century; in Latin-speaking areas (at least in North Africa), it occurred in the middle of the 3rd century. The reason for this is unknown. Several Old Greek texts of the Book of Daniel have been discovered, and the original form of the book is being reconstructed.[13]


Jewish use[edit]

The pre-Christian Jews Philo and Josephus considered the Septuagint equal to the Hebrew text.[13][45] Manuscripts of the Septuagint have been found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, and were thought to have been in use among Jews at the time.

Several factors led most Jews to abandon the Septuagint around the second century CE. The earliest gentile Christians used the Septuagint out of necessity, since it was the only Greek version of the Bible and most (if not all) of these early non-Jewish Christians could not read Hebrew. The association of the Septuagint with a rival religion may have made it suspect in the eyes of the newer generation of Jews and Jewish scholars.[23] Jews instead used Hebrew or Aramaic Targum manuscripts later compiled by the Masoretes and authoritative Aramaic translations, such as those of Onkelos and Rabbi Yonathan ben Uziel.[46]

Perhaps most significant for the Septuagint, as distinct from other Greek versions, was that the Septuagint began to lose Jewish sanction after differences between it and contemporary Hebrew scriptures were discovered. Even Greek-speaking Jews tended to prefer other Jewish versions in Greek (such as the translation by Aquila), which seemed to be more concordant with contemporary Hebrew texts.[23]

Christian use[edit]

The Early Christian church used the Greek texts,[2] since Greek was a lingua franca of the Roman Empire at the time and the language of the Greco-Roman Church while Aramaic was the language of Syriac Christianity. The relationship between the apostolic use of the Septuagint and the Hebrew texts is complicated. Although the Septuagint seems to have been a major source for the Apostles, it is not the only one. St. Jerome offered, for example, Matthew 2:15 and 2:23, John 19:37, John 7:38, and 1 Corinthians 2:9[47] as examples found in Hebrew texts but not in the Septuagint. Matthew 2:23 is not present in current Masoretic tradition either; according to Jerome, however, it was in Isaiah 11:1. The New Testament writers, freely used the Greek translation when citing the Jewish scriptures (or quoting Jesus doing so), implying that Jesus, his apostles, and their followers considered it reliable.[9][24][2]

In the early Christian Church, the presumption that the Septuagint was translated by Jews before the time of Christ and that it lends itself more to a Christological interpretation than 2nd-century Hebrew texts in certain places was taken as evidence that "Jews" had changed the Hebrew text in a way that made it less Christological. Irenaeus writes about Isaiah 7:14 that the Septuagint clearly identifies a "virgin" (Greek παρθένος; bethulah in Hebrew) who would conceive.[48] The word almah in the Hebrew text was, according to Irenaeus, interpreted by Theodotion and Aquila (Jewish converts), as a "young woman" who would conceive. Again according to Irenaeus, the Ebionites used this to claim that Joseph was the biological father of Jesus. To him that was heresy facilitated by late anti-Christian alterations of the scripture in Hebrew, as evident by the older, pre-Christian Septuagint.[49]

Jerome broke with church tradition, translating most of the Old Testament of his Vulgate from Hebrew rather than Greek. His choice was sharply criticized by Augustine, his contemporary.[50] Although Jerome argued for the superiority of the Hebrew texts in correcting the Septuagint on philological and theological grounds, because he was accused of heresy he also acknowledged the Septuagint texts.[51] Acceptance of Jerome's version increased, and it displaced the Septuagint's Old Latin translations.[23]

The Eastern Orthodox Church prefers to use the Septuagint as the basis for translating the Old Testament into other languages, and uses the untranslated Septuagint where Greek is the liturgical language. Critical translations of the Old Testament which use the Masoretic Text as their basis consult the Septuagint and other versions to reconstruct the meaning of the Hebrew text when it is unclear, corrupted, or ambiguous.[23] According to the New Jerusalem Bible foreword, "Only when this (the Masoretic Text) presents insuperable difficulties have emendations or other versions, such as the ... LXX, been used."[52] The translator's preface to the New International Version reads, "The translators also consulted the more important early versions (including) the Septuagint ... Readings from these versions were occasionally followed where the MT seemed doubtful ..."[53]

Textual history[edit]

Greek name[10][39][b] Transliteration English name
Γένεσις Genesis Genesis
Ἔξοδος Exodos Exodus
Λευϊτικόν Leuitikon Leviticus
Ἀριθμοί Arithmoi Numbers
Δευτερονόμιον Deuteronomion Deuteronomy
Ἰησοῦς Nαυῆ Iēsous Nauē Joshua
Κριταί Kritai Judges
Ῥούθ Routh Ruth
Βασιλειῶν Αʹ[c] 1 Basileiōn Kings I (I Samuel)
Βασιλειῶν Βʹ 2 Basileiōn Kings II (II Samuel)
Βασιλειῶν Γʹ 3 Basileiōn Kings III (I Kings)
Βασιλειῶν Δʹ 4 Basileiōn Kings IV (2 Kings)
Παραλειπομένων Αʹ 1 Paraleipomenōn[d] Chronicles I
Παραλειπομένων Βʹ 2 Paraleipomenōn Chronicles II
Ἔσδρας Αʹ 1 Esdras Esdras I
Ἔσδρας Βʹ 2 Esdras Esdras II (Ezra-Nehemiah)
Τωβίτ[e] Tōbit[f] Tobit
Ἰουδίθ Ioudith Judith
Ἐσθήρ Esthēr Esther with additions
Μακκαβαίων Αʹ 1 Makkabaiōn Maccabees I
Μακκαβαίων Βʹ 2 Makkabaiōn Maccabees II
Μακκαβαίων Γʹ 3 Makkabaiōn Maccabees III
Ψαλμοί Psalmoi Psalms
Ψαλμός ΡΝΑʹ Psalmos 151 Psalm 151
Προσευχὴ Μανασσῆ Proseuchē Manassē Prayer of Manasseh
Ἰώβ Iōb Job
Παροιμίαι Paroimiai Proverbs
Ἐκκλησιαστής Ekklēsiastēs Ecclesiastes
Ἆσμα Ἀσμάτων Asma Asmatōn Song of Songs or Song of Solomon or Canticle of Canticles
Σοφία Σαλoμῶντος Sophia Salomōntos Wisdom or Wisdom of Solomon
Σοφία Ἰησοῦ Σειράχ Sophia Iēsou Seirach Sirach or Ecclesiasticus
Ψαλμοί Σαλoμῶντος Psalmoi Salomōntos Psalms of Solomon[a]
Δώδεκα Dōdeka Minor Prophets
Ὡσηέ Αʹ I. Hōsēe Hosea
Ἀμώς Βʹ II. Āmōs Amos
Μιχαίας Γʹ III. Michaias Micah
Ἰωήλ Δʹ IV. Iōēl Joel
Ὀβδιού Εʹ[g] V. Obdiou Obadiah
Ἰωνᾶς Ϛ' VI. Iōnas Jonah
Ναούμ Ζʹ VII. Naoum Nahum
Ἀμβακούμ Ηʹ VIII. Ambakoum Habakkuk
Σοφονίας Θʹ IX. Sophonias Zephaniah
Ἀγγαῖος Ιʹ X. Angaios Haggai
Ζαχαρίας ΙΑʹ XI. Zacharias Zachariah
Μαλαχίας ΙΒʹ XII. Malachias Malachi
Ἠσαΐας Ēsaias Isaiah
Ἱερεμίας Hieremias Jeremiah
Βαρούχ Barouch Baruch
Θρῆνοι Thrēnoi Lamentations
Ἐπιστολὴ Ἰερεμίου Epistolē Ieremiou Letter of Jeremiah
Ἰεζεκιήλ Iezekiēl Ezekiel
Δανιήλ Daniēl Daniel with additions
Μακκαβαίων Δ' Παράρτημα 4 Makkabaiōn Parartēma 4 Maccabees[h]

Textual analysis[edit]

Diagram of relationships between manuscripts
The inter-relationship between significant ancient Old Testament manuscripts (some identified by their siglum). LXX denotes the original Septuagint.

Modern scholarship holds that the Septuagint was written from the 3rd through the 1st centuries BCE, but nearly all attempts at dating specific books (except for the Pentateuch, early- to mid-3rd century BCE) are tentative.[13] Later Jewish revisions and recensions of the Greek against the Hebrew are well-attested. The best-known are Aquila (128 CE), Symmachus, and Theodotion. These three, to varying degrees, are more-literal renderings of their contemporary Hebrew scriptures compared to the Old Greek (the original Septuagint). Modern scholars consider one (or more) of the three to be new Greek versions of the Hebrew Bible.

Although much of Origen's Hexapla (a six-version critical edition of the Hebrew Bible) is lost, several compilations of fragments are available. Origen kept a column for the Old Greek (the Septuagint), which included readings from all the Greek versions in a critical apparatus with diacritical marks indicating to which version each line (Gr. στίχος) belonged. Perhaps the Hexapla was never copied in its entirety, but Origen's combined text was copied frequently (eventually without the editing marks) and the older uncombined text of the Septuagint was neglected. The combined text was the first major Christian recension of the Septuagint, often called the Hexaplar recension. Two other major recensions were identified in the century following Origen by Jerome, who attributed these to Lucian (the Lucianic, or Antiochene, recension) and Hesychius (the Hesychian, or Alexandrian, recension).[13]


The oldest manuscripts of the Septuagint include 2nd-century-BCE fragments of Leviticus and Deuteronomy (Rahlfs nos. 801, 819, and 957) and 1st-century-BCE fragments of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, and the Twelve Minor Prophets (Alfred Rahlfs nos. 802, 803, 805, 848, 942, and 943). Relatively-complete manuscripts of the Septuagint postdate the Hexaplar recension, and include the fourth-century-CE Codex Vaticanus and the fifth-century Codex Alexandrinus. These are the oldest-surviving nearly-complete manuscripts of the Old Testament in any language; the oldest extant complete Hebrew texts date to about 600 years later, from the first half of the 10th century.[23] The 4th-century Codex Sinaiticus also partially survives, with many Old Testament texts.[23]:73:198 The Jewish (and, later, Christian) revisions and recensions are largely responsible for the divergence of the codices.[13] The Codex Marchalianus is another notable manuscript.

Differences from the Vulgate and the Masoretic Text[edit]

The text of the Septuagint is generally close to that of the Masoretes and Vulgate. Genesis 4:1–6 is identical in the Septuagint, Vulgate and the Masoretic Text, and Genesis 4:8 to the end of the chapter is the same. There is only one noticeable difference in that chapter, at 4:7:[citation needed]

Genesis 4:7, LXX and English Translation (NETS)
Genesis 4:7, Masoretic and English Translation from MT (Judaica Press)
Genesis 4:7, Latin Vulgate and English Translation (Douay-Rheims)
οὐκ ἐὰν ὀρθῶς προσενέγκῃς, ὀρθῶς δὲ μὴ διέλῃς, ἥμαρτες; ἡσύχασον· πρὸς σὲ ἡ ἀποστροφὴ αὐτοῦ, καὶ σὺ ἄρξεις αὐτοῦ.

If you offer correctly but do not divide correctly, have you not sinned? Be still; his recourse is to you, and you will rule over him.
הֲלוֹא אִם תֵּיטִיב שְׂאֵת וְאִם לֹא תֵיטִיב לַפֶּתַח חַטָּאת רֹבֵץ וְאֵלֶיךָ תְּשׁוּקָתוֹ וְאַתָּה תִּמְשָׁל בּוֹ:

Is it not so that if you improve, it will be forgiven you? If you do not improve, however, at the entrance, sin is lying, and to you is its longing, but you can rule over it.
nonne si bene egeris, recipies : sin autem male, statim in foribus peccatum aderit? sed sub te erit appetitus ejus, et tu dominaberis illius.

If thou do well, shalt thou not receive? but if ill, shall not sin forthwith be present at the door? but the lust thereof shall be under thee, and thou shalt have dominion over it.

The differences between the Septuagint and the MT fall into four categories:[54]

  1. Different Hebrew sources for the MT and the Septuagint. Evidence of this can be found throughout the Old Testament. A subtle example may be found in Isaiah 36:11; the meaning remains the same, but the choice of words evidences a different text. The MT reads " tedaber yehudit be-'ozne ha`am al ha-homa" [speak not the Judean language in the ears of (or—which can be heard by) the people on the wall]. The same verse in the Septuagint reads, according to the translation of Brenton: "and speak not to us in the Jewish tongue: and wherefore speakest thou in the ears of the men on the wall." The MT reads "people" where the Septuagint reads "men". This difference is very minor and does not affect the meaning of the verse.[citation needed] Scholars had used discrepancies such as this to claim that the Septuagint was a poor translation of the Hebrew original. This verse is found in Qumran (1QIsaa), however, where the Hebrew word "haanashim" (the men) is found in place of "haam" (the people). This discovery, and others like it, showed that even seemingly-minor differences of translation could be the result of variant Hebrew source texts.
  2. Differences in interpretation stemming from the same Hebrew text. An example is Genesis 4:7, shown above.
  3. Differences as a result of idiomatic translation issues: A Hebrew idiom may not easily translate into Greek, and some difference is imparted. In Psalm 47:10, the MT reads: "The shields of the earth belong to God"; the Septuagint reads, "To God are the mighty ones of the earth."
  4. Transmission changes in Hebrew or Greek: Revision or recension changes and copying errors

Dead Sea Scrolls[edit]

The Biblical manuscripts found in Qumran, commonly known as the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS), have prompted comparisons of the texts associated with the Hebrew Bible (including the Septuagint).[55] Emanuel Tov, editor of the translated scrolls,[56] identifies five broad variants of DSS texts:[57]

  1. Proto-Masoretic: A stable text and numerous, distinct agreements with the Masoretic Text. About 60 percent of the Biblical scrolls (including 1QIsa-b) are in this category.
  2. Pre-Septuagint: Manuscripts which have distinctive affinities with the Greek Bible. About five percent of the Biblical scrolls, they include 4QDeut-q, 4QSam-a, 4QJer-b, and 4QJer-d. In addition to these manuscripts, several others share similarities with the Septuagint but do not fall into this category.
  3. The Qumran "Living Bible": Manuscripts which, according to Tov, were copied in accordance with the "Qumran practice": distinctive, long orthography and morphology, frequent errors and corrections, and a free approach to the text. They make up about 20 percent of the Biblical corpus, including the Isaiah Scroll (1QIsa-a).
  4. Pre-Samaritan: DSS manuscripts which reflect the textual form of the Samaritan Pentateuch, although the Samaritan Bible is later and contains information not found in these earlier scrolls, (such as God's holy mountain at Shechem, rather than Jerusalem). These manuscripts, characterized by orthographic corrections and harmonizations with parallel texts elsewhere in the Pentateuch, are about five percent of the Biblical scrolls and include 4QpaleoExod-m.
  5. Non-aligned: No consistent alignment with any of the other four text types. About 10 percent of the Biblical scrolls, they include 4QDeut-b, 4QDeut-c, 4QDeut-h, 4QIsa-c, and 4QDan-a.[57][58][i]

The textual sources present a variety of readings; Bastiaan Van Elderen compares three variations of Deuteronomy 32:43, the Song of Moses:[56][failed verification]

Deuteronomy 32.43, Masoretic
Deuteronomy 32.43, Qumran
Deuteronomy 32.43, Septuagint
1 Shout for joy, O nations, with his people
2 For he will avenge the blood of his servants
3 And will render vengeance to his adversaries
4 And will purge his land, his people.
1 Shout for joy, O heavens, with him
2 And worship him, all you divine ones
3 For he will avenge the blood of his sons
4 And he will render vengeance to his adversaries
5 And he will recompense the ones hating him
6 And he purges the land of his people.
1 Shout for joy, O heavens, with him
2 And let all the sons of God worship him
3 Shout for joy, O nations, with his people
4 And let all the angels of God be strong in him
5 Because he avenges the blood of his sons
6 And he will avenge and recompense justice to his enemies
7 And he will recompense the ones hating
8 And the Lord will cleanse the land of his people.

Print editions[edit]

The text of all print editions is derived from the recensions of Origen, Lucian, or Hesychius:

  • The editio princeps is the Complutensian Polyglot Bible. Based on now-lost manuscripts, it is one of the received texts used for the KJV (similar to Textus Receptus) and seems to convey quite early readings.[59]
  • The Brian Walton Polyglot [it] is one of the few versions that includes a Septuagint not based on the Egyptian Alexandria-type text (such as Vaticanus, Alexandrinus and Sinaiticus), but follows the majority which agree (like the Complutensian Polyglot).
  • The Aldine edition (begun by Aldus Manutius) was published in Venice in 1518. The editor says that he collated ancient, unspecified manuscripts, and it has been reprinted several times.
  • The Roman or Sixtine Septuagint,[60] which uses Codex Vaticanus as the base text and later manuscripts for the lacunae in the uncial manuscript. It was published in 1587 under the direction of Antonio Carafa, with the help of Roman scholars Gugliemo Sirleto, Antonio Agelli and Petrus Morinus and by the authority of Sixtus V, to assist revisers preparing the Latin Vulgate edition ordered by the Council of Trent. It is the textus receptus of the Greek Old Testament and has been published in a number of editions, such as those of Robert Holmes and James Parsons (Oxford, 1798–1827); the seven editions of Constantin von Tischendorf, which appeared at Leipzig between 1850 and 1887 (the last two published after the death of the author and revised by Nestle), and the four editions of Henry Barclay Swete (Cambridge, 1887–95, 1901, 1909). A detailed description of this edition has been made by H. B. Swete in An Introduction to the Old Testament in Greek (1900), pp. 174–182.
  • Grabe's edition was published in Oxford from 1707 to 1720 and reproduced, imperfectly, the Codex Alexandrinus of London. For partial editions, see Fulcran Vigouroux, Dictionnaire de la Bible, 1643 and later.
  • Alfred Rahlfs, a Septuagint researcher at the University of Göttingen, began a manual edition of the Septuagint in 1917 or 1918. The completed Septuaginta, published in 1935, relies mainly on Vaticanus, Sinaiticus and Alexandrinus and presents a critical framework with variants from these and several other sources.[61]
  • The Göttingen Septuagint (Vetus Testamentum Graecum: Auctoritate Academiae Scientiarum Gottingensis editum), a critical version in multiple volumes published from 1931 to 2009, is not yet complete; the largest missing parts are the history books Joshua through Chronicles (except Ruth) and the Solomonic books Proverbs through Song of Songs. Its two critical frameworks present variant Septuagint readings and variants of other Greek versions.[62]
  • In 2006, a revision of Alfred Rahlfs' Septuaginta was published by the German Bible Society. This revised edition includes over a thousand changes to the text and apparatus.[63] The text of this revised edition contains only changes in the diacritics and two wording changes in Isaiah 5:17 and 53:2 (Is 5:17 ἀπειλημμένων became ἀπηλειμμένων, and Is 53:2 ἀνηγγείλαμεν became by conjecture ἀνέτειλε μένà).[64]
  • The Apostolic Bible Polyglot contains a Septuagint text derived primarily from the agreement of any two of the Complutensian Polyglot, the Sixtine, and the Aldine texts.[65]
  • Septuaginta: A Reader's Edition, a 2018 reader's edition of the Septuagint[66] using the text of the 2006 revised edition of Rahlf's Septuaginta.[67]

English translations[edit]

The first English translation (which excluded the apocrypha) was Charles Thomson's in 1808, which was revised and enlarged by C. A. Muses in 1954 and published by the Falcon's Wing Press. The Septuagint with Apocrypha: Greek and English was translated by Lancelot Brenton in 1854. It is the traditional translation and most of the time since its publication it has been the only one readily available, and it has continually been in print. The translation, based on the Codex Vaticanus, contains the Greek and English texts in parallel columns. It has an average of four footnoted, transliterated words per page, abbreviated Alex and GK. Updating the English of Brenton's translation.

The Complete Apostles' Bible (translated by Paul W. Esposito) was published in 2007. Using the Masoretic Text in the 23rd Psalm (and possibly elsewhere), it omits the apocrypha. A New English Translation of the Septuagint and the Other Greek Translations Traditionally Included Under that Title (NETS), an academic translation based on the New Revised Standard version (in turn based on the Masoretic Text) was published by the International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies (IOSCS) in October 2007.

The Apostolic Bible Polyglot, published in 2003, is a Greek-English interlinear Septuagint which may be used in conjunction with the reprint of Brenton's translation. It includes the Greek books of the Hebrew canon (without the apocrypha) and the Greek New Testament, numerically coded to the AB-Strong numbering system, and set in monotonic orthography. The version includes a concordance and index.

The Orthodox Study Bible, published in early 2008, is a new translation of the Septuagint based on the Alfred Rahlfs edition of the Greek text. Two additional major sources have been added: the 1851 Brenton translation and the New King James Version text in places where the translation matches the Hebrew Masoretic text. This edition includes the NKJV New Testament and extensive commentary from an Eastern Orthodox perspective.[68] Nicholas King completed The Old Testament in four volumes and The Bible.[69]

Brenton's Septuagint, Restored Names Version, (SRNV) has been published in two volumes. The Hebrew-names restoration, based on the Westminster Leningrad Codex, focuses on the restoration of the Divine Name and has extensive Hebrew and Greek footnotes.

The Eastern Orthodox Bible would have been an extensive revision and correction of Brenton's translation (which was primarily based on the Codex Vaticanus). With modern language and syntax, it would have had extensive introductory material and footnotes with significant inter-LXX and LXX/MT variants before being cancelled. The Holy Orthodox Bible, by Peter A. Papoutsis, and the Michael Asser English translation of the Septuagint are based on the Church of Greece's Septuagint text.

Society and journal[edit]

The International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies (IOSCS), a non-profit learned society, promotes international research into and study of the Septuagint and related texts.[70] The society declared 8 February 2006 International Septuagint Day, a day to promote the work on campuses and in communities.[71] The IOSCS publishes the Journal of Septuagint and Cognate Studies.[72]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Not in the Orthodox canon, but originally included in the LXX.[42]
  2. ^ The canon of the original Old Greek LXX is disputed. This table reflects the canon of the Old Testament as used currently in Orthodoxy.
  3. ^ Βασιλειῶν (Basileiōn) is the genitive plural of Βασιλεία (Basileia).
  4. ^ That is, Of things set aside from Ἔσδρας Αʹ.
  5. ^ also called Τωβείτ or Τωβίθ in some sources.
  6. ^ or Tōbeit or Tōbith
  7. ^ Obdiou is genitive from "The vision of Obdias", which opens the book.
  8. ^ Originally placed after 3 Maccabees and before Psalms, but placed in an appendix of the Orthodox canon.
  9. ^ These percentages are disputed. Other scholars credit the Proto-Masoretic texts with 40 percent, and posit larger contributions from Qumran-style and non-aligned texts. The Canon Debate, McDonald and Sanders editors (2002), chapter 6: "Questions of Canon through the Dead Sea Scrolls" by James C. VanderKam, p. 94, citing private communication with Emanuel Tov on biblical manuscripts: Qumran scribe type c. 25 percent, proto-Masoretic Text c. 40 percent, pre-Samaritan texts c.5 percent, texts close to the Hebrew model for the Septuagint c. 5 percent and nonaligned c. 25 percent.


  1. ^ "Septuagint". Dictionary. Merriam-Webster. Retrieved April 7, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Toy, Crawford; Gottheil, Richard (1906). "Bible Translations – The Septuagint". Jewish Encyclopedia. The Kopleman Foundation. Retrieved 10 February 2012.
  3. ^ a b Beckwith, Roger T. (2008). The Old Testament Canon of the New Testament Church. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stock Publishers. pp. 382, 383.
  4. ^ Mulder, M. J. (1988). Mikra : text, translation, reading, and interpretation of the Hebrew Bible in ancient Judaism and early Christianity. Phil.: Van Gorcum. p. 81. ISBN 978-0800606046.
  5. ^ a b "Septuagint". Encyclopedia Britannica. June 15, 2017. Retrieved 26 March 2019.
  6. ^ "CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Septuagint Version". Retrieved 2019-07-24.
  7. ^ Sigfried, Carl; Gottheil, Richard (1906). "Hellenism". Jewish Encyclopedia. The Kopelman Foundation. Retrieved 26 March 2019.
  8. ^ Nicole, Roger, New Testament Use of the Old Testament Revelation and the Bible, ed. Carl. F.H. Henry (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1958), pp. 137–51.
  9. ^ a b "Saul of Tarsus". Jewish Encyclopedia. The Kopleman Foundation. 1906. Retrieved 10 February 2012.
  10. ^ a b c d Karen H. Jobes and Moises Silva (2001). Invitation to the Septuagint. Paternoster Press. ISBN 978-1-84227-061-5.
  11. ^ Sundberg, in McDonald & Sanders, eds., The Canon Debate, p.72.
  12. ^ Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, for instance.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i Jennifer M. Dines, The Septuagint, Michael A. Knibb, Ed., London: T&T Clark, 2004.
  14. ^ Davila, J (2008). "Aristeas to Philocrates". Summary of lecture by Davila, February 11, 1999. University of St. Andrews, School of Divinity. Retrieved 19 June 2011.
  15. ^ William Whiston (1998). The Complete Works of Josephus. T. Nelson Publishers. ISBN 978-0-7852-1426-7.
  16. ^ Augustine of Hippo, The City of God 18.42.
  17. ^ Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Megillah 9a
  18. ^ Tur Orach Chaim 580, quoting Bahag.
  19. ^ J.A.L. Lee, A Lexical Study of the Septuagint Version of the Pentateuch (Septuagint and Cognate Studies, 14. Chico, CA: Scholars Press, 1983; Reprint SBL, 2006)
  20. ^ Joel Kalvesmaki, The Septuagint
  21. ^ Life after death: a history of the afterlife in the religions of the West (2004), Anchor Bible Reference Library, Alan F. Segal, p.363
  22. ^ Gilles Dorival, Marguerite Harl, and Olivier Munnich, La Bible grecque des Septante: Du judaïsme hellénistique au christianisme ancien (Paris: Cerfs, 1988), p.111
  23. ^ a b c d e f g Ernst Würthwein, The Text of the Old Testament, trans. Errol F. Rhodes, Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. Eerdmans, 1995.
  24. ^ a b H. B. Swete, An Introduction to the Old Testament in Greek, revised by R.R. Ottley, 1914; reprint, Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 1989.
  25. ^ Paul Joüon, SJ, A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew, trans. and revised by T. Muraoka, vol. I, Rome: Editrice Pontificio Instituto Biblico, 2000.
  26. ^ Blowers, Paul M.; Martens, Peter W (2019). The Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Biblical Interpretation. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press. pp. 59, 60. ISBN 9780191028205. Retrieved 17 October 2019.
  27. ^ Lawrence H. Schiffman; Sol Scharfstein (1991). From Text to Tradition: A History of Second Temple and Rabbinic Judaism. KTAV Publishing House, Inc. p. 120. ISBN 978-0-88125-372-6.
  28. ^ Ellis, E. E. (1992). The Old Testament in Early Christianity. Baker. p. 34. ISBN 9783161456602. Retrieved 4 November 2014.
  29. ^ Beckwith, Roger (1986). The Old Testament Canon of the New Testament Church. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans. p. 382.
  30. ^ Meade, John D. (2018-03-23). "Was there a "Septuagint Canon"?". Didaktikos: Journal of Theological Education. Retrieved 8 October 2019.
  31. ^ Mulder, M. J. (1988). Mikra : text, translation, reading, and interpretation of the Hebrew Bible in ancient Judaism and early Christianity. Phil.: Van Gorcum. p. 81. ISBN 978-0800606046.
  32. ^ Rick Grant Jones, Various Religious Topics, "Books of the Septuagint", (Accessed 2006.9.5).
  33. ^ Blenkinsopp, Joseph (1996). A history of prophecy in Israel. Westminster John Knox Press. p. 130. ISBN 9780664256395.
  34. ^ "The Old Testament Canon and Apocrypha". BibleResearcher. Retrieved 27 November 2015.[better source needed]
  35. ^ Blocher, Henri (2004). "Helpful or Harmful? The "Apocrypha" and Evangelical Theology". European Journal of Theology. 13 (2): 81–90.
  36. ^ Webster, William. "The Old Testament Canon and the Apocrypha Part 3". Retrieved 29 November 2015.
  37. ^ Shamoun, Sam. "Are The Jewish Apocrypha Inspired Scripture? Pt. 4". Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog. Answering Islam. Retrieved 29 November 2015.
  38. ^ "NETS: Electronic Edition". 2011-02-11. Retrieved 13 August 2012.
  39. ^ a b Timothy McLay, The Use of the Septuagint in New Testament Research ISBN 0-8028-6091-5.—The current standard introduction on the NT & LXX.
  40. ^ The canon of the original Old Greek LXX is disputed. This table reflects the canon of the Old Testament as used currently in Orthodoxy.
  41. ^ Originally placed after 3 Maccabees and before Psalms, but placed in an appendix of the Orthodox Canon.[citation needed]
  42. ^ "NETS: Electronic Edition". Retrieved 22 January 2020.
  43. ^ a b c Abegg, Martin; Flint, Peter; Ulrich, Eugene (1999). The Dead Sea Scroll Bible. HarperOne. ISBN 978-0-06-060064-8.
  44. ^ Sanders, JA (1963), "Ps. 151 in 11QPss", Zeitschrift für die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft, 75: 73–86, doi:10.1515/zatw.1963.75.1.73, and slightly revised in Sanders, JA (ed.), "The Psalms Scroll of Qumrân Cave 11 (11QPsa)", DJD, 4: 54–64.
  45. ^ Alexander Zvielli, Jerusalem Post, June 2009, pp. 37
  46. ^ Marcos, Natalio F. The Septuagint in Context: Introduction to the Greek Bible (2000 ed.).
  47. ^ St. Jerome, Apology Book II.
  48. ^ Paulkovich, Michael (2012), No Meek Messiah, Spillix Publishing, p. 24, ISBN 978-0988216112
  49. ^ Irenaeus, Against Herecies Book III.
  50. ^ Jerome, From Jerome, Letter LXXI (404 CE), NPNF1-01. The Confessions and Letters of St. Augustin, with a Sketch of his Life and Work, Phillip Schaff, Ed.
  51. ^ Rebenich, S., Jerome (Routledge, 2013), p. 58. ISBN 9781134638444
  52. ^ New Jerusalem Bible Readers Edition, 1990: London, citing the Standard Edition of 1985
  53. ^ "Life Application Bible" (NIV), 1988: Tyndale House Publishers, using "Holy Bible" text, copyright International Bible Society 1973
  54. ^ See Jinbachian, Some Semantically Significant Differences Between the Masoretic Text and the Septuagint, [1].
  55. ^ "Searching for the Better Text – Biblical Archaeology Society". Retrieved 13 August 2012.
  56. ^ a b Edwin Yamauchi, "Bastiaan Van Elderen, 1924– 2004", SBL Forum Accessed 26 March 2011.
  57. ^ a b Tov, E. 2001. Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible (2nd ed.) Assen/Maastricht: Van Gocum; Philadelphia: Fortress Press. As cited in Flint, Peter W. 2002. The Bible and the Dead Sea Scrolls as presented in Bible and computer: the Stellenbosch AIBI-6 Conference: proceedings of the Association internationale Bible et informatique, "From alpha to byte", University of Stellenbosch, 17–21 July, 2000 Association internationale Bible et informatique. Conference, Johann Cook (ed.) Leiden/Boston BRILL, 2002
  58. ^ Laurence Shiffman, Reclaiming the Dead Sea Scrolls, p. 172
  59. ^ Joseph Ziegler, "Der griechische Dodekepropheton-Text der Complutenser Polyglotte", Biblica 25:297–310, cited in Würthwein.
  60. ^ Google books, 1587.
  61. ^ Rahlfs, A. (ed.). (1935/1979). Septuaginta. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft.
  62. ^ "Critical Editions of Septuagint/Old Greek Texts". IOSCS. U Penn.
  63. ^ "Septuaginta". Scholarly Bibles. Archived from the original on 12 April 2010.
  64. ^ Bady, Guillaume. "Rahlfs ou Göttingen : quelle édition choisir pour Biblindex ?". Biblindex (in French). Retrieved 2020-01-23.
  65. ^ "Introduction" (PDF). Apostolic Bible. Retrieved 26 August 2015.
  66. ^ Eng, Daniel K. "Review of "Septuaginta: A Reader's Edition," edited by Gregory R. Lanier and William A. Ross". THink.
  67. ^ "Why Did We Choose Rahlfs-Hanhart as the Basis for this Reader's Edition?". Septuaginta: A Reader's Edition. 2018-05-14. Retrieved 2020-01-21.
  68. ^ "Conciliar Press". Orthodox Study Bible. Retrieved 13 August 2012.
  69. ^ The Bible is published, Nicholas King, 2013-11-01.
  70. ^ "IOSCS". U Penn. Retrieved 13 August 2012.
  71. ^ "International Septuagint Day". The International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies. Retrieved 30 March 2016.
  72. ^ JSCS.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]


Texts and translations

The LXX and the NT