Septuagint is the established name for the translations of the Hebrew Bible into Greek. Meaning seventy it is frequently written in Roman numeral shorthand as LXX which comes from a legend arising from the second century BCE. Michael D Coogan, Professor of Religious Studies at Stonehill College in North Easton, Massachusetts explains: the request of Ptolemy II (285-246 BCE), seventy two elders of Israel translated the Hebrew Bible into Greek in seventy-two days in Alexandria in Egypt. Most scholars accept the substance of the legend that the earliest Greek versions of the Bible were created in the third century in Egypt for Greek speaking Jews. The earliest manuscripts of the Septuagint are from Qumran and are dated to the second century BCE. The relationship between the Greek and Hebrew textual traditions was complicated and fluid, with frequent revision of the Greek to bring it closer to the Hebrew as the latter developed.

Located approximately nine miles (13 km) south of Jericho Qumran, or more accurately Khirbit Qumran, is the contemporary Arabic name of the site at the northeast corner of the Dead Sea. Nearby is the location where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered early in 1947. Later archeological digs have uncovered evidence that the site was in use from the middle of the second century BCE up until the First Jewish Revolt (66-7 CE). The constructions found there are commonly accepted that it was built by the Essenes and house publicly shared spaces. Some examples include cisterns fed by aqueducts, kitchens, a dining hall, and a large room enclosing long rectangular tables at which some imagine the scrolls were composed.

The Septuagint includes a number of writings not found in the traditional Hebrew canon, some translations are from Hebrew or Aramaic originals and others are composed in Greek. These became the Apocrypha and the New Revised Standard Version of the Holy Bible notes in its preface to the reader that, “For the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books of the Old Testament the Committee has made use of a number of texts. For most of these books the basic Greek text from which the present translation was made is the edition on the Septuagint prepared by Alfred Rahlfs and published by the Wuttemberg Bible Society (Stuttgart, 1935).” It goes on to further note that some books, like Tobit have followed the form of the Greek text found in codex Sinaiticus “supported as it is by the evidence from Qumran.” In 1957 a translation of the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical collection was published in the Revised Standard Version (RSV) of the Bible. In 1977 it was issued in an expanded edition and received by Eastern Orthodox communions. Since then the RSV has “gained the distinction of being officially authorized for use by all major Christian churches: Protestant, Anglican, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox." The Apocrypha accepted by some Christian churches as canonical but not part of the Bible for Jews and Protestants.

The Apocrypha is accepted by some Christian churches as canonical but not part of the Bible for Jews and Protestants. It is still openly studied and every scholarly effort is made to determine its accuracy as new information is gleaned from the origins of the texts. “The Septuagint was the primary form of the Bible for the Hellenized Jewish communities,” adds Professor Coogan, “and as a result the text that was used by the majority of the early Christians. When the Bible is quoted in the New Testament, “ concludes Coogan, “is it almost always from the Septuagint version, which elevated its status for Christian theologians. “


The Holy Bible with the Apocrypha, New Revised Standard Version Oxford University Press, 1989.

Michael D. Coogan, ed., The Oxford Companion to the Bible, p. 636, p. 687, 1993.

Sep"tu*a*gint (?), n. [From L. septuaginta seventy.]

A Greek version of the Old Testament; -- so called because it was believed to be the work of seventy (or rather of seventy-two) translators.

⇒ The causes which produced it [the Septuagint], the number and names of the translators, the times at which different portions were translated, are all uncertain. The only point in which all agree is that Alexandria was the birthplace of the version. On one other point there is a near agreement, namely, as to time, that the version was made, or at least commenced, in the time of the early Ptolemies, in the first half of the third century b.c.

Dr. W. Smith (Bib. Dict.)

Septuagint chronology, the chronology founded upon the dates of the Septuagint, which makes 1500 years more from the creation to Abraham than the Hebrew Bible.


© Webster 1913.

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