What’s the Septuagint?
We have all played or seen the phone game, in which a group of children gives a message in a circle and whispers the message to its neighbors and the person at the end of the circle tries to decrypt the original message.
Or we saw that Google Translate tried to translate a phrase from one language to another, often missing keywords, or that the original intent of the message was completely compromised.
When people take a look at the Old Testament (or the New Testament), they may see the idea of copying manuscripts the same way. Although the Bible contains warnings about people who will add something to Scripture (Revelation 22:18), writers may have brought in their own thoughts or ignored the warnings.
This understanding seriously misrepresents the careful process copiers of manuscripts like the Septuagint have gone through.
The Septuagint, the translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, was created by 70 or 72 Jewish scholars who carefully translated the Hebrew Bible into a common language of the day, since in the third and second centuries BC The Hellenization Israel had taken over.
We'll look at the Septuagint, some possible translation errors, and why.
What is it?
It is the translation of the Old Testament, including apocryphal books like Sirach, the Book of Tobit, etc., from the original Hebrew to the generally spoken Greek of the day.
The name Septuagint comes from the Latin of seventy because 70 or 72 scholars supported the translation process.
King Ptolemy II Philadelphus of Alexandria reportedly wanted to include Pentateuch, the first five books of the Hebrew Old Testament, in his library, and so began translating the Old Testament.
During the third and second centuries BC The translators looked at different sections of the Hebrew Bible, starting with the Pentateuch. Apparently, all 70 translators had worked independently, but still had 70 identical translations, which proves that God had a fingerprint on the translation.
This also shows the careful work of the translators to create a manuscript that represents the truth in another language from the original text.
We can see the same process applied to Bible translations today as a multi-hour discussion and research carried out by the ESV Translation Committee to change a word from slave to servant to better reflect the meaning of the Greek word in the New Testament : Doulos (Romans 6).
It wasn't a phone or Google translation game at all.
What about translation errors?
As with the translation of phrases from one language to another, we at least lose some meaning in the original text. For example, the Bible talks about different types of love. When Jesus asks Peter if he loves him, Jesus asks him: Agapest you me? (John 21: 15-19).
In other words, do you love me unconditionally as only God can love someone? As human love has conditions.
Peter, who knows his human limits, says: I phileo you. I love you like a brother, but I can't have the unconditional love that God has for everyone.
If we read the passage as an English reader, we will not overlook this nuance in the text, since we do not speak the original language used. However, this does not mean that we cannot get any insight, comfort or any other useful element from the Bible. It just means that if we don't learn the original language, we won't be able to discover some of the more lexiconical insights.
The same applies to the Septuagint. Although the translators have been very careful with the original text, not every word is translated properly from one language to another. This article will tell you what mistakes have been made in translation and how documents known as Dead Sea Scrolls shed light on the accuracy of the Septuagint and the divine hand involved in the translation process.
Why is that important?
Jesus called us to preach the gospel to all nations (Matthew 28: 16-20). This includes translating Scripture into every language so that others can experience the history of God in their own mother tongue.
When analyzing the Septuagint, we see how important it is to translate carefully, but also to recognize that not every translation accurately reflects every nuance shown in the original text.
For a really cool case study of translating scripture into a language of an unrivaled ethnic group, see Bruce Olson's Bruchko.
And finally, we have to recognize the importance of the Septuagint for the New Testament. Many times when Jesus or the disciples quote the Bible, it comes from the Greek translation of the original Masoretic text.
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Hope Bolinger is a literary agent at C.Y.L.E. and graduate of Taylor University's professional writing program. More than 500 of her works have been published in various publications, from Writer & # 39; s Digest to Keys for Kids. She has worked for various publishers, magazines, newspapers and literary agencies, and has published the work of authors such as Jerry B. Jenkins and Michelle Medlock Adams. Her column "Hope & # 39; s Hacks", tips and tricks to avoid writer's block, reaches more than 6,000 readers weekly and is published monthly Cyle Young's blog. Today’s Daniel, Blaze, (Illuminate YA) was released in June and they signed the sequel Den for July 2020. Find out more about them Here.