Re: The Septuaginta (2 Tim 3:15)

From: Steve Puluka (
Date: Thu Sep 09 1999 - 08:39:32 EDT

<x-flowed>>From: "Juan Stam" <>

>Greetings from Costa Rica. I remember reading long ago that hIERA GRAMMATA
>in 2 Tim 3:15
>("sacred writings") was used for the LXX and would not naturally be
>understood of the Hebrew original. In that case, the following
>statement about "inspired" would apparently also apply to the Greek
>translation. Can anyone confirm or refute this?

Greetings from America,

I found this idea fascinating and undertook to research the concept as best
I can with the materials I have available. I was not able to find this idea
stated in any of the works I have access too. I also looked to the early
texts themselves.Based this very basic research I would hesitate to conclude
that hIERA GRAMMATA refers to the Septuagint for two reasons:

1) Earlier Jewish usage of the term appears to indicate Old Testament
literature in general
2) Patristic writers of the earlier Church are well aware of both versions
of scripture and seem to use "Septuagint" when referencing the work

Thayers lexicon of the Greek New Testament lists several occurrences of this
word pair in both Philo of Alexandria and Josephus. I do not see any
citations of this word pair listed in my concordance for the Apostolic
writings immediately following the New Testament era. In fact, GRAMMATA
does not list at all.

The citations are below. I regret that I only have these works in
translation so I realize that this is of limited value. All of the
citations were rendered to English as sacred writings with the exception of
the Life of Moses, which I was not able to conclusively identify in

Antiquities of the Jews-Introduction, 3 ; Book 10, 10,4
Against Apion, 10

Conspicuously absent from this list is Antiquities Book 22 Chapter 2 where
the story of the creation of the Septuagint is told. If this was a term to
refer to these Greek writings I would expect it to appear there. Further,
the citation in the introduction to Antiquities is during the short version
of this translation story and appears to refer to the HEBREW ORIGINAL and
not the translation.

******Philo of Alexandria
Rewards and Punishments 14 (72)
Embassy of Gaius 29 (195)
Life of Moses 3 and 39

These references are inconclusive. One could make the argument that since
Philo was an Alexandrian Jew writing in Greek in the city that created the
Septuagint he naturally thinks of the Greek version as sacred writings, but
I think that would be speculation. I don't believe a Jewish Scholar of this
era would not know the Hebrew scriptures too.

Unfortunately, I do not have a concordance of the Patristic authors.
Perhaps someone could determine where hIERA GRAMMATA does occur in Patristic
literature. I did review the specific references to the Septuagint in this
literature, again I only have this in English translation.

I consider the big three on Septuagint issues to be: Irenaeus, Tertullian
and Eusebius. The references are:

Irenaeus, Against Heresy Chapter XXI
Tertullian Apology Chapter XVIII
Eusebius History Chapter VIII

>From the earliest of these authors there is a clear understanding of both
versions of scripture and a strong point of view as to their relative value.
  They do not hesitate to name them by version. The English does not
suggest that "sacred writings" are being applied to the Septuagint alone by
these authors.

A general look at patristic references to "scripture" (again I have only
English translations) shows a universal use of the term for both Old and New
Testament literature.

Thayer also mentions that he considers hIERA GRAMMATA to be a disparaging
use by Paul towards the Jewish scriptures. He claims that this term
emphasizes the "letter" in the term GRAMMATA rather than the spirit of the
Law. He cross references Romans 2:29 TO PNEWMA. While I hesitate to
disagree with an obvious scholar who knows a lot more about Greek than I do,
I do not find this argument convincing. The Context of 2 Timothy seems to
be positive rather than disparaging to me.

Thank you for many pleasant evenings of reading this literature.

Steve Puluka
Adult Education Instructor
Byzantine Catholic Archeparchy of Pittsburgh
(Little Greek)

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