RE: MT Text vs LXX

From: Stevens, Charles C (
Date: Tue Feb 01 2000 - 13:27:51 EST

On 31 January 2000 at 6:48PM, Grant Polle queried:

<<Why does the Septuagint differ from the Masoretic text in the ages given
within the Genesis account particularly chapter 5?

What evidence is there to give support to one over the other?
Is the LXX wrong? MT wrong? Personal opinion?>>

I agree that these questions are arguably not relevant to the *grammar* or
the *semantics* of Koine Greek, or to the proper understanding of the actual
texts that have come down to us in those languages (being rather in the
realms of hermeneutics, doctrine families, and textual criticism), but I
will endeavor to provide helpful answers in any case.

As to the first question, the LXX text differs from the MT because they're
different texts, here and in numerous places elsewhere. Until the discovery
of Qumran texts it was generally presumed that the peculiarities of the LXX
were simply corruptions of the readings made when the LXX was being
produced, but significant evidence from Qumran (and I think other more
recent discoveries) in Hebrew gives strong evidence that a separate textual
tradition *in Hebrew* underlies (many of, anyway) the differences between
the LXX and the MT.

Why? Well, the only *people* who might have been able to answer this
question without any possibility of refutation are the ones that were around
when the two (actually, three, counting the Samaritan Pentateuch; are there
others?) textual *traditions* diverged before the Common Era, and that's a
while back. Questions like "Why does the "Venus de Milo" have no arms now?
Did she ever? If so, where are they?" and "What did the woman in the "Mona
Lisa" find amusing?" are almost impossible to answer today. Your "Why"
falls in the same category.

As to the second question, many from the Eastern Orthodox tradition hold the
LXX as inspired, as I understand it over the MT; many other Christians and
(so far as I know) all of Judaism hold the MT as being inspired and
therefore "more correct".

Given that the original autograph copy of the Pentateuch seems to have
disappeared, answering this question is outside that which can be answered
on the basis of Greek grammar and semantics, only as a matter of individual
or corporate doctrine, and cannot be answered with certainty, for all and on
behalf of all, in any case.

"Because God believes <x> is the right version" is not a response that's
appropriate in this forum, I think, and that's about the only way this
question can be answered: as a matter of one's particular faith, the
defense of which is clearly and explicitly inappropriate here.

        -Chuck Stevens

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