Septuagint: Some Observations

"I say, then, it is highly probable that the apostle, according to his wonted manner, which appears in almost all the citatations used by him in this Epistle, reporting the sense and importance of the places in words of his own, the Christian transcribers of the Greek Bible inserted his expressions into the text; either as judging them a more proper version of the original, whereof they were ignorant, than that of the LXX, or out of a preposterous zeal to take away the appearance of a diversity between the text and the apostle's citation of it. And thus, in those testimonies where there is a real variation from the Hebrew original, the apostle took not his words from the translation of the LXX, but his words were afterwards inserted into that translation. And this, as we have partly made to appear already in sundry instances, so it shall now briefly be further confirmed; for, - . . . First, Whereas the reasons of the apostle for his application of the testimonies used by him in his words and expressions are evident, as shall in particular be made to appear; so no reason can be assigned why the LXX (if any such LXX there were) who translated the Old Testament, or any other translators of it, should so render the words of the Hebrew text . . ." (Works of John Owen, volume XVII, p.115)

One of the primary arguments used to "prove" that the New Testament writers quoted from the Greek Septuagint rather than the Hebrew Scriptures is that there are several places in the New Testament that seem to match the Septuagint readings. However, it can just as easily be argued that the Septuagint was later amended by grafting in the New Testament quotations into the appropriate places. It is this writer's understanding that earliest copy of the Septuagint is c.300 A.D. from Origen's Hexapla.

Let's consider this for a moment. Suppose the common consensus that the Septuagint was translated c.300 B.C. is correct. Also suppose that the translation did not merely include the Torah but the entire Old Testament Scriptures. Then, when the New Testament was written under inspiration of God, people now had inspired translations of various Old Testament texts into Greek. Then, when those reading the Septuagint noticed they had inspired translations of these texts, is it any stretch of the imagination that these people preferred and perhaps even grafted in the inspired Greek readings into this Septuagint?

Now, I can imagine some objecting and saying, "But what evidence do we have that such a thing had occurred? Aren't you just speculating?" But I ask in return, what evidence is it that the New Testament in fact did quote from the Septuagint rather than the Hebrew? The only reason given is because it matches the readings! Where does Jesus say that He is quoting the Septuagint? Where do the writers of the New Testament say they read from the Septuagint?
This page was last updated: 2/3/2017
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