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Question

What is the Septuagint?

Septuagintaudio
Answer


The Septuagint (also known as the LXX) is a translation of the Hebrew Bible into the Greek language. The name Septuagint comes from the Latin word for “seventy.” The tradition is that 70 (or 72) Jewish scholars were the translators behind the Septuagint. The Septuagint was translated in the third and second centuries BC in Alexandria, Egypt. As Israel was under the authority of Greece for several centuries, the Greek language became more and more common. By the second and first centuries BC, most people in Israel spoke Greek as their primary language. That is why the effort was made to translate the Hebrew Bible into Greek—so that those who did not understand Hebrew could have the Scriptures in a language they could understand. The Septuagint represents the first major effort at translating a significant religious text from one language into another.

In comparing the New Testament quotations of the Hebrew Bible, it is clear that the Septuagint was often used. Many of the New Testament quotes from the Hebrew Bible are taken from the Septuagint. This is the result of the fact that by the late first century BC, and especially the first century AD, the Septuagint had “replaced” the Hebrew Bible as the Scriptures most people used. Since most people spoke and read Greek as their primary language, and the Greek authorities strongly encouraged the use of Greek, the Septuagint became much more common than the Hebrew Old Testament.

As faithful as the Septuagint translators strove to be in accurately rendering the Hebrew text into Greek, some translational differences arose. But the fact that the apostles and New Testament authors felt comfortable, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, in using the Septuagint should give us assurance that a translation of the original languages of the Bible is still the authoritative Word of God.

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This page last updated: April 26, 2021