The Greek Septuagint

The Greek Septuagint
c. 285 B.C.

The Septuagint, or simply “LXX”, is the Koine Greek version of the Hebrew Bible, translated in stages between the 3rd and 1st centuries B.C. in Alexandria in Egypt.

It is the oldest of several ancient translations of the Hebrew Bible into Greek. The word “septuaginta” means “seventy” in Latin and derives from a tradition that seventy (or seventy-two) Jewish scholars translated the Pentateuch from Hebrew into Greek for Ptolemy II Philadelphus.

The Septuagint includes some books not found in the Hebrew Bible. Many Protestant Bibles follow the Jewish canon and exclude the additional books. Roman Catholics, however, include some of these books in their canon while Eastern Orthodox Churches use all the books of the Septuagint. Anglican lectionaries also use all of the books except Psalm 151, and the full Authorized (King James) Version includes these additional books in a separate section labeled the “Apocrypha”.

The Septuagint was held in great respect in ancient times; Philo and Josephus ascribed divine inspiration to its authors. Of significance for all Christians and for Bible scholars, the LXX is quoted by the Christian New Testament and by the Apostolic Fathers. While Jews have not used the LXX in worship or religious study since the second century A.D., recent scholarship has brought renewed interest in it in Judaic Studies. Some of the Dead Sea scrolls attest to Hebrew texts other than those on which the Masoretic Text was based; in many cases, these newly found texts accord with the LXX version. The oldest surviving codices of LXX (Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus) date to the fourth century A.D.


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