30 September 2009

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

The genius of Jerome was most outstanding. His unique work entitles him to eternal praise, because he translated the Bible from its original languages... And because he was also a man of much reading, many difficult questions had been learnedly explained by him. -- Martin Chemnitz, Loci Theologici, 53


cheryl said...

Question: What manuscripts did he use? Do we have them today? Are the manuscripts we use older than the ones he had? I ask partly because I have an Orthodox Study Bible, and the OT Septuagint does not read like the translations we are most familiar with eg NIV, NASB, KJV, ect. (In some cases the meaning of a verse or passage is completely different).

William Weedon said...

He translated from the same source that the Masoretic Text as we have it came from (the Hebrew text, thus not the Greek).

cheryl said...

Isn't the Greek more reliable, since it was translated within the tradition Christ inherited?

Past Elder said...

The shift from the Septuagint to the Hebrew Bible was a big thing in Jerome's Day. The proverbial "early church" used the Septuagint, and the NT quotes the Septuagint when it quotes the OT.

But the Septuagint of course is itself a translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, then the common language of many Jews as well as Gentiles. Kind of the "vulgate" of its time. For which reason it continued in the early church.

The shift from it to the Hebrew Bible was a big thing. And not just for the language for the source text, but what texts are included as well, since the Septuagint includes books not in the Hebrew Bible, and these books are the reason why EO and RC Bibles have a longer OT, because they base their canon on the Septuagint whereas Protestant usage has been to retain only the canon of the Hebrew Bible, and include the rest as "Apocrypha" if at all.

Which is fine, but now if I could only find out who was the idiot who decided that if we're going to use the Hebrew Bible rather than the Septuagint for the OT canon, we'll mix up the books in the divisions of the Hebrew Bible called Prophets and Writings nonetheless.

William Weedon said...

There are times the NT cites the LXX and times it is clear that the LXX is NOT what is being cited. If the NT references ran 100% with LXX, that would make the position of LXX as better more plausible. I think we've got a case of the NT at crucial points (I think when Matt. cites Isaiah 53 for instance - I think I'm remembering that right, no time now to double check) running with MT rather than LXX. Certainly when our Lord read from the scroll in Synagogue he was reading MT.

Past Elder said...

No argument there. And of course Christ himself would not have used the Septuagint, not being a Greek speaking Jew outside the Holy Land. Would, btw, we understood the significance of the aliyah he was performing when he read from that scroll.

The early church retaining the Septuagint nonetheless reflects that at the time Greek rather than Latin was the most widespread language in the Roman Empire among people generally, whereas by Jerome's time that was not the case and Latin was in that postition, so the shift from a Greek OT to a Latin one was a change that reflects that, with the consequence of different present churches having variations in the OT canon depending on whether thay look to the Septuagint or the Hebrew Bible as their basis for a canon.

When I was RC, the use of a Septuagint OT canon was cited as one more sign that we were the "true" church in line from the Apostles and the early church.

It was also argued that translations should be based on Jerome's Latin Vulgate, since although a translation itself it is the work of a saint from sources we no longer have.

I'm quite fine with using the Hebrew canon and translations from the Masoretic text, but I'd still like to know who was the ding dang dummy who messed up the Law/Prophets/Writings structure of it!

cheryl said...

Thanks for the info Pastor and 'Past Elder'-helpful as always :)!!!

Phil said...

I'm curious: Does anyone know whether the present-day Greek Orthodox Church use the LXX, or whether they've they produced an updated version in modern Greek?