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Stuff Early Christians Read The Septuagint Rick Brannan What is the Septuagint?. Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures Extension of the Hebrew Scriptures with Greek material Often abbreviated “LXX”. Why Do We Care?.

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stuff early christians read http faithlife com stuff early christians read

Stuff Early Christians Read

The Septuagint

Rick Brannan

what is the septuagint
What is the Septuagint?
  • Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures
  • Extension of the Hebrew Scriptures with Greek material
  • Often abbreviated “LXX”
why do we care
Why Do We Care?
  • When a New Testament author draws a quotation from the Old Testament, it will most often be closest to the Greek of the Septuagint (compared to the Hebrew Bible)
  • Thus the Septuagint was likely the Bible the NT writers used and knew
how did it happen
How Did it Happen?
  • Legend: Letter of Aristeas
    • 72 translators of the Pentateuch (six from each of the 12 tribes)
    • Finished in 72 days
  • “Letter of Aristeas” is part of the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha
how did it happen1
How Did it Happen?
  • Truth: Not so neat.
    • We don’t really know
    • Probably several people in several places (though perhaps centered in Alexandria) over a large period of time
what is its relation to the bible
What is its Relation to the Bible?
  • Directly: The LXX is a Greek translation of all OT material
  • Indirectly: When NT cites the OT, it usually uses the LXX
nt citations of ot
NT Citations of OT
  • Synoptic Gospels: 46 quotations
  • John: 12 quotations
  • Acts: 23 quotations
  • Paul: 78 quotations
  • Hebrews: 28 quotations
  • General Epistles: ‘few’
  • Revelation: ‘does not quote, but its language is full of OT phraseology’

Source: Swete, Henry Barclay. An Introduction to the Old Testament in Greek. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1914.

one example nt citation
One Example NT Citation

Gal 3:13

  • Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, because it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree,” (LEB)

Refers to Deut 21:23

deuteronomy 21 23
Deuteronomy 21:23

From the Hebrew (LEB)

From the Greek (LES)

His body shall not sleep upon the tree; rather, with a funeral you shall bury him in that day, for all who hang on a tree are cursed from God. And you shall not defile the land that the Lord your God is giving you as a portion.

his dead body shall not hang on the tree, but certainly you shall bury him on that day, for cursed by God is one that is being hung; so you shall not defile your land that Yahweh your God is giving to you as an inheritance.

gal 3 13 citation of deut 21 23
Gal 3:13 citation of Deut 21:23
  • LXX has different phrasing
    • LXX groups “all who hang”
    • Hebrew singles out “the one that is being hung”
  • No material difference
  • NT is better match of LXX


  • Same conclusion
what about the apocrypha
What About the Apocrypha?
  • Several names
    • Apocrypha
    • Deuterocanon
    • Intertestamental Literature
    • Second Temple Literature
is the apocrypha canonical
Is the Apocrypha Canonical?
  • Protestants: No
    • But has historical value
  • Catholics: Sort of
    • Hence the term “deutero-canonical”
  • Orthodox: Pretty much
    • They use the Septuagint as their Old Testament
what is in the apocrypha
What is in the Apocrypha?

Additions to existing material and different translations

  • Additions to Jeremiah
  • 1 Esdras/Esdras A
  • Psalm 151
  • Additions to Esther
  • Additions to Daniel
follow along
Follow Along
  • I’ll be reading and referring to various books found in the apocrypha/deuterocanon. You can follow along (if you have a tablet or smartphone) here:“Documents” tab, though must join the group first)

additions to daniel susanna
Additions to Daniel: Susanna
  • The story of Susanna, wife of Jehoiakim, a rich and prominent man
  • She was beautiful
  • She was lusted after by two judges of Israel
    • They set her up to protect themselves
  • Daniel saves the day
additions to daniel bel and the dragon
Additions to DanielBel and the Dragon
  • Bel is an idol of the Babylonians
  • Daniel refuses to worship
  • The king protests: Surely Bel is a god because he consumes what we supply!
  • Daniel proves Bel to be false
  • Babylonians also worshiped a certain dragon
  • Daniel kills the dragon
  • Daniel is then thrown into a lion’s den, but perseveres.
    • A variation on the Biblical story
what else is in the apocrypha
What else is in the Apocrypha?

Material not found in OT

  • Tobit
  • Judith
  • 1–4 Maccabees
  • Wisdom of Sirach
    • Aka “Ecclesiasticus”
  • Wisdom of Solomon
  • Tobit, a Jew in Nineveh, his son Tobias, and the archangel Rafael
  • Tobit struck blind, and loses income.
  • Sends Tobias to a faraway relative to retrieve a significant sum of money.
    • Sends a companion with him.
    • Unbeknownst to everyone, the companion is Rafael.
  • Rafael helps Tobias win the relative’s daughter as a wife.
  • Tobias retrieves the money.
  • Tobias returns with wife and money.
  • Rafael helps Tobias cure Tobit’s blindness.
  • Israel and Assyria (led by Holofernes) are at the point of war
  • An Assyrian advisor (Achior) advises against war
    • Holofernes rejects Achior’s counsel
    • Achior turned over to Israel
  • Holofernes attacks
    • Israel is beseiged, elders want to surrender
  • Judith refuses surrender, trusts God
    • Dolls herself up, heads to Assyrian camp
    • Endears herself to Holofernes
    • After Holofernes drinks himself drunk, Judith beheads him
  • Israel is saved
1 2 3 4 maccabees
1, 2, 3, & 4 Maccabees
  • Literature telling of the Maccabean revolt in 166–160 BC
  • Retellings of the same story, mostly
  • 1 Maccabees is primary
  • 2 Maccabees relies on 1 Maccabees
    • Greek is considered the toughest of the LXX
  • 3 Maccabees
    • Like a prequel to 1 Maccabees
  • 4 Maccabees
    • Particularly gruesome, focuses on torture and perseverance of the seven sons of Simon
    • Not considered deuterocanonical by Catholics
wisdom literature
Wisdom Literature
  • Wisdom of Sirach
    • aka Ecclesiasticus
    • Originally written in Hebrew, similar to Proverbs and other OT Wisdom literature

“The book contains moral, cultic, and ethical maxims, folk proverbs, psalms of praise and lament, theological and philosophical reflections, homiletic exhortations, and pointed observations about life and customs of the day.” (AYBD)

  • Wisdom of Solomon
    • aka simply “Wisdom”
other material in the lxx
Other Material in the LXX

Psalms of Solomon and Odes

  • Not claimed as deuterocanonical by Catholics
  • Odes has liturgical use among Orthodox
  • Usually labeled as Pseudepigrapha
the end
The End
  • Questions?
  • Contact:

Rick Brannan

Or ask a question on Faithlife: