Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Bible of the Apostles

If we agree with the ancient Jews that the LXX translation was a faulty translation, then why is such a substandard text part of Holy, Inspired Scripture? Doesn't the New Testament suggest that the LXX was considered not just trustworthy, but even preferred by the Apostles? This is not out of harmony with the testimony of the Early Church, which regarded it as a sound and inspired translation.

As a Bible believing Christian, facing this dilemma was not easy. I felt that by trying to honestly grapple with textual issues, I was questioning the authority of God's Word. This is not at all what I intended. I simply wanted integrity in my Christian faith. With time, as I struggled through some of these facts, I realized I needed to come to Scripture on its own terms, not on my expectations as a twentieth century Westerner. This desire for integrity aided me as I swallowed hard and proceeded to study the canon of the Old Testament.

The Eastern Orthodox Church has been most faithful to the apostles' Old Testament. They still use the LXX and usually base their translations of the Old Testament on it. Without needing objective proof for the veracity of this translation, they have simply held to what the apostles gave them. Their approach to the canon has not been philosophical or deductive, but spiritual, trusting that God established and is now watching over the Church He established.


http://www.kalvesmaki.com/otcanon.htm

There are some serious problems with this argument:

1. Needless to say, our extant editions of the LXX are not identical with the 1C editions of the Greek OT which NT authors had at their disposal. Therefore, it’s anachronistic as well as inaccurate to simply correlate one with the other.

2. As NT scholars have pointed out, NT writers don't simply quote the Greek OT verbatim. Rather, they feel free to reword their source. In that event, they don’t treat the wording of the Greek OT as inviolate.

3.To say NT writers quote the Greek OT doesn’t mean they quote the Greek OT exclusively. Some of their quotations are closer to the MT.

4.We also need to distinguish between NT speakers and NT writers. When NT writers quote NT speakers quoting the OT, they tend to use the Greek OT. But they also do so in settings where it’s unlikely that the speaker himself was quoting from the Greek OT. That would only make sense if they were addressing a Greek-speaking audience.

So this is probably a case in which the writer substitutes a different version for the benefit of the reader, in distinction to the original speaker and his immediate audience.

5. Apropos (4), NT writers quote the Greek OT because they’re writing to Greek-speaking Jews and Gentiles. For example the author of Hebrews is addressing Hellenistic Jewish-Christians. Therefore, as a practical necessity, he’s going to use a Greek version of the OT. That’s an unavoidable accommodation to his audience. An exercise in audience-adaptation.

Indeed, his use of the Greek OT may well be ad hominem. Answering them on their own terms by appealing to their own methods and sources.

25 comments:

  1. 1. No two manuscripts are identical, but it doesn't change the fundamental situation. Your statement is about as lucid as saying that the modern bible isn't identical to the 1st C one, so we can't regard them as equivilent.

    2. I didn't hear anyone claim it was "inviolate" whatever that is supposed to mean.

    3. How does this contradict what you quoted? Do you see the word "usually" in your extract there?

    4. How does that change the argument?

    5. (a) So what? (b) Presumably in all that dialog (you say it is often in dialog), the NT writers provided their own translation of all the dialog APART from scripture, where they avoid their own translation and go back to LXX. That they would go to their own translation skills for most of it, but go to the LXX for scripture, does more to help Mr Kalvesmaki's general thrust, than hurt it.

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  2. The question at issue, as Kalvesmaki himself chose to frame the issue, is whether the NT use of the LXX authorizes Christians to favor the LXX over the MT.

    For reasons I’ve given, most of which you ignore, it doesn’t.

    And there’s still a fatal equivocation over which edition of the LXX he’s referring to.

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  3. Dear Steve,

    I'm involved in a thread conversation over at Green Baggins which seems to touch upon the subject matter of this post. I'm woefully out of my league. I quoted one of your old blog posts ("Inerrancy and Textual Criticism") and thought that that was quite sufficient, but alas, I got thrown a spitter-curve that I have never seen before. Maybe you can assist?

    Here's the thread and it starts at #72.

    The line of argument that I'm unfamiliar with is this composite:

    "I deny that an original autograph existed.

    In my discussions on this topic I have been using the term “original autograph” as synonymous with an Urtext. Within textual criticism (of the OT especially) there are two schools of thought, (1) those who believe an Urtext existed, e.g. De Lagarde, and (2) those who don’t, e.g. Kahle. A simple example is that the MT and Vorlarge of the LXX differs to such an extent that it is unrealistic to argue that they are based upon a common text (an Urtext). I hope that makes things a little simpler.

    I certainly don’t think the issue is quite as complex for the NT as it is for the OT. That said, let’s take the issue of interpolations:

    1. Paul wrote a letter to the church at Corinth, say x.
    2. A redactor, guided by the Spirit, added some verses, say y.
    3. The final form of this letter which is found in every Bible is xy.
    Question: Which is the original autograph, x or xy?

    If we assume that all we have now are copies of xy and x how can we tell which is original? Ultimately we cannot, we could hypothosise that x was the original and y added later, or we could suggest that xy was original and y was accidently overlooked by copyists. Objectively we couldn’t decide between them.

    Personally I would prefer to forget about the concept of an original autograph and instead accept we have writings that the community of faith has recognised as authoritative and these writings don’t necessarily agree in text, so LXX Jeremiah is just as authoritative as MT Jeremiah even though they don’t agree and x is just as authoritative as xy in the example above."

    If you could shed some of your trademark clear-thinking on this matter, it would be much appreciated.

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  4. I'm not an expert on textual criticism, but I remember running into this argument before and it took me a while to get a good answer, so maybe a couple thoughts from the cheap seats:

    1) His hypothetical about Paul's epistles is just that, a hypothetical. That's not a reason to believe such a thing happened. Textually speaking, as he admits, discovering the autographa of the NT is not as difficult as it is for the OT.

    2) As for the OT, basically it is a matter of debate. Some scholars will make the argument that they know which, e.g., version of Jeremiah was the urtext, and some will argue that no one can do that, etc.

    His statement that "the MT and Vorlarge of the LXX differs to such an extent that it is unrealistic to argue that they are based upon a common text (an Urtext)," is basically just an assertion without argument, on the exact matter of the debate. Not everyone will concede it is "unrealistic" to so argue.

    Similarly, his statement that "Ultimately we cannot, we could hypothosise that x was the original and y added later, or we could suggest that xy was original and y was accidently overlooked by copyists... Objectively we couldn’t decide between them," begs the whole question of NT textual criticism. Textual critics argue they are able to distinguish original from accretions all the time.

    There's no one argument that will answer all the textual issues, but that's because of the nature of the issue: it's an empirical/historical argument about specific and different texts, so each one has to be dealt with on a case by case basis. This fact doesn't make it necessary that there is no urtext.

    (On the other hand, I don't think evangelicals should be afraid of redaction in general. For example, Luke probably redacted Mark, an inspired source, and used him to make a different inspired source. Or, another example, Moses probably updated some sources he had for Genesis (in terms of place names, etc.). That doesn`t make Genesis uninspired. So there is freedom to some degree for a history of redaction prior to the final form of the text, but there still needs to be a final form if we are going to hold the prophets and apostles, as opposed to the community in general, to be authoritative.)

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  5. Thanks much for your comment Andrew. It helps.

    I just have never heard of this argument before from those who believe that the Bible is errant.

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  6. No problem. I know what it's like to be hit by a curve-ball!

    If it is encouraging to you, I'd check out stuff by PJ Williams and Douglas Stuart (they are both scholars who are familiar with text-critical stuff and are interrantists). PJ Williams is one of the founding contributors to the blog "Evangelical Textual Criticism" (some of the contributors are not inerrantists, but he is). There are of course many more inerrantists who are familiar with OT text critical matters, but those are two I'm familiar with.

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  7. 1.A case of an urtext would be Paul dictating a letter to his amanuensis. Paul would then look over the transcription to see if it was satisfactory. Might suggest some corrections. He’d also keep a copy for himself.

    2.If you assume a liberal view of Scripture, then various books of the Bible are composite productions which passed through many different hands. On that assumption, it’s more a question of which text represents the final text, the finalized edition.

    That, of course, is based on liberal assumptions.

    3.We can’t really generalize about vorlage of the LXX. That would vary from book to book.

    4.Whether we can distinguish the urtext from scribal editions is a different question than whether there ever was an urtext.

    5.There are often ways to distinguish scribal additions from the original. That’s the point of textual criticism.

    6.In some cases it’s possible that the author himself issued more than one edition. In the Book of Jeremiah, for example, there are references within the text itself to earlier collections of his oracles. He issued oracles at different times. So there’s an expanding collection over time.

    7.Your disputant is simply postulated an undetectable, editorial addition. The onus is hardly on you to disprove a postulate for which he furnishes zero evidence.

    8.The “community of faith” is vague. What does that even refer to?

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  8. Thanks much Steve. And thanks again to Andrew. I did quickly peruse some of Dr. Williams's posts over at his group blog that pertains to this issue.

    Andrew and Steve, I will post your helpful comments over at the Green Baggins thread that I'm participating in.

    Thanks again.

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  9. "The question at issue, as Kalvesmaki himself chose to frame the issue, is whether the NT use of the LXX authorizes Christians to favor the LXX over the MT.

    For reasons I’ve given, most of which you ignore, it doesn’t."

    Well the evidence certainly doesn't give you cause to make the contrary claim that we must favor the MT over the LXX, because all your arguments work far better reversed, given that the vast majority of quotes are LXX. Is your MT the same as the Hebrew the apostles had? Who knows. You have far less cause for thinking the apostles had an MT based text (Hebrew or otherwise) than you have for thinking they had access to an LXX type text. For all you know, most of the non-LXX quotes in the NT actually came from a Hebrew text that was more like the LXX vorlage than the MT.

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  10. My thanks to providing spme thoughts to Truth Unites... and Divides' query about my points.

    If I may offer come comments to Andrew first and then Steve.

    Andrew is certainly correct that my hypothetical about Paul's epistles is hypothetical. My purpose was simply to provide an uncontroversial hypothetical to pose some questions neutrally.

    Regarding Jeremiah, Emanuel Tov in his Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible articulates the argument briefly that LXX Jeremiah is an earlier edition of Jeremiah (Edition I) whilst the MT version is a later expanded edition (Edition II).

    Concerning the goal of textual criticism, there have been shifts in what the goal is. Yes some textual critics have as their goal the recovery of the Urtext however there are more who do not have this as their goal. On pp. 31 of A Student's Guide to Textual Criticism of the Bible Paul D. Wegner lists six goals of textual criticism and can be read in Google Books. Interestingly Emanuel Tov accepts that an Urtext existed but argues he does not believe one could ever recover it.

    You are quite correct to talk of redaction prior to the final form of the text, the problem is that there exists a pluriformity of final forms. So compare the texts of Exodus in MT, LXX, SP and 4QpaleoExod^m. I would refer you to Eugene Ulrich's The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Origins of the Bible some of which can be previewed in Google Books as well.

    If I may now turn to Steve's points. Hopefully some of what I said above will be relevant. What I do wish to pick up on is your statement that "Whether we can distinguish the urtext from scribal editions is a different question than whether there ever was an urtext." Yes and no, the problem comes with what are we defining as the Urtext? Take the book of Deuteronomy as an example. Let's assume that Moses wrote the vast majority of it (Dtr1). He did not write the final chapter (DtrEnd). So what is the Urtext? Is it Dtr1 or is it Dtr1 + DtrEnd? If it is the latter then we are allowing for redactional editing and tradent activity to be a part of the Urtext. If that is the case, and if this type of activity continued until 1 C.E where we have a plufiformity of texts some from Egypt, some from Babylon and some from Palestine and a whole host of others the location of which are undetermined, then to speak of an Urtext (sing.) is wrong, rather we could speak of Urtexts (pl.).

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  11. STAVROS SAID:

    “Well the evidence certainly doesn't give you cause to make the contrary claim that we must favor the MT over the LXX…”

    I never said we should always favor the MT over the LXX. We should be eclectic. You are reducing this to an all-or-nothing choice, which is a false dichtomy.

    “…given that the vast majority of quotes are LXX.”

    If you read Victorian sermons, the vast majority of quotes are KJV.

    “…than you have for thinking they had access to an LXX type text.”

    Which fails to distinguish between the translation and the Hebrew text which underlies it.

    “Is your MT the same as the Hebrew the apostles had? Who knows.”

    Now you’re resorting to an argument from ignorance. But an argument from ignorance hardly favors the LXX.

    “For all you know, most of the non-LXX quotes in the NT actually came from a Hebrew text that was more like the LXX vorlage than the MT.”

    i) Once again, your tactical use of the argument from ignorance is self-defeating since that fails to favor the LXX.

    ii) In addition, the textual basis of NT quotes and allusions have to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

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  12. Psalterium:

    The problem with your hypothetical was that it was attempting to be anything but neutral. The conclusion we're supposed to draw from that hypothetical is that it is pointless to try to recover the original, because there might be some addition we cannot detect. But why should we believe there is such a thing? Certainly the hypothetical possibility that there might be such a thing is not a reason to do so. That's why Steve and I challenged that point.

    You may (probably are) right about what the majority (by how much?) opinion is in critical scholarship right now, but truth is not absolutely indexed to whatever the scholarly consensus is at any moment. I'm don't think that majority gives an evangelical warrant for doubting any argument could be made for reaching the urtext of the whole canon. Majorities in critical scholarship have been wrong before.

    I'm curious how one could assert with certainty that there are a plurality of *final* forms based simply on a current plurality of forms of text. That seems like it is begging the question a bit, to me.

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  13. psalterium,

    Your reply is trading on a number of key equivocations.

    1.In the OT, there’s a fundamental difference between a true prophet and a false prophet. A true prophet can speak for God because God has spoken to him. By contrast, a false prophet presumes to speak on God’s behalf despite the fact that God has not revealed himself to that individual.

    If you’re going to be true to the OT, then you can’t erase that distinction.

    2.Apropos (1), Jeremiah had a scribe. God spoke to Jeremiah. He didn’t speak to Baruch.

    3.Suppose Joshua wrote Deut 34. Joshua is not merely a scribe. He is, himself, a Bible writer.

    4.Apropos (3), we need to distinguish between what happened during the era of public revelation and what may have taken place thereafter (i.e. the Intertestamental Period).

    5.Not all editorial activity is the same. And not all “editors” are on a par.

    There’s a difference between compiling the oracles of a prophet, and presuming to speak in God’s name.

    There’s a difference between an uninspired scribe and a prophet.

    6.Apropos (4)-(5), not all texts are on a par.

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  14. "We should be eclectic."

    Should we? Perhaps, but you haven't shown us why. At best, maybe you have given some reasons why we *may* be eclectic, not why we should be eclectic. Kalvesmaki's argument is that the apostles were happy to accept the LXX as-is without running off to compare manuscripts and check the translation.

    "You are reducing this to an all-or-nothing choice, which is a false dichtomy."

    Where did I do that? Where? Where did Kalvesmaki do that?

    "If you read Victorian sermons, the vast majority of quotes are KJV."

    Do you equate Victorians with the assessment of the apostles?

    "Which fails to distinguish between the translation and the Hebrew text which underlies it."

    I'm not distinguishing, because that is not the current argument. You've set this up as MT vs LXX, and I'm saying there is probably no evidence that the apostles ever saw an MT style text. We might suppose that they saw a Hebrew text, but it may have been the type of text that underlies the LXX rather than an MT style one.

    Since we know there were MT style texts, and LXX style texts, and we know the apostles approved of the LXX style text, but don't know that they approved the MT style text, and given that the LXX is the only complete surviving witness to its text type, and that the apostles furthermore were approving of that translation, you don't have much in the way of objective argument for promoting the MT text based on apostolic evidence, over and against the LXX.

    That's not to say MT=bad, but only that Mr Kalvesmaki has a point.

    "Now you’re resorting to an argument from ignorance. But an argument from ignorance hardly favors the LXX."

    It's not an argument from ignorance to point out that the LXX has apostolic approval, and the MT has unknown approval. The Christian faith is always based on what is revealed, not those things that we are ignorant of.

    "In addition, the textual basis of NT quotes and allusions have to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis."

    While you are off on this expedition evaluating textual basis', Kalvesmaki's point is that the Church inherited from the apostles the tradition of using the LXX text. We have no information on the Church inheriting use of an MT style text.

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  15. As one Orthodox scholar explains:

    The reasons that led the Church to the adoption of the Septuagint text were not practical. As practical reasons, one might mention, on the one hand, the ignorance of Hebrew and, on the other, the suspicion towards the Jews of possible falsification of the Hebrew text. Furthermore, at the time in question, Greek was, for the East, the lingua franca and the interest of most Christian writers was not scientific but pastoral. Therefore in their writings they could refer to and comment upon a text that was understood by all.

    Nonetheless, the writers of the Church were fully conscious of the fact that, by quoting the
    Septuagint text, they were offering a translated text with all the shortcomings that this might involve-
    something they never tried to disguise. Indicative for our present argument are the views of Gregory of Nyssa, who, in order to counter the alleged intelligibility of the Old Testament, stressed that difficulties in understanding the Old Testament text were due to deficient renderings of Hebrew syntax into Greek, he pointed out that the problem would have been solved, if those who leveled the charges had had sufficient knowledge of Hebrew1. John Chrysostom was on the same wavelength as Gregory, maintaining that the reason for difficulty in understanding the Old Testament lay in problems of semantic transfer, from the source text into another language2. Much later as well, during the 9th century Patriarch Photius returned to the subject in question and enumerated ten shortcomings of the translation vis-à-vis the original text3.

    The above examples demonstrate that the Church not only did not reject the original Hebrew Old
    Testament text, but that the Church writers in fact frequently referred to it when trying to find solutions to hermeneutic problems or to elucidate ambiguities in the Septuagint. The extant tables for transcribing the Hebrew alphabet into Greek, dated from the fourth to the tenth century, lead to the same conclusion. It is noteworthy that in these tables the recording of the alphabet is done by the teaching method of the time, namely, memorization-a fact which testifies to the interest by church officials in the teaching and learning of Hebrew. The study of Professor Elias Oikonomos on this topic, The Hebrew Language and the Greek Fathers4, from which these examples have been taken, is especially illuminating.

    To the illustrations noted by Oikonomos might be added, as an example, that of Procopius of Gaza
    (A.D. 465-527)5, since it is typical...He went even farther and, in order to defend the Septuagint, went back to the original Hebrew text. After having presented several passages where the Hebrew word el is rendered by “God” he reached the conclusion that the Septuagint translators were correct in translating el gibor as “Mighty God”1. The same practice was followed by Procopius in all his work.

    The above items, besides the demonstrative character of their presentation, suffice to support the view that the Church during her first millennium, did not tie herself to a specific textual tradition of the Old Testament, nor did she ever reject the original Hebrew text. It was for purely practical reasons that she used the Septuagint text.

    http://www.orthodoxanswers.org/eob/eobintro.pdf

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  16. Stavros said...

    “Should we? Perhaps, but you haven't shown us why. At best, maybe you have given some reasons why we *may* be eclectic, not why we should be eclectic.”

    i) God inspired the Hebrew OT (and a bit of Aramaic). He revealed himself in Hebrew words. Therefore, that’s the standard of comparison.

    ii) If there’s evidence that the LXX sometimes bears indirect witness to a more authentic reading of the underlying Hebrew text, then we should favor the LXX in that particular case.

    iii) If, on the other hand, the MT generally preserves a more authentic reading, then we should favor the MT in such cases.

    iii) And there’s an obvious difference between a Hebrew transcription of a Hebrew text, and a Greek translation of Hebrew text.

    “Kalvesmaki's argument is that the apostles were happy to accept the LXX as-is without running off to compare manuscripts and check the translation.”

    And I raised a number of counterarguments to that loose, equivocal, and facile argument.

    “Where did I do that? Where? Where did Kalvesmaki do that?”

    Now you’re playing dumb.

    “Do you equate Victorians with the assessment of the apostles?”

    Once again, you’re playing dumb.

    “I'm not distinguishing, because that is not the current argument. You've set this up as MT vs LXX.”

    The distinction remains. The LXX is a translation. The MT is a transcription.

    “And I'm saying there is probably no evidence that the apostles ever saw an MT style text. We might suppose that they saw a Hebrew text, but it may have been the type of text that underlies the LXX rather than an MT style one.”

    That’s why we have textual criticism. To help sort out these issues.

    “Since we know there were MT style texts, and LXX style texts, and we know the apostles approved of the LXX style text, but don't know that they approved the MT style text, and given that the LXX is the only complete surviving witness to its text type, and that the apostles furthermore were approving of that translation, you don't have much in the way of objective argument for promoting the MT text based on apostolic evidence, over and against the LXX.”

    i) What we know is that when the Apostles were addressing a Greek-speaking audience, they use the same language as the target-audience.

    ii) We also know that God inspired the Hebrew OT.

    iii) Likewise, we know from certain phenomena like Markan transliterations of Aramaic words that Jesus didn’t always teach in Greek.

    Logical men can draw the obvious conclusions. Illogical men like you can deny the obvious.

    “It's not an argument from ignorance to point out that the LXX has apostolic approval, and the MT has unknown approval. The Christian faith is always based on what is revealed, not those things that we are ignorant of.”

    Greek Orthodox editions of the LXX do not enjoy apostolic approval. Therefore, you’ve just torpedoed your own argument. Would you like me to send a lifeboat before you drown?

    “While you are off on this expedition evaluating textual basis', Kalvesmaki's point is that the Church inherited from the apostles the tradition of using the LXX text.”

    The tradition of using a Greek version of the OT when addressing 1C Greek-speaking Jews and Gentiles.

    “We have no information on the Church inheriting use of an MT style text.”

    We have information on God revealing himself to the Jews in the Hebrew language.

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  17. "i) God inspired the Hebrew OT (and a bit of Aramaic). He revealed himself in Hebrew words. Therefore, that’s the standard of comparison."

    It's one data point. But that datapoint is tempered, not only by our lack of the original Hebrew, but also that the apostles saw things in the Greek that are not obvious in the Hebrew. Like "a virgin will be with child and bear a son", but there are a number of examples where an apostolic point doesn't work very clearly from the MT.

    "ii) If there’s evidence that the LXX sometimes bears indirect witness to a more authentic reading of the underlying Hebrew text, then we should favor the LXX in that particular case. "

    Except that it is rarely so straightforward since we do not possess a full manuscript history from the time it was written, unlike the NT. As the comment in "Invitation to the Septuagint" (P150) says, "With frustrating frequency, even the most capable scholar will be unable to decide with certainty whether a given reading in the Greek is due to a variant parent text or to the work of the translator".'

    "Now you’re playing dumb."

    You were hoping to push me and Kalvesmaki into an extreme position, but it failed.

    "That’s why we have textual criticism. To help sort out these issues."

    All very well, but outside of the Orthodox world, all bibles seem to be essentially MT based, with occasional corrections from the MT. In the Orthodox world the LXX is the starting point, with appropriate corrections from the MT. Both use textual criticism. This is where Kalvesmaki's argument enters the picture.

    "i) What we know is that when the Apostles were addressing a Greek-speaking audience, they use the same language as the target-audience."

    We know a little more than that. We know that they chose to quote the LXX when they could have just as well provided their own translation. And this choice provides an endorsement of a textual tradition.

    "ii) We also know that God inspired the Hebrew OT. "

    Don't confuse the inspired Hebrew with the MT.

    "Greek Orthodox editions of the LXX do not enjoy apostolic approval. Therefore, you’ve just torpedoed your own argument. Would you like me to send a lifeboat before you drown?"

    LXX editions of whatever stripe and source are far closer in their textual stream to the LXX the apostles used, than the LXX the apostles used is to the MT. And since we don't know the apostles used an MT type text, it places the LXX closer to demonstrable apostolic endorsement in its text type than the MT.

    "We have information on God revealing himself to the Jews in the Hebrew language."

    So when the Hebrew we have seems to be the vorlage of the LXX, we've got a text more likely to be the one the apostles approved of, than if we started from MT.

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  18. And whaddya do when the Gospel departs from both lines of text?

    Michael Marlowe has some great stuff here-
    http://www.bible-researcher.com/quote01.html

    Mark 4:12. See remarks on Mat. 13:14-15 above. Mark departs from both the Hebrew and Septuagint with the interpretation, "and it should be forgiven them," instead of "and I should heal them" (Septuagint) or "and be healed" (Hebrew).

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  19. STAVROS SAID:

    “It's one data point. But that datapoint is tempered, not only by our lack of the original Hebrew.”

    And we lack the original LXX.

    “But also that the apostles saw things in the Greek that are not obvious in the Hebrew. Like ‘a virgin will be with child and bear a son’, but there are a number of examples where an apostolic point doesn't work very clearly from the MT.”

    You’re assuming, without benefit of argument, that the “fulfillment” depends on the specific wording of the LXX. In that case they “saw things” which were not, in fact, resident in the original. In that case, Isaiah’s oracle does not, in fact, predict the birth of Christ. You’re reducing Messianic prophecy to a retrojective illusion.

    “Except that it is rarely so straightforward since we do not possess a full manuscript history from the time it was written, unlike the NT. As the comment in "Invitation to the Septuagint" (P150) says, ‘With frustrating frequency, even the most capable scholar will be unable to decide with certainty whether a given reading in the Greek is due to a variant parent text or to the work of the translator’.”

    Which undermines your case since it demonstrates the difficulty of using the LXX via the NT to reconstruct the Hebrew vorlage.

    “All very well, but outside of the Orthodox world, all bibles seem to be essentially MT based, with occasional corrections from the MT. In the Orthodox world the LXX is the starting point, with appropriate corrections from the MT.”

    i) Since the OT was written in Hebrew rather than Greek, a Hebrew transcription enjoys logical precedence over a Greek translation.

    ii) Moreover, the textual transmission of the LXX is, itself, a very thorny issue.

    “We know a little more than that. We know that they chose to quote the LXX when they could have just as well provided their own translation. And this choice provides an endorsement of a textual tradition.”

    They use the LXX the way a Victorian preacher uses the KJV.

    “Don't confuse the inspired Hebrew with the MT.”

    i) Don’t confuse the inspired Hebrew with the LXX.

    ii) And don’t confuse extant editions of the LXX with whatever edition of the Greek OT that NT writers had at their disposal.

    iii) In either case we need to reconstruct the original, as best we can, from extant MSS, viz. the MT, DDS, LXX, SP, &c.

    Since, in either case, we have to reconstruct the original, then it’s not as if variant translations are preferable to variant transcriptions. A variant transcription is one step removed from the original whereas a variant translation is two steps removed from the original.

    “LXX editions of whatever stripe and source are far closer in their textual stream to the LXX the apostles used, than the LXX the apostles used is to the MT. And since we don't know the apostles used an MT type text, it places the LXX closer to demonstrable apostolic endorsement in its text type than the MT.”

    One of your problems is that you recycle the same stale arguments even though I’ve responded to your arguments. Mere apostolic use of the Greek OT is insufficient to prove your point, for reasons I’ve already given (e.g. audience adaptation). For you to paraphrase the same stale argument time and again despite the demonstrable flaws in your argument does nothing to advance your a case. To the contrary, it illustrates the weakness of your case. When your major argument is shot down, you have no fallback.

    “So when the Hebrew we have seems to be the vorlage of the LXX, we've got a text more likely to be the one the apostles approved of, than if we started from MT.”

    That only applies in those cases where the LXX seems to preserve a more authentic reading than the MT.

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  20. "You’re assuming, without benefit of argument, that “fulfillment” depends on the specific wording of the LXX. In that case they “saw things” which were not, resident in the original."

    You're assuming that the MT is "the original"

    We don't know what the vorlage is of the LXX. Its text type only exists in fragments.

    "Which undermines your case since it demonstrates the difficulty of using the LXX via the NT to reconstruct the Hebrew vorlage."

    You're assuming that reconstructing the Hebrew is a necessity instead of a luxury.

    "i) Since the OT was written in Hebrew rather than Greek, a Hebrew transcription enjoys logical precedence over a Greek translation."

    Why would a problematic transcription have precedence over an important translation?

    For example, what is more important in NT textual criticism: The Textus Receptus, or the old Latin?

    "ii) Moreover, the textual transmission of the LXX is, itself, a very thorny issue."

    There are thorny issues everywhere. That's not an argument.

    "They use the LXX the way a Victorian preacher uses the KJV."

    Victorian preachers weren't inspired. If Victorian preachers quoted the KJV under inspiration, I'd be interested to know about it.

    If the apostles used the KJV, then I for one would want to be using the TR/KJV as the starting point for my text. That doesn't mean I would ignore everything else, but it would be a starting point.

    I want to be on a textual stream that is on the same line as what the apostles used.

    "i) Don’t confuse the inspired Hebrew with the LXX."

    Ahh, but the apostles did confuse it, so I don't feel too guilty about it.

    "ii) And don’t confuse extant editions of the LXX with whatever edition of the Greek OT that NT writers had at their disposal."

    I won't, but I recognise they are closer textually to what the apostles used than can be demonstrated the MT.

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  21. "iii) In either case we need to reconstruct the original, as best we can, from extant MSS, viz. the MT, DDS, LXX, SP, &c."

    Have fun with that, but Kalvesmaki's point is that the apostles approved the LXX for use in the church, and reconstructing the Hebrew may not be possible. In fact, all scholars know that the LXX contains original readings that exist nowhere in the MT, or in any Hebrew manuscript for that matter. So reconstruction must of necessity be speculative.

    "Since, in either case, we have to reconstruct the original..."

    We do? Who said we do?

    "A variant transcription is one step removed from the original whereas a variant translation is two steps removed from the original."

    And a speculative reconstruction is THREE steps removed!

    And you assume that the transcription steps are the same size as the translation steps.

    What is more accurate at 1Jn 5:7 ? The TR, or the NASB?

    "Mere apostolic use of the Greek OT is insufficient to prove your point, for reasons I’ve already given (e.g. audience adaptation). For you to paraphrase the same stale argument time and again despite the demonstrable flaws in your argument"

    1) Apostolic approval is the entire foundation of Christendom. For you to characterise it as "mere", shows you have a severely flawed epistemology.

    2) Audience adaption is the tool of the liberal. The end game is asserting that nothing the apostles said has authority because they were merely adapting to their audience.

    3) You don't actually present a better demonstrable solution. You have a presupposition that the MT as a transcription is more accurate than the LXX as a translation.

    " those cases where the LXX seems to preserve a more authentic reading than the MT."

    Except that there isn't the manuscript tradition that exists for the NT, from which an informed decision could be made. The MT is essentially one witness, since it is the result of some past redaction. The LXX is also one witness. It's not like we have 5000 witnesses with which we can weigh manuscripts. We can weigh a little internal evidence, and that's about all. But as a foundational starting point, it is one witness versus one witness.

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  22. STAVROS SAID:

    “You're assuming that the MT is ‘the original’."

    I make no such assumption. You disregard my stated qualifications.

    “We don't know what the vorlage is of the LXX. Its text type only exists in fragments.”

    Which is a problem for your position, not mine.

    “You're assuming that reconstructing the Hebrew is a necessity instead of a luxury.”

    God inspired the Hebrew OT. Scribes make mistakes when they transcribe a text. If we wish to know, believe, and obey the word of God, then it’s incumbent on us to make a reasonable effort to use accurate editions of the Scriptures.

    “Why would a problematic transcription have precedence over an important translation?”

    Of course, you phrase the question in tendentious terms, as if the LXX were unproblematic.

    i) But both the MT and the LXX raise text-critical issues. To that extent, the LXX shares the same problems as the MT.

    ii) It, however, suffers from an additional problem since it’s a translation rather than a transcription. And a very uneven translation at that. It, therefore, is further removed from the urtext than the MT.

    “There are thorny issues everywhere. That's not an argument.”

    If textual transmission is a problem for the MT, then it’s a problem for the LXX. It’s only your blind partisanship which allows you to selectively emphasize textual transmission in relation to the MT while you deemphasize textual transmission in relation to the LXX.

    “For example, what is more important in NT textual criticism: The Textus Receptus, or the old Latin?”

    Actually, that comparison proves my point rather than yours. For all its flaws, the TR is closer to the urtext than the old Latin.

    “Victorian preachers weren't inspired. If Victorian preachers quoted the KJV under inspiration, I'd be interested to know about it.”

    You continue to play dumb. Since you choose to act like an idiot, I guess I’ll have to treat you like one. What is the point of my comparison? Simple. Why did Victorian preachers quote the KJV? Because they were addressing an English-speaking audience. The same reason the NT was written in Greek–the lingua franca of the Greco-Roman empire.

    ii) Moreover, your rejoinder would only work under the assumption that the LXX–unlike the KJV–was inspired–for which you offer no argument.

    “If the apostles used the KJV, then I for one would want to be using the TR/KJV as the starting point for my text. That doesn't mean I would ignore everything else, but it would be a starting point. I want to be on a textual stream that is on the same line as what the apostles used.”

    That’s a rather ironic claim coming from an Orthodox churchman. According to two of the church fathers (Papias, Eusebius), Matthew wrote a Gospel in Hebrew (Hist. Eccl. 3.39; Adv. Haer. 3.1.1). So what textual stream would that represent? I’d expect an Orthodox churchman to show greater deference to the church fathers.

    “Ahh, but the apostles did confuse it, so I don't feel too guilty about it.”

    A fallacious inference. Quoting a translation doesn’t equate the translation with the urtext. You continue to play dumb.

    For example, The Orthodox Study Bible quotes the Bible in English. Does that mean the editors and translators of the Orthodox Study Bible equate an English translation of the LXX with the LXX itself?

    Who needs the LXX as long as we have an English translation of the LXX? After all, you treat a translation as superseding the original.

    “I won't, but I recognise they are closer textually to what the apostles used than can be demonstrated the MT.”

    What the apostles sometimes used when addressing Greek speakers.

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  23. “Have fun with that, but Kalvesmaki's point is that the apostles approved the LXX for use in the church.”

    i) They didn’t approve of the Luciana recension–to take one example. You like to play this little shell game, as if no one will notice.

    ii) And they didn’t approve of the LXX for use in non-Greek-speaking churches.

    “We do? Who said we do?”

    I realize that you yourself don’t care about God’s word. You only care about your man-made traditions.

    As such, it’s irrelevant to you how far a MSS departs from the words that God actually inspired. If there were no correspondence whatsoever between the inspired urtext and some loose, error-ridden translation, that would be fine by you as long as the translation enjoyed the sanction of your denomination.

    You’re a follower of men, not of God.

    “And a speculative reconstruction is THREE steps removed!”

    As usual, you prefer to play dumb. Since you act like an idiot, I’ll treat you like one.

    Whether you use the MT, LXX, Vulgate, or whatever, there are text-critical issues. Extant MSS depart from the original to one degree or another.

    It’s not a choice between our having a critical edition of the Hebrew OT, on the one hand–and having the very same edition of the Greek OT which NT speakers and writers used. In both cases, you can either content yourself some random MS, or else you can favor a particular textual tradition, or else you can favor an eclectic recension.

    “And you assume that the transcription steps are the same size as the translation steps.”

    To the contrary, the transcription steps are smaller than the translation steps. Of course, you can have a mistranscription–but by the same token, you can also have a mistranslation.

    “What is more accurate at 1Jn 5:7 ? The TR, or the NASB?”

    A trick question. What is more accurate is the latest UBS edition.

    “Apostolic approval is the entire foundation of Christendom. For you to characterise it as ‘mere’, shows you have a severely flawed epistemology.”

    i) You continue to play this brainless bait-and-switch game. What the Apostles approve of is the use of vernacular translations when addressing an audience that doesn’t know the original.

    ii) You, by contrast, are doing just the opposite, and thereby subverting the intent of the Apostles. You are trying to impose a translation on an audience which doesn’t know that language.

    You’re a modern-day Pharisee. You mechanically reproduce the externals in defiance of the underlying rationale. Jesus frequently reproved the Pharisees for their dead formalism and mock piety. You’re a true son of the Pharisees.

    iii) You’re also very selective in the evidence you cite. For instance, was Jesus quoting the LXX in Mt 27:46 (par. Mk 15:34)? Obviously not.

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  24. “Audience adaption is the tool of the liberal. The end game is asserting that nothing the apostles said has authority because they were merely adapting to their audience.”

    i) You’re being willfully obtuse. Why do the apostles use Greek when addressing a Greek-speaking audience? Because they have to communicate with their target audience in a language which is comprehensible to their target audience. So, by your logic, we should classify the apostles as liberals.

    ii) When I mouse over to the website of the Greek Orthodoxy Archdiocese of America (http://www.goarch.org/), it’s in English! Audience adaptation. Clearly the Greek Orthodox clerics running the Diocese are a bunch of closet liberals!

    Then there’s The Greek Orthodox Study Bible–in English! Clearly a liberal tool.

    Then we have liberals like Cyril and Methodius, who produced Slavonic translations of Scripture and liturgy!

    iii) And since you bring up the issue of liberalism, I’d point out that the Orthodox church is quite open to liberal Bible criticism. I’ve documented various examples on this blog.

    “You don't actually present a better demonstrable solution. You have a presupposition that the MT as a transcription is more accurate than the LXX as a translation.”

    A presupposition I share in common with St. Philaret, metropolitan of Moscow.

    “Except that there isn't the manuscript tradition that exists for the NT, from which an informed decision could be made. The MT is essentially one witness, since it is the result of some past redaction.”

    A straw man argument since I never said we should rely exclusively on the MT. Indeed, I said just the opposite. I favor an eclectic approach, using the MT, DDS, SP, DSS, &c.

    “But as a foundational starting point, it is one witness versus one witness.”

    And some witnesses are closer to the source than others.

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  25. "So, by your logic, we should classify the apostles as liberals."

    The problem isn't audience adaption, the problem is writing off everything as mere audience adaption. You didn't see the word mere above?

    "A presupposition I share in common with St. Philaret, metropolitan of Moscow."

    So long as you realise it is a presupposition, now you can stop beating up on Kalvesmaki.

    "I favor an eclectic approach, using the MT, DDS, SP, DSS, &c."

    Which is ok as far as it goes, but doesn't really refute Kalvesmaki's position.

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