What is the LXX?
A figment of someone's imagination.
First, let's define what the LXX is supposed to be. An
ancient document called "The Letter of Aristeas" revealed a plan to make
an OFFICIAL translation of the Hebrew Bible (the Old
Testament) in Greek. This translation was to be accepted as the official
Bible of the Jews and was to replace the Hebrew Bible.
Supposedly this translation work would be performed by 72 Jewish scholars
(?), six from each of the twelve tribes of Israel. The supposed location
of the work was to be Alexandria, Egypt. The alleged date of translation
was supposedly around 250 BC, during the 400 years of silence between the
close of the Old Testament in 397 BC and the birth of Christ in
approximately 4 BC (due to a four year error in the calendar).
It has become known as the Septuagint, "The Interpretation of the 70
Elders". Also it is represented by the Roman (?) numerals whose combined
value is 70, hence L-50, X-10, X-10. Why it isn't called the LXXII
I'll never know.
This so called "Letter of Aristeas" is the sole
evidence for the existence of this mystical document. There are absolutely
NO Greek Old Testament manuscripts existent with a date
of 250 BC or anywhere near it. Neither is there any record in Jewish
history of such a work being contemplated or performed.
When pressed to produce hard evidence of the
existence of such a document, scholars quickly point to Origen's Hexapla
written around 200 AD, or approximately 450 years later
than the LXX was supposedly penned, and more than 100 years after the New
Testament was completed. The second column of Origen's Hexapla contains
his own (hardly 72 Jewish scholars) Greek translation of
the Old Testament including spurious books such as "Bel and the Dragon",
"Judith" and "Tobit" and other apocryphal books accepted as authoritative
only by the Roman Catholic Church.
Proponents of the invisible LXX will try to claim that Origen didn't
translate the Hebrew into Greek, but only copied the LXX into the second
column of his Hexapla. Can this argument be correct? No. If it were, then
that would mean that those astute 72 Jewish scholars added the Apocryphal
books to their work before they were ever written.
(!) Or else, Origen took the liberty to add these
spurious writings to God's Holy Word (Rev. 22:18).
Thus we see that the second column of the Hexapla is Origen's
personal, unveilable translation of the Old Testament into Greek and
Eusebius and Philo, both of questionable character, make mention of a
Greek Pentateuch. Hardly the entire Old Testament and not mentioned as any
kind of an officially accepted translation.
Is there ANY Greek manuscript of the Old Testament written BEFORE the
time of Christ? Yes. There is one minute scrap dated at 150 BC, the
Ryland's Papyrus, #458. It contains Deuteronomy chapters 23-28. No more.
No less. If fact, it may be the existence of this fragment that led
Eusebius and Philo to assume that the entire Pentateuch
had been translated by some scribe in an effort to interest Gentiles in
the history of the Jews. It most certainly cannot be a portion of any
pretended official Old Testament translation into Greek. We can rest
assured that those 72 Jewish scholars supposedly chosen for the work in
250 BC would be just a mite feeble by 150 BC.
Besides the non-existence of any reason to believe such a translation
was ever produced are several hurtles which the "Letter of Aristeas",
Origen's Hexapla, Ryland's #458, and Eusebius and Philo just
The first one is the "Letter of Aristeas" itself. There is little
doubt amongst scholars today that it was not written by
anyone named Aristeas. In fact, some believe its true
author is Philo. This would give it an A.D. date. If this were true, then
its REAL intention would be to deceive believers into
thinking that Origen's second column is a copy of the LXX. A feat that it
has apparently accomplished "in spades".
If there was an Aristeas, he was faced with two
First, how did he ever locate the twelve tribes in
order to pick his six representative scholars from each. Having been
thoroughly scattered by their many defeats and captivities, the tribal
lines of the 12 tribes had long since dissolved into virtual
non-existence. It was impossible for anyone
to distinctly identify the 12 individual tribes.
Secondly, if the 12 tribes had been identified, they
would not have undertaken such a translation for two compelling reasons.
(1) Every Jew knew that the official caretaker of Scripture was the
tribe of Levi as evidenced in Deuteronomy 17:18, 31:25,26 and Malachi 2:7.
Thus, NO Jew of any of the eleven other tribes would
dare join such a forbidden enterprise.
(2) It is obvious to any reader of the Bible that the
Jews were to be distinctly different from the Gentile nations around them.
Unto them was given such distinct practices as circumcision, Sabbath
worship, sundry laws of cleansing and their own homeland. Added to this is
the heritage of the Hebrew language. Even today, practicing Jews in China
and India refuse to teach their children any language but Hebrew. The
Falasha Jews of Ethiopia were distinct among the many tribes of their
country by the fact that they jealously retained the Hebrew language as an
evidence of their Jewish heritage.
Are we to be so naive as to believe that the Jews who considered
Gentiles nothing more than dogs, would willingly forsake
their heritage, the Hebrew language, for a Gentile language into which
would be translated the holiest possession of all, their Bible? Such a
supposition is as insane as it is absurd.
"What then," one might ask, "of the numerous quotes in the New
Testament of the Old Testament that are ascribed to the LXX?" The LXX they
speak of is nothing more than the second column of Origen's Hexapia. The
New Testament quotations are not quotes of any LXX or the
Hexapla. They are the author, the Holy Spirit, taking the liberty of
quoting His work in the Old Testament in whatever manner He wishes. And we
can rest assured that He certainly is not quoting any non-existent
Only one more question arises. Then why are scholars
so quick to accept the existence of this LXX in the face of such
irrefutable arguments against it? The answer is sad and simple.
Hebrew is an extremely difficult language to learn. It takes years of
study to attain a passing knowledge of it. And many more to be well enough
versed to use it as a vehicle of study. By comparison a working knowledge
of Greek is easily attainable. Thus, IF THERE WAS an official translation
of the Old Testament into Greek, Bible critics could triple
the field of influence overnight without a painstaking study of biblical
Hebrew. Unfortunately, the acceptance of the existence of the Septuagint
on such thin evidence is based solely on pride and voracity.
But stop and think. Even if such a spurious document as the LXX really
did exist, how could a Bible critic, who, in reference to the King James
Bible, say that "No translation has the authority of the original
language, " claim in the same breath that his pet LXX has equal authority
with the Hebrew Original? This scholarly double-talk is nothing more than
a self exalting authority striving to keep his scholarly position above
those "unschooled in the original languages."
If you accept such an argument, I have a bridge to sell you in