LXX

“You know that stuff you were telling me about the Dead Sea Scrolls?”

Sure, what about them?

“Well, you happened to mention the Septuagint along the way.”

Right.

“You see, I don’t know much about it either. Especially about those Roman numerals—I think you call them—they don’t teach them in school any longer.”

Hard to read old clocks then—especially if you wanted to know the time when you found yourself in a square of some old world town in Europe.

“Yeah. Well I don’t expect to be going to Europe any time soon with the cost of things in Euros as high as they are. But what about the LXX—I think you said that was the abbreviation for the Septuagint—did I get that right?”

You sure did.

“Well?”

Well, what?

“Well, tell me why the LXX is abbreviated that way.”

Oh. Sure. You see when they were collecting books for the great ancient library of Alexandria in Egypt, they thought they’d try to get hold of every book in the world.

“Silly, huh?”

Of course, would be impossible—even then. But, in the process, they decided to obtain a copy of the Old Testament. But they wanted it translated into Greek—which was the language of the area (as well as much of the world of the day).

“But you said those are Roman numerals—whey not Greek numerals?”

The Greeks used letters of the alphabet for numbers—didn’t have anything like the Roman numerals. You remember the number 666 in Revelation? They totaled the number of a man who was referred to under that code name there. The fact that there were no special numbers for the Greeks may have had something to do with it. Don’t know if anyone is sure that’s why. But, anyway, the Roman numerals LXX stand for seventy. Old Bible chapters were designated by Roman numerals too, buy the way.

“Yeah. I’ve seen that; can be confusing. But back to the LXX—why that number–there aren’t 70 Old Testament books.”

No, of course not. But the number 70 doesn’t have anything to do with the books themselves—it has to do with the translators.

“Oh. What about them?”

The myth (you may prefer to call it “scuttlebutt”)—I call it that because no one knows how the translation took place or how many people really worked at it—is that 70 translators, working in separate quarters each translated the entire Old Testament, and that, when they compared the final results, every one of the translations was precisely the same—word for word.

“Wow! That would be some feat! Miraculous!”

Yep. Indeed, people have always been adding their own spurious miracles to the genuine ones found in the Scriptures. It’s a shame, because it tends to cast doubt on true miracles. But—nevertheless—the shorthand LXX stuck with scholars as a handy abbreviation, and thus we have LXX.

By the way, not enough study has been done in the LXX; it merits a lot more than people have given to it. That’s because, as I noted in the previous article, the LXX is more often quoted in the New Testament than the Hebrew. As I also said, I’m thankful that in their footnotes, principal differences between the LXX and the DSS and the Hebrew Text are noted in the HCSB.

“Guess I’d better get a copy.”

Wouldn’t hurt.

feedbaqck@nouthetic.org

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