A few years ago, I discovered the bible of the early Church – the Septuagint. Since then, I have gobbled every bit of information that I could find on it. Unfortunately, I missed the International Septuagint Day – which I have now began a petition to have declared a Federal Holiday – but I did find this post for those that simply refuse the Septuagint.
In honour of International Septuagint Day, I thought I would provide some of the top reasons why we should study the Septuagint today:
- The Septuagint preserves a number of Jewish-Greek writings from the pre-Christian era not contained in the Hebrew Bible (known in Christian circles as the Apocrypha or the Deuterocanonical works)
- As such, study of the LXX can provide a glimpse into the thought and theology of diaspora Jews before the common era.
- For the majority of the books of the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, the LXX provides us the earliest witness to the biblical text (earlier than most of Hebrew witnesses found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, for example) and is indispensable for textual criticism.
- The LXX provides a unique glimpse into the literary and textual development for some books of the Old Testament (e.g., Jeremiah, Esther, Daniel), as well as the sometimes fuzzy border between literary development and textual transmission.
- Insofar that all translations are interpretations, the LXX provides one of the earliest commentaries on the Hebrew Bible.
- The LXX gives us a glimpse of the shape of the OT canon before the common era (at least for Greek-speaking Judaism in the diaspora, perhaps not for Palestinian Jews).
- The LXX functioned as the Bible of most of the early Greek-speaking Christians (and continues to function as such for the Greek Orthodox Church).
- In connection with the previous point, the LXX often served as a theological lexicon for the writers of the NT, and as such it provides a fruitful avenue of research into the background of many of the theological terms and concepts in the NT.
- The LXX was the preferred Scriptures for many of the early church fathers and is essential for understanding early theological discussions.
Doug at Metacatholic also posts.
UPDATE: Nick also acknowledges the Day and gives us a list of others who have written better articles than I on the topic:
- Reasons to Study the Septuagint (in Honour of International Septuagint Day) – Tyler F. Williams
- International Septuagint Day – Doug Chaplin
- Haben sie eine Septuaginta? — John F. Hobbins
- International Septuagint Day! – Chris Brady
- The Importance of the Septuagint for Biblical Studies — Douglas Mangum
- International Septuagint Day — Duane Smith
- A belated happy International Septuagint Day — Christopher Heard
- International Septuagint Day – Kevin P. Edgecomb
- On the Use of the LXX (in Honor of International Septuagint Day) – Esteban Vázquez
- Happy Septuagint Day – Micahel F. Bird
- Septuagint Day — Suzanne McCarthy