We are past the midway point of our blog tour discussing T. Michael Law’s When God Spoke Greek: The Septuagint and the Making of the Christian Bible. Yesterday, Abram K-J reviewed Chapters 7-8, where Law has much to say about (1) how the diversity of texts began to morph into a more unified, controlled textual tradition and (2) how the authors of the New Testament used the Septuagint freely to write to Greek speaking Christians. It is this second topic that I’d like to discuss with those who are interested.
As you may know the Orthodox tradition continues to use the Septuagint as their standard Old Testament. It was the Bible of most of the early Church. The Septuagint is the reason for the formation of many central Christian doctrines, maybe most notably the virgin birth, which Greek Isaiah 7:14 presents clearly, while Hebrew Isaiah does not. As Christians began to debate matters related to Jesus’ divinity, or the triunity of God, their authoritative texts were the Greek Old Testament and the (forming) Greek New Testament.
It appears that the person who was most influential in the West’s decision to go with texts based on Hebrew manuscripts was Jerome in the late fourth-early fifth centuries. Those of us who are children of the Reformation have traditionally affirmed Ad Fontes! to mean back to the “original” Hebrew texts (an idea I think you’d find strongly contested in Law’s book, but you have to read it for yourself), but is this correct? Would it be better to think of the “sources” as Greek, not Hebrew, when discussing Christian orthodoxy and orthopraxy (i.e., liturgical use of Scripture)?
This is my question: Do you think Christians should reconsider the Eastern tradition of using the Septuagint as our authoritative Old Testament? If so, why? If not, why do you prefer the Hebrew text? Or do you have a completely unique take on the matter you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments.