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Septuagint - SadbF - 05-14-2018

Hello everyone.

I'm the new girl!! Hi!! I will post a introduction of myself as soon as possible. However, I wished to ask a question and I truly hope I can get assistance.

I was talking with a friend about prayers for the dead. I mentioned Maccabee 1 and 2. Then I said that it is in ancient Jewish texts. She asked which one. I said Septuagint. 

She called me over the weekend and she said that this was not a Jewish text. In fact, she went so far as to contact a rabbi and asked for clarification. She sent me that email. 

Here it is:  
[My Friend]

"Sorry to disappoint you but, the Septuagint, while extremely important in world history, is not that important in Jewish history. The Torah, as well as the rest of the Jewish Bible, is written in Hebrew. (A teeny bit is written in Aramaic but it's like .01%.) The Jews spoke Hebrew and Aramaic. Translating the Jewish Bible into Greek was a huge event for Greek scholars but it didn't really affect the average Jew - even the average Jewish scholar. We have always used the Torah in the original Hebrew. When Jews spoke Aramaic, those who were not fluent in Hebrew used the Aramaic translation, called the Targum. If there were Jews who spoke Greek to the exclusion of Hebrew and Aramaic, they might have used the Septuagint but they would have been an anomaly - a statistical outlier. The only ones who might have used the Septuagint with any regularity would be Bible scholars. So nothing has "replaced" the Septuagint in our communities because the Septuagint was never the go-to text for Jews."

Rabbi [redacted]

Well apparently I need to be re educated. ?? I truly DID think that Maccabees was part of Jewish texts and that Jewish people did pray to the dead. 

Where am I wrong, and how to correct me? Treat this like I'm 10--because I REALLY thought the Septuagint was the go-to text to create a link from Jewish prayer for the dead. HELP!  
Thank you.


RE: Septuagint - CaptCrunch73 - 05-14-2018

Welcome,

In addition to the forums there is TONS and TONS of Catholic info on the site. So to answer your questions go here

https://www.fisheaters.com/septuagint.html


Background

The canon of the Old Testament that Catholics use is based on the text used by Alexandrian Jews, a version known as the "Septuagint" (also called "LXX" or "The Seventy") and which came into being around 280 B.C. as a translation of then existing texts from Hebrew into Greek by 72 Jewish scribes (the Torah was translated first, around 300 B.C., and the rest of Tanach was translated afterward).

It was a standard Jewish version of the Old Testament, used by the writers of the New Testament, as is evidenced by the fact that Old Testament references found in the New Testament refer to the Septuagint over other versions of the Old Testament. Let me reiterate: the then 300+ year old Septuagint version of Scripture was good enough for Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Paul, etc., which is evident in their referencing it over 300 times (out of 350 Old Testament references!) in their New Testament writings -- and the Septuagint includes 7 books and parts of Esther and Daniel that were removed from Protestant Bibles some 1,500 years after the birth of Christ.

The Septuagint is the Old Testament referred to in the Didache or "Doctrine of the Apostles" (first century Christian writings) and by Origen, Irenaeus of Lyons, Hippolytus, Tertullian, Cyprian of Carthage, Justin Martyr, St. Augustine and the vast majority of early Christians who referenced Scripture in their writings. The Epistle of Pope Clement, written in the first century, refers to the Books Ecclesiasticus and Wisdom, analyzed the book of Judith, and quotes sections of the book of Esther that were removed from Protestant Bibles.

Bottom line: the Septuagint was the version of the Old Testament accepted by the very earliest Christians (and, yes, those 7 "extra" books were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls which date between 168 B.C. and A.D. 68, and which by the way, support both the Septuagint and the 6th - 10th c. A.D. Masoretic texts in various ways, but supporting the Septuagint on average. 3 ).

The deuterocanonical books were, though, debated in the early Church, and some Fathers accorded them higher status than others (hence the Catholic term for them: "deuterocanonical," or what St. Cyril of Jerusalem called "secondary rank," as opposed to the other books which are called "protocanonical"). But all the Fathers believed as did St. Athanasius, who, in one of his many Easter letters, names the 22 Books all Christians accept and then describes the deuterocanonicals as "appointed by the Fathers to be read by those who newly join us, and who wish for instruction in the word of godliness." Church Councils listed and affirmed the present Catholic canon, which was only formally closed at the Council of Trent in the 16th century.



RE: Septuagint - jovan66102 - 05-14-2018

I think your friend is sadly misinformed. The Septuagint was specifically translated at Alexandria for the Jewish Diaspora, most of whom no longer spoke or read Hebrew, Aramaic, or any other Semitic language. If they were literate, they were literate in Greek. And as far as being a 'statistical outlier', at that time the vast majority of Jews were in that non-Semitic speaking Diaspora.

And there are actually three books of Maccabees in the Septuagint, the third of which is included in some Bibles of the East, but is not considered Canonical by the Catholic Church.


RE: Septuagint - aquinas138 - 05-14-2018

There is also a 4 Maccabees in the Septuagint; it belongs to the group of writings called anagignoskomena ("to be read") in the Greek Orthodox milieu – books used liturgically, but not part of the canon of Scripture. These are 1 and 2 Esdras, the Prayer of Manasseh, Psalm 151, 3 and 4 Maccabees.

Jewish people most assuredly pray for the dead; they probably just don't connect the practice with Maccabees. Maccabees is evidence the Jews prayed for the dead in the days of Judas Maccabeus, but not the reason they do so.


RE: Septuagint - jovan66102 - 05-14-2018

As for prayers for the dead, there is no doubt that it is supported by 2 Machabees 12

Quote:42 And so betaking themselves to prayers, they besought him, that the sin which had been committed might be forgotten. But the most valiant Judas exhorted the people to keep themselves from sin, forasmuch as they saw before their eyes what had happened, because of the sins of those that were slain.

43 And making a gathering, he sent twelve thousand drachms of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the dead, thinking well and religiously concerning the resurrection,

44 (For if he had not hoped that they that were slain should rise again, it would have seemed superfluous and vain to pray for the dead,)

45 And because he considered that they who had fallen asleep with godliness, had great grace laid up for them.

46 It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.
However, of the two main schools of Judaism at the time, the Sadducees did not believe in the immortality of the soul, and the Pharisees, at least according to Josephus who himself was a Pharisee, believed in reincarnation of the souls of the just, and eternal punishment for the souls of evil doers. Neither leaves much room or need for prayers for the dead.

I assume that prayer for the dead was followed by a minority of Pharisees, but was not a defining doctrine.

And to add to my answer above, there's a great deal of evidence that the Diaspora Jew used the Septuagint until around AD 200, by which time it had become considered as a 'Christian' Bible, so they quit using it.


RE: Septuagint - jovan66102 - 05-14-2018

(05-14-2018, 08:26 PM)aquinas138 Wrote: Jewish people most assuredly pray for the dead; 

Very true! The text of the Burial Kaddish recited at the graveside:



Quote:
In the world that in the future
[will] be renewed,
and [where] He will revive the dead,

some add:
[and raise them up to eternal life]

rebuild the city of Jerusalem
and establish His Temple in it;
alternatively:
[and establish His Temple, deliver life,
and rebuild the city of Jerusalem]

uproot alien worship
from the world and restore
the service of Heaven to its place,
and may the Holy One Blessed is He reign
in His sovereignty and His splendor



RE: Septuagint - SadbF - 05-14-2018

Thank you to you all. It is very much appreciated. I sent my friend the link of Septuagint that is within this website. She apparently wrote the Rabbi back. I'm more than a little taken a back by what I'm reading. Here is the text of the email she just emailed to me.

So is this Rabbi not being truthful or am I misreading his responses? Per this rabbi, the Jewish writers wrote the original Septuagint under duress?  Whoa. I did not know that. I am thoroughly confused. So bear with me while you all help sort me back right.

Friend's 2nd email to rabbi is below, then scroll up to the rabbi.

[REDACTED RABBI  NAME]
7:23 PM (47 minutes ago)
to [REDACTED]

To be honest, we do not have a happy history with the Septuagint. It was written under duress, under the threat of death. While the Septuagint may be a useful tool for scholars, it was actually a day of mourning that an enemy occupier forced the Sages to translate our religious texts, as this clearly had the intention of being used against us. As far as its accuracy, the Sages actually intentionally mistranslated a handful of verses that they were afraid would be problematic. I can't give you an exhaustive list but they're relatively minor - no major theological implications - but they're there. One famous example is that they changed the translation of the word "arneves" (hare) in the list of non-kosher animals. This was because Ptolemy's father was named Lagos (a hare in Greek) and the Sages were concerned that he would think they were being clever by listing Lagos as "an unclean animal." So, while it was eventually acknowledged as an important work, the Septuagint was not always considered a boon to the Jews as it was to the Greeks.

It should be noted that the Septuagint as we have it now has evolved beyond the original translation of the Sages. In its current form, it contains passages that do not exist in the original Hebrew, as well as entire Apocryphal books that are not part of the Jewish canon and never were. So, again, it can be a useful tool for Bible scholars but its usefulness for lay people is questionable.

--END OF EMAIL


On Mon, May 14, 2018 at 6:28 PM, [REDACTED] <[REDACTED@.com> wrote:
Dear Rabbi Jack,

Thank you for you kind and quick response.

Would you kindly allow me to ask more questions?

So, even though it is not the Torah as in Hebrew. The Septuagint was created and endorsed by the Jewish rabbis. The Jewish rabbis still endorse the Septuagint, correct?

Have a pleasant evening. I look forward to your response in the near future.

Best Regards,
[REDACTED]



RE: Septuagint - SadbF - 05-14-2018

(05-14-2018, 08:26 PM)aquinas138 Wrote: There is also a 4 Maccabees in the Septuagint; it belongs to the group of writings called anagignoskomena ("to be read") in the Greek Orthodox milieu – books used liturgically, but not part of the canon of Scripture. These are 1 and 2 Esdras, the Prayer of Manasseh, Psalm 151, 3 and 4 Maccabees.

Jewish people most assuredly pray for the dead; they probably just don't connect the practice with Maccabees. Maccabees is evidence the Jews prayed for the dead in the days of Judas Maccabeus, but not the reason they do so.

VERY interesting. I will look at the "to be read" writing. But I found fascinating you posting "but not the reason they do so"--What would be Jewish reason for praying for the dead? Would it be for the same or similar reasons for us Catholics?


RE: Septuagint - SadbF - 05-14-2018

(05-14-2018, 09:23 PM)SadbF Wrote:
(05-14-2018, 08:26 PM)aquinas138 Wrote: There is also a 4 Maccabees in the Septuagint; it belongs to the group of writings called anagignoskomena ("to be read") in the Greek Orthodox milieu – books used liturgically, but not part of the canon of Scripture. These are 1 and 2 Esdras, the Prayer of Manasseh, Psalm 151, 3 and 4 Maccabees.

Jewish people most assuredly pray for the dead; they probably just don't connect the practice with Maccabees. Maccabees is evidence the Jews prayed for the dead in the days of Judas Maccabeus, but not the reason they do so.

VERY interesting. I will look at the "to be read" writing. But I found fascinating you posting "but not the reason they do so"--What would be Jewish reason for praying for the dead? Would it be for the same or similar reasons for us Catholics?

Forget my question, aquinas. Jovan answered my question to you in their post, I just missed it. Thank you.


RE: Septuagint - MagisterMusicae - 05-15-2018

(05-14-2018, 05:25 PM)SadbF Wrote: "Sorry to disappoint you but, the Septuagint, while extremely important in world history, is not that important in Jewish history. The Torah, as well as the rest of the Jewish Bible, is written in Hebrew. (A teeny bit is written in Aramaic but it's like .01%.) The Jews spoke Hebrew and Aramaic. Translating the Jewish Bible into Greek was a huge event for Greek scholars but it didn't really affect the average Jew - even the average Jewish scholar. We have always used the Torah in the original Hebrew. When Jews spoke Aramaic, those who were not fluent in Hebrew used the Aramaic translation, called the Targum. If there were Jews who spoke Greek to the exclusion of Hebrew and Aramaic, they might have used the Septuagint but they would have been an anomaly - a statistical outlier. The only ones who might have used the Septuagint with any regularity would be Bible scholars. So nothing has "replaced" the Septuagint in our communities because the Septuagint was never the go-to text for Jews."

Rabbi [redacted]

Well apparently I need to be re educated. ?? I truly DID think that Maccabees was part of Jewish texts and that Jewish people did pray to the dead.

Where am I wrong, and how to correct me? Treat this like I'm 10--because I REALLY thought the Septuagint was the go-to text to create a link from Jewish prayer for the dead. HELP!

Firstly, Maccabees belongs to a part of the Bible called by Catholics the deuterocanon. This "second canon" is so called because it's inspiration was doubted by some.

It includes 7 full books (Tobias, Judith, Wisdom, Sirach (Ecclesiasticus), Baruch and 1 & 2 Machabees), plus parts of 2 books (Ester 10.4 - 16.24 and Daniel 3.24-90, plus chapters 13 and 14).

There is good evidence that these books were generally accepted in the time of Christ, but most Jews reject them now.

The Pharisees during the first century established the following criteria which excludes these books. It can be shown that this exclusion is quite arbitrary, but it was not an anti-Christian sentiment :

  1. All inspired books must agree in doctrine with with the Pentateuch/Torah — Excludes no books per se.
  2. All inspired books must have been written before Esdras (ca. 450 BC) — This excludes 1 & 2 Machabees, Wisdom & Sirach.
  3. All inspired books had to be originally written in Hebrew. — This excludes Tobias, Judith, the parts of Daniel and Esther, Wisdom and 2 Machabees.
  4. All inspired books had to be written in Palestine — This excludes Daniel, Esther and Baruch.
The Septuagint preserves all of these books, the Hebrew Masoretic text does not.

The problem historically is that the oldest full copies of the Hebrew text of scripture is from about AD 920 (the Aleppo Codex of the Tanakh). Thus to say that the Hebrew scriptures do not contain them is a bit deceptive. The 10th century texts do not, but that only proves that since the 10th century that the Jews did not consider these inspired.

We do have earlier manuscripts now, thanks to the Dead Sea Scrolls, but those are not full copies of the Tanakh, but only fragments of some books, so do not present a full idea of what was accepted in the 1st century AD by the Jews. Still, these hurt the case for rejecting the Deuterocanon.

So firstly, the criteria above are arbitrary. There is no reason to think that only books written before 450 BC in Palestine and in Hebrew are necessary for inspiration. No sufficient argument can be made to say that God only gave inspiration to Scripture in such a case. Thus there is no good case to be made that this is a legitimate criteria in itself.

Still that does not mean that Jews did accept the deuterocanon including Maccabees. The following evidence, however, does support that until the 1st century A.D. the Jews accepted the deuterocanonical books:
  • There was a very close relationship between the Jews in Alexandria and those in Jerusalem (2 Mc 2.15), such that nothing could have been added by one group without an outcry from the other. Had the Alexandrian Jews, who used these books and considered them sacred and canonical, added these and the Palestinian Jews rejected them, there would at least be some evidence of outcry. No such evidence exists.
  • Sirach is praised in the Talmud through to the 10th cent. AD.
  • St Jerome tells us that Tobias and Judith in both Aramaic and Hebrew were used by the Jews of Palestine in the 4th-5th cent. AD.
  • The Apostolic Constitutions (ca. 375) claim that the Jews were publicly reading Baruch.
  • According to the Babylonian Talmud, 1 Maccabees was read on the feast of the dedication of the temple.
  • Origen and St. Jerome both read a Hebrew text of 1 Maccabees, and it was used by Josephus.
  • The Dead Sea Scrolls (c. 100 BC-AD 70) contain parts of Baruch, Tobias, and Sirach.
  • Philo and St. Paul (Hb 11.35) quote 2 Maccabees.
  • Eustathius (4th cent AD.) quotes the book of Wisdom as part of the Jewish Canon.
Further, even if we are to reject the deuterocanon (and 2 Maccabees) as not inspired, it still is an historical document. It at least serves as a good historical record of what the Maccabees did and therefore what the believed. A document does not need to be part of Scripture for it to be a good historical proof.

So, in a sense, you're arguing about the wrong thing. The issue is not the Septuagint itself (which is only one particular record of Scripture), but 2 Maccabees. The question is whether it is part of Jewish Scripture, or should be.

Historical evidence shows that 2 Maccabees was generally accepted as at least a sacred writing by Jews as late as the 4th century AD. Even were we to reject it's canonical character it still presents an historical record which then suggests that Judas Maccabeus (and the Jews of the 2nd cent BC) thought prayer for the dead a laudable thing.