Re: [NTLK] [OT]You have got to be kiddin'

From: Matthew Reidsma (
Date: Fri Jul 15 2005 - 07:34:26 PDT

On Friday, July 15, 2005, at 10:11AM, Matt Howe <> wrot=

>I believe it is a matter of semantics here. The original Hebrew Scriptures
>were written in Hebrew. The original Old Testament of the Bible was in

Yes, the infamous "Septuagint" was the Greek TRANSLATION of the Hebrew Scri=
ptures. That's not an original, but a translation. I love the story of how =
it got its name: 70 scholars locked themselves in 70 separate rooms and eac=
h translated the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek: All of their translations we=
re identical, or so the legend tells us...

>Later the Hebrew version was used. Thus the difference in the
>"Catholic" Bible and the "Protestant" Bible. The Apocrypha only appears in
>the Greek version. Or so my Bible history texts tell me.

Not quite. The Latin was really what replaced the Septuagint, although the =
history of the Latin translation is murky as well. The "Old Latin" version =
was a cobbled together literal (as in word for word, rather than literary) =
translation of the Septuagint, and it was pretty cumbersome. Jerome was the=
 first scholar of any merit to go back to the Hebrew with the intention of =
making a corrected Latin translation, what we now call the Vulgate. The "Ca=
tholic" Bible and the "Protestant" Bible, (both inadequate and misleading t=
erms) both derive from the tradition of Greek, Latin and Hebrew texts. Whil=
e it is true that the Catholics use the Apocrypha and the "Protestants" do =
not, this has nothing to do with translations. It has everything to do with=
 Martin Luther, who applied very rigid criteria to the selection of the tex=
ts for his canon. (Essentially, the Apocrypha are composed of Hebrew Script=
ure books that did not, as Luther saw it, foreshadow the coming of the Chri=
st. That's oversimplified, but gets at the heart of the matter.)

At any rate, keeping track of the literary history of the Bible is a sticky=
 mess, especially for the original writings of the books themselves. It is =
much easier to track the translations!

And once again, to bring it back to Newtons, I kept a Newtonbook version of=
 both the RSV and the Vulgate on my Newton for constant reference throughou=
t grad school. If I can find them on my computer, I'll upload the Vulgate t=
o UNNA. The RSV is covered by rigid copyrights, but I might be able to use =
the NRSV, which is not (IIRC). It was great to do a quick search for someth=
ing in a seminar while everyone else reached for their bulky concordances!

Matthew Reidsma
Boston, MA U.S.A.

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