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Explained: Key Differences Between Septuagint and Masoretic Texts

Explained: Key Differences Between Septuagint and Masoretic Texts

Septuagint is the first translated version of the Hebrew Bible that was done for Greeks by 70 Jewish invited from different tribes of Israel. You are probably familiar with the abbreviation of Septuagint – LXX.

The number of books that were translated into this language was five. Masoretic text is the original Hebrew that was written by rabbis after the original Hebrew was lost. It also contains punctuation and critical notes. 

The difference between translated and original version is that the LXX has more authenticity as it was translated 1000 years before the Masoretic text. It’s still not a reliable source as it has some additions. However, the Jewish scholars rejected LXX on so many grounds.

The mainstream Jewish didn’t like the fact that Jesus himself quoted this manuscript, making it a more reliable source for Christians. 

Today’s Septuagint isn’t original and contains some corrupted information. According to the original Septuagint, Jesus is the Messiah. Later, when Jews seemed dissatisfied with this fact, they tried to corrupt the Septuagint in an attempt to undermine the original manuscript. 

Modern Septuagint doesn’t contain complete verses of the Book of Daniel. If you want to compare both, it’s only possible if you get the English copies of both manuscripts. 

Throughout this article, I’m going to answer your queries regarding Septuagint and Masoretic.

Let’s dive into it…

Masoretic Or Septuagint – Which One Is Older?

Masoretic Or Septuagint - Which One Is Older?
Hebrew Bible

The former was written in the 2nd or 3rd BCE, which was 1k years before Masoretic. The term Septuagint represents 70 and there’s a whole history behind this number.

More than 70 Jews were assigned to write the Torah in Greek, interesting enough that what they wrote was identical despite being locked in different chambers.

The oldest manuscript is the LXX (Septuagint), interestingly it was more common before 1-100 AD (the era Christ was born). 

There were, interestingly, multiple translations of the Bible at that time. Though the more common one was LXX (Septuagint). It was the translation of the first 5 books which are no longer available due to poor preservation.

Which Manuscript Is More Accurate – Masoretic Or Septuagint?

Christians have tracked down conflicts between Septuagint and Hebrew. During the war between Romans and Jews, many Hebrew Bible scriptures were no longer accessible. Though, the Rabbis started jotting down whatever they remembered. Initially, the transcribed Bible contained minimal punctuation.

However, not many people were able to comprehend this traditional manuscript anymore. Therefore, they made it more punctuated. The Jewish have more faith in Masoretic text as they believe it was handed down from the scholars who remembered the lost Hebrew Bible.

There’s no doubt that it has a wide range of acceptance, though, a few differences between both manuscripts have raised some serious questions about the authenticity of Masoretic text

Which Manuscript Is More Accurate - Masoretic Or Septuagint?
Holy Bible

Challenges to the Authenticity of the Masoretic Text and the Role of the Dead Sea Scrolls

Here’s what makes it less authentic;

  • The context of today’s Torah isn’t exactly what was originally sent by God, even the followers of the Masoretic text also admit this.
  • Septuagint contains quotations that you cannot find in the Masoretic text. 
  • The Masoretic Text doesn’t regard Jesus as a Messiah while XLL does. 

After discovering the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS), it’s no longer doubted that the Masoretic text was somewhat trustworthy. DSS was found in the 90s and Jews refer them to the original manuscript. Interestingly, it matches the Masoretic text. Additionally, it proves that Judaism existed but you can’t completely rely on these and ignore the LXX text.  

Here’s a great video that tells you about what’s written in the Dead Sea Scrolls:

What Is Written In Dead Sea Scrolls?

Importance Of Septuagint

The importance of Septuagint in Christianity is undeniable. Those who were not able to comprehend Hebrew found this Greek-translated version a helpful way to grasp the religion. However, it was also a respectable scripture translation for Jewish people even after the assemblage of the Masoretic text. 

Since it proves Jesus was a Messiah, the Jewish functionaries labeled it the Bible of Christians. After the Jewish-Christians controversy, Jews have completely abandoned it. It still serves as the foundation of Judaism and Christianity. 

Septuagint Vs. Masoretic – Distinction 

Septuagint Vs. Masoretic - What is the difference 
Jerusalem – A Holy Place For Muslims, Christians, And Jews
Septuagint Masoretic 
Christians find it the most authentic translation of Jewish scripture Jews find it a reliable preserved text of the Jewish Bible. 
Origin Was done in the 2nd century BCEWas completed in the 10th century AD.
Religious importance Catholic and Orthodox churches use this manuscript Many Christians and Jews believe this text
Authenticity Jesus himself quoted Septuagint. Also, new Testament writers use it as a reference. DSS proves the authenticity of this text
Conflict This manuscript has proved that Jesus is the Messiah Masoretes don’t consider Jesus a Messiah 
Number of books51 books 24 books
Septuagint and Masoretic

Final Thoughts 

  • The Greeks were not able to understand Hebrew, therefore the Jewish holy book was translated into the respective language that we know as Septuagint. 
  • Masoretic, on the other hand, is very similar to the Hebrew Bible. It was written based on what Rabbis remembered after losing the Jewish Bible. 
  • Septuagint had an equal acceptance among both Christians and Jews. 
  • However, due to some conflicts, Jews no longer consider it an authentic text
  • Today’s Christians accept the importance of Septuagint. 
  • The LXX that you see today isn’t the same as the early version of it.

Further Reads

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