Septuagint, Earliest Old Testament

Rabbinic writings, the Talmud, Madrash, Torah, Mishna, Tosefta, Haggada
Babylonia Talmud account of the Roman destruction of Jerusalem
The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs
SIBYLLINE ORACLES--appendix with early Christian commentary
BOOK OF JASHER, Chapter 69-79 on Moses
ISAIAH'S MARTYDOM with commentary
Testament of Abraham
TESTAMENT OF ABRAHAM with commentary
Septuagint, Earliest Old Testament
Book of Jubilees, elaboration on Genesis and Exodus: part 2
Book of Jubilees: part 1, in the beginning
Book of Jubilees--Commentary
Jannes and Jambres
Old Testament & other ancient Hebrew texts with links



Texts and versions

Early versions

Manuscripts and printed editions of the Septuagint

The manuscripts are conveniently classified by papyri uncials (capital letters) and minuscules (cursive script). The papyri fragments run into the hundreds, of varying sizes and importance, ranging from the formative period of the Septuagint through the middle of the 7th century. Two pre-Christian fragments of Deuteronomy from Egypt are of outstanding significance. Although not written on papyrus but on parchment or leather, the fragments from Qumran of Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers, and the leather scroll of the Minor Prophets from Nahal Hever from the first pre-Christian and post-Christian centuries, deserve special mention among the earliest extant. The most important papyri are those of the Chester Beatty collection, which contains parts of 11 codices preserving fragments of nine Old Testament books. Their dates vary between the 2nd and 4th centuries. During the next 300 years papyri texts multiplied rapidly, and remnants of about 200 are known.

The uncials are all codices written on vellum between the 4th and 10th centuries. The most outstanding are Vaticanus, which is an almost complete 4th-century Old Testament, Sinaiticus, of the same period but less complete, and the practically complete 5th-century Alexandrinus. These three originally contained both Testaments. Many others were partial manuscripts from the beginning. One of the most valuable of these is the Codex Marchalianus of the Prophets written in the 6th century.

The minuscule codices begin to appear in the 9th century. From the 11th to the 16th century they are the only ones found, and nearly 1,500 have been recorded.

The first printed Septuagint was that of the Complutensian Polyglot (1514–17). Since it was not released until 1522, however, the 1518 Aldine Venice edition actually was available first. The standard edition until modern times was that of Pope Sixtus V, 1587. In the 19th and 20th centuries several critical editions have been printed.

Coptic versions

The spread of Christianity among the non-Greek speaking peasant communities of Egypt necessitated the translation of the Scriptures into the native tongue (Coptic). These versions may be considered to be wholly Christian in origin and largely based on the Greek Bible. They also display certain affinities with the Old Latin. Nothing certain is known about the Coptic translations except that they probably antedate the earliest known manuscripts from the end of the 3rd and the beginning of the 4th centuries CE.

The Armenian version

The Armenian version is an expression of a nationalist movement that brought about a separation from the rest of the Church (mid-5th century), the discontinuance of Syriac in Greek worship, and the invention of a national alphabet by St. Mesrob, also called Mashtots (c. 361–439/440). According to tradition, St. Mesrob first translated Proverbs from the Syriac. Existing manuscripts of the official Armenian recension, however, are based on the Hexaplaric Septuagint, though they show some Peshitta (Syriac version) influence. The Armenian Bible is noted for its beauty and accuracy.

The Georgian version

According to Armenian tradition, the Georgian version was also the work of Mesrob, but the Psalter, the oldest part of the Georgian Old Testament, is probably not earlier than the 5th century. Some manuscripts were based upon Greek versions, others upon the Armenian.

Encyclopedia Britannica



           The rabbis in the 3rd century BC translated their Old Testament into Greek (there was a large community of Jews in Greek speaking Alexandria) so the legend goes.  This permitted them to make consistent with the then modern Greek beliefs their sacred works which they, of course, deemed inspired.  However, there were limits to this reconstruction.  Rehabes, Seraphisms, giants, other gods are all part of their scared texts and couldn’t be expunged.  Troubling passages such as “the sons of god mated with the daughters of men” (Genesis 6:1) were preserved.  For this Greek translation to be accepted it must maintain a continuity with the original, and at the same time improve the original Hebrew by interpreting passages in light of the current understanding.  Translations of sacred works has always perceived in this fashion, as a struggle between the original meaning and current religious beliefs of the religious body making the translation.  Septuagint Bible.  Of course, all those things were long ago, when the world was quite different.


        This Greek bible was then used heavily relied upon in all subsequent translations of the Old testaments, and thus they fixed the Old Testaments (hereafter OT) ancient elements.  The earliest surviving version comes from the 4th century AD, though there is evidence of it be in circulation earlier.  Thus the letter and the tradition of a 3rd century BC origin lack support.  Even so the Septuagint version preserves archaic materials.  Their vision of the world was as strange to us as those of the Ancient Greeks as found in the two books of Homer and the collection (Theogony) by Hesiod (5 centuries earlier).  And just as by the time of Euripides much of these ancient elements were an embarrassment to the educated Greek, so too were they to the later educated Hebrews and Christians.  The Christians hold that the Pagan description of the gods is patently false.  Those who are modern in thought hold the same about the Hebrew (and Christian) fantastic passages found in their Bible.


                   There are two related fundamental problems with the Hebrew-Christian view of the OT given their claim as to Yahweh’s role in its production.  Yahweh directly guided the production of the laws found in the Pentateuch.  He also inspired the OT authors in their production of the description of demons, heaven beasts--and all else found in the OT.  A conflict arises in that nearly all Christians and Jews do not believe that there are such spiritual creatures inhabiting the realm of the gods.  They hold that there is only one God though the prophets and Moses wrote of many gods.  Current Hebrew and Christian creed and the content of the Bible are in a conflict that won’t go away.  To make this conflict perfectly clear, I have set down what the Hebrews after the captivity have told us about the realm of the gods.--JK