When God Spoke Greek: The Place of the Greek Bible in Evangelical Scholarship -- By: Karen H. Jobes

Journal: Bulletin for Biblical Research
Volume: BBR 16:2 (NA 2006)
Article: When God Spoke Greek: The Place of the Greek Bible in Evangelical Scholarship
Author: Karen H. Jobes


When God Spoke Greek:
The Place of the Greek Bible in
Evangelical Scholarship

Karen H. Jobes

Wheaton College

The Septuagint was the OT of the Christian church for centuries because it was the Scripture of Israel in its Greek form that was used extensively by the NT writers and the early Church fathers. From the time of the Reformation, the Hebrew Masoretic Text has eclipsed the place of the Septuagint in Protestant scholarship. This article, originally delivered as a plenary lecture at the IBR meeting in 2004, argues for a place for the Septuagint in evangelical scholarship that moves beyond textual criticism of the Hebrew Bible and the discussion of canon. New Testament exegesis that refers to the Hebrew text where the NT authors were in fact using the Greek OT is methodologically flawed, as is biblical theology that fails to give the Septuagint its historical due as a literary and theological background of the NT. Moreover, much fresh opportunity for scholarship awaits those who study the ancient Greek versions of the OT in their own right.

Key Words: Septuagint, Greek OT, LXX, canon, Jerome, Augustine, Luther, Bible translation, Old Greek, OT in NT, textual transmission, NT exegesis, syntax criticism

Augustine’s famous statement, “I believe that I might understand,” is often quoted in discussions of the relationship between Christian faith and intellectual endeavor. This thought actually comes from the Bible—the Bible of Augustine, that is, who was referring to an Old Latin rendering of Isa 7:9 translated from the Septuagint.1 That rendering is not found in the Latin Vulgate or in the English version, both having been translated from the Hebrew text, which lacks the thought. This famous phrase from the Old Latin Bible continued to be quoted by Anselm, Abelard, and many

Author’s note: This paper was delivered at the annual meeting of the Institute for Biblical Research, November 19, 2004, in San Antonio, Texas.

others as a justification for the Christian life of the mind. This is but one small example of the influence of the Septuagint in Christian heritage.

The very word Septuagint is a Christian term, first attested in the 2nd century by Christian authors and scribes who referred to ‘the Seventy’ (οἱ ἑβδομήκοντα) as a shortened form of the title Interpretatio septuaginta virorum (‘the translation of the seventy men’).2 This title was used to refer to the entire Greek OT,...

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