An Evangelical Apology For The Septuagint -- By: Timothy E. Miller

Journal: Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal
Volume: DBSJ 22:0 (NA 2017)
Article: An Evangelical Apology For The Septuagint
Author: Timothy E. Miller


An Evangelical Apology For The Septuagint

Timothy E. Miller1

He who would read the New Testament must know Koine; but he who would understand the New Testament must know the Septuagint.2

—Sidney Jellicoe

A single hour lovingly devoted to the text of the Septuagint will further our exegetical knowledge of the Pauline Epistles more than a whole day spent over a commentary.3

—Adolf Deissmann

The importance of the Septuagint for study of the NT cannot be underestimated.4

—Stanley Porter

The title of this paper is intentional, capitalizing on the ambiguity of the word apologetic. Of course, one could apologize for the Septuagint, and I am afraid this is how many evangelicals feel about the Greek Old Testament’s existence. On the other hand, one could offer a defense of the Septuagint, and that is the sense I am intending to use throughout this essay. Jellicoe, Deissmann, and Porter above stress the essential nature of Septuagint study for the understanding of the New Testament. Nevertheless, most evangelical seminaries do not offer study in the Septuagint, and many evangelical pastors have never read the Old Testament in the Septuagint—even if they have gained proficiency in Greek. The purpose of this paper is not to outline the reasons for such a sad state of affairs; rather, I would like to convince the reader that the Septuagint is worthy of scholarly attention. To accomplish this goal, we must first discuss what is mean by “the Septuagint.” Second, we must

trace its provenance, showing why it is important for evangelicals today. Third, we will assess the challenges the Septuagint brings to the evangelical interpreter. Finally, I will conclude with some suggestions as to how the Septuagint can be helpful to evangelical study.

Terms For The Septuagint

The Septuagint (LXX) popularly refers to the Old Testament translation of the Hebrew into Greek. This popular definition does not differentiate recensions, but instead is used in the same way one might say “English Bible” to refer to the NIV, ESV, and NASB. Originally, however, the term referenced the translators (70 or 72 and thus LXX) more than the text that was translated. Further, these first translators only translated the Pentateuch. For this reason, some specialists distinguish the original translations of the non-Pentateuch...

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