Friday, May 8, 2020

The Importance of the Septuagint (Habakkuk 3:2 LXX)

In my undergraduate years I don't remember any lecturer mentioned the Septuagint, though it could be due to my lack of attention in class. But by the time of my post-graduate years, I have put the Septuagint (LXX) in the forefront of my studies, first whether John of Revelation alluded to the LXX or MT in his many allusions and echoes of Scripture. Since then in my teaching, even in the first year of OT or NT introduction courses, I would always make sure that my students know the centrality of the LXX for the study of Scripture, not just for the NT but also to the OT. First, the NT authors about 85% of the times when they cited or quoted Scripture, it was from the LXX and not the MT. Even the study of the OT cannot underestimate the importance of the LXX as it is one the most authoritative and fascinating translations of the Hebrew text (275BC) and later taken to be authoritative by the early church fathers.
Second, Greek was the lingua-franca of the day during the times of the apostles and perhaps Jesus who came from Galilee of the nations also spoke Greek and not just Hebrew or Aramaic. Third, almost all the early church fathers' native tongues were Greek and they could interpret the Greek New Testament which many references to the Greek LXX in their native language. Greek may be foreign to us now but it is the primary language of the church for the first 4 or 5 centuries until about the latter part of third and fourth century when Latin church fathers began to exert their influence though never superseding Greek even with the influence of Augustine (late 4th century) who was more fluent in Latin rather than Greek. As far as my personal experience goes, almost daily when I read the LXX, I find new treasures in God's Word. This morning I read Habakkuk in Greek (Hab 3:1-3). It is quite different compared to the MT with the Greek having this verse, "You will be known between the two living creatures (cherubim) when the years draw near, when the time comes you will be revealed.." (Hab 3:2 LXX). And now is the time. Lord, in your wrath remember mercy!

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