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Discussion in 'Translations and Manuscripts' started by TimV, Aug 15, 2009.
Is this verse a quotation from the Old Testament? If so, where?
Basically the citation is Ps 40:6-8.
P.E. Hughes has this to say:
There's more, where he goes into the meaning, but that may go beyond your question.
If Psalm 40 was the source of the quote, and there are a few words that are different in the New Testament, can we still say that Psalm 40 was
immediately inspired by God, and, by His singular care and providence, kept pure in all ages?
Technically, every word is different. Not only is it a translation from one language to another, but it is a translation involving two very different language families. We should rejoice that we have here in the NT an inspired translation and explanation of the Hebrew.
Owen's conclusion on the matter, after discussing it fairly briefly:
Thus we have the Hebrew original (perfectly preserved) and the inspired apostolic translation and explanation in Greek (perfectly preserved).
If the Septuagint rendering is the same as the Greek NT rendering, would the Septuagint rendering be accurate?
For the sake of continuity, I'll give Owen's response to your most recent question:
It doth not seem probable unto me that the LXX. did ever translate these words as they are now extant in all the copies of that translation, swma de kathrtisw moi. For,
(1.) It is not a translation of the original words, but an interpretation and exposition of the sense and meaning of them; which was no part of their design.
(2.) If they made this exposition, they did so either by chance, as it were, or from a right understanding of the mystery contained in them. That they
should be cast upon it by a mere conjecture, is altogether improbable; and that they understood the mystery couched in that metaphorical expression
(without which no account can be given of the version of the words) will not be granted by them who know any thing of those translators or their translation.
If they, in fact, did render it using the same words as the Apostle (which Owen finds unlikely -- scribes later changing the text to "correct it" to match the NT, as he thinks the many variants of the passage confirm), it was purely by accident, as they could not have understood the Christological significance of the passage. But it must certainly be understood that the apostle's rendition is not a "bare translation," but a translation which involves opening and explanation. We don't need to pit the Hebrew original and the NT rendering against one another.
Yes, I understand that Owen represents a minority view on the subject. But even he admits to the possibility (notice his word "probable") of the pre-Christian Septuagint being the same as NT.
So, if the Septuagint reading is the same as the New Testament reading, is the Septuagint a valid reading? Or is it a sinful reading? In other words, are Orthodox churches wrong in their Bibles because the quote in Hebrews 10 is the same as in their Old Testament? Are they morally obligated to change their Bible?
I'm not quite sure he was representing a minority view, but we've been over this ground before, and it need not be retrod.
Confessionally, the Hebrew text of the Old Testament is considered the divine original, so I'm not sure why we need to bring in the Eastern Orthodox practice of using the LXX as their Old Testament. I thought we would all agree that such was incorrect. We should let both the Hebrew original and its inspired, NT Greek rendition and opening speak for themselves, and rejoice that we have such divine illumination provided for our understanding of this Psalm.
The translators of the King James Version thought the Septuagint was acceptable to the Holy Spirit for His purposes, while needing some corrections which would come later, in His time as our knowledge increased. Even today, Confessional translators always take the Septuagint into consideration when translating difficult Old Testament passages. This is from the preface of the 1611 version's "The Translators To The Reader":
There are no major Reformed or even Protestant denominations that frown on using the Septuagint as an aid when translating difficult Old Testament passages.
So, if as the translators of the King James Version, along with the overwhelming majority of modern scholars believe the Septuagint to have pre-dated Christ, can one be Confessional and still believe that translating Psalm 40 in the Old Testament using the same words as where Psalm 40 is quoted in the New Testament is acceptable? And at the same time believe that Psalm 40 as translated from the Masoretic texts is acceptable? That both are the Word of God?
Tim, I'm not sure who would say that the LXX should not be considered when translating the Old Testament; that would indeed be a strange thing to say, and I have never heard it.
And I'm pretty sure all are agreed that the Greek Old Testament existed pre-Christ; I'm not sure who denies that, either. What Owen and many others do deny is that we know the state of the Greek Old Testament in its pre-Christ existence, and thus to make judgments that "this wording is taken straight from the LXX" would be improper (unless, of course, we believe that the LXX has been perfectly preserved word-for-word).
The 1611 Preface quoted above contains almost identical content to Turretin's exposition of the NT use of the LXX -- Turretin held that, when the LXX agreed properly with the Hebrew Text, the Holy Ghost and apostles would make use of its wording so as not to trouble the readers; but when it disagreed, they rejected its reading. This was his way of arguing that the LXX is not in itself authoritative scripture, but only inasmuch as it agrees with the Hebrew text -- it has a mediate authority.
I'm honestly not exactly sure what you're pushing for in wanting to translate Psalm 40 in the Old Testament as it is interpreted in the New. I don't know of a single translation of scripture which does this. I think we're all agreed that in translating Psalm 40 from the Hebrew, it should be rendered "my ears have you opened," with perhaps a footnote indicating the NT interpretation or elucidation thereof.
Paul, it's pretty commonly denied by supporters of the TR only theory. Steve Rafalsky, who is posting on this sub-forum wrote:
I could quote others if you'd like.
Though I would much rather have him be able to speak for himself, note what Steve wrote later in the same thread:
Either way, this is tangential to the root topic. It is our duty in translating the Old Testament to render the Hebrew as precisely and literally as possible; and likewise to do so with the Apostle's Greek elucidation thereof in the New Testament.
Anyway, I am content to leave things here. Do you think there is more to cover in this thread? If so, I will gladly continue, and hope the thread will continue to remain profitable. I think this is not really a "TR Debate," as every translation I know of follows the Hebrew of the Old Testament when translating Psalm 40. Anyway, Thanks for the interaction.
Gill writes of the relevant part of Ps. 40
So there are clearly other Bibles where the NT quotes the OT more similarly than in our English Bibles.
To me it is clear why most Reformed scholars are in line with most other orthodox scholars in saying that NT authors quoted both the Hebrew and Greek families of texts. That there were different textual traditions during the time of Christ, none of which had differences enough to change any basic doctrine of faith or practice. So both could be called God's Word (as the translators of the KJV said, both the Septuagint and the Hebrew are "sufficient") and people of good will accepted that preservation down through the ages didn't mean every single place name spelling had to be exactly the same as somebody's template for a translation to be called the Word of God. And it's the same way today in my denomination, which is one of the most conservative around.
Tim, when I spoke of translations, I was referring to English translations -- not to ancient versions. Sorry for ambiguity.
I can wholeheartedly affirm that the LXX as we have it is God's Word in the same way that NASB is God's word -- inasmuch as it is faithful to the Hebrew scripture, it is inspired according to the matter, but not wording. As the preface which you quoted earlier clearly articulates, it is imperfect and in need of correction. It can serve as an imperfect translation for Greek speaking people (even as our Geneva or ESV can for English speaking people), but cannot be used to undermine or alter the Hebrew original; nor can it serve confessionally as the basis for Old Testament translation.
At this point, I'm not sure there is actually any debate going on between us. We both affirm that 1.) the LXX is an imperfect translation of the Hebrew, and inasmuch as it agrees therewith it is the Word of God; 2.) The WCF states that the Hebrew Old Testament is that which is immediately inspired by God and kept pure in all ages; 3.) If the NT does make use of the LXX's wording (which we cannot know with certainty), it only does so where it adequately represents the sense of the Hebrew original, and use other wording when it differs.
I suppose in the end, in order to keep this from becoming an irrelevant, idealistic thread with no grounding in reality -- do you think that Psalm 40 should be translated "a body have you prepared me"? If not, then I'm not sure what we're supposed to be debating, as we clearly agree that the Hebrew should be rendered the same way, and that the NT presents the true sense of the passage, but with differing words.
I don't know. It would be "sufficient", and is sufficient and God's Word for Greeks, Ethiopians and Arabs. For now I'll take the Hebrew as the best, since the Confession requires it, but the Confession doesn't require the Hebrew we have now to be settled, word for word.
Karen Jobes has discussed this text in the Trinity Journal (I don't have time to locate year and issue). Utilising the Institutio Oratoria of Quintilian it is shown that the text uses a rhetorical function known as paronomasia, which includes forms of phonetic assonance. As Hebrews is a "word of exhortation," a common feature of the Hebrew synagogue, it is natural to conclude that the reference to Psalm 40 is not designed to be a quotation in the technical sense, but an appropriation to the specific subject at hand which makes use of accepted rhetorical devices of the day.
You are probably referring to this: "The Use of Paronomasia in Hebrews 10:5-7." Trinity Journal 13 (1992).
She has another related article:
"Rhetorical Achievement in the Hebrews 10 'Misquote' of Psalm 40." Biblica 72, 3 (1991)
The article available here: