The Septuagint, or the LXX, is a translation of the Hebrew Scriptures and some related texts into Koine Greek, begun in the late 3rd century BCE and completed by 132 BCE, initially in Alexandria, but in time it was completed elsewhere as well. It is not altogether clear which was translated when, or where; some may even have been translated twice, into different versions, and then revised.
As the work of translation progressed, the canon of the Greek Bible expanded. The Torah always maintained its pre-eminence as the basis of the canon but the collection of prophetic writings, based on the Nevi'im, had various hagiographical works incorporated into it. In addition, some newer books were included in the Septuagint, among these are the Maccabees and the Wisdom of Sirach. However, the book of Sirach, is now known to have existed in a Hebrew version, since ancient Hebrew manuscripts of it were rediscovered in modern times. The Septuagint version of some Biblical books, like Daniel and Esther, are longer than those in the Jewish canon. Some of these deuterocanonical books (e.g. the Wisdom of Solomon, and the second book of Maccabees) were not translated, but composed directly in Greek.
Since Late Antiquity, once attributed to a hypothetical late 1st-century Council of Jamnia, mainstream Rabbinic Judaism rejected the Septuagint as valid Jewish scriptural texts. Several reasons have been given for this. First, some mistranslations were claimed. Second, the Hebrew source texts used for the Septuagint differed from the Masoretic tradition of Hebrew texts, which was chosen as canonical by the Jewish rabbis. Third, the rabbis wanted to distinguish their tradition from the newly emerging tradition of Christianity. Finally, the rabbis claimed a divine authority for the Hebrew language, in contrast to Aramaic or Greek – even though these languages were the lingua franca of Jews during this period (and Aramaic would eventually be given a holy language status comparable to Hebrew).
The Septuagint is the basis for the Old Latin, Slavonic, Syriac, Old Armenian, Old Georgian and Coptic versions of the Christian Old Testament. The Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches use most of the books of the Septuagint, while Protestant churches usually do not. After the Protestant Reformation, many Protestant Bibles began to follow the Jewish canon and exclude the additional texts, which came to be called Biblical apocrypha. The Apocrypha are included under a separate heading in the King James Version of the Bible, the basis for the Revised Standard Version.
Incorporations from Theodotion
In most ancient copies of the Bible which contain the Septuagint version of the Old Testament, the Book of Daniel is not the original Septuagint version, but instead is a copy of Theodotion's translation from the Hebrew, which more closely resembles the Masoretic Text. The Septuagint version was discarded in favour of Theodotion's version in the 2nd to 3rd centuries CE. In Greek-speaking areas, this happened near the end of the 2nd century, and in Latin-speaking areas (at least in North Africa), it occurred in the middle of the 3rd century. History does not record the reason for this, and St. Jerome reports, in the preface to the Vulgate version of Daniel, "This thing 'just' happened." One of two Old Greek texts of the Book of Daniel has been recently rediscovered and work is ongoing in reconstructing the original form of the book.
The canonical Ezra–Nehemiah is known in the Septuagint as "Esdras B", and 1 Esdras is "Esdras A". 1 Esdras is a very similar text to the books of Ezra–Nehemiah, and the two are widely thought by scholars to be derived from the same original text. It has been proposed, and is thought highly likely by scholars, that "Esdras B" – the canonical Ezra–Nehemiah – is Theodotion's version of this material, and "Esdras A" is the version which was previously in the Septuagint on its own.
Some texts are found in the Septuagint but are not present in the Hebrew. These additional books are Tobit, Judith, Wisdom of Solomon, Wisdom of Jesus son of Sirach, Baruch, the Letter of Jeremiah (which later became chapter 6 of Baruch in the Vulgate), additions to Daniel (The Prayer of Azarias, the Song of the Three Children, Susanna and Bel and the Dragon), additions to Esther, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, 3 Maccabees, 4 Maccabees, 1 Esdras, Odes, including the Prayer of Manasseh, the Psalms of Solomon, and Psalm 151.
Some books that are set apart in the Masoretic Text are grouped together. For example, the Books of Samuel and the Books of Kings are in the LXX one book in four parts called Βασιλειῶν ("Of Reigns"). In LXX, the Books of Chronicles supplement Reigns and it is called Paralipomenon (Παραλειπομένων – things left out). The Septuagint organizes the minor prophets as twelve parts of one Book of Twelve.
|The Orthodox Old Testament[a]||Greek-based name||Conventional English name|
|Ἰησοῦς Nαυῆ||Iêsous Nauê||Joshua|
|Βασιλειῶν Αʹ[b]||I Reigns||I Samuel|
|Βασιλειῶν Βʹ||II Reigns||II Samuel|
|Βασιλειῶν Γʹ||III Reigns||I Kings|
|Βασιλειῶν Δʹ||IV Reigns||II Kings|
|Παραλειπομένων Αʹ||I Paralipomenon[c]||I Chronicles|
|Παραλειπομένων Βʹ||II Paralipomenon||II Chronicles|
|Ἔσδρας Αʹ||I Esdras||1 Esdras|
|Ἔσδρας Βʹ||II Esdras||Ezra–Nehemiah|
|Τωβίτ[d]||Tobit||Tobit or Tobias|
|Ἐσθήρ||Esther||Esther with additions|
|Μακκαβαίων Αʹ||I Makkabaioi||1 Maccabees|
|Μακκαβαίων Βʹ||II Makkabaioi||2 Maccabees|
|Μακκαβαίων Γʹ||III Makkabaioi||3 Maccabees|
|Ψαλμός ΡΝΑʹ||Psalm 151||Psalm 151|
|Προσευχὴ Μανάσση||Prayer of Manasseh||Prayer of Manasseh|
|Ἆσμα Ἀσμάτων||Song of Songs||Song of Solomon or Canticles|
|Σοφία Σαλoμῶντος||Wisdom of Solomon||Wisdom|
|Σοφία Ἰησοῦ Σειράχ||Wisdom of Jesus the son of Seirach||Sirach or Ecclesiasticus|
|Ψαλμοί Σαλoμῶντος||Psalms of Solomon||Psalms of Solomon|
|Δώδεκα||The Twelve||Minor Prophets|
|Ὡσηέ Αʹ||I. Osëe||Hosea|
|Ἀμώς Βʹ||II. Amōs||Amos|
|Μιχαίας Γʹ||III. Michaias||Micah|
|Ἰωήλ Δʹ||IV. Ioël||Joel|
|Ὀβδίου Εʹ[e]||V. Obdias||Obadiah|
|Ἰωνᾶς Ϛ'||VI. Ionas||Jonah|
|Ναούμ Ζʹ||VII. Naoum||Nahum|
|Ἀμβακούμ Ηʹ||VIII. Ambakum||Habakkuk|
|Σοφονίας Θʹ||IX. Sophonias||Zephaniah|
|Ἀγγαῖος Ιʹ||X. Angaios||Haggai|
|Ζαχαρίας ΙΑʹ||XI. Zacharias||Zachariah|
|Ἄγγελος ΙΒʹ||XII. Messenger||Malachi|
|Ἐπιστολή Ιερεμίου||Epistle of Jeremiah||Letter of Jeremiah|
|Δανιήλ||Daniêl||Daniel with additions|
|Μακκαβαίων Δ' Παράρτημα||IV Makkabees||4 Maccabees[f]|