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The Septuagint (pronounced, sep-tjoo-uh-jint, literally "Interpretation According to the Seventy,"[1] as requested by Ptolemy II) is the first translation of the Hebrew Old Testament of the Bible into any foreign language—and specifically the classical Greek and Koine Greek that was spoken shortly after the death of Alexander the Great.[2] In New Testament times, the Septuagint was the form of scripture in common use. Jesus quotes from it in Luke 4:18-19. The Bible itself does not present a definitive listing of the books of the Bible or their number. The divinely inspired statement of Saint Paul in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 encompasses and includes all of sacred scripture, and its purpose.[3]

In some instances, the Septuagint agreed more with the Samaritan version of the Pentateuch than with the Masoretic/Jewish text. See, e.g., Exodus 12:40.


Upon the death of Alexander in 332 B.C., one of his generals, named Ptolemy Lagus, took over Egypt as King Ptolemy I Soter (literally, "Ptolemy the Savior"). This king built, among other things, the Great Library of Alexandria, which he intended to be a major research center throughout the Mediterranean region.

He continued the generally tolerant policy toward the Jews that Alexander had observed since the priests at Jerusalem had surrendered to him. His successor Ptolemy II Philadelphus (r. 285-246 BC) continued that policy. In his effort to make the Great Library the best center of learning in the known world, Ptolemy Philadelphus sought to translate the Old Testament from Hebrew into Greek.[4] Sadly, his staff found Hebrew to be a difficult language to understand, and were not sure of the meanings of several turns of phrase found in the Hebrew text.[5] So Ptolemy appointed a team of seventy scholars, each fluent in Hebrew and in Greek, and assigned to them the task of translating the Hebrew text.[6] Supposedly all of the translators worked independently and arrived at the same exact translation, thus demonstrating that the translated text was as divinely inspired as the original.

The result is a work produced largely by scholarly consensus and was the primary translation in Palestine at the time of Jesus. The Gospels, Paul, James, Peter, Jude, and the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews quoted from the Septuagint often in their respective writings.

The Septuagint contains the forty-six canonical books of the Catholic and Orthodox Old Testament, and includes the thirty-nine books held by most Protestant denominations to be inspired, together with those called the Apocrypha, which are considered by non-Catholic and non-Orthodox Christians as non-inspired, and hence non-canonical. They were first segregated into a separate section between the Old Testament of the Jewish Tanakh and the Christian New Testament by Martin Luther in his German Bible in the 16th century. They were retained in the King James Bible (KJV) until popular pressure by Protestant groups in the 19th century persuaded publishers of the KJV to omit the Apocrypha altogether.[7] The Apocrypha are still considered canonical by the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church communities, and are retained in Catholic and Orthodox Bibles. The Septuagint also includes the anagignoskomena books which are not included in the Apocrypha, and are not included in the Catholic and Protestant Bibles.

See Biblical Canon

Objections to the Septuagint

Any translation is automatically suspect, if only because of differences in grammar and idiom between the source and target languages.[8] Also, later Jews were suspicious of anything that had a non-Jewish influence, and so kept most of the original Hebrew texts[9] The Masoretic Text is the traditional Hebrew (and in some books, Aramaic), and is the text that is used today both for those who read Hebrew, and for translating to other languages.

Saint Jerome used the Septuagint as the basis of the Gallican Psalter and the book of Job of the Vulgate. After more than a decade he decided the Septuagint was too fraught with mistranslations to be acceptable. At the beginning of AD the fifth century Jerome used only copies of biblical books in Hebrew and in some places Aramaic.[10] It is important to note that Jerome did not exclude from the whole of the Christian Bible the books designated as Apocrypha by the second century Palestinian Jewish rabbinical authorities and afterward by the leaders of the Protestant Reformation, but he included them among the books of the Old Testament. Martin Luther was first to separate and segregate the deuterocanonicals in a separate section apart from the Old Testament which he designated "The Apocrypha".

James Ussher, who made himself an expert on Semitic languages, concluded that the Septuagint contained errors of translation, and even errors of fact, that he considered critical and fatal to his purpose of determining a unified chronology of the world. For that reason, he rejected the Septuagint in favor of the Masoretic Text.

Objections overcome: Dead Sea Scrolls vindicate accuracy of both LXX and Masoretic text

In 1947, ancient copies of Hebrew texts in scroll form turned up at Qumran. These "Dead Sea Scrolls" were written over various times, but dated back to the time of Jesus and before. This was a monumental find as it pushed back the time of the earliest known Hebrew text by almost 1000 years and was still a few hundred years earlier than the earliest surviving Greek text. The scrolls vindicate the accuracy of both the Septuagint and the Masoretic text which were surprisingly accurate for the large amount of time that had passed. In those cases where there were differences, the Septuagint was more accurate overall. Septuagint and Dead Sea Scroll manuscripts together vindicate the prophecies of Jesus Christ, because they render any conspiracy to write "prophecies after the fact" temporally impossible.

Table of LXX quotes and allusions in the New Testament

Compare the KJV Old Testament texts with the Greek and English Septuagint text at

New Testament KJV Old Testament KJV New Testament KJV Deuterocanonical Books
Matthew 1:23
Matthew 3:3
Matthew 9:13
Matthew 12:7
Matthew 12:21
Matthew 13:13
Matthew 13:15
Matthew 15:8-9
Matthew 21:16

Mark 1:3
Mark 7:6-7

Luke 3:5-6
Luke 4:18

John 1:23
John 6:31
John 12:38
John 12:40

Acts 2:19
Acts 2:25-26
Acts 4:26
Acts 7:14
Acts 7:14
Acts 7:27-28
Acts 7:43
Acts 8:32-33
Acts 15:17

Romans 2:24
Romans 3:4
Romans 3:12
Romans 3:12
Romans 3:13
Romans 3:14
Romans 9:17
Romans 9:25
Romans 9:27
Romans 9:29
Romans 9:33
Romans 10:11
Romans 10:18
Romans 10:20-21
Romans 11:9-10
Romans 11:26
Romans 11:27
Romans 11:34
Romans 12:20
Romans 15:12
Romans 15:21

1 Corinthians 1:19
1 Corinthians 2:16
1 Corinthians 5:13
1 Corinthians 15:55

2 Corinthians 4:13
2 Corinthians 6:2

Galatians 3:10
Galatians 3:13
Galatians 4:27

2 Timothy 2:19

Hebrews 1:6
Hebrews 1:12
Hebrews 2:7
Hebrews 2:12
Hebrews 3:15
Hebrews 3:15
Hebrews 4:7
Hebrews 8:9-10
Hebrews 9:28
Hebrews 10:5
Hebrews 10:37-38
Hebrews 11:5
Hebrews 11:21
Hebrews 12:6
Hebrews 13:6

James 4:6

1 Peter 1:24
1 Peter 2:6
1 Peter 2:9
1 Peter 2:9
1 Peter 2:22
1 Peter 4:18
1 Peter 5:5

Isaiah 7:14
Isaiah 40:3
Hosea 6:6
Hosea 6:6
Isaiah 42:4
Isaiah 6:10
Isaiah 6:10
Isaiah 29:13
Psalm 8:2

Isaiah 40:3
Isaiah 29:13

Isaiah 40:4-5
Isaiah 61:1

Isaiah 40:3
Psalm 78:24
Isaiah 53:1
Isaiah 6:10

Joel 2:30
Psalm 16:8-9
Psalm 2:2
Genesis 46:27
Deuteronomy 10:22
Exodus 2:14
Amos 5:26-27
Isaiah 53:7-8
Amos 9:12

Isaiah 52:5
Psalm 51:4
Psalm 14:1
Psalm 14:3
Psalm 140:3
Psalm 10:7
Exodus 9:16
Hosea 2:23
Isaiah 10:22
Isaiah 1:9
Isaiah 28:16
Isaiah 28:16
Psalm 19:4
Isaiah 65:1-2
Psalm 69:22-23
Isaiah 59:20
Isaiah 27:9
Isaiah 40:13
Proverbs 25:21-22
Isaiah 11:10
Isaiah 52:15

Isaiah 29:14
Isaiah 40:13
Deuteronomy 17:7
Hosea 13:14

Psalm 116:10
Isaiah 49:8

Deuteronomy 27:26
Deuteronomy 21:23
Isaiah 54:1

Numbers 16:5

Deuteronomy 32:43 [11]
Psalm 102:25-26
Psalm 8:5-6
Psalm 22:22
Psalm 95:8
Psalm 95:7-8
Psalm 95:7-8
Jeremiah 31:32-33
Isaiah 10:22
Psalm 40:6
Habakkuk 2:3-4
Genesis 5:24
Genesis 47:31
Proverbs 3:12
Psalm 118:6

Proverbs 3:34

Isaiah 40:6
Isaiah 28:16
Exodus 19:6
Isaiah 43:21
Isaiah 53:9
Proverbs 11:31
Proverbs 3:34

Matthew 2:16
Matthew 6:19-20
Matthew 7:12
Matthew 7:16
Matthew 7:20
Matthew 9:36
Matthew 11:25
Matthew 12:42
Matthew 16:18
Matthew 22:25-26
Matthew 22:25-26
Matthew 24:15
Matthew 24:16
Matthew 24:16
Matthew 27:43

Mark 4:5
Mark 4:16-17
Mark 9:48
Mark 12:20-22
Mark 12:20-22

Luke 1:42
Luke 1:52
Luke 2:29-30
Luke 13:29
Luke 20:29-31
Luke 20:29-31
Luke 21:24
Luke 21:24
Luke 21:24
Luke 24:4

John 1:3
John 1:1-4
John 3:13
John 4:48
John 4:48
John 4:48
John 5:18
John 6:35-59
John 10:22-23
John 10:22-23
John 15:6

Acts 1:10
Acts 1:15
Acts 1:21-26
Acts 5:12
Acts 10:34
Acts 15:12
Acts 15:12
Acts 17:29

Romans 1:18-25
Romans 1:20
Romans 1:23
Romans 1:23
Romans 1:23
Romans 1:23
Romans 1:24-27
Romans 1:24-27
Romans 2:11
Romans 4:17
Romans 4:17
Romans 5:12
Romans 9:21

1 Corinthians 2:16
1 Corinthians 6:12-13
1 Corinthians 6:12-13
1 Corinthians 6:12-13
1 Corinthians 8:5-6
1 Corinthians 10:1
1 Corinthians 10:20
1 Corinthians 10:23-26
1 Corinthians 10:23-26
1 Corinthians 15:29

2 Corinthians 12:12

Galatians 2:6

Ephesians 1:17
Ephesians 6:14
Ephesians 6:14
Ephesians 6:13-17

1 Timothy 6:15
1 Timothy 6:15

2 Timothy 4:8

Hebrews 4:12
Hebrews 11:5
Hebrews 11:5
Hebrews 11:35
Hebrews 12:12

James 1:19
James 2:23
James 2:23
James 3:13
James 5:3
James 5:3
James 5:6

1 Peter 1:6-7
1 Peter 1:6-7
1 Peter 1:17

2 Peter 2:7

Revelation 1:4
Revelation 1:18
Revelation 2:12
Revelation 5:7
Revelation 8:3-4
Revelation 8:3-4
Revelation 8:7
Revelation 8:7
Revelation 9:3
Revelation 11:19
Revelation 17:14
Revelation 17:14
Revelation 19:1
Revelation 19:16
Revelation 19:16
Revelation 21:18-21
Revelation 21:24-26
Wisdom 11:17-19 [12]
Sirach 29:11
Tobit 4:15
Sirach 27:6
Sirach 27:6
Judith 11:19
Tobit 12:11
Wisdom of Solomon
Wisdom 16:13
Tobit 3:8
Tobit 7:11
1 Maccabees 1:54
2 Maccabees 8:17
1 Maccabees 2:28
Wisdom 2:13-20

Sirach 40:15
Sirach 40:15
Judith 16:17
Tobit 3:8
Tobit 7:11

Judith 13:18
Sirach 10:14
Tobit 11:9
Baruch 4:37
Tobit 3:8
Tobit 7:11
Sirach 28:18
1 Maccabees 14:36-37
2 Maccabees 5:19-20
2 Maccabees 3:26

Wisdom 9:1
Sirach 24:1-22
Baruch 3:29 [13][14]
Wisdom 8:8
Wisdom 1:2-3
Wisdom 13:8-9
Wisdom 2:16
Sirach 24:19-22 [14]
1 Maccabees 4:36
1 Macc 4:52-56 [15]
Wisdom 4:5

2 Maccabees 3:26
1 Maccabees 3:55
1 Maccabees 13:8-9
Wisdom 8:8 [16]
Sirach 35:12
Wisdom 8:8
Tobit 12:6-7
Wisdom 13:10

Wisdom 13:1-10
Wisdom 13:1
Wisdom 11:15
Wisdom 12:24-27
Wisdom 13:10
Wisdom 14:8
Wisdom 14:12
Wisdom 14:24-27
Sirach 35:12
Sirach 44:19
Wisdom 11:24-26
Wisdom 2:24
Wisdom 15:7

Wisdom 9:13
Sirach 36:18
Sirach 37:28-30
Sirach 23:6
Wisdom 13:3
Wisdom 19:7
Baruch 4:7
Sirach 36:18
Sirach 37:28-30
2 Maccabees 12:43-45

Wisdom 8:8

Sirach 35:12

Wisdom 7:7
Wisdom 5:18 [17]
1 Maccabees 3:3
Wisdom 5:17-20

2 Maccabees 12:15
2 Maccabees 13:4

Wisdom 5:16

Wisdom 18:15-16
Wisdom 4:10
Sirach 44:16 [18]
2 Maccabees 7:1-42
Sirach 25:23

Sirach 5:11
1 Maccabees 2:52
Wisdom 7:27-28
Sirach 3:17
Sirach 29:10-11
Wisdom 4:20–5:8
Wisdom 2:10-20

Wisdom 3:5-6
Sirach 2:5
Sirach 16:12

Wisdom 10:6

Tobit 12:15
Wisdom 16:13
Wisdom 18:16
Sirach 1:8
Tobit 12:12
Tobit 12:15
Wisdom 16:22
Sirach 39:29
Wisdom 16:9
2 Maccabees 2:7 [19]
2 Maccabees 13:4
Wisdom 16:24
Tobit 13:18
2 Maccabees 13:4
2 Maccabees 7:9
Tobit 13:16-17
Tobit 13:11
Isaiah 11:2 Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit in the Bible
Compare:—KJV Isaiah 11:2-3Douay-Rheims Isaiah 11:2-3—Septuagint Isaiah 11:2-3 [20]RSVCE Isaiah 11:2-3

The sixth gift εὐσεβείας eusebias "piety" or "godliness" is found only in the Septuagint. See multiple versions of Isaiah 11:2 and 11:3.
The New Testament does not list the Seven Gifts of the Spirit together in one place in the Gospels or the Epistles or in the Book of Revelation.

Existence of the Septuagint before the Third Century

The existence of the Septuagint before A.D. 100 has been disputed and denied, on the basis that no extant manuscript of the Septuagint as a whole can be dated earlier than the Codex Vaticanus, and that the Ryland Papyrus is only a small portion of the biblical text, which cannot of itself prove the existence of an entire Greek translation of the whole Old Testament at or before the time of the Apostles and before the birth of Jesus. Some hold the opinion that the Septuagint was composed around A.D. 275 to bolster the claims of the Catholic Church, that quotations from the LXX were falsely inserted into the Gospels and the New Testament in place of the true Hebrew texts, corrupting the Bible, and that it is evidence of a growing syncretistic compromise with the pagan religion of the Roman Empire. The Letter of Aristeas purporting to describe its origin beginning the third century B.C. as the miraculously accurate translation of seventy or seventy-two rabbinical scholars retained by Pharaoh Ptolemy Philadelphus in Egypt has been rejected as a purely legendary, very late composition, according to some originally invented as hoax in the third century,[21] and therefore utterly unworthy of belief as a testimony to the authenticity of the Septuagint.

However, the consistent witness of the ecclesiastical writers of the first and second centuries of Christianity, the Apostolic Fathers, who quote as authoritative scripture Greek texts of the Old Testament including the deuterocanonicals, suggests strongly that there is no substantive basis for the assertion that the Septuagint was compiled after A.D. 210 and was utterly unknown before that time. The earliest extant fragments of the Gospels and the New Testament have no evidence of quotations of the Old Testament translated directly from the Hebrew Old Testament. There is no before and after textual evidence which demonstrates that quotations of Old Testament texts in the New Testament were later systematically revised or replaced by copyists using the LXX. The constant tradition of both the eastern and western churches also argues strongly against the contention that the Septuagint did not exist before the third century, confidently asserting instead that the collection of the forty-six books of the Septuagint was the Bible of Jesus and the Apostles before the writing of the New Testament Gospels, Epistles and Revelation. This is taken together with the evidence of the tradition of the ancient African Jewish communities, in particular Beta Israel, all of whom reject Christian claims and scriptures, whose ancient traditional translation of the Tanakh Bible contains all of the books rejected by the Palestinian rabbinical schools of the first and second centuries, a canon of scripture that is almost identical to the Old Testament of the Greek Orthodox Church (without the book of Ecclesiasticus). The argument that Beta Israel originated with isolated communities of African Christians who fell away from Christianity into a form of Judaism while still retaining the books of the Septuagint as their Tanakh as an integral part of their ancestral heritage has recently been dismissed by conclusive evidence that their cultural and genetic ancestors were never Christian. All available textual and historical evidence indicates that efforts to prove the Septuagint did not exist before the time of Christ and therefore could not have been the Bible of Jesus and the Apostles are revisionist errors presented as an argument against Orthodoxy and Catholicism in favor of the Protestant Reformation rejection of seven books and parts of books of the Bible.

See also


Historical-critical method (Higher criticism)

Confirmation bias

Academic dishonesty

Protestant Reformation

Great Apostasy


  1. Latin Interpretatio Septuaginta, Greek Hermeneutica kata ton hebdomekonton abbr. LXX
  2. The Septuagint on the Web.
  3. For the context of 2 Timothy 3:16-17 compare 2 Timothy 3:14-15; 1 Timothy 3:15; Ephesians 3:8-12; 2:10; James 2:24; and Matthew 7:21-23. In Matthew 25:31-46 the Lord does not ask how the Bible was read and interpreted. In Romans 2:6-11 the Bible is not mentioned as a requirement of salvation.
  4. Ptolemy II at
  5. See Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 1:1, Douay-Rheims 1899 American edition DRA ( The book of Sirach was originally written in Hebrew, not Greek. See Apocrypha.
  6. Durant, Will, The Story of Civilization, Volume 2: The Life of Greece. ISBN 1567310133
  7. Biblical Apocrypha: Modern Editions - Wikipedia
  8. See Sirach 1:1 Douay-Rheims 1899 American edition (DRA) ( Ben-Sira's introduction to the Book of Ecclesiasticus
    "...for the Hebrew words have not the same force in them when translated into another tongue. And not only these, but the law also itself, and the prophets, and the rest of the books, have no small difference, when they are spoken in their own language."
  9. All of the Old Testament books rejected as apocrypha from the 2nd century onward by rabbinical authority have been found to have originally been Hebrew texts, with the sole exception of the Wisdom of Solomon. See Council of Jamnia. Discoveries of Hebrew and Aramaic manuscripts of Tobit, ben Sira (Sirach, or Ecclesiasticus), Epistle of Jeremiah in the caves at Qumran near the Dead Sea, the "Dead Sea Scrolls", demonstrate that a Hebrew or Aramaic origin of a text included in the Greek translation of the Jewish scriptures in the Septuagint accepted by Christians was not the sole criterion for inclusion or exclusion in the Hebrew canon, but included consideration of (rejected) evidence of content which supported Christian doctrine. Linguistic evidence shows that other Septuagint books which were excluded by rabbinical authority after A.D. 90 certainly had an original Hebrew or Aramaic text. See
  10. The Development of the Canon of the New Testament: Vulgate
  11. Obscure. See multiple commentaries on Hebrews 1:6. Scholars specifically see Hebrews 1:6 as a citation of LXX Deuteronomy 34:43. This is puzzling. The passage does not refer to the "firstborn", either the messiah of Israel or to "Israel my son". According to scholarly commentaries they are undecided what text is being quoted in Hebrews, but see a possible alternative reference to :Psalm 97:6-7. Hebrews 1:6 is not actually identifiable as being from any extant Hebrew OT text. See Septuagint English-Greek text of Deuteronomy 32:43 (
    43. Rejoice, ye heavens, with him, and let all the angels of God worship him; rejoice ye Gentiles, with his people, and let all the sons of God strengthen themselves in him; for he will avenge the blood of his sons, and he will render vengeance, and recompence justice to his enemies, and will reward them that hate him; and the Lord shall purge the land of his people.
  12. An allusion to King Herod who "did not lack the means to send upon them" merciless soldiers "full of rage" to "exterminate men" like the vicious beasts mentioned in the parallel language of this passage in Wisdom 11:17-19
  13. References to Wisdom as a living being in the Old Testament have been interpreted as referring to the Word of God made flesh, Jesus Christ himself:
    Proverbs 8; Wisdom 7:22 – 8:1; Matthew 11:19; Luke 7:35; John 1:1; 1 Corinthians 1:24 and 30; Hebrews 1:3-4; James 3:17.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Jesus, the Word and Wisdom of God, gives himself, his flesh and blood, as food and drink, that all who come to him may share in (partake of) the divine nature:
    Matthew 5:6; John 7:37; 21:15-17; Acts 20:28; Hebrews 6:5; 1 Peter 2:2; 5:2; 2 Peter 1:4 "partakers of the divine nature". See multiple versions of 2 Peter 1:4
  15. The ninth month "Chisleu / Chislev" in the Jewish calendar is in November/December, the time of the Early and Later Rains. The "feast of dedication" is Hanukkah.
  16. An allusion to "signs and wonders" worked by the Wisdom of God, in the Book of Acts by Jesus through the hands of the Apostles, "made unto us wisdom". See 1 Corinthians 1:30.
  17. See also :Isaiah 59:17 and :1 Thessalonians 5:8.
  18. See also :2 Kings 2:1-13 and :Sirach 48:9.
  19. See context 2 Maccabees 2:4-8. Those who believe both the Second Book of Maccabees and the Book of Revelation are true according to the literal sense of scripture are convinced that the Ark of the Covenant is not on earth but was physically taken to heaven after Jeremiah hid it in a cave, and that to John on the island of Patmos it was revealed again and was seen by him to be in heaven, because God had fulfilled the prophesy uttered by Jeremiah, having begun the gathering of his redeemed people together again and revealed his mercy to sinners in his Son the Lord Jesus Christ.
  20. Click on Septuagint Isaiah 11 This link includes the entire chapter of Isaiah 11 with number links to other chapters which are not verse numbers. The reader will need to scroll down the page to find the text.
  21. The External links below offers a detailed in-depth introduction to the range of issues, opinions, controversy, and research on the origins of the Septuagint. They are best read in the sequence provided here.

External links