When we started the 2001 Translation, we only wanted to create a more accurate and easier-to-read New Testament. However, once that project was completed, we decided to continue on and complete the Old Testament too. To do this, we used the Septuagint text (also known as the LXX). What is that?
The Septuagint is a Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures, which was translated (according to ancient historians) between the 3rd and 2nd centuries BCE. Experts have found fragments of Greek Septuagint manuscripts dating as far back as the 2nd century BCE. It was made to benefit Jews who lived outside of Israel and no longer used Hebrew as their everyday language, but had adopted Greek – which was the international language at the time.
Why did we choose to use this ancient Greek Septuagint translation to create our Bible? Why not use the oldest Hebrew manuscripts instead?
At first, our reasons were simply practical:
However, as we began, we were very shocked (and delighted) to discover that this ancient Greek Septuagint translation hid many surprising secrets!
We had always believed that the Hebrew and Aramaic texts were older, and therefore the most accurate. After all, what could be more accurate than a translation “from the original Hebrew”? However, it soon became very clear that this isn’t true. In fact, the oldest Greek copy is centuries older than the oldest Hebrew copy!
Further, as we were translating, we noticed that the Hebrew and Aramaic texts contain large errors, and perhaps even deliberate changes. These have gone mostly unnoticed by western Christian churches (although the Septuagint has always been the preferred text of the Eastern Orthodox churches).
So our Old Testament translation became more than just another version. It became a much larger and more important project: an attempt to restore the Old Testament back to how it read before hundreds of corruptions entered the Hebrew text over the past 1,500 years or more.
Let’s look at the many reasons that the Septuagint is, in our view, much more accurate and closer to the original than the Hebrew.
First, we must be open and honest. Yes, while we’ve found many errors in the Hebrew text, the Greek Septuagint text is hardly perfect. It also has some errors (they become clear in translating). We are also well aware that we’re producing a translation of a translation (from Hebrew/Aramaic to ancient Greek, and then from ancient Greek to modern English). The accuracy of our translation can’t be any better than the accuracy of the original translation. Also, there are several different versions of the Septuagint text that have key differences.
So, how can we say that the Septuagint is reliable? Well, is that really the right question? Surely the question should be: “Are the Greek Septuagint manuscripts more reliable than the Hebrew manuscripts?”
We feel that the evidence says, ‘yes’.
There are many major problems with the ancient Hebrew manuscripts usually used to translate the Old Testament. The most reliable ancient Hebrew text is called the Masoretic Text, and the oldest complete copy dates back to the 9th century CE.
However, the very oldest manuscripts and fragments of the Old Testament (the Dead Sea Scrolls, some of which date as far back as the 1st Century BCE) read more like... the Greek Septuagint! Yes, the most ancient Hebrew manuscripts agree with the most ancient Greek translation, but not with the Hebrew Masoretic text (which is used to translate almost every English Old Testament).
Additionally, other ancient sources that quote the Bible agree with the words of the Greek Septuagint, but not the Hebrew Masoretic text. This includes, not only the ancient Jewish historian, Josephus, but also other ancient writers, including ancint Rabbis who left behind many of their writings, historian Eupolemus, the writer we call Pseudo-Philo, and Eupolemus’s source for chronology, Demetrius the Chronographer. Jesus and the Apostles repeatedly quote from the Old Testament, and their words match what is said in the Greek Septuagint and in the Dead Sea Scrolls, but not the Hebrew Masoretic Texts.
Evidently then, the Septuagint translators, Josephus, the ancient Rabbis, Eupolemus, Psuedo-Philo, Demetrius, Jesus, the Apostles, and the early Christians, all used Hebrew or Aramaic scrolls that read very differently from the later Hebrew manuscripts. After all, it’s pretty doubtful that Jesus and his Apostles read from Greek scrolls in their synagogues (Josephus tells us that very few people in Judah spoke Greek, although it was spoken elsewhere in Palestine). Therefore, the Hebrew or Aramaic texts that they used in worship likey once read just like the Septuagint.
Finally, by the mid-2nd century CE, the early Christian writer Justin Martyr mentions that the Jews changed their Bible. The changes were so significant that he deliberately quoted from their version when arguing with Jews about the Messiah, since they would not accept quotes from the “Christian” version in which the Messianic prophecies read differently.
What is more, the Septuagint was the primary Bible for the early Christians. History shows that as late as the 5th century CE, the Septuagint was still the preferred Old Testament used by Christians, and Latin translations of it were still used by Latin-speakers.
Interestingly, modern Jews continue to reject the Septuagint (despite the fact it was originally translated by Jewish scholars), because they still view it as a ‘Christian Bible’! This is entirely because Jesus and the Apostles quoted prophecies from the Septuagint which clearly point to Jesus as the Messiah. This causes us to wonder why Christians in the west ever stopped using this text; a text that was so important to their predecessors and to Jesus’ Apostles!
We, and others, strongly suspect that the ancient Rabbis changed the Hebrew texts in an effort to discredit Jesus as the Messiah, to prove Christians wrong, and to prevent Jews from converting to Christianity. This probably took place in the late 1st century CE or early 2nd century CE.
You see, most of the differences between the Hebrew Masoretic text and the Greek Septuagint are, shall we say, suspicious. How so? Well, if a text was accidentally corrupted, the corruptions would be pretty random. However, in the Hebrew Masoretic text, most of the changes are in the prophecies about the Messiah – especially ones that clearly describe Jesus and those which say how the gentiles would follow him. These verses are either very watered down and made to sound vague, or are completely changed! Other changes seem to reflect the thinking of 1st century Jewish Rabbis.
At first, this may all sound unlikely. How could they change the Bible without people noticing? However, with a little historical knowledge, it’s easy to see how it happened.
After the Romans destroyed the Jewish nation (in a series of wars starting in 70 CE), the number of Jews and Rabbis (formerly called the Pharisees) became extremely small. Copies of the Hebrew scriptures became an even rarer commodity, overseen by the smallest number of Rabbis, scribes, and scholars since the nation returned from the exile in Babylon. Now only a handful of prominent ones were needed to change the Bible text, and no one else could question it.
Further, many Jews expressed outright hatred for Christians, even sometimes betraying them to the Roman authorities to have them killed. So it would not be too difficult for a small number of Rabbis, filled with hatred for Christians, to alter the prophecies about the Messiah (and other verses too) to discredit the Christians’ claim that the prophecies were all fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth.
Since they were the only guardians of the “original Hebrew” texts, they could point to their copies and say, “Our original Hebrew language Bible doesn’t say that at all!” and claim that the Christians have it all wrong. In the days before modern communication, archaeology, manuscript cataloging, textual criticisms, the printing press, and the Internet, such a deception could easily work. It would be especially effective on the Jewish community itself. Any Jew who wished to investigate the Christian’s claims about Jesus of Nazareth would see very different words in the “original” Hebrew scrolls.
So the whole fraudulent scheme was probably not just to discredit the Christians, but to actively prevent Jews from accepting Jesus as the Messiah and defecting to the Christian community.
After all, the Jewish people were already greatly reduced in numbers after the Roman attack in 70 CE (2 million died). Jewish conversion to Christianity was now, not just an annoyance, but another threat to the existence of the Jewish nation. To the Rabbis, the Christians were a greater threat than ever before.
Also, the battle was personal. Keep in mind how often Jesus openly condemned the Pharisees, as did His Christian followers. They never stopped reminding them that they were the ones who had Jesus killed, and furthermore, their ancestors also killed many prophets of Jehovah/Yahweh. So for the Pharisees, we could say that the battle against the Christians was not just intellectual, religious, or nationalistic, but that it was probably a personal battle too.
However, as if this were not enough, there may have been yet another motivation for changing the Messianic prophecies...
In the early 2nd century, while the Jewish people were still wounded and massively reduced in numbers from the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE, a possible savior arose.
There was a Jewish military leader named Simon bar Kokhba, and many Rabbis believed that he was the Messiah. Eventually, in 132 CE, he and his followers led a violent revolt against the Romans. It was a success. Thanks to him, for 3 years, an independent Jewish state was “restored”!
This was, of course, exactly the sort of “Messiah” the Jews were looking for. Indeed, we are reminded of how people tried to make Jesus the King of Israel, and how the Apostles wanted him to restore the Kingdom in their day. Jesus, of course, was not going to be a military savior, but a spiritual one. Yet Simon bar Kokhba was exactly the kind of Messiah that the Jews and their Rabbis had really wanted – a mighty military leader who could fight the Romans.
Of course, his restored Jewish nation was soon crushed by the Roman Empire. Between 135 and 136 CE their would-be Messiah, and at least 580,000 other Jews, were slaughtered, and Rome’s wars against the Jews came to an end. The majority of the world’s Jews were now dead.
Yet, in the years before that final defeat, the Pharisees (that is, the Rabbis) may have felt motivated to change the Messianic prophecies (or at least, to massage them) to make them sound less applicable to Jesus of Nazareth, and more applicable to their chosen Messiah, Simon bar Kokhba.
So the Pharisees/Rabbis had many motivations to change the Old Testament texts, and many people (including us) believe that’s exactly what they did. But who, exactly, did it?
Some historians suspect that a prominent Rabbi named Akiva was heavily involved in this monumental fraud. In the years before their final defeat, probably around 130 CE, he and one of his disciples (a convert to Judaism named Aquila of Sinope) even produced their own Greek translation of the Old Testament containing the fraudulent changes. The Rabbis then promoted this Greek translation over the Septuagint, but the Christians disliked it, seeing that the Messianic prophecies in it had been altered.
So, we say that sometime between Jerusalem’s destruction in 70 CE, and the final defeat of the Jews in 136 CE (during which Rabbi Akiva also died, by the way), the Rabbis deliberately corrupted “the original Hebrew” text. They did this to discredit Jesus as the Messiah, possibly to better fit their chosen Messiah, Simon bar Kokhba, as well as to insert their own ideas. Then they even tried to spread their corrupted version by producing their own Greek translation of it! However, they would not get away with it completely.
Firstly, their corrupted Greek translation never gained wide acceptance. Only fragments have survived until today. Further, the Greek Septuagint translation, made 250 years earlier, acted like a lifeboat, preserving the original text.
In addition, most of the original and uncorrupted Hebrew texts survived in ancient scrolls hidden in caves, or in quotes within the writings of people like Josephus, as well as in letters sent by early Christians – including the writers of the New Testament.
The deception was a clever one, and while the corrupted text is widespread today, the scheme ultimately failed to completely wipe-out the original words.
Today the 2001 Translation is helping to undo the deception. By producing a modern English translation primarily based upon the Greek Septuagint (with consultation from other manuscripts), we believe that we are providing a closer restoration of what the Old Testament originally said. When you read our translation, you are reading words much closer to what the 1st century Christians read.
However, Catholics, Protestants, and other denominations do not use Bibles based on the Septuagint today; no, they use Bibles based on the corrupted Hebrew texts. Why is this?
If everything we have said is true, then it raises several big questions: Why on earth are most western Bibles based on the corrupted Masoretic text? Why did they stop using the Septuagint? And why doesn’t everyone go back to the Septuagint again if it’s so much more reliable?
Well, at one time all western Christians used the Septuagint, or Bibles based upon the Septuagint, but they stopped. History tells us that it’s mostly because of one man, Jerome of Stridon. Who was he?
Jerome was a Catholic priest, historian, and translator born around the mid 4th century. In 382 CE, Pope Damasus I tasked Jerome with creating a new Latin translation of the Gospels. Later, Jerome expanded his work to translate the Old Testament too. His entire Bible is known today as the Latin Vulgate.
Previously, Christians in Latin-speaking areas who wished to read the Old Testament used rather poor-quality Latin translations of the Greek Septuagint. Many appear to have been created independently, and so read slightly differently from each other (we have various fragments today). Jerome’s fresh new translation would fix all of this. Initially he started translating from the Septuagint, but started to believe that the Jews were right to reject it. Huh? How come?
Well, the Jewish Rabbis were still insisting that their Hebrew texts were the “real” scriptures, and that the Septuagint was “mistranslated” (and not fraudulently changed to discredit Jesus as the Messiah). Sure, more ancient texts prove this to be false, but that wasn’t the Rabbis’ only argument.
They also pointed to Hebrew expressions that had been inadequately replaced with Greek ones, and Hebrew expressions which had been translated too literally and had, therefore, lost their original meaning. Additionally, they argued that pagan Greek beliefs had made their way into the Septuagint text in certain words and expressions, which they considered heretical against the Jewish faith.
Now, all of these latter objections have some truth to them. In producing the 2001 Translation from the Septuagint, we indeed have seen translation errors, and some influence from Greek-thinking in certain word choices. However, all of these things can be fixed. Jerome, however, decided that instead of the Septuagint, it would be better to use – you guessed it – the “original Hebrew texts”! So Jerome’s Latin Vulgate Bible was translated from the corrupted Hebrew.
People raised strong objections to Jerome’s actions because they knew that the Messianic prophecies had been corrupted, and now these corruptions were making their way into the Church via Jerome! The famous Bishop and writer, Augustine of Hippo, went so far as to accuse Jerome of being a forger.
Gradually, however, Jerome’s translation of the corrupted text was accepted by the Latin-speaking Christians. Eventually it became the standard Latin Bible of the Catholic Church. In the Greek-speaking east, however, the Septuagint was never replaced, and it remains the standard Bible of the Eastern Orthodox Churches to this day.
So, if it were not for Jerome, the Catholic Church would have kept using a Bible based on the Septuagint. But it was not to be. In the west, the corrupted Hebrew text became “God’s word”! Thus it would form the basis for the first English and Germanic Bible translations (such as the King James Version), and almost all other Bible translations used by Catholics and Protestants today.
Even completely new modern translations are made from the corrupted Hebrew. Why? People still wrongly believe that Bibles translated “from the original Hebrew” are more accurate. Scholars only consult the Septuagint occasionally, usually when some Hebrew passage is difficult to understand. Outside of that, however, it is ignored.
Indeed, modern Bible translations even brag about using the Masoretic text, which is the oldest copy of the Hebrew texts. It was prepared by the famous Masoret scribes, who were known for carefully preserving the Bible text as they copied it down the generations. They went to great lengths, even counting the number of times each letter appears on each page. They tracked the location and frequency of hundreds of thousands of individual letters (surely a nightmare before the days of computers).
Thus, modern Bible translations brag about how “reliable” the Hebrew manuscripts must be because of the Masoretic scribes. However, this makes no sense. The Masoretes did not exist until the 6th century CE, and the oldest Masoretic text that we have today only dates to the 9th century CE. The deliberate corruptions we’re discussing were likely made in the 2nd century CE, 700 years earlier!
It doesn’t matter how faithful the Masoretes themselves were if they were faithfully preserving text that was already corrupted. Is a fake message more valuable if it is a carefully transmitted fake? If a delivery driver delivers a package very carefully, does that improve the package?
Since many people do not know about the horrible corruptions that happened to the Hebrew text, they wrongly think that the Septuagint is a bad translation, filled with ‘errors’, ‘bias’, and is just all-round ‘terrible’!
They essentially make the same mistake as Jerome, and feel that the “original Hebrew” must automatically be more reliable. Little do they know the truth.
Some modern-day Christians even make these accusations. Yet we wonder what these persons would say to Paul, Stephen, the other Apostles, or even to Jesus himself? “Sorry Jesus, but you were wrong, the Bible didn’t say that, actually”.
Of course, it also gives ammunition to Atheists and Bible critics who say that quotes of the Old Testament in the New Testament don’t match up, and Christians who are ignorant of the matter then lend these people support by claiming that the Septuagint wording is wrong, despite the archaeological evidence and the clear words of Jesus and the Apostles.
Apart from the myth that “original Hebrew text must be the most reliable”, there are other reasons why modern Churches do not return to the Septuagint. Mostly, they don’t want to. In fact, they prefer the fraudulent texts; they don’t want the true ones.
Most western Christian denominations have based certain interpretations of scripture and prophecy on the corrupted Hebrew. They quote fake Proverbs that do not appear in the Septuagint at all. Many Christians have become used to the corrupted wording of certain passages, some have even been incorporated into their hymns and songs. Western theologians, authors, and religious leaders have written entire sermons, books, and magazine articles based upon fraudulent verses and corrupted passages – especially about prophecy and chronology.
For some, it would be humiliating to admit that some of their teachings, interpretations, and dogma were not actually based on “God’s word”, but on the “word” of Rabbis who were denying that Jesus is the Anointed One. Indeed, according to the letters of John, anyone who denies that Jesus is the Messiah is one of the “AntiChrists”. At 1 John 2:18 the author states that “there are already many AntiChrists”. If that letter was written around 95-110 CE (as scholars believe), then the corruption of the Hebrew texts (in an effort to discredit Jesus as the Messiah) may have already begun. The author may have had those who were corrupting the text in mind.
So yes, religious leaders who variously claim to be motivated by the “Holy Ghost” or “Holy Spirit”, or say they are “spirit-directed”, or even “chosen” to deliver “the Lord’s message”, have sometimes been repeating words fraudulently changed by “AntiChrists”, perhaps even the very same people referred to in John’s letter.
Yet it gets worse.
The “AntiChrists” who corrupted the Hebrew texts were the Rabbis; yes, Rabbis who came from the sect of the Pharisees – that’s right, that same sect of the Pharisees whose members had Jesus executed about 70 years earlier!
Do you realize what that means?
Some religious leaders today are preaching interpretations of scripture based upon verses which were corrupted by the same group of AntiChrists who killed Jesus.
Please let that sink in for a moment.
Now, what would happen if all modern western religious leaders decided to admit that the Hebrew is corrupt? And that the Septuagint wording is usually more faithful to the original? Firstly, they may have to change or abandon certain teachings that were based on corrupted chronology and verses in Daniel, the Psalms, the Proverbs, and other places. How many would have the humility to do that?
Secondly, and more gravely, it would raise serious questions about their claims to religious authority. After all, did they even have the Holy Spirit if they didn’t realize that the chronology and certain verses they were trying to explain were corrupted? Was the Holy Spirit guiding them to use verses corrupted by the same group of AntiChrists who had Jesus executed?
Or worse, what if it was revealed that they knew full well that the verses and prophecies they quoted were corrupted by “AntiChrists”, but chose to keep it quiet? Would they not be colluding with those “AntiChrists” to continue their deception? Remind me, please, who did Jesus say was “the father of the lie” again?
So religious leaders continue to ignore or dismiss the Septuagint. They keep their flocks in the dark about it. Tragically, this more faithful text of the Bible is delegated to the world of academics, far from the everyday experience of normal people.
Western Christian leaders either feel threatened by it, or they just don’t care about it. Either way, it means that ultimately they don’t care about Bible truth. So what does that say about their ‘authority’?
Despite rejecting the Septuagint, it has had a profound effect on western Hebrew-based Bibles. How so?
The names of many Old Testament books (such as Genesis, Exodus, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Esther, etc.) are actually Greek pronunciations, not Hebrew ones. Also, many Bible names (such as Adam, Eve, David, etc.) show a Greek influence and pronunciation (see the translator note, Eue, Euan or Eve?).
So whether people like it or not, the Greek Septuagint continues to have a strong influence upon all western Christian Bibles.
Is it true that 1st century Christians really quoted from the Septuagint? Or that the Hebrew texts they used were once worded just like the Septuagint?
It seems so, yes.
Consider the following example. Here are three versions of the same verse, from the surviving Hebrew text, the Greek Septuagint, and how the Christian martyr Stephen quoted it in the book of Acts:
‘And will actually carry Sukkuth your king, and Kaiwan, your images, the star of your god, whom you made for yourselves.’
‘But then you chose Molech’s tent
And the star of Raiphan as your gods…
You made idols of them for yourselves!’
‘Rather, you took the images that you made for worship to the tent of Moloch and to the star of the god Rephan.’
Where did Stephen get his information? Was it from the current Hebrew text, or the Septuagint? Judge for yourselves!
The only difference is in the spelling of the name of the star (Raiphan and Rephan), but it’s only a vowel, and nobody can be certain which vowels were used in the original Hebrew texts, since ancient Hebrew had no written vowels.
Of course, this is just the tip of a very large iceberg. Most of the quotes of the Old Testament in the New Testament read like the Septuagint. They do not read like the Hebrew text. Some are very different indeed. That’s why many sincere Bible readers have been very confused. They see a New Testament writer, such as Paul, quote from the Old Testament. They then look up the Old Testament passage that he quoted and read ... something very different!
Many Bible commentators say that Paul and others were merely paraphrasing, however the differences are so great that ‘paraphrasing’ can’t always explain it. Some critics of the Bible even use this as ammunition to argue that the Bible is just a bunch of nonsense and myths; “the quotes don’t match!” they scream. These people simply do not know that modern Bible translations use the corrupted Hebrew text. That’s why the quotes do not match up in western Bibles. The quotes matched up perfectly when they were written, and they still match up today in the Eastern Orthodox Bibles, and the Septuagint (including our 2001 Translation).
However, some quotes between the New Testament and the Septuagint are still not a 100% exact match. Why? Well, that may be because the New Testament writers were actually quoting from an older, now lost, version of the Hebrew text before it was corrupted (which was used to create the Septuagint). This would naturally read slightly differently, as that’s what happens when translating anything.
So Jesus, the Apostles, and the early Christians...
In Revelation, Jesus – when he was in heaven – seems to have preferred the wording that we now only see in the Septuagint.
At Revelation 22:16 he said about himself:
‘I (Jesus) sent my messenger to [provide] you testimony about these things that are [coming] to the congregations.
I am the root and the descendant of David… the bright morning star.’
Here Jesus’ words are a reference to the Septuagint rendering of Psalm 110:3, but not to the Hebrew we have today. There David wrote:
‘You’ll be sovereign in the day of your power
And your holy ones will then shine.
For, since the time that you came from the womb,
I made you the [bright] morning star.’
Now, compare this to the Hebrew text we have today:
‘Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning:
thou hast the dew of thy youth.’ (KJV)
The Hebrew version is quite garbled compared to the Septuagint, but Jesus was clearly referencing the Septuagint wording of the Psalm. This is very important, because it indicates that Jesus, alive in the Heavens, prefers the wording that we now only find in the Septuagint!
You see, Jesus always quoted Old Testament texts to show that prophecies were being fulfilled by him. He mentioned David immediately before mentioning ‘Morning Star’, and indeed, in Psalm 110 David wrote a prophecy which talked about the Messiah, how he would appear, and about his “holy ones”, and that prophecy called the coming Messiah a ‘Morning Star’.
Yet this reference to a morning star does not appear in the current Hebrew text at all! Therefore, we conclude that the Greek text is in fact superior in this case, even according to Jesus himself.
It’s quite obvious why 1st or 2nd century Rabbis may have been motivated to remove the reference to the Morning Star in Psalms 110:3. The early Christians wrote about Jesus coming from before the ‘Morning Star’ in several places. Even 2 Peter 1:18 may be a reference to it. After Revelation was written (probably 98 CE) Christians could clearly read the reference to Jesus being the ‘Morning Star’ and from then on, they even wrote about that too.
So the motivation is pretty simple. All the Rabbis needed to do was to muddle the wording around to say something like “womb of the morning” instead, and any Jew who reads Psalm 110 will see no reference to the Christians and their so-called Messiah, Jesus, whom the Christians say fulfilled the prophecy by calling himself a ‘Morning Star’.
If accusing the Pharisees (the Rabbis) of such deception sounds like outrageous slander, keep in mind what Jesus said about them. He called them “offspring of vipers” (Luke 3:7), “hypocrites” (Matthew 23:29), he said they were like “graves” full of dead bodies (Luke 11:44), he said they were blocking others from entering the Kingdom (Luke 11:52), he said that the inhabitants of Sodom were more righteous (Luke 10:12), and said their father was Satan (John 8:44).
So fraudulently changing the wording of the Bible is not such an outrageous accusation.
This is not a criticism of Jewish people or the Rabbis that exist today. The people whom Jesus condemned, and those whom we suspect changed the Hebrew texts, have been dead for 1,900 years. Besides, Deuteronomy 24:16 expressly forbids holding anyone accountable for the actions of their ancestors.
By the 6th century CE, the Jewish Masoretes went to extraordinary lengths to prevent changes to the Hebrew text, and this reverence among the Jews towards preserving the Bible has not changed since. We do not believe that any Jewish Rabbi would approve of textual tampering today. Further, in our modern era Jews and Christians enjoy an exceptionally close and peaceful relationship.
Antisemitism is thoroughly disgusting and Christians should never harbor such feelings.
When we were first translating the Greek Septuagint, we only cross-referenced the Hebrew texts when we found problems. We didn’t compare every verse all the time, so we were surprised when someone showed us how the Septuagint reports very different Biblical chronology!
In what way? For example, the Septuagint gives much longer time periods between the creation of Adam and Abram’s entering CanaAn (Genesis 5; 11:10-26). The differences add up to many hundreds of years!
Why is that?
It appears that somewhere along the line, Jewish scribes deliberately altered the long lifespans that the original Hebrew texts gave. They simply deleted the words for “one-hundred” in several places. This created some oddly short time periods periods (yes, even stranger than the long life spans) in the Bible’s record of mankind’s early growth and expansion.
For example, most western Bible translations report that there were only 67 years from the time of the Downpour (the flood of Noah’s day) to the birth of Shem’s great-great-grandson Heber (Eber). However in the meantime, Noah’s great-grandson Nimrod was already building Babylon and several other cities (Genesis 10:6-12).
So, where did all the people come from to inhabit those cities in less than 67 years?
Even if every woman aged 20 and older had a baby every single year (they did live longer back then, so let’s say they were also fertile for longer), a population of 8 people would grow into 5,532 persons in 67 years. That might not sound so bad, until you realize that the global population would only have 892 adults! The other 4,640 humans would all be babies, toddlers, children, and teenagers.
Could Nimrod have built a “kingdom” with multiple cities across an area the size of Iraq (Genesis 10:8-11) with just 892 adults? Actually it’s even more unrealistic than that, because the calculation assumes that nobody ever died, and there wasn’t a single stillbirth, miscarriage, or death during childbirth. Ridiculous!
So instead let’s use a more realistic calculation. Let’s use the highest natural population growth rate seen in any country on Earth today, which is 3.5% per year (the highest global population growth rate in all of recorded history is just 2%, so we’re being generous). Well, over 67 years a population of 8 would have grown to about... 80 people.
Clearly, something is wrong with the Hebrew text’s chronology.
However, if we go by the Septuagint dates, then the gap between leaving the Ark and the birth of Eber (around the time of Nimrod) may have been as long as 397 years. In that time, with that same population growth rate of 3.5%, the Earth’s population could have been 6.8 million by the time Nimrod built his cities.
Obviously, the Greek Septuagint’s chronology is much more reasonable and realistic.
Many critics of the Bible say that the above example shows how the Bible is an unreliable book of myths. They correctly point out that population growth rates prove that the Biblical timeline (as reported in the Hebrew text) is nonsense. And they’re right!
What they have wrong, however, is assuming that the Bible is in error. What is actually in error is the corrupted Hebrew Masoretic text. If they had consulted the Septuagint, they would have had no way to say that the timeline was unrealistic.
This bad chronology also means that when theologians have tried to calculate how long mankind has been on the earth, they have been off by centuries! Indeed, according to our calculations based on the Greek Septuagint chronology, Adam was created about 7,500 years ago. The corrupted Hebrew text, however, indicates that it was only 6,000 years ago.
Consider what one BBC article reports about carbon dating of wooden beams found at the site of Sodom and Gomorrah:
‘Carbon dating put the date of the tower’s beams [which must date from before the cities’ destruction] at 2350 BC - the early Bronze Age.’
This research dates the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah centuries further back than the current Hebrew Masoretic text would suggest. However, this comes very close indeed to what the Septuagint chronology indicates was the lifetime of AbraHam (who lived during the destruction of those cities). According to our calculations based on the Septuagint text, he lived between 2375-BCE and 2200-BCE, overlapping the carbon-dated beams by 25 years.
So, yes, the radiocarbon dating of Sodom and Gomorrah lines up precisely with the Septuagint’s figures! However, the genealogies found in the Hebrew Masoretic text of Genesis would put Sodom’s destruction somewhere in the 1600s BCE, 1500s BCE, or perhaps even later! While the Septuagint correlates with the radiocarbon dating, the Hebrew Masoretic text differs by as many as 850 years (depending on the calculation).
Keep in mind that differences like these in the Hebrew Masoretic text (and the western Bibles that use it) have led archaeologists to say that the Bible got its dates wrong. One popular YouTuber who talks about archaeology remarked, “there’s no chronology more inaccurate than Bible chronology”. Yet we now know that the Bible didn’t get it wrong! Rather, the Hebrew text was corrupted, and probably deliberately. The correct dates were sitting there in the Septuagint all along, and they match up beautifully with radiocarbon dating and archaeology.
The Septuagint’s date for the year of the Downpour, as calculated by us, is 3217 BCE. That nicely aligns with the dates suggested by archaeologists for the start of the First Egyptian Dynasty in 3050 BCE (which is 167 years after Noah left the Ark). However, the Hebrew Masoretic text would have the Egyptian nation beginning long before Noah’s day.
Incredibly, it appears Egypt’s first king is man that both the Bible’s Hebrew and Greek texts called Noah’s grandson Mesrain. According to Egyptian tradition, and the account Bible itself, he was the progenitor of their race (Genesis 10:13-14). Further, according to some, the Egyptians were even called the Mitzrayim (descendants of Mesrain or Menes) by the Jews and Babylonians right up until the 6th century BCE.
Also notice how our Septuagint-calculated date for the creation of Adam (5479 BCE) aligns closely with the beginning of the supposed Pharaohs (kings) of the Pre-dynastic Period (5550-BCE). Did their list of pre-dynasty Kings originally develop from ancient records of the descendants of Adam?
Well, consider this: In the official timeline of the Pharaohs, Egyptologists list as many as thirteen kings in Egypts pre-Dynastic Period, while, according to the Septuagint, Mesrain had twelve ancestors leading back to Adam. So, the adjusted Septuagint Bible dates seem to comfortably fit the dates given by Egyptologists!
Further, we were surprised to find that our Septuagint-calculated dates differ by just 30 years from the Byzantine calendar, which sets the date of Adam’s creation at 5509 BCE.
The Septuagint dates are very unlike the dates calculated from the corrupted Hebrew text. Rather than causing huge confusion and contradiction with archaeology, the Septuagint and archaeology has much agreement.
The Septuagint also forces us to deviate from common Bible chronologies when setting the date of the Exodus. The chronology of the Hebrew text would associate the Pharoah who dealt with Moses as being Ramesses I (1292-1290 BCE). Yet, as many have pointed out, that’s an impossibility for many reasons. Rather, the bulk of Biblical and historical evidence seems to point to Ahmose (or his brother Kamose) as the most likely Pharaoh during the Exodus. Now, can you guess which Pharaoh was in charge during the Exodus, according to Septuagint chronology? Yes, it was either Ahmose or Kamose! (For more information, please see our commentary, Who was Pharaoh during the Exodus?)
The Bible tells us that Jericho fell 40 years after Israel left Egypt. Now, our Septuagint-based calculations place that in the early 15th or late 16th century BCE. What date did the radiocarbon dating give for the city’s destruction? The mid 16th century BCE! Pretty close!
In addition, consider the fact that archaeologists say that the Chinese civilization can be traced back some 5,000 years. That’s no problem for the Septuagint, but according to the Hebrew Masoretic text, Noah was only coming off the Ark a mere 4,350 years ago! In our Septuagint chronology, however, the Downpour was about ~5,237 years ago.
Consider too the calendars of the Mayans. According to their mythology there have been five ages; the fifth ended on December 23rd 2012 (when many people expected ‘the end of time’). Now, according to that same calendar, the fourth age ended by water (sound familiar?) in 3113 BCE. Yes, only 104 years off from our calculation of the Downpour (and if we exclude the life of Kainan, a disputed entry in the list of descendants, the difference is only 31 years!).
So, how many witnesses have to be provided in order to prove that the Hebrew Masoretic text is wrong?
Oh, but there are many more.
One fairly recent find was ‘Otzi the Ice Man’. He is an ancient and almost-complete corpse, discovered frozen within glacial ice up in the Italian Alps. His body was radiocarbon dated, and he probably lived about 5,000 years ago. Yet, every indication is that he died there after the Great Downpour of Noah’s day, since DNA testing shows that he’s closely related to the people who still live in that part of Italy.
So he probably lived a couple of centuries (or so) after the Downpour, which was about 5,237 years ago as calculated from the Septuagint chronology (while the Hebrew text would put the event at 4,350 years ago).
According to their own figures, there is good evidence that it’s accurate for finds up to 5,000 years old, but less so beyond that date.
Dating experts (including the man who invented radiocarbon dating) admit that the reliability and uncertainty increases when you examine an object more than a few thousand years old. Why? We don’t know how much carbon-14 was generated in the past; it is not consistently created in the atmosphere.
Indeed, scientists have proven that carbon-14 generation can vary throughout the years due to atmospheric changes (changes in the amount of radiation reaching the earth’s surface). If the atmosphere was very different in the past, the carbon-14 reading would be distorted.
Those who believe the Bible (including us) believe in the Great Downpour of Noah’s day (more commonly called The Flood; we use the Septuagint name). To believe in such an event requires us to believe in a massive upheaval of the Earth’s atmospheric conditions around that time. Therefore Bible-believing Christians would actually expect radiocarbon dating results to become less reliable as you get nearer to that event.
Anything that would decrease the radiation hitting the Earth’s surface would decrease the amount of carbon-14 created. Thus it would artificially lengthen the time periods given by radiocarbon dating. So when an archaeological find is dated to 7,000 years, 10,000 years or whatever, we believe that it actually dates to the centuries immediately after the Downpour; we believe that there was less radiation creating carbon-14 back then than there is today.
So can we trust radiocarbon dating? For the most part, yes we can, although in the years leading up to the flood (~5,000 years) it may be inaccurate, which interestingly is the time that the scientists themselves say it begins to break down.
This may seem all a bit crazy. After all, why on earth would anyone want purposely or carelessly delete centuries from Bible history? Didn’t they realize that they’d mess everything up?
Well, one theory states that the dates were changed by the same people who changed the Messianic prophecies – the late 1st century / early 2nd century Rabbis from the sect of the Pharisees. Why suspect them? And why would they make such changes anyway?
Firstly, the very earliest point at which the dates were changed must have been the late 1st century CE, because the Jewish historian Josephus gives a chronology that almost perfectly matches the Septuagint. So the Rabbis were in charge of the Hebrew texts around the time that the changes took place. But, while we can understand the Rabbis changing the Messianic prophecies to discredit Jesus, why would they remove years from the chronology in Genesis?
Well, a central Christian teaching is that Jesus is both a King and a High Priest in heaven. As High Priest he presented the blood of his own sacrifice to God, absolving mankind for their sins. This is, indeed, the entire basis for the Christian faith.
Yet, the law given to Moses stated that only men from the tribe of Levi (which included Moses’ brother Aaron) could become priests. Jesus was from the tribe of Judah, so the Jews objected to Jesus being a “priest”! How could a Judean become a priest? That’s against God’s laws!
How did the Christians respond to this objection?
The Apostle Paul argued that the Jews accept the ancient man known as MelchiZedek as a true priest of God (Hebrews 7:1-17), despite the fact that:
“there are no genealogical records of him”.
In other words, despite the fact he was not from the tribe of Levi, he was still appointed as a priest by God, and their father Abraham even met him and gave him a tithe, just like the Jews do to their priests! So both God and Abraham accepted this man MelchiZedek as a priest even though he was not descended from Levi. Indeed, Abraham and MelchiZedek lived centuries before Levi was even born.
Clearly then, being descended from Levi is not always a requirement of God. Jesus could just be a priest in exactly the same way as MelchiZedek, directly appointed by God himself without any special ancestry required. And incredibly, in one of the Messianic prophecies (Psalm 110) Jehovah describes the coming Messiah this way:
“You will be a Priest through the ages;
In the order of MelchiZedek”.
Incredible! Yes, a priest, but not in the order (or line) of Levi, but of MelchiZedek. In other words, appointed directly by God, just as MelchiZedek was.
Now here’s the theory: The Rabbis didn’t like this very much! So, they set out to discredit Jesus being just like MelchiZedek by changing the story of MelchiZedek. How?
The Rabbis would claim that MelchiZedek actually was in the male line of Levi after all, yes an ancestor. You see, if that were true, then MelchiZedek was not outside of the order (or line) of Levi (as Paul claimed) at all. Therefore, all of the Christian claims that Jesus could be appointed a High Priest in the same special manner as MelchiZedek would make no sense.
Of course, the genealogy of Israel is so well-known that they couldn’t just shoe-horn MelchiZedek into the family line of Levi! No, he would have to be an ancestor much further back to be believable – someone people have heard of, but know very little about. So they settled upon claiming that MelchiZedek is just another name for Noah’s son Shem.
Now the 1st century Rabbis could say:
What are you talking about, Christians? There has never been a priest appointed by God outside of the line of Levi! MelchiZedek was in the line of the Levites too! He was Noah’s son Shem! Your Jesus was a Judean and could never be the High Priest! Your Messiah is a fraud!
Indeed, some Jewish scholars continue to make this exact argument today.
If the 1st century Rabbis are going to pull this off, then they must solve a pretty big problem. According to the original Bible chronology preserved in the Septuagint, Shem had been dead for centuries before Abraham met MelchiZedek in the Genesis account! Why would anyone believe that Shem and MelchiZedek were the same person?
So what could they do? Simple! Change the Biblical chronology! If they take out enough years between the time of Shem and Abraham, they can make it look like Shem and Abraham lived at the same time and could have met, and suddenly it’s actually possible to claim that when Abraham met MelchiZedek, he was actually meeting Shem under another name.
So, the theory goes that the 1st century Jewish Rabbis went ahead and made these changes; and, yes, they were probably the same men who changed the Messianic prophecies to discredit Jesus too.
So they stripped years out of Genesis until Shem and Abraham became contemporaries, and made the claim that MelchiZedek and Shem were the same person; thus the one-and-only example of God appointing a priest from outside of the line of Levi was erased. Now they could argue that there was no legal basis for Jesus, a Judean, being specially appointed as a High Priest by God to lift away “the sins of the world” (John 1:29), and Christianity is bunk.
Perhaps this is one of things Paul had in mind when he remarked:
...avoid foolish questions, genealogies, arguments, and fights over the Law... –Titus 3:9
Of course, these chronological shenanigans did not work very well. Just claiming that the two men lived at the same time is hardly proof that they were the same person. So it did not convince many Christians. After all, Marilyn Monroe and Winston Churchill’s lives overlapped quite a bit, does that mean they were the same person?
However, the Rabbis made such a big deal out of it to their fellow Jews that by the Middle Ages, it became an established Jewish tradition to say that MelchiZedek was Shem. They would claim that the Levitical priesthood was even more ancient and established than Aaron because it even went back to Shem, and they could also claim that it shows how much those silly Christians have it all wrong. So while it didn’t put off many Christians, it probably stopped some sincere Jewish people from converting to Christianity.
Also, a few apostate Christians who have converted to Judaism have cited the Shem/MelchiZedek story as a reason for rejecting Jesus as the Messiah.
For more information about this theory, please see the short documentary, Were the Pyramids Build Before the Flood?
And here’s a MUCH simpler theory...
In the 1st or 2nd century CE, certain Hebrew scribes may have decided that the unusually long lifespans of the people in Genesis were unrealistic, and so ‘corrected’ them with lower numbers.
Later on, other scribes decided to put the original numbers back again; but they failed to restore all of the numbers, i.e. the ages at which they produced their sons. Hence the Hebrew text was left with a wrong chronology.
There is a contradiction in the Bible that is solved by the Septuagint. In Matthew 23:35, Jesus mentions the murder of one of the old prophets, ZechariAh the son of BarachiAh:
‘...you will become responsible for all the righteous blood that was spilled on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of ZechariAh (the son of BarachiAh), whom you murdered between the Holy Place and the Altar.’
However, when we check the Hebrew text, it says that ZechariAh’s father was not “BarachiAh”, but a man named “Jehoiada” (2 Chronicles 24:20). So what gives?
Well, the prophet ZechariAh (who wrote the book of the same name) says that his father’s name was BarachiAh (Zechariah 1:1). So, we trust that ZechariAh’s father’s was indeed named BarachiAh, exactly as Jesus mentioned in Matthew.
Then why does the Hebrew version of 2 Chronicles give a different name for his father?
Well, if you read 2 Chronicles 24:20 in the Septuagint, you’ll see that the text wasn’t talking about the prophet ZecharaAh at all, for it says there:
‘Then the Breath of God came over AzariAh the Priest (who was JehoiAda’s son)!’
So, 2 Chronicles never reported a different name for ZechariAh’s father at all. There is simply an error in the Hebrew text. It wasn’t speaking about the prophet ZechariAh, but about a priest called AzariAh, whose father was (apparently) called JehoiAda.
There are many other clarifications regarding names in the Septuagint text. For example, the Septuagint text of Genesis says does not say there was a place called “The Garden of Eden”; no, the garden was actually called the “Paradise of Delights” and it was located on “the east side of the Land of Edem”! (See the account in Genesis 2:8-15 and our translator note.)
There are, in fact, many other scriptures where we’ve found reasons to trust the Septuagint text over the Hebrew. However, the Septuagint is not perfect. We’ve found many obvious errors in that too, but we have decided that Greek Septuagint is likely the most reliable overall.
Many names and their pronunciations are quite different in the Septuagint from what we find in Hebrew. Although many modern spellings of Bible names also differ from what we find in the Greek New Testament.
However, unlike Greek, ancient Hebrew had no vowel points. Due to the many years that have passed since ancient Hebrew was spoken, no one really knows how most words and names were originally pronounced. Yet the Septuagint provides us with a snapshot in time, showing how Hebrew-speaking Jews thought they should be pronounced in Greek over 2,200 years ago. In other words, the Septuagint provides a unique insight into the pronunciations of names.
Interestingly, some names in the Septuagint are radically different from the traditional pronunciations, such as the names of the Persian kings found in Ezra chapter 4. However, this is only recording a Greek or a Jewish pronunciation; the Persians may have had their own! We do the same thing in English today when we mispronounce the names of foreign peoples and countries (e.g. instead of “España” we say “Spain”).
One example of a country name is found at Job 1:1. The Septuagint says that Job lived in the land of the “Ausitidi”, but the Hebrew text says he lived in the land of “Uz”. Why the difference? It’s probably because the name of the land had changed by the time that the Greek text was translated. Such extra information helps us to identify locations more easily (see our translator note on Job for more information).
Therefore, in our translation we have changed the spelling of many common names to more closely reflect how they were actually pronounced by Greek-speaking Jews when the Septuagint was translated (for those that might be interested). This gives you some idea of what those names may have meant to them, and may provide additional insight.
Sure, this decision may be unpopular with readers who prefer familiarity over accuracy, but we feel that Bible translators should have made these changes centuries ago (for more information please see our translator note on names).
While translating the Old Testament books, we noticed that many were written as poetry!
Yes, most people know that Job, Song of Solomon, and the Psalms were poems or songs; but did you know that Proverbs and Ecclesiastes were originally poetry too? Further, whenever God (or one of His spokesmen) was speaking in the books of the prophets, the words were also in poetry! This is all clearly seen when translating the Greek text.
Please understand that ancient poetry was not necessarily like English poetry today. It was not all about rhyming; much of it did not rhyme. This poetry was more about word structure, and contrasting one thought against another and creating parallels. You can see a summary of the rules of Hebrew poetry at this link. It was not like reading the poems of Dr. Seuss!
Yet when reading the same verses in modern Hebrew-based translations, we usually see clunky, difficult wording that would never fit the structure of the original poetry; and some verses are so garbled that they make no sense at all.
However, we have succeeded in keeping the poetic cadence when translating the Septuagint into English. It really makes a difference, too! Not only does it read better, but the words are more memorable and (in our opinion) more meaningful too.
If that’s not enough, it also helps us to check for errors in the text. How so? Well, when the text of a song or a Divine statement doesn’t follow the clear order and rhythm, or if it somehow breaks the rules of Hebrew poetry, it indicates that something may have been lost in translation. Therefore, we are prompted to do more research, and frequently that research bears fruit and a correction is made.
So the poetic cadence preserved in the Septuagint not only helped us to create a more readable and memorable translation, but a more accurate one too.
One online commentator remarked that our efforts to create this Bible from the Septuagint was foolish; he asked: “What will they do when they get to the book of Isaiah, where the text is totally different from what is found in the Hebrew text?”
In reply, we say “We will be exceptionally pleased”! Yes, when we did eventually reach Isaiah we found that the Septuagint version makes a lot more sense than the corrupted Hebrew version. It is clearer, reads more naturally, and is more accurate since it was not corrupted in the late 1st/early 2nd century CE. The theological implications of this could be massive.
Yet it’s not just Isaiah. Consider the book of Proverbs. That text is very different from the corrupted Hebrew, and it makes more sense! The natural rhythm of the Greek text in the Proverbs shows that it more closely reflects the original writing of Solomon, which was obviously done as poetry.
For these reasons, and all the reason mentioned in this document, we currently believe that the Septuagint is the most accurate and reliable version of the Old Testament. However, we’re not saying the Septuagint is perfect; it has some errors, and there are two main variants of the Septuagint text. However, by comparing the two with each other, and both of these with the Hebrew (and with other ancient sources), it’s possible to resolve most problems.
After all, there is plenty of redundancy in the Bible (it is a very large book!), and we have many 1st century quotations of Old Testament texts, so it’s usually possible to see where errors or insertions were made. Further, we haven’t made any corrections in secret. Our Bible has extensive translator notes to explain our reasons for everything. We have added alternative translations where there is uncertainty, and sometimes when people have written in to disagree with our decisions, we have included their comments.
Yes, we believe that on balance, the Septuagint forms the best foundation for an accurate translation of the Old Testament. We offer our 2001 Translation to you for your consideration.
Some persons reject the Septuagint. Their reasons and motivations vary.
One claim is that the Septuagint was originally only the Pentateuch (the first five books written by Moses), and that the rest of the books were a 1st century Christian forgery. The Christians allegedly did this to slander the Jews, and to change the Messianic prophecies to match the (so they say) inaccurate quotes made by Jesus and the Apostles.
Others say that the 3rd century BCE Rabbis who translated the Septuagint changed it to please the King, Ptolemy II, and/or to match pagan Greek thinking. Some argue that the chronology was expanded to match the longer Egyptian one.
In times past, these arguments may have been persuasive, but not today. Why not?
The Septuagint wording and/or chronology is also found in:
So archaeological discoveries have proven that the Septuagint wording is not unique, and it was likely shared by the Hebrew texts up until the 1st century CE (see the rest of this page for details). This is not some fringe belief, either, but entirely based upon mainstream archaeology, being the consensus among scholars.
The motivations for rejecting the Septuagint are therefore not scholarly or based upon evidence. They are religious, personal, or emotional. As described on this page: Certain Jews want to discredit Jesus, certain atheists want to discredit the Bible, certain scholars of ancient Hebrew want to say their text is the best one, and certain Christians don’t want to dump their cherished chronology and prophetic interpretations or to admit that they were wrong. For all of these ones, the corrupted Masoretic Hebrew text serves their various purposes well. So why give it up?
Having said all this, the Septuagint does have errors, and certain word choices may well have implied some Greek thinking that was not there in the original Hebrew. These errors are fixable, though. In some verses the Hebrew text may well be more accurate. In our translation, we decide such matters on a verse-by-verse basis. We are not tied to the Greek; we use evidence from anywhere to decide upon the most accurate wording.
Overall, though, we believe that the evidence supports the Septuagint as the least corrupted Old Testament text, even with its flaws.
Translations of the Septuagint normally include the Apocryphal books, since these were included in the original Septuagint.
We have examined the Apocryphal books closely, and while we agree that they may provide valuable insight into Jewish history, we’ve concluded that they don’t harmonize with the rest of the Bible and are therefore uninspired. So, although we once had a person who volunteered to work on this for us, we have not made the project a priority.
They may appear in the future, however. If you would like to volunteer with this, please contact the editor.
The Bible text and translator notes are public domain. Everything else is either copyright to their respected owners (all rights reserved), or available under a Creative Commons license. Our Bible text, translator notes, and commentaries use CamelCase for Biblical names. Our official websites are 2001.bible, 2001translation.org, and 2001translation.com.