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Bridgeway Bible Dictionary


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After the conquests of Alexander the Great in the fourth century BC, the Greek language spread throughout Alexander’s empire and within a short time was the most commonly spoken language. In Alexandria in Egypt, the large Jewish population was almost entirely Greek-speaking, and for their sake the Hebrew Bible (our Old Testament) was translated into Greek. According to stories handed down by the Jews, the number of translators was about seventy. The translation was therefore called the Septuagint, meaning ‘seventy’ and abbreviated as LXX. The work was done some time during the third and second centuries BC. The quality of the translation varied, being good in some parts but poor in others.

Though the Septuagint was originally prepared for orthodox Jews of the pre-Christian era, the people who benefited most from it were the early Christians. In fact, the Septuagint’s popularity with the Christians was one reason why it lost favour with the Jews. In New Testament times most of the Christians were Greek-speaking, even those of Jewish background, and the Septuagint provided them with a ready-made translation of the Old Testament in their own language. New Testament writers, in quoting from the Old Testament, usually used the Septuagint rather than translate from the Hebrew (see QUOTATIONS).

In matters concerning God and religion, the Septuagint was particularly helpful to preachers and writers of New Testament times. Greek religious words usually had meanings that related to pagan religious practices of the Greek world, and because of this the Septuagint translators chose their words carefully. Often they gave words new meaning or significance in the context of Hebrew Old Testament ideas.

This is important for present-day readers of the New Testament. In their consideration of teaching concerning God and Christian belief, they should understand Greek words in relation to the Hebrew words they represent, rather than in relation to the pagan ideas of the Greeks.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Fleming, Don. Entry for 'Septuagint'. Bridgeway Bible Dictionary. 2004.

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