The Scriptures Jesus Quoted
Is the King James Bible, Revised Standard, New International Version or any of the many translations of the Hebrew Masoretic Text which serves as the basis for almost all Christian Old Testaments trustworthy witnesses of God’s holy word?
St. Paul’s letter Timothy II 3:16 tells us, “All scripture is inspired by God and necessary for teaching reproof and correction.” Do you truly possess what the writer refers to when he says, “All Scripture”? Or do you like many Christians settle for what can be best described as incomplete or partial renderings of God’s holy word?
Before we begin examining this topic let me pose two questions. Do you believe it is important to come as close as possible to using the same inspired texts Jesus himself read quoted from during his ministry? If available, shouldn’t Christians desire even insist upon those biblical texts in favor of any others?
If inaccurate incomplete texts missing paragraphs or entire missing books in the translation you are using is of no concern then read no further. But should the integrity and veracity of sacred scripture be important then this brief examination may be enlightening and perhaps in some ways disturbing for those who believe in the importance of God’s holy written word.
Many Christians are unaware of the actual Old Testament texts that Jesus himself quotes from and that the Apostles often refer to in their own epistles. The most accurate and ancient compilation of these original Hebrew texts can be found in a Greek translation used extensively for almost three centuries before the birth of Christ.
This collection of sacred scriptures is known as the Septuagint or the LXX. It is an inspired Greek translation of ancient Hebrew texts, assembled in Alexandria Egypt almost 300 years before our Savior’s Incarnation. Before considering this let’s first examine where the Old Testament most Protestant Christians trust originated and the trustworthiness of those behind its dissemination.
The Origin of the Texts You Rely On
What could possibly be lacking in the bible you rely on? There are many serious areas of concern especially when examining the O.T. translations based upon the Masoretic text and then comparing their words referenced by New Testament writers. Major differences quickly become apparent. In some instances, such as Heb. 10:5-7 a central Christian dogma foretold in the Psalms is referenced but when you look in most Old Testament translations it isn’t there and the writer of Hebrews seems to basing dogmatic truth on something completely nonsensical. I will prove this to you a little further on in this treatise.
So where did your Old Testament scripture come from? If you are like many bible trusting Christians myself included, you may have assumed your bible is an accurate translation of the ancient and original Hebrew. Like me, you may also have believed they were drawing from the same sources Jesus and his Apostles read and quoted when they proclaimed him the Messiah and the One who fulfilled its inspired testimony?
Unfortunately, this is not the case. But don’t take my word for it. Examine the multiple varied and significant discrepancies for yourself. After doing so you may be drawn to a surprising conclusion.
Before examining the more complete and reliable Septuagint let’s briefly examine the recent and by comparatively “modern” Masoretic Text and see if it has reasonable claim for being the most trustworthy source of God’s inspired word.
The Masoretic Text is a completed 10th century editing of the Rabbinic Hebrew Bible by Christ denying Jewish Rabbis begun after the destruction of The Jewish Temple in 70 A.D. In no small part it was a blatant attempt to obfuscate
Christian claims being drawn from the already widely accepted (In both Christian and Jewish circles) Septuagint. This becomes apparent when you compare passages quoted in the New Testament and compare them to those in the later revised and obviously altered Masoretic texts.
This final editing was not completed in its current form until The Tiberian Masoretes codified their corrupted and later sourced materials. This became the foundation for all modern editions of the Hebrew Bible and Protestant Old Testaments. Again, this compilation of non-Christian Jewish Rabbis was not even finalized until almost 1000 years after the Nativity of our Savior. [When God Spoke Greek, Oxford University Press pg.7]
As a consequence, much of the scripture Christians rely on to give a true and complete inspired account of God’s dealings with his chosen people and convey the full testimony of the Prophets regarding the future Deliverer and Messiah is missing crucial information.
If important biblical passages or entire books are absent from your bible, where did they go and why were they excluded? Are they irretrievably lost and gone forever? The answer is an emphatic no! There survives a reliable and widely available collection of Old Testament scriptures in a Greek translation of a more ancient Hebrew textual tradition translated many generations before Christ’s Incarnation. It is the same collection of inspired books used by the ancient Jewish diaspora including those in Palestine and extensively quoted by the New Testament writers. Here is its story.
The History of the Septuagint
Septuagint is the Greek word for the number seventy. This collection of translated Hebrew texts, is the inspired work of seventy Jewish scholars prior to our Lord’s Incarnation. I will deal briefly with this tradition in just a moment. Following is a brief historical backdrop.
In 330 B.C. one of the most significant military campaigns in history took place. A young Macedonian general history knows as Alexander the Great vanquished the Persian army under King Darius. It was an event that reshaped the Mediterranean world and western civilization. Greek cultural dominance now expanded and flourished in this newly Hellenized region for almost 1700 years until the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks in 1453 A.D.
It was the remarkable conquests by Alexander the Great which necessitated the translation of ancient Hebrew biblical texts into Greek. The reason being the Greek language had now become the common tongue of the entire region of the world including the Jewish diaspora. Hebrew was no longer the common language of the Jews during this period. In fact, this would be the case until the founding of the modern Israeli state in the mid-20th century. Even during the time of Christ Aramaic and Greek were the predominant tongues in Palestine. Hebrew was the liturgical language of the temple and its religious authorities but not the tongue of the common people.
The vast majority of Jews would know as much Hebrew as modern-day Roman Catholics might know Latin. Hebrew scriptures would be no more helpful than the Vulgate (Latin Bible) would be for me growing up Roman Catholic in America understanding only English.
If the offspring of Abraham sincerely desired access to a much more ancient and authentic witness of both the law and prophets the Septuagint was the go-to source for reliability and the fullness of God’s holy word.
Their use of and accessibility to much older Hebrew texts by the Jewish Alexandrian scholars relied upon more ancient and authentic texts than the later corrupted manuscripts available to either the medieval Masoretes or their predecessors who would begin their revisions around the time of the destruction of the Jewish temple almost four hundred years after the Septuagint was introduced.
We know this to be true because of the Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in the early 20th century. These scrolls authenticated an ancient Hebrew textual tradition which differs in some ways dramatically from the documents put forward by the centuries later Christ denying Jewish Masoretes. It is now indisputably clear that the Essene Jewish community near the Dead Sea preserved a far more venerable reliable and trustworthy collection of sacred texts. Texts shown to be almost identical to the Septuagint.
The Hellenization of the Mediterranean after Alexander’s conquest precipitated the need for the Jewish scriptures to be translated into the common language of the people especially for those of the Jewish diaspora. The Greek language was overwhelmingly the principal tongue of commerce and communication and would continue to be so even during later Roman rule. All New Testament scripture with the possible exception of Matthew’s gospel, were also originally penned in koine Greek, the common language of the Mediterranean world.
Only fifty years after Alexander’s victory over the Persians during the reign of Ptolemy Philadelphus, Aristeas, a pagan Greek serving in his court produces the first written record documenting the origin of the Septuagint. Ptolemy he says, sought the help of Eleazar the Jewish High priest and asked him to assist in assembling Hebrew scholars from the twelve tribes of Israel. This group of scholars chosen from each Jewish tribe was taken to an island by the administrator of the famous Alexandrian Library where they completed the translation from the ancient Hebrew texts.
Now while some may want to dispute the details of this account, one thing can be said with certainty: A Greek translation was commissioned and widely accepted as authoritative among the Jews of the entire Mediterranean world up until and for many years after the dawn of Christianity. It was even more importantly almost exclusively the scriptures Christ and the Apostles quoted from and the entire Christian Church relied upon for its first fifteen hundred years.
The rest of this booklet will dedicate itself in showing how the Septuagint was and still is the scripture of Christ’s Church. It does not represent some or fractured portions of God’s holy word but it’s fullest counsel. After you make the comparisons for yourself my hope is a sincere desire will be kindled in you to embrace those scriptures Christ Himself quoted and his holy Apostles proclaimed as authoritative rather than accepting the later corruptions of those who rejected God’s Son.
The first thing you may notice is that the Septuagint includes nine more books than the bible you are currently using. These books of scripture were often quoted and directly referred to as scripture by New Testament writers. These writings were understood to be God breathed and inspired by all ancient Christians in both the East and West. They were not seriously disputed as such for the first 1500 years of Christianity.
The rejection of the Church’s Bible would have to wait for radical protestant reformers who rather than just rightfully calling for the reform of medieval papal errors also ended up throwing out more than one proverbial baby with the bath water as demonstrated in this particular instance.
While some misinformed Christians refer to these books as Apocryphal or noncanonical alleging, they were inserted by nefarious Roman Catholic authorities hundreds of years after Christ, nothing could be further from historical reality. If one wants to espouse and uphold such nonsense then they also need to refute the New Testament writers, including St. Paul. For he obviously thought otherwise when validating those very same texts in his own New Testament epistles.
Here is a short quote that introduced an edition of the King James Bible called, “Potters Standard Edition” in the year 1810. While the King James Version of the Bible is not reliant on the Septuagint, listen to what is being admitted. Remember this when comparing the King James, NIV, Revised Standard, New American Standard or a whole variety of other translations based on the Masoretic text, to an English translation of the Septuagint like The Orthodox Study Bible.
“The most remarkable translation of the Old Testament into Greek is called the Septuagint, which if the opinion of some eminent writers is to be credited was made in the reign of Ptolemy Philadelphus about 270 years before the Christian era. At any rate, it is undoubtedly the most ancient that is now extant. The transcendent value of this version may be seen from the extensive usage that it had attained in Jewish synagogues, from the fact that our blessed Lord and the apostles habitually quoted from it, and also from the fact that it helped to determine the state of the Hebrew text at the time when the version was made. Furthermore, it establishes beyond all doubt, the point that our Lord and His inspired apostles recognized the duty of rendering the word into the common tongue of all people so that all men might, in their own speech hear the wonderful things of the Lord. All the authors of the New Testament appear to have written the Greek language. That this tongue was already familiar to them as a vehicle to express God’s inspired Word, is evident from their frequent use of the Greek translation the Septuagint, in quoting the Old Testament and from the remarkable accordance of their style with the style of that ancient and precious version.”
From this point forward, let’s examine a few of what scholars estimate to be over 300 instances where New Testament writers rely upon the Septuagint as their authoritative source. At the same time, I will contrast the Masoretic deficient and altered texts that are now used as the basis of most Old Testament translations.
The Miraculous Conception of Christ
Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel. Is. 7:14.
In the Masoretic text of Isaiah, the sign which the Lord is to give isn’t all that much of a sign. It states the sign or miracle is, “Behold a maiden will be with child”. Is there anything unusual, out of the ordinary or unexpected about a maiden being with child? This is pretty much a standard everyday occurrence. Certainly nothing uniquely miraculous or extraordinary unless of course it is actually a virgin who will be with child.
Compare this with Matt. 1:22-23 which says, “Now all this took place so that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled saying, behold the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a son and they shall call His name Immanuel, which translated means “God with us”. Now that’s a sign!
If you now look up that verse in Isaiah in the KJV or most other translations based on the Masoretic text with the exception of the Revised Standard Version RSV - you’ll see they all say “virgin”. This, however is a dishonest substitution by Christian publishers using the Masoretic Text; who re-insert virgin for maiden. In the KJV, and most other modern bibles based on the Masoretic, it is an attempt to uphold a Christian dogma. A virgin conceiving is not found in the Masoretic text on which these modern Old Testaments are based. In this case you now have Christian translators tampering with the previously altered texts deceptively imposed on us by non-believing Jewish rabbis. Confusing, isn’t it?
This confusion can be done away with if relying upon the more ancient Septuagint which clearly states the sign Isaiah foretold is, “a virgin will be with child”. Instead of trusting translations of later corrupted Hebrew texts compiled by Jewish authorities who have rejected Jesus as the Messiah and His miraculous virgin birth, why not simply embrace those scriptures accepted and quoted by the Gospel writers to begin with?
We have very good evidence of Jewish attempts to discredit and discard the Septuagint in the 2nd century. This being 800 years before the Masoretes during the time of a rapidly expanding Christian Church. St. Justin Martyr an early Christian apologist investigated a number of Old Testament texts in various Jewish Synagogues. He concluded that the same unbelieving Jewish Establishment who rejected Christ were not only now abandoning the Septuagint but tampering with the Hebrew texts they possessed. Strongly insinuating a willful attempt to de-Christianize much of its content. [“Which Bible Is Better” LuLu Press pg.25 Fr. Joseph Gleason]
This next example will help explain their uneasiness with the Septuagint. If you were a non-believing Jew - especially a Jewish religious authority who rejects Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah - you too might be inclined to dismiss, discredit, and then discard the inspired authority of the following book. Consider its harsh indictment and unflattering testimony. Read carefully the prophetic words.
Wisdom of Solomon 2:12-20 “Let us lie in ambush for the righteous man, because he is useless to us and opposes our deeds; he denounces us for our sins against the law and accuses us of our sins against our upbringing. He claims to have knowledge of God, and he calls himself a child of the Lord, he has become a burden to us because his life is unlike that of others; for his paths go in a different direction. We are considered by him as a hybrid, and he avoids our ways as something immoral.
He considers the last things of the righteous as blessed and pretends that God is his Father. Let us see if his words are true, and let us put these last things to the test at the end of his life. For if the righteous man is the son of God, he will help him, and deliver him from the hand of those, who oppose him.
Let us test him with insult and torture, that we may know his gentleness and test his patient endurance. Let us condemn him to a shameful death for there shall be a visitation because of his words.”
Anyone familiar with the Gospels and Christ’s dealings with the Pharisees immediately sees the hatred and opposition of the Jewish religious authorities.It is here vividly portrayed and foretold many generations before the Incarnation. Unmistakably showing how Christ’s adversaries will rise to fiercely persecute and even put to death God’s Anointed.
Read the prophetic words again carefully and see how precisely they describe those events yet to take place, down to the final insults and taunts this righteous man who calls himself the son of God endures at their hands. A man who denounced them for their sins and who claimed to have a unique knowledge of God and whose ways were not theirs. Open Matthew 27:41-44 and compare its account to the Wisdom of Solomon 2:12-20. How could this be denied as messianic prophecy and inspired scripture?
If you are looking for this scripture in your King James Bible, you will not find it. If you happen to have a copy of the Orthodox Study Bible an excellent English translation of the Septuagint which contains all the scriptures there it is.
While I could continue with additional examples showing how the New Testament references books and crucial information missing from your bible, I will relay just one more for the sake of brevity.
The writer of the book of Hebrews in chapter 11 lays out for us and extols the heroic champions of God’s Kingdom and how these men and women in the Old Testament are for Christians virtuous examples of fortitude and true faith. He names many, although not all specifically: Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses along with others including Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, and Samuel. Others, like Daniel and his companions, he does not name but still recounts their heroism and deeds.
“Who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release so that they might obtain a better resurrection. Hebrews 11:33-35
The writer of Hebrews is referring to whom? The answer is obvious. They are all Old Testament heroes of the Faith. He is drawing all these examples from the scriptures with which he is so intimately familiar. You can correlate all of those named and unnamed champions of faith to bible characters in your Old Testament, right?
The answer is no, if using scriptures other than those contained in the Septuagint. You will not find the referenced “Who were tortured not accepting their release so that they may attain a better resurrection” Try as you may, they are nowhere to be found in your KJV, NIV or a host of other bibles. So where are those biblical Old Testament champions of Faith, who were tortured yet unwilling to capitulate to their tormentors, in order to obtain the promise of the resurrection? If you want to read this inspired and courageous account, open an Orthodox Study Bible and locate II Macabees 7. There you find a woman named Solomonia and her seven sons, enduring torture and death at the hands of the wicked king Antiochus who promised them release if they would transgress the law of their fathers. They persevered and did not capitulate. They now await that better resurrection as recounted in the book of Hebrews. A resurrection the brave mother bore witness to even as she beheld her sons being tortured and slain before her eyes. This hero proclaims, “Therefore, the Creator of the world, who formed man in the beginning and devised the origin of all things, will give both breath and life back to you in his mercy, since you now disregard yourself for the sake of his laws.” II Macabees 7:23
Putting aside these important and inspired missing books, what about the problems and deficiencies, associated with the Old Testament books you do use? I dealt with one concerning the miraculous virgin birth of our Savior and how the Masoretic texts on which most Old Testaments are based would alter a central dogma of the Church by indicating the sign spoken of in Isaiah was that a young maiden would conceive a child. Again, hardly a sign and one that disagrees with Matt:1:22-23
How Important Is the Incarnation?
Any professing Christian knows that this central truth is of paramount importance. If Christ had not condescended to take on our humanity fully and completely, we could never be partakers of his divinity and become by grace what he is by nature. He has reconciled us to God through his fleshly body through death in order to present us before him holy, blameless and beyond reproach Col. 1:22.
Obviously, such an important dogma would not only be revealed clearly in the New Testament but also foretold and implied as well in the Old. This is indeed the case but again only if your Old Testament is a translation the Septuagint.
The writer of Hebrews says as much in Hebrews 10:5-7 when speaking about the Messiah coming into the world. He is quoting Psalm 40:6-8.
“Therefore, when he comes into the world, he says Sacrifice and offering you have not desired but a body you have prepared for me; in whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin you have taken no pleasure. Then I said, behold I have come. In the scroll of the book, it is written of me, to do your will O God.”
Now look at Psalm 40:6-8 in your bible. Does it say anything similar to what Hebrews says, or do you read something like this? “Sacrifice and meal offering you have not desired, my ears have you opened” Is the writer of the book of Hebrews intentionally misquoting or twisting scripture or introducing a false dogma about Christ taking on our humanity? If “my ears have you opened” is a correct rendering of that verse in Psalm 40 then chapter 10 of Hebrews makes no sense and what is being asserted is non-consequential.
The 10th chapter of Hebrews reveals that the psalmist foretold the coming Messiah having a body prepared for him. A body destined to be offered and broken for us. The very Incarnate Word and Son of God, Jesus Christ. Why is this missing from Psalm 40? Why is this great prophecy and central dogma of the Christian Faith absent from your bible? It shouldn’t be and wouldn’t be if you were reading and relying on the same texts the writer of Hebrews was.
Here is how Psalm 40:6 reads in the Orthodox Study Bible, which is actually Psalm 39:7-8 in the Septuagint, “Sacrifice and offering you did not will: But a body you prepared for me; a whole burnt offering and a sin offering you did not require. Then I said behold I come; it is written of me in the volume of the book.”
Is the author of Hebrews deceived for relying upon the veracity of the Septuagint and its witness regarding the Incarnation of Jesus Christ? Should we instead accept as inspired the medieval Jewish distortions which substitutes “my ears have you opened” rather than the revelation regarding this central dogma of our Faith?
Was Christ Misquoting Scripture When Announcing His Messianic Ministry?
“And when he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he entered the synagogue on the Sabbath and he stood up to read. And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him and he opened the book and found the place where it was written. “The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are downtrodden, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord. And he closed the book gave it back to the attendant and sat down; and all the eyes, of all in the synagogue, were fixed on him. And he began to say to them; today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” Luke 4:16-21
Jesus Christ himself both affirms the words he reads from the prophet Isaiah as scripture and him being the one who fulfills it when he says, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
Now look in your bible. Turn to Isaiah 61:1-2 and read the words of the prophet Isaiah that Jesus quotes from in Luke 4:16-21. Does it mention anything about the Messiah bringing recovery of sight to the blind? Should we accept the testimony of Jesus Christ as correct or that of unbelieving Jewish rabbis’? Jesus says, when quoting from the book of Isaiah, that this scripture foretells a unique sign being performed by the Lord’s Anointed. Is this what God’s holy prophet declares in your Old Testament? Unless you have an English translation of the Septuagint, it is not to be found in your translation of Isaiah 61.
Is it not an important sign that would identify the coming Messiah? Do the Gospel writers record its fulfillment in the ministry of Jesus? Did they understand its significance? See, Matt. 9:27-31, Matt. 12:22, Matt. 20:30-34, Mark 8:22-25, Mark 10: 46-52, Luke 7:21 and John 9:1-41
The answer to all three of those questions is a resounding yes. Yet many Christians rely upon an Old Testament that is missing what Christ himself says is an important sign and proof of who He is.
See how meaningful this miracle of the blind receiving sight and how it will reveal God’s Christ as being the one who would perform this sign. Read the Gospel of John chapter nine about the man born blind. In verse two, Jesus explains to his disciples that it was not this man’s sin or his parents that was the cause of his being born blind but rather, “so that the works (signs) of God might be displayed.” Just like the prophet Isaiah foretold in chapter 61 (The Septuagint) and which Jesus proclaimed to be fulfilled by himself in the Gospel of Luke 4:16-21
This great miracle is so compelling that it even caused dissension among his accusers. In John 9:16, his adversaries are forced to question themselves. “Therefore, some of the Pharisees said, “this man is not from God because he does not keep the Sabbath. Others said, how can a man who is a sinner do such signs? And there was a division among them”.
John the Baptist, as he languished in prison awaiting his execution at the hands of Herod sent some of his disciples to Jesus so that they might hear an answer to this question which he bid them to ask. “Are you the Coming One, or should we look for someone else?” Matt. 11:2-5 Some early Christian fathers, claim John did this not because he was in doubt for he with resolute faith strongly proclaimed who Jesus was and knew him to be the Christ. Intending instead that his disciples should hear this personally from our Savior’s lips. For they needed to ready themselves to follow Him because John would soon suffer martyrdom having completed his mission preparing the way for God’s Christ.
Whether it was for that purpose or because John himself was having his own crisis of faith listen to the first thing out of our Lord’s mouth as he responds to their question, “Go and report to John the things which you see and hear, the blind receives sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the dead are raised up and the poor have the Gospel preached to them. Once again, quoting the prophet Isaiah’s words, as recorded in the Septuagint. This powerful sign of recovery of sight to the blind has great prophetic importance and meaning for any who knew the scripture and awaited the consolation of Israel.
Finally, consider the bold words of the young man cured of blindness as he contends with those who now want him to also condemn Jesus for doing this great sign on the Sabbath. You have to respect his defiance. He has had enough of Christ’s false accusers’ nonsense and says to them, “Well here is an amazing thing, that you do not know where he is from, and yet he has opened my eyes. We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing, and does his will he hears him. Since the beginning of time, it has never been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” John 9:30-33 Obviously this is a singularly important proof which was to be shown by the Messiah and has now been fulfilled by the One who is the promised Deliverer of Israel.
If you love the scriptures and believe that tampering with their words by either adding or deleting is a serious offense even as scripture itself warns (Deuteronomy 4:2, 12:32, Proverbs 30:6, Jeremiah 26:2, Revelation 22:18-19) then you need to immediately get your hands on a copy of a good English translation of the Septuagint. The Orthodox Study Bible by Thomas Nelson Publishers is of one many English translations though by no means the only one.
I pray this brief introduction, has inspired a desire for further inquiry and study. I also highly recommend, “Which Bible is Better” by Fr. Joseph Gleason, LuLu Press Publishers. It is a complete and more in-depth treatment of numerous scriptural comparisons and covers some areas this brief treatment does not.
After careful consideration and prayer, you decide who is the more reliable witness to the person of Jesus Christ and the Apostolic Faith? Is it the scriptural tradition quoted by Christ his disciples and His Church from the very beginning or the more recent compilation of texts from less ancient sources assembled and edited by non-believing Jewish Rabbis’ a thousand years after Christ’s Incarnation?