Major Septuagint Manuscripts—Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus

By Leonard J. Greenspoon

Sidebar to: Mission To Alexandria

Readers of Bible commentaries and articles on the Bible are often informed by learned authors that a particular word or phrase is found in the Septuagint—and that, therefore, the Septuagint substantiates the learned author’s point. Readings from this ancient Greek translation are often cited when a modern researcher feels that they are superior to the wording preserved in the traditional Hebrew Bible, known as the Masoretic text.

Unsuspecting readers may think Greek text of the Septuagint has been transmitted in only one form and that it is an easy matter for scholars to determine its original wording in every instance. Unfortunately, this is not the case. As is true of any written work from antiquity, the text of the Septuagint has been subjected to innumerable changes, conscious and accidental, as it was copied and recopied over the centuries. It is the textual critics’ job to collect and evaluate the thousands of variant readings thus produced, in an effort to arrive at the earliest recoverable reading for each verse of the Greek Old Testament.

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