Jeremiah - Septuagint vs Masoretic

Jerry Heath's picture

The clear distinction between the Septuagint and the Masoretic version of Jeremiah is problematic.

The Septuagint is commonly referred to as the Eqyptian version because it is thought that Egypt is where it was translated and the geographic separation with the Palestinian area could explain some of the textual differences with the Masoretic.

The Masoretic is sometimes referred to as the Babylonian version because it was developed by those who returned from Babylon.

In my view the Eqyptian, Septuagint, version of Jeremiah should be more authentic since Jeremiah went with the group that escaped to Eqypt. This group would have a more authoritative version of what Jeremiah wrote.

Jerry Heath

Jerry Heath's picture

Context as the Meaning

It is important to this discussion that the meaning of anything said or written comes from some context. If we have a context to what is said or written we can understand it. If we do not have a context it is jibberish.

The context is, or determines, the meaning. In spoken statements the context is immediate. But in written works there are a number of different contexts that could apply. Authors and publishers realise this and do write to more than one cotext (on purpose).

So with scripture we can read it from our own (present day) context and much of it has meaning to us. But the scripture had another context that is more applicable as it was written. It is desirable to know that context if it is possible. The reason for doing analysis of the text and its history is to deepen the contexts that speak from the scripture. If there were redactions it would help us understand the context of those redactions.

I think we over-rate the Masoretic; but it is a very capable text, it represents the thought of the group that was part of one of the greatest miracles in history (returning from captivity) and has it been preserved for a very long time with few changes or errors. We do need to look at other texts (the Egyptian represented in the Septuagint, the Palestinian represented in the Samaritan bible, and the various texts of the Dead Seea Scrolls). There are different contexts with each text. Although they differ in very small ways these differences can inform our understanding of the overall context of scripture and what God meant to tell us in the scripture.