The Instigator
Wandile
Pro (for)
Winning
6 Points
The Contender
Mr.Infidel
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

The LXX Septuagint is more reliable than the Masoretic Text

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
Wandile
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/23/2012 Category: Religion
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 5,348 times Debate No: 20562
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (14)
Votes (2)

 

Wandile

Pro

I'm looking for an opponent who is willing to debate which of the two versions of the Old Testament is most reliable and most probably reflects the original Hebrew bible best.

Rules :

(1) Round 1 is for acceptance and amendments to rules and definitions only.
(2) Rounds 2-4 are for opening arguments and rebuttals.
(3) Round 4 is exclusively for rebuttals and closing arguments. No new arguments may be presented in this round.
(4) No slanderous or derogatory language will allowed.
(5) All sources must be referenced.
(6) Plagiarism is forbidden. If anyone is caught plagiarising, it will result in automatic defeat.

Definitions :

LXX Septuagint : The Greek translation of the Hebrew bible that was translated by 72 Jewish scribes in the 2nd century BC
. It is mostly used by Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox churches.

Masoretic Text : The text primarily copied, edited and distributed by a group of Jews known as the Masoretes between the 7th and 10th centuries AD. It is accepted as the authoritative version of the Hebrew bible by Modern Jews. It is used mostly by Modern Jews and Protestants.

References :

[1] http://www.en.m.wikipedia.org...
Mr.Infidel

Con

I accept this debate. I will argue that the Masoretic texts are more reliable than the LXX. First, I should point out a flaw right away in my partner's opening: the 72 rabbis only translated the Torah. That was the original LXX. To prove this, I shall use two *perhaps three* documents which I will elaborate in my opening round.

Good luck :-)
Debate Round No. 1
Wandile

Pro

I thank my opponent for accepting this debate challenge. It will truly be an exciting debate and I hope that it may prove very educational to my opponent and I as well as the audience viewing this debate. With that being said, let's get started.

Amendments to definitions

My opponent made a good point last round in that the seventy translators only translated the Torah. The rest of the Septuagint was translated over the next few hundred years. I hope that clarifies the definition above.

Another amendment is that the LXX dates back to the 3rd century BC , not 2nd as stated earlier.
See [1]

C1 : The age of the texts

One of the primary rules of textual criticism is to first determine the age of texts to be able to determine their authority. In simple, the phrase goes , "the older the better".

The Masoretic text is an extremely young version of the original Old Testament with the earliest manuscripts dating back to 1000AD at best. The MT is young in age and as such bares very little authority on what the original text contained despite the fact that it is written in hebrew.

The LXX on the other hand, is far older as it dates back to the 3rd century BC. The oldest surviving manuscripts of the Septuagint are the Leviticus and Deuteronomy fragments that date to the 2nd century BC. The Septuagint is well over 1000years older than the MT and as such is more reliable in the light of textual criticism.

The Dead Sea Scrolls

The Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of writings found in Qumran by a young shepard who stumbled upon the jars that the DSS were contained in. The scrolls contain the oldest extant Old Testament that has become the authoritative source used in textual criticism to evaluate the value of our modern versions of the OT, namely ; the LXX and Masoretic text.

John Allegro, one of the scholars on the original translation team and the first to be put in charge of Cave 4 material as well as the only non religious member of the team, described how Frank Cross in 1954 found a place where the DSS seemed at odds with the MT. He began to discover numerous other places, and then discovered that these texts which differed from the MT, happened to agree with the LXX. Now this is an important find as this is an ancient Hebrew text agreeing with the LXX (a greek text) rather than the modern hebrew version known as the Masoretic text. This affirmed the older textual family of the LXX and provided substantial proof of the authenticity of the Septuagint as the DSS text proved to contain an ancestor of the LXX.

John Allegro presented an extensively long chart comparing readings from 1 Samuel demonstrating that the text of the books other than the first five (Torah) existed long before the MT existed. Allegro also documents that most of the time when there is a contradiction between the Septuagint and the MT, the Septuagint most often agrees with the Dead Seas Scrolls. A latter article also demonstrated that this same agreement holds for the Book of Jeremiah. The DSS contain the longer reading for Jeremiah, as opposed to the shorter version in the Masoretic text, demonstrating significant support for the authenticity of the LXX

For more on this : http://www.doxa.ws...

# SOURCES OF THE TWO TEXTS

The sources of the countless differences between the Septuagint and the Masoretic text have long been debated by scholars of all ages. One extreme view was that the LXX provides a reasonably accurate record of an early Semetic textual variant, now lost, that differed from the Masoretic text. The other extreme, favoured by Jewish religious scholars, was that the differences were primarily due to intentional or accidental corruption of the LXX since its original translation from the Masoretic text. Modern scholars, however, now follow a path between the two views. The discovery of the fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls that agreed with the Septuagint rather than the Masoretic text proved that the LXX is more likely a better reflection of the original Old Testament as compared to the farely recent Masoretic text.

One point that discredits the MT is that they were , in fact, known episodes of Jewish recensions in both Greek and Semetic dialects. The most famous of these being those by Aquila (128AD), a student of Rabbi Akiva.
More on this issue will be discussed next round as I am running short on time.

Consequently the Septuagint is indeed a more reliable text of the original Old Testament . Its textual integrity has been upheld by proofs of its agreement with the Dead Sea Scrolls as well of the evidence of its early age. Scholars have also found favour with the LXX now that more light has been given upon the original OT through the DSS. As a result I still hold firm to my position that the Septuagint is more reliable than the Masoretic text.

References :

[1] http://www.en.m.wikipedia.org...
[2] http://www.scrollpublishing.com...
[3] http://www.catholicchampion.blogspot.com...
[4] http://www.biblebelievers.org.au...
Mr.Infidel

Con

Thank you for your superb arguments, I look forward to a lively debate.

==Opening arguments==

C1: The date

My partner claims that "older is better," which I concede to, TO AN EXTENT. However, unfortunately for my partner, his date is a little off. The Masoretic texts are not from 1000 CE; rather, they are from 200 BCE.

It is true that they have copied and edited some of the texts between 7th and 10th centuries; however, there is very little differents from the different texts. [1]

C2: The language

The LXX is just a translation of the Hebrew texts in Greek whereas the masoretic texts are in Hebrew. Therefore, it is logical to assume that the Masoretic texts are closer to the Hebrew scriptures than the LXX.

C3: The completion

The LXX is just a copy of the Torah, not the Old Testament (which my partner concedes to). [2] However, the Masoretic texts are a complete copy of the Old Testament. Hence, it reflects the original Hebrew Bible the BEST (as the resolution claims).

C4: Corruption in the LXX

Surprisingly, the LXX is corrupt and not the original. Dr. F.F. Bruce notes:

The Jews might have gone on at a later time to authorize a standard text of the rest of the Septuagint, but . . . lost interest in the Septuagint altogether. With but few exceptions, every manuscript of the Septuagint which has come down to our day was copied and preserved in Christian, not Jewish, circles. [3]

In Acts 7:14 we read this:

"Then sent Joseph, and called his father Jacob to him, and all his kindred, threescore and fifteen souls."

The only problem is that the Torah contradicts this. Where did Luke get his numbers? The LXX! [4]

Likewise, the LXX lists 75 twice and the corret number (70) once in Deuteronomy. [5]

Thank you.

References

1. http://en.wikipedia.org...;

2. The rest of the LXX was preserved by Christians and written much later than the original LXX.

3. F.F. Bruce, The Books and the Parchments, p.150. quoted http://www.outreachjudaism.org...

4. http://www.lookinguntojesus.net...;

5. You can confirm this by the reading of the LXX online http://ecmarsh.com...;
Debate Round No. 2
Wandile

Pro

I thank my opponent for his much appreciated contribution to this debate. In assessment of the arguments presented, it is evident that he has made some mistakes.

C1 : The date

My opponent states :

"My partner claims that "older is better", which I concede to, TO AN EXTENT. However, unfortunately for my partner, his date is a little off. The Masoretic tests are not from 1000CE; rather they are form 200BCE"

My opponent is guilty of not reading incorrectly reading his source. The Wikipedia source he provided is the very same source that I had provided in round 1 to provide definitions of each text. Let us see what Wikipedia has to say concerning the age of the Masoretic Text :

"The MT was primarily copied, edited and distributed by a group of Jews know as the Masoretes between the 7th and 10th centuries CE"

The source clearly displays the correctness of the dates that I provided for the Masoretic Text. The source explicitly indicates the Masoretes as the primary source of the text, hence the MT was named after them by scholars and scribes.

This begs the question as to why my opponent alleged that the MT dated to 200BCE. This date was clearly incorrect and contradicted by his own source. This paragraph from the source he provided tells us why he thought that the MT dates to 200BCE :

"In modern times the Dead Seas Scrolls have shown the MT to be nearly identical to some texts of the Tanakh dating from 200BCE but different from others."

It becomes clear now. My opponent had misread what the paragraph had said. The paragraph does not say the Masoretic Text is from 200BCE. Instead, it only mentions the extreme the extreme similarity to other ancient texts of the Tanakh that date back to 200BCE. The source makes no declaration to the ancient texts being of the Masoretic textual family but, instead simply says that the MT is similar to ancient hebrew manuscripts that belong to a textual family form the 2nd century BCE.

C2 : The Language

My opponent proceeds to say :

"The LXX is just a translation of the Hebrew texts in Greek whereas the Masoretic texts are in hebrew. Therefore, it is logical to assume that the Masoretic texts are closer to the Hebrew scriptures than the LXX."

This was the logic used by scholars for numerous centuries. However as stated earlier, this logic was exposed as false when the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered and examined by scholars. Frank Ross and many others realised that despite the Septuagint and Masoretic being nearly identical to the Dead Seas Scrolls; most of the time when the LXX and MT contradicted each other, the LXX agreed with the ancient Hebrew Dead Seas Scrolls. This was a shocker to the scholars and a debunking of the logic used by my opponent and many others as here were ancient Hebrew manuscripts that appeared to be closer to the Greek translation of the OT (Septuagint) rather than the Modern Hebrew version (the MT). This inspired huge confidence in the authority of the Septuagint ,as stated last round, as the Dead Sea Scrolls seem contain an ancient Hebrew ancestor of the Septuagint.

C3 The Completion

My opponent claimed that the Septuagint is just a copy of the Torah and not the whole Old Testament. He then also claimed that I conceded this.

I will address his claims in two points :

(1) The Septuagint just a copy of the Torah?

The septuagint, in actual fact, is the whole Greek Old Testament. It is a greek version of the whole Tanakh as well as it contains the Deuterocanonical texts. It was a translation done for the Hellenistic Jews who were predominantly speaking Greek.

(2) What did I really concede?

My opponent incorrectly stated that I conceded to the Septuagint being only the greek translation of the Torah and not the whole Old Testament. What I actually conceded was that the 72 translators only translated the Torah into greek. However the rest of the OT was translated into greek by other scribe over the period 275BC-132BC.

What I conceded was that the 72 translators did not translate the whole Septuagint. I conceded that they only translated the first five books (Torah) of the LXX.

Here is a clear-cut definition of the Septuagint :

"The Septuagint or simply LXX is an ancient Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible. It is referred to in critical works by the abbreviation [LXX] or G. It was originally the designation for the Koine Greek translation of the Pentateuch[Torah ], but came in time to refer to the Greek translation of the Old Testament adopted by Christians, incorpirating the translation of the Hebrew Bible and books later considered aporcyphal or deuterocanonical."
---- see [1]

C4 Corruption of in the LXX

#The reference to F.F. Bruce

The reference to F.F. Bruce makes no hint to corruption of the Septuagint but simply shows that towards the close of 1st century AD, the Jews lost favour with it. In simple, he says the Jews abandoned it while the christians embraced it.

# Acts 7:14

Concerning Acts 7:14, it is a fact that no one knows what the correct number was as we do not have the original Tanakh. Scholars constantly attest to this. However the evidence does seem to suggest that the Septuagint was correct.

Let us examine this in detail :

Exactly how many went to Egypt in Jacob's time?

Well, Stephen, in Acts 7:14, said 75. Even if Stephen was mistaken in speaking here, the Bible is still recording, without error, exactly what Stephen had said. However,one should not be hasty in immediately thinking that Stephen was wrong. In the Hebrew manuscripts of the MT, Genesis 46:27 and Exodus 1:5 both say 70men, including Jacob, Joseph and the two sons of Joseph. The Greek Septuagint in Deuteronomy 10:22 also says 70. However, Acts 7:14, the LXX in Genesis 46:27 and exodus 1:5 all say 75. The septuagint for Genesis 4/:27 says 75 because its says that Joseph had nine sons, not two. Genesis 46:20 in the Dead Sea Scroll manuscript 4QExod(a) also says 75.

So then who were these extra seven sons in the LXX and DSS? Genesis 20 in the Septuagint lists these seven "sons" (actually grandsons and great-grandsons) as so :

"...And there were sons born to Manasses, which the Syrian concubine bore to him, even Machir. And Machir begot Galaad. And the sons of Ephraim, the brother of Manasses; Sutalaam, and Taam. And the sons of Sutalaam; Edom."

Notice that this passage only lists 3 grandsons and 2 great-grandsons, or five in total (not seven). However scholars point out that the text says that both Manasses and Sutalaam had sons (plural). The other two unmentioned sons that complete the 7 thus come form one of the two men or from both of them (1 form Sutalaam and 1 from Manasses). This is the solution that scholars have provided. Scholars, however, do admit that both numbers (75 and 70) could be correct considering the nature in which the numbers were summed up.

My opponent incorrectly assumed that the Masoretic Text is correct when it records the number 70 however, in actual fact the ancient hebrew manuscripts (DSS) say exactly what the Septuagint says, 75!
---- see [2]

In conclusion I still believe the Septuagint is more reliable than the Masoretic text due to its older age, affirmed textual integrity by the Dead Seas Scrolls and it's new found confidence in the realm of textual criticism by scholars. I await my opponents rebuttal.

References :

[1] The definition of Septuagint http://www.en.m.wikipedia.org...
[2] This source discusses the Acts 7:14 discrepency in great detail http://www.biblequery.org...
[3] This source discusses the reliability of the LXX http://www.septuagint.net...
[4] For information on the septuagint and the Dead Sea Scrolls http://www.doxa.ws...
Mr.Infidel

Con

Mr.Infidel forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
Wandile

Pro

Arguments extended

Since my opponent forfeited the previous round. I will not add on to my previous arguments as that would be too overwhelming to him as he would have to refute two rounds worth of arguments. As such I simply extend my previous arguments into this round.

PLEASE VOTE PRO! PLEASE VOTE PRO! PLEASE VOTE PRO!
Mr.Infidel

Con

Vote pro, at least until I have more time to complete this debate in part 2
Debate Round No. 4
14 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Wandile 2 years ago
Wandile
Lol its kewl man... Should I just forward my arguments and not write up somethings for this round?
Posted by Mr.Infidel 2 years ago
Mr.Infidel
Dang, I thought I had more time. I didn't realize that this was a 2 day debate instead of a 3 day debate when I took it!
Posted by Mr.Infidel 2 years ago
Mr.Infidel
It's fine!
Posted by Wandile 2 years ago
Wandile
I apologise for the short round. Never realised how little time I had left.
Posted by Wandile 2 years ago
Wandile
Thanks man
Posted by Mr.Infidel 2 years ago
Mr.Infidel
Thank you!
Posted by Buckethead31594 2 years ago
Buckethead31594
Good luck to both of you. I favourited this debate.
Posted by Mr.Infidel 2 years ago
Mr.Infidel
Okay, sounds good.
Posted by Wandile 2 years ago
Wandile
Lol yeah it will be interesting indeed. Hey no need to expand on the whole 72 scribes things. You're correct. I should've added that to my definition of the LXX for more clarity. I'll concede to it when I present my Round 2 arguments
Posted by Mr.Infidel 2 years ago
Mr.Infidel
Never looked into this topic before--it should be interesting.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by wiploc 2 years ago
wiploc
WandileMr.InfidelTied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Voting Pro, as instructed by the last round. I was pretty well lost while reading this. You may need people who are already familiar with the controversy and terms to understand what is being said. F'rinstance, why is older better? Why is matching the dead see scrolls better? If I am descended from Charlemagne, and trace that descent thru my father, and you are too, but trace your descent thru your grandfather, does that mean you're more closely related to Charlemagne than I am?
Vote Placed by Gileandos 2 years ago
Gileandos
WandileMr.InfidelTied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Great Topic and a fun Read.