Martin Hengel and the Septuagint as Christian Scripture

I’ve been reading through Martin Hengel’s The Septuagint as Christian Scripture.  Hengel knows the primary sources very, very well.  He discusses the interaction between the Church and Synagogue during the first few centuries AD.  They argued over the Old Testament quite a bit.  The Christians rapidly adopted the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures (known as the Septuagint, or LXX). 

One interesting aspect is that it’s apparently very difficult to establish Jewish use of the Septuagint before Jesus.  The Septuagint we have preserved for us comes almost exclusively through the Church.  What became orthodox Judaism eschewed the LXX, ostensibly because of departure from the original Hebrew, but also likely because of enthusiastic reception of the LXX in the Church. 

That said, something that Hengel hasn’t brought up, is that it’s very hard to explain the Christian use of the LXX if it wasn’t being used in Judaism before Jesus.  The earliest Christians didn’t “change their bible” after conversion.  Most likely saw it as a move within Judaism.  In one sense, the early New Testament writings can be considered “Jewish” use of the LXX.  The fact that apostolic Church used the LXX is only explicable if it was in use before Jesus.

~alex

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