As for Me, this is My covenant with them," says the LORD: "My Spirit who is on you, and My words that I have put in your mouth, will not depart from your mouth, or from the mouth of your children, or from the mouth of your children's children, from now on and forever," says the LORD.
Methuselah was very old when he died. I think that is the only thing we can know for certain.
The "Alexandrian manuscript" that people are referring to is the Greek Septuagint, which pre-dates the first Hebrew compilation of the Old Testament by several hundred years and was the Old Testament of the early Christian Church. Even Jewish scholars today recognize its authority:
"The earliest complete manuscripts of the Septuagint are centuries earlier than our first complete Hebrew manuscripts of the Bible, and it is clear that the Septuagint was translated from a Hebrew text that differed in significant ways from the Masoretic Text. (There are many cases where this is now confirmed, where the Septuagint agrees with a Dead Sea scroll fragment against the Masoretic Text.)" Adele Berlin and Marc Zvi Brettler, Textual Criticism of the Bible, in The Jewish Study Bible.
The issue of Methuselah's age has been discussed for centuries. You can read about it in City of God, written in the 5th century by Augustine of Hippo. The Septuagint differed from the Hebrew texts of the 5th century and later from the Masoretic texts in the years in the genealogies in Genesis 5, and the Samaritan text differs from both of them. It seems like some versions of the Septuagint were later revised, as the Vaticanus agrees with the earlier versions used by Christians, whereas the Alexandrinus was aligned with the Hebrew texts.
Augustine, speaking at a time when the Church was united, takes the discrepancy between Septuagint and later Hebrew texts in stride. Jerome took some heat for following the extant Hebrew texts in his Latin translation of the Bible, but it was not rejected by the Church. Strict inerrancy in every word and sentence of Scripture was never a principle of the early Church. It was an invention of the Reformation. Does believing that Methuselah lived 14 years after the flood lesson the fundamental truth of Christ's Incarnation, Death, and Resurrection, which should really be our focus? Probably not.
I think someone stated that there never was any interest in changing the Old Testament. This is not true. The Masoretes threw out several books and Protestant Bibles followed their lead. The Roman Catholic Old Testament canon is partially complete. The Orthodox canon contains all of the Old Testament books of the early Church (with the possible exception of one of the Books of Maccabees I think, still retained by the Ethiopian Church). Interestingly, the original King James Version included these books, but editions with them are hard to find (Cambridge University Press publishes one and it is very expensive). The Revised Standard Version also included them, but the RSV seems to have fallen out of favor.
It is the Septuagint manuscript known as the Codex Vaticanus which has Methuselah dying 14 years after the flood of Noah - not Codex Alexandrinus.
Codex Alexandrinus has Methuselah dying 6 years before the flood of Noah.
In my opinion, unlike Saint Ambrose who baptized him, blessed Augustine was ignorant of many Christian doctrines.
Although his ignorance does not make him a heretic, his writings did contain many errors which became the basis of heresies throughout western history.
In spite of this Augustine seems to have been sincere and to have made progress as shown in his later book 'The City of God' which was published shortly before his death.
The obvious error about the year of Methuselah's death in some Septuagint versions was discussed by Augustine in The City of God who concluded:
“There are three Greek manuscripts, one Latin, and one Syriac, which agree with one another, and in all of these Methuselah is said to have died six years before the deluge.”
This passage exactly corresponds with Codex Alexandrinus (and I suppose Codex Sinaiticus as well, but I have not verified it).
I have Sir Lancelot Brenton's Septuagint translation of 1851, and I am glad that it uses the more Elizabethan English thee's and thou's.
However, Brenton's translation does indeed contain this glaring error about Methuselah dying 14 years after the flood.
I read a claim on this thread that Sir Brenton used the Alexandrian Codex, but I saw nothing about that in his introduction, and everywhere I look on the internet I read that Brenton used the Vatican Septuagint manuscript - Codex Vaticanus.
Four great uncial manuscripts of most of the Bible from the early Church prior to 500 A.D. (containing most of the OT & NT) exist:
Codices Alexandrinus, Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, and Ephraem Syrus Rescriptus.
Judging from all this information, I am partial to the ancient African codices, but that does not imply Codex Vaticanus is useless.
I have noticed a tendency that some of the most well informed translators often tend to be modernists.
The traditional language and well informed footnotes of the New Testament published by Holy Apostles Convent in Colorado seems to be an exception.
As to an English translation of the Septuagint that follows Codices Alexandrinus or Sinaiticus rather than Vaticanus, the Eastern Orthodox Bible is perhaps the most promising among several Septuagint translation projects.
Septuagint English Translations
As to the age of the world, I believe the Septuagint chronology (i.e. Byzantine Creation era) which would place the year 2013 since the birth of Christ as year 7521 since the creation of the world is correct. The Hebrew Masoretic manuscripts of the OT generally have the age of the world approximately 1,500 years younger. The most ancient of these Hebrew Masoretic manuscripts are from the tenth century and are therefore six centuries newer than the Septuagint manuscripts which itself argues than these Masoretic texts are very possibly corruptions of the far more ancient Septuagint. I personally believe that both Saint Jerome's original Latin Vulgate translation from the Hebrew and the original Septuagint translation from the Hebrew are identical and more faithful to the ancient Hebrew original than modern Hebrew bibles.
I think modern Greeks and modern Jews have both fallen into a similar mistake of believing their own respective language is the approved language of God.
Most Greek language bibles in Greece today (with one major exception) are in fact Greek translations from western Bibles.
Each one has its place, but as Saint Gregory of Nyssa against the Eunomians, it is an error to make an idol out of language which is a tool for communication.
I wanted to add that I have always read that early Christians (and most Jews as well) universally used the Septuagint - not the Masoretic text.
Although not an advocate of their books, I once came across a book published by the catholic publisher TAN Books which contained one of the most succinct and thought provoking defenses of the canonicity of those Septuagint books which were discarded by the Masoretic Jewish scribes and later by the protestants (and to a lesser degree by the sixteenth century papacy).
The argument was to the effect that no intertestamental dry spell ever existed. Canonical inspired scripture continued to be written by holy men up to the time of the Lord Jesus Christ.
All of the inspired writings such as Tobit and the Books of the Maccabeees 1,2, and 3 which were later officially incorporated into scripture by the Church were accepted by the believing Jews during this period. It was the Pharisees who rejected these holy books, and their artificial system was preserved and codified by the Masoretic scribes whom Jesus had warned against and specifically named them as a source of error.
By tradition, the Septuagint was translated during the reign of Ptolemy Philadelphus of Egypt (circa 282 B.C.) on an island in Egypt by 70 Hebrew scribes in separate cells who being guided by divine inspiration all translated it exactly the same way without an iota of difference.
According to the life of Saint Symeon, he was a very old man whom Joseph and the Virgin Mary brought Jesus to in the temple when it was time for Him to be circumcised as described in the bible. Symeon's life indicates that he was actually born ten years before Alexander the Great died (i.e. 333 B.C. since Alexander died 323 B.C.), and Symeon was one of the 70 scribes. When he came to the passage in Isaiah which foretold of a virgin birth, he became disgusted at what he thought was the utter absurdity of the passage, and picked up a knife to scratch out the passage! At this moment just before he was able to do so, the angel Gabriel appeared in front of him in his cell and said that because of this sin, he would not see death until this prophecy was fulfilled. This why the scripture in Luke 2:26 says of Symeon that
"And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, 28 he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said:
“Lord, now let Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word;
For my eyes have seen Thy salvation which Thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples,
A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel.”
That is not to say that completely fraudulent books did not circulate as well. They certainly did.
Also books such as the ancient Book of Enoch that had a genuine origin but which had become partly corrupted over time due to spurious additions.
The Council of Laodicea od A.D. 364 decreed which books were not in any case to be canonical scripture because of either corruption through interpolation or total fraudulence.
The Books of the Septuagint are not in this category.
As far as I believe, the entire Septuagint is canonical scripture, and even pre-Christian jews knew
13 "But go and learn what this means: ' I DESIRE COMPASSION,AND NOT SACRIFICE,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
If there are photographic copies of the Old Testament portion of Codex Alexandrinus, and Codex Vaticanus 1209, could someone please present them?
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