I have some comments regarding accuracy of biblical texts and the importance of genealogies in the Bible in response to your reply to my question: Which is correct on the time Adam to Abraham–the Masoretic text or the Septuagint?   [Editor’s note: Here is the article:

There were statements made in the article that weren’t based on accurate information.1. Although the precise numbers are really not all that important in the biblical text, one might be able to speculate that the Masoretic text is more likely to be accurate than the Septuagint text, as the Septuagint is a translation.  Biblical numbers and genealogies are very important to scriptural interpretation.A. Certain prophecies require numbers.B. The date of the earth requires accurate numbers and genealogies, because times and ages are based on them.C. The lineage of the Israelites and the Messiah require accurate genealogies for peoples in biblical times.

2. If you are aware of historical events after the time of Jesus and Israelite sentiments towards non-Israelites, you would know that there would be a bias and an agenda for the Jews to have their own “Hebrew” script. Christians used to use the the Septuagint to trap Jews in debates about the Messiah whom they hated and rejected. The Jews didn’t like the fact that Gentile Christians and the Church took up the use of the Septuagint as their Old Testament Scriptures.  So the Jews decided to make version of the Scriptures that was their own. Jews see God as only one. Christians say that Jesus is also God. If you are aware of the Talmud, Hebrews say the most vile things about Jesus and there they pronounce a curse on anyone who tries to trace the 70x 7s prophecy of Daniel 9 to the Messiah.

So the Jews would have wanted to alter the genealogies and dates in Genesis to keep people from discovering that Jesus is the Messiah, and to keep them from arriving to the time of his birth and ministry. It is also interesting to note that more Old Testament quotes in the New Testament came from the Septuagint than any other text.  Other historical texts have also alluded to motives for slightly altering the biblical text created in the Masoretic text. I believe that weight of accuracy for the OT texts should be where they they disagree, the preference should be given in order of the accuracy (from evidence and reason) starting with (1) the Dead Sea Scrolls(DSS), (2) the Septuagint (LXX), (3) the Masoretic (Heb) and Aramaic (Targums (T) and Syriac (Syr) texts, and (4) the Samaritan (Sam) texts. Where the DSS, the LXX and the Sam text agree, that is probably closest to the original.

I think this information should be considered. Hebrew-Gentile contention and anti-Jesus/Messiah sentiments are evident in Scriptures.


First, because the Masoretic text was created about 800-900 AD, whereas the Septuagint was created about 200 BC, it is not immediately obvious that the Septuagint is more likely to be unreliable than the Masoretic, despite the fact that it is a translation.  It is a translation, true, but it is also 1000 years older.  I believe that scholars will agree that this is an open question, and each example should be taken on its own merits.  Your speculation is not unreasonable, but I am cautious about such statements.

The only prophecies that “require numbers” are with regard to events after Abraham’s time.  For example, Daniel 9:24-25 “requires” numbers, but its interpretation does not depend on the time before Abraham.  So, I am not sure I agree with your contention in item A.  Can you give me an example of a prophecy whose interpretation depends on dating events before Abraham?  I cannot.

B. I know of no reason whatsoever that a Christian needs to know the date of creation.  What is your case, biblically, that the precise date of, for example, the creation of Adam, is important?  I cannot think of any reason we need to know how long ago Adam lived.  People like Bishop Ussher tried to date these events, but I do not know why it is important.

C.  Again, I know of no reason whatsoever that dates before Abraham are important.  What is your case for this?

2. On this you and I will agree.  The Jews were skeptical of the Christian use of the Septuagint, in part because they associated this with Christian use of the Apocrypha, which they did not use, but also because of passages such as Isaiah 7:14, Psalm 22:14 and others which support the Christian interpretation concerning the Messiah being born of a virgin, being crucified, etc.  It is possible (though somewhat unlikely) that the Jews might have altered their own Hebrew texts to counter Christian arguments about the Messiah.  Given their incredibly zealous respect for the Hebrew text, I propose that this is unlikely.  In fact, what the Jews have done is, not to change their text, but to try to impose Jewish interpretations on the text.  I have written about this at the web site.

You say, So the Hebrew decided to make version of the Scriptures that was their own.  I do not believe that the Jews created their own Hebrew text.  The Hebrew text has and always has been owned by the Jews.  The Hebrew text is the Jewish text, almost by definition. What they have done is publish English translations of the Hebrew which favors the Jewish non-messianic, non-Jesus interpretation.  Of course, this is their right.  And besides, Christians have produced translations which are biased toward the Christian interpretation.  Psalm 22:16 is a good example.  So, I agree with what you are saying here, but would add that it is not clear that Jewish behavior on this has been any worse that Christian behavior when it comes to bias.  Of course, I totally agree with the Christian interpretation of the messianic prophecies!  But, we should be fair in describing what Jews and Christians have done.

You claim that Jews have altered the genealogies to favor their view.  I seriously doubt this, given what we know about their extreme devotion to the Hebrew text.  I say that, unless you have actual evidence of such tampering, the Golden Rule of Jesus says you should be careful about making such accusations.  It might be true, but I know of no evidence to support this contention.

You say that more quotes from the New Testament come from the Septuagint than any other Old Testament text.  (I am somewhat paraphrasing).  This might be true, but I would like to see the numbers before I agree.  The reason for this is that when the New Testament writers quoted the Old Testament, they normally (but not always… see Hebrews) quoted from the Septuagint.  However, Jesus almost certainly did NOT quote from the Septuagint!!!!  Therefore, I am a bit skeptical of your statement.  But yes, it is true, that many of the OT quotes in the NT are from the Septuagint.  It is like this.  When I quote the OT, I quote from an English translation, not from the Hebrew itself.  This is because I read the Scriptures to those I teach to in English.  So, naturally, I quote in English.  This is analogous to why Paul and others usually use the Septuagint, as they preached and wrote in Greek.  They tended to quote a Greek translation (the Septuagint), rather than translating from the Hebrew.

About your prioritization for authoritative texts: DSS then Septuaging then Masoretix then Aramaic Targums, then Samaritan Pentateuch, I have no problem with this ordering.  It is worth noting that sometimes the DSS are closer to the Masoretic, and sometimes they are closer to the Septuagint.  Which should come first: Septuagint or Masoretic is debatable, but a good case can be made for your order of reliability.  Overall, scholars rely most on the Masoretic text for their translations.  I believe that, as I said above, scholars ought to look at all the evidence, and make their translations based on the sum of the evidence.  You seem to agree with this!  Good!

You say,  Other historical texts have also allude to motives for slightly altering the biblical text created in the Masoretic text.”   What are these historical texts you refer to, and what alterations have the Jews made to the Masoretic texts?  Without specifics, this statement is difficult to evaluate.  You seem to imply that they have changed the Hebrew text to oppose Christian interpretations.  This is not at all a crazy idea, but what are your examples, and what is your evidence?  To be honest, I am just a bit skeptical of this claim without you presenting evidence.  I know of one possible example, which is in the case of Psalm 22:16, in which most Masoretic texts have “like a lion… my hands and my feet” rather than “pierced… my hands and my feet,” which favors the Jewish, non-messianic interpretation of the Psalm. This is a well-documented dispute with messianic implications.  My understanding is that scholars are mixed in their evaluation of whether Jews altered the Hebrew or Christians altered the Septuagint, or whether there was an inadvertent copying error.  In this case, I somewhat favor that the Jews altered the Hebrew text, simply because the Septuagint predates Christ.  If I am right, then it would be a good example of what you are talking about.  Do you know of any other examples?  What sources are you using for your contention that the Jews have altered the Old Testament to oppose Christianity?

John Oakes

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