Gipp, Irenaeus, and The Septuagint

When one reads King James Version Only arguments, one of the issues that arises is that of the New Testament quotation of the Septuagint (LXX).

One example is Samuel Gipp, who said:
“..the most unexplainable is Paul’s quote of Deuteronomy 25:4 in I Corinthians 9:9. For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen?

Deut 25:4: “Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn.”

Here we find Paul quoting the words “the corn” just as if they had been in the Hebrew original even though they are only found in the italics of our Authorized Version!

If one were to argue that Paul was quoting a supposed Greek Septuagint translation of the original Hebrew, our dilemma only worsens. For now, two perplexing questions present themselves to us. First, if such a Greek translation ever existed, (which is not documented in history) by what authority did the translators insert these words? Secondly, if they were added by the translators, does Paul’s quoting of them confirm them as inspired?”

(Samuel Gipp, The Answer Book, online edition Accessed 02/25/2010)

Gipp states that it is not documented in history that the LXX existed. I shall leave it to others, or until another time, to explain the “why” of his making this statement. I simply wish to demonstrate the lie of the statement.

Irenaeus (a.d. 125–202 ) was not very many years removed from the time of Christ. He was familiar with Polycarp, who was acquainted with at least one of the apostles. Irenaeus wrote to combat some serious doctrinal errors that had arisen in the church. Thus we have “Against Heresies”. It is in these writings that we find Irenaeus bearing testimony to the existence of the LXX.

1. God, then, was made man, and the Lord did Himself save us, giving us the token of the Virgin. But not as some allege, among those now presuming to expound the Scripture, [thus:] “Behold, a young woman shall conceive, and bring forth a son,” as Theodotion the Ephesian has interpreted, and Aquila of Pontus, both Jewish proselytes. The Ebionites, following these, assert that He was begotten by Joseph; thus destroying, as far as in them lies, such a marvelous dispensation of God, and setting

aside the testimony of the prophets which proceeded from God. For truly this prediction was uttered before the removal of the people to Babylon; that is, anterior to the supremacy acquired by the Medes and Persians. But it was interpreted into Greek by the Jews themselves, much before the period of our Lord’s advent, that there might remain no suspicion that perchance the Jews, complying with our humor, did put this interpretation upon these words…

2. For before the Romans possessed their kingdom, while as yet the Macedonians held Asia, Ptolemy the son of Lagus, being anxious to adorn the library which he had founded in Alexandria, with a collection of the writings of all men, which were [works] of merit, made request to the people of Jerusalem, that they should have their Scriptures translated into the Greek language. And they — for at that time they were still subject to the Macedonians — sent to Ptolemy seventy of their elders, who were thoroughly skilled in the Scriptures and in both the languages, to carry out what he had desired… the Gentiles present perceived that the Scriptures had been interpreted by the inspiration of God. And there was nothing astonishing in God having done this…

3. Since, therefore, the Scriptures have been interpreted with such fidelity.. and since from these God has prepared and formed again our faith towards His Son, and has preserved to us the unadulterated Scriptures in Egypt.. and [since] this interpretation of these Scriptures was made prior to our Lord’s

descent [to earth], and came into being before the Christians appeared — for our Lord was born about the forty-first year of the reign of Augustus; but Ptolemy was much earlier, under whom the Scriptures were interpreted.. our faith is steadfast, unfeigned, and the only true one, having clear proof from these Scriptures, which were interpreted in the way I have related; and the preaching of the Church is without interpolation. For the apostles, since they are of more ancient date than all these [heretics], agree with this aforesaid translation; and the translation harmonizes with the tradition of the apostles. For Peter, and John, and Matthew, and Paul, and the rest successively, as well as their followers, did set forth all prophetical [announcements], just as the interpretation of the elders contains them.”

(Against Heresies on CCEL Accessed 02/25/2010)

Irenaeus not only stated that the LXX existed, he called it the “preserved”, “unadulterated Scriptures”! Not only so, but he stated that it was a translation that was carried out with “fidelity”, and that they indeed existed before Christian and before Christ Himself was born. He also informs us that the apostles quoted from the LXX.

Methinks that some KJVO believers need to study their history a little more.

In the end, it is somewhat amazing that Irenaeus’ writings against heresies now testifies against a heresy that he never knew would exist: that of KJVO’ism.

12 thoughts on “Gipp, Irenaeus, and The Septuagint

  1. Jason Elder March 1, 2010 / 1:31 am

    On that site you linked to in your post: are these Schaff’s footnotes? (#1496)

    “The following story in regard to the origin of the LXX is first told in a SPURIOUS letter (probably dating from the first century b.c.), which professes to have been written by Aristeas, a high officer at the court of Ptolemy Philadelphus (285 [283]-247 b.c.). This epistle puts the origin of the LXX in the reign of the latter monarch instead of in that of his father, Ptolemy Soter, and is followed in this by Philo, Josephus, Tertullian, and most of the other ancient writers (Justin Martyr calls the king simply Ptolemy, while Clement of Alex. says that some connect the event with the one monarch, others with the other). The account given in the letter … is repeated over and over again, with greater or less variations, by early Jewish and Christian writers… It gives the number of the elders as seventy-two,—six from each tribe. THAT THIS MARVELOUS TALE IS A FICTION IS CLEAR ENOUGH but whether it is based upon a groundwork of fact is disputed … It is at any rate certain that the Pentateuch (the ORIGINAL ACCOUNT APPLIES ONLY TO THE PENTATEUCH, but later it was extended to the entire Old Testament) was translated into Greek in Alexandria as early as the third century b.c.; whether under Ptolemy Philadelphus, and at his desire, we cannot tell. The translation of the remainder of the Old Testament followed during the second century b.c., the books being translated at various times by UNKNOWN AUTHORS, but all or most of them probably in Egypt…

    (All caps added by me simply for emphasis)

    • JasonS March 1, 2010 / 11:05 am

      Not sure of the footnotes.
      I think that the manner of translation probably was a sort of legend. At the same time, the EXISTENCE (caps for emphasis) of the translation is established by this, and other statement from the ECF.
      Even the footnotes you present demonstrate that the LXX existed in pre-Christian days.
      Thanks for commenting.

  2. CD-Host March 1, 2010 / 7:56 am

    There is an even stronger argument than this. Prior to Saint Jerome the position that the Hebrew OT rather than the Greek was the authoritative was the minority position. Most Christians held the LXX was the proper Christian bible and the Hebrew was exclusively Jewish. So for example the Vetus Latina, the “Old Latin”, which is the version of the scriptures the liturgy is based on follows the LXX not the Hebrew.

    Those liturgical differences exist even today in modern Protestantism. If you wonder where a lot of the peculiar phrasing for Christmas carols that sound like they are almost quoting the bible comes from about a 1/3rd of the time its from the LXX. Quite often the phrasing for psalms in our popular liturgy came from:

    Hebrew -> LXX -> Vetus Latina -> early liturgy -> standardized liturgy which used the Greek over the Hebrew like the Versio Gallicana

    In fact the word liturgy itself comes from the LXX’s leitourgia.

    • JasonS March 1, 2010 / 11:06 am

      Thanks for weighing in with that info. Could you direct me to some specific quotes on that?

  3. JasonS March 1, 2010 / 12:29 pm

    You said “Most Christians held the LXX was the proper Christian bible and the Hebrew was exclusively Jewish.”
    That was what I was after. I apologize for not making that clear.

    • CD-Host March 1, 2010 / 2:15 pm

      OK the Kamesar book is good for that discussion. Any history of Jerome would include information like the Tripoli riot against Jerome’s bible. You find quotes regarding this in most of the early church fathers. For example Augustine’s letter to Jerome will sound very familiar to you, with Augustine taking the majority opinion in favor of the LXX

      For my own part, I cannot sufficiently express my wonder that anything should at this date be found in the Hebrew manuscripts which escaped so many translators perfectly acquainted with the language. I say nothing of the LXX., regarding whose harmony in mind and spirit, surpassing that which is found in even one man, I dare not in any way pronounce a decided opinion, except that in my judgment, beyond question, very high authority must in this work of translation be conceded to them. I am more perplexed by those translators who, though enjoying the advantage of labouring after the LXX. had completed their work, and although well acquainted, as it is reported, with the force of Hebrew words and phrases, and with Hebrew syntax, have not only failed to agree among themselves, but have left many things which, even after so long a time, still remain to be discovered and brought to light.

  4. Damien T Garofalo March 1, 2010 / 2:14 pm

    CD’s point about the early church holding to the LXX (and the Jewish consequence was that they clung closer to the Hebrew) is quite important for those who claim that the church has “always used” this or that, namely the Masoretic text. Of course the Masoretes came much later anyway, but the point is that the church has had to wrestle with discovering what version/translation/text-type/stream is the most reliable. The difference between us and KJVO is that we feel this practice is still going on, though we’ve gained significant ground. The KJVO, however, believes all this changed in 1611.

  5. fundyreformed March 9, 2010 / 1:29 pm

    Finally read this great article and the comments. Good points, CD and Damien.

    Gotta’ love how clear Irenaeus is here, too! Talk about historical revisionism! Through doubt and suspicion on the LXX in order to bolster your own opinions about the Scripture.

    (Note to self: I gotta work on part 2 of my LXX series, too. Sorry to delay on that one, guys.)

  6. Joel H. March 10, 2010 / 9:16 am

    One example is Samuel Gipp, who said:
    “..the most unexplainable is Paul’s quote of Deuteronomy 25:4 in I Corinthians 9:9. For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen?

    Deut 25:4: “Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn.”

    Here we find Paul quoting the words “the corn” just as if they had been in the Hebrew original even though they are only found in the italics of our Authorized Version!

    I’m not sure I understand. Which side is Gipp on here? The Greek in Deuteronomy 25:4 and 1 Corinthians 9:9 is identical: both just contain a single verb. It’s the KJV that introduces the inconsistency by translating (and italicizing) “the corn” in the LXX, but translating (the non-italic) “the grain” in 1 Corinthians.


    • fundyreformed March 11, 2010 / 9:59 am

      It comes down to a need to hold up the KJV as in its very translation being error-free…

      But perhaps, Jason can enlighten us as he has the book this quote is taken from, I presume.

    • JasonS March 12, 2010 / 7:33 pm

      He never quotes exactly why this is an issue.
      The link to this is provided in the OP. Here is the heading of the chapter:

      “Should the italicized words in the KJV be removed?

      QUESTION #11:
      I’ve heard that the italicized words in the King James Bible should be removed because they were added by the translators. Should they be removed?

      If we remove any of the italicized words we must either remove them ALL or accept them ALL as Scripture. “

      He never deals any further with the issue of the italicized words. He conveniently, and strangely, moves on to say,

      “While you ponder these important questions, we will note that Jesus also quoted from what appears to have been a King James Bible.

      We find Him quoting a word that wasn’t in the “originals”. In fact, a word that only exists in the italics found in the pages of the King James Bible.

      Read below, please, Deuteronomy 8:3.

      “And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.”

      You will note that the word “word” is in italics, meaning of course, that it was not in the Hebrew text. Upon examination of Deuteronomy 8:3 in Hebrew one will find that the word “dabar” which is Hebrew for “word” is not found anywhere in the verse.

      Yet in His contest with Satan we find Jesus quoting Deuteronomy 9:3 as follows in Matthew 4:4.

      “But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”

      While quoting Deuteronomy 8:3 Jesus quotes the entire verse including the King James italicized word! Even an amateur “scholar” can locate “ramati”, a form of “rama”, which is Greek for “word”, in any Greek New Testament.

      So, just as critics of the Bible like to joke and say, “Well, the King James was good enough for the Apostle Paul so it’s good enough for me.” A true Bible-believer can truly say, “Well, the King James was good enough for the Apostles Peter and Paul and for the Lord Jesus Christ, so it’s good enough for me”.

      Now, perhaps YOU can figure that out.
      For me, I can only see rambling, twisted, illogical blather. Not words that I typically use, but I know not how to describe it otherwise.

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