In early 2009, I began a personal Bible study regarding the practices of the early church.
At the time, I was inspired to begin this study by perceived differences between what I read in the New Testament and what I saw being practiced at the time—primarily in the church where I was meeting, but also on a broader scale.
I felt I wasn’t benefitting from our church assemblies at the time, so, from the pew, I began to use the sermon time for my private studies.
My initial focus was on what the Bible said about church meetings in the first century.
That topic didn’t take long to complete because the Bible says surprisingly little about the assemblies of the first Christians.
At the time, I knew that there were extra-biblical Christian writings from the first few centuries. However, my focus was elsewhere, so I “filed away” a decision to return to this topic of early church practices when possible.
(The events of 2009 and Q1 2010—which I discussed in this e-book—led to our decision to begin hosting church meetings in our home.)
In 2011, I began reading the early Christian writings. I started by reading a copy of David Bercot’s fantastic book, Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up—the top book I recommend besides the Bible—which discusses differences between modern common beliefs with the views of the first Christians.
I observed that Bercot studied from Philip Schaff’s Ante-Nicene Fathers series as the source for the early Christian writings, so I got a copy. (Here’s a link to vol 1 on Kindle to vol 1 on Kindle, but you can also read the series online starting here.)
In that first volume, I read the following quote from an early Christian called Justin Martyr around 160 A.D. (while speaking with an unbelieving Jew named Trypho):
But I am far from putting reliance in your teachers, who refuse to admit that the interpretation made by the seventy elders who were with Ptolemy [king] of the Egyptians is a correct one; and they attempt to frame another. And I wish you to observe, that they have altogether taken away many Scriptures from the translations effected by those seventy elders… For you assent to those which I have brought before your attention, except that you contradict the statement, ‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive,’ and say it ought to be read, ‘Behold, the young woman shall conceive.’ And I promised to prove that the prophecy referred, not, as you were taught, to Hezekiah, but to this Christ of mine: and now I shall go to the proof.
So I re-read it. And a third time.
Justin here accused the Jews of maliciously editing the Scriptures to try and obscure or take away the prophecies that clearly pointed to Jesus—prophecies which Justin claimed the Christians had been successfully using to prove Jesus was/is the Messiah.
Not only this, but Justin pointed towards the Septuagint (“the interpretation made by the seventy elders”) as the standard among the Christians and previous Jewish generations.
Amazed, I placed another “mental marker” to revisit this in depth one day. Again, at the time, I had other subjects that were higher priority.
Fast forward to late 2014.
Having never spoken before, a Chasing a Lion reader named Brett messaged me. He’d noticed my references to Bercot’s work and was himself a student of early Christian writings and church history.
Through the course of our conversation, Brett asked if he could mail me some resources he’d found helpful. I agreed. Among them was a two-part audio lesson David Bercot recorded called “Why Don’t We Use The Same Bible As the Apostles?”
I learned a lot of new information from that lesson. That message inspired me to get a copy of the Septuagint and began reading it and comparing it to my New International Version (NIV) translation which I used as my primary Bible.
From that point, recalling Justin Martyr’s interesting quote combined with Bercot’s message, I decided to study the history of the Septuagint and our English translations and the differences between them.
Unfortunately for me, the timing wasn’t right. Not yet. I was in the midst of a 5-year study on eschatology and that was my top priority.
Throw in a job change with 90 days of unemployment during 2018 and, only last month, some 7 years (!) after placing a mental marker at Justin Martyr’s intriguing comment, was I able to study the Septuagint and our modern English translations for myself.
Now you know the background story. And now it’s time for me to share my findings with you!
In this video, I explain:
- The two primary Old Testament text families
- The background and origin of the Septuagint
- The history of Septuagint use among Jews and early Christians
- Five reasons you should care about the Septuagint
- Examples of important differences between the Septuagint and our Bibles
- How to get a copy of the Septuagint
It is difficult to articulate how important this topic is. This is a big deal. Don’t miss this!
Here are links to get a recommended Septuagint translation:
- The Orthodox Study Bible:
- Apostolic Bible Polyglot (interlinear, free PDF, purchasable leather-bound print version)
- Lexham English Septuagint
- Brenton’s Septuagint (hardback – KJV-like English)
- I have this version and like it overall, despite my frustration of Brenton’s transliteration of proper names and titles.