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A Revelation of Revelations

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I just finished reading the Jerome Conspiracy, written by Michael Wood. In it, the author described how Jesus quoted the Egypto-Grecian Septuagint when he read from Isaiah 61:1 rather than the Hebrew Babylonian text. He also said that the Septuagint was quoted more often than the Hebrew text throughout the New Testament.

So I began exploring the Septuagint and I landed in Deuteronomy 32:43 with quite a surprise. I will quote both the Septuagint and the Hebrew Torah to show you the significant difference that is just one of many between the two:

Hebrew Torah:

"Rejoice with him, O heavens; bow down to him, all gods, for he avenges the blood of his children and takes vengeance on his adversaries. He repays those who hate him and cleanses his people's land." (Deut. 32:43, ESV)

Septuagint Torah:

"Rejoice, ye heavens, with him, and let all the angels of God worship him; rejoice ye Gentiles, with his people, and let all the sons of God strengthen themselves in him; for he will avenge the blood of his sons, and he will render vengeance, and recompense justice to his enemies, and will reward them that hate him; and the Lord shall purge the land of his people." (Deut. 32:43)

Did you notice the bold part did not exist in the Hebrew Torah? Now, this does not necessarily say that the Hebrew Babylonian text omitted the words. It could very well be that the Seventy added it in. I cannot say for sure. What has been discovered from the Dead Sea scrolls, however, and is defended in The Jerome Conspiracy is that the Hebrew Torah was not the only one written and isn't necessarily the original product. There are actually three different Torahs that were written and preserved by the Essenes, the Septuagint being among them. This likely means that the texts were written around the same time, but by different groups of Jewish exiles in different lands. This would explain why there would be three versions rather than one. It would be the same as if the Gospel of Matthew was written in Antioch and the Gospel of Luke in Asia Minor. The difference in story details could very well be a matter of location and the inability to coordinate details.

That said, I wanted to point out something from the book of Revelations that suggests, on top of the many other cases one could find (including Isaiah 61:1) that the New Testament writers quoted the Septuagint, perhaps suggesting that the Septuagint was considered a more reliable source (or a more preferred source) of Scripture.

"Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!" (Revelation 12:12 ESV)

By itself, the quote means very little. Paired with the Hebrew version, it tells the story of God avenging His righteous for the blood that was spilled against them. Paired with the Septuagint, it tells the story of God avenging His righteous and making the Gentiles rejoice because blessings have been poured out on them alongside God's chosen people. That would defend Paul's statement in Romans 11:11, "So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous." (Romans 11:11, ESV) Now, if I'm correct about this, the Septuagint defends the belief that Gentiles would be included into the promises of Abraham, as Paul suggests in Galatians 3:13, while the Hebrew Torah does not make that provision.

One more thing about the Septuagint Deuteronomy 32:43: The entire chapter is the song of Moses which, by verse 31, is speaking about the cursing and exile of the nation of Israel from the promises for forsaking God's commands and worshiping other gods. For Revelation to quote that part of the song of Moses, it seems to imply that the part in the story in chapter 12 where there is war in heaven is telling the story of blessings coming to the Gentiles. In Revelation 7, a remnant of Israel is sealed before the earth is harmed, and then a great multitude of Gentiles come out of tribulation dressed in white; again agreeing with Deut. 32:43.

What do you think? Is the Septuagint a more reliable source for Old Testament sources? Or do you think that the writers of the New Testament quoted the Septuagint because it defends the Gospel of Jesus?

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