Online Encyclopedia


Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V24, Page 655 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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CANONS REGULAR OF THE HOLY SEPULCHRE, an order said to have been founded In 1114 (or, according to other accounts, others, especially in syntax, it is strongly tinged with Hebraisms, and there are many passages where it is difficult, if not impossible, to extract any rational meaning. In some cases a book bears the marks of two hands: thus Jeremiah i.-xxviii. was not translated by the worker that undertook ch. xxix.-li. (the former is indifferent, the latter unintelligible Greek), and in Ezekiel one hand is responsible for ch. i.-xxvii., xl.-xlviii., and another for ch. xxviii.-xxxix. (except xxxvi. 24-38). So I Kings stands apart from 2-4 Kings. Isaiah is more akin to classical Greek; like the Pentateuch and i Maccabees it is good KOLV?i. The two chief MSS. of Judges vary so much as to point to different recensions. In some books, especially Jeremiah xxv.-li., the order of the Septuagint is totally different from that of the Massoretic Hebrew text (cf. also Proverbs xxiv.-xxix.). In other cases, notably in Job, the original LXX. text was much shorter than that of the Massoretes; in Esther and Daniel there are numerous additions. The Septuagint does not keep the triple Hebrew division of Law, Prophets and Hagiographa or Writings, but instead of this order of canonization principle it groups its books according to subject matter, Law, History, Poetry, Prophecy, a divergence which had much importance for the history of the Old Testament canon in the Christian church. The early Christians generally accepted the LXX. canon, which through the old Latin, despite Jerome's Vulgate adoption of the Hebrew canon, passed into the West, and into the Latin Bibles, where the Apocrypha (except i Esdras) are still included. The German and English churches followed Jerome in giving a less honoured place to the impugned books. The Septuagint came into general use with the Grecian Jews even in the synagogue. Philo and Josephus use it, and so do the New Testament writers. But at an early date small corrections seem to have been introduced, especially by such Palestinians as had occasion to use the LXX., in consequence partly of divergent interpretation, partly of differences of text or of pronunciation (particularly of proper names). The Old Testament passages cited by authors of the first century of the Christian era, especially those in the Apocalypse, show many such variations from the Septuagint, and, curiously enough, these often correspond with the later versions (particularly with Theodotion), so that the latter seem to rest on a fixed tradition. Corrections in the pronunciation of proper names so as to come closer to the Massoretic pronunciation are especially frequent in Josephus. Finally a reaction against the use of the Septuagint set in among the Jews after the destruction of the temple—a movement which was connected with the strict definition of the canon and the fixing of an authoritative text by the rabbins of Palestine. But long usage had made it impossible for the Jews to do without a Greek Bible, and to meet this want a new version was prepared corresponding accurately with the canon and text of the Pharisees. This was the version of Aquila, which took the place of the Septuagint in the synagogues, and long continued in use there. On this, together with the versions of Theodotion and Symmachus, Origen's Hexapla, and the recensions of Hesychius and Lucian, see BIBLE (Old Testament, " Texts and Versions "). The LXX. is of great importance in more than one respect. " It was the first step towards that fusion of the Hebraic with the Hellenic strain, which has issued in the mind and heart of modern Christendom. Like the opening of toe Suez Canal it let the waters of the East mingle with those of the West, bearing with them many a freight of precious merchandise." Again, it is probably the oldest translation of considerable extent that ever was written, and at any rate it is the starting-point for the history of Jewish interpretation and the Jewish view of Scripture. And from this its importance as a. document of exegetical tradition, especially in lexical matters, may be easily understood. It was in great part comoosed before the close of the canon—nay, before some of the Hagiographa were written—and in it alone are preserved a number of important ancient Jewish books that were not admitted into the canon. As the book which created or at least codified the dialect of Biblical Greek, it is the key to the New Testament and all the literature connected with it. To many its chief value lies in the fact that it is the only independent witness for the text of the Old Testament which we have to compare with the Massoretic text. It may seem that the critical value of the LXX. is greatly impaired, if not entirely cancelled, by the corrupt state of the text. If we have not the version itself in authentic form we cannot reconstruct with certainty the Hebrew text from which it was made, and so cannot get at various readings which can be confidently confronted with the Massoretic text; and it may be a long time before we possess a satisfactory edition of the genuine Septuagint. The difficulties in getting behind the confusion of versions and recensions to produce such a result are indeed formidable. The materials at our disposal are of the usual threefold kind, Manuscripts, Versions and Patristic Quotations. The earliest MSS. are about a score of fragments on papyrus, a few of which go back to the 3rdduring the rule of Godfrey of Bouillon in Jerusalem) on the rule of St Augustine. Pope Celestine III., in 1143, confirms the Church and Canons of the Holy Sepulchre in all their possessions, and enumerates several churches both in the Holy Land and in Italy belonging to the Canons. According to Jacques de Vitry, the canons served the churches on Mount Sion and Mount Olivet in addition to that of the Holy Sepulchre. The canons survived in Europe till the French Revolution. In Italy they seem to have been suppressed by Innocent VIII. in 1489, and their property given to the Knights of St John. The canons are now extinct, but canonesses of the Holy Sepulchre are still to be found in various countries of Western Europe.
THE SEPTUAGINT (Gr. of 0', Lat. LXX.)

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