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The Septuagint Bible, Pope Benedict XVI, and the Defeat of CRT in America

Posted on Saturday, January 29, 2022
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AMAC Exclusive by Ben Solis

popeAs much as so many prominent voices in our culture today would like to discard religion – and Christianity in particular – as some dead relic of a bygone era, Christianity and its teachings still underpin American society and form the foundations of all of its most cherished institutions – democracy and individual liberty chief among them. The ultimate guidebook for understanding those traditions is, of course, the Christian Bible. Here’s a story about one very early translation of the Bible – known as the Septuagint Bible – that still proves instructive today about the importance of the Christian tradition to our lives, and what we can still learn from scripture about the cultural challenges we face.

The Septuagint Bible is a beguiling jewel from antiquity. As the first translation of the Hebrew Bible (what Christians understand today as the Old Testament) into Greek, it literally shaped the basic tenets of Christianity as well as the direction of Western culture and thought. Early Christians forged the basic notion of marriage, life, gender, and race on the fundamental philosophical and theological foundations established by the Septuagint. Consequently, a familiarity with this translation of the Old Testament can provide insights into how Christians and other people of good will should make sense of pressing threats to our culture today, such as the toxic spread of Critical Race Theory in our schools, our workplaces, and throughout our society.

The story of the Septuagint Bible begins in the fifth century BC when, less than ten years before his death, a group of Jews kidnapped the Prophet Jeremiah and took him to Egypt.

There, about four hundred miles south of Cairo, around the town of Elephantine on the island situated on the Nile River, a small Jewish community was established.

According to German scholars, over time these Egyptian Jews launched a project of translating the Scriptures from Hebrew to Greek. Motivated by a zeal for reverent liturgy and a desire to reach a larger audience by using the more accessible language, they wanted more people to be able to study the Old Testament.

The Greek poet Aristeas claimed that the great Egyptian Pharoah Ptolemy Philadelphus invited seventy-two educated men to create this translation. According to later scholars, the translators who worked independently in separate cells produced identical translations of the whole Scriptures. According to Jewish philosopher Philo, probably five interpreters, not seventy-two, in actuality worked in unison and assented on every detail by comparing each other’s work.

The Greek translation was developed with consideration for absorbing the highest-quality Greek thought and concepts. As a result, the Septuagint helped ancient scholars defeat attacks on the faith, including by paganism and other cultural heresies of the time.

In the most recent book on the Septuagint, Professor of Christian Scripture Edmond Gallagher of Heritage Christian University emphasized that the Septuagint had as big an influence on Jews and Christians who spoke Greek as the King James Version later had on English-speaking Christians.

One example of such influence concerns the eighth chapter of Proverbs, which defined the nature and place of Jesus Christ in the Trinity. In this chapter, the author defined wisdom as the initial nature of God prior to the act of creation. For the early Church fathers who associated wisdom with Jesus, it was evident that Jesus was not created but always existed with God the Father. A Christian priest, Arius, argued against this view. He believed that the fine-drawn difference between Greek and Hebrew texts justified Jesus as a creation of God. But by adopting the Greek text, the Church fathers won the debate.

Fourteen years ago, in his famous lecture at the University of Regensburg, Pope Benedict XVI also enlisted the Septuagint to fight off a modern heresy. The essential purpose of the Regensburg lecture was to defend Western values and show how to defeat modern irrationalism. In this endeavor, Pope Benedict cited the Septuagint among other translations of the Bible to propose essential insights that should guide our actions today.

Benedict first observed that the translators of the Septuagint provided an independent textual witness of the encounter between faith and reason that he called “logos,” which is enlightenment and religion.

Pope Benedict then discussed the thoughts of the Lebanese Islamic scholar and Catholic priest Abdel Theodor Khoury, who compared the Quran and Biblical belief systems focused on God and humanity. The Pope reiterated Father Khoury’s assessment that conversion by force is incompatible with God’s character and the nature of the human soul.

Pope Benedict also emphasized that the way that leads someone to faith is by speaking softly with reason, not through violence or terrorism. In another example, Pope Benedict XVI compared hatred to an act of violence, referring to Jesus’s statements in the Sermon on the Mount.

Pope Benedict stated that to not act “with logos” is contrary to God’s nature, describing Christ in the Septuagint. In contrast, to act with logos means to be obedient to the truth.

Pope Benedict’s reflections at Regensburg serve as a model for the contemporary American battle against Critical Race Theory (CRT), which claims that human beings by default fall into either oppressor or oppressed classes based on skin color.

CRT then encourages the presumed victims to display hatred towards people of different skin color. As prominent CRT author Ibram X. Kendi has written: “The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination.”

But such claims forwarded by proponents of CRT do not hold up against the basic logic and historical test of enlightenment and religion suggested by Pope Benedict XVI.

Ancient thinkers enlightened us, in the Scriptures, that race is given by birth from the people associated with the concrete tribe, language, and land. The Jewish race was defined, like Egyptians or Persians, at birth.

But that fact never stood in the center of the cultural thought, as it is today.

There is no logical reason for a determination to hate people of a different race or color.

The basis of the American nation was the acknowledgment of principles linked to a moral order based on the Christian religion. The reference to self-evident truths about the unalienable rights of every human person that is emphasized in the Declaration of Independence is rooted in God’s nature.

During his apostolic trip to Washington in 2018, Pope Benedict XVI called to mind the truths of the American founding and reminded Americans of the wisdom of John Paul II, who observed that “in a world without truth, freedom loses its foundation,” and a democracy without values can lose its very soul.

Pope Benedict emphasized that John Paul II’s thoughts “echo the conviction of President [George] Washington, expressed in his Farewell Address, that religion and morality represent ‘indispensable supports’ of political prosperity.”

Therefore, the Septuagint Bible can serve as an inspiration and an independent witness, by nature of its uniqueness, that America must reject the false racial ideology of Critical Race Theory and commit to a revival of noble American principles. Indeed, a national spiritual renewal will confirm and solidify America’s greatness.

Ben Solis is the pen name of an international affairs journalist, historian, theologian, and researcher.

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Ernie
Ernie
2 years ago

Thanks, we as the church need to lead our nation back from the abyss through the Word of God

Peggy
Peggy
2 years ago

Why does the Jewish philosophers opinion get inserted into this brief article. Changing the number of translators from 72 to five. I wholeheartedly agree our country was founded on principals of the Bible. A great accomplishment.

Glenn
Glenn
2 years ago

We definitely can rely on the Bible as we have by way of authorized translations. Simply put, the New Testament interprets the Old Testament. To quote Jesus himself; “You have heard that it was said ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy’s, but I say to you. love your enemies. This is one of the most difficult things recorded in the Bible. Critical race theory runs counter to the Bible. Vengeance is God’s business, not ours.

Michael Stertz
Michael Stertz
2 years ago

Good article.

Judy
Judy
2 years ago

In the Christian Holy Bible, the original King James version I was informed by a Pastor of a God fearing and Holy Spirit lead church, that this version was the closest translation to the original Greek manuscripts. And in it Jesus tells us; ‘My sheep hear My voice, and they follow Me.’ Jesus also said, ‘By their works you will know them.’ We are to examine ourselves whether we are of ‘The Faith.’ ‘If we believe ourselves to be something we are not, we deceive ourselves.’
‘ Study to show thyself approved unto God; a workman that needeth not be ashamed.’
‘ Jesus says, ‘I am the Way, the truth and the Life; no one comes unto the Father, but by Me.’

And Jesus said,
‘It is done.’

WILLIAM MCKENZIE
WILLIAM MCKENZIE
2 years ago

The Masoretic Text is superior in accuracy. The Septuagint is in error on several key issues.

Ernie
Ernie
2 years ago

Thanks, we as the church need to lead our nation back from the abyss through the Word of God

Peggy
Peggy
2 years ago

Why does the Jewish philosophers opinion get inserted into this brief article. Changing the number of translators from 72 to five. I wholeheartedly agree our country was founded on principals of the Bible. A great accomplishment.

Glenn
Glenn
2 years ago

We definitely can rely on the Bible as we have by way of authorized translations. Simply put, the New Testament interprets the Old Testament. To quote Jesus himself; “You have heard that it was said ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy’s, but I say to you. love your enemies. This is one of the most difficult things recorded in the Bible. Critical race theory runs counter to the Bible. Vengeance is God’s business, not ours.

Michael Stertz
Michael Stertz
2 years ago

Good article.

Judy
Judy
2 years ago

In the Christian Holy Bible, the original King James version I was informed by a Pastor of a God fearing and Holy Spirit lead church, that this version was the closest translation to the original Greek manuscripts. And in it Jesus tells us; ‘My sheep hear My voice, and they follow Me.’ Jesus also said, ‘By their works you will know them.’ We are to examine ourselves whether we are of ‘The Faith.’ ‘If we believe ourselves to be something we are not, we deceive ourselves.’
‘ Study to show thyself approved unto God; a workman that needeth not be ashamed.’
‘ Jesus says, ‘I am the Way, the truth and the Life; no one comes unto the Father, but by Me.’

And Jesus said,
‘It is done.’

WILLIAM MCKENZIE
WILLIAM MCKENZIE
2 years ago

The Masoretic Text is superior in accuracy. The Septuagint is in error on several key issues.

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