Timothy Law is pushing for a greater knowledge of the Septuagint amongst Christians, it being the Bible of the Apostles and of the early Church. As Law states, "The prejudice in the contemporary Church in favor of the rabbinic Hebrew Bible is startling, but not unexpected given that Christian educational institutions teach future scholars and clergy the Old Testament exclusively from the Hebrew Bible, relegating the Septuagint to the sidelines of an upper-level elective course. Students thus graduate from schools that teach Christian history and theology without ever considering that the scriptures used by the New Testament writers and the first Old Testament of the Church is not the Hebrew Bible they spent time and money to study." I completely concur with him in this, but our assumptions move on from that belief in contradictory ways. Having been looking into the Apostles' use of the Septuagint for a year or two now, I was very excited about this book, but have been disappointed to a degree that I did not expect. This may sound odd, but I was extremely disappointed that Timothy Law turned out to be unbiased towards the Apostle's(I thought he was a professing Christian). From the beginning of the book and on the reader will find statements like this, "We can also see that the New testament authors sometimes use Septuagint readings we know to be mistranslations of the Hebrew, an unsettling reality but a reality nonetheless." and again, "….it is not insignificant that the apostle Paul and his later interpreters in the early church will employ these mistranslations in the reformation of Christian theology."
Mr. Law contradicts himself by those statements. He talks about how there was a plurality of variant readings in the Biblical texts in the days of the Apostles and so they could "choose whichever reading best suited their purposes to open up new avenues for biblical interpretation" but makes statements like "We also sometimes see the New Testament authors quoting what is unquestionably the Septuagint's mistranslation of the Hebrew, which is not to say they are 'wrong' by doing so…" These statements are quite confusing…the Apostles were right to use an 'unquestionably wrong' translation from a random manuscript among an alleged plurality of texts, any one of which could be right? And yet, despite not knowing what Hebrew manuscript the LXX translators used, and apparently ignoring the fact of the admitted antiquity of these translators' manuscripts, Mr. Law makes a judgment call and says they were wrong. I don't buy it. And also his statements about Matthew's use of the prophecy of the virgin birth are shocking(Matt 1:23, Isa. 7:14): "The Greek Septuagint and not the Hebrew Bible gives Matthew the textual 'proof' to connect Jesus to the prophecy." And this conclusion is apparently reached because the Hebrew word in our Hebrew texts allegedly does not mean 'virgin' but 'young girl', and since WE don't know of any ancient Hebrew manuscripts that read 'virgin' then the LXX translators didn't have one either. Again, this reasoning is absurd. Law states, "they were told in Greek that Jesus fulfilled the Greek Jewish scriptures, the Septuagint." And we are just supposed to assume that the majority of Hebrew texts(or all of them) in the days of Christ and the Apostles did not support Christianity.
Mr. Law seems to be okay with the idea that Christ and the Apostles fabricated Christianity, but I am not. And therefore, I cannot recommend this book.
I am very grateful to Oxford University Press for the review copy of this book(my review did not have to be favorable), and am very disappointed that I could not give it a good review.