The Septuagint, commonly referred by LXX standing for the Roman number “70,” is the ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament Hebrew text, the language of the Old Testament’s original writing. (The significance of the “70” is the tradition that the translation of the Septuagint was accomplished by 70 scholars).
The LXX is something like a Rosetta Stone for the ancient Hebrew Old Testament. (The Rosetta Stone was recovered in Egypt by Napoleon’s scientists and found to express a king’s edict in three parallel languages; because two of the languages were known to scholars, it was possible to recover the then lost language of ancient Egyptian). The situation for the original Hebrew texts of the Old Testament is not directly parallel to ancient Egyptian because the Hebrew language has never been ‘lost.’ However, what has been lost are the original manuscripts, termed the “autographs,” that were the originally recorded words. Because of the great antiquity of such texts, and the overall fragility of them, such autographs are not known to exist. (This is exactly the same situation with all the ancient writings that are available to us only as copies, including Homer, Plato, Cicero, etc.. In the case of Biblical texts, we have TENS of thousands of copies and partial copies, vastly more than any ‘secular’ text where there is often only one or a handful of copies, which were not the product of a reverent tradition of care in transcription and preservation).
Simplifying the situation, we can think of three different Hebrew texts, all virtually identical, but with some slight variations: (1) the text used in ca. 200 B.C. by those (70?) translators to the Greek of the LXX, (2) the text used in ca. 400 A.D. by the early church scholar Jerome, who translated the available-to-him Old Testament Hebrew text into Latin, into what is known as the Vulgate, and (3) the Masoretic Hebrew text preserved by the Masorites (a Hebrew priestly group) in the period ca 800 – 900 A.D.. (There is also the Apostolic Bible, all in Greek, preserved by the Eastern Orthodox church fathers, which has a Greek Old Testament with slight variants to the LXX). The Hebrew texts for (1), the LXX, and (2), the Vulgate, are now lost to us. What we have are the Greek LXX and Latin Vulgate translations (and the Apostolic Greek text). The Masoretic text has been widely used as the basis for translation of the Old Testament by most English translations over the past 500 years. Yet some scholars believe the LXX, and also the Vulgate (and the Apostolic text), are worthy sources of study as they can illuminate, nuance, supplement, or in a few passages provide an alternative wording. All of this has been an intensely studied subject by scholars for many years, even centuries.
One source of ‘weight’ for the LXX is that it, not the Hebrew Old Testament is frequently (but not always) cited in the New Testament. Although at one level this can be understood to have occurred because the New Testament was originally written in Greek, the same language (broadly speaking) as the LXX (which was based on an older form of Greek).
For our purposes in the Book of Job we will make reference in a few contexts to the LXX (and Apostolic Bible). This is not for the purpose of joining the scholarly discussion of the Hebrew vs. the LXX language, but to provide a linkage to parallel, connected ideas expressed in the Book of Job with the New Testament. For instance, under the link to Key Words is a discussion of the connection between the very important Hebrew word for God, YHWH (which is transliterated as Yahweh or Jehovah, in English), with the corresponding Greek word Kurios (LORD in English), linking the Old Testament to the Lord Jesus Christ.