Barry Newman's Blog

April 1, 2010

“The Heart” in the Septuagint (part III)

Filed under: The Heart — barrynewman @ 4:48 am


The predominant Greek word serving as a reasonable equivalent for the Hebrew lev/levav is kardia.  Consequently it would not be surprising to find that kardia is the dominant word in the Greek New Testament where reference is being made to something like the Hebrew understanding of lev/levav.  However other relevant Greek words in the New Testament serving the same function, could be, for example, dianoia, psuche, phren/phroneo or nous.

Other matters of note are that over 70% (24 from 33) of the occurrences of dianoia in place of lev/levav are to be found in the Pentateuch and that over 70% (18 from 25) of the occurrences of psuche in place of lev/levav are to be found in1 and 2 Chronicles (9 from 25) and Isaiah (9 from 25).  These statistics could be reflective of the influence of certain translators or even of the date of manuscripts. Of the 7 occurrences of phren, 6 are found in Proverbs, together with 4 words derived from phren, but incorporated under the category “Other Greek words and the meaning similar”. The majority of instances where words belonging to that category occur, involve mainly singular occurrences with only a few occurring two or three times.  As evidenced, sometimes the same sense is conveyed in the Greek text as in the Hebrew text without appeal to any corresponding word.  This is very often achieved by an appropriate use of pronouns or similar words that depend upon more specific clues for meaning.

Because of the way the Deuteronomic passage that refers to “love God with all the heart and all the soul and all the strength” is referred to in the Gospels, it is noteworthy that in the Greek Septuagint, the word dianoia occurs rather than kardia so that it is translated “love God with all the mind and all the soul and all the strength”.  In the gospels both kardia and dianoia occur in the restatement of the Deuteronomic text.  This matter is discussed more fully in a later series.

Finally, if lev/levav is used as a test word for correspondence between the Masoretic text and the Septuagint, then on this basis alone it would appear that the two texts are in basic agreement to the extent of greater than 97%.  The differences amount to the text being absent in the Greek Septuagint (1.5%) and a different understanding being conveyed (1.1%)  If Jeremiah is omitted from consideration, then the two figures drop to 0.9% and 0.8% respectively and the correspondence improves to above 98%.


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