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Why is Proverbs 22:6 omitted in the Septuagint?

I don't see anything offensive about Proverbs 22:6 "Train up a child in the way he should go, and even when he is old, he will not depart from it."

So, why did the Septuagint omit this Hebrew verse from being translated into Greek?

My question is specific and therefore not the same as these two general questions: Masoretic v Septuagint or What parts of the Septuagint are and are not reliable?

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    Interesting. Do we know that the text is reliable enough, not to just assume that the phrase was lost by mistake?
    – MichoelR
    Commented Dec 22, 2022 at 14:28
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    Is this on topic? Motion to migrate to BH.SE
    – Double AA
    Commented Dec 22, 2022 at 14:43
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    There are lots of pluses and minuses (and reorderings) in LXX Proverbs.
    – magicker72
    Commented Dec 22, 2022 at 14:43
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    @DoubleAA you've got 5 upvotes on your motion - I think it's fair to move it Commented Dec 23, 2022 at 3:21
  • @MichoelR Which text are you asking if it is reliable, the Septuagint or the Masoretic?
    – ninamag
    Commented Dec 25, 2022 at 8:07

2 Answers 2

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Though the question belongs more in Biblical Hermeneutics or even the Christianity SE, given that the Septuagint as we have it today is a Christian text, as the question hasn't been closed and/or moved yet, I'll try to answer. The short answer is that we don't really know why this is the case, although a couple of attempts to explain this have been made over the years.

Long answer: The Septuagint as we have it today is a composite work: It was made by a number of Church Fathers who took several manuscripts of septuagints - i.e., Greek translations of Tanach named after the original, long-lost Septuagint - and merged them together. This was done because by their time (circa the 4th-5th centuries and onwards) there were too many Greek translations running around, some with problematic translations (in the eyes of the Church). So a number of prime manuscripts were chosen and used to create a new, eclectic septuagint, which is how we have the Septuagint today. This Septuagint is, therefore, primarily Christian in origin and character, but at least in one case, it preserves a Jewish translation tradition (see here and here for more info). You can read a bit about the development of the Septuagint as it is today in Britannica's entry on the Septuagint (which I find to be shorter and simpler than Wikipedia's entry).

Now, there are a number of differences between the modern Septuagint and the Jewish Tanach, one being this missing verse. Emanuel Tov, who is probably the world's top (academic) scholar of the development of the biblical text and the various variants that have evolved from it (Samaritan, Christian, Qumran, etc) discussed this in the past, and has made that discussion available online. His conclusion, as is nowadays pretty much a common consensus in the academic world, is that the septuagint manuscripts were based on a version of the Hebrew text that simply did not have this verse in the first place (a "Vorlage"). But as there are several other missing verses, it is difficult to argue logically that this original text was copied by a scribe that mistakenly omitted that verse. He argues that even after the final editing of Proverbs, older versions were still running around and being used by people, and naturally were also used to make more copies. And one of those pre-final versions eventually became the base manuscript for what is now the Septuagint's Proverbs.

All of this of course means that it is entirely possible that some of the older Greek Proverbs manuscripts did have this verse (as well as the other missing ones), but the particular manuscripts that reached the hands of the Church Fathers and were incorporated into the eclectic version simply did not.

I myself am not sure about his theory about pre-edited versions of Proverbs running around as late as the 2nd century BCE (the time thought that Proverbs was translated into Greek), but he does have a point in that the significant differences between Septuagint Proverbs and Masoretic Proverbs make it difficult to claim that this is merely scribal error.

Aharon Kaminka in his essay on the subject in the Hebrew journal Sinai, vol. 8 (1941), pp. 284-285 suggested that some of the changes may be put down to the translator's inability to properly translate certain verses into Greek. It's possible that this was the reason for the disappearance of this verse. This would tie in with the low quality of Greek translations that the Church Fathers saw running around.1


1 Bear in mind that Kaminka wrote this essay a number of years before the first trove of Dead Sea Scrolls was discovered, and never mind later troves. In the DSS there have been found some Hebrew Tanachic manuscripts that bear some similarity to the Greek septuagints. Chapter 22 of Proverbs has not been found (see here for which parts were found), so we can't say what this section of Proverbs looked like for the sect(s) of Qumran, but in general, these partial similarities between some of the Hebrew DSS and the Septuagint make it more difficult to believe that these differences from the MT are merely from scribal error or translation difficulties.

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  • In your footnote, are you saying that the DSS have or do not have Proverbs 22:6?
    – ninamag
    Commented Dec 25, 2022 at 7:56
  • @ninamag I don't know, I haven't checked. The point I was trying to make is that Kaminka's view may not be relevant today, now that we know there were ancient 1st century BCE-1st century CE Hebrew Tanachic manuscripts with similarities to the Septuagint, which strengthens the possibility that that the differences are not necessarily scribal error or translation difficulties but are actually based on different scriptural traditions.
    – Harel13
    Commented Dec 25, 2022 at 8:02
  • if you tell me how to check (where to check) the DSS if Proverbs 22:6 is there, I would do it, unless you want to check it yourself.
    – ninamag
    Commented Dec 25, 2022 at 9:36
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    @ninamag academia.edu/26034849/… according to this, chapter 22 isn't among the DSS.
    – Harel13
    Commented Dec 25, 2022 at 10:29
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I would write this as a comment since it's more just a thought than an actual serious answer, but I don't have enough reputation to comment...

My thought is that Christianity was built upon proselytizing people, i.e., changing people's entire belief system and manner of life. I can understand why a verse like the one omitted would be dissuading and possibly fundamentally at odds with a religion foundationally committed to doing what the verse says can't be done... Again, it's pure speculation, but since the current Septuagint definitely went through Early Christian Translation and many years of their possession and thus control, I don't imagine it is too far-fetched to suggest.

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  • How is converting others to your faith, and bringing your own child up in your faith at odds? Where do Christians teach that? And where is any evidence Christians 'played around with the Septuagint?'
    – SolaGratia
    Commented Dec 23, 2022 at 20:50
  • See my edit. Also, I put it you to try to understand what I meant by how it can be seen to be at odds... Commented Dec 23, 2022 at 21:05
  • Stating the fact 'Christians translated the Septuagint into other languages' and making the claim that 'Christians tampered with their own Scriptures' are two different claims altogether. And again, I'm not seeing how you see how you wanting others to be of the same faith as you, and wanting your children to be, are at odds, no matter how hard I try.
    – SolaGratia
    Commented Dec 23, 2022 at 21:09
  • @SolaGratia I use "control over the translations" as a facilitator for the "possibility" of tampering if desired. You're right that it doesn't prove they actually did so. I was simply suggesting the best explanation I can give for why they would have omitted it, if it was indeed done intentionally. About how the verse is dissuading, without getting too technical about how to interpret the verse, it clearly seems to imply that some aspect of some kind of child rearing is permanent. This alone, vague as it is, can itself be a bit discouraging to early missionaries looking to "change" the world. Commented Dec 25, 2022 at 2:09

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