The original language of most of the Old Testament is in Hebrew, but parts were written in Aramaic (also known as Chaldee). This is known as the Massoretic text. Then, at the request of Ptolemy II (283-246 B.C.), a translation of the Old Testament into Greek was made by seventy-two Jewish elders and was called the "Septuagint". The Pentateuch (the five books of Moses) was translated during that century, while the rest of the Old Testament was done by individual translators and was completed by about 132 B.C.
The elders translated some books with more care and were more literal than with other books. For example, when the Book of Job was translated, the book was shortened by about 800 lines. Excessive repetition was removed and passages that were too difficult to translate were summarized. Also, the book of Jeremiah is much shorter and differently ordered than the traditional Hebrew versions. (1)
Justin Martyr, a Christian writer who lived in the second century A.D., claims in his document "Dialog With Trypho" (A Jew) that the Jews had removed passages from Esdras and Jeremiah and the Psalms. He writes:
"But I am far from putting reliance in your teachers, who refuse to admit that the interpretation made by the seventy elders who were with Ptolemy [king] of the Egyptians is a correct one; and they attempt to frame another. And I wish you to observe, that they have altogether taken away many Scriptures from the translations effected by those seventy elders who were with Ptolemy, and by which this very man who was crucified is proved to have been set forth expressly as God, and man, and as being crucified, and as dying; but since I am aware that this is denied by all of your nation, I do not address myself to these points, but I proceed to carry on my discussions by means of those passages which are still admitted by you. For you assent to those which I have brought before your attention, except that you contradict the statement, `Behold, the virgin shall conceive, 'and say it ought to be read, `Behold, the young woman shall conceive.' And I promised to prove that the prophecy referred, not, as you were taught, to Hezekiah, but to this Christ of mine: and now I shall go to the proof."
Here Trypho remarked, "We ask you first of all to tell us some of the Scriptures which you allege have been completely cancelled."
And I said, "I shall do as you please. From the statements, then, which Esdras made in reference to the law of the passover, they have taken away the following: `And Esdras said to the people, This passover is our Saviour and our refuge. And if you have understood, and your heart has taken it in, that we shall humble Him on a standard, and thereafter hope in Him, then this place shall not be forsaken for ever, says the God of hosts. But if you will not believe Him, and will not listen to His declaration, you shall be a laughing-stock to the nations.' And from the sayings of Jeremiah they have cut out the following: `I [was] like a lamb that is brought to the slaughter: they devised a device against me, saying, Come, let us lay on wood on His bread, and let us blot Him out from the land of the living; and His name shall no more be remembered.' And since this passage from the sayings of Jeremiah is still written in some copies [of the Scriptures] in the synagogues of the Jews (for it is only a short time since they were cut out), and since from these words it is demonstrated that the Jews deliberated about the Christ Himself, to crucify and put Him to death, He Himself is both declared to be led as a sheep to the slaughter, as was predicted by Isaiah, and is here represented as a harmless lamb; but being in a difficulty about them, they give themselves over to blasphemy. And again, from the sayings of the same Jeremiah these have been cut out: `The Lord God remembered His dead people of Israel who lay in the graves; and He descended to preach to them His own salvation.'
"And from the ninety-fifth (ninety-sixth) Psalm they have taken away this short saying of the words of David: `From the wood.' For when the passage said, `Tell ye among the nations, the Lord hath reigned from the wood, 'they have left, `Tell ye among the nations, the Lord hath reigned.' Now no one of your people has ever been said to have reigned as God and Lord among the nations, with the exception of Him only who was crucified, of whom also the Holy Spirit affirms in the same Psalm that He was raised again, and freed from [the grave], declaring that there is none like Him among the gods of the nations: for they are idols of demons. But I shall repeat the whole Psalm to you, that you may perceive what has been said. It is thus: `Sing unto the Lord a new song; sing unto the Lord, all the earth. Sing unto the Lord, and bless His name; show forth His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all people. For the Lord is great, and greatly to be praised: He is to be feared above all the gods. For all the gods of the nations are demons but the Lord made the heavens. Confession and beauty are in His presence; holiness and magnificence are in His sanctuary. Bring to the Lord, O ye countries of the nations, bring to the Lord glory and honour, bring to the Lord glory in His name. Take sacrifices, and go into His courts; worship the Lord in His holy temple. Let the whole earth be moved before Him: tell ye among the nations, the Lord hath reigned. For He hath established the world, which shall not be moved; He shall judge the nations with equity. Let the heavens rejoice, and the earth be glad; let the sea and its fulness shake. Let the fields and all therein be joyful. Let all the trees of the wood be glad before the Lord: for He comes, for He comes to judge the earth. He shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with His truth.' "
Here Trypho remarked, "Whether [or not] the rulers of the people have erased any portion of the Scriptures, as you affirm, God knows; but it seems incredible."
"Assuredly," said I, "it does seem incredible. For it is more horrible than the calf which they made, when satisfied with manna on the earth; or than the sacrifice of children to demons; or than the slaying of the prophets. But," said I, "you appear to me not to have heard the Scriptures which I said they had stolen away. For such as have been quoted are more than enough to prove the points in dispute, besides those which are retained by us, and shall yet be brought forward." (2)
You will note that in the course of history, text was purposely omitted before and after the time of Christ. What could be more telling than a synagogue having the text about Christ in their version of the Greek Translation, and going to another synagogue where it is absent? Sounds like a cover up job to me.
- Septuagint, Encyclopedia of Early Christianity, second edition. Editor, Everett Ferguson. (Garland Publishing, Inc., 1997).
- Justin Martyr, Dialog with Trypho, vol 1, the Ante Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids, Michigan: WM. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., ), 234-235.