The year was 412 AD. Jerome had completed his translation of the Hebrew scriptures from their original Masoretic Text into Latin some seven years earlier, but a sect of fundamentalist Christians were suspicious. The more serious readers among them had noticed some discrepancies between this “modern text” versus the “received text” of the Septuagint, aka LXX. This sect was persuaded that Jerome’s Vulgate translation was undermining God’s word. A conference was convened.
“The Septuagint is the Bible Jesus primarily quoted,” one of the men said, index finger pointed in the air. “It was the Bible the Apostle Paul used. It was the Received Text. In opposition to this, Jerome is attempting to reconstruct the text, which is monstrous and unnecessary. Trying to actually do textual criticism to reconstruct the original text is a complete waste of time and betrays a humanist mindset. Jerome is trying to treat the Bible like it’s just any other book. Nay, we have the Septuagint, the Bible of Jesus and the Reformers of Israel, and it suffices.”
The subject eventually tuned to Daniel 10:13, where the Septuagint read that the angel Gabriel had left Michael with the kings of Persia, whereas Jerome’s Vulgate stated the opposite. Everyone at the conference knew that one of these readings was “very wrong,” to use the words that John Gill would use more than a thousand years later to describe this passage’s discrepancy. Everyone at the conference was also firmly convinced that the correct reading was the one found in the Septuagint, not the Vulgate.
During a Q&A at the conference, someone mused, “How did the seventy Jewish scribes who translated LXX know to choose the correct reading among the existing Hebrew documents in places like this?”
“By the good providence of God,” a preacher emphatically replied. “Even though we have no reliable Hebrew manuscripts that support the LXX reading in Daniel 10:13, you have to remember that we simply do not know what Hebrew texts they had available that we no longer have today. Sometimes, God preserves his Word through a translation, and that’s what we have going on here. To say that the LXX is wrong here is to say that God did not preserve His Word. We must have a higher view of preservation than that! Not one jot or tittle has been lost! This ‘reconstructionist viewpoint’ is incoherent!”
When the recordings of this conference were released, those outside this narrow fundamentalist circle rolled their eyes as they listened. It seemed as if this group would never go away, and that there would always be a cult-like group of Christians who insisted that LXX was always right when it parted ways with the Vulgate. But eventually, this cult disappeared, for it was built upon deeply faulty and ahistorical presuppositions. Their conference recordings were lost to the sands of time. So absurd was the position that eventually, it became challenging for historians to even prove to anyone that such a movement ever existed.