After the general reception of the Septuagint version, numerous mistakes were made in the transcription and multiplication of copies. In the time of the early fathers its text had already been altered ; and the Jews, in argument with the Christians, commonly said, that such and such things were not in the Hebrew original. This affirmation was generally sufficient to silence the professors of the Christian religion, who were un able to follow their critical antagonists into the Hebrew text.
In order to rectify the text of the Septuagint, and to place Christians on even ground with their Jewish opponents, Origen undertook to revise it. After travelling about for twenty-eight years in quest of materials, and getting six Greek transla tions —three belonging to Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion respectively, and three anony mous — he began his great work, probably at Cresarea. He had first published his Tetrapla, containing in four columns the versions of Aquila, Symmachus, Theodotion, and the Seventy. Thus the Tetrapla was_only preparatory to his projected emendation of the Seventy. In an enlarged edi tion, undertaken after he had found the three anonymous versions, he added the Hebrew text in Hebrew and in Greek letters ; and as the work then consisted of six columns, it was termed Hexa pia. Such is the opinion of Hody, Montfaucon, and Bauer. But Eichhom, Eichstaedt, and Fran kel, think that the Tetrapla was not a distinct work preparatory to the Hexapla, but only an abridgment of the latter. In some parts he used two other Greek versions made by unknown authors, and occasionally a third anonymous trans lation. Hence the name °dap/a. Thus the dif ferent appellations by which the work is distin guished refer merely to the number of columns. The following is their order The Hebrew text in its proper characters ; 2. The same in Greek letters ; 3. Aquila ; 4. Syrnmachits ; 5. Septuagint ; 6. Theodotion ; 7, 8, and 9. The three anonymous Greek versions were called the fifth, sixth, and seventh, in relation to the other four (see a specimen in Davidson's Bib. Criticism, vol. 1, p. 204).
Origen's object in this laborious work was not so much to correct the Septuagint, as to shew where and how it differed from the original He brew. When he discovered a word in Hebrew, or in the Greek versions, which was not in the Seventy, Ile inserted it out of Theodotion. If Theodotion wanted it also, he made up the defi ciency from Aquila, and occasionally from Sym machus. In every case, he put the name of the translation from which a supplement was made, with an asterisk at the commencement, and two dots at the end, to show the extent of the supplied matter. And where the Septuagint, as compared
with other Greek versions and the original, seemed to be redundant, he did not expunge the super fluity, but appended marks to point out this parti cular. His recension is called the Hexaplarian text, to distinguish it from the text as it existed be fore, which has been styled the common (tcoly7j) or ante-hexafiarian.
This great work, consisting of nearly fifty volumes, is thought to have perished at Cmsarea, when the town was sacked by the Saracens, A.D. 653. It was never transcribed.
In the beginning of the 4th century, Pamphi lus and Eusebius copied the column containing the text of the Seventy, with the passages and scholia out of the other translators, and the critical marks used by Origen. It is to be regretted that this copy was soon extensively corrupted. The Hexaplarian text, coming through such a transcript, with frag ments of the other versions, was published by Montfaucon, at Paris, 1714, 2 vols. fol. ; and after wards reprinted by Bahrdt, Leipzig, 1769-70, 2 VOIS. 8vo. Subsequent contributions to the same text were made by Doederlein, Spohn, Scharfen berg, Matthaei, Bruns and Adler, Schleusner, Vincentius de Regibus. The last-named scholar published Ezekiel in this text, from a Chigian MS. Pornm, 1840, Svo.
At the beginning of the same century, Lucian, a presbyter of Antioch, undertook to amend the text of the Seventy after the Hebrew original. This recension was called the editio vulgata (Komj and also Aovmav6s), and became current in various churches. Another revision was undertaken about the same time by Hesychius, an Egyptian bishop, which, according to Jerome, was generally used in the churches of E,gypt. Hesychius and Lucian probably used the versions of Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion, not the Hebrew Text ; although Hody thinks otherwise. From these three recen sions all our printed editions have been derived. In the two great MSS. of the Seventy, the Vatican and Alexandrine, the basis of the former is the common or earlier text, according to John Alorin ; an opinion adopted by Hohnes only so far as the Pentateuch is concerned. The Alexandrine exhi bits more of the readings and interpolations of the Hexaplarian text. Both have not been always kept distinct. The Vatican text is far purer than the Alexandrine. It is free from the asterisks, obeli, and other marks used by Origen, as well as from the transpositions he made. Besides, the Alexandtine has been very frequently conformed to the Masoretic text, which must be considered as a corruption.