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1. A Greek version of any portion of the Old Testament presupposes intercourse between Israel and a Greek-speaking people. So long as the Hebrew race maintained its isolation, no occasion arose for the translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into a foreign tongue. As far as regards the countries west of Palestine, this isolation continued until the age of Alexander11Individual cases, such as that of the Jew mentioned by Clearchus (ap. Jos. c. Ap. 1, 22), who was Ελληνικὸς οὐ τῇ διακέκτῳ μόνον ἀλλὰ καὶ τῇ ψυχῇ, are exceptions to a general rule. How numerous and prosperous were the Jewish colonies in Asia Minor at a later period appears from the Acts of the Apostles; see also Ramsay, Phrygia 1. ii. p. 667 ff.; it is therefore improbable that any Greek version of the Scriptures existed there before that era. Among the Alexandrian Jews of the second century before Christ there was a vague belief that Plato and other Greek philosophical writers were indebted for some of their teaching to a source of this kind22This belief was inherited by the Christian school of Alexandria; see Clem. strom. v. 29, Orig. c. Cels. iv. 39, vi. 19; and cf. Lact. inst. IV. 2.. Thus Aristobulus (ap. Clem. Al. strom. i. 22; cf. Eus, praep. ev. xiii. 12) writes: κατηκολούθηκε δὲ καὶ ὁ Πλάτων τῇ καθ᾿ 2ἠμᾶς νομοθεσίᾳ, καὶ φανερός ἐστι περιεργασάμενος ἕκαστα τῶν ἐν αὐτῇ λεγομένων. διηρμήνευται δὲ πρὸ Δημητρίου ὑφ᾿ ἑτέρου33δἰ ἑτέρων, Eus., πρὸ τῆς Ἀλεξάνδρου καὶ Περσῶν ἐπικρατήσεως, τά τε κατὰ τὴν ἐξ Αἰγύπτου ἐξαγωγὴν τῶν Ἐβραίων τῶν ἠμετέρων πολιτῶν καὶ ἡ τῶν γεγονότων ἁπάντων αὐτοῖς ἐπιφάνεια καὶ κράτησις τῆς χώρας καὶ τῆς ὅλης νομοθεσίας ἐπεξήγησις—words which seem to imply the existence before B.C. 400 of a translation which included at least the Books of Exodus, Deuteronomy, and Joshua. A similar claim has been found in the statement attributed by Pseudo-Aristeas to Demetrius of Phalerum: τοῦ νόμου τῶν Ἰουδαίων βιβλία. . .οὐχ ὡς ὑπάρχει σεσήμανται, καθὼς ὑπὸ τῶν εἰδότων προσαναφέρεται44See Tischendorf, V. T. Gr. (1879) prolegg. p. xiii. n.. But no fragments of these early translations have been produced, and it is more than probable that the story arose out of a desire on the part of the Hellenistic Jews to find a Hebrew origin for the best products of Greek thought55Cf. Walton (ed. Wrangham), p. 18; Frankel, Vorstudien, p. 14f.; Buhl, Kanon u. Text, p. 108 f..

2. The earliest and most important of the extant Greek versions of the Old Testament was an offspring of the 'Greek Dispersion' (ἡ διασπορὰ τῶν Ἑλλήνων, Jo. vii. 35), which began with the conquests of Alexander the Great66See art. Diaspora in suppl. vol. of Hastings' D.B..

The Hebrew Prophets foresaw that it was the destiny of their race to be scattered over the face of the world (Deut. xxviii. 25, xxx. 4, Jer. xv. 4, xxxiv. 17). The word διασπορά (O.L. dispersio) employed by the Greek translators in these and similar passages (Cf. 2 Esdr. xi. 9, Ps. cxxxviii. (cxxxix.) tit. (codd. Aa T), cxlvi. (cxlvii.) 2, Judith v. 19, Isa. xlix. 6, Jer. xiii. 14 (cod. א*), Dan. xii. 2 (LXX.), 2 Macc. i. 27) became the technical Greek term for Jewish communities in foreign lands, whether planted there by forcible deportation, or 3by their own free agency (Jo. vii. 35, Jas. i. 1, 1 Pet. i. 1)77The later Hebrew term was גּוֹלָה, 'exile'; see Dr Hort on 1 Pet. l. c.. Such settlements were at first compulsory, and limited to countries east of Palestine. Between the eighth and sixth centuries B.C. the bulk of the population of both the Northern and Southern Kingdoms was swept away by Assyrian and Babylonian conquerors (2 Kings xvii. 6, xxiv. 14 ff., xxv. 11 f., 21 f.). A part of the Babylonian captivity returned (Ezra i, ii.), but Babylonia and Mesopotamia continued to be the home of a large body of Jewish settlers (Tob. i. 14 ff., 4 Esdr. xiii. 39 ff., Philo ad Cai. 36, Acts ii. 9, Joseph. Ant. xi. 5. 2, xv. 3. 1, xviii. 9. 1 ff.). This 'Eastern' Dispersion need not detain us here. No Biblical version in the stricter sense88The 'Babylonian' Targum is of Palestinian origin (Buhl, p. 173). On early Aramaic translations arising out of the synagogue interpretations, see ib., p. 168 f.; and for the traditional account of the origin of the Syriac O. T. see Nestle, Urtext u. Übersetzungen der Bibel (Leipzig, 1897), p. 229. had its origin in Babylonia; there, as in Palestine, the services of the synagogue interpreter (מְתוּרְגְּטָן) sufficed for the rendering of the lections into Aramaic, and no desire was manifested on the part of the Gentile population to make themselves acquainted with the Hebrew scriptures. It was among the Jews who were brought into relation with Hellenic culture that the necessity arose for a written translation of the books of the canon. Egypt was the earliest home of the Hellenistic Jew, and it was on Egyptian soil that the earliest Greek version of the Old Testament was begun.

3. Long before the time of Alexander Egypt possessed the nucleus of a Jewish colony. Shashanq, the Shishak of 1 K. xiv. 25 f., 2 Chr. xii. 2 f., who invaded Palestine99Professor Driver in D. G. Hogarth's Authority and Archaeology, p. 87 f. in the tenth century B.C., may have carried into Egypt captives or hostages from the conquered cities whose names still appear upon the 4walls of the temple at Karnak. Isaiah (xix. 19 f.) foresaw1010The passage is thought by some scholars to belong to the Ptolemaean age; see Cheyne, Intr. to Isaiah, p. 105. that a time must come when the religious influence of Israel would make itself felt on the banks of the Nile, while he endeavoured to check the policy which led Judah to seek refuge from Assyrian aggression in an Egyptian alliance (xxx. 1 ff.). Jewish mercenaries are said to have fought in the expedition of Psammetichus I. against Ethiopia c. B.C. 650 (cf. Ps.-Arist.: ἑτέρων ξυμμαχιῶν ἐξαπεσταλμένων πρὸς τὸν τῶν Αἰθιόπων βασιλέα μάχεσθαι σὺν Ψαμμιτιχῷ). The panic which followed the murder of Gedaliah drove a host of Jewish fugitives to Egypt, where they settled at Migdol (Μάγδωλος), Tahpanhes (Ταφνάς = Δάφνη)1111Cf. Authority and Archaeology, p. 117., Noph (Memphis), and Pathros (Παθούρη)1212Jer. li. = xliv. 1 ff. ἅπασιν τοῖς Ἰουδαίοις τοῖς κατοικοῦσιν ἐν γῇ Αἰγύπτου κτλ. Many of these refugees, however, were afterwards taken prisoners by Nebuchadnezzar and transported to Babylon (Joseph. ant. x. 9. 7)., i.e. throughout the Delta, and even in Upper Egypt; and the descendants of those who survived were replenished, if we may believe Pseudo-Aristeas, by others who entered Egypt during the Persian period (ἤδη μὲν καὶ πρότερον ἱκανῶν εἰσεληλυθότων σὺν τῷ Πέρσῃ). These earlier settlers were probably among the first to benefit by Alexander's policy, and may have been partly hellenised before his birth.

4. Alexander's victory at Issos in B.C. 333 opened the gate of Syria to the conqueror. In the next year he received the submission of Tyre and Gaza and, according to Josephus, was on the point of marching upon Jerusalem when the statesmanship of the High Priest turned him from his purpose1313Ant. xi. 8. 4 f. The story is rejected by Ewald and Grätz, and the details are doubtless unhistorical: cf. Droysen, l’histoire du l’Hellenisme, i. p. 300.. Whether the main features of this story be accepted or not, it is certain that the subsequent policy of Alexander was favourable to the Jews. His genius discovered in the Jewish 5people an instrument well fitted to assist him in carrying out his purpose of drawing East and West together. Jews served in his army (Hecataeus ap. Joseph. c. Ap. i. 22 ἔτι γε μὴν ὅτι καὶ Ἀλεξάνδρῳ τῷ βασιλεῖ συνεστρατεύσαντο καὶ μετά ταῦτα τοῖς διαδόχοις αὐτοῦ μεμαρτύρηκεν); and such was his sense of their loyalty and courage that when Alexandria was founded (B.C. 332), although the design of the conqueror was to erect a monument to himself which should be essentially Greek1414Plutarch Alex. 26 ἐβούλετο πόλιν μεγάλην καὶ πολυάνθρωπον Ἑλληνίδα συνοικίσας ἐπώνυμον ἑαυτοῦ καταλιπεῖν., he not only assigned a place in his new city to Jewish colonists, but admitted them to full citizenship.

Joseph. ant. xix. 5. 2 ἐπιγνοὺς ἀνέκαθεν τοὺς ἐν Ἀλεξανδρείᾳ Ἰουδαίους . . . ἴσης πολιτείας παρὰ τῶν βασιλέων τετευχότας: c. Ap. ii. 4 οὐ γὰρ ἀπορίᾳ γε τῶν οἰκησόντων τὴν μετὰ σπουδῆς ὑπ᾿ αὐτοῦ κτιζομένην Ἀλέξανδρος τῶν ἡμετέρων τινὰς ἐκεῖ συνήθροισεν, ἀλλὰ πάντας δοκιμάζων ἐπιμελῶς ἀρετῆς καὶ πίστεως τοῦτο τοῖς ἡμετέροις τὸ γέρας ἔδωκεν. B. J. ii. 18. 7 χρησάμενος προθυμοτάτοις κατὰ τῶν Αἰγυπτίων Ἰουδαίοις Ἀλέξανδρος γέρας τῆς συμμαχίας ἔδωκεν τό μετοικεῖν κατὰ τὴν πόλιν ἐξ ἴσου μοίρας πρός τοὺς Ἕλληνας.

Mommsen indeed (Provinces, E. T. ii. p. 162 n.) expresses a doubt whether the grant of citizenship1515See Mahaffy, Empire of the Ptolemies, p. 86. was made before the time of Ptolemy I., but in the absence of any direct evidence to the contrary the repeated statement of Josephus justifies the belief that it originated with Alexander1616On the relations in which the Jews stood to Alexander and his successors see Wellhausen, Isr. u. jüd. Geschichte, c. xvi..

5. The premature death of Alexander (B.C. 323) wrecked his larger scheme, but the Jewish colony at Alexandria continued to flourish under the Ptolemies, who succeeded to the government of Egypt.

It may be convenient to place here for reference the names and dates of the earlier Ptolemies. I. Lagi, or Soter (B.C. 322—285). II. Philadelphus (B.C. 285—247). III. Euergetes I. (B.C. 247—222). IV. Philopator I. (B.C. 222—205). V. Epiphanes 6(B.C. 205—182). VI. Eupator (B.C. 182). VII. Philometor (B.C. 182—146). VIII. Philopator II. (B.C. 146). IX. Euergetes II., also known as Physkon (B.C. 146—117). Of the brief reigns of Eupator and the younger Philopator nothing is known.

The first Ptolemy added considerably to the Jewish population of Alexandria. His expeditions to Palestine and capture of Jerusalem placed in his hands a large number of Jewish and Samaritan captives, and these were conveyed to Alexandria, where many of them acquired civic rights. The report of the King's liberality towards his captives, and of their prosperity in Egypt, attracted other Palestinians to Alexandria, and many came thither as voluntary settlers.

Joseph. ant. xii. 1. 1 ὁ δὲ Πτολεμαῖος πολλοὺς αἰχμαλώτους λαβὼν ἀπό τε τῆς ὀρεινῆς Ἰουδαίας καὶ τῶν περὶ Ἰεροσόλυμα τόπων καὶ τῆς Σαμαρείτιδος καὶ τῶν ἐν Γαριζείν, κατῴκισεν ἅπαντας εἰς Αἴγυπτον ἀγαγών· ἐπεγνωκὼς δὲ τοὺς ἀπὸ τῶν Ἰεροσολύμων περὶ τὴν τῶν ὅρκων φυλακὴν καὶ τὰς πίστεις βεβαιοτάτους ὑπάρχοντας. πολλοὺς αὐτῶν τοῖς Μακεδόσιν ἐν Ἀλεξανδρείᾳ ποιήσας ἰσοπολίτας· οὐκ ὀλίγοι δὲ οὐδὲ τῶν ἄλλων Ἰουδαίων εἰς τὴν Αἴγυπτον παρεγίγνοντο, τῆς τε ἀρετῆς τῶν τόπων αὐτοὺς καὶ τῆς τοῦ Πτολεμαίου φιλοτιμίας προκαλουμένης.

A separate quarter of the city was assigned to the colony (Strabo ap. Joseph. ant. xiv. 7. 2 τῆς Ἀλεξανδρείας πόλεως ἀφώρισται μέγα μέρος τῷ ἔθνει τούτῳ1717In Philo's time the Jews occupied two districts out of five (in Flacc. 8). Droysen, iii. p. 59.); it lay in the north-east of Alexandria, along the shore, near the royal palace. Here the Jews lived under their own ethnarch1818Strabo ap. Jos. ant. xiv. 7. 2; cf. Schürer Gesch. d. jüd. Volkes³, iii. 40; Lumbroso, Recharches, p. 218; Droysen, iii. p. 40 n. On the ἀλαβάρχης (ἀραβάρχης) who is sometimes identified with the ethnarch see Schürer iii. 88., who exercised judicial authority in all cases between Jew and Jew. They were permitted to follow their own religion and observe their national customs without molestation. Synagogues sprang up not only in the Jewish quarter, but at a later time in every part of the city 7(Philo ad Cai. 20, in Flacc. 61919On the magnificence of the principal synagogue see Edersheim, History of the Jewish Nation (ed. White), p. 67.). In the time of Philometor the Jews stood so high in the royal favour that they were suffered to convert a disused Egyptian temple at Leontopolis into a replica of the Temple at Jerusalem, and the Jewish rite was celebrated there until after the fall of the Holy City, when the Romans put a stop to it (Joseph. ant. xii. 9. 7, xiii. 3. 1, B. J. vii. 10. 4)2020Temporary checks seem to have been sustained by the Alexandrian Jews under Philopator I. and Physcon; see 3 Macc. ii. 31, and cf. Mahaffy, pp. 267 ff., 381, 390.. Under these circumstances it is not surprising that shortly after the Christian era the Jewish colony in Egypt exceeded a million, constituting an eighth part of the population (Philo in Flacc. 6, Joseph. c. Ap. ii. 4). In the Fayûm villages were founded by Jews, and they lived on equal terms with the Greeks2121See Mahaffy, Empire, &c., p. 86 n.; cf. Philo de sept. 6.. Nor were the Jewish settlers on the African coast limited to the Delta or to Egypt. A daughter colony was planted in Cyrenaica by the first Ptolemy, and at Cyrene as at Alexandria the Jews formed an important section of the community. The Jew of Cyrene meets us already in the days of the Maccabees (1 Macc. xv. 23, 2 Macc. ii. 23), and he was a familiar figure at Jerusalem in the Apostolic age (Mt. xxvii. 32, Acts ii. 10, vi. 92222Where Blass (Philology of the Gospels, p. 69 f.) proposes to read Λιβυστίνων for Λιβερτίνων., xi. 20, xiii. 1; cf Strabo ap. Joseph. ant. xiv. 7. 2).

6. The Jews of the Dispersion everywhere retained their religion and their loyalty to national institutions. In each of these settlements among Gentile peoples the Holy City possessed a daughter, whose attachment to her was not less strong than that of her children at home. "Jerusalem," in the words of Agrippa2323Philo ad Cai. 36., "was the mother city, not of a single country, but of most of the countries of the world, through the 8colonies which she sent forth at various times." No colony was more dutiful than the Alexandrian. The possession of a local sanctuary at Leontopolis did not weaken its devotion to the temple at Jerusalem2424See Schürer³, iii. 97 ff.; pilgrimages were still made to Jerusalem at the great festivals (Philo ap. Eus. praep. ev. viii. 14. 64; cf. Acts ii. 10); the Temple tribute was collected in Egypt with no less punctuality than in Palestine (Philo de monarch. ii. 3). But it was impossible for Jews who for generations spent their lives and carried on their business in Greek towns to retain their Semitic speech. In Palestine after the Return, Aramaic gradually took the place of Hebrew in ordinary intercourse, and after the time of Alexander Greek became to some extent a rival of Aramaic. In Alexandria a knowledge of Greek was not a mere luxury but a necessity of common life2525Droyson, iii. p. 35.. If it was not required by the State as a condition of citizenship2626Mommsen, Provinces, ii. p. 163 f. On the whole question see Hody, de Bibl. textibus, p. 224 f.; Caspari, Quellen zur Gesch. d. Taufsymbols, iii. p. 268 ff.; Deissmann, Bibelstudien, p. 61 ff.; Kennedy, Sources of N. T. Gk., p. 21 ff., yet self-interest compelled the inhabitants of a Greek capital to acquire the language of the markets and the Court. A generation or two may have sufficed to accustom the Alexandrian Jews to the use of the Greek tongue. The Jewish settlers in Lower Egypt who were there at the coming of Alexander had probably gained some knowledge of Greek before the founding of his new city2727There was a large Greek settlement on the Pelusiac arm of the Nile at an early period; see Herod. ii. 163.; and the children of Alexander's mercenaries, as well as many of the immigrants from Palestine in the days of Soter, may well have been practically bilingual. Every year of residence in Alexandria would increase their familiarity with Greek and weaken their hold upon the sacred tongue2828Cf. Streane, Double Text of Jeremiah, p. 11 f.. Any prejudice 9which might have existed against the use of a foreign language would speedily disappear under a rule which secured full liberty in worship and faith. The adoption of the Greek tongue was a tribute gladly paid by the Alexandrian Jews to the great Gentile community which sheltered and cherished them.

The Greek which they learnt was the κοινή as colloquially used in Alexandria: based on the less elevated kind of Attic, with some loss of the niceties; but less exclusive in its vocabulary, retaining many old Ionic and Homeric words, and adopting, but less freely, others of foreign origin. When the Jews employed this tongue, now common to the regions of Greek life and Greek conquest, to translate the Old Testament, they naturally used forms of expression which matched the original as closely as possible; though many of them were more or less prevalent, or paralleled, in the κοινή. Their ingrained habits of thought, and their native speech, even if partly forgotten, led them to give constant prominence to these expressions, which correspond with Semitisms, as well as, to some extent, with the current Greek speech and colloquial writings.

7. The 'Septuagint2929Irenaeus (iii. 21. 3) speaks of the seniorum interpretatio; Tertullian (Apol. 18) of the septuaginta et duo interpretes; Jerome, of the LXX. interpretes, or translatores (praeff. in Esdr., Isai.), LXX. editio (praef. in Job, ep. ad Pammach.), editio LXX. (praef. in Paralipp.). Augustine, de civ. Dei, xviii. 42, remarks: "quorum interpretatio ut Septuaginta vocetur iam obtinuit consuetudo.",' or the Greek version of the Old Testament which was on the whole the work of Alexandrian Jews, is, written in full, the Interpretatio septuaginta virorum or seniorum, i.e. the translation of which the first instalment was attributed by Alexandrian tradition to seventy or seventy-two Jewish elders. In the most ancient Greek MSS. of the Old 10Testament it is described as the version 'according to the LXX.' (κατὰ τοὺς ἑβδομήκοντα, παρὰ ἑβδομήκοντα, O. T. in Greek, i. p. 103, ii. p. 479), and quoted by the formula οἱ ό or οἱ οβʹ. All forms of the name point back to a common source, the story of the origin of the version which is told in the pseudonymous letter entitled Ἀριστέας Φιλοκράτει. See App.


Literature. The text of the letter of Aristeas is printed in the Appendix to this volume. It will be found also in Hody de Bibl. text. orig. (Oxon. 1705), and in Constantinus Oeconomus περὶ τῶν ό ἑρμηνευτῶν βιβλία δʹ (Athens, 1849); a better text was given by M. Schmidt in Merx, Archiv f. wissensch. Erforschung a. A. T. i. p. 241 ff.; the latest separate edition appeared in 1900 under the title: Aristeae ad Philocratem epistula cum ceteris de origine versionis LXX. interpretum testimoniis. Ludovici Mendelssohn schedis usus ed. Paulus Wendland. A trans. by Mr H. St J. Thackeray appeared in J. Q. R. Ap. 1903 (since reprinted). For the earlier editions see Fabricius-Harles, iii. 660 ff.; the editio princeps of the Greek text was published at Basle in 1561.

The controversies raised by the letter may be studied in Hody or in Fabricius-Harles; cf. Rosenmüller, Handbuch f. d. Literatur d. bibl. Kritik u. Exegese; Dähne, gesch. Darstellung d. jüdisch Alex. Religions-Philosophie, ii. p. 205 ff.; Papageorgius, Über den Aristeasbrief; Lumbroso, Recherches sur l’économie politigue de l’Égypte, p. 351 f. and in Atli di R. Accademia della Scienza di Torino, iv. (1868—9). Fuller lists will be found in Schürer³, iii. 472 f., and in Nestle (Real-encyklopädie f. p. Th. u. K.³ 3, p. 2), and Hastings (D.B. iv. 438 f., where much interesting information is collected); cf. Van Ess, Epilegg. p. 29 f.


8. The writer professes to be a courtier in the service of Philadelphus, a Greek who is interested in the antiquities of the Jewish people3030From the mention of Cyprus as 'the island' (§ 5) it has been inferred that Aristeas was a Cypriot. The name occurs freely in inscriptions from the islands of the Aegean and the coast of Caria (C. I. G. 2262, 2266, 2349, 2399, 2404, 2655, 2693, 2694, 2723, 2727, 2781, 2892), and was borne by a Cyprian sculptor (see D. G. and R. B., i. 293). Wendland, however, thinks 'the island' is Pharos, as certainly in § 301. The Aristeas who wrote περὶ Ἰουδαίων (Euseb. praep. ev. ix. 25) was doubtless an Alexandrian Jew who, as a Hellenist, assumed a Greek name.. Addressing his brother Philocrates, he relates the issue of a journey which he had recently made to Jerusalem. It appears that Demetrius Phalereus3131See Ostermann, de Demetrii Ph. vita (1857); Susemihl, Gesch. d. gr. Litt. in d. Alexandrinerzeit, i. p. 135 ff. On the royal library at Alexandria see Susemihl, i. p. 335 ff. and the art. Bibliotheken in Pauly-Wissowa, Real-Encyclopädie, v. 409 f., who is 11described as librarian of the royal library at Alexandria, had in conversation with the King represented the importance of procuring for the library a translation of the Jewish laws (τὰ τῶν Ἰουδαίων νόμιμα μεταγραφῆς ἄξια καὶ τῆς παρὰ σοὶ βιβλιοθήκης εἶναι). Philadelphus fell in with the suggestion, and despatched an embassy to Jerusalem with a letter to the High Priest Eleazar, in which the latter was desired to send to Alexandria six elders learned in the law from each of the tribes of Israel to execute the work of translation. In due course the seventy-two elders, whose names are given, arrived in Egypt, bringing with them a copy of the Hebrew Law written in letters of gold on rolls3232See See Birt, Die Buchrolle in der Kunst (Leipzig 1907), p. 21 f. composed of skins (σὺν . . . ταῖς διαφόροις διφθέραις ἐν αἷς ἡ νομοθεσία γεγραμμένη χρυσογραφίᾳ τοῖς Ἰουδαικοῖς γράμμασι). A banquet followed, at which the King tested the attainments of the Jewish elders with hard questions. Three days afterwards the work of translation began. The translators were conducted by Demetrius along the Heptastadion3333The mole which connected the Pharos with the city: see art. Alexandria in Smith's Dict. of Gr. and Rom. Geography, pp. 96 f. to the island of Pharos, where a building conveniently furnished and remote from the distractions of the city was provided for their use. Here Demetrius, in the words of Aristeas, 'exhorted them to accomplish the work of translation, since they were well supplied with all that they could want. So they set to work, comparing their several results and making them agree; and whatever they agreed upon was suitably copied under the direction of Demetrius. . . . In this way the transcription was completed in seventy-two days, as it that period had been pre-arranged.'

The completed work was read by Demetrius to the Jewish community, who received it with enthusiasm and begged that a copy might be placed in the hands of their leaders; and 12a curse was solemnly pronounced upon any who should presume to add to the version or to take from it. After this the Greek Pentateuch was read to the King, who expressed delight and surprise, greeted the book with a gesture of reverence προσκυνήσας, and desired that it should be preserved with scrupulous care (ἐκέλευσε μεγάλην ἐπιμέλειαν ποιεῖσθαι τῶν βιβλίων καὶ συντηρεῖν ἁγνῶς).


9. The story of Aristeas is repeated more or less fully by the Alexandrian writers Aristobulus and Philo, and by Josephus.


Aristobulus ap. Eus. praep. ev. xiii. 12. 2: ἡ δὲ ὅλη ἑρμηνεία τῶν διὰ τοῦ νόμου πάντων ἐπὶ τοῦ προσαγορευθέντος Φιλαδέλφου βασιλέως σοῦ δὲ προγόνου [he is addressing Philometor] προσενεγκαμένου μείζονα φιλοτιμίαν, Δημητρίου τοῦ Φαληρέως πραγματευσαμένου τὰ περὶ τούτων3434In defence of the genuineness of this testimony see Schürer, G. J. V.³ iii. 384—392. On the other hand cf. L. Cohn in Neue Jahrbücher f. d. Klass. Alterthum i. 8 (1895), and Wendland in Byzantinische Zeitschrift vii. (1898), 447—449. For Aristobulus see Susemihl, p. 630 f.. Philo, vit. Moys. ii. 5 ff.: Πτολεμαῖος ὁ Φιλάδελφος ἐπικληθεὶς . . . ζῆλον καὶ πόθον λαβὼν τῆς νομοθεσίας ἡμῶν εἰς Ἑλλάδα γλῶτταν τὴν Χαλδαικὴν μεθαρμόζεσθαι διενοεῖτο, καὶ πρέσβεις εὐθὺς ἐξέπεμπε πρὸς τὸν τῆς Ἰουδαίας ἀρχιερέα. . ὁ δέ, ὡς εἰκός, ἡσθεὶς καὶ νομίσας οὐκ ἄνευ θείας ἐπιφροσύνης περὶ τὸ τοιοῦτον ἔργον ἐσπουδακέναι τὸν βασιλέα . . . ἀσμένως ἀποστέλλει . . . καθίσαντες δ᾿ ἐν ἀποκρύφῳ καὶ μηδενὸς παρόντος . . . καθάπερ ἐνθουσιῶντες ἐπροφήτευον, οὐκ ἄλλα ἄλλοι, τὰ δὲ αὐτὰ πάντες ὀνόματα καὶ ῥήματα ὥσπερ ὑποβολέως ἑκάστοις ἀοράτως ἐνηχοῦντος κτλ. Josephus, ant. i. prooem. 3: Πτολεμαίων μὲν ὁ δεύτερος μάλιστα δὴ βασιλεὺς περὶ παιδείαν καὶ βιβλίων συναγωγὴν σπουδάσας ἐξαιρέτως ἐφιλοτιμήθη τὸν ἡμέτερον νόμον καὶ τὴν κατ᾿ αὐτὸν διάταξιν τῆς πολιτείας εἰς τὴν Ἑλλάδα φωνὴν μεταλαβεῖν κτλ. In ant. xii. 2. 1—15 Josephus gives a full account obviously based on Aristeas (whom he calls Ἀρισταῖος, and to a great extent verbally identical with the letter.


The testimony of Josephus establishes only the fact that the letter of Aristeas was current in Palestine during the first century A.D. Philo, on the other hand, represents an Alexandrian tradition which was perhaps originally independent of the letter, and is certainly not entirely consistent with it. He 13states (l.c.) that the completion of the work of the LXX. was celebrated at Alexandria down to his own time by a yearly festival at the Pharos (μέχρι ν ῦν ἀνὰ πᾶν ἔτος ἑορτὴ καὶ πανήγυρις ἄγεται κατὰ τὴν Φάρον νῆσον, εἰς ἣν οὐκ Ἰουδαῖοι μόνον ἀλλὰ καὶ παμπληθεῖς ἕρμηνείας ἐξέλαμψε κτλ.). A popular anniversary of this kind can scarcely have grown out of a literary work so artificial and so wanting in the elements which ensure popularity as the letter of Aristeas. The fragment of Aristobulus carries us much further back than the witness of Philo and Josephus. It was addressed to a Ptolemy who was a descendant of Philadelphus, and who is identified both by Eusebius (l.c.) and by Clement3535Clement of Alexandria identifies this Aristobulus with the person named in 2 Macc. i. 10 Ἀριστοβούλῳ διδασκάλῳ Πτολεμαίου τοῦ βασιλέως. See Valckenaer diatribe de Aristobulo (printed at the end of Gaisford's edition of Eus. praep. ev. iv.). (strom. 1. 22) with Philometor. Whether Aristobulus derived his information from Aristeas is uncertain, but his words, if we admit their genuineness, establish the fact that the main features of the story were believed by the literary Jews of Alexandria, and even at the Court, more than a century and a half before the Christian era and within a century of the date assigned by Aristeas to the translation of the Law.


10. From the second century A.D. the letter of Aristeas is quoted or its contents are summarised by the fathers of the Church, who in general receive the story without suspicion, and add certain fresh particulars.


Cf. Justin, apol. i. 31, dial. 68, 71, 'cohort. ad Graecos' 13 ff.; Iren. iii. 21, 2 f.; Clem. Alex. strom. i. 22, 148 f.; Tertullian, apol. 18; Anatolius ap. Eus. H. E. vii. 32; Eusebius, praep. ev. viii. 1—9, ix. 38; Cyril of Jerusalem, catech. iv. 34; Hilary, prol. ad Psalmos, tract. in Pss. ii., cxviii.; Epiphanius, de mens. et pond. §§ 3, 6; Philastrius de haer. 138; Jerome, praef. in Gen., praef. in libr. quaest. Hebr.; Augustine, de civ. Dei xvii. 42 f., de doctr. Chr. ii. 22: Theodore of Mopsuestia in Habakk. ii., in Zeph. i.; Chrysostom, or. i. adv. Jud., c. 6, hom. iv. in Gen., c. 4; Theodoret, 14praef. in Psalmos; Cyril of Alexandria, adv. Julian. or. 1; Pseudo-Athanasius, synops. scr. sacr. § 77; the anonymous dialogue of Timothy and Aquila (ed. Conybeare, Oxford, 1898, p. 90 f.).


Most of these Christian writers, in distinct contradiction to the statement of Aristeas, represent the Seventy as having worked separately, adding that when the results were compared at the end of the task they were found to be identical (so Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Cyril of Jerusalem, Augustine, &c.). The author of the Cohortatio ad Graecos3636On the date of this treatise, which is commonly ascribed to Justin, see Krüger, Hist. of Chr. Literature (E. T.), p. 112 f., and cf. Harnack-Preuschen, p. 107. declares that at Alexandria he had been shewn the vestiges of the cells in which the translators had worked (αὐτοὶ ἐν τῇ Ἀλεξανδρείᾳ γενόμενοι καὶ τὰ ἴχνη τῶν οἰκίσκων ἐν τῇ Φάρῳ ἑωρακότες ἔτι σωζόμενα, καὶ παρὰ τῶν ἐκεῖ ὡς τὰ πάτρια παρειληφότων ἀκηκοότες ταῦτα ἀπαγγέλλομεν). This story of the cells therefore was probably of Alexandrian origin, and had grown out of the local belief in the inspiration of the Seventy which appears already in the words of Philo quoted above3737Cf. ib. οὐχ ἑρμηνεῖς ἐκείνους ἀλλ᾿ ἱεροφάντας καὶ προφήτας προσαγορεύοντες.. The Fathers generally accept both the belief and the legend which it generated, though the latter sometimes undergoes slight modification, as when Epiphanius groups the LXXII. in pairs (ζύγη ζύγη κατ᾿ οἰκίσκον). Jerome is an honourable exception; he realises that the tale of the cells is inconsistent with the earlier tradition (prol. in Gen. "nescio quis primus auctor LXX cellulas Alexandriae mendacio suo exstruxerit, quibus divisi eadem scriptitarint, quum Aristeas . . . et Josephus nihil tale retulerint"), and rightly protests against the doctrine which was at the root of the absurdity ("aliud est enim vatem, aliud est esse interpretem")3838The story of the cells is not peculiar to Christian writers; it is echoed by the Talmud (Bab. Talm. Megillah 9a, Jerus. Talm. Meg. c. i.; cf. Sopherim, c. i.)..



11. Doubts as to the genuineness of the Aristeas-letter were first expressed by Ludovicus de Vives in his commentary on Aug. de civ. Dei, xviii. 4 (published in 1522), and after him by Joseph Scaliger. Ussher and Voss defended the letter, but its claim to be the work of a contemporary of Philadelphus was finally demolished by Humphry Hody, Regius Professor of Greek at Oxford (1698-1706)3939In his Contra historiam LXX. interpretum Aristeae nomine inscriptam dissertatio, originally published in 1684, and afterwards included in De Bibliorum textibus originalibus, versionibus Graecis, et Latina vulgata libri iv. (Oxon. 1705). For other writers on both sides cf. Buhl, p. 117 (E. T. p. 115).. A few later writers have pleaded in its favour (e.g. Grinfield Apology for the LXX., and Constantinus Oeconomus, op. cit.); but the great majority of modern scholars, and perhaps all living experts, recognise the unhistorical character of much of the story of Aristeas.

Indeed it scarcely needed the massive learning of Hody to convict the letter of Aristeas of being pseudonymous, and to a large extent legendary. The selection of the elders from all the tribes of Israel awakens suspicions; their names are clearly imaginary; the recurrence of the number seventy-two seems to have struck even the writer as open to remark4040On the Rabbinical partiality for this number, cf. Ewald, Hist. of Israel, v. 252 n. (E. T.); Schürer 11. i. p. 174; Buhl, p. 117 (=116, E. T.).; the letters of Philadelphus and Eleazar are of the same stamp as the confessedly fictitious correspondence between the Egyptian and the Palestinian Jews in 2 Maccabees4141Or the letters of Philopator in 3 Maccabees.. Above all, whereas the letter professes to have been written by a Greek and a pagan, its purpose proclaims it to be the work of a Jew; while it addresses itself to Gentile readers, its obvious aim is to glorify the Jewish race, and to diffuse information about their sacred books. On the other hand, though the story as 'Aristeas' tells it is doubtless a romance, it must not be hastily inferred that it has no historical basis. That the writer was a Jew who lived in Egypt under the Ptolemies seems to be 16demonstrated by the knowledge which he displays of life at the Alexandrian Court4242See the remarks of Wilcken in Philologus liii. (1894), p. 111 f., and cf. Lumbroso, p. xiii.. There is also reason to suppose that he wrote within fifty years of the death of Philadelphus, and his principal facts are endorsed, as we have seen, by a writer of the next generation4343See Schürer³, iii, p. 468 f.. It is difficult to believe that a document, which within a century of the events relates the history of a literary undertaking in which the Court and the scholars of Alexandria were concerned, can be altogether destitute of truth. Detailed criticism is impossible in this place, but it is necessary to examine the credibility of the chief features of the romance so far as they affect questions relating to the date and origin of the LXX. There are certain points in the letter of Aristeas which demand investigation, especially the statements (1) that the translation of the Law was made in the time of Philadelphus; (2) that it was undertaken at the desire of the King, and for the royal library; (3) that the translators and the Hebrew rolls which they used were brought from Jerusalem; and (4) that their translation when completed was welcomed both by Jews and Greeks4444See Mr I. Abrahams in J.Q.R. xiv. 2, pp. 321 ff., Recent Criticisms of the Letter of Aristeas..


12. There is no improbability in the first of these statements. The personal tastes of Philadelphus, if by no means purely literary, included a fancy for the society of scholars and the accumulation of books4545Tertullian exaggerates his literary merits (apol. 18 Ptolemaeorum eruditissimus . . . et omnis litteraturae sagacissimus).. He founded a second library at the Serapeion to receive the overflow of that which Soter had established near the Museum and the Palace4646Cf. Mahaffy, Empire of the Ptolemies, p. 164 ff. On the character of Philadelphus see also Droysen, iii., p. 254 f.. His syncretistic temperament disposed him to listen to the representatives of various creeds. A Buddhist mission from the Ganges found a welcome at his court4747Mahaffy, pp. 163 f., 170.; and the reign which produced 17Manetho's Greek history of Egyptian institutions may well have yielded also a translation into Greek of the Hebrew sacred books. The presence of a large Jewish colony at Alexandria could hardly have failed to awaken in the King and his scholars of the Museum an interest in the ancient laws and literature of the Jewish race. For these reasons modern scholars have for the most part shewn no desire to disturb the tradition which assigns the Alexandrian version of the Law to the days of Philadelphus.


One exception must be noted. The late Professor Grätz maintained with much ingenuity that the Greek Pentateuch was a work of the reign of Philometor, thus transferring the inception of the LXX. from the middle of the third century to the middle of the second4848Gesch. Juden³, iii. p. 615 ff..

His opinion was based partly on the fact that the Jewish colony at Alexandria touched the zenith of its influence under Philometor, partly on internal grounds. Under the latter head he insisted on the translation in Lev. xxiii. 11 of the phrase חַשַּׁבָּת מִמָּהֳרַת by τῇ ἐπαύριον τῆσ πρώης. The Pharisees understood the word שַׁבָּת in that context to refer to the day after the Paschal Sabbath i.e. Nisan 15, while the Sadducees adhered to the usual meaning. Grätz argued with much force that, since the rendering of the LXX. shews evident signs of Pharisaic influence, the version itself must have been later than the rise of the Pharisees4949He also notes the rendering ἄρχων in Deut. xvii. 14—20.. But v. 15 renders the same words by ἀπὸ τῆς ἐπαύριον τοῦ σαββάτου, and as it is not likely that a translator who had of set purpose written τῆς πρώτης in v. 11 would have let τοῦ σαββάτου escape him a little further down, we must suppose that τοῦ σ. stood originally in both verses and that τῆς πρ. is due to a Pharisaic corrector who left his work incomplete. But a partial correction of the passage in the interests of Pharisaism points to the version being pre-Maccabean, a conclusion quite opposite to that which Dr Grätz desired to draw5050See Expository Times, ii. pp. 209, 227 f..


There is, moreover, positive evidence that the Alexandrian version of Genesis at least was in existence considerably before the beginning of Philometor's reign. It was used by the Hellenist Demetrius, fragments of whose treatise Περὶ τῶν ἐν 18τῇ Ἰουδαίᾳ βασιλέων are preserved by Clement (strom. i 21) and Eusebius (praep. ev. ix. 21, 29). The following specimens may suffice to prove this assertion.


Demetrius Genesis (LXX.)

ἀντὶ τῶν μήλων τοῦ μανδραγόρου.

εὗρεν μῆλα μανδραγόρου . . . ἀντὶ τῶν μανδραγορῶν (XXX. 14 f.).

ἄγγελον τοῦ θεοῦ παλαῖσαι καὶ ἅψασθαι τοῦ πλάτους τοῦ μηροῦ τοῦ Ἰακώβ.

ἐπάλαιεν . . . καὶ ἥψατο τοῦ πλάτους οῦ μηροῦ Ἰακώβ (xxxii. 25).

λέγειν κτηνοτρόφους αὐτοὺς εἶναι.

ἐρεῖτε Ἄνδρες κτηνοτρόφοι ἐσμέν (xlvi. 34).


As Demetrius carries his chronology no further than the reign of Philopator, it may be assumed that he lived under the fourth Ptolemy5151Cf. Freudenthal, hellen. Studien, p. 41.. He is thus the earliest of the Alexandrian Hellenistic writers; yet equally with the latest he draws his quotations of the Book of Genesis from the LXX. It may fairly be argued that a version, which at the end of the third century B.C. had won its way to acceptance among the literary Jews of Alexandria, probably saw the light not later than the reign of Philadelphus.


13. Both 'Aristeas' and Aristobulus associate with the inception of the LXX. the name of Demetrius Phalereus5252The Dialogue of Timothy and Aquila strangely says: ἦν δὲ οὗτος ὁ Δημήτριος τῷ γένει Ἐβραῖος.. Aristobulus merely represents Demetrius as having 'negociated the matter' (πραγματευσαμένου τὰ περὶ τούτων), but Aristeas states that he did so (1) in the capacity of head of the royal library (κατασταθεὶς ἐπὶ τῇς τοῦ βασιλέως βιβλιοθήκης), and (2) in the days of Philadelphus, with whom he appears to be on intimate terms. Both these particulars are certainly unhistorical. Busch5353De bibliothecariis Alexandrinis (1884), p. 1 ff.; cf. Droysen, iii. p. 256; Mahaffy, p. 115. has shewn that the office of librarian was 19filled under Philadelphus by Zenodotus of Ephesus, and on the decease of Zenodotus by Eratosthenes. Moreover Demetrius, so far from being intimate with Philadelphus, was sent into exile soon after the accession of that monarch, and died a little later on from the bite of an asp, probably administered at the King's instigation (c. B.C. 283)5454Diog. Laert. v. 78. The statement rests on the authority of Hermippus Callimachus (temp. Ptolemy III.).. Thus, if Demetrius took part in the inception of the LXX., he must have done so during the reign of Soter. This is not in itself improbable. He had taken refuge in Egypt as early as B.C. 307, and for many years had been a trusted adviser of the first Ptolemy; and it is not unlikely that the project of translating the Jewish Law was discussed between him and the royal founder of the Alexandrian library, and that the work was really due to his suggestion5555Cf. Plutarch, Apophthegm. viii. Δημήτριος ὁ Φαληρεὺς Πτολεμαίῳ τῷ βασιλεῖ παρῄνει τὰ περὶ βασιλείας καὶ ἡγεμονίας βιβλία κτᾶσθαι καὶ ἀναγινώσκειν., though his words did not bear fruit until after his death. The point is of importance to the student of the LXX. only in so far as it has to do with the question whether the version was made under official guidance. The breakdown of the chronology of this part of the story of Aristeas leaves us free to abandon the hypothesis of direct intervention on the part of the King, and internal evidence certainly justifies us in doing so. An official version would assuredly have avoided such barbarisms as γειώρας, εἵν, σάββατα5656Frankel, Vorstudien, p. 8 f., when such Greek equivalents as προσήλυτος, δίχουν, ἀνάπαυσις, were available. The whole style of the version is alien from the purpose of a book intended for literary use, nor is it conceivable that under such circumstances Jewish translators, Palestinian or Alexandrian, would have been left without the advice and help of experts in the Greek tongue.

Thus everything points to the conclusion that the version 20arose out of the needs of the Alexandrian Jews. Whilst in Palestine the Aramaic-speaking Jews were content with the interpretation of the Methurgeman, at Alexandria the Hebrew lesson was gladly exchanged for a lesson read from a Greek translation, and the work of the interpreter was limited to exegesis5757Cf. Philo ap. Eus. praep. ev. viii. 7 τῶν ἱερέων δέ τις παρών, ἢ τῶν γερόντων εἶς, ἀναγινώσκει τοὺς ἱεροὺς νόμους αὐτοῖς καὶ καθ᾿ ἕκαστον ἐξηγεῖται. But ἐξηγεῖται is ambiguous.. In the closing paragraphs of the letter of Aristeas which describe the joy with which the work of the LXXII. was welcomed by the Greek-speaking Jews of Alexandria, the writer unconsciously reveals the true history of the version, when he represents the Jews as having heard and welcomed the Greek Pentateuch before it was presented to the King5858The hope of winning converts may have been among the motives which inspired the translators and gained a ready welcome for their work; cf. the prol. to Sirach: οὐ μόνον αὐτοὺς τοὺς ἀναγινώσκοντας δέον ἐστὶν ἐπιστήμονας γίνεσθαι, ἀλλὰ καὶ τοῖς ἐκτὸς δύνασθαι τοὺς φιλομαθοῦντας χρησίμευς εἶναι καὶ λέγοντας καὶ γράφοντας—where however the influence of the Jewish Scriptures on pagans is regarded as indirect, and not immediate.. But it is not improbable that the King encouraged the work of translation with the view of promoting the use of the Greek language by the settlers5959Cf. Mommsen, Provinces, ii. p. 164. as well as for the purpose of gratifying his own curiosity.


14. The Greek of the Alexandrian Pentateuch is Egyptian, and, as far as we can judge, not such as Palestinian translators would have written. Instances are not indeed wanting of translations executed in Egypt by Palestinians; the most noteworthy6060Another example is offered by the Greek Esther, if the note at the end of the book is to be trusted (ἔφασαν . . . ἐρμηνευκέναι Λυσίμαχον Πτολεμαίου τῶν ἐν Ἰερουσαλήμ). is the Wisdom of the Son of Sirach, which, as the prologue tells us, was turned into Greek by the grandson of the writer after a prolonged visit to the banks of the Nile (παραγενηθεὶς εἰς Αἱγυπτον καὶ συγχρονίσας); but the clumsy Greek of the prologue, and the stiff artificiality of the book, offer a 21marked contrast to the simple style of the Pentateuch. That the latter is mainly the work of Alexandrian Jews appears from more than one consideration. An older generation of Biblical scholars pointed to the occurrence in the LXX., and especially in the Pentateuch, of such words of Egyptian origin as ἄχει (Gen. xli. 2 ff.), κόνδυ (Gen. xliv. 2 ff.), ἶβις (Lev. xi. 17; Deut. xiv. 16), βύσσος (Exod. xxv.-xxxix. passim) and such characteristically Egyptian terms as δίδραχμον, ἀλήθεια (= תֻּטִּים), ἀρχιμάγειρος, ἀρχιοινοχόος and the like. The argument is not conclusive, since after the time of Alexander the κοινή contained elements drawn from various localities6161See Hody, ii. 4; Eichhorn, p. 472; H. A. A. Kennedy, Sources of N. T. Greek, p. 24 f.; on the other hand, cf. Frankel, Vorstudien, p. 40 ff.. But recent discoveries in Egypt have yielded a criterion of Egyptian Greek which has been applied to the LXX. with definite results. In 1892 Prof. Mahaffy was able to write: "in the vocabulary of the papyri we find a closer likeness to the Greek of the LXX. than to any other book I could name6262Exp. Times, iii. p. 291; cf. Mahaffy, Greek life, p. 198 f.." This statement has been abundantly justified by the publication of Deissmann's Bibelstudien (Marburg, 1895), and Neue Bibelstudien (1897), where a number of the peculiar or characteristic words and forms of the LXX. are shewn to have been in common use among Egyptian Greeks of the third and second centuries B.C.6363Evidence of this kind will doubtless accumulate as new volumes of papyri are issued. The verbal indices which usually accompany such collections offer a rich field for the Biblical student who will be at the pains to explore them. The vocabulary and style of the LXX. will be treated in a later chapter; for the present it is enough to say that they are such as to discredit the attribution of the Greek Pentateuch to a company consisting exclusively or chiefly of Palestinian Jews. The LXX. as a whole, or at any rate the earlier part of the collection, is a monument of Alexandrian Greek as it was spoken by the Jewish colony in the Delta under the rule of the Ptolemies6464See however Buhl, p. 124..


The story of the rolls being written in letters of gold and sent to the King by the High Priest may be dismissed at once; it belongs to the picturesque setting of the romance. But there is nothing improbable in the statement that the Hebrew rolls were freshly brought from Jerusalem6565According to Epiphanius (de mens. et pond. 10 f.) the rolls only were sent in the first instance, and the interpreters followed in consequence of a second application from Philadelphus. This form of the story suggests that the desire for a translation may have been stimulated by the arrival of MSS. from Jerusalem., for communication between Jerusalem and Alexandria was frequent during the reigns of the earlier Ptolemies. Yet the legend may be intended to represent the loyalty of the colony towards the μητρόπολις, and the conviction of the Alexandrian Jews that in their Greek version they possessed the same sacred texts which their brethren in Judaea read in Hebrew. Nothing was further from their intention than to create an Alexandrian canon, or an Alexandrian type of text. The point is one which it is important to remember.

The welcome accorded to the Greek version by the Jews of Alexandria was doubtless, as Aristeas represents, both cordial and permanent; nor need we doubt that Philadelphus and his scholars approved what had been done. Insignificant and even intolerable as a literary work, the version promised to supply the Greek scholars of Alexandria with a trustworthy account of Hebrew origins. There is however little or no trace of the use of the LXX. by pagan writers6666See, however, Mahaffy, Hist. of Gk. class. literature, 1. ii. p. 195.; the style was probably enough to deter them from studying it, and the Hellenistic Jews of a somewhat later date rendered the task unnecessary by presenting the history of their country in more attractive forms. As to the preservation of the original in the Alexandrian libraries, we have no evidence beyond Tertullian's scarcely trustworthy statement, "Hodie apud Serapeum Ptolemaei bibliothecae cum ipsis Hebraicis litteris exhibentur6767Apol. 18; cf. Justin, apol. i. 31, Chrys. or. 1 adv. Jud., and Epiph. de mens. et pond. § 11. The library in the Brucheion perished in the time of Julius Caesar; that of the Serapeion is said to have been destroyed by Omar, A.D. 640.."



15. It has been stated (p. 11) that the letter of Aristeas does not profess to describe the origin of any part of the Alexandrian Bible except the Pentateuch6868See, e.g., §§ 3, 10, 46, 171, 176.. This was evident to Josephus: ant. 1. prooem. 3 οὐδὲ γὰρ πᾶσαν ἐκεῖνος (sc. Πτολεμαῖος ὁ δεύτερος) ἔφθη λαβεῖν τὴν ἀναγραφήν, ἀλλὰ μόνα τὰ τοῦ νόμου παρέδοσαν οἱ πεμφθέντες ἐπὶ τὴν ἐξήγησιν εἰς Ἀλεξάνδρειαν. Christian writers, however, failed to notice this limitation; the whole Greek Bible was familiarly known as the version of the LXX., and no misgivings were felt upon the matter except by Jerome, whose intercourse with the Rabbis had opened his eyes on this and other matters about which the Jews were better informed: "tota schola Judaeorum (he writes) quinque tantum libros Moysis a LXX. translatos asserunt6969In Ezech. v.; cf. in Gen. xxxi., in Mich. ii. See the Talmudical passages cited by Hody, p. 296.." Epiphanius goes so far as to apportion the books of the Hebrew canon among thirty-six pairs of translators7070de mens. et pond. 3 sq.. Nevertheless the Jews were unquestionably right; Aristeas has nothing to say about the translation of any books beyond the first five. His silence as to the Prophets and the Hagiographa is entirely consistent with the conditions of the period in which he fixes his story. The canon of the Prophets seems to have scarcely reached completion before the High-Priesthood of Simon II. (219—199 B.C.)7171Ryle, Canon of the O. T., p. 113. Cf. Buhl, p. 12.. If this was so in Palestine, at Alexandria certainly there would be no recognised body of Prophetic writings in the reign of the second Ptolemy. The Torah alone was ready for translation, for it was complete, and its position as a collection of sacred books was absolutely secure.


16. But when the example had once been set of rendering sacred books into Greek, it would assuredly be followed as often as fresh rolls arrived from Jerusalem which bore the stamp 24of Palestinian recognition, if a bilingual Jew was found ready to undertake the task. A happy accident enables us to estimate roughly the extent to which this process had gone by the sixth or seventh decade of the second century. The writer of the prologue to Sirach, who arrived in Egypt in the 38th year of Euergetes—i.e. in the year 132 B.C. if, as is probable, the Euergetes intended was the second of that name—incidentally uses words which imply that "the Law, the Prophets, and the rest of the books" were already current in a translation (οὐ γὰρ ἰσοδυναμεῖ αὐτὰ ἐν ἑαυτοῖς Ἐβραιστὶ λεγόμενα, καὶ ὅταν μεταχθῇ εἰς ἑτέραν γλῶσσαν· οὐ μόνον δὲ ταῦτα, ἀλλὰ καὶ αὐτὸς ὁ νόμος καὶ αἱ προφητεῖαι καὶ τὰ λοιπὰ τῶν βιβλίων οὐ μικρὰν τὴν διαφορὰν ἔχει ἐν ἑαυτοῖς λεγόμενα). This sentence reveals the progress which had been made in the work of translation between the second Ptolemy and the ninth. Under Euergetes II. the Alexandrian Jews possessed, in addition to the original Greek Pentateuch, a collection of prophetic books, and a number of other writings belonging to their national literature7272Cf. prol. supra: τοῦ νόμου καὶ τῶν προφητῶν καὶ τῶν ἄλλων πατρίων βιβλίων. which had not as yet formed themselves into a complete group. The latter are doubtless the books which are known as כְּתוּבִים or Hagiographa. Since the author of the prologue was a Palestinian Jew, we may perhaps assume that under αἱ προφητεῖαι and τὰ λοιπὰ τῶν βιβλίων he includes such books of both classes as were already in circulation in Palestine. If this inference is a safe one, it will follow that all the 'Prophets' of the Hebrew canon, 'former' and 'latter,' had been translated before B.C. 132.

With regard to the Hagiographa, in some cases we have data which lead to a more definite conclusion. Eupolemus, who, if identical with the person of that name mentioned in 1 Macc. viii. 17, wrote about the middle of the second century, makes use of the Greek Chronicles, as Freudenthal has 25clearly shewn7373Pp. 108, 119; cf. p. 185.. Ezra-Nehemiah, originally continuous with Chronicles, was probably translated at the same time as that book. Aristeas (not the pseudonymous author of the letter, but the writer of a treatise περὶ Ἰουδαίων quotes the book of Job according to the LXX., and has been suspected7474Ib. p. 138f. of being the author of the remarkable codicil attached to it (Job xlii. 17 b—e). The footnote to the Greek Esther, which states that that book was brought to Egypt in the 4th year of "Ptolemy and Cleopatra" (probably i.e. of Ptolemy Philometor), may have been written with the purpose of giving Palestinian sanction to the Greek version of that book; but it vouches for the fact that the version was in circulation before the end of the second century B.C.7575Ib. p. 138f. The Psalter of the LXX. appears to be quoted in 1 Macc. vii. 17 (Ps. lxxviii. = lxxix. 2), and the Greek version of 1 Maccabees probably belongs to the first century B.C. At what time the Greek Psalter assumed its present form there is no evidence to shew, but it is reasonable to suppose that the great Palestinian collections of sacred song did not long remain unknown to the Alexandrian Jews7676Cf. Cheyne, Origin of the Psalter, pp. 12, 83.; and even on the hypothesis of certain Psalms being Maccabean, the later books of the Greek Psalter may be assigned to the second half of the second century.


17. On the whole, though the direct evidence is fragmentary, it is probable that before the Christian era Alexandria possessed the whole, or nearly the whole, of the Hebrew Scriptures in a Greek translation. For the first century A.D. we have the very important evidence of Philo, who uses the LXX. and quotes largely from many of the books. There are indeed some books of the Hebrew canon to which he does not seem to refer, i.e. Ruth, Ecclesiastes, Canticles, Esther, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel7777Ryle, Philo and Holy Scripture, p. xxxi. f.. But, as Professor Ryle points out, 26"it may be safely assumed that Ruth and Lamentations were, in Philo's time, already united to Judges and Jeremiah in the Greek Scriptures"; and Ezekiel, as one of the greater Prophets, had assuredly found its way to Alexandria before A.D. 1. Ecclesiastes, Canticles, Esther, Daniel, which "seem to have been among the latest books to be received into the Sacred Canon7878Ryle, Philo and Holy Scripture, p. xxxiii.," may have been purposely neglected by Philo, as not possessing canonical authority. But it would be precarious to conclude that they had not been as yet translated into Greek; the Book of Esther, as we have seen, was probably current at Alexandria during the second century B.C. Two other Jewish, but not Alexandrian, authorities assist us to ascertain the contents of the Greek Bible in the first century A.D. (a) The New Testament shews a knowledge of the LXX. version in most of the books which it quotes, and it quotes all the books of the Old Testament except Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Ecclesiastes, the Song of Solomon, and certain of the Minor Prophets7979Ryle, Canon, p. 151.. As in the case of Philo, it is possible, though scarcely probable, that Esther, Ecclesiastes and the Song were passed by as not having received the stamp of canonicity; but the silence of the Apostolic writers about them does not in any case prove that Greek translations of these books were not yet in circulation among Palestinian Jews. (b) Josephus, who knew and used the LXX., unfortunately has no explicit statement as to the extent of the Greek version; but his list of the Hebrew books is practically identical with our own, and, as it occurs in a treatise intended for Gentile readers, it is perhaps safe to assume that he speaks of books accessible in a translation; "in other words, that he writes with the LXX. version before him8080Ib. p. 163.."

Thus while the testimony of the first century A.D. does not absolutely require us to believe that all the books of the 27Hebrew canon had been translated and were circulated in a Greek version during the Apostolic age, such a view is not improbable; and it is confirmed by the fact that they are all contained in the canon of the Greek Bible which the Christian Church received from its Jewish predecessors. It is another question whether the versions were all of Alexandrian origin, or the only Greek translations which claimed to represent the corresponding Hebrew books. In a few cases there were certainly rival interpretations or recensions of the same book (e.g. in Judges, Daniel, Tobit). But as a whole the work of translation was doubtless carried out at Alexandria, where it was begun; and the Greek Bible of the Hellenistic Jews and the Catholic Church may rightly be styled the Alexandrian Greek version of the Old Testament.


LITERATURE. The following list embraces a mere fraction of the vast literature of the Alexandrian Version. The selection has been made with the purpose of representing the progress of knowledge since the middle of the seventeenth century.

L. Cappellus, critica sacra, 1651; J. Pearson, praefatto paraenetica, 1655; Ussher, Syntagma, 1655; Walton, prolegomena, 1657; Hottinger, disertationum fasciculus, 1660; I. Voss, de LXX. interpretibus, 1661—1663; J. Morinus, Exercitationes, 1669; R. Simon, histoire critique du Vieux Testament², 1685; H. Hody, de Bibl. textibus originalibus, 1705; H. Owen, Enquiry into the text of the LXX., 1769; Brief account of the LXX., 1787; Stroth, in Eichhorn's Repertorium, v. ff., 1779 ff.; White, Letter to the Bp of London, 1779; Fabricius-Harles, iii. 658 ff., 1793; R. Holmes, Episcopo Dunelm. epistola, 1795; praefatio ad Pentateuchum, 1798; Schleusner, opuscula critica, 1812; Töpler, de Pentateuchi interpretat. Alex. indole, 1830; Dähne, jüd.-alexandr. Philosophie, 1834; Grinfield, Apology for the LXX., 1850; Frankel, Vorstudien zu der LXX., 1841; über den Einfluss d. paläst. Exegese auf die alexandr. Hermeneutik, 1851; do., über paläst. u. alexandr. Schriftforschung, 1854; Thiersch, de Pentateuchi vers. Alexandr., 1841; Constantinus Oeconomus, περὶ τῶν ό ἑρμηνευτῶν, 1849; Churton, The Influence of the LXX. upon the progress of Christianity, 1861; Ewald, Gesch. des Volkes Israel³, 1868; E. Nestle, Septuaginta-Studien, i. 1886, ii. 1896, iii. 1899, iv. 1903, v. 1907; S. R. Driver, Notes on Samuel (Introd. § 3f.), 1890; P. de Lagarde, Septuaginta-Studien, 28i. 1891, ii. 1892; A. Rahlfs, Septuaginta-Studien, i. 1904, ii. 1907, iii. 1911; Buhl, Kanon u. Text der A. T., 1891; A. Loisy, histoire critique du texte et des versions de la Bible, 1892; Hatch, Essays on Biblical Greek, 1892; W. Robertson Smith, O. T. in the Jewish Church², 1892; E. Klostermann, Analecta zur LXXta, 1895; Nestle, Urtext u. Übersezungen der Bibel, 1897. Monographs on special books or particular aspects of the subject will be enumerated elsewhere.

The student should also consult the best Introductions to the O.T., especially those of Eichhorn (1777 ff.), De Wette-Schrader (1869), Bleek-Wellhausen6 (1893), König (1893); and the Encyclopedias and Bible Dictionaries, especially the articles on the Septuagint in Smith's D. B. iii. (Selwyn), the Encyclopædia Britannica² (Wellhausen), the Real-Encykl. f. prot. Theologie u. Kirche³ (Nestle; also published in a separate form, under the title Urtext u. Übersetzungen, &c.), and Nestle's art. Septuagint in Hastings' D.B. iv.; the arts. Septuaginta (Hoberg) in Wetzer-Welte's Encyklopaedie² xi. (1899), 147—159, and Text and Versions (Burkitt) in Cheyne and Black's Encyclop. Biblica.

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