The Ptolemaic Setting for the Translation of the Greek Pentateuch
Hebrew Bible and Ancient Israel
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Aitken, J. The Ptolemaic Setting for the Translation of the Greek Pentateuch. Hebrew Bible and Ancient Israel https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.46515
Scholars in the nineteenth century were often bold in their reconstructions of the setting of the translators of the Septuagint or Greek Pentateuch. It is true that some would merely follow the conventional understanding deriving from the Letter of Aristeas, and enshrined in patristic and rabbinic tradition, that located the translation within Alexandria of the third century BCE. In such a vein, the translation arose from a Jewish need for a translation owing to a loss of knowledge of Hebrew, although not without royal sponsorship owing to Ptolemaic enthusiasm for the “exotic.” Others, however, imagined who the translators might have been from the slim evidence then available of Jews in Egypt. Frankel, for example, doubted there to have been a sizeable Jewish community in Alexandria in the early third century and therefore supposed that the translators had to come from among the Jews living in the chora of Egypt. He could point to evidence of settlements earlier than Alexandria across Egypt where both Jewish mercenaries and other workers settled. These would have made up a sizeable population by the early third century BCE. Grinfield, meanwhile, while maintaining the translators’ location as Alexandria, argued that they were descended from Egyptian Jews, who had mingled with the Macedonian armies and whose descendants now formed a proportion of the commercial population. Like Frankel, he adduced evidence from what was known of Jews serving in the Egyptian and Ptolemaic armies. These suggestions were all made before the extensive publication of finds from Egypt, and especially the vast numbers of documentary papyri that began to be published only from the end of the nineteenth century.
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This record's DOI: https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.46515
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/299446