Letter of Aristeas – the Legendary Origin of the Septuagint

Henry St. John Thackeray [1869?-1930], The Letter of Aristeas

The document known as the Letter of Aristeas purports to be a contemporary record, by a Greek holding a high position at the court of Ptolemy Philadelphus (285- 247 B.C.), of the translation of the Hebrew Pentateuch into Greek, undertaken at the instance of the royal librarian, Demetrius of Phalerum. The familiar name “the Septuagint,” by which the Greek Old Testament as a whole came to be known, owes its origin to the story here told of the seventy-two translators of the Law. The narrative is communicated in the form of a letter from Aristeas to his brother Philocrates. Aristeas claims to have been a member of the embassy sent from Alexandria to Jerusalem to obtain a copy of the Law and the services of a company of Palestinian translators. The letter is discursive, ranging over a variety of topics; the description of the actual work of translation being compressed into the closing sections.

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My thanks to Book Aid for making a copy of this public domain book available for digitisation.

Henry St. John Thackeray [1869?-1930], The Letter of Aristeas: translated with an appendix of ancient evidence of the origin of the Septuagint. Translations of early documents, Series II, Hellenistic-Jewish texts. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge /New York: Macmillan, 1918. pp.116. [Click here to visit the download page for this title]

Table of Contents

  • Editor’s Preface
  • Introduction
  • The Letter of Aristeas
  • Appendix