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Translation and SurvivalThe Greek Bible of the Ancient Jewish Diaspora$
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Tessa Rajak

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199558674

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199558674.001.0001

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The Letter of Aristeas between History and Myth

The Letter of Aristeas between History and Myth

Chapter:
(p.24) 1 The Letter of Aristeas between History and Myth
Source:
Translation and Survival
Author(s):

Tessa Rajak (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199558674.003.0002

This chapter explores the tradition of the seventy two (later seventy) translators brought to Alexandria from Jerusalem along with texts of the Torah. Tradition had it that King Ptolemy II Philadelphus sent an embassy to the High Priest and commissioned the translation for the great Alexandrian library. It emerges that here, as often, memory and myth are intertwined, and tradition is not wholly to be dismissed. The Septuagint's ‘charter text’, the Letter of Aristeas, contains an inseparable mixture of fact and fiction. It is suggested that the narrative evinces an ambivalent attitude to the King, in common with other literary reflections of the period. Extra twists are provided by the Jewish author's dual heritage.

Keywords:   seventy-two translators, Alexandria, High Priest, Jerusalem, Ptolemy Philadelphus, Alexandrian library, memory, myth, charter text, Letter of Aristeas

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