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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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Parallels and Models

Parallels and Models

(p.239) 7 Parallels and Models
Translation and Survival

Tessa Rajak (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter extends the exploration of the Biblical culture of Hellenistic Judaism through the comparative use of different models of text-based communities. The parallel that is commonly drawn between the role of the Bible for the Jews and the position of the Homeric poems among all the Greeks is examined but found to be of limited value. Two disparate worlds of Second Temple Judaism are then invoked and the role of the Bible within them assessed in some detail. One is that of the Qumran sect who (in the common opinion) gathered the Dead Sea Scrolls and wrote some of them, operating in the Semitic languages of Hebrew and Aramaic; while the other, reasonably deemed a Jewish environment for this purpose, is the mainly Greek-speaking world of the writers of much of the New Testament and their readers. Both of these groups represent a type of community of users that might be called ‘bible soaked’. They immersed themselves in biblical literature (or their preferred parts of it). Through constant rehearsing and re-interpretation, those texts pervaded every aspect of their existence. By contrast, Greek-speaking diaspora Jews, Bible-centred though they were, lived by but yet through Torah. The Greek Bible, precisely because it was in Greek, could be a bridge between their Jewish lives and their immediate surroundings. Philo and Josephus are for this purpose exemplary: two illustrious, if unique individuals, whose closeness to Scripture is manifest and whose writings give us access to something of that hybrid thought-world.

Keywords:   text-based communities, Homer, Qumran sect, New Testament, Philo, Josephus

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