KEEP IN MIND: This is the very first in a two-part collection on among one of the most considerable phony letters in the background of the church. This essay will certainly present the visitor to the t, clarify what it states, as well as reveal the historic as well as valid troubles with the story. A future blog post will certainly attend to why the letter was composed in the top place as well as will certainly consider what facts could be included in the letter.
The Letter of Aristeas, likewise referred to as Pseudo-Aristeas, is an essential historic paper in Septuagint researches, for it has the earliest extant document worrying the beginnings of the Greek Pentateuch. Nonetheless, as the name Pseudo-Aristeas recommends, there is conflict worrying the historic nature of the paper. While the Letter declares to be composed throughout the power of Ptolemy II (285–246 BCE), many scholars date the letter to the mid-second century or later on. Also if the story is entirely made, it is however crucial, for it has actually formed as well as made succeeding reasoning as well as scholarship. As Jobes as well as Silva show, “The letter is important as the likely source of all subsequent traditions concerning the Septuagint.”
Our passion in the story is both historic as well as symptomatic. We would like to know just how the story has actually affected scholarship via the years, however we likewise intend to explore what can be drawn from the story as traditionally valid. To achieve these objectives, we will certainly sum up the story, analyze its historic troubles, take into consideration the objective of the writer in composing it, as well as lastly assess what the letter discloses concerning the beginnings of the Septuagint.
Recap of the Story
The letter declares to be composed by an Alexandrian Greek called Aristeas, that held a blessed setting in the court of Ptolemy II, the king of Ptolemaic Egypt. He is contacting one more Alexandrian, Philokratés, talking the occasions worrying the translation of the Hebrew Pentateuch right into Greek. Though the Letter recommends it has to do with the production of the translation, its province is much bigger, as we will certainly see.
The preliminary factor for the translation, according word for word, was the wish of Demetrius, the Alexandrian curator, to boost the dimension of the imperial collection (10). Demetrius showed to the king, Ptolemy II, that he had actually listened to good ideas worrying the legislation of the Judeans, so the king asked why the legislation had actually not been included in the collection. Demetrius addressed that translation was essential, as well as the king guaranteed whatever required to achieve the translation (11).
Prior to asking for able translators from Eleazar, the principal clergyman in Jerusalem, the king released greater than a hundred thousand Judean servants, which the king defined to Eleazar as being encouraged by a need “to act piously and render unto the supreme God a thank offering” (37). The king likewise sent out along numerous prizes as well as treasures. In feedback, Eleazar as well as the occupants of Jerusalem used sacrifices for the king as well as consequently sent out the asked for translators.
According word for word, these translators were no average males. Their number amounted to seventy-two, with 6 originating from each of the twelve people of Israel. Pseudo-Aristeas notes that “The High priest selected men of the finest character and the highest culture, such as one would expect from their noble parentage. They were men who had not only acquired proficiency in Jewish literature, but had studied most carefully that of the Greeks as well.” (121). Their capacity to interact was likewise unequaled, for “they were altogether above pride and never assumed an air of superiority over others, and in conversation they were ready to listen and give an appropriate answer to every question. And all of them carefully observed this rule and were anxious above everything else to excel each other in its observance” (122).
When the senior citizens got here in Alexandria, the king provided unmatched focus. As well as when they disclosed their great skinned, gold-lettered duplicates of the Torah, the king “stood still for a very long time and after that making obeisance [i.e., bowing down] concerning 7 times, he claimed: ‘I thank you, my friends, and I thank him that sent you still more, and most of all God, whose oracles these are’” (177).
One of the most industrialized area of the Letter happens right here, where the king evaluated the knowledge of the senior citizens on 7 successive evenings at his cheery events (184–300). Each night he asked 10 of the senior citizens a challenging inquiry, as well as they each reacted with knowledge. Pseudo-Aristeas’s recap was that the senior citizens were much above the theorists “both in conduct and in argument, since they always made God their starting-point” (235). When it comes to the king, he straight claimed to his theorists “It is my opinion that these men excel in virtue and possess extraordinary knowledge, since on the spur of the moment they have given fitting answers to these questions which I have put to them, and have all made God the starting-point of their words” (200).
After revealing their fantastic knowledge, the senior citizens were brought about a separated island to do the translation. There after day-to-day cleaning their hands in the sea to proof their virtue from wickedness (305–306), they “set to work comparing their several results and making them agree” (302). Pseudo-Aristeas mean magnificent providence at play in the fast as well as numerically accurate conclusion of the job: “And it so chanced that the work of translation was completed in seventy-two days, just as if this had been arranged of set purpose” (307).
The translation was gotten well by Demetrius as well as by the Judeans of the area, that paid attention as it read openly. They with the clergymans, senior citizens, as well as leaders of individuals announced, “since so excellent and sacred and accurate a translation had been made, it was only right that it should remain as it was and no alteration should be made in it” (310). Having actually made such an announcement, they announced a curse on “anyone who should make any alteration either by adding anything or changing in any way whatever any of the words which had been written or making any omission.” (311). Pseudo-Aristeas described that such a curse “was a very wise precaution to ensure that the book might be preserved for all the future time unchanged” (311).
The king was likewise fairly happy with the translation, as well as after it read to him it is claimed that he “was greatly astonished at the spirit of the lawgiver” (312). After asking why the legislation of the Judeans was not mentioned in the Greek chroniclers or poets, the king was educated that magnificent curses dropped on those that had actually formerly tried to do so (312–316). The account finishes with the king bowing prior to the translation as well as regulating that “great care should be taken of the books, and that they should be sacredly guarded” (317). Later, he sent out the translators back with fantastic treasures both on their own as well as for Eleazar, the high clergyman.
Troubles in the Story
There are countless historic troubles as well as improbabilities that avoid scholars from approving the Letter as factually historic. When it comes to the historic troubles, the principal is the identification of the curator. Demetrius of Phalerum is a well-known historic personality in Alexandria Egypt, however he was an expert to Ptolemy I as well as was gotten rid of by Ptolemy II at his rising. Additionally, also if he existed in Alexandria, he is never ever mentioned as a curator. One more historic mistake worries Menedemus, that was mentioned as existing at the reception inviting the Jewish translators. However Menedemus had actually died before completion of Ptolemy I’s power. Lastly, while the Letter shows that 6 senior citizens were picked from each people, this would certainly have been difficult after the damage of the north people by Assyria.
The historic improbabilities are likewise considerable. Just how would certainly Aristeas, an Infidel, have such intimate expertise of Jewish legislation as well as custom-mades? One of the most considerable improbabilities border the king, nonetheless. Would certainly a king launch numerous countless servants for the manufacturing of one publication? Would certainly he send out such crazy quantities of gold as well as gems to Jerusalem? Additionally, would certainly the king of Ptolemaic Egypt have mentioned the Judaic God in such large terms, or have talked with the High Clergyman of Jerusalem with such regard, as though speaking to an equivalent? One episode that much outstretches the bounds of trustworthiness is the account of the king bowing prior to the Hebrew message 7 times.
While various other troublesome historic, lexical, as well as geographical aspects can be gone over, what is claimed over suffices to show the non-historical nature of the Letter. Why after that was the Letter generated? We will certainly resolve this inquiry in the following blog post. R. H. Charles’s proficient translation, initially released by Clarendon Press, is currently openly readily available online: http://www.ccel.org/c/charles/otpseudepig/aristeas.htm. Thackeray’s discussion of the Greek message, initially released by Macmillan, is likewise readily available online: http://www.attalus.org/greek/aristeas1.html. For a valuable discussion of the Greek message on one web page as well as the English on the contrary web page, see Moses Hadas, Aristeas to Philocrates (Letter of Aristeas) (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Supply, 2007).  Karen H. Jobes as well as Moisés Silva, Invite to the Septuagint, second ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2005), 23.  The numbers in parentheses are the paragraph numbers as suggested in R. H. Charles’ translation. Robert Henry Charles, Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testimony (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1913).  Knowledgeables 51–82 thoroughly information the beautiful as well as pricey presents.  Pseudo-Aristeas likewise consists of an extensive summary of Jerusalem, the clergymans, as well as the surrounding nation in excessively lovely terms (83–120). He likewise gives a prolonged protection of the legislation code, providing it as from the mouth of Eleazar (128–171). This protection likewise consists of a moderate review of idolatry (134–38).  According to the story, the king typically did not see site visitors till they had actually invested thirty days in the city. For extremely crucial site visitors, that number can be reduced to 5 days. For these males, the king attended them promptly (172–75).  Nina Collins is an exemption in scholarship, for she thinks the Letter is dramatically valid, though she permits that there was some included decoration. Regardless of her protection, nonetheless, extremely couple of have actually followed her point of view. Nina L. Collins, The Collection in Alexandria as well as the Holy Bible in Greek, Supplements to Vetus Testamentum 82 (Leiden: Brill, 2000).  Melvin K H Peters, “Septuagint,” ed. David Noel Freedman, The Support Holy Bible Thesaurus (New Place, CT: Yale College Press, June 1, 1992), 1096.  Muller notes this also, stating, “Apparently it is irrelevant for the context that nine and a half of the tribes had disappeared when the northern realm fell in 722 BCE.” Mogens Müller, The First Holy Bible of the Church: An Appeal for the Septuagint, Journal for the research of the Old Testimony 206 (Sheffield, England: Sheffield Academic Press, 1996), 49.