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The Legend of the Septuagint
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The Septuagint is the most influential of the Greek versions of the Torah, the first five books of the Hebrew Bible. The exact circumstances of its creation are uncertain, but different versions of a legend about the miraculous nature of the translation have existed since antiquity. Beginning in the Letter of Aristeas, the legend describes how Ptolemy Philadelphus commissioned seventy-two Jewish scribes to translate the sacred Hebrew scriptures for his famous library in Alexandria. Subsequent variations on the story recount how the scribes, working independently, produced word-for-word, identical Greek versions. In the course of the following centuries, to our own time, the story has been adapted and changed by Jews, Christians, Muslims and pagans for many different reasons: to tell a story, to explain historical events and to lend authority to the Greek text for the institutions that used it. This book offers the first account of all of these versions over the last two millennia, providing a history of the uses and abuses of the legend in various cultures around the Mediterranean.


"In assembling and analyzing the transmutations of the colorful Septuagint legend from Aristeas through the present day, this work is a major contribution to scholarship . . . . Anyone with an interest in the legend or the issues it raises about translation, literary transmission and Jewish identity will be thrilled to find this material, in all its linguistic and cultural diversity, collected in a single book." —Naomi S. Seidman, author of A Marriage Made in Heaven: The Sexual Politics of Hebrew and Yiddish (1997) --

"Completing a work begun by his father, David Wasserstein has made a significant contribution to the study of the reception history of the Septuagint. This important volume deserves a place in every academic library."—Karen H. Jobes, Wheaton College, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society

"This book, whose authors demonstrate an extraordinary range of interests and linguistic skills, will surely be the definitive resource for anyone interested in the historical and bibliographic material relating to the story of the creation of the Septuagint, and various religious and secular uses to which it had been put . . . . of inestimable scholarly value." —Journal of the American Academy of Religion

"...readers of W.'s book will find here both good historical scholarship and a fascinating story well told." —Theological Studies

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