[b-hebrew] OT Translations

George F. Somsel gfsomsel at juno.com
Sun Jun 6 12:21:37 EDT 2004


You should read the articles on "Aristeas, Letter of" and "Septuagint" in
the _Anchor Bible Dictionary_.

gfsomsel
___________

On Sun, 6 Jun 2004 11:35:15 -0400 Brian Roberts
<formoria at carolina.rr.com> writes:
> George,
> 
> Yes I was referring to the "Letter of Aristeas". I thought that was 
> 
> understood, considering the source. Refuted on what grounds?
> 
> Brian
> 
> 
> On Sunday, June 6, 2004, at 11:30  AM, George F. Somsel wrote:
> 
> > I don't know what Book XII, Chapter II, Section 'X' you are 
> referring 
> > to,
> > but this sounds very much like the "Letter of Aristeas."  This 
> letter 
> > has
> > been categorically refuted as regards any historical accuracy.  I 
> would
> > not recommend reliance on it.  There are other (modern) works in 
> which
> > scholars who have studied the LXX draw some conclusions regarding 
> its
> > translation.  A good place to begin would be _Textual Criticism of 
> the
> > Hebrew Bible_ by Emanuel Tov.  He also deals with the 
> proto-Masoretic 
> > and
> > proto-Samaritan texts.
> >
> > gfsomsel
> > _________
> >
> > On Sun, 6 Jun 2004 09:57:15 -0400 Brian Roberts
> > <formoria at carolina.rr.com> writes:
> >> Dear Listmembers,
> >>
> >> Thank you for your help with my previous questions. I have 
> another,
> >>
> >> related line of thought to present to you for consideration and
> >> comments.
> >>
> >> The Book of the Acts of Solomon (as well as other “lost books”) 
> was
> >>
> >> translated into Greek and kept in the Alexandria Library 
> beginning
> >> in
> >> the reign of Ptolemy I Philadelphus, during the translation of 
> the
> >> LXX.
> >> To state unequivocally that this record was preserved requires 
> one
> >> of
> >> two pieces of evidence:
> >>
> >> a Extant physical manuscript or similar haghiographical evidence
> >> that
> >> fits the biblical description of “the book of the Acts of 
> Solomon”;
> >> b Undeniable evidence of the existence of this text, based on 
> either
> >> the
> >> comments and/or actions of others in proceeding years.
> >>
> >> The only reliable method by which these records could have been
> >> preserved was through the canonization of the Hebrew Bible.  That
> >> process was a two-fold one:
> >> 1.  Oral traditions were preserved among the Hebrews, describing
> >> events
> >> from their earliest history , were passed from  father to son, 
> from
> >>
> >> mother to daughter, as a sign of their heritage, for centuries;
> >> 2.  While the Israelites dutifully maintained records on the
> >> activities
> >> of their kings, royal families, and religious leaders, there was 
> not
> >>
> >> much attention given the knowledge they possessed as a people.  
> The
> >>
> >> Babylonian Captivity changed all that.  In 587 BCE, the 
> nobility,
> >> priests, and wealthy among Israelite society were shuffled off 
> in
> >> multitudes to Babylon for what would be 70 years of slavery.
> >> With the realization that they could lose their identity in
> >> Babylonia
> >> came a new desire to prevent that loss at all costs.  The 
> Israelite
> >>
> >> scholars were spurred into action.  “History was written, poetry 
> was
> >>
> >> collected, and the words of the great prophets were arranged and
> >> preserved” (Tullock 5).
> >> The process of canonization had begun.  Of course, it took many
> >> years
> >> for all of the available books and manuscripts to be collected, 
> and
> >> it
> >> is obvious that the source material used, including the “Book of 
> the
> >>
> >> Acts of Solomon” was being preserved during the Exilic Period.
> >> After
> >> much effort and time, there was finally composed a rudimentary
> >> Hebrew
> >> Bible.
> >> After the Israelite citizens were allowed to return to their
> >> homeland,
> >> released by a sympathetic Persian monarch, they took their 
> sacred
> >> writings with them.  It is actually superfluous to mention the
> >> extreme
> >> care that they took in preserving these manuscripts.  It is a
> >> historical
> >> fact that many texts survived the Exile, or else there would be 
> no
> >> Hebrew Bible today. There are multitudinous references by the
> >> biblical
> >> redactors to other sources in addition to the “Book of the Acts 
> of
> >> Solomon”, eg., “The Book of the Kings of Judah”. The offhand 
> manner
> >> in
> >> which these sources are cited suggest in the strongest manner 
> that
> >> they
> >> were still available to be read in some form during the 6th
> >> century.
> >>
> >> The Septuagint in Alexandria
> >>
> >> During the intervening years, from 515 BCE to the late third 
> century
> >>
> >> BCE, there was obviously some work done at reorganizing the 
> material
> >> in
> >> the Hebrew Canon, but it wasn’t until 275 BCE that the first 
> attempt
> >> was
> >> made at translating the scriptures; that task was performed at 
> the
> >> library in Alexandria, Egypt.  The Alexandria Library was the
> >> penultimate learning center on the African continent, indeed in 
> the
> >>
> >> whole Greek empire. Josephus records a significant event in the
> >> process
> >> of the library’s expansion which took place around 275 BCE:
> >>
> >> The occasion was this: -Demetrius Phalerius, who was 
> library-keeper
> >> to
> >> the king, was now endeavoring, if it were possible, to gather
> >> together
> >> all the books that were in the habitable earth, and buying
> >> whatsoever
> >> was anywhere valuable, or agreeable to the king’s 
> inclination...and
> >> when
> >> Ptolemy asked him how many ten thousands of books he had 
> collected,
> >> he
> >> replied, that he had already about twenty times ten thousand; 
> but
> >> that,
> >> in a little time, he should have fifty times ten thousand.  But 
> he
> >> said
> >> he had been informed that there were many books of laws among 
> the
> >> Jews
> >> worthy of inquiring after, and worthy of the king’s library...
> >> (Book
> >> XII, Chapter II, Section 1).
> >>
> >> It was this occasion and interest that prompted the Librarian to
> >> write a
> >> letter to Ptolemy, which expressed his own desire to acquire the
> >> Jewish
> >> books (Book XII, Chapter II, section 4).  After corresponding 
> with
> >> other
> >> scholars, Demetrius discovered that many of the Jewish writings 
> were
> >>
> >> written in Hebrew, not Greek, and were considered by the Jews to 
> be
> >>
> >> “Holy Law”; so, the librarian suggested that the king, Ptolemy,
> >> “...mayest write to the high priest of the Jews, to send six of 
> the
> >>
> >> elders out of every tribe, and those such as are most skillful 
> of
> >> the
> >> laws, that by their means we may learn the clear and agreeing 
> sense
> >> of
> >> those books...”  (Book XII, Chapter II, section 4).
> >>
> >> This series of narratives obviously describes the events which
> >> preceded
> >> the translation of the LXX.  The relevance here is clear:
> >> Everything,
> >> as far as religious texts, was there in Alexandria - the laws 
> and
> >> prophetic writings - all came, en masse and uncontested, from
> >> Israel.
> >> That is an historical fact, and requires no hypothesizing at 
> all.
> >> From
> >> these facts, it becomes simple and logical to conclude that the
> >> manuscript referred to as “the Book of the Acts of Solomon” in 
> II
> >> Kings
> >> 11:41 was also conveyed to Egypt.  In fact, it is to be expected, 
> as
> >>
> >> Greek interest in foreign manuscripts, especially the writings 
> from
> >>
> >> Israel, was not an idle one, as the king himself, Ptolemy
> >> Philadelphus,
> >> actively supported both this action and the library’s continued
> >> expansion.  The Hebrew texts remained in Egypt for a period of
> >> years,
> >> long enough to be copied, translated, and studied by Greek 
> scholars;
> >>
> >> then, they were returned home, along with the 70 translators. 
> That
> >> such
> >> a large number of unfiltered, unedited manuscripts were removed 
> to
> >> Alexandria shows up clearly in  the Alexandrian canon, where we 
> find
> >> the
> >> dozen-plus extra books not included in the MT. This is good 
> evidence
> >>
> >> that the MT we have is a later version, prepared after 
> additional
> >> canonical considerations were made.
> >>
> >> Any input?
> >>
> >> Brian Roberts
> >> _______________________________________________
> >> b-hebrew mailing list
> >> b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
> >> http://lists.ibiblio.org/mailman/listinfo/b-hebrew
> >>
> >>
> >
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> 
> 

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