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The Greatest Translation Of All Time: The Cultural Importance Of The Septuagint

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Chapter Summary

The Septuagint began as a translation into Greek undertaken, by seventy Jerusalem elders who, by invitation of the king of Egypt, came to the City of Alexandria and translated the Torah in seventy days. What was translated in the third century BCE was not the whole of the later Jewish canon but only Torah, that specifies and memorializes a covenant between God and Israel. Learned Jews knew that the Septuagint had once been their own proud possession, while, similarly, learned Christians knew that the original did have claims against any translation. The controversies that divided Christians and Jews over the Septuagint and its status must not be allowed to obscure a larger fact that redounds to the credit and ultimately to the benefit of both groups. This chapter insists that before Philo, there was the Septuagint, as indispensable to his expository and exploratory mode as Homer was to Plato himself.

Keywords: Alexandria; Christianity; Greek translation; Jerusalem; Jews; Philo; Septuagint; Torah



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