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Another Look at Sosates, The “Jewish Homer”

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image of Journal for the Study of Judaism

Abstract A late eighth-century Latin translation of a Greek Alexandrian chronograph of the second quarter of the sixth century contains a reference to a Sosates, who is described as a “Jewish Homer” who lived in Alexandria. The first, and most complicated, difficulty with this short entry is determining Sosates’ date, which would seem to be the second quarter of the first century B.C.E. The next difficulty is working out what “Jewish Homer” means. Clues are provided by the Jewish poets Philo, Theodotus, and Ezekiel, who used Greek tragic and epic verse to describe Jewish content including the Old Testament, and by the later tradition of Christian Biblical epic in Greek and Latin, which we know of from the fourth century onwards. These examples suggest that Sosates turned some part of the early books of the Old Testament into Homeric verse.

Affiliations: 1: Dept. of Classics and Religious Studies 55 Laurier Ave. E. University of Ottawa Ottawa, ON K1N 6N5 Canada


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