Thursday, August 9, 2012

Septuagint (ca 250 BC)

Alexander of Macedon led his army to victory in the conquest of Egypt in 332 BC. He ordered the construction of Alexandria the next year. He then left Egypt to battle in other lands and never returned.

Alexandria grew rich through trade in all directions. By 300 BC, it was bigger than Carthage and the largest port on the Mediterranean Sea. By 200 BC, it was the largest city in the whole Mediterranean world.

Following the conquests of Alexander’s army, Greek language and culture became popular in all the lands bordering the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Greek became the universal language much as English is the universal language now. Alexandria became the center of that culture and the favorite place for Greek-speaking people to live.

Many of the people involved in trade and speaking Greek were Jews. By 200 BC, Alexandria was home to the largest and richest Jewish community in the world.

The Jews of Alexandria were fluent in Greek but not in Hebrew. They wanted a translation of Jewish Scripture into their own language. The Septuagint was the result.

The name, “Septuagint,” comes from the Latin title of the book, versio septuaginta interpretum, which means “the version of the seventy interpreters.” That name is based on the story of how the Septuagint came to be written. According to tradition, seventy Jewish scholars spent seventy days making the translation. The translation was made at the fabled library of Alexandria with the support of Ptolemy 2nd around 250 BC.

The Septuagint was the version of Jewish Scripture read and quoted by Paul the Apostle and other early Christians. It remains the basis of the Old Testament used today by Orthodox Christian churches.

Copyright © 2012 by Steven Farsaci. All rights reserved. Fair use encouraged.