The Letter of Aristeas tells the story of how Ptolemy Philadelphus of Egypt commissioned seventy scholars to translate the Hebrew Bible into Greek. Long accepted as a straightforward historical account of a cultural enterprise in Ptolemaic Alexandria, the Letter nevertheless poses serious interpretative problems. Sylvie Honigman argues that the Letter should not be regarded as history, but as a charter myth for diaspora Judaism. She expounds its generic affinities with other works on Jewish history from Ptolemaic Alexandria, and argues that the process of translation was simultaneously a process of establishing an authoritative text, comparable to the work on the text of Homer being carried out by contemporary Greek scholars. The Letter of Aristeas is among the most intriguing literary productions of Ptolemaic Alexandria, and this is the first book-length study to be devoted to it.
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