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The Research Blog—Hebrew and Jewish Studies


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Scribal Culture and the Making of the Septuagint—by James Aitken

By uclhwis, on 2 December 2015

Please join us for this lecture:

Research seminar, Hebrew and Jewish Studies; Wednesday, 16 December, 4pm

Foster Court, 1st floor, room 132


Abstract: The Septuagint Pentateuch is to be understood not only as a resource for understanding the Hebrew Bible but as an important witness to Judaism in the third to second centuries BCE. To appreciate this Greek translation we should understand the neglected place of the text within the scribal cultural tradition of the time. It can be seen that through comparison of the translation technique with evidence of Greek scribal practice in Egypt, and through examination of the role that Greek had for all religious groups there, that the Jewish translators can be placed in a social class within Egypt. This has implications for how we understand features in the translation and how we understand the place of Jews within Ptolemaic Egypt.


Bio: James Aitken specialises in second temple Judaism and in the Greek and Hebrew languages, and more recently has focused upon the Septuagint. He pays particular attention to the language of the Septuagint and to the evidence offered by inscriptions and papyri as a means of recovering the social history of the text. Recent publications include No Stone Unturned: Greek Inscriptions and Septuagint Vocabulary (CSHB; Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2014), The T&T Clark Companion to the Septuagint (London: T&T Clark, 2015), and The Jewish-Greek Tradition in Antiquity and the Byzantine Empire (ed. with James Carleton Paget; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014).


Further reading: Technical papers relevant to today’s seminar are (all on his academia.edu page): ‘The Significance of Rhetoric in the Greek Pentateuch,’ in J.K. Aitken, K.J. Dell, and B.A. Mastin (eds), On Stone and Scroll (BZAW 420; Berlin: de Gruyter, 2011), 507–21; ‘The Language of the Septuagint and Jewish Greek Identity’, in James K. Aitken and James Carleton Paget (eds.), The Jewish-Greek Tradition in Antiquity and the Byzantine Empire (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 120-34; and, ‘The Septuagint and Egyptian Translation Methods’, in M. Maiser & M. van der Meer (eds), XV Congress of the International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies, Munich 2013 (Atlanta, Ga.: SBL Press, forthcoming).

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