Protestant Bible: A Journey Through Centuries - THE OLD TESTAMENT IN GREEK

The world no-longer has complete copies of the scrolls which scholars used to create the Septuagint (a translation of the Jewish Torah into Greek). Only fragments of priceless manuscripts remain. Image of ancient scrolls online via "The Logos Academic Blog."


According to legend, one of Alexander's successors, Ptolemy II Philadelphus (282-246 B.C.), wanted a copy of every known book in the world in his famous Library. He also wanted something no one had: a Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures.

Ptolemy had a slight problem, however. Only Jews understood Hebrew, and only Greek-speaking Jews could translate the Torah (the books of Moses) for the Library.

According to the Letter of Aristeas, Ptolemy II wanted Jewish scholars from Jerusalem to translate the Torah in Alexandria.

Although scholars still debate whether it happened this way (and whether the "Letter of Aristeas" is even genuine), the Old Testament in Greek may have been born when seventy-two Jewish scholars, working near one of the seven wonders of the ancient world (Alexandria's Great Lighthouse) were able to complete their translation of the Torah within seventy-two days.

In honor of those scholars, the Greek Old Testament was called the Septuagint.

Today we still have fragments from the Septuagint, such as Psalm 88:4-8, which are written in Greek. The oldest, most complete copy of the Greek Old Testament is the Codex Sinaiticus, which was found in the 19th century by a German scholar (Constantine von Tischendorf) at St. Catherine's Monastery at the foot of Mt. Sinai.

Experts believe it was copied about 350 A.D.

Saved from being burned as fuel for 19th-century monks, the Sinaiticus was probably copied nearly the same time as another ancient Greek manuscript containing the Old Testament: the Codex Vaticanus.

Because von Tischendorf had previously seen the Vatican's treasure, he was able to recognize what the monks at St. Catherine's had nearly destroyed: a priceless Greek manuscript of Christendom's sacred Scriptures. He convinced the monks to give the manuscript to Tsar Alexander II of Russia, von Tischendorf's sponsor.

It remained in Leningrad (now called St Petersburg) until 1933, when the Soviet government sold it to the British Museum for 100,000 pounds.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Jul 01, 2002

Updated Last Revision: Jul 05, 2019

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"THE OLD TESTAMENT IN GREEK" AwesomeStories.com. Jul 01, 2002. Feb 23, 2020.
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