“Ptolemy was highly satisfied with this knowledgeable team, and hosted it lavishly on the Island of Pharos, off the Alexandrian coast where the famous lighthouse stood. The Law was soon translated, precious gifts were exchanged, the translators returned home, and Ptolemy released all Jewish prisoners of war he held.
“In his Life of Moses (vii:41-2), Philo writes that an annual festival was still held at Pharos in his day to celebrate the translation of the Septuagint. He witnessed a joyous festival, in which not only Jews, but a great number of ‘persons of other nations sailed across the bay to honor the placed where the first light of interpretation shone forth, and to thank God for that ancient piece of beneficence…. And after the prayers and the giving of thanks, some of them pitched their tents on the shore, and some of them lay down without any tents in the open air on the sand of the shone, and feasted with their relations and friends, thinking the shore at that time a more beautiful abode than the furniture of the king’s palace.’”
Two thousand, three hundred years after its appearance, the Septuagint is still the most unbiased record of God’s revelation to His people. And that is why we, the new Israel, the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostle Church, still cherish it.
The text that follows has been prepared by Father Arsenius, monk, of Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Brookline, MA.
If you are Orthodox you need more than a mere list of books. The translation of the books in question must be made from the authentic text of those books. The translations “made from the original Hebrew” which Protestant preachers are always waving about in the air and thumping, are, alas! not what they claim to be. When the last Jewish editors of the present Hebrew text finished revising it, (which was over 1000 years after Christ) they demanded that all copies of Hebrew scripture which varied from their own be completely destroyed on pain of death if the owner of any such copies failed to comply. This demand was carried out so faithfully from Toledo in Spain to Babylon in Mesopotamia (an enormous area, if you look at your map) that until the finding of the so-called “Dead Sea Scrolls” only one earlier copy of the older Hebrew text had ever been recovered (the celebrated “Cairo Genizeh” copy.)
To put it simply: The original Hebrew of the sacred text no longer exists as a whole in any available form. Perhaps it is buried, one way or another, part here, part there, among the mass of fragmentary materials we call the Dead Sea Scrolls, or in other archaeological finds still to be made, but capable editors have not yet sorted out all this material. And capable editors are hard to find.
But all is not lost. God never leaves His people unprovided for. In the famous Greek translation made for the great Library of Alexandria by command of the king of Egypt about 290 B.C. (we call this translation the Septuagint for “the Seventy” –actually, 72– learned Jewish scholars who did the work, they being specially chosen for their spiritual wisdom and for their linguistic skills by the High Priest at Jerusalem) we find the original text fully preserved and faithfully rendered into a language at once more exact and intelligible, as the ancient Jews themselves were delighted to recognize, than is the Ancient Hebrew. Indeed, God Himself prophesies, and therefore has Himself overseen the making of, the Septuagint translation. In the Book of the Prophet Sophonias (3.9; Zephaniah 3:9), He explicitly says, “For then will I change for the peoples my language for their generations, that they may all call upon the Name of the Lord, to serve him under one yoke.” The one yoke, of course, is Christ’s (see Matt. 11.29.)