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The Greek Old Testament

The Septuagint is an ancient Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures i.e. the Old Testament, which was originally written in Hebrew. Many of the Old Testament quotations found in the New Testament are taken from the Septuagint. Genesis 1:1-7 is shown, in Greek, in the illustration below.

The Septuagint Translators

Genesis 1:1-7 in Greek There are differing opinions regarding the origin of the Septuagint, which was translated by Greek-speaking Jews in Alexandria, Egypt, sometime between 250 and 100 B.C., in the Between The Testaments era of Bible History. Septuagint means seventy, from the supposed number of translators, and the Roman numerals for seventy, LXX, are also used for it.

According to one tradition, it was began specifically at the request of Ptolemy Philadelphus (reigned 285-247 B.C. - see The Ptolemies) who wished to have a copy of the Bible for the great Alexandrian library. Seventy (or seventy-two) skilled Jewish language experts were brought to Egypt from Jerusalem, where they first translated The Pentateuch (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy), and then the rest of what is commonly known as the Old Testament (see Old Testament Fact File), from the original Hebrew.

Another tradition says that it was produced merely to serve the needs of Hellenized (Greek-speaking) Jews, and others, who were unable to read Hebrew (see The Hebrew Alphabet and The Greek Alphabet)..

Greek was the language of the Middle East civilized world at the time of the translation of the Septuagint, and for long after. It was commonly spoken during the time of Jesus Christ. The New Testament (see New Testament Fact File) was also originally written in Greek.

Fact Finder: What other language, besides Hebrew and Greek, could Jesus Christ speak?
See Aramaic


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