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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol II:
CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: Chapter XXII.—On the Greek Translation of the Old Testament.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XXII.—On the Greek Translation of the Old Testament.

So much for the details respecting dates, as stated variously by many, and as set down by us.

It is said that the Scriptures both of the law and of the prophets were translated from the dialect of the Hebrews into the Greek language in the reign of Ptolemy the son of Lagos, or, according to others, of Ptolemy surnamed Philadelphus; Demetrius Phalereus bringing to this task the greatest earnestness, and employing painstaking accuracy on the materials for the translation. For the Macedonians being still in possession of Asia, and the king being ambitious of adorning the library he had at Alexandria with all writings, desired the people of Jerusalem to translate the prophecies they possessed into the Greek dialect. And they being the subjects of the Macedonians, selected from those of highest character among them seventy elders, versed in the Scriptures, and skilled in the Greek dialect, and sent them to him with the divine books. And each having severally translated each prophetic book, and all the translations being compared together, they agreed both in meaning and expression. For it was the counsel of God carried out for the benefit of Grecian ears. It was not alien to the inspiration of God, who gave the prophecy, also to produce the translation, and make it as it were Greek prophecy. Since the Scriptures having perished in the captivity of Nabuchodonosor, Esdras 2096 the Levite, the priest, in the time of Artaxerxes king of the Persians, having become inspired in the exercise of prophecy restored again the whole of the ancient Scriptures. And Aristobulus, in his first book addressed to Philometor, writes in these words: “And Plato followed the laws given to us, and had manifestly studied all that is said in them.” And before Demetrius there had been translated by another, previous to the dominion of Alexander and of the Persians, the account of the departure of our countrymen the Hebrews from Egypt, and the fame of all that happened to them, and their taking possession of the land, and the account of the whole code of laws; so that it is perfectly clear that the above-mentioned philosopher derived a great deal from this source, for he was very learned, as also Pythagoras, who transferred many things from our books to his own system of doctrines. And Numenius, the Pythagorean philosopher, expressly writes: “For what is Plato, but Moses speaking p. 335 in Attic Greek?” This Moses was a theologian and prophet, and as some say, an interpreter of sacred laws. His family, his deeds, and life, are related by the Scriptures themselves, which are worthy of all credit; but have nevertheless to be stated by us also as well as we can. 2097



[The work of Ezra, as Clement testifies concerning it, adds immensely to the common ideas of his place in the history of the canon.]


[Concerning the LXX., see cap. vii. p. 308, note 4, supra.]

Next: Chapter XXIII.—The Age, Birth, and Life of Moses.

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