The Letter of Aristeas

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Even though the Letter of Aristeas was unmasked as a pseudepigraphon over 400 years ago, the question of its value as a historical source continues to dominate the field of Septuagint Studies. First, this chapter discusses how the genre of the Letter of Aristeas is actually a mix of historiography, rhetorical display, Hellenistic philosophy, and biblical wisdom literature. Next, it discusses several recent approaches to the problem of historicity: the search for a kernel of historical truth in the Letter, the application of insights from the study of ancient historiography, and the Letter as a source for the reception history of the Septuagint. Finally, it addresses the identification of the Aristeas story as a social myth of Alexandrian Jewish society.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of the Septuagint
EditorsAlison Salvesen, T. Michael Law
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9780199665716
ISBN (Print)9780199665716
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Ancient historiography
  • Genre
  • Historicity
  • Reception history
  • Rhetoric
  • Social myth


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