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The Septuagint is a third century B.C. Greek translation of the Old Testament. The word septuaginta is Latin for 70.

The Septuagint gets its name from the 70 or 72 Jewish scholars allegedly involved in the project. They worked in Alexandria during the reign of Ptolemy II Philadelphus (285-247 B.C.), according to the Letter of Aristeas to his brother Philocrates. These scholars were assembled to translate the Hebrew Old Testament into the Greek language because Koine Greek was supplanting Hebrew as the language of the Jewish people in the Hellenistic Period.

Aristeas comes up with the figure of 72 by calculating six elders for each of the 12 tribes of Israel. Adding to the legend and symbolism of the number is the idea that the translation was created in 72 days.

Source: "Why Study the Septuagint?" by Melvin K. H. Peters. The Biblical Archaeologist, Vol. 49, No. 3 (Sep., 1986), pp. 174-181. (This article lists editions of the Septuagint.)

According to Calvin J. Roetzel in The World That Shaped the New Testament, the original Septuagint only contained the Pentateuch. The Pentateuch is the Greek version of the Torah, which consists of the first five books of the Bible, telling the story of the Israelites from Creation to the leave-taking of Moses. The specific books are Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Later versions of the Septuagint included the other two sections of the Hebrew Bible, Prophets and Writings. Roetzel discusses a latter-day embellishment to the Septuagint legend (now probably qualifying as a miracle): not only did 72 scholars working independently make separate translations in 70 days, but these translations agreed in every detail.

Featured Thursday's Term to Learn.

Also Known As: LXX
The Septuagint contains Greek idioms that express things differently from the way they were expressed in the Hebrew Old Testament.

The term Septuagint is sometimes used to refer to any Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible.

Books of the Septuagint (Source: CCEL)

  • Genesis
  • Exodus
  • Leviticus
  • Numbers
  • Deuteronomy
  • Joshua
  • Judges
  • Ruth
  • Kings (Samuel) I
  • Kings (Samuel) II
  • Kings III
  • Kings IV
  • Paralipomenon (Chronicles) I
  • Paralipomenon (Chronicles) II
  • Esdras I
  • Esdras I (Ezra)
  • Nehemiah
  • Psalms of David
  • Prayer of Manasseh
  • Proverbs
  • Ecclesiastes
  • Song of Solomon
  • Job
  • Wisdom of Solomon
  • Wisdom of the Son of Sirach
  • Esther
  • Judith
  • Tobit
  • Hosea
  • Amos
  • Micah
  • Joel
  • Obadiah
  • Jonah
  • Nahum
  • Habakkuk
  • Zephaniah
  • Haggai
  • Zechariah
  • Malachi
  • Isaiah
  • Jeremiah
  • Baruch
  • Lamentations of Jeremiah
  • Epistles of Jeremiah
  • Ezekial
  • Daniel
  • Song of the Three Children
  • Susanna
  • Bel and the Dragon
  • I Maccabees
  • II Maccabees
  • III Maccabees

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