Philo Wasn't Entirely Dependent on Aristeas for his Knowledge of the Translation of the LXX

Discussion about the Hebrew Bible, Septuagint, pseudepigrapha, Philo, Josephus, Talmud, Dead Sea Scrolls, archaeology, etc.
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Secret Alias
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Re: Philo Wasn't Entirely Dependent on Aristeas for his Knowledge of the Translation of the LXX

Post by Secret Alias »

Another idea. Celsus distinguishes between Jews and Christians because the former were well established:
As the Jews, then, became a peculiar people, and enacted laws in keeping with the customs of their country, and maintain them up to the present time, and observe a mode of worship which, whatever be its nature, is yet derived from their fathers, they act in these respects like other men, because each nation retains its ancestral customs, whatever they are, if they happen to be established among them. And such an arrangement appears to be advantageous, not only because it has occurred to the mind of other nations to decide some things differently, but also because it is a duty to protect what has been established for the public advantage; and also because, in all probability, the various quarters of the earth were from the beginning allotted to different superintending spirits, and were thus allotted among certain governing powers, and in this manner the administration of the world is carried on. And whatever is done among each nation in this way would be rightly done, wherever it was agreeable to the wishes of the superintending powers, while it would be an act of impiety to get rid of the institutions established from the beginning in the various places. We must observe the laws because it is a duty to protect what has been enacted; because of the superintendents distributed among the different parts of the earth, what is done among each nation is rightly done.
Celsus doesn't particularly like the Jews and refers to them in disparaging terms. But could those words be used of a tradition that was founded in 270 CE? I don't think so. If Celsus had run across a story of the Jews having written their text recently in Alexandria he couldn't have written the following either:
History proves the claims to great antiquity put forth by many nations, as the Athenians, and Egyptians, and Arcadians, and Phrygians, who assert that certain individuals have existed among them who sprang from the earth, and who each adduce proofs of these assertions. The Jews, then, leading a grovelling life in some corner of Palestine, and being a wholly uneducated people, who had not heard that these matters had been committed to verse long ago by Hesiod and innumerable other inspired men, wove together some most incredible and insipid stories, viz., that a certain man was formed by the hands of God, and had breathed into him the breath of life. [Genesis 2:7.] Thus fashioned by the hands of God, the man was inflated by breath blown into him. A woman was taken from his side, and God issued certain commands, and a serpent opposed these, and gained a victory over the commandments of God; the serpent counteracted the injunctions given by God to the man. Thus they relate certain old wives’ fables, and most impiously represent God as weak at the very beginning of things, and unable to convince and gain over to obedience even a single human being whom he himself had formed.

The more modest among Jews and Christians are ashamed of these things, and endeavor to give them somehow an allegorical signification. They speak, in the next place, of a deluge, and of a monstrous ark, having within it all things, and of a dove and a crow as messengers, falsifying and recklessly altering the story of Deucalion; not expecting, I suppose, that these things would come to light, but imagining that they were inventing stories merely for young children. Altogether absurd, and out of season is the account of the begetting of children, the conspiracies of the brothers, a father’s sorrow, the crafty procedure of mothers. God presented his sons with asses, and sheep, and camels! God gave wells also to the righteous. The story of Lot and his daughters is worse than the crimes of Thyestes. The narrative describes the hatred of one brother for another, brothers who treacherously sally out on account of the insult offered to their sister, who had been violated by the son of a king, brothers selling one another, a brother sold, and a father deceived. They tell of the dreams of the chief butler and chief baker, and of Pharaoh, and of the explanation of them, in consequence of which Joseph was taken out of prison in order to be entrusted by Pharaoh with the second place in Egypt.

He who had been sold behaved kindly to his brethren who had sold him, when they were suffering from hunger, and had been sent with their asses to purchase provisions. Joseph made himself known to his brethren; Joseph, who had been sold as a slave, was restored to liberty, and went up with a solemn procession to his father’s funeral. [Genesis 50:7.] By whom (Joseph, namely) the illustrious and divine nation of the Jews, after growing up in Egypt to be a multitude of people, was commanded to sojourn somewhere beyond the limits of the kingdom, and to pasture their flocks in districts of no repute.
If the proofs or evidence for the the Pentateuch having been "invented" in Alexandria by Jewish writers having access to the library of Alexandria and the Greek works contained therein, he would certainly have mentioned it in the True Word. If such information was beyond an educated man like Celsus the evidence to support Gmirkin's hypothesis likely didn't exist anywhere.
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neilgodfrey
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Re: Philo Wasn't Entirely Dependent on Aristeas for his Knowledge of the Translation of the LXX

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Secret Alias wrote: Fri Dec 16, 2022 11:09 am Another idea. Celsus distinguishes between Jews and Christians because the former were well established:

. . . .
Celsus doesn't particularly like the Jews and refers to them in disparaging terms. But could those words be used of a tradition that was founded in 270 CE? I don't think so. If Celsus had run across a story of the Jews having written their text recently in Alexandria he couldn't have written the following either:

. . . .

If the proofs or evidence for the the Pentateuch having been "invented" in Alexandria by Jewish writers having access to the library of Alexandria and the Greek works contained therein, he would certainly have mentioned it in the True Word. If such information was beyond an educated man like Celsus the evidence to support Gmirkin's hypothesis likely didn't exist anywhere.
You are missing the whole point of the Hellenistic provenance thesis.

Besides, your criticisms would equally apply if the Pentateuch were known to have been written in the Persian era and not by Moses in much earlier times.

The Pentateuch itself says its words were written by Moses and by God in the time of Moses. That was its point: to take on the appearance of an ancient text written back in the mists of time.

We see the same ploy being used in the narrative of King Josiah and the discovery of the book of the Law. Many scholars identify this book of the Law with Deuteronomy and that the story of Josiah's discovery of it was invented to make the book sound much older than it really was. The astute modern reader suspects that the Josiah story is written to "prove" that Deuteronomy was very old but it was really written in Josiah's own time.

We have the same with Homeric literature in the non-Jewish world. Someone (or two) in the first century of this era wrote works claiming to be by eyewitnesses to Homer's Trojan war and those accounts were believed by many to be genuine right through to and beyond the Middle Ages.

We find other instances of works claiming to be old, and believed by readers to be old, but that were in fact written in relatively recent times.

If the Pentateuch advertized itself as being written in the Hellenistic era by scribes in Alexandria or anywhere else then its purpose of being a work of divine authority would have been lost.

The point of the Pentateuch is that it appears to be written with the authority of God. How else would anyone expect it to be embraced and believed?

A popular "game" in antiquity was attempting to prove that "your civilization" was the oldest and therefore in some way the "best" -- or that your civilization was directly connected with "the oldest civilization" and took from that oldest culture the "true things" that were true from the beginning. Hence some Jews wrote their history in ways to try to demonstrate that it was the Greeks, including Plato, who learned their smarts from the Jews, the Bible.
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Secret Alias
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Re: Philo Wasn't Entirely Dependent on Aristeas for his Knowledge of the Translation of the LXX

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Besides, your criticisms would equally apply if the Pentateuch were known to have been written in the Persian era and not by Moses in much earlier times.
That is true. And I acknowledged as much. But Celsus makes clear that even scholars writing while the Library of Alexandria functioned couldn't find evidence (a "library card" where the Seventy borrowed Plato and the rest - joke) of borrowing. FWIW Celsus repeated argues that the Pentateuch borrowed from Egyptian sources likely Moses himself.
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Re: Philo Wasn't Entirely Dependent on Aristeas for his Knowledge of the Translation of the LXX

Post by Russell Gmirkin »

Secret Alias wrote: Sat Dec 17, 2022 3:17 pm
Besides, your criticisms would equally apply if the Pentateuch were known to have been written in the Persian era and not by Moses in much earlier times.
That is true. And I acknowledged as much. But Celsus makes clear that even scholars writing while the Library of Alexandria functioned couldn't find evidence (a "library card" where the Seventy borrowed Plato and the rest - joke) of borrowing. FWIW Celsus repeated argues that the Pentateuch borrowed from Egyptian sources likely Moses himself.
Just in case you know something about Celsus that I'm unaware of, could you be more specific, perhaps quote a specific passage you are thinking of? Or is this just your broad interpretation or inference based on your reading of Celsus (who, like the rest of the Graeco-Roman world, assumed that the Books of Moses were centuries older than the Greeks).

Let me note that Aristobulus (150 BCE) catalogued EXTENSIVE evidence of borrowing, involving many many Greek sources. So did the Church Father Eusebius with respect to Plato in specific. But both authors, noting various direct literary parallels between the Pentateuch and Greek sources assumed that the Greeks borrowed from Moses, rather than Moses borrowing from the Greeks, since Moses was supposed to be older than all of Greek literature. It's only in the last 30 years that scholars have raised the possibility that Moses was actually younger than these various related Greek texts.
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Secret Alias
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Re: Philo Wasn't Entirely Dependent on Aristeas for his Knowledge of the Translation of the LXX

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I know that Celsus (a) assumed "the Jews" didn't have the "(t)rue (w)ord" like other "first" nations but (b) borrowed from Egyptians not the Greeks. When Celsus itemizes Greek borrowings he isolates this to the Christians. The bulk of one of the books of Origen (Book 5 from memory but it might be 6) is "proof" that the Christians borrowed their ideas from Plato. If Celsus knew that the Jews stole all their ideas from Greek writers he would have structured his arguments differently.
Russell Gmirkin
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Re: Philo Wasn't Entirely Dependent on Aristeas for his Knowledge of the Translation of the LXX

Post by Russell Gmirkin »

Secret Alias wrote: Sat Dec 17, 2022 5:48 pm I know that Celsus (a) assumed "the Jews" didn't have the "(t)rue (w)ord" like other "first" nations but (b) borrowed from Egyptians not the Greeks. When Celsus itemizes Greek borrowings he isolates this to the Christians. The bulk of one of the books of Origen (Book 5 from memory but it might be 6) is "proof" that the Christians borrowed their ideas from Plato. If Celsus knew that the Jews stole all their ideas from Greek writers he would have structured his arguments differently.
Well of course no one in antiquity realized that the Jews and Samaritans stole their ideas from the Greeks, because they all naively believed Moses wrote a thousand years before Plato. It was literally only until 1993 that Lemche raised the possibility that "Moses" wrote in the Hellenistic Era, that is, AFTER Plato.

Of course Celsus might raise the possibility of the Jews borrowing from the Egyptians, because everyone knew the Egyptians were the oldest of all civilizations, older even than Moses. Egypt was already 10,000 years old when Moses writing the Torah in 1400 BC, but the classical Greeks civilization only appears around 700 BC, so with Egypt < Moses < Greeks < Christians of course one might suggest Moses borrowed from the Egyptians (Celsus) and the Greeks borrowed from Moses (Aristobulus/Eusebius) and the Christians borrowed from the Greeks (Celsus). All dictated by simple chronological assumptions about their relative ages. You see my point.

But I will read my Celsus again sometime to follow up on your observation. Thanks.
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Secret Alias
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Re: Philo Wasn't Entirely Dependent on Aristeas for his Knowledge of the Translation of the LXX

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I am a coward. I've developed a number of theories which people at the forum hate. My one prejudice through everything is that in order for something previously unknown to be rediscovered by modern scholars there would have to be some trace of it in ancient writings. So I spend most of my time digging through boring books.

That doesn't mean in fact everything ancient theory necessarily HAD TO or HAS TO have ancient witnesses it to it. That new "totally unknown" Roman emperor from last days of the Empire is one example. I guess I should have said, IT'S MORE LIKELY to be true that ancient witnesses should attest for an idea. My bad.
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neilgodfrey
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Re: Philo Wasn't Entirely Dependent on Aristeas for his Knowledge of the Translation of the LXX

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Secret Alias wrote: Sun Dec 18, 2022 1:53 pm I guess I should have said, IT'S MORE LIKELY to be true that ancient witnesses should attest for an idea. My bad.
It is a simple fact that most ancients had no idea about their remote origins. This applies to the Romans, the Greeks, the Babylonians, ... all of them. How could they know? It is also a simple fact that most educated persons even through late antiquity and early western history had no idea of the facts about their remote origins. Herodotus tried to find out about the origins of the Greeks and could only come up with myths and report them as the best information he had.

It is also a fact that societies generally constructed myths to create stories about their origins or the origins of certain institutions and belief systems. The Bible is just one of many set of writings that contain stories of mythical origins. A renowned modern scholar of ancient Greece and Rome said that most of what was written by the Greeks and Romans about their histories is useless for anyone seriously interested in knowing exactly what happened. The ancient writers abhorred gaps in their knowledge so -- as a rule, not as an exception -- they manufactured stories to fill in the gaps.

As a rule -- not as an exception -- it takes the skills of modern research methods to begin to uncover some bare-bones facts about the origins of various cultures.

Some of us don't mind having our beliefs challenged. ;)
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Re: Philo Wasn't Entirely Dependent on Aristeas for his Knowledge of the Translation of the LXX

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Why do you Neil make everything about you, me, us, modern people? The question that is being discussed is whether the lack of ancient testimonials hurts the credibility of an idea. For instance, to use a modern example, does it hurt the credibility of the idea that "the CIA were behind the JFK assassination" IF (I am not commenting on whether or not there is such evidence or not) there was no testimonials supporting the idea? Similarly the idea that the US government was behind 9/11, that Jews control all the banks, that MI5 killed Princess Diana. If no one came along from the 20th or 21st century to argue on behalf of these ideas and then someone from the 30th century made the case for the first time, would the argument be hurt that no one from the contemporary period argued on behalf of the idea. This can't be "personalized" by you. I am just asking if it hurts or hinders the argument.
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Re: Philo Wasn't Entirely Dependent on Aristeas for his Knowledge of the Translation of the LXX

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Secret Alias wrote: Sun Dec 18, 2022 3:02 pm Why do you Neil make everything about you, me, us, modern people?
No way. It's about learning about the past. It's about "them", not us. It's about learning more about the past with better techniques. Historians do a much better job today of showing us the past than they used to.
Secret Alias wrote: Sun Dec 18, 2022 3:02 pm The question that is being discussed is whether the lack of ancient testimonials hurts the credibility of an idea.
That's kinda twisting what "it's about". Of course we work with "ancient testimonials". They are the bread and butter of the historian. Along with archaeology. But historical researchers have learned the danger of naively accepting those "ancient testimonials" at face value.

We no longer read the book of Exodus and believe that God really came down on Mount Sinai and gave the ten commandments. We have learned to analyse texts in a way that gets us beyond a naive reading.

It's a fact that Herodotus had no idea about the origins of the Greeks. That's not making it about "us". Historians are interested in understanding why Herodotus believed and wrote what he did and what the evidence -- all of it, not just Herdotus's myths -- can tell us about the past.

I have tried to make this point several times before with you but you seem to ignore any discussion about how detectives, historians, investigators of anything go about their work in the most reliable way they can.

Secret Alias wrote: Sun Dec 18, 2022 3:02 pmThis can't be "personalized" by you. I am just asking if it hurts or hinders the argument.
Why do YOU personalize everything and throw up this business about me. It has nothing to do with me and there is nothing in what I said that makes it about me. It is only you who is trying to make it about me. I am trying to understand what historians do and how best to understand the past. I referred to a notable modern historian -- Moses I. Finley. Do you disagree with him on how historians should do history?
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