ARISTEAS [ascribed to]. The Auncient History of the Septuagint. VVritten in Greeke, by Aristeus 1900. Yeares since. Of his Voyage to Hierusalem, as Ambassador from Ptolomeus Philadelphus, vnto Eleazer then pontiffe of the Iewes. Concerning the First translation of the Holy Bible, by the 72. Interpreters. With many other remarkable Circumstances. Newly done into English by I. Done. London, N. Okes, 1633.
12mo. Early 20th-century full polished tan calf, spine with raised bands and with two red morocco lettering-pieces; pp. [xvi, including initial blank], 80, 89-184, 189-219, ; a little worming with slight loss of letters and light spotting.
Very rare first edition in English of this Hellenistic text of the 2nd century BCE describing how the Septuagint was produced, based on the editio princeps, published in Basel in 1561. The Hellenized Greek speaking Jewish community needed a Greek version of the Hebrew Bible, as well as the Ptolemaic king of Egypt Ptolemy II Philadelphus, as the founder of the most famous library of the ancient world - described here for the first time - was interested to have this influential text corpus in his collection. This work relates how the Egyptian chief librarian urges his king to have Hebrew legal texts translated. He sends envoys to the Temple in Jerusalem and the High Priest choses 72 men (sometimes 70 - hence the name Septuagint) to translate independently the entire corpus and they arrived at almost identical Greek versions. Apart from the detailed narrative of the diplomatic correspondence between Alexandria and Jerusalem, and the philosophical debate about the result at the Egyptian court, the book gives details about the topography, population and trades of Jerusalem and the surrounding countryside as experienced by the Egyptian envoys on their journey. - This translation was frequently and erroneously attributed to the poet John Donne, even by Keynes.