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Saturday, January 17, 2009


"Aquila, a Jewish proselyte who lived in the early second century, made a Greek translation of the Old Testament. Thereafter, the Jews used it in preference to the Septuagint, which had become the Old Testament of the Christians.

It is not as some allege,...."Behold, a young woman will conceive and bring forth a son"-as Theodotion the Ephesian has interpreted it and Aquila of Pontus, both of whom are Jewish proselytes. Irenaeus (180 w/W),

I have compared our own copies with theirs that have the confirmation of the versions never subjected to corruption of Aquila, Theodotion, and Symmachus. Origen (228,E)

Aquila, following the Hebrew reading, gives it in this manner. He obtained a reputation among the Jews for having interpreted the Scriptures with no ordinary care. His version is most commonly used by those who do not know Hebrew, being the one that has been most successful. Origen (240 E)"

And the Wikipedia says:
"Aquila of Sinope was a 2nd Century AD native of Pontus in Anatolia known for producing an exceedingly literal translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek around 130 AD.[1] He was a proselyte to Judaism and a disciple of Rabbi Akiba[1] (d. circa 135 AD). He is generally regarded as being he who was named Onkelos, the writer of Targum Onkelos.

Epiphanius (De Pond. et Mens. c. 15) preserves a tradition that he was a kinsman of the emperor Hadrian, who employed him in rebuilding Jerusalem (Aelia Capitolina), and that he was converted to Christianity, but, on being reproved for practising pagan astrology, converted to Judaism. He seems to be referred to in Jewish writings as עקילס. Aquila's version is said to have been used in place of the Septuagint in the synagogues. The Christians generally disliked it, alleging without due grounds that it rendered the Messianic passages, such as Isaiah 7:14,[1] incorrectly, but Jerome and Origen speak in its praise. Origen incorporated it in his Hexapla.

It was thought that this was the only copy extant, but in 1897 fragments of two codices were brought to the Cambridge University Library. These have been published—the fragments containing 1 Kings 20:7–17; 2 Kings 23:12–27 by F. C. Burkitt in 1897, and those containing parts of Psalms 90–103 by C. Taylor in 1899. See F. C. Burkitt's article in the Jewish Encyclopaedia."

I doubt if Origen praised it. Saint Jerome sometimes puts words in Origen's mouth.

The Jewish Encyclopedia says:
"Translator of the canonical Scriptures from Hebrew into Greek. He was by birth a Gentile from Pontus, and is said by Epiphanius to have been a connection by marriage of the emperor Hadrian and to have been appointed by him about the year 128 to an office concerned with the rebuilding of Jerusalem as "Ælia Capitolina." At some unknown age he joined the Christians, but afterward left them and became a proselyte to Judaism. According to Jerome he was a disciple of Rabbi Akiba. The Talmud states that he finished his translations under the influence of R. Akiba and that his other teachers were Eliezer ben Hyrcanus and Joshua ben Hananiah. It is certain, however, that Aquila's translation had appeared before the publication of Irenæus' "Adversus Hæreses"; i.e., before 177.

The work seems to have been entirely successful as regards the purpose for which it was intended (Jerome speaks of a second edition which embodied corrections by the author), and it was read by the Greek-speaking Jews even in the time of Justinian (Novella, 146). It was used intelligently and respectfully by great Christian scholars like Origen and Jerome, while controversialists of less merit and learning, such as the author of the "Dialogue of Timothy and Aquila" (published in 1898 by F. C. Conybeare), found it worth their while to accuse Aquila of anti-Christian bias, and to remind their Jewish adversaries of the superior antiquity of the Septuagint. But no manuscript until quite recently was known to have survived, and our acquaintance with the work came from the scattered fragments of Origen's "Hexapla." The reason of this is to be found in the Mohammedan conquests; the need of a Greek version for Jews disappeared when Greek ceased to be the lingua franca of Egypt and the Levant."


[1] page 33 from the book "A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs" by David Bercot, Hendrickson Publishers @ 1998


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