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Jewish Fictional Letters from Hellenistic Egypt: The Epistle of Aristeas and Related Literature
L. Michael White, G. Anthony Keddie
Publication Date
October 2018


The first Greek text of the Epistle of Aristeas published in more than a century

The Greek text Epistle of Aristeas is a Jewish work of the late Hellenistic period that recounts the origins of the Septuagint. Long recognized as a literary fiction, the Epistle of Aristeas has been variously dated from the third century BCE to the first century CE. As a result, its epistolary features, and especially those in which the putative author, Aristeas, addresses his brother and correspondent, Philocrates, have largely been ignored. In light of more recent scholarship on epistolary literature in the Greco-Roman world, however, this volume presents for the first time a complete Greek text and English Translation with introduction, notes, and commentary of the Epistle of Aristeas with key testimonia from Philo, Josephus, and Eusebius, as well as other related examples of Jewish fictional letters from the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha.


  • Relevant excerpts from Eupolemus, 2 Maccabees, 3 Maccabees, and the Greek Additions to Esther with translations and introductions
  • A critical introduction to ancient Greek letter-writing
  • An outline of epistolary features in the text

L. Michael White (PhD, Yale) is the Ronald Nelson Smith Chair in Religious Studies and Classics and the Director of the Institute for the Study of Antiquity and Christian Origins at the University of Texas at Austin. He also directs excavations at the ancient synagogue of Ostia Antica in Italy. His publications include The Social Origins of Christian Architecture, From Jesus to Christianity, and Scripting Jesus.

G. Anthony Keddie holds the PhD in Ancient Mediterranean Religions from the University of Texas at Austin and is Assistant Professor of Early Christian History and Literature at the University of British Columbia. His publications include Revelations of Ideology: Apocalyptic Class Politics in Early Roman Palestine as well as articles on Hellenistic Judaism and the New Testament.

Download volume front matter, including table of contents and introduction.

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