Sensory Issues and Disclosure, Age of Levitical Service, Tacitus’ Job-Change, Pilgrim’s Odyssey, Origin of the Septuagint

1.  Zosia Zaks, Life and Love: Positive Strategies for Autistic Adults, page 19:

I’ve also learned that you usually do not need to launch into a full explanation of autism or disclose your disability if you don’t want to.  A few key phrases seem to do the trick.  For example, if you need to flip on your sunglasses, just say something like: “I have an extreme sensitivity to light.  You might think it’s weird for me to wear sunglasses in your home, but they help reduce the pain in my eyes.”  Or, if you are invited to a restaurant: “I know you’d like to take me out to your favorite restaurant.  But restaurants are hard environments for me to relax in because I have a lot of sensitivities to sound.”  One or two sentences are usually enough to get the message across.

2.  Sara Japhet, The Ideology of the Book of Chronicles and Its Place in Biblical Thought, page 229:

In 1 Chr 23:3, the age of service [for the Levites] is “thirty years old and upward,” which conforms to Num 4:3, 23, etc.  Yet in 1 Chr 23:24 and 27, the age is “twenty years old and upward”—the usual age in a census; see Exod 30:14; Num 1:3, 18, and elsewhere.

I have in my weekly quiet time notes for Numbers 4 that the Levitical age of service was lowered from thirty to twenty because more Levites were needed to handle the increasing amount of work.  Or so says Matthew Henry.  But, as far as I can see, he doesn’t touch on why David in I Chronicles 23:3 numbers the Levites from thirty years of age and upward.  Maybe David decided to lower the age of service during his reign. 

3.  D.A. Russell, Criticism in Antiquity, page 62:

It has been held that Maternus represents Tacitus’ own views: the dialogue is said to be an apology for turning to history, on the ground that free eloquence is no longer possible.  This is unlikely.  Tacitus had a distinguished public career, and the writing of history, to the Roman way of thinking, was a proper activity for the statesman, not an escape from the world.

The topic here is Tacitus’ Dialogus de oratoribus, written in the late first-early second centuries C.E.  In the dialogue, Maternus defends his decision to abandon oratory to become a poet, contending that eloquence leads to license and sedition and is unnecessary is a well-ordered state.  Maybe the point here is that, when things are going hunky-dory, why should we have to talk well to promote political change? 

4.  R.P.C. Hanson, Allegory and Event, page 56:

…there is no doubt that these Stoic philosophers did allegorize Homer, in order to derive Stoic philosophy from his text.  Indeed Stanford says that ‘through their ingenius use of allegorical interpretation, the Odyssey became a kind of Pilgrim’s Progress.’

I like the comparison.  Through allegory, the Odyssey was no longer a mere mythological adventure tale about the travels of Odysseus.  Rather, like Pilgrim’s Progress, it became a guide for us on how to navigate our way through life: what virtues to pursue, what vices to avoid, etc. 

5.  F.N. Marcos, The Septuagint in Context, page 40:

…the date of the [Greek] translation of the Pentateuch cannot be put back too far (in fact before direct or indirect association with Ptolemy II Philadelphus in the first half of the third century BCE seems likely, although the work itself was begun by the Jews of the diaspora and for the Jews and was not an official undertaking of the Egyptian court).  The translation was made basically for liturgical and didactic, but not expressly literary, reasons, as can be gathered from a simple comparison of the Pentateuch with the style of Josephus, Philo and even of [the Letter of Aristeas].  The language of the Pentateuch belongs to the first half of the 3rd century BCE in Alexandria, as the studies by A. Deissmann have shown.  Furthermore, there are witnesses of Pap Rylands 458 (with fragments of Deuteronomy 23-28) which comes from the 2nd century BCE, and of Pap Fouad 266 (Dt. 31:6-32:7) from the 1st century BCE.  To these indications can be added the fact that the Jewish-Hellenistic historian Demetrius, from the end of the 3rd century BCE, certainly knew Genesis in Greek.  The knowledge that we have from other sources of the reign of Ptolemy II make this hypothesis likely, and in 132 BCE the translator of the book of Sira already alludes in the prologue to the Torah, the Prophecies and other writings as integral parts of the Alexandrian Bible.

I find this passage important because it tells me why scholars date the Septuagint to the third century B.C.E.  Apparently, Marcos doesn’t consider the story in the Letter of Aristeas to be a sufficient ground for such a date, for he doesn’t buy its claim that the Egyptian court in the third century B.C.E. ordered a Greek translation of the Torah that it could include in its library.  Rather, Marcos believes that the Septuagint arose to meet the liturgical needs of Jews.  But I wonder who made the translation, in his opinion.  Kahle also thought that Jews in the Diaspora made translations of the Torah into Greek for liturgical purposes, but he derived from this the conclusion that there were a variety of Greek translations out there, and that the Septuagint came along later to bring about unity and standardization.  But Marcos doesn’t agree with Kahle (page 43).  So does Marcos believe that an official body made a Greek translation of the Pentateuch for liturgical purposes, as opposed to different congregations or Jewish communities making their own translations?

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
This entry was posted in Asperger's, Autism, Bible, Greco-Roman, Religion. Bookmark the permalink.