Monday, December 15, 2008

Introduction (4)

Part 4: Paradeisos: Why?

 It’s said that “The Septuagint Translation” was begun by seventy Jewish scholars in the 3rd century B.C.E., to the order of the Greek King of Egypt. If so, using a Greek word of Persian origin as the synonym for Eden could suggest an intention beyond mere linguistic considerations or exotic evocations. Elsewhere, the Jewish Bible, often cautious of other cultures, had openly paid gratitude to the era of Cyrus the Great, the man who had liberated the Jewish people from the tyranny of Babylon. In their view, the recent collapse of the Persian Empire in the hands of Alexander the Great was in effect perceived as the end of the freedom afforded them by the Achaemenid Dynasty. Introducing paradeisos into the beginning chapters of the Greek Genesis could have well been a tacit means to further commemorate an endeared, but by then, defeated empire.

Even the earlier appearance of pardess in the Hebrew Bible implies more than a natural lexicographic absorption by the contemporary writer(s); rather, it could well indicate another example of the Jewish admiration for the culture that had once given them back a rare taste of freedom.

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