Competition with Egyptian Religious Ideas in the Letter of Aristeas

Sylvie Honigman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The article examines afresh statements defining the divine persona of the god of the Judeans in Let. Aris. 9-34 and 128-171. They are interpreted not simply as instances of positive competition with Greek literature and philosophy, but as the product of a triangulated cultural dynamic that also included Egyptian and Greco-Egyptian religious tenets about major Egyptian deities, first and foremost Isis. The said passages in Aristeas are compared with Isidorus' hymns to Isis Nermouthis in Narmouthis, the archives of or, and the Isis aretalogies. It is claimed that Aristeas illustrates how Alexandrian Judean authors competed with Egyptian priests and Greco-Egyptian authors in their respective pursuit of cultural acknowledgment by the socially and culturally dominant group, namely the Greeks. Aristeas replicates the Ptolemies' "double-faced"dynastic identity, but aims to replace the Egyptian half of this double face with a Judean one.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-62
Number of pages39
JournalJournal for the Study of Judaism
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022


  • Hymns of Isidorus
  • Isis Hermouthis
  • Judeo-Hellenistic religion
  • Letter of Aristeas
  • Ptolemaic Egypt
  • intercultural interaction


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