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If a sefer Torah was written in Greek, would it have been publicly read from in the Greek translation only, or would they also use a Hebrew scroll?

  • Who said anything about translation? – Double AA Nov 23 '14 at 21:37
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    @DoubleAA How else would it be written in Greek? – Scimonster Nov 23 '14 at 21:38
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    βρασιτ βρα..... – Double AA Nov 23 '14 at 21:41
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    @DoubleAA Or maybe the reverse - סתין ארחי – Ypnypn Nov 23 '14 at 21:49
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    I believe the rishonim disagree about whether it can be translated or only transliterated. – Daniel Nov 23 '14 at 21:54
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The Mishnah in Tractate Megillah, Chapter 4, discusses the laws concerning "Holy Scrolls" which are read during Shabbat and the holidays. It is presumed that the "Holy Scrolls" were written in Hebrew. This tradition of reading the Torah in Hebrew likely goes back to the prophet Ezra, and may extend even further than this. So it is unlikely that a Jewish community would ever have substituted a Greek Torah scroll for a Hebrew one in a public reading.

As to why a Jewish community would have a Greek sefer Torah in the first place, we need to consider the historical significance of the Septuagint. The Septuagint (sometimes abbreviated as the LXX) was a Greek translation of the Torah believed to have been written in the 2nd century BCE. For Jewish communities whose first language was Greek, such as Alexandria and possibly Qumran, the Septuagint was a valuable and revered book at that time. From the 2nd century BCE until roughly the 2nd century CE, Jews living in these communities used the Septuagint for study and reference. Scrolls were the norm in those days, so if a Jewish community wanted to have a Greek sefer Torah, such as the Septuagint, they would have a Greek scroll.

  • There are also parts of Tanach written in Aramaic, for example, Ezra and parts of Daniel. – Scimonster Nov 27 '14 at 10:21
  • If you follow through the links in the question, you'd find that there's another reason a community might have a Greek scroll -- according to the Rambam, Greek is the only other language a public reading can be done in, besides for Hebrew judaism.stackexchange.com/q/48542/5323 – MTL Nov 27 '14 at 18:14
  • @Shokhet This is a really good point. There are probably other Rabbinic authorities which disagree with Rambam. In modern times, the Jews of Yemen still read from the Aramaic Targum along with the Hebrew. But it seems Aramaic never reached a level considered completely equal to Hebrew. – Tim Biegeleisen Nov 28 '14 at 2:45
  • @TimBiegeleisen reading the Aramaic translation along with the Hebrew is an ancient minhag that has been going on since the Second Temple/Churban days, theres even halachos in the Shulchan Aruch that refer to it(the Mitargum not raising his voice louder than the Baal Koreh etc)...I believe the RamBam there is talking about a straight Greek kriya – warz3 Jan 12 '15 at 5:18
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    How does this answer the question? "So it is unlikely" is hardly an answer. – Danny Schoemann Feb 25 '15 at 11:02

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