The work commonly known as the Letter of Aristeas presents an account of the genesis of the Septuagint, and incidentally reflects currents of religious thought at a significant period of history. The book is a work of conscious literary art, composed according to the canons of the Greek schools, and the exaggerations and inaccuracies that have marred its credit in the past are marks not of the author's ignorance or bad faith but of the genre to which it belongs. Considered against its historical and intellectual background, Aristeas to Philocrates is a document of first-class importance and a unique specimen of its kind in the literature of the period.
Professor Hadas' edition studies the book from the point of view of its literary as well as religious affinities and significance. His introduction fixes the place of the book in the history of Greek literature as well as of the religious development of the Jews, and his running commentary similarly illustrates the text from both points of view. The translation is in straightforward English. The Greek text is that of H. St. J. Thackeray and the brief critical notes that accompany it are by Professor Hadas.