After his conquest in 333 BC, Alexander the Great of Greece built the city of Alexandria as a Mediterranean sea port for Egypt and named it after himself. It soon became the greatest Greek city of the time, and was famed for its architectural magnificence. It was the capital of Egypt during the Greek and Roman Empires, and was a busy centre of commercial and manufacturing activity. From here the famous grain ships of Alexandria carried Egypt’s corn to Greece and Rome (Acts 27:6; 28:11). The population of the city was a mixture of Greek, Egyptian, Jewish and Roman people (Acts 6:9; 18:24). The city became a centre of learning, famous for its Greek philosophers and its Jewish Bible scholars.

Some non-canonical Jewish books of pre-Christian times were written in Alexandria (see CANON). More importantly, Alexandria was the place where seventy Jewish scholars prepared the first Greek translation of the Old Testament. This is known as the Septuagint (referred to in writing as LXX) and was widely used in New Testament times along with the Hebrew Old Testament (see SEPTUAGINT). A feature of the Alexandrian school of Jewish Old Testament scholars was that their interpretations were detailed, earnest, philosophical and often extravagant. They gained the reputation of being learned and eloquent speakers. In the New Testament there is a record of one of them, Apollos, whose knowledge of Old Testament references to the Messiah was extraordinary. His knowledge of certain Christian teachings was lacking, but he was willing to learn. He soon became a powerful Christian preacher (Acts 18:24-28; see APOLLOS).

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