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Legrand, Thierry, and Jan Joosten[Eds.]


The Targums in the Light of Traditions of the Second Temple Period.


Leiden u. a.: Brill 2014. 260 S. = Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism, 167. Geb. EUR 117,00. ISBN 978-90-04-26954-5.


Gudrun (Eli) Lier

This volume deals with the question of Aramaic Bible translation (Targum) of which the roots reach back into the Second Temple Period. The editors, Thierry Legrand and Jan Joosten, have both published extensively; respectively, in the field of ancient Judaism and Targums literature, and on the Septuagint. In three main cat-egories, Targumim and Targumisms, Comparative Approaches, and Thematic Issues, they present a whole spectrum of research on Aramaic Bible translation. Among the ten contributors are best specialists of diverse Targum literature as well as specialists of various Second Temple writings. While the axioms and methodologies of these international scholars vary, their common aim is to connect the Jewish Targums to earlier sources and traditions. They address a range of interesting questions, which include whether existing Targums link up with an oral translation of Scripture; whether Targums transmit traditional exegetical material in a distinct form, and what the relation is between Targums and »para-biblical« lit-erature of the Second Temple (including the New Testament).
In the Introduction, the editors provide a cursory overview in English of each of the ten contributions. This English overview may be helpful for those who are not fluent in German or French, since six contributions appear in French and one is in German. The preface is followed by a comprehensive list of abbreviations reflecting Collections, Journals, etc. and General abbreviations used by the contributors. More specific information is noted in the footnotes of the different articles. The »Index of Modern Authors« and the »Index of Ancient Sources« provide a welcome and efficient tool for those who are interested in accessing specific information for research or personal study.
An overall impression of the category Targumim and Targumisms shows that the development of Aramaic as cult language contributed to the preservation and transmission of the interpretative traditions that complemented the Hebrew text of the Bible. A comparison of Ingo Kottsieper’s findings in »Das Aramäische als Schriftsprache und die Entwicklung der Targume« (17–53) with Jan Joosten’s contribution »Des targumismes dans la Septante?« (54–71) reveals that difficult Hebrew words came to be interpreted in cult Aramaic, known as Jewish Literary Aramaic (JLA). These were preserved in Aramaic glosses. Earliest Greek translators incorporated these glosses into the Septuagint. The fact that such glosses also appear much later in rabbinic Targums demonstrates that there was continuity in the interpretative tradition. Typified glosses entered the Targums as traditional elements in JLA, the language of the cult. Although JLA was not far from the actually spoken Aramaic, this cult language preserved traditional linguistic aspects that differed from those used in the colloquial language. This explains why Targum Onqelos and Targum Jonathan were acces-sible only for the literary educated and not for the masses. From Beate Ego’s contribution »Retelling the Story of Esther in Targum Sheni in Light of Septuagint Traditions – Main Outlines« (72–83) it becomes apparent that circling traditions were integrated into the Septuagint and Targumim independent of each other. This is demonstrated from the fact that the two traditions in Targum Sheni and the Septuagint place different emphasis on two similar traditions. Targum Sheni also includes older traditions from the Second Temple period, which are not present in the Septuagint. Christophe Bonnard’s study »Targums samaritains et traditions du Second Temple« (84–94) exemplifies how later interpretative traditions like the Samaritan Targums and other ancient sources, con-tinued to transmit ancient Jewish interpretative traditions, shedding light on the semantic evolution of Hebrew terms through the use of Aramaic glosses and preserving specific traditions of the Second Temple period for later generations.
The four contributions in Comparative Approaches commonly reveal that the Second Temple period was a time during which different interpretative traditions on aspects in the Hebrew Scriptures circulated either orally or in writing in ancient sources, but that written Targumim could only have been compiled in the periods of the Mishna and Talmud. Willem Smelik in »The Lost Tomb of Moses Revisited: Targum Pseudo-Jonathan on Deut. 34.5–6« (141–172) profoundly argues that the translators of the Hebrew Scriptures transformed the themes and motifs they inherited from Second Temple literature in ways that were compatible with their own contemporary philosophy. The point is further underscored from Robert Hayward’s deliberation on the portrayal of God as Father in several extant Targumim in »God as father in the Pentateuchal Targumim: The case of Abraham’s garden at Be’er Sheba« (97–119). Claude Tassin’s study on »Zabulon et Nephtali dans le Targum: un éclairage de Mt 4,13–16?« (120–140) illustrates how the aim of ancient interpretative sources dictated their approach: while the text of Matthew follows a linear approach in line with his theological and Christological imperatives, the traditions reflected from extant Targums are fragmented and not necessarily linear since their aim was to remain an Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Scriptures. The particular focus of Innocent Himbaza on aspects of the sacrificial practices and the figure of Moses in Targum Pseudo-Jonathan in »Le Targum Pseudo-Jonathan témoin de son époque et de celle du Second Temple« (173–187) shows that this Targum is not only an important witness to the recovery of ancient Second Temple traditions but also reflects the interpretative activities of Palestinian and Babylonian rabbis following Second Temple times.
In Thematic Issues, the contributions by Michael Langlois, »Malheur à qui donne la couronne à l’orgueilleux! Les targums et la critique du pouvoir à l’époque du Second Temple« (191–207), and Thierry Legrand, »Miracles, événements spectaculaires dans le Targum Pseudo-Jonathan: quelques échos de la littérature du Second Temple« (208-239), further underline the findings of the research studies in the previous two categories, namely that Palestinian and Babylonian rabbis were cognisant of ancient Second Temple traditions but they reinterpreted them to align them with the respec-tive theological, liturgical, and pedagogical aims of the various Pentateuchal Targum traditions. Of these, Targum Pseudo-Jonathan’s (TgPJ) rendering reveals the most extensive liberties that translators took to contemporize Scripture while making use of ancient interpretative sources.
The range of questions addressed in this volume provides much incentive for further research on the topic of Aramaic Targum. Some contributions may also be of interest to laity, for enriching their knowledge of how the Hebrew Scriptures came to be interpreted in the Aramaic translations of the Bible and the New Testament after the Second Temple period.