Departmental Papers (Jewish Studies)

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Book Chapter

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Aramaic in Postbiblical Judaism and Early Christianity

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It is by now a commonplace to speak of “double” translation in the Aramaic targums of the Hebrew Bible. In its simplest form, this involves “the rendition of a single verb or noun by a translational doublet.”1 In fact, the phenomenon is broader than the translation of single words. Michael Klein has focused on one important aspect of the larger phenomenon. He notes that many biblical phrases and longer passages are duplicated or even triplicated, in comparable but not identical language. “The targumim, in many of these cases, equalize the varying texts by translating one of them in conformity with the other—or, less frequently, by altering both versions in a mutually complementary fashion.”2 But double translation is not restricted to this process of equalization. More often, as Martin McNamara points out, “The point in the double rendering may have been the targumist’s desire to bring out the wealth of the [Hebrew text].”3 One example appears at the very beginning of Targum Neofiti, where the Hebrew word בראשית of Gen 1:1 is translated “From the beginning with wisdom”—that is, once literally and again understanding the word in a midrashic sense based on Prov 8:22.4



Date Posted: 03 August 2017