targums: needed?

yochanan bitan ButhFam at compuserve.com
Tue May 18 14:46:04 EDT 1999

>It seems obvious to me that Hebrew was spoken by a limited number of urban
dwellers and
>elitist religionists while Aramaic was the language of the "common folk"
which has
>already been proposed by Mr Hutchessen.   and as Mr Kilmon notes: thus the
need for a
>targum to be read to the "common folk." So what is the argument about?

the hebrew of the bible was quite distinct from the colloquial hebrew in
1st century CE, but targums were not necessary in the land of israel and
didn't exist in the first century BCE/CE, as far as we can tell.  they
appear to be a post-second temple development, probably early/mid second
century CE, see Zeev Safrai, 1990.  in the first century it was taken for
granted that jews in the Land read/listened-to their bible in hebrew,
understood it, and were very familiar with it. 

so the questions are: when were the targums needed, by whom, and where? the
DSS reflect a wider library and acquaintance with more than just Qumran
writings and interests. aramaic is in relative abundance, though a
minority, but the targums/translations are not reflected there.

randall buth

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list