'Memra'?

awohili at aol.com awohili at aol.com
Tue Apr 30 07:33:52 EDT 2002


"Memra" is Aramaic for "word, command" (Marcus Jastrow), from meimar, related to the Hebrew term ma'amar, from 'amar: "to speak, command," etc.  It first appears in the Aramaic Targum Onkelos at Genesis 3:8: ushma'u yat qol meimra' da-YY elohim m'hallek b'ginta..., "And they [Adam and Eve] heard the sound of the Memra of Yahweh passing through the Garden (of Eden)..."

According to _The Ariel Chumash_ (United Israel Institutes, Jerusalem, 2001), "The Aramaic noun Meimra, literally 'statement' or 'utterance,' is frequently used in the Targum when God reveals Himself in this world.  It serves as a buffer to soften anthropomorphism."

In _The Aramaic Bible_, Martin McNamara says that "Memra (of the Lord)" is "the designation for God most characteristic of all the Targums," and that "In general...'Memra' is used as a buffer word, introduced apparently for some theological purpose,such as to avoid anthropomorphisms, to avoid making God the direct object or subject of actions connected with creation."  Yet, its precise functions "are a matter of speculation and of much study." (pages 37, 38)

Solomon Landers
Memra Institute for Biblical Research
(Established June, 1989)
 
In a message dated Tue, 30 Apr 2002  6:39:13 AM Eastern Daylight Time, Ian Goldsmith <iangoldsmith1969 at yahoo.co.uk> writes:

>Hi. Just a quick question.
>I've been reading A. Edersheim lately and he refers,
>in a discussion of the hypostasation of the 'Word',
>'Logos' of God, to 'Memra'.
>Can someone please enlighten me as to the meaning of
>this word? I can't find an appropriate hebrew match
>and am starting to feel it may be an LXX term.
>Apparently it is also mentioned in the targums
>Onkelos, Jerusalem and Pseudo Jonathan, but I haven't
>got the material to look through for these.
>I'm sure it's a simple question.
>Look forward to your help.
>
>Ian.




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