[b-hebrew] FYI: Aramaic study

Randall Buth randallbuth at gmail.com
Sat Dec 25 02:49:24 EST 2010

shalom Jack,

I wouldn't want to get between you and the discuss with Fred, but a
few of your data need updating.

>How many B.C.E. targums does it take?  One?  Three?  100?  Is 4Q Targum Leviticus sufficient?
> Is the Genesis Apocryphon sufficient?  I think the Targum of Job is more than sufficient.  >

You're a little too accepting here. Finding a Greek prophet scroll
doesn't lead you to posit Greek as the common language of Judea, does
it? Isn't it preferable to ask its pedigree, where it originated, and
what it was doing there? Ditto for Aramaic Job.
Muraoka showed that the Qumran Job targum appears to have come from
the East. Muraoka, 1974. Hardly surprising.
As for me, I would not accept the Genesis Apocryphon as a translation
like what you see in the LXX, or even Onkelos. But if you are
expanding the canon for a rewrite like Genesis Apocrypohon, you could
add Aramaic Tobit. (Now I am pretty sure from the features of the
language that Tobit was first written in Hebrew. But if you posit
Aramaic, then the Hebrew 'targum' to Tobit becomes evidence in exactly
the opposite direction that you are arguing.)

> where even the LXX was eschewed.

Actually, we have Greek Bible in the Judean desert texts and Qumran.
and oodles of Greek loanwords in rabbinic Hebrew and Aramaic.

> The LXX's epilogue to Job (42:17b): outos ermhneuetai ek ths suriakhs biblou  "this was translated from the Aramaic  book" clearly refers to a targum. ...  You think this is speculation?>

I'm especially glad to see you mention Greek Job. Have you ever
noticed that all of these Second Temple references are to Job?
Two Qumran texts, Talmudic references to two of the Gamilel family,
and LXX, all focus on Job. Anything special about that book that would
cause its rather wide circulation in Aramaic?
This is surely worthy of some speculation.

>There are many more and I have examined them all. The same for some ostraca and graffiti.
> ... this graffiti, with its primitive execution, poor spelling and poor orthography is in Aramaic...not a single example of Hebrew.  See "Aramaische Texte vom Toten Meer mit Ergänzung" by Klaus Beyer.>

Jack, if you've looked at all of the graffitti, you've surely noticed
the Hebrew ones. Beyer's statements, if they say that there are no
Hebrew ones, just don't make any sense at all. Beyer would be wrong.
I remember Beyer's 1984 arguments as prejudicial in the extreme: he
accepted 1st century Phoenician as a living language because a Greek
writer mentioned it, but denied any and all Hebrew if he could put
Aramaic usage in the same locale, too. that's just bad
sociolinguistics. Sort of a holdover from the beginning of the
twentieth century.

Anyway, have fun, just keep it fair.


Randall Buth, PhD
randallbuth at gmail.com
Biblical Language Center
Learn Easily - Progress Further - Remember for Life

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