[b-hebrew] FYI: Aramaic study

Jack Kilmon jkilmon at historian.net
Sat Dec 25 10:34:00 EST 2010

From: "Randall Buth" <randallbuth at gmail.com>
Sent: Saturday, December 25, 2010 1:49 AM
To: "Hebrew" <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Subject: [b-hebrew] FYI: Aramaic study

> shalom Jack,

shlama Randall

> 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 you know, Ed Cook's review of Muraoka in "Qumran Aramaic and Aramaic 
Dialectology" shows that the basis for the Eastern origin is flawed.
Cook, Edward M. “Qumran Aramaic and Aramaic Dialectology.” Pages 1-21 in 
Studies in Qumran Aramaic. Abr-Nahrain Supplement 3. Edited by T. Muraoka. 
Peeters, 1992.

Of course I don't have to tell you about the state of Aramaic dialectology

Kaufman, Stephen A. “The Job Targum from Qumran.” Journal of the American 
Society 93:3 (1973): 317-27.

> 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.)

Again there is opposition to this view. M. Lehmann argues that the Genesis 
Apocryphon "fits squarely into the mainstream of targumim and midrashim and 
represents the oldest prototype of both available to us."  Lehmann, M. R. 
“1Q Genesis Apocryphon in the Light of the Targumim and Midrashim.”Revue de 
Qumran 1 (1958-59): 249-63.
Other sources:
Beyer, Klaus. “1QGenAp: Das Genesis-Apokryphon.” Pages 165-186 in Die 
aramäischen Texte vom Toten Meer samt den Inschriften aus Palästina, dem 
Testament Levis aus der Kairo Genisa, der Fastenrolle und den alten 
talmudischen Zitaten. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1984.

Fitzmyer, Joseph A., S. J. The Genesis Apocryphon from Qumran Cave 1 (1Q20): 
A Commentary. Third revised edition. Biblica et Orientalia 18/B. Rome: 
Pontifical Biblical Institute, 2004.

Kutscher, Yehezkel. “The Language of the “Genesis Apocryphon”: A Preliminary 
Study.”Pages 1-35 in Apects of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Scripta Hierosolymitana 
IV. Edited by C. Rabin and Y. Yadin. Jerusalem: Magnes, 1958.

My view is similar to Lehmann and 1QGenAp is an early 2nd century BCE 
prototype, an early form that led to the targumim and midrashim and the 1st 
century BCE Targums of Job and later 2nd century BCE Targum of Leviticus 
were in that stream. When it comes down to it, its rather simple for me. A 
Targum is a translation, interpretation or paraphrase of a portion of the 
Hebrew Tanakh into Aramaic and its purpose was to be read to the common 
people in their common language.  For the Targums of Job, the Targum of 
Leviticus and the Genesis Apocryphon, they all look, waddle and sound like 
ducks to me.  They are translations, interpretations (the meaning of the 
Aramaic word Targum) or paraphrases.  That there were only three is not 
probative.  One is enough to prove the point.  Hebrew to the Covenanters in 
Aramaic speaking 2nd temple Judea was like Latin to Christian Monks in a 
German scriptorium.

>> 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.

That's true my very learned friend but not in the 1st century.  Those using 
Hebrew would have been literate scribes whose first language was Aramaic, 
hence loan words from Aramaic to Hebrew but the ordinary illiterate populace 
speaking Aramaic knew no Hebrew except for a few words in oral tradition. If 
you want a better example go to medieval Italy.  The vernacular was Italian. 
The Biblical, liturgical and literary language was related to 
Italian....Latin. In fact, attempting to translate the Vulgate into simple 
Italian could have gotten you barbecued. The written language of the 
streets, contracts,
receipts, graffiti were in the common language, Italian.  Outside of the 
Vatican (compare to Temple and synagogues) there was no Latin 
epigraphy...well, maybe on statuary monuments but they were not allowed in 
1st century Judea.  Ecclesiatical Latin (like Late Biblical Hebrew) 
continued to develop in the Vatican and monasteries (like Qumran) but the 
guy watering the lawn spoke Italian. Ecclesiatical Latin took pronunciation 
from the vernacular, hence "vaynee, veedee, veechee" instead of the proper 
waynee weedee weekee."  Similarly, pre-Mishnaic Hebrew acquires Aramaic loan 
words with little loans to Judean 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.

The Babylonian Talmud does reference a targum of Job, probably a copy of the 
Qumran text, taken out of circulation by Gamaliel (between 25 and 50 CE). 
The Talmud (bShabbat 115a;
jShabbat 15c) does not give a reason but my bet would be because it WAS a 
faithful translation rather than the more acceptable interpretation or 
paraphrase, Hebrew as the Holy Tongue (lashon haQodesh) being acceptable in 
Palestine for Biblical texts.

It would seem that Job was special to the Aramaic speaking public as the 
Enochian literature was to the Covenanters, most in Aramaic.  Even the 
Genesis Apocryphon has correlations with Jubilees.  I don't think there is 
an appreciation for the importance of Danielic-Enochian literature to that 
particular subset to which I believe the Covenanters, and even Jesus, 
belonged.  Why would Job be important to the anwe ha-arets?  Important 
enough to be read to them in their own language?  Do we look close enough at 
the cultural and social anthropology of post-Hasmonean Judea under Roman 
occupation?  This is where intense Messianic fervor comes in. Did the 
ordinary man feel like Job?  I think, aside from our continuing discourse on 
this subject for.....how many years now? ...that this would be an excellent 
and productive subject for discussion after the 1st of the year when all of 
our learned academics return.

>>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.

In the 1st century?  I would be very interested in examples.  The awkward 
scrawlings of the quasi-literate are my thing because they are in the common 
language.  Hebrew graffiti by the common folk?
Rahmani 704 is a good example although there are many others in his catalog 
of Jewish Ossuaries. There may be many more ossuaria in the collection by 
now, the most famous ossuary to cause a lot of controversy is the "James 
Ossuary" which was, in a rush to judgment, called a forgery. It was not. 
The inscription "yaqub bar yahosef aCHuhy d'yeshua" or Jacob/James, son of 
Joseph, brother of Jesus is Old Judean Aramaic (achuhy) and scribally 
incused. Here's what you do...go down to the IAA warehouse and look at the 
several hundred inscriptions on the ossuaries...which date from 30 BCE to 70 
CE and, unlike the Ben HaGadol inscription in trained scribal script, are 
mainly scrawled and primitive with poor spelling and orthography and all 
ARAMAIC!  Even those in trained scribal script are in ARAMAIC!

> 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.

It is a good thing Beyer is not the only scholar I can turn to and 
regardless of his prejudice, he was an extremely competent Aramaic scholar. 
It is now accepted by the majority of scholarship that Aramaic was the 
common language of the 2nd temple period.  I no longer have the uphill 
battle I had 20 years ago. There is no evidence whatsoever that ordinary 
people spoke Hebrew in the late 2nd temple period.  Hebrew was the language 
of the literati whose "street language" was also Aramaic and less than 5% of 
the population was literate.  Hebrew was spoken in certain "pockets" of 
Jewish literate society, like the "Qumran" community or the temple 
coterie.As such Hebrew was indeed a living and dialect-developing language 
in these social pockets in and outside of Judea.   For a long time, 
Aramaic-invested scholars eschewed the suggestion of Hebrew use at all in 
the 2nd temple period.  Ditto for Hebrew-invested scholars or Syriac 
churchmen.  This is well demonstrated when Yigael Yadin showed Ben Gurion 
the Aramaic letters of Shimeon bar Kochba and Ben Gurion flew off the handle 
because they were not in Hebrew (They were mainly in Aramaic). Some New 
Testament scholars totally invested in NT Greek get red in the face and 
apoplectic when I discuss the Aramaisms of the NT and the benefit 
retroversion can play in resolving variations in the Greek texts for a 
pericope whose oral or written source was Aramaic.  Then there are the 
religious biases among "Messianic Christians" who claim the New Testament 
was originally authored in Hebrew or Aramaic (Even the Pauline Corpus). My 
point is that there has been a great deal of tendentiousness to this issue, 
even among scholars where you would not expect such agenda-driven paradigms. 
I think that part of the cause is that most Bible and ANE students, 
particularly in the West, are taught Hebrew and Greek and are totally 
invested while Aramaic is outside of their academic investment.  I am glad 
general scholarship has come around though but you. my friend, are an enigma 
to me. You are one of the most brilliant Semitists in the Orion Spur of the 
Milky Way galaxy and you speak Greek, Hebrew AND Aramaic and I have not 
cracked you yet.  I just turned 70 on Halloween so I still have a few years 

> Anyway, have fun, just keep it fair.

Don't I always?


Jack Kilmon
San Antonio, TX

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

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