Targum


Targum

A targum (Hebrew: תרגום, plural: "targumim", lit. "translation, interpretation") is an Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh) written or compiled from the Second Temple period until the early Middle Ages (late first millennium). The two major genres of Targum reflect two geographical and cultural centers of Jewish life during the period of their creation, namely the Land of Israel and Babylonia. Aramaic was the dominant Jewish language or lingua franca for hundreds of years in these major Jewish communities.

To facilitate the study of Tanakh and make its public reading understood, authoritative translations were required. As translations, the "targumim" largely reflect midrashic interpretation of the Tanakh of the time, and are notable for eschewing anthropomorphisms in favor of allegorical readings. [Oesterley, W. O. E. & Box, G. H. (1920) "A Short Survey of the Literature of Rabbinical and Mediæval Judaism", Burt Franklin:New York.] (Rambam, for one, notes this often in The Guide.) This is true both for those "targumim" that are fairly literal, as well as for those which contain a great many midrashic expansions.

The Aramaic Targums were used in the Christian Syriac Church. (See also Peshitta.)

Two "official" Targumim

The two most important "targumim" for liturgical purposes are:
*Targum Onkelos on the Torah (The Law)
*Targum Jonathan ben Uzziel on the Nevi'im (The Prophets)These two "targumim" are mentioned in the Babylonian Talmud as "targum dilan" ("our Targum"), giving them official status. In the synagogues of talmudic times, Targum Onkelos was read alternately with the Torah, verse by verse, and Targum Jonathan was read alternately with the selection from Nevi'im (i.e. the Haftarah). This custom continues today in Yemenite Jewish synagogues. The Yemenite Jews are the only Jewish community to continue the use of Targum as liturgical text, as well as to preserve a living tradition of pronunciation for the Aramaic of the "targumim" (according to a Babylonian dialect).

Besides its public function in the synagogue, the Talmud also mentions "targum" in the context of a personal study requirement: "A person should always review his portions of scripture along with the community, reading the scripture twice and the "targum" once" (Berakhot 8a-b). This too refers to Targum Onkelos on the public Torah reading and to Targum Jonathan on the haftarot from Nevi'im.

Medieval biblical manuscripts of the Tiberian mesorah sometimes contain the Hebrew text interpolated, verse-by-verse, with the official "targumim". This scribal practice has its roots both in the public reading of the Targum and in the private study requirement.

The two "official" "targumim" are considered eastern (Babylonian). Nevertheless, scholars believe they too originated in the Palestine because of a strong linguistic substratum of western Aramaic. Though these "targumim" were later "easternized", the substratum belying their origins still remains.

In post-talmudic times, when most Jewish communities had ceased speaking Aramaic, the public reading of Targum along with the Torah and Haftarah was abandoned in most communities. In Yemen, however, rather than "abandoning" the Aramaic targum during the public reading of the Torah, it was "supplemented" by a third version, namely the translation of the Torah into Arabic by Saadia Gaon (called the "Tafsir"). Thus, in Yemen each verse was read three times.

The private study requirement to review the Targum was never entirely relaxed, even when Jewish communities had largely ceased speaking Aramaic, and the Targum never ceased to be a major source for Jewish biblical exegesis. For instance, it serves as a major source in the Torah commentary of Rashi.

For these reasons, the Targum is still almost always printed alongside the text in Jewish editions of the Bible with commentaries. Nevertheless, later halakhic authorities argued that the requirement to privately review the "targum" might also be met by reading a translation in the current vernacular in place of the official Targum, or else by studying an important commentary containing midrashic interpretation (especially that of Rashi).

Targum Ketuvim

The Talmud explicitly states that no official "targumim" were composed besides these two on Torah and Nevi'im alone, and that there is no official "targum" to Ketuvim ("The Writings"). An official "targum" was in fact unnecessary for Ketuvim because its books played no fixed liturgical role. It is stated in the Talmud (Megilah 3a) that Jonathan ben Uzziel wanted to compose a targum to the Ketuvim, however a "bat kol" (voice from heaven) came forth and forbade it. The reason given is that the Ketuvim foretell the date of the Messiah's coming, which was not permitted to be revealed. Nevertheless, most books of Ketuvim have "targumim", whose origin is mostly western (Palestine) rather than eastern (Babylonia). But for lack of a fixed place in the liturgy, they were poorly preserved and less well known. From the Palestine, the tradition of "targum" to Ketuvim made its way to Italy, and from there to medieval Ashkenaz and Sepharad.

Other Targumim on the Torah

There are also a variety of western "targumim" on the Torah, each of which was traditionally called "Targum Yerushalmi" ("Jerusalem Targum"). An important one of these was mistakenly labeled "Targum Jonathan" in later printed versions (though all medieval authorities refer to it by its correct name). The error crept in because of an abbreviation: The printer interpreted ת"י to stand for תרגום יונתן instead of the correct תרגום ירושלמי. Scholars refer to this "targum" as Targum Pseudo-Jonathan. To attribute this "targum" to Jonathan ben Uzziel flatly contradicts the talmudic tradition (Megillah 3a), which quite clearly attributes the "targum" to Nevi'im "alone" to him, while stating that there is "no" official "targum" to Ketuvim. In the same printed versions, a similar fragment "targum" is correctly labeled as "Targum Yerushalmi".

The Western Targumim on the Torah, or Palestinian Targumim as they are also called, consist of three manuscript groups: Targum Neofiti I, Fragment Targums, and Cairo Geniza Fragment Targums.

Of these Targum Neofiti I is by far the largest. It consist of 450 folios covering all books of the Pentateuch, with only a few damaged verses. The history of the manuscript begins in 1587 when Andrea de Monte gave it to Ugo Boncampagni. Before this de Monte had censored it by deleting most reference to idolatry. In 1602 Boncampagni gave it to Collegium Ecclesiasticum Neophytum (or Pia Domus Neophytum) until 1886 when the Vatican bought it along with other manuscripts when the Collegium closed (which is the reason for the manuscripts name and its designation). Unfortunately it was then mistitled as a manuscript of Targum Onkelos until 1949 when Alexandro Díez Macho noticed that it differed significantly from Targum Onkelos. It was translated and published during 1968-1979 and has since then been considered the most important of the Palestinian Targumim as it is by far the most complete of these and, apparently, the earliest as well. [McNamara, M. (1972) "Targum and Testament". Shannon, Irish University Press.] [Sysling, H. (1996) Tehiyyat Ha-Metim. Tübingen, J.C.B. Mohr.]

The Fragment Targums (formerly known as Targum Yerushalmi II) consist of a large number of fragments that have been divided into ten manuscripts. Of these P, V and L were first published in 1899 by M. Ginsburger, A, B, C, D, F and G in 1930 by P. Kahle and E in 1955 by A. Díez Macho. Unfortunately these manuscripts are all too fragmented to confirm what their purpose were but they seem to be either the remains of a single complete targum or short variant readings of another targum. As a group they often share theological views and with Targum Neofiti, which has led to the belief that they could be variant readings of that targum. [McNamara, M. (1972) "Targum and Testament". Shannon, Irish University Press.] [Sysling, H. (1996) Tehiyyat Ha-Metim. Tübingen, J.C.B. Mohr.]

The Cairo Genizah Fragment Targums originate from the Ben-Ezra Synagogues genizah in Cairo. They share similarities with The Fragment Targums in that they consist of a large number of fragmented manuscripts that have been collected in one targum-group. The manuscripts A and E are the oldest among the Palestinian Targum and have been dated to around the seventh century. Manuscipts C, E, H and Z contain only passages from Genesis, A from Exodus while MS B contain verses from both as well as from Deuteronomium. [McNamara, M. (1972) "Targum and Testament". Shannon, Irish University Press.] [Sysling, H. (1996) Tehiyyat Ha-Metim. Tübingen, J.C.B. Mohr.]

Peshitta

The Peshitta is the traditional Bible of Syriac-speaking Christians (who speak several different dialects of Aramaic). Most scholars believe that its Old Testament is based on rabbinic targumim, and it is generally reckoned to have been translated between 100 B.C. and 100 A.D.

References

External links

* [http://targum.info/?page_id=8 Targum Pseudo-Jonathan and Targum Onkelos at the Newsletter for Targumic and Cognate Studies] - English translations by J.W. Etheridge
* [http://targum.info/?page_id=11 The Aramaic Targum to Psalms] - a translation of the targum to Psalms by Edward M. Cook
* [http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~jtreat/song/targum/ The Aramaic Targum to the Song of Songs] - a translation of the targum to Shir HaShirim by Jay C. Treat
* [http://targum.info/meg/ruth.htm The Aramaic Targum to Ruth] - a translation of the targum to Ruth by Samson H. Levey
* [http://targum.info/meg/tglam.htm The Aramaic Targum to Lamentations] - a translation of the targum to Lamentations by C.M.M. Brady
* [http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=67&letter=T The Jewish Encyclopedia Entry on Targum]
* [http://cal1.cn.huc.edu/index.htm The Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon] - contains critical editions of all the "targumim" along with lexical tools and grammatical analysis.
* [http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14454b.htm Targum] - Catholic Encyclopedia article
* [http://faur.derushah.com/articlesbyhakhamjosefaur.html#targumim The Targumim and Halakha] by Jose Faur, analyzing the status of the Targumim in Jewish law


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Targum — • The distinctive designation of the Aramaic translations or paraphrases of the Old Testament Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Targum     Targum      …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • targum — ● targum, targums nom masculin (mot hébreu signifiant traduction) Traduction araméenne de livres bibliques, faite pour le service synagogal, dans la période qui suivit la captivité de Babylone (587 538 avant J. C.). ⇒TARGUM, subst. masc. RELIG.… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Targum —   [hebräisch aramäisch »Übersetzung«] das, auch der, s/ e und ...gu mim, allgemein für Übersetzung, im engeren Sinn Bezeichnung für die Übersetzung der Bibel ins Aramäische. Zu den wichtigsten schriftlichen Targumen gehören u. a. die… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • TARGUM — Chald Gap desc: Hebrew, plural. Targumim, significat Interpretationem, Versionem, Paraphrasin, quae non tam verbum de verbo, quam sensum ex una lingua in aliam transferat: et proprie de Paraphrasibus Chaldaicis, quae apud Iudaeos maximo in usu… …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • targum — tàrgum m DEFINICIJA bibl. prijevod dijelova hebrejske Biblije na aramejski jezik s tumačenjima (danas postoje četiri targuma za Petoknjižje) ETIMOLOGIJA aram. targūm: parafraza, interpretacija …   Hrvatski jezični portal

  • tárgum — (Del hebr. targum, traducción). m. Libro de los judíos que contiene las glosas y paráfrasis caldeas de la Escritura …   Diccionario de la lengua española

  • Targum — [tär′goom, tär go͞om′] n. pl. Targums or Targumim [tär go͞om′im] [MHeb < Aram targūm, lit., interpretation] any of several translations or paraphrases of parts of the Jewish Scriptures, written in the vernacular (Aramaic) of Judea …   English World dictionary

  • Targum — Tar gum, n.; pl. {Targums}. Heb. {Targumim}. [Chald. targ[=u]m interpretation, fr. targ[=e]m to interpret. Cf. {Truchman}, and {Dragoman}.] A translation or paraphrase of some portion of the Old Testament Scriptures in the Chaldee or Aramaic… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Targum — (hebr., Plur. Targumim, Übersetzungen), die von Juden nach dem Exil verfaßten chaldäischen Übersetzungen, zum Theil auch Paraphrasen des A. T., um dem der alten Hebräischen Sprache nicht mehr kundigen Volk die heiligen Bücher verständlich zu… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Targum — (chald., Mehrzahl Targumim, »Übersetzung«), Name der aramäischen Übersetzungen und teilweise Umschreibungen des Alten Testaments. Sie sind vom Beginn des zweiten jüdischen Staatslebens an, als sich das Bedürfnis einstellte, den Synagogenbesuchern …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Targum — (hebr., Mehrzahl Targumīm), die jüd. Übersetzungen des A. T. in die westaramäische (sog. chaldäische) Landessprache; seit dem 3. Jahrh. schriftlich in den Schulen Babyloniens; von diesen sind erhalten das T. Onkelos (d.h. Aquila; der Name beruht… …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.