Designed for those who are beginning Targum study, this book also provides material for those who have already made some progress. Beginners will have recourse first of all to the Translation, and the Notes are intended to help orient them in the message conveyed by the Targum in its two levels. Students with recourse to Aramaic will perhaps require remarks of a linguistic and textual nature; these are given in the Apparatus. Additional material for more advanced students is also offered in the Notes, to help relate the exegesis of the Targum to the intertestamental document, Rabbinica, and the New Testament.
Written in the eighth century C.E., Targum Canticles offers one of the classic interpretations of the Song of Songs. In the relationship between the bridegroom and the bride in the Song, with its rhythm of communion, estrangement and reconciliation, the Targumist discovers allegorical history of God's relationship to Israel from the first exodus from Egypt, to the final exodus from exile when the Messiah comes. The Targum of Canticles was one of the most popular religious texts within Judaism, and it may have promoted the use of the Song of Songs as the special reading for Passover. It was adapted in the medieval and early modern periods by Christian scholars who saw in the Song a cryptic history of Christs relationship to the Church. Targum Canticles has played a central role in the interpretation of one of the most puzzling yet influential books of the Bible. Philip S. Alexander is professor of post-biblical Jewish literature in the University of Manchester, England, and has published extensively in the fields of early Jewish Bible-interpretation (particularly the Targumim), early Jewish mysticism and magic, and the history of Rabbinic Judaism.
This work provides the first translation into English of the Targum of Psalms, together with an introduction, a critical apparatus listing variants from several manuscripts and their printed editions, and annotations. David M. Stec, PhD, is a lecturer in full-time research for the Dictionary of Classical Hebrew, a project of the University of Sheffield. He has also published a critical edition of the Aramaic text of the Targum of Job. Martin McNamara, MSC, PhD, is Professor of Scripture at the Milltown Institute of Theology and Philosophy, Dublin. His other publications on the Targums and Judaism include Targum and Testament, Palestinian Judaism and the New Testament, and Intertestamental Literature. He is also project director of The Aramaic Bible: The Targums series, published by Liturgical Press. He has a licentiate in Theology from the Gregorian University, Rome, and a licentiate and doctorate in Scripture from the Biblical Institute, Rome. He has a PhD in early Irish biblical exegesis and has also written on Hiberno-Latin biblical literature and on biblical apocrypha in the Irish Church.
Translated by Daniel J. Harrington, SJ, and Anthony J. Saldarini
The attribution, by the Babylonian Talmud, of this Targum to Jonathan ben Uzziel is suspect on several counts: among others, the silence concerning Jonathan in the parallel passage in the Palestinian Talmud, and the fanciful suggestion that Onkelos=Aquila and Jonathan=Theodotion. The attribution, therefore, is not to be taken as historical fact. The Talmud may have been attempting to enhance the authority of the Targum by claiming authorship by a disciple of Hillel, which Jonathan was. It is generally agreed that the author of the Targum Jonathan is unknown; in fact, it is preferable to consider multiple authorship. For while language and translation techniques are uniform, there is variety from book to book.
The Targum of Ezekiel, when critically analyzed, offers a vivid insight into an area of Jewish theological speculation stretching far back into the history of Jewish religious thought. The complexity of the document, however, compounded by a difficult Mosoretic text, abundant grammatical and syntactical problems, and an infusion of strange language and linguistic peculiarities, challenges the most incisive biblical analysts. Like the Book of Ezekiel, it poses literary, exegetical, and theological problems. The Targum belongs to the same genre as the other official Targumim, designated in Jewish Tradition as Onqelos on the Pentateuch and Jonathan on the Prophets. Its language, basically Palestinian Aramaic, was revised and edited in Babylon; its vocabulary, idiom, grammatical form, and rendering of the Hebrew text are essentially the same as we find in the official Targumim on the other books. But beyond this, the Targum of Ezekiel has some peculiarities distinctly its own.
This Targum offers to the reader Jeremiah's words among the Jewish people. Perhaps more than any other prophet, he communicates the majesty and excellence of the God of Israel, presenting the mysterious history, compounded of glory and tragedy, of his Chosen People. Here we have one of the most moving interpretations of one of the great figures of the ancient world. The longest biblical book in the original Hebrew, Jeremiah became longer still in its translation into Aramaic because the translator(s), in trying to convey the precise meaning, often offered more than one translation of a word or phrase. The sheer length may account for the fact that, until now, it has never been translated into English.
The biblical book of Deuteronomy is one of the clearest examples of an articulating biblical tradition in dialogue with earlier biblical texts, in dialogue with itself and laying down principles for a continuation of this inner-biblical interpretative dialogue. The nature of the book is in part expressed in the name given in the Greek translation and in the traditions dependent on it. Targum Neofiti: Deuteronomy focuses on the last book of the Pentateuch and reveals the religious mind of the Jewish people from early Christian times. It is the translation into popular Palestinian Aramaic of the Hebrew text of the fifth book of Moses. Students of the Aramaic translation of biblical interpretation, and of Jewish studies from New Testament times to the Middle Ages, will find this work an invaluable resource.
The central thesis underlying this study of Genesis is that the God who is revealed as a character in Genesis is always a savior. In Genesis, David Cotter, OSB, helps readers discern a structure in the book whereby the least and the weakest are the object of God's saving help. Genesis begins with an introduction to the methodology that is used throughout the book. The introductory essay deals with the theory of Hebrew narrative and the challenges posed to biblical exegesis by contemporary literary theory. The theme of the commentary itself is that the God who is revealed as a character in Genesis is always a savior. This is true in the Stories About Beginnings (Genesis 1-11) and the Stories About the Troubled Family Chosen for Blessing (Genesis 12-50). The Egyptian slave Hagar, not Abraham, is read as the central figure of the familys first generation and Tamar, the cast-off daughter-in-law as the moral center of the fourth generation. God is savior above all for those whose need is greatest. Chapters in Part OneStories About Beginnings: Genesis 1-11 are "The Story of the Creation of All That Is: Genesis 1:1-2:3," The Story of the Creation of Man and Woman, the Paradise in Which They Lived and Which They Chose to Lose. And the Sin That Ensued: Genesis 2-3:4, The Story of the Great Flood and the Covenant that Ensued: Genesis 6-9, and The Story about Babel: Genesis 11:1-9. Chapters in Part TwoStories About the Troubled Family Chosen for Blessing: Genesis 12-50 are In the Time of the First Generation: Genesis 12-25, In the Time of the Second Generation: Genesis 25-28, In the Time of the Third Generation: Genesis 28-36, and In the Time of the Fourth Generation: Genesis 37-50. David W. Cotter, OSB, STD, is general editor of the Berit Olam: Studies in Hebrew Narrative and Poetry series, published by The Liturgical Press.
The biblical book of Judges contains culturally familiar stories such as that of Samson and Delilah and Deborah and Baraq. But despite the popularity of these stories, other important stories in Judges such as that of Achsah, the raped pilegesh, and the final civil war are virtually unknown to the average reader. Approaching Judges as a unified literary document, Tammi Schneider shows that the unity of the narrative reveals that when the Israelites adhere to the covenant established with their deity they prosper, but when they stray from it disaster follows. This is true not only in the Deuteronomistic refrains, as is recognized by many scholars, but in the whole book, and is reflected in Israel's worsening situation throughout its narrative time. Schneider also highlights the unifying themes in Judges. She emphasizes the role of gender, family relations, and theology expressed in the biblical narrative, and uses intertextuality to better understand the text of Judges and its context in the Deuteronomistic history and the Hebrew Bible. Tammi J. Schneider is assistant professor in the religion department at Claremont Graduate University, in Claremont, California. She received her BA in Hebrew language and literature from the University of Minnesota, and a PhD in ancient history from the University of Pennsylvania. She has excavated at a number of archaeological sites in Israel and is co-director of the excavation of Tel el-Fara' South in Israel. She is project director at the Institute for Antiquity and Christianity in Claremont and area editor for Ancient Near East for Religious Studies Review. Her publications cover topics in Assyriology, ancient Near Eastern history, archaeology, and biblical studies.
The psalms are masterful poems that echo the tenors of community life and worship as they project the scope of the human drama from lament to praise. They chart a profound and vital relationship with God, with all the ups and downs that this relationship implies. Konrad Schaefer's concise commentary on the psalms relates their poetic elements while respecting their historical context and traditional use in the liturgy and, more importantly, their ultimate value as a springboard to private and communal prayer. In Psalms, Schaefer focuses on the structure of each psalm, its dramatic plot, the modes of discourse, the rhetorical features, and the effective use of imagery to portray theology and the spiritual life. Schaefer portrays each poem's inner dynamic to acquaint readers with the poet and the community which prayed and preserved the composition, allowing the believer to transpose it in the contemporary situation. Psalms is for those who would like to pray the psalms with more intensity of meaning; for those willing to touch the biblical world and taste of its fruit in the Word of God; and for devoted readers of the Bible to become more expert as it helps experts become more devoted. Chapters are "Introduction," "Book One (Psalms 1-41)," "Book Two (Psalms 42-72)," "Book Three (Psalms 73-89)," "Book Four (Psalms 90-106)," and "Book Five (Psalms 107-150)." Konrad Schaefer, OSB, SSD, is a monk of Mount Angel Abbey, Oregon. He currently teaches at Our Lady of Angels in Cuernavaca, Mexico.
There is generally no common material that binds together the works of the individual prophets that comprise the Twelve, but through Sweeney's commentary they stand together as a single, clearly defined book among the other prophetic books of the Bible. The Book of the Twelve Prophets is a multifaceted literary composition that functions simultaneously in all Jewish and Christian versions of the Bible as a single prophetic book and as a collection of twelve individual prophetic books. Each of the twelve individual booksHosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachibegins with its own narrative introduction that identifies the prophet and provides details concerning the historical setting and literary characteristics. In this manner each book is clearly distinguished from the others within the overall framework of the Twelve. By employing a combination of literary methodologies, such as reader response criticism, canonical criticism, and structural form criticism, Sweeney establishes the literary structure of the Book of the Twelve as a whole, and of each book with their respective ideological or theological perspectives. An introductory chapter orients readers to questions posed by reading the Book of the Twelve as a coherent piece of literature and to a literary overview of the Twelve. Sweeney then treats each of the twelve individual prophetic books in the order of the Masoretic canon, providing a discussion of each one's structure, theme, and outlook. This is followed by a detailed literary discussion of the textual units that comprise the book. Marvin A. Sweeney is professor of Hebrew Bible at the school of theology at Claremont and professor of religion at the Claremont Graduate School.
Some ancient works of literature survive in fragments that appear so simple and complete it's hard to imagine them as being part of a larger narrative. Such is the case with Ruth and Esther. On first reading they appear so simple, so whole, and their meanings so completely self-evident. Yet the closer you look, the more perplexing they become. Ruth and Esther offers that close look, enabling readers to discover the uncertainties of the texts and demonstrating how these uncertainties are not problems to be solved, but rather are integral to the narrative art of these texts. In Ruth, the first part of this volume, Tod Linafelt highlights the most unresolved and perplexing aspects of Ruth. In doing so he offers an interpretation he calls "unsettling." Linafelt states that it is unsettling in the sense that he often refuses to settle on a single, unequivocal meaning of a particular word, phrase, or theme. Rather he prefers to underscore the dual or even multiple meanings that the narrative so often has. Another way Ruth differs from other interpretations is that Linafelt entertains the possibility that there might be complexity or ambiguity with regard to the various characters motivations, the presentation of God, or the books purpose. In this commentary, Linafelt explores the ambiguities of meaning built into the grammar, syntax, and vocabulary of the story to discover how these ambiguities carry over to the larger interpretive issues of characterization, theology, and purpose. He also lays forth an argument that the book of Ruth is intended to be read as an interlude between Judges and Samuel. The second part of this volume focuses on Esther, a story of anti-Judaism that raises strikingly contemporary questions concerning relations between sexism, ethnocentrism, and national identity. In Esther Timothy Beal guides readers into the meaning of the story using rhetorical criticism. He asks questions without assuming that there must be answers and allows for complexity, perplexity, and the importance of accidents in the text. In essence, Beal emphasizes the particular over the general and the tentative over the continuous; however, he does not altogether dismiss the importance of broader interpretations of Esther, especially those focusing on narrative structure. Chapters in Ruth are The Bond between Ruth and Naomi, Finding Favor in Boazs Field, An Ambiguous Encounter in the Night, and Making It All Legal. Chapters in Esther are Beginning with the End of Vashti: Esther 1:1-22, Remembering to Forget: Esther 2:1-4, New Family Dynamics: Esther 2:5-18, Coup: Esther 2:19-23, Politics of Anti-Judaism: Esther 3:1-15, Another Quarter: Esther 4:1-17, Face to Face: Esther 5:1-8, Fifty Cubits for Mordecai: Esther 5:9-14, Sleep Deserts: Esther 6:1-14, Coming Out Party: Esther 7:1- 10, Overwriting: Esther 8:1-17, and Aftermath: Esther 9:110:3.Tod Linafelt, PhD, teaches biblical studies at Georgetown University. He has published God in the Fray (with Timothy K. Beal), Fortress, 1998. Timothy K. Beal, PhD, is Harkness Associate Professor of Biblical Literature at Case Western Reserve University. He has published Reading Bibles, Writing Bodies (with David M. Gunn), Routledge, 1996, The Book of Hiding, Routledge, 1997, and God in the Fray (with Tod Linafelt), Fortress, 1998.