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The Targums: A Critical Introduction

by Flesher, Paul V. M., Chilton, Bruce

Baylor University Press 2011

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The Targums: A Critical Introduction
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Overview

The value of the Targums—translations of the Hebrew Bible into Aramaic, the language of Palestinian Jews for centuries following the Babylonian Exile—lies in their approach to translation: within a typically literal rendering of a text, they incorporate extensive exegetical material, additions, and paraphrases. These alterations reveal important information about Second Temple Judaism, its interpretation of its Bible, and its beliefs.

This remarkable survey introduces critical knowledge and insights that have emerged over the past 60 years, as well as Targum manuscripts discovered this century and Targums known in Aramaic but only recently translated into English. Prolific scholars Flesher and Chilton guide readers in understanding the development of the Targums, their relationship to the Hebrew Bible, their dates, their language, their place in the history of Christianity and Judaism, and their theologies and methods of interpretation.

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Key Features

  • Discusses various Targums
  • Identifies the internal nature of the Targums
  • Examines the religious and social contexts

Contents

  • Section I: Getting Started
    1. Introduction
    2. Defining Targum
    3. The Seven Rules of Targum
    4. Rabbinic Literature
  • Section II: The Pentateuchal Targums
    1. Pentateuchal Targums: The Basics
    2. Sources of the Palestinian Targums
    3. Targum Onqelos and the Targums of Israel
    4. The Pentateuchal Targums in Rabbinic Literature
    5. Dating the Targums of Israel
  • Section III: The Targums of the Prophets and the Writings
    1. Targum Jonathan of the Prophets: Its Development as Revealed by the Targum of Isaiah
    2. Targum Jonathan: Former and Latter Prophets
    3. Targums to the Writings
  • Section IV: The Targums in Late-Antique Judaism
    1. Aramaic in Judaism
    2. Targums and Translation in the History of Rabbinic Literature
    3. Targum as Scripture and Hidden Interpretation
    4. Ancient Scripture Translations
  • Section V: The Targums and Early Christianity
    1. Comparing the Targums and the New Testament
    2. The Aramaic Retroversion of Jesus Sayings
    3. The Fourth Gospel and Targumic Memra
  • Section VI: Conclusions and Prospects
    1. Genesis 22 in the Targumim and in Early Jewish and Christian Interpretation
    2. Targums in the Rabbinic World and Beyond

Praise for the Print Edition

Chilton and Flesher have finally given us the critical introduction to the Targums that has been needed for decades. The Targums is an excellent book that defines and explains these important Aramaic translations of Hebrew Scripture with nuance and insight. Anyone interested in biblical interpretation—Jewish or Christian—must read this book. I recommend it with enthusiasm.

Craig A. Evans, Payzant Distinguished Professor of New Testament, Acadia Divinity College, Nova Scotia, Canada

Targum, the ancient Aramaic Bible version, bridges the gap between the biblical and rabbinic texts. In a critical sense, it is a valuable witness to the Hebrew text itself. A general work on the Targum has been a desiderata for a long time, and this work fits this need admirably. This book will prove to be invaluable to students of religion, biblical scholars, students of the Ancient Near East, of Semitic linguistics, and those interested in rabbinics and the early history of Christianity.

—Bernard Grossfeld, professor emeritus, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

The most complete and up-to-date introduction to Targums, with clear presentation of current research, of issues involved, including Targums and the New Testament, and a rich bibliography. An outstanding achievement. Highly recommended.

Martin McNamara, emeritus professor of Scripture, Milltown Institute, Dublin, Ireland

Product Details

  • Title: The Targums: A Critical Introduction
  • Authors: Paul V. M. Flesher and Bruce Chilton
  • Publisher: Baylor University Press
  • Publication Date: 2011
  • Pages: 575

About the Authors

Paul V. M. Flesher is an associate professor of religious studies and the director of the religious studies program at the University of Wyoming. Flesher is the past president of the International Organization for Targumic Study and is the founding editor of the Studies in the Aramaic Interpretation of Scripture series.

Bruce Chilton is Bernard Iddings Bell Professor of Religion at Bard College in Annandale, New York. His previous books include The Glory of Israel, Targumic Approaches to the Gospels, and A Galilean Rabbi and His Bible.

Sample Pages from the Print Edition