Composition of Targums after the Decline of Aramaic as a Spoken Language

in Aramaic Studies
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The eighth century is the latest many scholars feel comfortable with for the use of Aramaic as a living language, before it was supplanted by Arabic. Therefore, clearly late Targums were usually dated circa the eighth century. However, persuasive arguments have been made in the past generation for a later dating regarding some Targums. This justifies a re-evaluation of the assumption that an Aramaic speaking environment is necessary for the continued composition of Targums. This article offers a possible Sitz im Leben for Targum composition after the decline of Aramaic as a spoken language throughout most of the Jewish world.



Cf. M. Rosenberg and K. Kohler, ‘Das Targum zur Chronik’, Jüdische Zeitschrift für Wissenschaft und Leben 8 (1870), pp. 72–80, 135–163, 263–278 (273–277); R. Le Déaut and J. Robert, Targum des Chroniques (Analecta Biblica, 51, Rome: Biblical Institute Press, 1971), vol. 1, pp. 24–27; J.S. McIvor, The Targum of Chronicles: Translated, with Introduction, Apparatus, and Notes (The Aramaic Bible, 19, Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 1994), pp. 17–18.


A.D. York, ‘The Targum in the Synagogue and in the School’, Journal for the Study of Judaism in the Persian, Hellenistic and the Roman Period 10 (1979), pp. 74–86; W.F. Smelik, ‘The Rabbinic Reception of Early Bible Translations as Holy Writings and Oral Torah’, Journal for the Aramaic Bible 1.2 (1999), pp. 249–272 (271–272). See also an important discussion on the purpose of Aramaic Targum before the decline of Hebrew: A. Tal, ‘Is there a Raison d’être for an Aramaic Targum of the Holy Writ in a Hebrew Speaking Society?’, Revue d’Études Juives 160 (2001), pp. 357–378.


Rosenberg and Kohler, ‘Targum zur Chronik’, pp. 274–275.


J.R. Cooper, ‘Sumerian and Akkadian in Sumer and Akkad’, Orientalia 42.1 (1973), pp. 239–246.


Cook, Rewriting the Bible, pp. 277–278.


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