Translations as Linguistic Commentaries? On the Interpretative Dimension of Early Bible Translations into Judaeo-Arabic

In: Philological Encounters
Ronny Vollandt Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München

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Arabic translations of the Scriptures were an early vehicle for satisfying the need for versions that the masses, as well as the more educated strata, could understand, and for adapting the biblical text to a new world at a time of profound political and cultural change. Most of the languages that had been in general use prior to this time had been supplanted by Arabic. For the majority of communities that were now under Muslim rule, the languages of religious learning became a scholastic medium that had to be acquired and preserved through instruction. This led to a multiglossic culture, in which Arabic was the daily vernacular, used alongside central religious texts in Hebrew and Aramaic (or Syriac, Greek, and Coptic for Christian communities). In this contribution I seek to demonstrate how early Jewish translations of the Bible into Arabic promoted continuing and close study of Hebrew, rather than the reverse.

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