From lingua franca to lingua sacra: The Scripturalization of Tobit in 4QTobe

in Vetus Testamentum
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In light of the growing consensus that the book of Tobit was originally penned in Aramaic, the fragmentary Hebrew copy 4QTobe is a singularly unique literary artifact of Second Temple Judaism. While a cluster of other Aramaic works were read and received as authoritative literature by at least some Jews at this time (e.g., Daniel 2-7, the booklets of 1 Enoch, and Aramaic Levi Document), Tobit alone was translated from the common language of the ancient Near East into the traditional Israelite mother tongue. This study explores how the shift from Aramaic to Hebrew should inform our conception of the status and reception of Tobit in ancient Judaism. By virtue of the new linguistic overlay given to 4QTobe, this manuscript should be considered a literary edition in its own right, with an ostensibly higher level or different degree of authority than its Aramaic language counterparts.

  • 1

    Elias J. Bickerman“Notes on the Greek Book of Esther”Proceedings of the American Academy for Jewish Research 20 (1951) pp. 101-133 here p. 109.

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  • 3

    Karen H. Jobes and Moisés SilvaInvitation to the Septuagint (Grand Rapids: Baker2000) pp. 45-46. See now also Timothy Michael Law When God Spoke Greek: The Septuagint and the Making of the Christian Bible (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2013) p. 65. It is however difficult to determine whether the source text of the Greek translations was Aramaic or Hebrew (Michaela Hallermyer Text und Überlieferung des Buches Tobit [Deuterocanonical and Cognate Literature Studies 3; Berlin: Walter de Gruyter 2008] p. 21).

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  • 17

    Elias J. Bickerman“Aramaic Literature” in The Jews in the Greek Age (Cambridge Mass.: Harvard 1988) pp. 51-65 here p. 52.

  • 20

    Seth Schwartz“Language, Power and Identity in Ancient Palestine”Past & Present 148 (1995) pp. 3-47.

  • 21

    Wacholder“The Ancient Judaeo-Aramaic Literature” pp. 274-75; Steve Weitzman “Why Did the Qumran Community Write in Hebrew?” jaos 119 (1999) pp. 35-45; and William M. Schniedewind “Qumran Hebrew as an Antilanguage” jbl 118 (1999) pp. 235-52.

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  • 23

    Martha Himmelfarb“Judaism and Hellenism in 2 Maccabees”Poetics Today 19 (1998) pp. 19-40.

  • 26

    FitzmyerA Guide to the Dead Sea Scrolls p. 89.

  • 28

    Ibid. pp. 218-19.

  • 33

    Idem“Why a Prologue?” p. 640 italics original.

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