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Many laws in the Old Greek translation of the Covenant Code do not say the same thing as the Hebrew text. In the past, various idiosyncrasies in the Greek translation of laws that involve the death penalty had been glossed over and considered stylistic variations or grammatical outliers. However, when the text-linguistic features of the Greek translation are compared to contemporary literary, documentary, and legal Greek sources, new readings emerge: cursing a parent is no longer punishable by death; a law about bestiality becomes a law about animal husbandry; the authority of certain legal commands is deregulated. This work explores these and other new readings in comparison with contemporary Greco-Egyptian law.
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Abstract

This work examines the biblical book of Exodus in its Greek translation from the third century BCE. The focal point of analysis is on laws that involve the death penal-ty, whether in the Hebrew or Greek texts. Using a method which prioritizes the eval-uation of the translated text in comparison to its source text, the present work ar-gues that laws involving the death penalty in Greek Exodus in no small way depart from the Hebrew text’s contents. This conclusion becomes clearer when the lan-guage, syntax, and traits of the Greek legal genre are combined with this comparison of the translation to its parent text. Through creative translation practices, the trans-lator of Exodus takes steps to remove or obscure capital punishment in some laws, add this penalty to another, or otherwise render a Hebrew law’s content in such a way that minimizes the scope or practicability of the capitally punishable offence. One such innovative measure of the translation is in the use of a Ptolemaic legal-syntactic trait that limits the practicability of a given legal command. Here the trans-lator draws on the scribal habits and rules of Greco-Egyptian law from the third cen-tury. In other cases, the translator renders with terms or phrases that superficially represent the Hebrew source text but do not semantically correspond to the Hebrew text in the Greek translation. This project points out these occurrences by means of comparison with the literary and documentary source materials from around the time of the translation. A particular interest is given to Greek legal materials. Out of this translation-technical data emerges the hypothesis that the translator of Exodus rendered these laws in such a way that they might coincide with the legal values and potentially the legal practices of the ethnic superpower of the day (the Greeks). Rel-evant comparisons are made in order to substantiate this observation.

In: Death of the Covenant Code: Capital Punishment in Old Greek Exodus in Light of Greco-Egyptian Law
Author:

Abstract

This work examines the biblical book of Exodus in its Greek translation from the third century BCE. The focal point of analysis is on laws that involve the death penal-ty, whether in the Hebrew or Greek texts. Using a method which prioritizes the eval-uation of the translated text in comparison to its source text, the present work ar-gues that laws involving the death penalty in Greek Exodus in no small way depart from the Hebrew text’s contents. This conclusion becomes clearer when the lan-guage, syntax, and traits of the Greek legal genre are combined with this comparison of the translation to its parent text. Through creative translation practices, the trans-lator of Exodus takes steps to remove or obscure capital punishment in some laws, add this penalty to another, or otherwise render a Hebrew law’s content in such a way that minimizes the scope or practicability of the capitally punishable offence. One such innovative measure of the translation is in the use of a Ptolemaic legal-syntactic trait that limits the practicability of a given legal command. Here the trans-lator draws on the scribal habits and rules of Greco-Egyptian law from the third cen-tury. In other cases, the translator renders with terms or phrases that superficially represent the Hebrew source text but do not semantically correspond to the Hebrew text in the Greek translation. This project points out these occurrences by means of comparison with the literary and documentary source materials from around the time of the translation. A particular interest is given to Greek legal materials. Out of this translation-technical data emerges the hypothesis that the translator of Exodus rendered these laws in such a way that they might coincide with the legal values and potentially the legal practices of the ethnic superpower of the day (the Greeks). Rel-evant comparisons are made in order to substantiate this observation.

In: Death of the Covenant Code: Capital Punishment in Old Greek Exodus in Light of Greco-Egyptian Law
Author:

Abstract

This work examines the biblical book of Exodus in its Greek translation from the third century BCE. The focal point of analysis is on laws that involve the death penal-ty, whether in the Hebrew or Greek texts. Using a method which prioritizes the eval-uation of the translated text in comparison to its source text, the present work ar-gues that laws involving the death penalty in Greek Exodus in no small way depart from the Hebrew text’s contents. This conclusion becomes clearer when the lan-guage, syntax, and traits of the Greek legal genre are combined with this comparison of the translation to its parent text. Through creative translation practices, the trans-lator of Exodus takes steps to remove or obscure capital punishment in some laws, add this penalty to another, or otherwise render a Hebrew law’s content in such a way that minimizes the scope or practicability of the capitally punishable offence. One such innovative measure of the translation is in the use of a Ptolemaic legal-syntactic trait that limits the practicability of a given legal command. Here the trans-lator draws on the scribal habits and rules of Greco-Egyptian law from the third cen-tury. In other cases, the translator renders with terms or phrases that superficially represent the Hebrew source text but do not semantically correspond to the Hebrew text in the Greek translation. This project points out these occurrences by means of comparison with the literary and documentary source materials from around the time of the translation. A particular interest is given to Greek legal materials. Out of this translation-technical data emerges the hypothesis that the translator of Exodus rendered these laws in such a way that they might coincide with the legal values and potentially the legal practices of the ethnic superpower of the day (the Greeks). Rel-evant comparisons are made in order to substantiate this observation.

In: Death of the Covenant Code: Capital Punishment in Old Greek Exodus in Light of Greco-Egyptian Law
Author:

Abstract

This work examines the biblical book of Exodus in its Greek translation from the third century BCE. The focal point of analysis is on laws that involve the death penal-ty, whether in the Hebrew or Greek texts. Using a method which prioritizes the eval-uation of the translated text in comparison to its source text, the present work ar-gues that laws involving the death penalty in Greek Exodus in no small way depart from the Hebrew text’s contents. This conclusion becomes clearer when the lan-guage, syntax, and traits of the Greek legal genre are combined with this comparison of the translation to its parent text. Through creative translation practices, the trans-lator of Exodus takes steps to remove or obscure capital punishment in some laws, add this penalty to another, or otherwise render a Hebrew law’s content in such a way that minimizes the scope or practicability of the capitally punishable offence. One such innovative measure of the translation is in the use of a Ptolemaic legal-syntactic trait that limits the practicability of a given legal command. Here the trans-lator draws on the scribal habits and rules of Greco-Egyptian law from the third cen-tury. In other cases, the translator renders with terms or phrases that superficially represent the Hebrew source text but do not semantically correspond to the Hebrew text in the Greek translation. This project points out these occurrences by means of comparison with the literary and documentary source materials from around the time of the translation. A particular interest is given to Greek legal materials. Out of this translation-technical data emerges the hypothesis that the translator of Exodus rendered these laws in such a way that they might coincide with the legal values and potentially the legal practices of the ethnic superpower of the day (the Greeks). Rel-evant comparisons are made in order to substantiate this observation.

In: Death of the Covenant Code: Capital Punishment in Old Greek Exodus in Light of Greco-Egyptian Law
Author:

Abstract

This work examines the biblical book of Exodus in its Greek translation from the third century BCE. The focal point of analysis is on laws that involve the death penal-ty, whether in the Hebrew or Greek texts. Using a method which prioritizes the eval-uation of the translated text in comparison to its source text, the present work ar-gues that laws involving the death penalty in Greek Exodus in no small way depart from the Hebrew text’s contents. This conclusion becomes clearer when the lan-guage, syntax, and traits of the Greek legal genre are combined with this comparison of the translation to its parent text. Through creative translation practices, the trans-lator of Exodus takes steps to remove or obscure capital punishment in some laws, add this penalty to another, or otherwise render a Hebrew law’s content in such a way that minimizes the scope or practicability of the capitally punishable offence. One such innovative measure of the translation is in the use of a Ptolemaic legal-syntactic trait that limits the practicability of a given legal command. Here the trans-lator draws on the scribal habits and rules of Greco-Egyptian law from the third cen-tury. In other cases, the translator renders with terms or phrases that superficially represent the Hebrew source text but do not semantically correspond to the Hebrew text in the Greek translation. This project points out these occurrences by means of comparison with the literary and documentary source materials from around the time of the translation. A particular interest is given to Greek legal materials. Out of this translation-technical data emerges the hypothesis that the translator of Exodus rendered these laws in such a way that they might coincide with the legal values and potentially the legal practices of the ethnic superpower of the day (the Greeks). Rel-evant comparisons are made in order to substantiate this observation.

In: Death of the Covenant Code: Capital Punishment in Old Greek Exodus in Light of Greco-Egyptian Law

Abstract

This study explores ritual embodiment and the semioticization of the somatic in thirteenth-century kabbalah and its later repercussions in the nexus between ascesis and the hypernomian limits of the law in the Sabbatian theology of Nathan of Gaza. The connection between nomos and ethos in the worldview promulgated by kabbalists has been duly recognized in scholarly literature, examined most often under the taxonomy of ṭaʿame ha-miṣvot. The rationale of the commandments was greatly enhanced by the widespread assumption concerning the homology between the microanthropos—idealized in the body politic of Israel—and the macroanthropos, a correspondence that does not simply suggest a reciprocal reflection of the upper in the lower and of the lower in the upper, but rather the ontic assumption that the events of the supernal realm are instantiated and brought to fruition in the terrestrial realm. The locus of the ritual gestures is assuredly the carnal being, but the ontological isomorphism between the human and the divine bodies, and the possibility of mutual influence that ensues therefrom, are predicated on the transmutation of the physical into the imaginal. The latter term does not denote a disembodied state or a noetic abstraction; it attests rather to an alternate form of body that is intermediate between the corporeal and the spiritual, a form that is immaterial in its materiality and material in its immateriality.

In: Accounting for the Commandments in Medieval Judaism

Abstract

This study compares the rationales of the incest prohibitions in the Zohar’s homilies on the Torah and Moses de León’s Book of the Pomegranate (Sefer ha-Rimmon) with accounts of the same laws in Joseph of Hamadan’s Rationales of the Negative Commandments (Sefer Ṭaʿame ha-miṣvot lo taʿaseh), a set of texts composed in the same region during the roughly the same period. Reading these texts together reveals a heretofore unnoticed dispute between the attitudes of de León and the Zohar, on the one hand, and Hamadan, on the other, concerning the erotic parameters of theurgy. These texts show how Castilian kabbalists engaged in an intensive process of negotiation with respect to the novel theurgical framework they offered for the commandments.

In: Accounting for the Commandments in Medieval Judaism

Abstract

This chapter provides a general overview of approaches to the commandments in medieval Judaism, particularly among Jews who embraced the authority of the ancient rabbis. It focuses on the intertwined development of two discourses: commandment enumeration and commandment rationalization. And it highlights the decisive roles played by Saadia Gaon and Maimonides in framing these two subjects, charting these topics from the intellectually fertile period of the tenth century, at the height of Judaeo-Islamic acculturation, to the wave of kabbalistic creativity in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. This chapter proposes that the commandments—whether enumerated, contemplated, rendered symbolic, or embodied—functioned as vessels into which medieval Jewish thinkers of all stripes poured a variety of competing and contradictory ideas. However ramified, multiple, and internally debated, the chapter theorizes medieval treatments of the commandments as a single generative matrix of Jewish thought and life in the posttalmudic period.

In: Accounting for the Commandments in Medieval Judaism
Author:

Abstract

Deuteronomy 15:8 dictates “Rather, you must open your hand and lend him sufficient for his lack that he is lacking (dê maḥsoro asher yeḥsar lo). The second- and third-century CE rabbis interpret this command rather narrowly, and it appears marginal to late antique Jewish notions of almsgiving. Maimonides (1138–1204) is the first jurist to interpret this scriptural language in a way that casts it as the underlying principle of the Jewish law and practice of almsgiving. Maimonides’s interpretive innovation is almost entirely neglected by thirteenth-century Ashkenazic scholars. The thirteenth-century Spanish scholars Naḥmanides, Shlomo Ibn Adret, and the unknown author of Sefer ha-Ḥinnukh refer to Maimonides’s understanding of dê maḥsoro, but their mentions of it demonstrate its marginality to Jewish legal and ethical discourse of the period. By contrast, the Spanish jurist Jacob ben Asher (fourteenth century) makes dê maḥsoro central to his understanding of Jewish charity in his systematic law code Arbaʿah ṭurim, and Israel Ibn al-Naqāwa does the same in his contemporaneous work of religious edification Menorat ha-maʾor. The growing popularity of the Arbaʿah ṭurim in the fifteenth century and its blending of Ashkenazic and Sefardic legal cultures account for the heightened importance of dê maḥsoro in Ashkenazic legal writing beginning in the fifteenth century and continuing into the sixteenth century.

In: Accounting for the Commandments in Medieval Judaism