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SIDIC Periodical IX - 1976/2
Targum and Midrash (Pages 04 - 11)

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The Targums: Aramaic Versions of the Bible
Roger Le Déaut


The problem of the Targums is part of a body of questions immediately relevant to modern exegesis. To become convinced of this relevance it suffices to enumerate certain actual aspects of exegetical research such as study of the reading of the Old Testament by the New in the light of ancient Jewish exegesis; or the question of canonicity which, in a certain measure, would bear on the hermeneutical proceedings themselves; ' or again, the problem of inspiration of the sacred text studied in the different phases of its living development in the Jewish and the Christian communities. This article will not even touch on such vast problems; its aim is to show how the study of Jewish tradition, in particular the witness of the Targums and the Midrash, is an essential element of that exegetical research whose object is to discover the profound riches of the New Testament. Without going as far as M. Black who affirms that John's gospel is an « inspired `targumizing'of an Aramaic sayings tradition », 2 we believe that targumic literature can make a great contribution to a better understanding of all parts of the New Testament.
Within the limits of a few pages we can do no more than outline the extent to which the perspectives of Christian exegesis and our knowledge of ancient Jewish religious tradition are highlighted and renewed as soon as we accept the key position of the Targums between the biblical text itself and its first interpretation.
This study will proceed by three stages:
— a view of the riches offered to exegetes by the Targums;
— an examination of some examples of New Testament exegesis in the light of the Targums;
— a rapid consideration of some results already achieved by modern exegesis seen in the light of future research.

Riches of the Terms
Targumic sources

The Targums are translations of the Bible into Aramaic (the word targum comes from the Hebrewverb tirgem, “to translate, interpret”). This translation was first made orally during the synagogue liturgy, immediately after the reading of the Hebrew text, at that time no longer understood by the people. Nehemiah Chapter 8, where Esdras reads, then translates and explains the book of the Law, can give us some idea of what may originally have been a synagogue liturgy of readings. At what stage, however, did a translation become indispensable?
Towards the end of the seventh century B.C. Aramaic became the international language of exchange between the peoples of the Middle East. It is clear from 2 Kings 18:26-28 and from Isaiah 36:11-13 that in Jerusalem the upper classes of society understood Aramaic, whereas the people spoke only Hebrew; but after the exile the situation was, in a way, reversed: in Babylon circumstances obliged the deportees to learn Aramaic and Hebrew gradually became a sacred language understood by educated people only. Hence oral Tar-gums in all probability began at the same time as the synagogue and its worship, after the Babylonian exile. The Targums are therefore privileged witnesses to the most ancient understanding of the text in as far as it can be conjecturally reconstructed to fit this oral period of its development.
The discovery in 1956 of the Targum to Job in cave eleven at Qumran suffices to prove the existence of written Targums before the Christian era. The editors of the text and the critics do in fact agree in dating the composition at about at least one hundred years before Christ. In cave four at Qumran other fragments of the Targum to Job have been found as well as a few verses from the Targum to Leviticus. Copies of the Targums should not therefore be so scarce. These texts follow that of the Bible closely without the constant digressions and long paraphrases familiar to us from the Palestinian Targums.
The written Targums do, in fact, mark the end of a long oral tradition which began after the exile when the Torah became the center of Jewish religious life. Exegetical research (midrash in Hebrew) established traditional interpretations of the text which were transmitted from one generation to the next. The editors of the Targums aimed at transmitting these traditional interpretations faithfully, within the limitations of a translation, so as not to allow a complex exegetical heritage to be lost, a heritage comprising norms of conduct (halakhah) and narrative developments (aggadah) of all kinds.
In our Targums to the Pentateuch these two main traditions can be recognized. The first is represented by the Targum called Targum Onkelos; it developed in Babylon (from a text drawn up in Palestine before the end of the first century) when the Palestinian sages were obliged to flee on account of the Roman persecution of 135. This text was to acquire a recognized authority in the Jewish world as a whole. The Talmud calls it « our Targum o (Kiddushin 49'). The textual tradition of Onkelos has preserved traces of the divergences of opinion among the different Babylonian academies such as Sura and Nehardea. Its composition and final editing continued until the fifth century in dose dependence on the massoretic text; this explains the canonical character it has acquired. It has preserved the teaching of the doctors of the first and second centuries of the Christian era (tannaim), in particular the methods of literal exegesis of the school of Akiva. After the Arab conquest this Targum was brought to Palestine where it finally supplanted the Palestinian targumic tradition.
This second tradition has never been finally and definitively edited, nor has it developed along official and uniform lines. The Palestinian versions of the Targum are condensations of different forms of an oral tradition which could not however be fixed until the biblical text itself had been established in its present form, from the beginning of the second century of our era. These texts were written in an Aramaic dialect which reflects the spoken language and is similar to that of the Jerusalem Talmud.
The Palestinian Targum to the Pentateuch is known in two forms: that called the Pseudo-Jonathan (from an erroneous reading of the abbreviation T.J. = Targum Yerushalmi), where it is complete, and in the recension of the codex Neofiti I of the Vatican library (identified in 1956 by A. Diaz Macho, professor of the University of Barcelona); the other, very incomplete, is represented by about 850 verses from marginal variants collated from the manuscripts, especially the Onkelos manuscript. This recension is often called the Fragmentary Targum. All these texts are clearly connected; the following plan shows their relationships starting from the common source which is the body of Palestinian targumic traditions (TP).
There exist also Targums to the Prophets and to the Hagiographa. For the problems posed by these we refer the reader to our Introduction a la [literature targumique (Rome 1966).

Nature of the Targum
The Targum is not only the oral translation, afterwards written, of those books of the Bible that are read during the synagogue service; it is a genuine literary style capable of assuming different forms according to circumstances. Thus a whole range of methods can be detected, from translation that is very close to the Hebrew text to paraphrased commentary so free as to be only with difficulty distinguishable from Midrash. When the texts are examined with a view to discovering how they can display such a wide panorama, it becomes clear that the phenomenon is in varying degrees a living one, both spontaneous and deliberate. It accompanies and prolongs the reading of the Bible in the synagogue so that God's word may never be a dead letter, that it may rather live and become actual and relevant in the attentive consciousness of those who hear it. The biblical text is proclaimed by the lector who reads it aloud in Hebrew. Immediately after each verse, for the books of the Torah, after every three verses for the Prophets, it is translated and, so to speak, orchestrated by the melurgeman whose role it is to translate, explain, and eventually, as need arises, to comment. He translates orally without referring either to the Hebrew text, to which he listens like the rest, or to a previously written translation. It is said in Gittin 6013: ).) What has been said orally (must be transmitted) orally, and what has been said in writing
(must be transmitted) in writing. » It would thus seem that, more often than not, the factor responsible for the multiple variants in the targumic form is, above all, the desire to explain and to actualize for the synagogue assembly.'
Since the Targum is a living thing it is very difficult to fix both its constants and its variants. Here all attempts at description are bound to fail if they do not respect the movement of God's Word. This Word is always living and relevant; it goes from the reader to the translator, from the translator to the assembled people; they in their turn influence the translation by their ever new reactions.
The interpretations of the oral Targums and the written texts that issued from them are precious witnesses to the conceptions of what could be called g common * Judaism, as opposed to the more specific interpretations of such sectarian movements as Qumran and those which converged into the New Testament. Since targumic literature had its beginnings in the synagogue assembly, in the average religious culture of the mass of Jewish people, it restores to us a part of the religious universe where primitive Christianity developed. The Targums in fact reflect the common understanding of the Old Testament as generally imparted to the Jewish people at the time of Jesus.
Hence the importance of a rapid enumeration of certain characteristics of this first direct interpretation of the Word of God, grouped according to some general assumptions which in part explain them.

Targum and synagogue worship
Originally Targums had no existence apart from the liturgy because they were essentially conceived to transmit the meaning of the text read during the course of common prayer. This fact enables us already to understand how, in the course of a long period of transmission, it was possible for the written Targums to reach a point where the variants could pass from the most faithful translations to the most midrashic of homiletic commentaries.
The fact of being in a living community obliges the translator to make the text accessible to all. His concern is to adapt it to the concrete public before him without departing from the long tradition of interpretation from which he received the meaning commonly accepted in his milieu. Jewish fidelity to the belief of the Fathers is the fruit of this respect for continuity in the development of religious thought. Targums have, therefore, a double interest; they both witness to the concrete life of the Jewish communities of Palestine and Babylon, and assure the continuity of a tradition which, in the midst of existential changes, always remains faithful to itself.
Within this tradition which is faithful, yet preserved by its oral character from being static, other preoccupations can be discerned. Sometimes its intention is apologetic: it is, for example, emphasized that Rebekah is going to leave her brothers « to be married to the just man n (Targum Pseudo-Jonathan to Genesis 24:60); at other times it is catechetical, as is proved by many short but clear allusions to the halakhah: « Isaac sowed this land with almsgiving in mind » (Targum Pseudo-Jonathan to Genesis 26:12); yet again the tone is that of discussion, as for example in the Targum to Genesis 4 (quoted farther on) which develops belief in Providence, retribution and the after-life in opposition to the opinion of the Sadducees.
On the other hand the translator does not remain neutral in this kind of animation of the text. When he wants to make his account more colorful he can give it a dramatic dimension. The liturgy then becomes dynamic like a play which makes its characters dialogue, as in the Targum to Psalm 118, or which calls upon them. Thus, before the giving of a divine commandment the formula « My people, my people, children of Israel » is often found.
Finally, the translator, while illustrating the text being read, is already preparing the homily to follow. Sometimes he composes this homily himself, and his translation enables him to establish an unforced connection between the texts fixed for the liturgy of the day. The reading from the prophets was, in fact, chosen in relationship with that from the Torah, but the preacher and the translator were free to add further subtle connections between these readings.
This reciprocal attraction of the texts sometimes produces results interesting to the exegete, as in the Apocalypse (19:13) where the messianic interpretation of Isaiah 63:2 (« Why is thy apparel red, and thy garments like his that treads in the wine press? ») is confirmed by the Targum to Isaiah which has inserted some lines from the targumic paraphrase of Genesis 49: 11: « How beautiful is the King Messiah . . . he girds his loins and sets forth to fight against his enemies . . he reddens the mountains with the blood of their slain. His garments are soaked in blood . . . »3
Finally, this liturgical action is normally hortative in tone: the translator exhorts by drawing attention to the most important passages. He calls for moral behavior and fidelity to God, as in the Targum to Genesis 40:23: « But because Joseph had forgotten the favor from above and had placed his trust in the chief cup-bearer — in perishable flesh — for this . . .» Sometimes he quotes the psalms to introduce a note of religious fervor, or inserts, according to circumstances, blessings, curses or doxologies. Such procedure is proof of the actual presence of a congregation in the synagogue.

Targumic method
The meturgeman is an educated man who, in his concern to be understood by his hearers, utilizes to the full his literary resources. Thus the Targums are not only necessary for the successful procedure of a living liturgy; they have become, with the passage of time, a truly scholarly exercise to promote better understanding and clearer illustration of the biblical text. The examples of the different methods used by the authors of the Targums make possible the discovery of an altogether special literary form.
Targums axe used to communicate the biblical text to the whole assembly, regardless of different cultural levels, so it is not surprising to find in them many examples of popular exaggeration. In Numbers 11:31-32 the quails fall to the height most convenient for the consumer! Targum Neofiti I to Numbers 11:31: # They flew at a height of about two cubits from the land so that it would not be tiring to collect them » (see also the Targum to Pseudo-Jonathan). The grains of corn and the grapes of Canaan are of fabulous size (Targum Pseudo-Jonathan to Deuteronomy 32:14). The tables of the Law are of enormous weight, as their importance requires.
Another literary device characteristic of the Targums and still more of Midrash is the introduction of popular narratives which add flavor to the text. Thus the tone of certain accounts was intended to hold the attention of the synagogue assembly and can still charm us as we read the Targum. We here quote three examples of these midrashic paraphrases. The first shows the liberty taken by the translator with the text he is embellishing.
When Reuel learnt that Moses had fled from Pharaoh he threw him into a pit. But Sepphorah, the daughter of his son, fed him secretly for (the period of) ten years. At the end of ten years he made him come out of the pit. Moses went into the little garden of Reuel where he thanked the Lord and prayed before him for having worked miracles and prodigies in his favor. He caught sight of the rod which had been created at twilight and which bore explicitly graven upon it the great and glorious Name by whose power it was destined to cleave the Sea of Reeds and to bring forth the water from the rock. It was fixed in the ground in the middle of the little garden and straightway Moses stretched out his hand and took the rod. Moses then wanted to live with the man and the man gave Sepphorah the daughter of his son to Moses (Targum Pseudo-Jonathan to Exodus 2:21).(6)

The second example is also taken from Pseudo-Jonathan to Exodus 1:15. It shows how the creative imagination is placed at the service of exegetical and theological thought. In this text we do in fact see the liberation from Egypt, announced before it takes place, as transmitted by religious tradition. There is mention of a liberating lamb, which, according to the Egyptian magicians, represents the child Moses who will be born to save his people. Matthew in the infancy narrative was probably aware of this tradition which is attested by Flavius Josephus:
Now Pharaoh recounted how, while he was asleep, he had seen in his dream all the country of Egypt placed on one side of a balance and a lamb, the little one of a ewe, on the other side of the scales; and the side where the lamb was went down. He sent at once for all the magicians of Egypt and told them his dream. Immediately Jannes and Jambres, chiefs of the magicians (see 2 Timothy 3:8) opened their mouths and said to Pharaoh: u A child is destined to be born in the assembly of Israel, and through him all the land of Egypt is destined to be devastated. v This is why Pharaoh, King of Egypt, gave the following order and said to the Jewish midwives (one was called Shiphrah — that is Jokabed — and the name of the second was Puah — that is Miriam, her daughter. (Targum Pseudo-Jonathan to Exodus 1:15)

Finally, through this kind of exegetical meditation, the third example enables us to witness the birth of a very rich liturgical tradition which still continues in the Haggadah of Pesah celebrated annually by all the Jewish communities of the world.
Four nights are inscribed in the «Book of Memorials v before the Master of the universe. The first night (was) when he appeared to create the world.
The second (night was) when he appeared to Abraham.
The third (night was) when he appeared in Egypt: his hand slew all the first-born of Egypt and his right hand saved all the first-born of Israel. The fourth (night will be) when he manifests himself to free the people of the house of Israel from among the nations. And he called them all nights of vigil. For this reason Moses says explicitly: « It is a night of vigil for the liberation that comes from before the face of the Lord to make the people of the children of Israel come forth from the land of Egypt. That is the night preserved from the destroying Angel for all the children of Israel who were in Egypt and (reserved) also for their liberation from their exiles throughout all generations (Pseudo-Jonathan to Exodus 12:42).

It will suffice to mention some other literary devices specific to the Targums. Thus, the following are to be found:
— dramatizations such as that of the curses of God in Deuteronomy 28:15 where the whole of nature is silent (Targum Pseudo-Jonathan);
— naming of anonymous characters such as Jannes and Jambres, councillors of Pharaoh (see above);
— interpretations of proper names which make possible the creation of an episode or the giving of a new explanation. For example, in the Targum Pseudo-Jonathan to Genesis 36:43: « The chief Magdiel: he was called Magdiel because of the name of his city, "Mighty Tower" — that is Rome, the sinner . . . * (in Hebrew rnigdal = tower);
— re-arranging of genealogy: thus Miriam (become one of the midwives of Exodus 1:15) becomes also the ancestress of David and of the Messiah;
— creation of types: the impious, the just. Cain is the type of the unbeliever, the atheist, then of the Sadducee, and finally, in Hebrews 12:16, of the unchaste man, of the profane.
Finally, the capital value of numbers as symbols should be stressed° However, this accumulation of examples characteristic of targumic literature has already revealed a whole world. The discovery of this world would be most useful in placing much popular and even scientific exegesis in the relief that these venerable traditions can provide.

Principles of targumic interpretation
The meturgeman is animated by a very strong conviction which later impregnated Christian tradition also: the certitude that the sacred text, because it is received from God, can contain no error, no contradiction. The entire text down to its minutest details has a meaning, a significance, a religious relevance. Consequently nothing in it should remain obscure; all must be explained even if this necessitates the introduction of glosses, paraphrases, exegetical or theological commentaries. Thus arises the problem of God's justice and of his providence when he does not accept Cain's sacrifice. The Targum Pseudo-Jonathan to Genesis 4:8 studies this question by introducing a theological dialogue between Cain and Abel:
Cain said to his brother Abel: a Come, let us both go out to the country n. Cain answered and said to Abel: I see that the world was created through love, but it is not governed according to the fruit of good deeds, and that there is respect of persons in the judgment. Why was your offering favorably received and mine unlavorably?n Abel answered Cain by saying: x The world was created through love; it is governed according to the fruit of good deeds, and in the judgment there is no respect of persons. Because the fruits of my works were better than yours my offering was favorably accepted. n Cain answered and said to Abel: «There is neither judgment nor judge; there is no other world. There is no recompense for the just and no punishment for the wicked. n Abel answered Cain saying: «There is a judge and there is another world; there is reward for the just and punishment for the wicked.”

This profession of faith is the cause of his death.
This a theological v translation obeys two criteria on which targumic thought is based. In the first place the Bible is considered as a whole, constituting a unity independent of all chronology, a there is neither before nor after in the Torah.. In the second place the Bible is presented by the Targums as Scripture « for today v, hence adapted to the concrete circumstances of actual life (see Psalm 95 commented in Hebrews 3 and 4).
A single example of the regrouping of texts according to a central theological theme will suffice to illustrate the first criterion of unity: the theme of the a wells n' which, following the transmission and the religious thought arising out of this transmission, assumes that of water and that of the rock. This is clearly seen in Numbers 21:16-18 according to the Tatgum Pseudo-Jonathan:
From then onwards the well was restored to them, the well of which the Lord had said to Moses: Assemble the people and I shall give them water. Then Israel sang this poem of praise when the well which had been given to them by the merit of Miriam returned after having been bidden: Arise, well! Arise, well! they sang to it. And the well arose . . . It began to climb with them onto the high mountains and . . . to descend with them into the valleys. It went round the whole camp of Israel and gave drink to each at the entry of his tent.
Iconography retains traces of these developments of the theme, as in the frescoes of the Dura-Europos synagogue. The meditation proceeds from the well of Eleazar, where God manifests himself through the sign of water offered by Rebekah, to the rock of Horeb which Moses strikes with his rod to make a spring gush forth, not omitting the hitter water of Mara changed into sweet water for the people. This theme is found in Flavius Josephus when he evokes Moses sitting wearily on the edge of the well. The gospel of John refers to the same tradition when it speaks of Jacob's well at Shechem which recalls that of Genesis. St. Paul in I Corinthians 10:2-4 picks up this theological reflection and gives it a Christian meaning: “. . . all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea . . . all drank the same supernatural drink. For they drank from the supernatural Rock which followed them, and the Rock was Christ.”

The second criterion allows on one hand a constant projection of today's problems onto the deeds of the past, and on the other an illumination of these problems by the deep meaning of past events. Scripture remains alive in a living people who draw from it a daily rule of life. From the moment when the Targum is written this obviously entails a temptation constantly to modify the text since the data, religious, sociological, historical, etc. should correspond with the ideas of every age. With the unfolding of history the text, as it were, snowballs, and thanks to this permanent possibility of adaptation, channels the current ideas of many generations. It then becomes possible to follow on the thread of the Targum the evolution of religious ideas on such subjects as angels, demons, eschatology, judgment. It is easier to understand how it was possible for the messianic concept to evolve after the defeat of Bar Kokhba in AD. 135. We can understand ever more clearly how it was possible for Christianity and the gospels to be at one and the same time in a state of continuity and of rupture with this great contribution from the past ceaselessly revivified by the historical present. It is moreover certain that in the first century the Christians did not radically distinguish themselves from the other sects. Their exegetical methods were drawn from the same sources as those of Judaism; their mentality was impregnated with the same traditions as those of their contemporaries, and to communicate their message the evangelists very often used the same methods as those used by the doctors of the Law.

Targum and New Testament
When, in the synagogue of Nazareth, after having been called by the head of the community to read the scroll of Isaiah, Jesus commented upon it (Luke 4:16-28), he was playing the part, familiar to the assembly, of reader-commentator. His proclamation of the Kingdom was undoubtedly grafted onto the authentic tradition of the Synagogue. Here we have a typical example of what the passage from the Jewish to the Judeo-Christian Bible might have been. Jesus inaugurated Christian exegesis by reading the Scriptures and explaining them in Emmaus. The pedagogical procedure of the evangelists is the direct issue of the teaching method of the Rabbi of Nazareth. They discovered Jesus and revealed him in the texts read, translated, meditated and commentated by a long synagogue tradition. They read his life and his action in the texture of the traditional tissue of the Bible.
It suffices to open the gospels to become convinced of this essential continuity between the Jewish and the Christian traditions. What is less well known, however, is the important role that the Targums can play in transmitting the biblical traditions, written and oral, that underlie the text of the gospels, the epistles and the apocalypse. We shall here quote certain examples where the Targum clearly helps the understanding of some verses of the New Testament? (10)

Thus we can compare Luke 11:27, « Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that you sucked! », with the Palestinian Targum to Genesis 49:25: « Blessed are the breasts that you sucked and the womb in which you rested! » Jewish tradition seems to have stressed this expression (see Genesis Rabbah on 49:25) and even to have used it as a proverb. The Jewish woman who, in the midst of the crowd, is in admiration at the teachings of Jesus quotes this proverb and perhaps remembers having heard it in the synagogue when the commentary on Genesis 49:25 was being read.
Luke 6:36 has an exact parallel in the Targum on Leviticus 22:28: « My people, children of Israel, be merciful on earth as your Father is merciful in heaven z.
When Jesus replies with apparent harshness to the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15:26, the real meaning of his words is understood in the light of a passage from the Targum Neofiti to Exodus 22:30:
You shall be a people of saints for my name; you will eat no flesh torn from an animal killed in the country; you will throw it to the dogs or else you will throw it to the pagan foreigner who is to be compared with dogs.
This way of speaking is simply an echo by Jesus of a formula, admittedly pejorative, but taken straight from tradition. Jesus repeats it because it is a popular cliché but, in all probability, without the polemic emphasis that the gospel text can suggest.
The famous dictum « the measure you give will be the measure you get >> (Matt. 7:2) is well attested in the Targums (as in that to Genesis 38:26 or Leviticus 26:43).
Three times in John's gospel we read that the Son of Man must be « lifted up » (John 3:14, 8:28; 12:32-34). Jesus explains that by this expression he is including in a single word his death, resurrection and elevation to glory: « . and I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself:" He said this to show by what death he was to die. 4 The Greek word used in John's gospel fits somewhat strangely into this meaning ( ODE/v ). To prove that John's commentary 12:32-34 is really the account of a debate between Jesus and the Jews, we must fmd in tradition an ambiguous Aramaic word that Jesus might probably have used. As M. McNamara has shown (op. cit. pp. 147149), the Targum to Numbers 11:26 sheds some light here. « Now Moses the prophet is taken away from the midst of the camp .. . »; and farther on, in Numbers 21:1: « The Canaanite, King of Arad, who dwelt in the South, learnt that Aaron was dead (literally: had been taken away) . . . that Miriam the prophetess was dead (literally: had been taken away). » These three instances clearly refer to the just, Moses, Aaron and Miriam, whose death according to the first meaning of the term reserved to this precise usage, is a “taking away”.

Finally, from among many other examples, we emphasize that of the relationship between the Logos of John and the Memra(=Word) of the Targum. This Aramaic term is a kind of “attribute” used by the Targum to designate God or his presence, creative or liberating. Its usage can be compared with that of debar, « word », of ruab bakodesb, «holy spirit », of ikar, 4 glory », in the Hebrew Bible; and of Shekhinab, « presence », in the rabbinic writings. This can be seen in many passages of the Targums, for example in the Pseudo-Jonathan to Exodus 15:25: “. . the Memra of Yhwh imposed upon him the Sabbath precept . . .”; or 15:26: 4 . . . if you listen to the Memra of Yhwh your God, and if you do what is just before him . . . »; and again, 16:3: « .. the children of Israel said to him: "Would to heaven we had died by the Memra of Yhwh in the land of Egypt" ... » Thus the prologue of John brings together in one sentence the three terms word, dwelling and glory: “. . and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us . . . we have beheld his glory.”
To understand the meaning that this triple affirmation could have for a Judeo-Christian as it echoed in his ears, we have to go back to the meaning of the words in the Targum, where they are used in reference to God himself. Many other examples will be found in books and articles in the bibliography given at the end of this number.

To conclude: this last example helps us to measure the riches inherent in the reading of the Targums as an indispensable stage between the New Testament and the Hebrew Bible; it also helps us to measure the complexity of this reading if we study the questions raised by these textual comparisons.
What seems henceforth to have been gained is the light that the reader of the new Testament can very often find in a knowledge of the Targums; this light enables him to understand better the exegetical methods, literary forms and thought patterns of the evangelists. It then becomes clear that in the communication of the Christian message the contribution of Greek culture has not obliterated the traditional heritage of Jewish experience and of the Jewish reading of the Bible. The texts of the New Testament have their origins in the confluence of these two currents, Greek and Jewish.
A very complex problem is raised by the rapidity with which it was possible for Jewish tradition and Judeo-Christian tradition, issue of the same stock, and at the beginning complementary, to become so radically opposed. The writings of Paul and John bear witness to this. Should we not reconsider with the help of the Targums and of Jewish tradition the history of religion at the time of Jesus? Should we not approach in this light such burning questions as, for example, the God-man relationship and the way in which Jesus lived this experience and announced it to his Jewish hearers? Would we not get closer to the mystery of the rupture between Jews and Christians if we realized that each of the groups facing each other, particularly the Pharisaic and the Christian sects, approached the problems by emphasizing distinct but complementary, aspects? The two religions agree on such fundamental beliefs as the origin of the world, the end of time, and the final resurrection; ought they not also to interrogate and enlighten each other on the mysterious presence of God in this world, on the Shekhinah of Jewish tradition, on the Memra of the Targums, on the Logos and the Holy Spirit in the Judeo-Christian Bible?

Prof. Le Deaut C.S.Sp.
teaches Aramaic language and literature at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome. His writings include Liturgic juive et Nouveau Testament (Rome 1965) and Introduction b. la litterature targumique (Rome 1966), plus numerous articles in scholarly journals.
1 Cf. J.A. Sanders, Torah and Canon, Philadelphia 1972.
2 An Aramaic Approach to the Gospels and Acts, third edition, Oxford 1967, P. 151.
3. « Redaction definitive, acadernique, executee en arameen d'ecole sur la base de textes anciens » G.E. Weil, « La Massorah », Revue des Etudes juives 131 (1972), p. 45.
4 Cf. R. Bloch, « Midrash Yl, Dictionnaire de la Bible, Supplement, p. 1263.
5 Cf. P. Grelot in Revue biblique 70 (1963), pp. 371-380.
6. What is added to the Hebrew text by the Targum is printed in italics.
7. Cf. Le Deaut, La nuit pascale, Rome 1963. The paraphrase of Neofiti I is still more developed.
8 Cf., for example, A. Jaubert in Mélanges A. Dupont-Sommer, 1971, pp. 452-460 on the symbolism of the twelve.
9. Cf. A. Jaubert, a La symbolique du puits de Jacob (Jean 4:12) v, L'homme devant Dieu (Melanges de Lubec), Paris 1964, pp. 63-73.
10. Cf. M. McNamara, The New Testament and the Palestinian Targum to the Pentateuch, Ch. 5, pp. 126-154.


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