The Book of Psalms: Composition and Reception

By Peter W. Flint; Patrick D. Miller Jr. | Go to book overview

A JEWISH READING OF PSALMS: SOME OBSERVATIONS
ON THE METHOD OF THE ARAMAIC TARGUM

MOSHE J. BERNSTEIN


INTRODUCTION

In light of the size of the book of Psalms and its multidimensional significance within Jewish tradition, it is perhaps surprising, at first glance, that the Aramaic version of Psalms has been relatively neglected when compared with the Aramaic versions of other biblical books.1 The fact that it has not been the object of a great deal of scholarly scrutiny may be attributed to any one of a variety of factors: its unwieldy size, its presumed “late” date, its non-employment in Jewish liturgy, or some combination of those phenomena as well as others.2

1 We shall speak of the “targum” in the singular, whether it is the product of
one hand or of many. If the targum of Psalms, for example, is not the product of a
single hand, it still possesses a commonality of aim and method that allows us to
think of it as the product of a single school or tradition of translation and inter-
pretation.

2 The most important and thorough treatment of Targum Psalms remains W.
Bacher, “Das Targum zu den Psalmen,” MGWJ 21 (1872) 408-16, 463-73; the
chapter on this targum by P. Churgin in

“Targum of the Hagi-
ographa”
(New York: Horeb, 1945) 17-62 is also noteworthy. Among the other
fairly sparse studies of this Aramaic version are: Y. Komlosh,
““Characteristic Features in the Targum of Psalms””, in J. M.
Grintz and J. Liver (eds.), Studies in the Bible Presented to Μ. Η. Segal (Sefer Se-
gal)
(Jerusalem: Israel Society for Biblical Research, 1964) 265-70; L. Diez Me-
rino, “Haggadic Elements in the Targum of Psalms,” Proceedings of the Eighth
World Congress of Jewish Studies. Division A
(Jerusalem: World Union of Jewish
Studies, 1982) 131-37; and J. Shunary, “Avoidance of Anthropomorphism in the
Targum of Psalms,” Textus 5 (1966) 134-44.

The commentary by A. T. Wein,

(Rehovot, 1985) consists of a transla-
tion of the standard text of the targum into Hebrew with fairly sparse notes, mostly
linking targumic comments with rabbinic literature. An important recent article is
E. M. Cook, “The Psalms Targum: Introduction to a New Translation, with Sample
Texts,” in P. V. Flesher (ed.), Targum and Scripture: Studies in Aramaic Transla-
tion and Interpretation in Memory of Ernest G. Clarke
(Studies in the Aramaic In-
terpretation of Scripture 2; Leiden: Brill, 2002) 185-201; this is an introduction to
his translation of the targum found on the website of the Newsletter for Targumic

-476-

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