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Published online by Cambridge University Press: 24 September 2009
The expansion of Islam and the proliferation of the Arabic language and culture throughout the Near East during the seventh and eighth centuries created a growing need amongst Jews living within the Muslim empire for translating the Hebrew Bible into Arabic, their spoken tongue and the lingua franca of their age.
1 For a general survey of Arabic Bible translations and their history, see Blau, J., “Targumin‘arabhiyim”, in Bible Translation: An Introduction, ed. Rabin, C. (Hebrew; Jerusalem, 1984), pp. 157–163.Google Scholar On Arabic translations of the Bible that are referred to in Muslim sources, see Lazarus-Yafeh, H., Intertwined Worlds: Medieval Islam and Bible Criticism (Princeton, 1992), pp. 111–129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
2 For the full study, see Polliack, M., The Karaite Translation Tradition of the Pentateuch into Arabic: A Linguistic Study of Karaite Translations of the Pentateuch from the Tenth to the Eleventh Centuries C.E. (doctoral dissertation, University of Cambridge, 1993).Google Scholar
3 On the dating and provenance of the Karaite manuscripts see, for instance, Hoerning, R., Six Karaite Manuscripts of Portions of the Hebrew Bible in Arabic Characters (London, 1889), pp. v–xiiGoogle Scholar; Margoliouth, G., Catalogue of Hebrew and Samaritan Manuscripts in the British Museum (London, 1899), i, pp. 233–64.Google Scholar
5 For historical surveys on the Karaite school in Jerusalem during the tenth and eleventh centuries see Mann, J., Texts and Studies in Jewish History (Philadelphia, 1935), ii, pp. 18–43Google Scholar; Gil, M., Palestine in the First Muslim Period (634–1099) (Hebrew; Tel-Aviv, 1983), i, pp. 632–664.Google Scholar
7 For a detailed linguistic analysis of the syntax and lexicon of the Karaite translations, see Polliack, M., op. cit., chapters 2–3, pp. 21–237Google Scholar.
8 A clear illustration of the Karaites’ tendency to use a cognate structure when available in both source and target languages is their typical rendering of the Hebrew preposition lě + infinitive construct by the Arabic li + maṣdar. However, when rendering the waw consecutive, a unique feature of Biblical Hebrew, which is unparalleled in the Arabic language, the Karaites use a variety of non-imitative Arabic pronouns, prepositions and syntactic structures in order to convey its special functions. For more on this matter, see M. Polliack, Ibid., chapter 5, pp. 302–349.
9 For a detailed analysis of alternative translations and additions in the Karaite translations, see M. Polliack, Ibid., chapter 3, pp. 176–213 and chapter 4, pp. 238–287; “Additions and alternate renderings in the Arabic Bible translation of the Karaite Yeshu‘ah ben Yehudah” (JQR, 1994)Google Scholar.
10 On the structure of the Karaite manuscripts, see Hoerning, R., Six Karaite Manuscripts of Portions of the Hebrew Bible in Arabic Characters (London, 1889), pp. v–xiiGoogle Scholar, and more recently, Khan, G., Karaite Bible Manuscripts from the Cairo Genizah (Cambridge, 1990), pp. 11–21.Google Scholar
11 Cf. G. Khan, Ibid., pp. 20–1; and his articles, “The medieval Karaite transcriptions of Hebrew into Arabic script”, in Israel Oriental Studies, ed. Kraemer, J. L. (Leiden, 1992), XII, pp. 157–176Google Scholar; “On the question of script in medieval Karaite manuscripts, new evidence from the Genizah”, Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester (1994).Google Scholar
12 Cf. al-Qirqisānū, Ya‘qūb, Kitāb al-‘Anwār wal-Marāqib, ed. Nemoy, L. (New York, 1939–1945)Google Scholar, i, sections I.4.18 and II.13.12, pp. 39–40 and 121–122.
13 Cf. Blau, J., The Emergence and the Linguistic background of Judaeo-Arabic (Jerusalem, 1981), pp. 19–23.Google Scholar
14 Cf. Téné, D., “The earliest comparisons of Hebrew with Aramaic and Arabic”, in Amsterdam Studies in the Theory and History of Linguistic Science, ed. Koerner, K. (Amsterdam, 1980), iii, p. 369.Google Scholar
16 Cf. Blau, J., “On a fragment of the oldest Judaeo-Arabic Bible translation extant”, in Genizah Research after Ninety Years, eds Blau, J. and Reif, S. (Cambridge, 1992), pp. 31–39.Google Scholar
17 Cf. Blau, J. and Hopkins, S., “On early Judaeo-Arabic orthography”, ZAL, XII (1984), pp. 9–27.Google Scholar
18 Blau contends that the author of the fragment had been able to read Arabic, due to the select vocabulary of the fragment, but that he was “addressing an audience unable to read Judaeo-Arabic except in hebraized spelling”, see Ibid., p. 32.
19 Another two pre-Sa‘adyanic Genizah fragments of an Arabic translation in Hebrew characters of Genesis, 2:15–3:17 and Deuteronomy, 30:18–31:6, which were written on paper (T-S Ar.28.154 (2). T-S Ar.28.168), have recently been uncovered and published by Tobi, Y., “śeridey targum ‘arbhi la-torah qodem, le-tafsir rav sa‘adyah gaon”, Masorot, VII (1993), pp. 87–127.Google Scholar These fragments also concur with the Karaite-typed features discussed above, and seem to attest a similar type of pre-Sa‘adyanic translation tradition.
20 On the Christian Arabic translation tradition see for instance, Griffiths, S. H., “The Gospel in Arabic: an inquiry into its appearance in the first Abbasid century”, Oriens Christianus, LXIX (1985), pp. 126–167Google Scholar; “The monks of Palestine and the growth of Christian literature in Arabic”, The Muslim World, LXXVII (1988), pp. 1–28.Google Scholar On the Samaritan Arabic translation tradition, see Sheḥadeh, H., The Arabic Translation Tradition of the Samaritan Pentateuch: Prolegomena to a Critical Edition, I–III (Hebrew; doctoral dissertation, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1977).Google Scholar
21 On the evolution of the Targum, see Alexander, P. S., “Jewish Aramaic translations of Hebrew scriptures”, in Mikra: Text, Translation, Reading and Interpretation of the Hebrew Bible in Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity, ed. Mulder, M.J. (Philadelphia, 1988), pp. 217–253.Google Scholar On the translation techniques employed by the Targum see pp. 225–229. Also note Alexander's division of literalist as opposed to paraphrastic types of Palestinian targumim, in particular his analysis of “type A targum” exemplified by Pseudo-Yonathan, Targum to Genesis, 4: 3–16 pp. 229–234)Google Scholar, which consists of a “base translation + detachable glosses” (p. 231). These glosses supply circumstantial detail and impose the meturgeman's own theology on the source text, yet when they are separated from the translation text, a viable one-to-one translation of the Hebrew source text can be extracted.
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