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The Translation Of Anthropomorphisms And Anthropopathisms In The Targumim

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Chapter Summary

Anthropomorphic descriptions of the Deity prevail throughout the entire Old Testamentfrom the earliest Pentateuchal narratives and the classical prophets through the apocalyptical Book of Daniel. The origins of Jewish anti-anthropomorphism remain shrouded in obscurity. This chapter has dwelt at some length upon Maimonides because this great medieval scholar anticipated two major trends among modern scholars. First, he has retrojected his own sensitivity on the issue to the early Aramaic translators, assuming that they avoided all expressions of anthropomorphism. Second, he has tried to systematize the obvious inconsistencies in the targum, on the assumption that a system does exist. The chapter demonstrates in some detail that the issue of anthropomorphism was not of theological import, and that the various targumim are extremely inconsistent in their translation of these expressions. It also presents examples of anthropomorphisms which are literally transmitted in the targumim.

Keywords: anthropomorphisms; Jewish anti-anthropomorphism; Maimonides; Old Testament; targumim



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