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The Role of the Targum in Jewish Education in Medieval Europe

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Chapter Summary

This chapter gives an overview of the place of Targum in the educational system in the talmudic period. It moves to the situation in medieval Europe, where halakhic discussions and descriptions of curricula give us some insight into the status and study of Targum. From numerous references in rabbinic literature it becomes clear that in the rabbinic period, the Targum had a well-defined function in the synagogal liturgy. Since the synagogal service, apart from its character as worship, also had an educational function, there were prescriptions for how to benefit most from the readings. This function of the Targum as a translation in synagogal liturgy was quite natural in times and places when and where Aramaic was a common language, as was the case in large parts of western Asia and Egypt before the rise of the Islam, the period in which the great works of rabbinic literature were conceived.

Keywords: educational system; medieval Europe; rabbinic literature; Targum



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