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The Targum in Christian Scholarship to 1800

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Chapter Summary

The Christian study of Aramaic and the Targums in the Middle Ages and early modern period is a chapter in the larger story of Christian Hebraism. Although church fathers such as Jerome and Augustine believed and taught that the Hebrew text of the Old Testament was worthy of study, very few Christian scholars pursued Hebrew learning until the Middle Ages. Christians who wished to learn biblical Hebrew or Aramaic faced a series of barriers that they had to overcome, above all finding an instructor. Christians justified studying the Targum because of its value for interpreting the text of the Hebrew Bible and for understanding the Hebrew language better by comparing Hebrew words and phrases with Aramaic ones. Christian Aramaic scholarship functioned as an adjunct to Hebrew scholarship from 1300-1800, and both were inducted into the service of Christian theology.

Keywords: Christian Aramaic scholarship; Hebrew text; Old Testament; Targums



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