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Hebrew Vestiges in Saʿadya’s Tafsīr

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Chapter Summary

Within Saʿadya Ga⁠ʾon's enormous literary output, his Arabic version of the Pentateuch, known as the Tafsīr, carries a special weight. This early Arabic translation of a major section of the Hebrew Bible has enjoyed much popularity among Arab-Jewish communities and has even been incorporated into some of their prayer books, e.g., that used by the Jews of Yemen. The Coptic Church in Egypt, too, made use of certain sections of Saʿadya's Arabic rendering. Several subsequent Arabic translations by Middle Eastern or North African Jewish translators are based to varying degrees on the Tafsīr. Many scholars believe that the name Tafsīr was probably chosen by Saʿadya as a way of indicating that his version includes deviations from the plain or apparent meaning of the Hebrew text, especially in cases in which anthropomorphism can be inferred, or in which the translator abbreviated the original text because of some "unnecessary" repetition.

Keywords: Coptic Church; Egypt; Hebrew Bible; Jews; Saʿadya Ga⁠ʾon; Tafsīr



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