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The Merkabah as a Substitute for Messianism in Targum Ezekiel? 1

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image of Vetus Testamentum

AbstractThis article questions the theory that Targum Ezekiel holds a distinctive position within the corpus of Targum Jonathan to the Prophets with regard to Messianism. According to the hitherto unchallenged studies by Samson Levey, Targum Ezekiel is proof that Merkabah mysticism functioned as a substitute for Messianism after the cataclysm of 70 CE. This theological shift was supposedly instigated by R. Yoḥanan b. Zakkai at a time when messianic speculations had become doctrinally too dangerous. However, the present study shows that the lack of Messianism already goes back to the Hebrew Vorlage itself. A thorough examination of Targum Ezekiel’s translational strategy reveals further that the targumist in fact had a keen eye for the actual meaning of the few messianic references. On the strength of these and other findings it is argued that Targum Ezekiel’s approach to Messianism is not at odds with the rest of the corpus.

Affiliations: 1: University College


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