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Hebrew and Aramaic as Languages of the Zohar

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image of Aramaic Studies

Apart from a few Hebrew sections, most of the Zohar is written in a unique language: an idiosyncratic Aramaic that cannot be classified within the standard division of Aramaic dialects and which was never a spoken language. On these grounds the scholarly literature has labelled it 'artificial'. The present article challenges this label, arguing that the Aramaic of the Zohar is completely natural. Aramaic was traditionally used for mystical purposes, and the Zohar's preference for this language as the best vehicle for advancing its own mystical purpose has been vindicated by the work's quality and lasting effect.

Affiliations: 1: The Mandel Institute of Jewish Studies, Faculty of Humanities, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem


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