Thursday, December 8, 2011

Selected Emendations to Targum Neofiti

OT textual critics over the past few generations have become much more conservative in their treatment of conjectural emendations to the biblical text (a welcome trend, given my last post). Nevertheless, we must never forget that textual work is dependent upon manuscripts which may at points be faulty. While we may be rightly suspicious of attempts to emend the biblical text without good warrant, in order to treat textual witnesses with due nuance, we must be sensitive to the need for correction of readings in given manuscripts or traditions. One such manuscript has been on my mind as a possible blog post for a while, and it will serve as a good example.

In collating the text of MS Neofiti 1 for the Genesis Flood narrative, a number of textual problems came about that need to be addressed in order to use the Aramaic Targum Neofiti as a textual witness. The text of Neofiti 1 appears to be in error and requires emendation for adequate evaluation of the tradition.

6:5 - Corresponding to the Hebrew רק "only" (i.e., their thoughts were only on evil all the day), Neofiti 1 has לחזי "vision?". This reading should be emended to לחד "only" as in all the other Targum traditions, which means that Neofiti does not preserve an alternative textual tradition.

8:3 - Corresponding to the Hebrew infinitives absolute הלוך ושוב lit. "going and returning" (i.e., the waters were continually receding), Neofiti 1 has אזלין וחסקין "going and ?ing". Grossfeld notes three possible emendations for the corrupt וחסקין of Neofiti 1. Shiffman emends to וחסכין "and lacking?", which is phonetically very close to Neofiti 1, but this destroys the cognate infinitive construction of the MT and does not fit the context as well. Grossfeld emends to וחסרין "and lacking" in light of the parallel in v. 5, but the MT has different roots for vv. 3 and 5. Díez Macho emends to וחזרין "and returning" on the basis of the same root at the beginning of the verse. Despite its violence to Neofiti 1, וחזרין is probably correct, because it retains the cognate root structure as in the MT and is confirmed by a Cairo Geniza Targum fragment.

8:7 - Corresponding to the Hebrew infinitives absolute יצוא ושוב lit. "exiting and returning" (i.e., the raven was going back and forth), Neofiti 1 has נפק וחזר נפק וחזר "exiting and returning, exiting and returning". Grossfeld says that Neofiti 1’s נפק וחזר נפק וחזר may be dittography, because other Palestinian Targum texts omit the second repetition. The Cairo Geniza Targum MS B, however, also attests to the double translation with a different root, probably implying an intentional double translation for iterative effect.Wevers NGTG: ?that the raven does not return to the ark () Thus Thus ddafsd Thus           Thus, Grossfeld's emendation is unnecessary in this case, and Neofiti is apparently an intentional double translation.

8:12 - Corresponding to the Hebrew אחרים "other" (i.e., Noah waited seven more days), Neofiti 1 has חרינין "controversies?". This should probably be emended to אוחרנין "other" as in the other Targums.

These discussions are a good reminder that in dealing with manuscripts, we have to be sensitive to the errors in the text to utilize it properly in establishing the text.

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