Friday, June 25, 2010

Religious Provenance of Genizah Palimpsests, again

In my previous post, I mentioned this article by Natalie Tchernetska, Judith Olszowy-Schlanger, and Nicholas de Lange on a Hebrew-Greek glossary from the Cairo Genizah. I may have more to say about this excellent and fascinating article some other time, but for now I want to continue the topic I was on before.

Particularly, I had said that Tchernetska supported the Jewish origin of the Aquila fragments, which seemed to be the case based on a statement made in her 2002 article: "Recent evidence from previously un-deciphered texts seems to contradict assumptions made in the theory of the Christian association and to support the Jewish origin of the Greek lower text" (p. 251). In the context of her article, this statement seems to apply to all of the palimpsests.

However, in Tchernetska's newer article with de Lange and Olszowy-Schlanger (2007), we find this statement: "Unlike the majority of the palimpsests from the Cairo Genizah, whose lower texts contain Christian works [here they cite Burkitt, Taylor, and Tchernetska's earlier article], this bilingual glossary is the work of a Jewish compiler. The Hebrew entries are written in Hebrew characters, while their Greek translations are in a form of Greek majuscule found in other manuscripts written by Greek-speaking Jews; the text of the glossary is arranged from right to left like a Hebrew codex" (p. 92).

Since Tchernetska, Olszowy-Schlanger, and de Lange cite the publications by Burkitt and Taylor for those Christian palimpsests, they must be thinking of the Aquila fragments as originally Christian, since the only thing Burkitt published were Aquila fragments of Kings, and Aquila formed a large part of Taylor's publication, as well.

However, it is strange that Burkitt and Taylor would be cited for this view, without comment, since both Burkitt and Taylor actually believed that the Aquila fragments were originally Jewish, and Tchernetska understood this in her 2002 article (p. 250 n. 55). In fact, the three publications cited to support the Christian identification of the genizah palimpsests (Burkitt, Taylor, Tchernetska 2002) actually all seem to favor a Jewish origin.

Furthermore, the contents of this new article on the Hebrew-Greek glossary make clear that a Jewish origin for the Aquila fragments cannot be ruled out, as the glossary exhibits strong indications of Aquila's influence within this Jewish context. But, as I say, perhaps I will be able to address some of these issues in a later post.

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