Rav Saadia Gaon’s Tafsir on the Aramaic portion of Daniel edited from manuscripts and Cairo Geniza fragments with an introduction.
קליין, שמאול אהרון
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A hundred and fifty years ago, few of Rav Saadia Gaon's Arabic translations and commentaries were available to European scholars. The rediscovery of these lost works of R. Saadia began with the first traces of new interest in Judeo-Arabic literature in seventeenth century Europe, culminating in the centralization of such manuscript material in European libraries during the nineteenth century, when most catalogues of those collections started to appear. At the same time, European Jewry was renewing its contact with the Arabic speaking communities of North Africa and Yemen. By the end of the nineteenth century, manuscripts from Yemen and the Cairo Geniza provided scholars for the first time with the major portion of R. Saadia's literary output on the Bible. Among these works, R. Saadia's Tafsir (Arabic translation) on the Aramaic portion of Daniel is singled out for treatment here. This part of R. Saadia's exegetical work is found to be of special significance since he was acquainted with numerous Aramaic dialects from written sources, and could speak a number of these dialects himself. Such extensive knowledge of Aramaic from literary and oral sources was not available to later Jewish scholars, and when combined with R. Saadia's method of using comparative Semitic philology, yielded results which are of lasting value to modern scholarship. In order to accurately ascertain R. Saadia's contribution to the understanding of Biblical Aramaic, we must have recourse to manuscripts of his Tafsir on Daniel. An edition of this book based on one Yemenite manuscript was published by H.Spiegel in 11906 as his doctoral dissertation, but it contains many mistakes and omissions, and can therefore not be relied upon. To rectify this situation, I have provided variant to his text from three other manuscripts and four Geniza fragments. The importance of these manuscripts and fragments is that they enable us to view the various stages of the textual history of this work from a short period after R. Saadia's death up..the Aramaic portion of Danile that fill us. to modern times. With this information in hand, R. Saadia's Tafsir on Daniel is dealt within the context of the textual criticism of his translations of other parts of the Bible. Doubts have been expressed about the accuracy, reliability and even authorship of the text of these translations as we have them. The reason for these doubts are discussed, and on the basis of this analysis ,the reliability of the text of the Tafsir on Daniel is examined. Concluding the introduction is a sampling of Saadia's exegesis of Daniel is given which highlights the value of the Tafsir for the study of Biblical Aramaic and the importance of an.accurate text of this work. The Judeo-Arabic text of the Tafsir then follows.
M.A. Thesis, Bernard Revel Graduate School, Open access.
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