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By Hebrew Union College / 2004–2005/
Logos Bible Software is proud to be partnering with the team of the Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon Project from the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio to release a Libronix Digital Library System edition of the Targumim. The Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon Project (CAL), edited by Dr. Stephen A. Kaufman, is a new dictionary of ancient Aramaic covering all dialects of the language.
In the course of preparing the lexicon, electronic texts are being made for every available Aramaic document. These texts are then being given lexical form tags, part of speech and other basic morphology tags, and homograph numbers to distinguish between different words that share the same lexical forms. With these tags, every word in the corpus is linked to an entry in the Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon itself—an entry that takes all citations into account.
The Logos edition of the Targums includes a comprehensive selection of Targums from the CAL files (listed below) as well as a Targum Lexicon generated as a subset of the larger CAL lexicon that includes every word in the Targum corpus.
Targums are ancient Aramaic translations of the Hebrew scriptures. The Targums are important source documents that can be compared with the Septuagint in terms of their significance for doing text criticism, understanding the history of biblical interpretation, and studying the New Testament use of Hebrew scriptures.
Many of the Targumim we have come from the first seven centuries AD, and some of the fragments, such as those found at Qumran, may well be older still. As such, the Targumim function as important early witnesses to the text of Hebrew scriptures and are commonly cited in the critical apparatus of the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, as well as commentaries and other books concerned with establishing the oldest text of the bible.
More so than any other ancient translations, the Targums were interested in explaining the text to the hearer, rather than merely rendering a word-for-word translation. Many of these Targumim were used by early Christian theologians, making these documents important for the history of interpretation of the passages they comment on, both as snapshots of what was being taught in early Jewish communities and as sources for later theological work.
Scholars have long noted that when the New Testament authors quote the Hebrew scriptures, they are frequently not following the Masoretic text (the Hebrew text tradition used most often today). Sometimes the text of the citations more closely follows the Septuagint, the early Greek translation, or is of a mixed type, falling somewhere between the Septuagint and the Masoretic text. In other places, a free paraphrase is used. With the discovery of the older Targum fragments, such as those found at Qumran and in the Cairo Genizah collection, many scholars are now reassessing these New Testament quotations in light of the Targumim and finding some close parallels.
Those familiar with the Logos edition of the BHS will find much that is familiar in the layout of the electronic edition of the Targumim. Variant readings are displayed in an "interlinear" format similar to the layout used for Qere/Kethiv display in the BHS. It is possible to link and scroll the various Targums with each other and with Hebrew or English bibles, as well as run comparison reports between the Targums, exegetical guides, lemma reports, and most of the other reports designed for use with modern and biblical language bibles. The two targum fragments from the Dead Sea Scrolls can link and scroll together with the Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition and the Qumran Sectarian Manuscripts.
Don't let the amazingly low price of this collection fool you; to get published, printed editions of all the Targums that these electronic texts are based on, along with the various lexicons and concordances used for this body of literature, one could easily spend over $1,000! (And the printed editions wouldn't benefit from all the lexical analysis, corrections, and collations from multiple sources done by the CAL team.) CAL has done a great service for the biblical studies community in making the Targums readily available, and we're working hard to make the Logos Bible Software edition the most accessible, easy-to-use edition yet. A complete list of contents is included below.