by Kurt Treu,
Kairos NF 15, Hft. 1/2 (1973), 123-144.
[Translated by William Adler, with some fine tuning by Robert Kraft,
from the original title:
"<t>Die Bedeutung des Griechischen für die Juden im römischen Reich."
English translation copyright William Adler and Robert Kraft, August 1991]
\.../ footnote number (footnotes follow the paragraph in which they occur)
[[###]] page number of the original German publication ]] <m>...</> title of modern book-length work (monographic)
<t>...</> title of modern article or chapter
<ps>...</> title of modern series
<p>...</> periodical-type publication, encyclopedia
<s>...</> ancient source
<hb>...</> Hebrew/Aramaic wording
<gk>...</> Greek wording
<lt>...</> Latin/Italian wording
&(letter)(symbol); = diacritics (accents, etc.)
%(umlaut) ä ö ü Ä Ö Ü
What was the significance of Greek for Jews in the Roman Empire? This question can be answered very concisely; Greek was their language. But like any brief answer to a problem, this statement is a generalization. We must determine whether it is justified, qualifications notwithstanding.
We pose the problem along with the observation that the Jews did not speak in the Greek language from the very outset. At one time, they made a transition to it. Even if this transition had already been completed when the Roman period began, we must examine it in order to understand the background.
The generalization must also be qualified by the following consideration: the Roman Empire lasted several centuries, and it extended from Gibralter to the Euphrates. Doesn't a generalization have to overlook too many specific instances? And are "the Jews" a well-defined entity? In light of all the varieties of Judaism of which we are aware today more acutely than ever, for our purposes we can be satisfied with the following definition: in the ancient world, a Jew is someone who considers themself a Jew and is regarded as such by their environment.
The environment is important, and thus the preliminary question: What role did Greek play in the Greco-Roman world overall? Here too it is possible to give a general answer: it was the second language in the Roman Empire, and it was the primary language in the eastern half of the Empire. It owed its leading role in the East to the Greek expansion under Alexander of Macedon and his successors. Military expansion, a developed socio-economic structure and cultural supremacy resulted in the rise to dominance in the Hellenistic states of the language of the new rulers, ordinary Greek. We seldom or never see external pressure exerted. What the pressure of circumstances did not achieve, the attraction to Greek culture did. Both of these factors were especially effective on the native upper-classes, of whom the sources speak most loudly. It is more difficult to discover how deeply Hellenization penetrated into the common people. There may have been regional variations, but this penetration was never thoroughgoing. As far as language is concerned, this meant that alongside and beneath the Greek, indigenous languages continued to survive. We become aware of them whenever they reemerge forcefully during a national revival, as Coptic did in Egypt of the imperial period.
In the imperial period it is decisive that Greek was in any event so firmly established in the East that the new political sovereignty affected the linguistic situation only superficially.\1/ The Romans accept reality. They act not out of respect for national particularity, for, where that is a factor, the provinces become [] strongly Latinized. Even in the East the new administrative officers and the military brought with them the official language. Greek adopted numerous Latin loan- words, and to this extent adapted. Otherwise, Greek was internationally spoken. The Emperors established a Greek chancellory in addition to the Latin one, and in this manner they were able to reach all their eastern provinces. Imperial promulgations for the East were, already in Rome, composed either in Greek or translated into Greek. The Emperor Claudius once withdrew Roman citizen's rights from a Greek envoy, because when he appeared before the Senate he could not understand Latin.\2/ But this was an emotional act, which was extraordinary [[or, caused a stir]]. After all, the Romans had given the envoy citizen's rights in the first place, without making him take a language competency test. In the 2nd and 3rd centuries, notables in far-off Palmyra are Roman citizens; but whenever they want to show off their cosmopolitan position, they make their inscriptions bilingual -- Palmyrene and Greek. In Dura-Europas in the 3rd century, military records are in Latin, and various Eastern languages find expression; but Greek predominates.\3/ Latin papyri from Egypt would fill a moderately sized volume; the number of Greek papyri is incalculable, in the Roman-Byzantine period no less than in the Ptolemaic.
\1/ A useful collection of material is found in L. Hahn, Rom und Römanismus im griechisch-romisch Osten, mit besonderer Berücksichtigung der Sprache, bis auf die Zeit Hadrians (Leipzig, 1906). While Hahn affirms the influence of Latin, his examples clearly attest the dominance of Greek.
\2/ Dio Cassius 60.17.
\3/ The Excavations at Dura-Europas. Final Report V, 1: The Parchments and Papyri, by C. B. Wells, R. O. Fink and J. F. Gilliam (New Haven, 1959); cf. VIII, 1: The Synagogue, by. C. H. Kraeling (New Haven, 1956). For a stimulating assessment see G. D. Kilpatrick, "Dura-Europas: The Parchment and the Papyri," Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies 5(1964), 215- 225.
Oriental cults also adorn themselves in Greek dress -- quite literally! The weather god Aphlad appears in the uniform of a Hellenistic or Roman officer. His priest at Dura, Adadiabos, son of Zabdibolos, furnishes the relief with a dedicatory inscription in Greek.\4/ With the Roman expansion to the East, Greeks arrive at Rome, bringing their language with them. And then come the Orientals, for whom Greek was also the language in which they could communicate, and in which they set up their grave-stones. They come to Rome primarily as slaves, and their Roman masters find it expedient to give them new names, more often Greek than Latin. Thus in Rome of the imperial period Greek was established as the common language of the Eastern subjects, and as the cultural language of their Roman rulers. But, in contrast to the East, Greek could not hold sway here for long, and as the influx from the East tapered off, Latin gained the upper hand.
\4/ Discussed and illustrated in H. Klengel, Syria Antiqua (Leipzig, 1971), 72.
The Jews were one of many peoples whom the conquest of Alexander brought under Greek dominance. Like their neighbors, they later came under Roman rule. Like other peoples, they were exposed to Hellenization, adapted to it, or resisted. If we are to consider what is unusual about them, we must do so against the general background of the period, as we have attempted to describe it.
Above all, what is unusual is this: along with the ruling nations, the Greeks and the Romans, the Jews are the only people in their sphere of influence whose own forms of expression still speak to us to a comparable degree. Only for them do we have the possibility of viewing them through their own eyes, and not merely as the Greeks and Romans saw them. As a result of a unique constellation of historical factors, [] the chain of tradition has continued uninterrupted. Fortunate discoveries of more recent times have enabled us to piece together some loose ends. This unusual situation regarding the sources reflects unusual conditions.
The term "diaspora" designates an outsider. The Roman empire had conglomerated its different peoples in an astounding manner. Syrian archers are found in England, Germans on the Nile. In the preceding empire, the situation had been similar. Just as other groups, the Jews had been dispersed throughout the world, through the will of those in power, or through economic pressure. They had come to be at home in new homelands. What is unusual is this: alongside of this and in spite of it they maintained an attachment to their ancient homeland, to Jerusalem. In the period under examination, there are Jewish groups in various provinces of the Empire -- in the West beyond Rome as far as Spain and North Africa, in the East, besides Asia Minor, especially in Egypt and Cyrenaica. In Egypt, Jews were numerous since the time of the Ptolemies, and their origins there extend even further back. For over a century, Palestine belonged to the Egyptian Ptolemaic empire. And contacts did not break off when the Seleucids in Syria annexed the land to themselves. There was forced Hellenization, national reaction, temporary independence, resulting in continued Hellenization; then Roman rule, at first indirect, then direct, further foreign influences, rebellion and repression, again revolt and again repression. Finally, the Jews are a minority even in their native land, Jerusalem is closed to them, Greek cities are all around. In addition to the western diaspora and the homeland with its own diaspora condition, there is finally the diaspora in the East, even beyond the far-flung boundaries of the Roman empire, outside of its power -- a nucleus for later renewal.
It was not language that united them. The Eastern Jews spoke Aramaic, with differentiation in dialect between Palestine and the Babylonian diaspora. In Palestine, Greek was stronger than had been imagined for a long time.\5/ In the Greco-Roman diaspora, Greek was dominant, and Latin predominated later in the West. This is only natural; everyone speaks the language of their surrounding world.
\5/ Cf. S. Lieberman, Greek in Jewish Palestine. Studies in the Life and Manners of Jewish Palestine in the II-IV Centuries CE (New York, 1942); by the same author, Hellenism in Jewish Palestine. Studies in the Literary Transmission, Beliefs and Manners of Palestine in the First Century BCE-IV Cent. CE (New York, 1950, 1962(2)); M. Avi-Yonah, Geschichte der Juden im Zeitalter des Talmud. In den Tagen von Rom und Byzanz (Studia Judaica 2; Berlin, 1962), esp. 70-76. On the relationship of the Jews to Greek culture; M. Hengel, Judentum und Hellenismus (Tübingen, 1969) (reviewed by K. Schubert, Kairos 12 , 61-70).
To the Greeks and Romans, many things were striking about the Jews -- sabbath, circumcision, prohibition against pork, cult without images. Greco-Roman authors reported on Jewish history, from the exodus from Egypt up to the wars of their own time. They were struck by many things about Palestine, especially the Dead Sea. Jewish exclusivity is for them a sign of arrogant misanthropy.\6/ Linguistic segregation would surely have been noted as an indication of this. But the polemic is silent on this matter. At least in language, the Jews were not separated from their surrounding world. There is even evidence for this from the early Hellenistic period: Josephus [] cites Clearchus of Soloi, who in turn cites Aristotle.\7/ Aristotle had once met a Jewish philosopher, who was "Hellenic," not only in language, but in spirit as well. The Jews appear as a philosophical school. The name of their city is extraordinarily strange, "for they call it Jerusalem." Whether or not this testimony can be considered reliable, around the middle of the 4th century BCE an oriental who speaks Greek may have been unusual, but was certainly not impossible. This is the age when Isocrates no longer praises origin as a sign of the Hellene, but rather culture, which is accessible to the barbarian as well. Whether it is a special case or not, in the 3rd century BCE the Jewish community in Alexandria had not only made the transition to Greek, they had also given up the native Aramaic to such an extent that a translation of the Torah into Greek became necessary. The fact that we hear nothing about the process of this linguistic transformation suggests that it had taken place gradually and without incident. We can also only conjecture why this happened: The Jews had already accomplished one change in language when they adopted Aramaic, the universal business language. The division between Hebrew, the language of cult and sacred scripture, and the practical everyday language was already familiar to them. Now one business language was being replaced by another, just as Greek was later replaced by Latin in Rome.
\6/ Collection of texts with commentary: T. Reinach, Textes d'auteurs grecs et romains relatifs au Judaisme. (Fontes rerum Judaicarum 1; Paris, 1895).
\7/ Josephus, Against Apion 1.22 = Reinach, Nr. 7.
Only the end-point of this development is clear to us: There, at the beginning of the imperial period, stands the Alexandrian Jew Philo. For him, Greek is "our language."\8/ He is perfectly confortable with it, with a matter of factness which is conceivable only after generations of Greek education. Of course, he knows that the Torah has been translated from the "Chaldean." He reports at length the almost miraculous story of this translation by the 72.\9/ He is aware of the difference between the Hebrew and the Greek, and that a mathematically exact reproduction of the original is almost impossible. In the LXX, he thinks this goal has been attained. The translation completely replaces the original for him. Of course, there is still room for interpretation. In particular, Philo refers again and again to the Greek meaning of Hebrew names, in order to attach to them his own interpretations. For a long time, it has been debated whether or not Philo knew Hebrew. But the simple fact that it is uncertain whether the most learned Jew of Alexandria could understand the original language of his Bible, which is of the highest authority for him, is in itself sufficiently significant. The translation of Hebrew names requires no active knowledge of that language. We know of lexica from later times, in which Greek translations were given to Hebrew names (transscribed into Greek). Such a lexicon could be used without knowledge of Hebrew. The question then remains whether such a thing already existed before Philo's time.
\8/ Philo, De congr. erud. gr. 8.44 (3.81.2, Cohn- Wendland); cf. Conf. ling. 129 (2.253.20).
\9/ Life of Moses 2.26-44 (4.206-210).
This turns our attention back again to the Hellenistic period. According to the legend of the Letter of Aristeas, which Philo follows, the translators of the Torah were Jewish scholars from Jerusalem who had a Greek education as well, and they came to Egypt under Ptolemy Philadelphus. The fact that this [] translation is claimed only for the Torah implies that the prophets and the "writings" had been translated later, or, in any event, separately. The translator of the Book of Sirach provides a direct report about his work: in the 38th year of Euergetes (Euergetes II = 133/2 BCE) he had come to Egypt, bringing with him (from Palestine) the book written by his grandfather, and had translated it into Greek after much work and effort. Thus he knows that Hebrew, translated into another language, does not have the same power. The closing words of Esther report that the Greek translation had been done by Lysimachus, the son of Ptolemy, in Jerusalem, and was brought to Egypt in the 4th year of Ptolemy and Cleopatra (= 114 BCE) by Dositheus, "who describes himself as a priest and Levite," and his son Ptolemy.
The works later brought together in the Septuagint had in any case been translated at different times by different translators and in different ways. All these translations, and others as well, presuppose that in the 3rd and 2nd centuries, there were people who were fairly fluent in both languages. In this regard, the notices mentioned above may indicate that this knowledge of two languages survived for a longer time in Palestine than in Alexandria. We may also suppose that a Hebrew-Greek lexicon of names was composed as soon as translations were being worked on. The fragment of an extraordinarily rich onomasticon, discovered in Oxyrhynchus, may presuppose this sort of predecessor from the Hellenistic period.\10/
\10/ P. Oxy. 36 (1970), Nr. 2745 (ed. D. Rokeah).
We can only touch on the abundant literature which attached itself to the Septuagint, anonymous or pseudonymous, and difficult to classify chronologically.\11/ While some of these writings remain primarily in Jewish circles, others adopt Hellenistic literary forms along with the Greek language, in order to pour their Jewish contents into them. The names of some authors are transmitted, and the fragments preserved allow us to know that the writers were comfortable with Greek. While these writings may have also been directed to non- Jewish readers, they were certainly written primarily for Jews. The subject matter was dear to them, and the language must have been accessible to them as well. In Philo, this literature culminates for us, and with him it comes to a close for us. Did other Hellenistic Jews write in Greek after him? Indeed, Philo is preserved for us only because Christians saw in him a preparation for Christianity. In their eyes, later Jewish literature could only pose competition. Jewish tradition does not even mention Philo, and also would not have preserved later writers.
\11/ Easily accessible through G. Delling, Bibliographie zur jüdische-hellenistischen und intertestamentarischen Literatur 1900-1965 (TU 106; Berlin, 1969) [2nd ed revised and updated to 1970, in 1975]. N. Walter's Der Thorausleger Aristobulos. Untersuchungen zu seinen Fragmenten und zu pseudepigraphischen Resten der jüdische-hellenistischen Literatur (TU 86; Berlin, 1964) marks an important advance.
Preserved for us -- again by Christians -- is Flavius Josephus.\12/ Philo represents the Judaism of the diaspora, speaking and writing in Greek; but Josephus writes his "Jewish War" initially in Aramaic. Subsequently, as he reports in the forward, he translates the work into Greek, aided by co-workers [] proficient in the language.\13/ In his "Jewish History," he reports that the Jews of Palestine scorned the use of other languages.\14/ Greek is not, for him, his native tongue, but an expedient, necessary to function in the world and among the Romans, whose goodwill is paramount to him.
\12/ His subsequent influence is impressively documented by H. Schreckenberg, Die Flavius-Josephus-Tradition in Antike und Mittelalter (Arbeiten zur Lit. und Gesch. des hellenist. Judentums 5; Leiden, 1972).
\13/ Josephus, Jewish War, Prol. 1.3. Against Apion 1.9.50.
\14/ Antiquities 20.1.2.
To Josephus above all, we owe our knowledge of many authors, otherwise lost. He cites representatives of other oriental peoples, who, like him, want to make their national cultures accessible to the new rulers and, like him, write in Greek: the Babylonian Berossus, the Egyptian Manetho. What would we know about them if they had not said something in passing about the Jews, something that interested Josephus?
Standing on the boundary between Palestine and the diaspora is Saul of Tarsus, as a Roman citizen called Paul, writing and speaking in Greek. The Roman commander in Jerusalem takes him for an Egyptian, and is astounded that he knows Greek. People are amazed that he addresses them in Aramaic, and listen to him. The Acts of the Apostles, which tells us this (21.37 to 22.2), contains also the report about the Pentecostal miracle of speech, along with the list of languages spoken by the Jews in the diaspora (2.9-11). Christian tradition is aware that Jesus spoke Aramaic. The Gospel writers reproduce some words in the original and allow the translation to follow; and they report about the tri-lingual inscription on the cross. Whatever it may have been in its original form, in the final form in which it made its impact, the New Testament, the basic document of a particular group of Jews, is Greek.
The evidence that we have considered thus far comes from pieces of literature. These are inherently documents of the language, but as a result of formation and stylization, already deviate from it. We must consider the fact that Hellenistic <gk>koine</gk> includes on the one hand vernacular elements, but on the other hand inclines to artificial, even affected constructions, and that, moreover, the classicizing tendency of Atticism, which was gaining strength in the imperial period, increased the contrast between the written language and the language spoken during the same period. To be sure, we find in the literature certain references to the spoken language. But they are indirect, the witnesses are not impartial.
It is all the more important that we complete the picture by using non-literary texts, especially inscriptions and papyri. These are direct witnesses, or at least more direct, for conventions are at work here as well. Inscriptions conform to the traditional models of the genre. Papyrus documents are drawn up according to ready made formulae. There are even models for private letters. Texts were composed by professional scribes, and only signed by the parties involved. Nonetheless, even the lowest classes express themselves in the papyri, even if only in the form that they are recognized as illiterate and a representative signs for them. Our sources are too sporadic to determine statistically the extent to which the illiterate are involved. The requirements were not so very high, for the person who to some extent was able to sign his own name, was already regarded as a "slow writer." There were illiterates among the Jews also -- whether more or less than among other peoples, we cannot say.
We now have a Corpus of Jewish Papyri -- three impressive volumes with 520 numbered entries, many of which are subdivided.\15/ This much is characteristic of them: the papyri are so self- evidently [] written in the Greek language that this fact does not need to be mentioned in the title of the Corpus. That there are also a few Hebrew and Aramaic texts is mentioned in passing. The most important, the Aramaic papyri from the Jewish military garrison in Elephantine, antedate the Greek period.\15a/
\15/ CPJ = Corpus Papyrorum Judaicarum, by A. Tcherikover, A. Fuks and M. Stern. (3 vols.; [] Cambridge MA, 1957, 1960, 1964). Vol. 1: Hellenistic Period, with excellent prolegomena by Tcherikover (1-111); Vol. 2: Early Roman Period; Vol. 3: Late Roman-byzantine period, with Appendix: The Jewish inscriptions of Egypt, by D. M. Lewis (138- 66). The inscriptions here are based on the materials in CIJ, but with improvements. CIJ = J.-B. Frey, Corpus Inscriptionum Judaicarum. Recueil des inscriptions juives qui vont du 3e sicle avant J.-C. au 7e s. de notre re, I. II. (Vatican, 1936, 1952) (I: Europe, II: Asia, Africa).
\15a/ On this subject, see now: B. Porten, Archives from Elephantine. The Life of an Ancient Jewish Military Colony (Berkeley/Los Angeles, 1968). The beautiful new catalogue of the Vienna exhibition (H. Loebenstein, Die Papyrussammlung der Österreich. Nationalbiobliothek (Vienna, 1972) = Biblos- Schriften 67) refers on page 5 to these Aramaic texts as a witness for Jewish life in Egypt, along with Hebrew papyri and later paper documents. Thereafter, the Greek papyri are discussed, but separately. That the Greek material is also of significance for the Jews is not made clear.
As for the contents, only this need be said: The predominantly religious character of Jewish literature has created the hasty impression that the Jews were a people preoccupied with religion. The Sabbath is mentioned in the papyri also, but most of the texts deal with the things that people do on the remaining six days of the week. And there the distinction is not so great.
One of the basic problems for the Corpus of Jewish Papyri was to determine precisely what constituted a Jewish papyrus: or more precisely, a papyrus that pertained to things Jewish. Often this can only be inferred indirectly, from their origin in an environment known to be Jewish, from names, or from allusions. A large part consists of texts in which Jews appear only as the affected parties, perhaps as recipients of tax receipts, of the special Jewish tax as well as of all other taxes that other inhabitants also had to pay. Juristic papyri inform us that Jews dealt with other Jews before Greek law courts, and especially with non-Jews as well. The papyri show that Greek was the administrative language, even in the cities and villages of the Egyptian hinterland. Not every Egyptian villager will have understood without an explanation what the notary had drawn up for him, and since we encounter Jews in the lowest classes, they will not have differed from their environment in this respect either.
Stronger evidence is provided by texts written by Jews themselves. Private letters do not conform to the rules of proper writing and grammar, as, for example, the letter of Joanne from the year 87 (CPJ 424). This is perhaps not an indication that Greek had been a strange language to the writer, but only a sign of poor education, as was frequently enough the situation among the Greeks themselves. While in documents the indication of ones origin can belong to the description of a person, a corresponding external criterion is lacking in the letters. Thus the boundaries become unclear. P. Princ. 73, a business letter from the 3rd century CE, is assumed to be a Jewish papyrus in the Corpus, because in it the name Isaac (<gk>Eissak</gk>) appears. Subsequently Naldini, without elaborating, included it in his collection of Christian letters (Nr. 12), because of the term "brother" and the greeting "by the Lord God."\16/ The uncertainty is an indication of the on-going affinities of the two religions, even in the question of names. []
\16/ M. Naldini, Il Cristianesimo in Egitto. Lettere private nei papiri dei secolo II-IV (Studi e testi di papirologia 3; Florence, 1968).
It is appropriate here to inquire into the matter of names, for they are a main criterion for the identification of Jewish papyri. For biblical names the Corpus must make do with an obviously weak approach: up to the year 337, they are to be considered Jewish, after that Christian. The year of Constantine's death is taken as a turning point, which is determinative for Christianity. An Isaac in the 3rd century is consequently to be regarded as a Jew.
But the boundary between Christians and Jews is the less serious problem. The greater problem is distinguishing between Jews and Greeks, for this can be based on no artificially drawn chronological division. For the Hellenistic as for the Roman periods, the literature suggests and the papyri and inscriptions confirm with an abundance of data that can now be evaluated statistically that the Jews spoke the same language as their environment, and they had the same names as their environment. Only certain preferences help us to distinguish Jew from non-Jew. At one time the prestigious names of the Hellenistic ruling houses were favored. We recall the name of Lysimachus, son of Ptolemy, in Jerusalem, the translator of the Book of Esther. Philo's nephew is named Alexander, and as a Roman citizen, in accord with the Roman naming system, Tiberius Julius Alexander. The papyri and inscriptions attest to the proliferation of this name. That this name enjoyed such enormous usage is understandable: the Romans liked to give it to their slaves.\17/
\17/ Cf. M. L. Gordon, "The Nationality of Slaves under the Early Roman Empire," JRS 14 (1924), 93-111; reprinted in M. Finley (ed.), Slavery in Classical Antiquity (London, 1960), 171-89. On names, see pp. 97-104.
The priest Dositheus from Jerusalem represents another group of names. Theophoric names are well liked by Jews, and the name Dositheus is so specifically Jewish that in the papyri he is assumed to be of Jewish origin even without any additional criterion. Moreover, Jewish names were translated according to their meaning or modified to a similar sounding Greek name. Thus Simeon becomes Simon. With any isolated occurrence, the Jewish origin of a name cannot be determined; only repetition or association with unequivocally Jewish names can resolve the question. In the group of nine Jewish archons from Berenike, along with the names of their fathers, there appears among the obviously Greek or Latin names a single Jewish name Josepus.\18/
\18/ CIG 5361. Cf. J. Juster, Les Juifs dans l'Empire romain. Leur condition juridique, &e/;conomique et sociale (Paris, 1914) 1.438. Juster's enormous work encompasses far more than the subtitle suggests. On language, cf. 1.365-68, on Jewish honorific decrees, 436-38.
Just as Jewish Roman inscriptions exhibit Latin names, so papyri from the province of Egypt show local coloration. From Edfu in upper Egypt we encounter five generations of one family: Josephos - Aischylos - Josepos - Bokchoris - Apollas.\19/ The Jews, no differently from the Greeks, assimilate themselves to the Egyptian population. But what a contrast between the Jewish farm-hand among Egyptian fellahin and the wealthy, highly educated Jews of Alexandria, from whose midst Philo comes! Of course, even residents of the large city had their problems. In the year 5/4 BCE, Helenos, son of Tyrpho, addresses a letter to the prefect (CPJ 151 = BGU 1140): His father possessed citizen's rights. To the extent that it was possible for him, he had allowed his son to take part in the approved education. And now the son was being required to pay the head tax, which would have made him equal with the Egyptians. His position is weak -- evidently his mother did not have citizen's rights. The official [] writer of the document has as a precautionary measure replaced the term first used -- "Alexandrian" (that is, citizen of Alexandria) -- with the more cautious term "Jew of Alexandria." This document illustrates two things: 1) the striving of the Jews for equal rights of citizenship, which presupposes Greek education and at the same time offers the means to it -- a vicious circle; and 2) the restrictive policy of the new Roman rulers, who favor aristocratic/conservative powers. This attitude leads in the year 41 to the declaration of Claudius to the Alexandrians, which drew the line with absolute clarity: the special ethnic- religious status of the Jews is affirmed, but their desire for political and cultural equality with the Greeks is denied.\20/ Nothing is said about language, but in the long run cultural regression must have resulted.
\19/ CPJ 2.117.
\20/ CPJ 153.
For a long time, the papyri had been considered as a source quite specific to Egypt. For the most part that is still true. But a new discovery of the last decades is papyri outside of Egypt. For our subject, the discoveries of texts from the Dead Sea are fundamental. From Qumran Cave 4, we have remains of three Greek Bible manuscripts, from Cave 7 two more along with other unidentified Greek fragments.\21/ From the region of Murabba'at comes the Greek scroll of the Minor Prophets.\22/ All are manuscripts from the late Hellenistic up to the early Roman period, and throughout we find them side by side with Hebrew manuscripts. The dedicatory inscription of a synagogue, which Theodotus, son of Vettenus, has allowed to be drawn up in the Greek language, is now no longer so strange.\23/
\21/ M. Baillet, J. T. Milik, R. de Vaux, Les `petites grottes' de Qumrn. I. Textes, II. Planches (Discoveries in the Judaean Desert of Jordan 3; Oxford, 1962), 142-46 (for cave 7). On cave 4, P. W. Skehan, "The Qumran Manuscripts and Textual Criticism," in: Volume du Congrs Strasbourg 1956 = Supplements to Vetus Testamentum 4 (Leiden, 1957), 148- 60.
\22/ Preliminary edition by D. Barth&e/;lemy, Les Devanciers d'Aquila (Vetus Test. Suppl. 10; Leiden, 1963). The documents: P. Benoit, J. T. Milik, R. de Vaux, Les grottes de Murabba'at, I Texte, II Planches (DJD 2; Oxford, 1961), within III: Textes grecs and latins (Benoit), Nr. 89-168 (158-163 Lat. 108-112 literary).
\23/ On this, see Goodenough (see below, note 43) 1.179.
But all this was before the year 70 -- perhaps the catastrophe of 70 also destroyed these contacts with Greek? What happens after 70 is hardly to be expected: from the time of the second war of independence, with its own era of the "freedom of Israel," its own coins with archaic Hebrew letters, alongside Aramaic documents and letters are the same things in Greek. Not only do we find the Greek form of the name of the freedom hero, Simon Chosiba, in a letter by his own subordinate; we also have a letter written by him, in which he refers to himself as Sumaios. He writes the letter in Greek, and appends an explanation, "because I do not have the...to write in Hebrew." The damaged word has been restored by the editor, so as to signify perhaps "energy."\24/ The writer feels that he is expected, and actually would be obligated to use the national language. He writes in Greek not by preference. Thus, Greek must have been more comfortable and authentic for him, just as he feels that his name in Greek form is authentic and appropriate to him. []
\24/ B. Lifshitz, "Papyrus grecs du d&e/;sert de Juda," Aegyptus 42 (1962) 240-56. 2 Tables. Reprint: E. Kiessling, Sammelbuch griechischer Urkunden aus Ägypten VIII 1 (Wiesbaden, 1965) Nr. 9843f. (It should be noted that, in spite of the traditional title, the Sammelbuch also includes texts from outside of Egypt). <gk>Soumai=os</gk> writes <gk>E(lhnisti\ dia\ t[o\ o(r]ma\n mh\ eu(rhq[h=n]ai E(braeisti\ g[ra/]fasqai. But cf. Murab. 43</gk>: a Hebrew letter of Simon in his own handwriting.
We are here at an important turning point in the development. Greek is de facto still strong. But a tendency to distance oneself from it has begun. One suspects that if freedom from Rome had been attained, the dissociation from Greek would still have been gradual.
The dissociation from Greek finally took place, however, not as a result of a military power play, but as a consequence of a struggle of the spirit, which attained its goal more slowly and not without delays, yet effectively -- the hedge around the Torah, separation from the surrounding world of late antiquity, and along with that, survival into another historical epoch.
From the second to the 4th century in Palestine, and even for a longer period in Babylonia, Jewish scholars created the immense compilation of the Talmud. Its language is Aramaic and Hebrew. Its contents speak to Jews who spoke Aramaic. Unlike the Bible, the Talmud was never translated into Greek. Notwithstanding, what sort of role did Greek play in it?
Superficially, this fact catches the eye: the language of the Talmud and Midrash is full of Greek loan-words.\25/ It is appropriate to enumerate here some "typically Greek" words, which are more or less familiar to us: <gk>Demos, politeia, archon, bule/, oikono/mos, nomos, agora/</gk>; further, <gk>ago/n, athletes, theatron, stoa/, paidagogo/s, rhetor, poiete/s, sophiste/s, philo/sophos, geometria, pinax, pa/pyros</gk>. But, in order to dispel the impression that we are in classical Athens, there are also the following: <gk>Kaisar, imperator, magistraton, offikion, senator, tribunos, spekulator, dux, kustodia, matrona</gk>. For Greek, these are Latin loan words. For the oriental languages into which these words have migrated, these are loan words from Greek, with Greek spelling and pronunciation. For their part, they illustrate how Roman influence in the East was essentially effected through the medium of Greek. The rabbis also saw themselves surrounded by Greek and Roman things, and their language took on Greek designations for them. But this tells us nothing about their evaluation of the things and of the language.
\25/ S. Kraus, Griechische und lateinische Lehnwörter in Talmud, Midrash und Tragum (2 vols.; Leipzig, 1897, 1899). Note the summary according to subject areas at the end.
Such direct statements are infrequent, but they do occur here and there.\26/ What is wanted above all is an answer to the question of Bible translations. The rabbinic responses can be summarized in this way: The Hebrew original has preeminence in all situations. Its reading is binding even for hearers who do not understand the Hebrew language. For Jews who speak other languages, translations in their own languages are allowed. Greek, like other languages, is allowed. According to the opinion of some authorities, it even deserves a special status, so that, like the Hebrew, the Greek reading should also be binding upon those hearers who do not understand it.\27/ Along with the Bible, formal documents play a major role in daily life. They may be drawn up in the different languages, but dating must be given according to the norms of the governmental authority -- since recognition [] by the authorities depends on this. The discoveries of documents in the Greek language from the circle of Palestinian Jews\28/ have shown us that the rabbinic discussions reflect a background of actual events.
\26/ For a convenient presentation of the materials see H. L. Strach and P. Billerbeck, Kommentar zum Neuen Testament aus Talmud und Midrasch. IV. Exkurse zu einzelnen Stellen des NT. (Abhandlungen zur neutestmentl. Theol. u. Archaeologie 1.3; 1928 original edition reprinted Munich, 1961), 15. See the Excursus (353-414) on the attitude of the old synagogue to the non-Jewish world (Stellung der alten Synagoge zur nichtjüdischen Welt), in which section C (405-414) deals with the attitude to Greek literature and science (Stellung zur griechischen Literatur und Wissenschaft).
\27/ Mishnah, Meg. 1.8.9; 2.1; Tos. Meg. 2.6; T. j. Meg. 2.1. T. b. Meg. 18a. Tos. Shab. 14.2. T. b. Shab. 16.1. T. b. Shab. 115 ab. T. j. Sota 7.1. T. b. Sota 33a.
\28/ Cf. note 22. Further, H. J. Polotsky, "Three Greek Documents from the Family Archive of Babatha," Eretz Israel 8 (1967) 46-51. Reprint: Sammelbuch 10.1 (1969), Nr. 10288. On the regulation of language: M. Gittin 8.5.
The acceptance of Greek both for the Bible and for formal documents can be understood as a concession to the realities of life. Other statements about Greek are not uniform. They extend from total openness to strict avoidance.
A center of Greek language and culture is the house of the patriarch. It is said that R. Gamaliel II, in the middle of the 2nd century CE, had 500 students of Torah and 500 students of Greek wisdom in his house. Subsequently, this fact is explained apologetically -- it was the result of necessary contacts with the government.\29/ His son, R. Simeon II, declares that Greek is the only language into which the Bible can be adequately translated.\30/ Similarly, his son, R. Jehuda I ha-Nasi, at the beginning of the 3rd century, acknowledges only Hebrew and Greek, and rejects the commonly used Aramaic.\31/ But even if the official attitude is completely open even after the failure of the war for independence, we also hear totally different opinions from rabbinic circles.
\29/ T. b. Sota 49b, T. b. Bat. Qam. 83a.
\30/ M. Meg. 1.8, T. j. Meg. 1.7, T. b. Meg. 9b.
\31/ T. j. Ab. Zara 2.2, T. b. Sota 49b, T. b. Bab. Qam. 82. The extreme case is Elisha b. Abuya (around 120 CE), "<hb>Aher</hb>" (T. b. Hag. 15b), of whom it is said that a Greek song did not cease in his mouth and that, when he stood up in the house of learning, heretical books fell from his lap.
Rabbi Jehoshua and R. Ishmael, at the beginning of the 2nd century, reject the study of Greek, ironically permitting it to be studied only at the time when it is neither day nor night.\32/ The temporal context is still preserved in the report that at the time of the war of Quietus, it was forbidden to teach one's son Greek.\33/ More general and crass is the saying that equates the man who teaches his children Greek wisdom with a breeder of pigs.\34/ In between are mediating voices. R. Abbahu reports the opinion of R. Johanan: Girls may learn Greek as an adornment for the spirit.\35/ A distinction is made: Greek language is one thing, Greek wisdom is another.\36/ Similarly, reading from Homer is regarded no differently from reading from any ordinary book, and despite the Homeric panoply of gods, is considered religiously harmless.\37/ We recall that the Rabbi who instructed Jerome in Hebrew knew Greek and Latin and cited Vergil.\38/ Around the year 270 CE, R. Jonathan from Beth-Gubrin concludes: There are four beautiful languages which may be used, Greek for poetry, Latin for war, Syriac for lamentation, Hebrew for discourse.\39/ Around the middle of the 4th century, R. Huna gives preference to the Greeks over Rome in three things: laws, books and language.\40/
\32/ T. Ab. Zara 1.20, T. b. Menach. 99b.
\33/ M. Sota 9.14.
\34/ T. b. Bab. Qam. 82b, cf. T. b. Sota 49b, T. b. Menach. 64b.
\35/ T. j. Sota 9,13.
\36/ T. b. Bab. Qam. 82b.
\37/ T. j. Sanh. 10.14.
\38/ Jerome, Preface to Daniel, PL 28, 1358f.
\39/ T. j. Meg. 1.71b, 53.
\40/ Midr. Gen. R. 16. []
The range of such statements is difficult to evaluate. Since they are all preserved in the tradition, often next to one another as thesis and antithesis, it is difficult to arrive at a synthesis. But the general impression is that the Talmud takes Greek speaking Judaism into consideration only with reference to specific episodes. Thus, while on a journey in Asia Minor R. Meir finds that the Jews there do not have a Hebrew scroll of Esther, so he transcribes the text from memory.\41/ R. Levi bar Chaita comes to Caesarea and hears that the Shema was being recited there in Greek. He wants to intervene, but R. Jose objects: it is infinitely better to pray in Greek than not at all!\42/ Thus, here too Greek is still a reality, but the tendency is towards Hebrew.
\41/ T. Meg. 2.
\42/ M. Sota 7.1. T. j. Sota 7.1. Cf. T. b. Sota 32b, Berahot 13a, Meg. 17a. From the synagogue at Caesarea no Hebrew inscription has appeared thus far.
That the efforts of rabbinic Judaism did not have immediate and complete success all at once even in Palestine is seen more clearly in Jewish art than in language -- in funerary art as well as the building of synagogues, with their ancient architectural elements, and even into Byzantine times, richly illustrated mosaics.\43/ In comparison to this art, which stands in direct opposition to rabbinic theory (and is found not only in distant Dura-Europas with its illustrated Biblical scenes), the Greek synagogue inscriptions, and pictorial captions, and the Greek funerary inscriptions from the Necropolis of Beth-Shearim seem relatively innocuous. Greek inscriptions, like Greek names, predominate, and in Beth Shearim it is by a ratio of 4:1. What we see is that the difference between Palestine and the Greco-Roman diaspora is only a matter of degree, and that the degree of difference is sometimes not even substantial.\44/
\43/ A comprehensive collection, but one burdened by theorizing, is E. R. Goodenough, Jewish Symbols in the Greco- Roman Period (Bollingen Series 37; New York, 1953ff). Especially important, vols. I-III (1953), The Archaeological Evidence from Palestine, The Archaeological Evidence from the Diaspora, and Illustrations (Nr. 1-1209). On the limited influence of the rabbis on community practice, see J. Neusner, "Rabbis and Community in Third Century Babylonia," in J. Neusner (ed.), Religions in Antiquity: Essays in Memory of E. R. Goodenough (Leiden, 1968) 438-59.
\44/ Cf. Avi-Yonah (note 5) 73f.
We can trace most fully the situation which the rabbinic efforts encountered, and the way in which these efforts developed, in the inscriptions of the Jewish catacombs in Rome and Italy.\45/ Identifying such inscriptions as Jewish is much easier than with the papyri. The catacombs as a whole are Jewish, and consequently so is each individual grave stone, without needing to show characteristically Jewish elements. Moreover, Jewish symbols help to confirm the identification, even when the text itself is neutral. Of 205 Jewish epitaphs from the catacomb of Monteverde in Rome, 161 are Greek, 38 Latin, 5 Hebrew-Aramaic. The Catacombs of Randanini and Torlonia have nothing at all in Hebrew. In the 2nd and 3rd centuries of the imperial period, we see a situation in which the traditional Greek, which the Jewish migrants brought with them, was still clearly predominant, but the native Latin was beginning to gain ground. Hebrew is limited to formulae, primarily <hb>shalom</hb>. For this, active knowledge of the Hebrew language is not [] necessary. But a feeling of reverence for Hebrew can be discerned.
\45/ CIJ I. For a detailed assessment of the language of the inscriptions, see V. Colorni, "L'uso del greco nella liturgia del giudaismo ellenistico e la novella 146 die Giustiniano," Annali di storia del diritto 8 (1964), 1- 69, especially 15-24.
From this point things develop in two directions. Latin gains strength at the expense of Greek, and Hebrew presses on. The inscriptions from Venosa, already now in the 6th/7th centuries CE, mark a clear stage; here Latin and Greek still predominate, but, alongside the formulae, whole texts are also found in Hebrew. In addition to this, there are such mixed types as the gravestone of the 80 year old presyter Secundinos containing Greek with Hebrew characters (CIJ 595). From the sixth century, we have a trilingual, Greek-Latin-Hebrew gravestone from Tortosa in Spain (CIJ 661), from Narbonne of the West-Gothic period (dated 688) a Latin stone with a Hebrew invocation (CIJ 670). The late inscriptions from Venosa, dated between 808 and 848, represent the end-point of this process; these are composed in a learned Hebrew, in total conformity with rabbinic tradition. Here we have the appropriate Jewish dating as well, according to the world-era or the era of the destruction of the Temple. Similarly, the names are overwhelmingly Jewish, although some Greco-Latin names occur as well.
In the giving of names, we find the same development even earlier in the papyri. Not only do biblical names come to be preferred, but they also appear in their Semitic form, such as Joseph instead of Josephus.
It remains to be said that the return to Hebrew was religiously motivated, including the grave inscriptions. The everyday language remains that of the surrounding world. Thus, linguistic dualism is renewed, which seems to have been momentarily suspended in antiquity (as with Philo) in favor of the full supremacy of Greek as both the everyday language and the language of the cult. But even so, up to the end of antiquity Greek remains strong.
For political intervention relating to the issue of language, there is one example which we must consider: Novella 146 of the Emperor Justinian in the year 553.\46/ In all of Greco-Roman antiquity, the existence of the Jews was based on the fact that the State legally recognized them as an ethnic-religious group, which was autonomous in its inner affairs. Problems such as the confrontation between a monotheistic religion and a polytheistic environment, particularly its ruler cult, were defused through special agreements, or silent arrangements, dependent on concessions from both sides. One example of this is the Greek dedicatory inscriptions of the Ptolemaic kings on an Egyptian synagogue.\47/ In a certain sense they take the place of dedications to the divine ruler, but can be reconciled with monotheism, since the prayer is not to the ruler, but on his behalf. And in the Roman period, Judaism is religio licita, although proselytism, the expansion beyond ethnic boundaries, conflicts with Roman sensibilities. The Roman regime thus took steps against it, with a policy of containment, as we saw on the political-cultural level with Claudius.
\46/ On this, see Colorni (above note 45).
\47/ CIJ 1432f 1440ff. 1532A, reprinted in CPJ.
The Christianization of the government signalized a turning point. To be sure, the emperors continue to stress that the Jewish religion is not forbidden. But to the extent that Christian doctrine becomes the basis for governmental action, [] discriminatory intervention tended to prevent proselytism by Jews. The tone of legislation becomes acrid, the style defamatory, in total contrast with the style of earlier Roman legislation. And yet the Christian emperors still avoid interfering in the internal matters of the Jewish cult.\48/
\48/ Cf. K.-L. Noethlichs, Die gesetzberischen Massnahmnen der christlichen Kaiser des vierten Jahrhunderts gegen Häretiker, Heiden und Juden (Diss. phil. Köln, 1971).
Justinian goes futher. He decrees that in Jewish services, readings were to be given not only in Hebrew, but in Greek or Latin as well. To this end, the translation of the Septuagint was to be used, because it witnesses to the truth of Christianity. If need be, the translation of Aquila could also be tolerated. An internal Jewish debate, Justinian asserts, in which he had to arbitrate, had given rise to this regulation. Further, Justinian forbids the use of the Jewish "repetition" tradition, thus of the Mishnah, and he expresses his hope and expectation that the Jews convert to Christianity.
On the basis of the wording of the decree, it might appear as if the Jewish defenders of Greek and the Emperor were on the offensive: they now wanted to add Greek to the traditional Hebrew reading. But in reality, this incident was the logical consequence of an historical development that was leading in the opposite direction. The novella reflects the fact that Hebrew was on the offensive, on the verge of expelling the traditional Greek from the cult. The defenders of Greek are not opposed to Hebrew, which is a completely undisputed language. They only desire that Greek be retained as a translation, presumably for the benefit of the Greek-speaking Jews, and thus for practical reasons. Why did Justinian not say this expressly? We can only surmise that it would have been painful for the proud Emperor to admit that he had found himself on the defensive, and this against a religion which was no longer supposed to exist. Many imperial reprimands are enjoined again and again -- an indication that they were regarded as justified but that they were of little effect. Justinian's edict stands there in isolation. It had not turned back the tide of time.
We have attempted to focus on the question of language, but it was impossible to be restricted to this alone. The "Greek" about which we are speaking is in the literal sense primarily the Greek language, but it can also signify "that which is Greek" -- Greek life and thought. For the Greeks, language was the door to their culture. But entry did not take place automatically: we recall the fact that Aristotle acknowledged that his Jewish counterpart was a Hellene not only in language, but in spirit as well. And according to rabbinic tradition also, Greek language and Greek wisdom are two distinct things. But on the other hand, the belief is strong that in the long run Greek language leads to an estrangement from one's own tradition. We cannot oversimplify the matter by asserting that the Jews took over the Greek language and with it the Greek way of thinking.\49/ But that the translation of the Bible into Greek meant a separation from and immunization against Greek thought [] transforms a correct observation into a paradox.\50/ The Jews maintained their identity even with Greek as their language. But they had also experienced the dialectic of attraction and revulsion, accommodation and separation, in relationship to what was Greek.
\49/ So N. Walter, "Frühe Begegnungen zwischen Glauben und hellenistischer Bildung in Alexandrien," in: Neue Beiträge zur Geschichte der alten Welt I (Berlin, 1964), 364-78, here 368 ("with it" was hardly meant by the author to mean automatically, but can be presented in that sense).
\50/ R. Hanhart, "Zum Wesen der makedonisch- hellenistischen Zeit Israels," Festschrift J. Ziegler (Würzburg, 1971), 49-58, esp. 55f, 56. "A 'Hellenism' of Israel occurs only as a counter movement against the Hellenism of the time." By the same author, "Die Septuaginta als Problem der Textgeschichte, der Forschungsgeschicte und der Theologie," Congress Volume Uppsala 1971 (Vetus Testamentum Supp. 22, 1972), 185-200.
This subject would not have received full treatment if we did not at least briefly pose the counter question: what was the significance of Hebrew for the Greeks? The counter-effect later becomes the effect. But its impact is profound in two areas. One is still with us today, whenever we say "Amen" or "Abbot." Christianity had become familiar with many Jewish things in its sacred scriptures, and adopted the ideas as well. By reading the gospels, the simple Christian was also reminded of the fact that Jesus was a Jew and said "<hb>abba</hb>" for father. Christian scholars of late antiquity applied themselves to understanding the original Hebrew text -- foremost among the Greeks was Origen, among the Romans Jerome.\51/ Didymus the Blind allows that he himself knows no Hebrew, but it goes without saying that when he makes his commentaries on the Old Testament, he obtains information from those who are linguistically proficient.\52/
\51/ Instructive are the prefaces of Jerome to the various books of the OT, where he reports about his efforts and difficulties.
\52/ Didymus, Ps. T. 1, 10.1-17.
The second area [in which Hebrew exerted an influence on the Greeks] is rather foreign to us today -- magic. Whoever works through the collection of Greek magical papyri\53/ comes away with the impression that there is hardly a text in which there does not appear Iao, Sabaoth, Abraxas, Michael, Uriel, Raphael, and many other Hebrew or Hebrew-sounding names. Magical formulae thrive on the fascination for the exotic, incomprehensible word, and thus material of diverse origin is valuable for them. But Hebrew materials are especially prominent. Solomon is one of the arch-magicians. There are magical prescriptions, in which reference is made expressly to the Hebrew origin of the formulae.\54/ This appears as a guarantee of its proven efficacy. We need not go into the question here as to the extent to which Jewish magical thought and practice lie behind Hebrew words and sounds. We need only remark that the unique status of the name of God in the Jewish religion, the special prescriptions for rendering it into writing, could in the magical mentality easily be understood as an indication of its special magical power.\55/ Besides magical papyri, there are gems and amulets. Whether or not individual items are Jewish, influenced by Judaism, or pagan -- if the [] boundaries can be drawn in this way at all -- common to all of them is the use of the Greek language and the influence from Hebrew.
\53/ PGM = K. Preisendanz, Papyri Graecae Magicae I (Leipzig, 1928), II (Leipzig-Berlin, 1931). On the texts edited since that time, by the same author in "Miscellanea Critica," Festschrift zum 150-jährigen Bestehen der Verlags B. G. Teubner I (Leipzig, 1964), 207ff.
\54/ PGM I 38, 119.
\55/ Cf. Marcel Simon, Verus Israel. &E/;tude sur les relations entre Chr&e/;tiens et Juifs dans l'empire Romain (135- 425) (Biblioth&e\;que des &E/;coles francaises d'Ath&e\;nes et de Rome 166; Paris, 1948). Chapter XII concerns superstition and magic. Still worth consulting in spite of a tendency towards trivialization is L. Blau, Das altjüdische Zauberwesen (Strassburg, 1898). In the name of Totrosia, the angel of Jewish gnosis who guards the door (Hek. rab. 15.1), according to K. Schubert, Kairos 3 (1961), 12 note 57, the Greek <gk>tetra</gk> stands as an allusion to the Tetragrammaton and <gk>ousia</gk>, with "ia" as an allusion to the shortened form of the name of God.
The Jews in Greco-Roman antiquity spoke Greek. Greek was also the language of their Bible. At the same time, it was recognized that it was a translation from the Hebrew urtext. Despite the high regard accorded the translation, there was no process of canonization that would have hindered a revision according to the urtext. The legend found in the letter of Aristeas concerning the harmonious translation of the Torah by 72 scholars is not based on the unanimity that comes from high esteem; rather it seeks first to achieve this through propaganda. Veneration and criticism proceed side by side until finally criticism prevails.
The history of the Jewish-Greek Bible can be examined from the standpoint of its gradual re-Hebraization. Such a development is already evident within the LXX. In relationship to the original, the earlier translations such as the Pentateuch and Isaiah show greater independence than the later parts. "Accordingly, this relative freedom is increasingly surrendered in the course of textual revisions (recensions), because for language and content the urtext is becoming more and more determinative."\55a/ It is a development that begins in Judaism and later runs parallel in Judaism and Christianity. In specifics it is more complicated, in principle more straightforward than is generally supposed.
\55a/ P. Katz, RGG\3 5. 1705.
According to this view, it appears that the LXX, in free and good Greek, was generally accepted by the Jews, and then was taken over by the Christians, as a result of which it was discredited among the Jews, who then created for themselves new translations that followed the Hebrew text more closely, while the LXX remained exlcusively for Christians. In the presentations on this subject, the word "discredited" appears again and again as a telltale fossil, so to speak.\56/
\56/ Thus, O. Eissfeldt, Einleitung in das Alte Testament (Tübingen, 1964<edn>3), 972; M. Noth, Die Welt des Alten Testaments (Berlin, 1962<edn>4), 287; O. Stegmüller, "Uberlieferungsgeschichte der Bibel," in Geschichte der Textüberlieferung 1 (Zurich, 1961), 161; G. Gerleman, "Bibelübersetzungen I," RGG\3 1 (1957), 1193. The same idea, even though not with the word "discredited," is expressed in, among others: G. Stegmüller, in Abriss der Geschichte antike Randkulturen (Munich, 1961), 162; H. Bardtke, Die Handschriftfunde am Toten Meer (Berlin, 1952), 29. Colorni (see note 45) adduces specific examples that ought to lead him to a different conclusion, but he nevertheless retains the `antipatia' explanation (43). For a fundamentally different view, see now Hanhart, 1972 (see above, note 50), 189f.
In my opinion, this picture overestimates the Christian influence on Judaism. One religious group does not abandon its holy scripture because another group is laying claim to it for themselves. It will rather insist that the others are misinterpreting the text and are unjustly laying claim to it. This is what happens again and again in internal Christian conflicts over the biblical text and each time, one side sets its interpretation against that of the other, but without abandoning the text. Thus it by no means disturbs a Eusebius, for example, that at Isa 7.14 the other Jewish translations have <gk>neanis</gk> for the <gk>parqenos</gk> of the LXX, even though this concerns a central Christian prooftext for the virgin birth. He interprets it simply in such a way that it signifies the fully grown virgin, rather than the immature girl. For Eusebius the LXX is completely "our text," but very frequently he adduces the other translations alongside of it [], in part with reference to the Hebrew original, and occasionally he expressly favors them, roughly in the form "instead of the unclear formulation of the LXX, Symmachus has expressed the sense more clearly." Clarity is more important to him than attachment to a canonical translation.\57/ He stands here in the tradition of Origen's Hexapla, in which the LXX is compared with the original and the Jewish translations and thus is made to correspond in a clear manner. The result: the LXX is not uncritically taken over by Christian scholars, but is measured with reference to the original.
\57/ Eusebius, Commentary on Isaiah = Werke 9, GCS, ed. J. Ziegler, in press.
Precisely the same attitude underlies the revisional activity of the Jews. Correspondingly, the different attempts at revision do not indicate rejection of the LXX as a whole, but an attempt to improve it. The legend of the Aristeas letter is accepted by Philo, and in the Talmud, in the mouth of R. Jehuda (2nd century), serves as a basis for arguing that the Torah may be translated into Greek.\58/ From the Christian side, Justin around the middle of the 2nd century, Tertullian in the year 197, and ps-Justin in the 3rd century attest that the LXX was still in their time used by Jews and in fact, everwhere and officially in the synagogue.\59/
\58/ T. b. Meg. 9 a. Here also the translated passages that deviate are adduced (cf. note 61).
\59/ Justin, Apol. 1,31; Tert. Apol. 18; ps-Just. Cohort. 13.
There is also discrediting; around 135 a Midrash declares that the translation of the Torah at the time of Ptolemy had caused darkness.\60/ But the criticism at this time is isolated, originates from the atmosphere after the second Jewish war, and is directed against translations in general. It reflects anti-Greek, not anti- Christian sentiment. In the eighth century, after the triumph of the re-Hebraizing, the tractate Sopherim brings forth the condemnation of the LXX: Five (!) elders translated the Torah into Greek for Ptolemy, and the day was as disastrous for Israel, as the one on which the golden calf was erected. But also attached to it is a rehearsal of the legend of the inspiration of the LXX.\61/ So even here the assessment ultimately remains ambivalent.
\60/ Meg. Taan. 13.
\61/ Soferim 1.8 (7) f. Cf. already Abot de R. Natan (Text b), 37: Five elders wrote the Torah in Greek for King Ptolemy and in so doing changed 10 passages. Similarly Mekilta on Exod 12.40: The variants of the LXX as compared to the Hebrew vorlage were composed for King Ptolemy. On this, K. Schubert, Kairos 12 (1970), 63. It is clear that the deviations are disapproved, but also that this disapproval has nothing to do with the subsequent Christian appropriation of the LXX.
The creation of the new translations is a clearer expression of dissatisfaction with the LXX. That of Aquila gains the express approbation of the most famous rabbis of the period, R. Eliezer, Jehoshua and Akiba.\62/ But if it had only been a question of providing a countertext to the LXX, why then are there still further translations -- not only Symmachus and Theodotion, but also anonymous translations such as the three that Origen additionally adduced? Revisions, like new translations -- and the boundary between them is fluid, especially in the case of Theodotion -- originate from the same purpose of confrontation with the urtext. Even in the 2nd and 3rd centuries they demonstrate Jewish scholarship in the Greek tongue actively at work. This activity is sufficiently motivated on inner-Jewish grounds. How far the new translations were influential in the communities is uncertain. For Aquila we have the witness of Augustine\63/ and Novella 146 of Justinian, but the only direct witnesses are the fragment of a palimpsest of the Books of Kings and the Amherst Papyrus with the first verses of Genesis; for Symmachus fragments of Psalms which Wessely edited as a text of Aquila.\64/
\62/ T. j. Meg. 1.8.
\63/ Aug. ad Afr. 2.
\64/ P. Kahle, Die Kairoer Genisa (Berlin, 1962; English: The Cairo Geniza [Oxford, 1959<edn>2]). F. C. Burkitt, Fragments of the Books of Kings according to the Translation of Aquila (Cambridge, 1897); C. Taylor, Hebrew- Greek Cairo Genizah Palimpsests (Cambridge, 1900); B. P. Grenfell - A. S. Hunt, The Amherst Papyri I (London, 1900) Nr. 3: On the reverse side of a Christian letter (= Naldini Nr. 6), Gen 1.1-5 according to the LXX and according to Aquila, thus clearly of Christian origin. Ch. Wessely, M&e/;langes E. Chatelain (Paris, 1910) 224-29.
What is the general situation with regard to Greek Bible texts of Jewish origin?
To start with, we know of a whole series of Jewish texts of the Bible from pre-Christian times.\65/
\65/ An inventory in K. Treu, "Referat: Christliche Papyri 1940-1967," Archiv für Papyrusforschung 19 (1969) 169-214, OT is here 174-180. There is also discussion here of some of the pieces noted below. [See also Kraft's online collections]
From Egypt come P.Ryl. III 458 from the 2nd century, P.Fuad 266 [actually three different scrolls] from the 1st century BCE, papyrus scrolls, the first a fragment from Deuteronomy, the others containing Genesis and Deuteronomy.
From Palestine we have Qumran Cave 7, Nr. 1. containing Exodus, and Nr. 2 containing the Epistle of Jeremiah, both papyrus scrolls from the period around 100 BCE, in addition to further unidentified fragments\65a/; from Cave 4 three texts: one from a leather scroll of Numbers, and two from scrolls of Leviticus, leather and papyrus respectively; finally the parchment scroll of the Minor Prophets from Murabba'at [actually, Nahal Hever], the latest of these manuscripts, from the middle of the first century CE [at latest].
\65a/ Compared to the other Qumran caves, 7Q has a special distinction, since only Greek fragments have been found there. The attempt by J. O'Callaghan to identify New Testament fragments among them does not appears to me to have succeeded.
Two points concerning these manuscripts should be noted: 1) With
regard to text, deviations from the LXX move in the direction of the
Hebrew text. 2) In orthography, the name of God is represented [in
Greek letters] by ΙΑΩ in 4QLev\b, by the tetragrammaton in the Hebrew
square script in P.Fuad and [in paleo-Hebrew letters in two different
hands in] the scroll of
the Minor Prophets. At the same time, in both instances the script used
is unfamiliar to the copyists. The two copyists of the Minor Prophets
scroll created letters which are described as imaginative and
distorted. In P.Fuad, the copyist first left some free space, and thus
showed no confidence in his ability to make the letters. But the second
hand also, who inserted them, appears completely unskilled, and in any
event inexperienced with the Hebrew. This is an important witness for
the predominance of Greek. For the seven [now 10 or 11] scrolls, their
origin is directly established by their antiquity.
What is the situation with regard to Jewish texts from the Christian period? To start with we have a great number of Greek texts of portions of the Jewish scriptures, among them not a few from the 2nd and 3rd centuries. As far as I can see, it has never been systematically examined whether fragments of Jewish origin are not found among them.
Three axioms have hindered such an examination:
1) After the LXX was taken over of by the Christians the Jews abandoned it. Manuscripts from the the post-Christian era must therefore be Christian.
2) Jews wrote only on scrolls. Codices must therefore be Christian.
3) The contraction of the so-called nomina sacra is a specifically Christian usage. Its appearance attests Christian origination.
Regarding #1: This thesis is untenable, if our picture of the historical development [] is correct. Jews used the LXX at least up into the 3rd century. In addition, they had other translations and revisions, whose traces deserve attention.
Regarding #2: That the several early fragments are scrolls, appears to speak in favor of this thesis. It finds further support in that the leather scroll is the ritually appropriate form for the Torah to the present day. But this overlooks the fact that: a) although leather is prescribed [in rabbinic Jewish tradition], for several of the preserved texts, both from Egypt and Palestine, papyrus was used. b) The prescription concerning the scroll format is limited to the ritual use of Torah.\66/ It does not concern manuscripts for study. c) Even among the Greeks, the codex form first comes into use in the post-Christian era.\67/ Christians liked to use it, but did not invent it. If Jewish texts from the earlier period are scrolls, that proves nothing about the later period. Even if one assumes that there was a traditional preference for the customary form, the Jews have adapted themselves to their environment in so many religiously relevant matters that an accommodation in a matter of book technology presents no problem.
\66/ Material in S. Krauss, Talmudische Archäelogie 3 (Leipzig, 1912) Chap. 11: Schrift und Buchwesen (131-198). P. 146 f. is a remarkable attempt to explain away the evidence for papyrus. Scroll form is prescribed for Esther (T. b. Shab. 115b). As a rule, the language is more important than the technical form. F. G. Kenyon bases the Christian origin of the Chester Beatty Codex to Numbers and Deuteronomy (middle of the 2nd cent.) on this: "for Jews the proper form for the books of the Pentateuch was the roll."
\67/ Basic is C. H. Roberts, The Codex (Proceedings of the British Academy 40; London, 1954), 169-204 [now in an expanded edition by Roberts and T.C.Skeat, The Birth of the Codex (1983)]. More recent material in W. H. Willis, "A Census of the Literary Papyri from Egypt," Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies 9 (1968), 205- 241, including Table VI: Distribution of Rolls and Codices. Cf. further Lieberman, Hellenism (see above, note 5), Appendix III (202-208): Jewish and Christian Codices. The rabbinic evidence adduced here shows that the supplementary possession of the Mishnah was perceived as a distinctive sign of the Jews, not the form of the books (Midrash Tanchuma Wajera' 6, ed. Buber I, 88; T. p. Pe'ah 2,6 17 a, Hagigah 1, 8, 76 d).
Regarding #3: Special respect for the name of God is specifically Jewish. Reproducing it in Hebrew letters in a Greek context is one way of expressing this. As we noted, it caused great difficulties for the copyists. In P.Oxy. VII 1007, along with the Hebrew reproduction of the name of God, we have the Greek contraction for "God." Thus I am inclined to assume that the contraction and placing of a stroke over the words ΚΥΡΙΟΣ and ΘΕΟΣ are of Jewish origin, and that it was only these two words that were originally distinguished in such a manner. The Christians took up the idea and broadened it not only -- acting quite consistently -- to the remaining persons of their Trinity, but also to a whole number of additional concepts, even of a secular sort, and through various experimental developments.\68/ The system thus became inconsistent and the intention of drawing special attention to the divinity became concealed.
\68/ S. Brown, "Concerning the Origin of the Nomina Sacra," Studia Papyrologica 9 (1970) 7-19 favors Christian origin, but a Jewish impulse (the emphasis on the Tetragrammaton). Especially numerous abbreviations appear, for example, in P. Egerton 2 (middle of the 2nd century), see H. I. Bell - T. C. Skeat, Fragments of an Unknown Gospel (London, 1935), esp, 2f. A logical continuation through expansion is the abbreviation of the name of Mani in the Manichaean manuscripts, now also in the Cologne Greek codex; cf. A. Henrichs - L. Koenen, "Ein griechischer Mani-Codex," Zeitsch. f. Papyrologie u. Epigraphik 5 (1970), H. 2 = pp. 97-216.
For the rabbis, a theme of discussion was what to do with the writings of heretics.\69/ Is one permitted to burn them, even though they contained the name of God, or should one instead first cut out the name of God and preserve it? Here at least an external similarity of the manuscripts is thus [] presupposed. Is it misguided to assume such a similarity between Jewish and Christian LXX/OG manuscripts?
\69/ Material in R. T. Herford, Christianity in Talmud and Midrash (London, 1903), esp. 146ff.: Books of the Minim.
Let us examine, henceforth without such inhibiting axioms, the manuscripts, contenting ourselves here with the evidence from the pre-Constantinian period.
1) P.Oxy. VII 1007: Genesis. Parchment codex, 3rd cent. Old Hebrew double <hb>yod</hb> for the name of God, in addition to Greek ΘΕΟΣ in contraction. The other concepts that are contracted in the Christian system (man, mother, father) are unabbreviated. "Clearly of Jewish origin" (Kahle, Genisa 260).\70/
\70/ A. S. Hunt, The Oxyrhynchus Papyri VII (London, 1910), 1-3. Hunt refers to Jewish parallels, but his "unusually early date" implies the assumption of a Christian origin.
2) P.Oxy. IV 656: Genesis. Papyrus codex, 2/(3) cent. No contractions at all, not even ΘΕΟΣ. The first hand four times allows space for the Tetragrammaton, and in three places it is completed in Greek by the second hand. Numerous new readings.\71/
\71/ B. P. Grenfell - A. S. Hunt, The Oxyrhynchus Papyri IV (London, 1904), 28-36. Reference is made to the Hebraic text (Aquila), without conclusions, and to the absence of contractions; the explanation, "but this may of course be no more than an individual peculiarity" is understandable for that time.
3) P. Berlin 17213: Genesis. Papyrus codex, first half of the 3rd century. Space is left for the name of God but is not filled in.\72/
\72/ K. Treu, "Neue Berliner Septuagintafragmente," Archiv f. Papyrusforschung 20 (1970), 46f.
4) P. Yale 1: Genesis. Papyrus codex. Dated by the editor around the year 90 and because of the codex form considered unquestionably Christian.\73/
\73/ J. F. Oates, A. E. Samuel, C. B. Welles, Yale Papyri in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library I (New Haven-Toronto, 1967), Nr. 1 (Welles). Already before this, C. B. Welles, "The Yale Genesis Fragment," The Yale University Library Gazette 39 (1964) 1-8. [This early dating is widely challenged; E. G. Turner places the fragment around 200 CE (Typology OT007).]
5) P. Lit. London. 202: Genesis. Papyrus codex, around 300. "Father" and "Israel" occur without contraction.\74/
\74/ H. J. M. Milne, Catalogue of the Literary Papyri in the British Museum (London, 1927), no. 202. This catalogue categorizes biblical materials collectively under the rubric "Christian Literature," while the Oxyrhynchus papyri volumes use the neutral title "Theological."
6) Bodl. Ms. Gr. Bibl. g. 5 (P): Psalms. Parchment codex, end of the first/end of the second century. Uncontracted form of ΘΕΟΣ and ΑΝΘΡΩΠΟΣ are conclusively restored in the gaps. The argument of the editors is, "As the papyrus is a codex, it is presumably Christian."\75/
\75/ J. W. B. Barns - G. D. Kilpatrick, "A New Psalms Fragment," Proceedings of the British Academy 43 (1957), 229-232, with reproductions.
After these codices, I mention three papyrus scrolls from Oxyrhynchus:
7) P.Oxy. IX 1166: Genesis. 3rd Century. ΚΥΡΙΟΣ and ΘΕΟΣ are abbreviated, but not ΑΝΘΡΩΠΟΣ. Several interesting readings, one attested from Philo.
8) P.Oxy. X 1225: Leviticus. Beginning of the 4th century.
9) P.Oxy. VIII 1075: Exodus. 3rd Century. ΚΥΡΙΟΣ abbreviated but not "sons of Israel." Text "of some interest." On the reverse side from the 3rd/4th cent. is the Apocalypse (P.Oxy. 1079). What does the Christian reuse imply? At first glance, certainly also the Christian origin of the first manuscript. But Jewish manuscripts in the possession of Christians are attested.
10) One further scroll: P.Lit.Lond.
211: Daniel, beginning of the
4th century. ΘΕΟΣ unabbreviated.
With regard to the numerous fragments from Oxyrhynchus, the following should be noted: There was a Jewish quarter in Oxyrhynchus. The city was greatly affected by the revolt of 115/117. The activity of the synagogue is attested for the year 291 (CPJ 472). Around 400 the community wrote official correspondence in Hebrew. []
Another city with a demonstrable Jewish population even in the Byzantine period is Antinoopolis (CPJ 508, 511, 517).\76/ Together with the Greek texts and perhaps from the same time, fragments from three Hebrew scrolls of the Bible have been found. Among the greek manuscripts, I list the following:
\76/ C. H. Roberts, The Antinoopolis Papyri I (London, 1950).
11) P. Ant. 8: Wisdom books. Papyrus codex. 3rd cent. A text with marked deviations from the LXX/OG, in part in the direction of the Hebrew.
12) P. Ant. 9: Proverbs. Payrus codex, end of 4th cent. Eccentric text.
13) P. Ant. 10: Ezechiel. Parchment codex. 4th cent. Text idiosyncratic, in places close to the Hebrew.
Originating also in Antinoopolis:
14) P. Giss. 13, 19, 22, 36 and side 2:Deuteronomy. 5/6 cent. According to E. Tov, a hebraizing version of the LXX/OG.\77/
\77/ E. Tov, Revue biblique 78(1971), 355-383.
In addition to this, I should mention a few more manuscripts with hebraizing text forms:
15) P. Sorbonne 2250: Jeremiah. Papyrus codex from the end of the 4th cent. ΚΥΡΙΟΣ abbreviated, but not Jerusalem. Idiosyncratic text, in part aligned with the Hebrew.
16) P. Berlin 17035: Genesis. Parchment codex from around 500. Marked deviations from the LXX, affinities with Symmachus.
Since we have up to now considered more or less small fragments, we want now finally to recall a few extensive texts that have deservedly received attention: the Freer papyrus codex of the Minor Prophets from the middle of the 3rd century, according to the judgment of the editor J. Sanders, "a fair sample of many that circulated among the Jews and early Christians," and the Berlin Genesis codex from the end of the 3rd century. Both of these are examples of pre-Hexaplaric revision towards the Hebrew, both were possessed by Coptic Christians.\78/ For the Ezekiel text of Codex 967, which is now divided among several owners and comes from Aphroditopolis in Upper Egypt, Ziegler locates the Hebraizing revision in a vorlage of the first century. Kahle has rightly asserted that Christians of the first century had more urgent concerns than to prepare critical revisions of the text, so that this vorlage can only be Jewish.\79/
\78/ H. A. Sanders - C. Schmidt, The Minor Prophets in the Freer Collection and the Berlin Fragment of Genesis (New York, London, 1927).
\79/ J. Ziegler, ZAW 61 (1945/8) 76-94; and further, Kahle, Genisa, 259.
We encounter the concept of the vorlage very often in the editions, thus in P. Sanz on P.Gr.Vind. 29525, from Hermopolis, 5th cent., with Psalms 9.22-25 in the LXX/OG numbering. Sanz (Nr. 5) points out that it is Ps 10.1-4 according to the Hebrew Bible. "The copyist has thus used a Vorlage numbered according to the Masoretic text."\80/ One has the impression that the editors are avoiding a problem that forces itself on them by assuming the existence of a vorlage. I myself have also done this once, without deliberating further about this vorlage. In general one finds only infrequently expressed reflections concerning whether a text [] is of Jewish or Christian origin, as for example in Schwartz on the Judith ostrakon from the second half of the 3rd century,\81/ and in Turner in his dispute with Rokeah on the onomasticon of Hebrew names, P.Oxy. XXXVI, 2745, 3/4 cent.\82/ Both opt for a Christian origin, with Turner making reference to the Christian contraction of ΘΕΟΣ. The decision is open to discussion, in the same way as I have offered for discussion only that it is possible that the above mentioned manuscripts might be Jewish or Jewish-influenced. It is important that the question at least be posed.
\80/ P. Sanz, Griechische literarische Papyri christlichen Inhalts (Mitteilungen aus der Papyrussammlung d. Nationalbibl. in Wien NS 4; Baden in Vienna, 1946). According to my own examination (30 Nov 1962), however, the copyist appears to have followed the LXX/OG numbering. The papyrus is mutilated at the beginning, and thus could have contained more text. At the conclusion an ornamental hook marks the end.
\81/ J. Schwartz, "Un fragment grec du livre du Judith (sur ostracon)," RB 53 (1946), 534-537, with plates.
\82/ R. A. Coles (et alii), The Oxyrhynchus Papyri XXXVI (London, 1970), no. 2745 (D. Rokeah), 1-6, Table 1. Previously: D. Rokeah, "A New Onomasticon Fragment from Oxyrhynchus and Philo's Etymologies," JTS 19 (1968), 70-82.
The catchword "vorlage" implies Jewish-Christian contacts. In the final analysis, of course all Christian manuscripts of Jewish scriptures go back to Jewish vorlagen. Historical probability speaks in favor of the view that the undertaking should be envisioned as a process and not a one time event. In the 3rd century, we see how Origen took pains to acquire Jewish manuscripts.\83/ Thus, Christian copies of Jewish vorlagen can be considered possible from different times and regions. On the other hand, however, we must examine with care and perhaps even more closely whether the copy may not also be Jewish. Even in demonstrably Jewish transcriptions we have discovered hesitation and uncertainty in the reproduction of the name of God.
\83/ Eusebius, HE 6.16.
Finally, we must also reckon with the fact that the Jewish vorlagen which Christians had obtained for themselves remained in the possession of Christians. In itself, of course, there is a very high degree of probability that the closed collections that contain manuscripts of the Old and New Testament are entirely Christian, as especially the library of the Chester Beatty collection. The same thing is true, when the verso and recto of a scroll are inscribed in such a way as we saw earlier. Only the binding together of the Old and New Testament in one and the same codex is decisively Christian. Everything else, even secondarily bound collective codices such as the Bodmer collection demonstrate basically nothing more than Christian use.\84/ Granted, we will often have to be satisfied with probability. But we should always consider the opposing possibilities.
\84/ An instructive comparison of the Bodmer and Chester Beatty collections is found in G. D. Kilpatrick, "The Bodmer and Mississippi Collection of Biblical and Christian Texts," Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies 4 (1963), 33-47.
We have restricted ourselves here to biblical texts. Only to show that other Jewish texts can also be classified as Christian, I mention the liturgical scroll P.Oxy. XVII 2068 from the 4th century, which is Jewish according to Kilpatrick.
If our suspicions can be confirmed, two things follow from them: We have evidence for a longer and more intensive use of the Greek Bible by Jews than has normally been assumed. And we have evidence for longer and more intensive contacts between Jews and Christians in the area that was common to them.
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