||"dawnbreak in the west"|
Friday, June 10, 2016
Li'l Joey fell down the well again
Guillaume Dye is reviewing Catherine Pennacchio, Les emprunts à l'hébreu et au judéo-araméen dans le Coran. He doesn't like it.
I must rate this particular critique as weak, and I say this as one who accepts Witztum that a non-Jew reliant upon anti-Jewish Syriac sources composed sura 12.
Dye is correct that gbb is pan-Semitic - or may as well be. I know of no Aramaisms in Ugaritic. And even if it were a borrowing, then it likely became Hebrew before this part of Genesis entered the Torah.
In Genesis 37:24 the Israelites, for an oubliette, tossed Joseph into a bôr that expressly could not serve as a gôb. (Joseph is the North's patriarch, not the Jews'.) We all agree the composer already knew the word gôb. True, the verse hints - to some - that maybe water should have been there. But this is just a storyteller's move: to hint that Joseph could not survive in that hole, and even to imply that his brothers were considering his murder by thirst. So there was no well in the original. The Qur'an must have cast its bucket into some other source.
That source's move to making of that a "well", by elaborating on that offhand comment of no-water, isn't a translation. It is a midrash (one that is not found everywhere). And there is nothing specifically Christian about this particular midrash. It needn't even have been done in Aramaic. It may well first have been done in Hebrew.
To sum up, that's pourquoi le Targum: as far as any of us know, the Targum got to this midrash first. True, the Qur'an could have got it by way of the Peshitta. But we can't assume that for this pericope alone. We would need evidence of a more exactly Christian mediator. Witztum gives us that; Dye, here, really doesn't.
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