Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Age of Trup -- part xxiv

Shadal continues his Vikuach Al Chochmat HaKabbalah, continuing his analysis of Jerome's words. (See previous segment.) Here he shows proof that Jerome did not have nikkud available to him.

The guest: And you, now know for yourself that it is a known and publicized matter by the wise men of the nations of the world, that the wise man Hieronymus {=Jerome} never mentioned the nikkud in a single one of his books. And greater than this I will inform you, that I have found by Hieronymus one statement which teaches with the finger, that there was no nikkud in his days at all.

For behold, he admits and is not embarrassed, that he feared to approach the work of translating the sefer of Divrei HaYamim, from his fear lest he err in the reading of the many names which are in it. And he already knew the holy tongue, for he already learned it during nights from a Jewish man -- bar Chanina was his name -- and he already had translated many books of the Holy Books. And with all this, he did not stretch forth his hand to translate the sefer of Divrei haYamim until he read it from its beginning until its end with one of the Chachmei Teveriah.

And if the nikkud were known in his days, how did they not put nikkud in the book of Divrei haYamim, which because of the many names within it it requires nikkud to a great extent? And why was he compelled to learn its reading Orally, and did not find for himself a sefer with nikkud? And after he found one to teach him the reading, there is no doubt that he would have been able to find a sefer with nikkud, if there were a sefer with nikkud found in his days. And if there was no nikkud found in Divrei haYamim, I do not know where it would be found.

The author: And this statement of Hieronymus, where is it found?

The guest: It is in the letter to Domenion and Dogacianos, which begins (Quomodo) and is recorged as well in the book Biblia, in the introduction to the recording of Divrei HaYamim.

{I do not see it in this introduction, but that is because Shadal is here referring to the preface to Jerome's translation of the Septuagint text of Paralipomena/Divrei HaYamim, rather than to the Vulgate. Thanks to Kevin P. Edgecomb for this clarification. We can find reference to this text here and here.}

And I took the Biblia, and the man found the aforementioned epistle, and so was written in it:
Denique, cum a me nuper litteris flagitassetis, ut vobis librum Paralipomenon latino sermone transferrem, de Tiberiade quemdam Legis Doctorem qui apud Habraeos admirationi habebatur assumpsi: et contuli cum eo a vertice, ut ajunt, usque ad extremum unguem: et sic confirmatus, ausus sum facere, quod juhebatis. Libere enim vobis loquor, ita in Graecis et Latinis codicibus hic nominum liber vitiosus est, ut non tam Hebraea quam barbara quaedam et Sarmitica nomina conjecta arbitrandum sit.
{which in English would be, as taken from here:


I said to him: This is a proof which has no nitpick after it. And behold, my mind has rested {concluded} in this matter that which is sufficient.

Except, to the completion of this investigation, it appears to me that it is fitting to us now to investigate who the Masters {=authors} of nikkud were, and at what time and at what place they were.

1 comment:

Kevin P. Edgecomb said...

Hi Josh,
The authors quoting the preface were a little unclear. This is from the preface to Jerome's translation of the Septuagint text of Paralipomena/Divrei HaYamim, not from the preface of the Vulgate translation (which is straight from Hebrew into Latin). In this case, he certainly did look for Hebrew help in separating the mess in the Septuagint, as he mentions repeatedly. This translation would have been done sometime between 386 and 390, after his arrival in Bethlehem but before he'd begun translating directly from Hebrew. The Chronicles translation in question was itself lost, though the preface was preserved.

You had me worried for a hot minute there! I thought I'd done a classic scribal error and accidentally skipped some lines. But this is definitely his LXX Preface, not the Vulgate Preface, the latter of which was all I was doing at the time.

Thanks for the interesting find!


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