The first meeting in the second series of centenary lectures was chaired by the Regius Professor of Hebrew, Robert Gordon, and was treated to a study of Aramaic Bible translations and commentaries by Professor Michael Klein, of the Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem.
He demonstrated how a detailed review of the oldest extant fragments helps to illuminate such subjects as the synagogal-liturgical setting of the targum, its status and sanctity, and the reason for its original composition.
It also touches upon the non-normative halakhah reflected in such Palestinian targum and the purity of Aramaic dialect that it preserves.
Several new targumic texts and text-types discovered in the Genizah were noted, such as ``shorthand'' manuscripts; collections of expansive readings for festivals and special Sabbaths; introductory Aramaic poems to the targum of the haftarot; a fragment-targum of Onqelos; and various compositions of Masorah to Onqelos.
The paper concluded with a reading of the targumic tosefta to the story of Cain and Abel (Genesis 4), which is unparalleled in its midrashic and exegetical expansiveness and literary fancy.
Edited by Stefan C. Reif
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