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tc-list Some comments on the Shem-Tob discussion

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    After a couple weeks in the Near East, I am back in Euorpe, and have caught up on the discussion of the article on Shem-Tob. Below are some comments... ... it
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 19, 1998
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      After a couple weeks in the Near East, I am back in Euorpe, and have caught
      up on the discussion of the article on Shem-Tob.

      Below are some comments...

      First, re Jean Valentin's post:

      >From which language was it translated? Was it directly from Latin, or was
      it from some vernacular (like, >for example, the pepysian harmony which is
      supposed to come from a lost French original)? The >variants give us
      evidence as to the textual family it belongs to, we need more in order to
      decide from >which language exactly this Hebrew version was translated. Dr
      Petersen gives us an interesting >example of mistranslation or wrong choice
      in the translation of a word (at § 89).

      >I would like to add another example: at Mt 7.11 there's the use of the
      preposition 'im in the phrase 'im >heyothkhem ra'im. This should be
      translated, of course, "while you are wicked". But in Hebrew, 'im is a
      >preposition meaning "with", and nothing else. So in Hebrew, this verse
      simply doesn't make sense.
      >What happens? In latin, "Cum" can be understood in two ways: (1)
      preposition meaning "with" - this is >how it is translated, wrongly, in our
      Hebrew text. (2) "Cum" can also be a subordinative conjunction, >meaning
      "while", "as" and introducing temporal clauses. This is how it should have
      been translated. >So our tranlator, having to choose between the
      preposition and conjunction, took the wrong choice. >This is, I think,
      another evidence for the fact that our Hebrew text was translated from
      latin. At this point, >the sentence is nonsensical: this is a sure trace of
      mistranslation, and we can demonstrate that the >mistake comes from not
      understanding a latin word. Our text was not written originally in Hebrew,
      but is >translated from Latin.

      It would seem that Jean has answered his own question.

      Latin seems the obvious choice becuase of the reasons stated in the
      article: (1) we know the *Vorlage* of the Middle Dutch tradition: it was
      Latin. (2) We know the *Vorlage* of Isaac Velasquez: it was, apparently,
      also Latin. Beyond this, (3) the agreements of Shem-Tob's Hebrew Matthew
      with the Vulgate and the Vetus Latina, as well as (4) the standard practice
      of the time and place (the medieval West) point to Latin. This is all
      supported by (5) readings in the text (cf. para. 89 in the article), of
      which Valentin has apparently found another example (I do not have my copy
      of Shem-Tob at hand, so I cannot check his example, but off the top of my
      head, his analysis sounds reasonable).


      >It is nearly certain that the language of the Vorlage was Latin. But what
      kind of text was it exactly? It >could have been a Diatessaron from which
      the translator chose the pericopes that come from >Matthew (of course,
      keeping the harmonizations as he didn't take the time to eliminate them).
      It could >have been, as Dr Petersen seems to suggest, separate Gospels
      heavily influenced by the >harmonized tradition. Or, third solution, it
      could have been a lectionary - some show traces of a heavy >influence of
      the harmonized tradition.

      There are good reasons to exclude the first and third of Jean's
      suggestions. As to the possibility that it was a Diatessaron from which
      the translator excised the Matthean fragments: to "unbundle" a gospel
      harmony, in an age and place where the separate gospels were circulating,
      seems not only unlikely but a very obtuse manner in which to go about
      things. It simply seems unlikely. Furthermore, if such a procedure were
      followed, one would expect even more "confusion" than there is with the
      other gopels, for the task of deciding where the text of Matthew would
      begin and end, begin again, and then end again, in a pericope would be a
      very difficult and imprecise task. As opposed to this, Shem-Tob's Hebrew
      Matthew seems--by and large--a copy of Matthew, but one heavily influenced
      by the harmonized gospel tradition.

      On the third possibility, that this is a lectionary text: yes, some
      lectionaries display harmonization, but no lectionary rubrics are evident
      in this Hebrew text (at least to the best of my knowledge); also recall
      that lectionaries don't contain the entire text of a gospel, while--albeit
      with some omissions here and there--Shem-Tob's Matthew seems to be giving a
      more or less complete text of Matthew.

      Because of these and other reasons, the second possibility--a text of
      Matthew, heavily influenced by the harmonized gospel tradition--seems most
      likely to me. Remember that we are not speculating about the existence of
      such a text in Latin, for Isaac Velasquez *knew and used* such a text *in
      Spain* precisely *in the time-frame* we are targeting.

      >I don't have a very precise opinion as to how we should study the matter
      in order to decide, but let me >try a suggestion. The Hebrew text of Ben
      Shaphrut is divided into peraqim - paragraphs. Do these >correspond to
      divisions in Latin manuscripts - it could be the sections of the latin
      diatessaron (the >Dutch harmonies are also divided in paragraphs roughly
      corresponding to pericopes or narrative >units) or the pericopes of a
      lectionary. If a specialist in the Western liturgy could tell us if the
      peraqim of >our Hebrew text correspond to one of the Western rites of the
      Middle Ages (roman, mozarabic rites...), >this could help us to determine
      the origin of this text and the process by which it was translated.

      I'd be happy to have someone check this out. But recall that the liturgies
      will not give all the text of a gospel, and Shem-Tob seems to give
      more-or-less most of Matthew. The paragraphs in the Western harmonies do
      not--again, to the best of my knowledge--mirror any liturgical pattern.
      Codex Fuldensis--in Latin, and our oldest extant harmony in the West--has
      182 capitula, if I recall correctly (Ulrich Schmid worked on this at NIAS
      last year: Ulrich, any comment?). The Liege Harmony has well over 200
      "chapters," if I recall correctly. The only western harmony with obvious
      litrugical links is the Middle English Pepysian Harmony, which, at least in
      my researches, has very little in common with the Hebrew Matthew in
      Shem-Tob's *The Touchstone.* (The Pepysian Harmony has some rubrics here
      and there: "The reading for the third Thursday," etc.)


      OTHER REMARKS and informations:
      >- At § 38, variant 5, Dr Petersen points to "being built" instead of "set
      on". I have met this variant in an >Arabic version from the Middle East
      based mainly on the Byzantine text (but with many other >influences) - the
      one I'm studying for my thesis: ms Sinai Arabic 69, from the XIth century.

      Again, I am without my books at the moment, but my memory tells me this
      reading is found in several other sourcesas well: check the specifics in
      Appendix III in Quispel's *Tatian and the Gospel of Thomas* (1975).

      >- At §80, variant 2. As Dr Petersen cites this variant following the
      apparatus of Legg, I just checked >directly in the Georgian editions, and
      can confirm that the citation is exact (I always prefer to have a >look
      directly at the versions when I can, you never know...).

      Good for you, Jean: always go to the original sources, if possible.

      >- At § 95, the variant of Mt 25.6. My Arabic version from the XIth century
      has this too: fa-Hiina kaana niSf >al-layl idha biSawt yunaadii... "and
      when it was half of the night, behold, a voice announced..." The >variant
      is no more a unique agreement between Liege and Ben-Shaphrut.
      >The variant is also present in another Arabic version about which I posted
      to this list some time ago: >that of ms Sinai Arabic 71, from the Xth
      century: wa-fii niSf al-layl abadan Sawt yaquul "and at half of the >night,
      suddenly (litt: always = ?) a voice was saying..."
      >These Arabic versions, though translated from Greek, have many common
      variants with >diatessaronic witnesses and eastern versions. They being
      eastern witnesses, could we count the >variant as diatessaronic as it is
      supported now both in East and West?

      This is interesting. One reading, however, can't tell us much. One would
      have to do a much more thorough analysis. When I stumbled across the
      reading, interpolating "voice," I immediately thought of my Hebrew lessons
      years ago, where "voice(s)" of god/the prophet/whomever was/were "crying
      out" all the time. The reading seemed very "Semitic" to my nose. So I am
      not surprised to learn that a parallel has turned up in the East. The
      question, however, is the origin of the variant. On that point, I don't
      know enough about this Arabic MS (Sinai Arab. 71) to give an opinion. As I
      mentioned at the beginning of this paragraph, a much more thorough study of
      this MS would be necessary before one could offer any intelligent comment.
      A few general observations may be useful, however.

      First, recall that there is a close link between the Arabic translations of
      the gospels and the Syriac (cp. Anton Baumstark, Curt Peeters and B.
      Levin). You mention that this MS (or its Vorlage) is translated from the
      Greek; is that certain? And how profound is the Syriac influence on this
      MS? This might be the genesis of the "Diatessaronic" readings in Sinai
      Arab. 71. Finally, before claiming bilateral support (East and West, and
      hence possibly a Diatessaronic reading), one must be certain that Sinai
      Arab. 71 has been influenced by the Diatessaron; that is not yet clear--at
      least to me. The influence, if it does exist, would be very "faint" and
      "distant" if, as you suggest, the MS itself (or its Vorlage) were
      translated from Greek. I would be cautious about claiming Diatessaronic
      origins for this reading, for it is entirely absent from all the major
      witnesses, both East and West, *except* for the Liege Harmony (late) and
      now, MS Sinai Arab. 71 (also late, and with a Greek Vorlage, according to
      you)... This is *not* horribly impressive to me. Now, if the reading were
      also in *Ephrem* (4th cent.), then the cards would be stacked
      differently.... ;-)

      Nevertheless, an interesting parallel.

      >- At Mt 16.13, the name Philippus is written FYLYBWS in Hebrew. This is
      interesting, as this reflects the >Arabic orthography of that name (after
      all, we're in Spain!). In Arabic, there is no double pronunciation >of the
      letter phe (as is the case in Hebrew). It is always pronounced "F", and the
      sound "P" of the >Western languages is transcribed by the letter "B". In
      older Hebrew, there would have been a "P" in >both positions (look at
      Jastrow's dictionary, where several transcriptions of that name is given at
      the >article PLYPA page 1182 left column). This is at least one trace of
      the influence of Arabic civilization >(and grammatical tradition!) on our

      Interesting; as you note, however, we are in Spain, in Moorish times.

      >- About the quality of Howard edition and of its revision. In the first
      edition I had found not a few typos. >Some have been corrected in the
      second edition, others not. Here are those that weren't.
      >* Mt 6.22 third word: read 'eyNeykha, with a nun instead of the second
      >* Mt 15.7 first word: read hwy instead of hyw (correct in the apparatus,
      but not in the text).
      >* Mt 17.1 first word should read "aHar" (with heth, meaning after) instead
      of the obscure "atar"
      >* Mt 20.14 last word, erase the taw and read "kamokha" (like you) instead
      of ke-mothkha (like your >dead?).
      >* Mt 20.15 first word after the question mark: replace the daleth by a
      resh and read "ha-yera'" (is it bad) >instead of "ha-yeda'" (does he know).
      >And I didn't note them systematically! So I'm lee enthusiastic than Dr
      Petersen when he praises the >quality of the edition of the Hebrew text.

      Your observations are absolutely correct. There are numerous typographical
      errors. While one cannot always be certain that they are errors in the
      text of the edition itself (although one can suspect, and be rather certain
      that they are...), they are clearly present when one compares Howard's
      lists of readings in his "Introduction" (e.g., his lists of parallels with
      Thomas, the Vetus Syra, etc.) with his own Hebrew text in the edition.
      They sometimes don't agree--meaning that one or the other must be a typo.

      Thanks, Jean, for your very interesting and careful comments.

      As for other posts: Several early posts completely misunderstood the point
      of the article, thinking that I was arguing that the Hebrew Matthew was
      dependent upon a Middle Dutch Vorlage. My thanks to those of you who
      quickly intervened and pointed out that this was incorrect, and cited me at
      length, showing that it was a common *Latin* Vorlage that was the source.

      I must confess that I am puzzled how such a misunderstanding could have
      arisen, for in the first and last paragraphs of the body of the article,
      the following is written:

      (paras. 1-28 are a description of the edition, the translation, and a
      summary of Howard's analysis of the *waw-consecutivum*; only in para. 29
      do I offer my first comment on the possible Vorlage)

      Para. 29: "...these similarities in structure [may] stem from dependence
      upon a common archetype. And since we know the Middle Dutch manuscript's
      Vorlage, it suggests that if there is dependence upon a common Vorlage,
      then that Vorlage is Latin."

      This is the very first comment on the matter from your author, at the very
      start of the body of the article, which is devoted to the matter of the

      At the end of this analysis section (paras. 111-141 are the evidence of
      Isaac Velasquez, "What can be learned," and the Appendix on Thomas and the
      Italian Harmonies), in para. 104, the first paragraph in a section titled
      "The Genesis of Shem-Tob's Hebrew Matthew," one finds:

      "the tradition behind the Liege Harmony--which we know to be a Latin gospel
      harmony--must also be the principal element responsible for the textual
      complexion of Shem-Tob's Hebrew Matthew."

      This sentence is even italicized. Clearer--at the beginning and at the
      end--I do not think I could be.

      Finally, someone asked if such Latin manuscripts actually existed. The
      answer is already in the article. See paras. 48, 51, 54. See also paras.
      32, 113.

      --Petersen, Penn State University.
      (not proofed)
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