This course focuses on the fascinating Aramaic translations of the Hebrew Bible from Late Antiquity, the so-called Targums. Knowledge of the Targumic dialect provides an ideal and solid foundation for further study of the Aramaic language, which evolved into a multitude of dialects throughout its long history. Focal point will be the story about the Akedah, the Binding of Isaac, in Genesis 22. At a gentle pace participants will receive training in reading and translating a variety of Targumic texts that feature the Aqedah, from the more literal rendering in Targum Onqelos to the extensively aggadic version in Targum Pseudo-Jonathan. The student will learn about the nature and method of Targum as translation and interpretation of the Hebrew Bible and its place and value within Jewish history and literature. Depending on the pace and wishes of the participants, we may also study the mystical interpretation of the Akedah in the Zohar, because Zoharic Aramaic betrays heavy influence from Targumic Aramaic. Alef-bet needed, no prior experience with Aramaic required.
This class will take place in-person in central Edinburgh.
10, 11, 12, 13 July, 1.30 – 3.00pm
17, 18, 19, 20 July, 1.30 – 3.00pm
Dr Alinda Damsma lectures ancient Semitic languages in the Department of Hebrew & Jewish Studies at University College London (UCL). Besides her teaching in Biblical Hebrew, Aramaic and Akkadian at UCL, she lectures Aramaic at L’École Rabbinique de Paris. Her current research focuses on the use of Aramaic in kabbalistic writings. In addition, she is working on a monograph which examines the role and the impact of the Bible on the early modern witch-hunts.