Thursday, November 15, 2007

Judeo-Arabic history of Hebrew grammar and Bible study

Here is an interesting bit of Judeo-Arabic from an anonymous Hebrew grammatical work of the 9th or 10th century:1

ג' פצ'איל כאנת לישראל פי ג' מואצ'ע ואנבסטת פי אלעמה פמנהא לגה אלדקדוק וג'ידה אלתפסיר פמנהא כ'רג' אללה מן אצפהאן ואלג'דל ואלנט'ר אלחסן כאן אצלה מן אלעראק ואלקראן אלפאכ'ר אלחסן אצלה מן נחלת נפתלי והו מדינה טבריה

Israel had three excellent assets in three place, from which they spread among the (rest) of the people. These include the discipline of diqduq2 and the excellence of exegesis, which God brought from Isfahan. The origin of dialectic and fine logic was in Iraq. The supremely beautiful reading of the Bible had its origin in the inheritance of Naphtali, which is in the town of Tiberias.

1In Jacob Mann, "On the Terminology of the early Massorites and Grammarians," pp.437-445, "Oriental Studies Published in Commemoration of the 40th Anniversary of Paul Haupt as director of the Oriental Seminary of the Johns Hopkins University," 1926.

2 Geoffrey Khan quotes this in his "The Early Karaite Tradition of Hebrew Grammatical Thought: Including a Critical Edition, Translation and Analysis of the Diqduq of Abu Yaqub Yusuf Ibn Nuh on the Hagiographa" and adds a note on this reading: The reading that is given by Mann לגה אלדקדוק is difficult to construe, perhaps the original text read אללגה ואלדקדוק 'lexicography and grammar.'

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