Persian Versions

Persian Versions At an early period there seems to have existed a translation of the Old Testament in the Persian language. There is no doubt that, like the Chaldee, such a version was prepared for use in the synagogue and in the education of the people. From the Talmud (Sota, 49 b) we know at least that the Persian language along with the holy language "is mentioned as a vernacular." Chrysostom (Homil. 2, in Joann.) and the Syrian bishop Theodoret (in his De curandis Graecorumn affect. 1:5) speak of such a version, and according to Maimonides the Pentateuch was translated into Persia long before Mohammed (Zunz, Die gottesd. Vortr. d. Juden, p. 9). But the Persian translation of the Pentateuch which has come down to us, and which was printed at first at Constantinople in 1546, and then in the fourth part of the London Polyglot (the Hebrew character having been used in the former case and the Persian in the latter), is of later origin. This is particularly apparent from the name Babel being rendered Bagdad (Ge 10:10) — a proof that it owes its origin to a period at least later than the 8th century (for Bagdad was built in the year 762 [145 of the Hegira]). According to the inscriptions in the Constantinopolitan edition, this translation was made by R. Jacob ben-Joseph Tawus. A question has been raised whether the formula עדןאּנ8ע נוחו, he reposes in Paradise, refers to Tawus's father or Tawus himself. Furst, who inclined to the latter view, made Tawus flourish in the 13th century, while Lorsbach, Zunz, Kohut, and Munk, inclining to the former view, put the age of the author in the 16th century. On this point the latter thus expresses himself in his Notice sur Rabbi Sanadia Gaon, p. 64: "Il suffit de jeter un seul coup- d'ceil sur la version de Rabbi Yacob pour se convaincre qu'un tel langue Persan ne pent surmonter a une epoque oui la langue Persane se parlait et s'ecrivait encore avec beaucoup de purete, et oh les mots Arabes n'y abondaient pas encore... Si je ne me trompe, Rabbi Yacob est un ecrivain tres-moderne, et ii me semble mmme resulter des termes dont se sert a son egard l'editeur du Pelntateuque de Constantinople, que c'etait, un contemporain, et que sa version etait, dis l'origine, destinee a cette edition du Pentateuque." It may now be regarded as settled that the author of this version did not live in the 9th century (Rosenmüller), nor in the 13th century (Furst, Ginsburg), but in the 16th (Zunz, Lorsbach, Kohut, Munk), and that he was born between 1510 and 1514 (?). As to the name of the author there is a diversity of opinion, inasmuch as some take it for a proper noun (tawus means peacock in Persic), others for an adjective: Tusensis, ex urbe Persica Tus (where a celebrated Jewish school flourished). We are inclined to the former view. As to the version itself, Tawus rendered slavishly the Hebrew text. He uses euphemisms, and avoids anthropomorphisms and anthropopathies; sometimes he follows the Targums, often Saadia's Arabic version and Kimchi's and Aben-Ezra's commentaries, and sometimes he leaves the Hebrew untranslated (as in Ge 7:11; Ge 6:8; Ge 16:14; Ge 22:14; Ge 28:3; Ge 1; Ge 11; Ex 3:14; Ex 17:7; Nu 21:28; Nu 34:4,16; De 3:10; De 4:4; De 32:51). On the whole, this version is of little critical value.

Besides the Pentateuch, there is also a Persian version of the Prophets and Hagiographa. as well as of the Apocrypha, in the Paris library. Thus Catal. imprime M.S. Hebr. No. 34 contains the version of Genesis and Exodus, with the Hebrew original after each verse. No. 35 contains the version of Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, in a similar manner. No. 40 contains Job and Lamentations, as well as a Persian elegy, or קינה, for the 9th of Ab, bewailing the destruction of the Temple (comp. Taanith, 3:488 a). No. 44 contains Isaiah and Jeremiah in Hebrew characters. No. 45 Daniel, as well as an apocryphal history of this prophet (the latter published in Hebrew characters, with a German transl. by H. Zotenberg, in Merx's

Archiv fur wissenschaltfliche Erfbrsschung des Alten Testaments, I, 385 sq. [Halle, 1869]). No. 46, written in the year 1469, also contains Daniel, with various readings of older MS., Fond de St. Germ.-des-Pres. No. 224 contains the book of Esther with the Hebrew original, as well as a Rabbinical Calendar in Persian, completed in 1290, and extending to 1522. No. 236 contains a version of the Apocrypha in Hebrew characters, written in 1600; the book of Tobit is different from the common Greek text; Judith and Bel and the Dragon agree with the Vulgate, while the book of Maccabees is simply the Megillath Antiochus, מגלת אנטיוכוס, Hebrew and Persian. SEE MACCABEES, BOOKS OF. A direct version from the Hebrew of Solomon's writings existing in Parisian MSS. was discovered by Hassler (comp. Studien und Kritiken for 1829, p. 469 sq.). The Imperial Public Library at St. Petersburg, which of late has bought the collection of Hebrew MSS. of the famous Karaite Abr. Firkowiez and of the Odessa Society, has also some MSS. with a Persian version. Thus Harkavy and Strack in their Cactalog describe No. 139 as a Persian version of the Minor Prophets, containing Mic 1:13 to Mal 3:2. No. 140, the Haphtaroth in Hebrew, with the Persian version. The Hebrew has the vowels and accents; the Persian has no vowels, and is written in Persian (Arabic) letters. No. 141, Pentateuch with Persian version. The Hebrew text has the vowels. which often differ from our present system. The Persian version, which is written in smaller letters, and which follows, verse by verse, the original, differs very much from that published in the London Polyglot (vol. iv). No. 142, Job with the Persian (Job 23:14-29:24; Job 41:23-34 a); of the Hebrew, only the initial words of each verse are given (with vowels, but without accents.) On these manuscripts, comp. Harkavy and Strack, Catalog der Hebrdischen Bibelhanld. schriften in St. Petersburg (St. Petersburg and Leips. 1875), p. 165 sq.

There are two Persian versions of the Gospels, one of which is printed in the London Polyglot from a MS. belonging to Pococke, written in the year 1341. Its source is the Peshito, as internal evidence abundantly shows. It was published in Latin by Bode (Helmstadt, 1751). The other version was made from the original Greek. Wheloc, professor of Arabic in the University of Cambridge, began to print it with a Latin translation which was afterwards edited by Pierson (Lond. 165257). In our century, translations were published by the Bible Society, by Colebroke (Calcutta, 1805), by Martyn, The New Testament, Translated on the Greek into Persian (Lond. 1821).

On the Old-Testament versions, comp. Rosenmüller, De versione Pentateuchi Persica (Leips. 1813); Lorsbach, Jenaer All. Lit.-Zeitung, 1816, No. 58; Bernstein, in Berthold's Krit. Journ. vol. v, p. 21; Zunz, inl Geiger's Wissenschaftliche Zeitschrift (1839), 4:391; Fiirst, Bibl. Jud. 3:453; Gratz, Gesch. d. Juden (Leips. 1866), 10:34 sq.; Hatvernick, Introd. to the O.T. p. 350 sq.; Keil, Iutro d. 2:281; Simon, Histoire critique, p. 307; De Rossi, Dizionarion delli trtori Ebreei, p. 309 sq. (Germ. transl. by Hamburger); Munk, Version Persasne, in Cohen's Bibl (Paris, 1834), 9:134, etc., who institutes a comparison between the printed text of the Persian version and that of the MS., and gives an elaborate account of the MSS., as well as specimens of the translation of Lamentations (reprinted in his Notice sur Rabbi Saadia Gaon et sa version Arabe d'Is'ie, et sur une version Persane, manuscrite de la Bibliotheque royaele [Paris, 1838]), p. 62-87; but especially the latest work on Tawus's Pentateuch by Dr. A. Kohut, Kritische Belt uchtufng der Persischen Pentateuch- Uebersetzung des Jacob ben-Joseph Tavus, unter stetiger Riicksichtnahme auf die altesten Bibelversionen (Heidelb. and Leips. 1871), and Geiger's notice of this work in his Jidische Zeitschrift fur Wissenschaft und Leben (1872), 10:103 sq. (B. P.)

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