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JOURNAL OF SEMITIC STUDIES

VOLUME 9 NUMBER 2 AUTUMN I964

MEDIEVAL JEWISH EXEGESIS: ITS CHARACTER AND SIGNIFICANCE 1


By E R W I N I. J. ROSENTHAL

Any general estimate of Medieval Jewish exegesis must start from the contemporary attitude to the Hebrew Bible in the context of the dialogue between Judaism and Christianity.' There are, therefore, broadly speaking three lines of thought to be distinguished. The dominant factor is the riaim of the Church to represent the verus Israel and to have in the New Testament the fulfilment of the Old which is interpreted in a christological sense. Against this Christian claim the Jews put up a spirited defence of the Hebrew Bible as the word of God vouchsafed to the people of Israel in its full and perfect truth. The ensuing dialogue centred in the interpretation of the Hebrew Bible as the pike de risistance. The dialogue between Church and Synagogue was conducted, as is well known, on two fronts at the same time: in religious disputations forced by a militant Church on a reluctant Synagogue on the defensive, and in literary form in an extensive Commentary-literature and in special tracts. This paper is only concerned with the Hebrew commentaries of the High Middle Ages and rather with their general character than with their specific contribution to the relentless dialogue between the two faiths. For polemic is only one, though a vital, aspect of biblical interpretation as a whole. Medieval Jewish exegesis had, it is true, a twofold task: first and foremost the affirmation and strengthening of the faith of medieval Jewry and, closely linked with it, the defence of the Jewish position against Christian attack and missionary activity, with special reference to the divine-human nature and Messiahship of Christ and the continuing validity of the Torab or its abrogation.
Paper read before the Society for Old Testament Study at the Summer Meeting in Dublin on 19 July 1961.
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The touchstone was Hebraica veritas, the true meaning of the authentic word of God, in the linguistic and historical interpretation of the Old Testament. Now, we all know that this concept was not invented in the age of the Reformation and CounterReformation. It was already invoked by Jerome; but it is of the essence of medieval and modem exegesis that Hebraica veritas has assumed not only paramount significance, but a content and meaning quite distinct from and much wider than that understood by Jerome. It is in both instances the result of close contact between Christian and Jewish exegetes and provides the common ground on which they met and discussed in an attempt to arrive at the true mining of the Old Testament. On it the Jews took their stand in their defence of Judaism, and the Christians in their christological interpretation of the messianic passages of the Old Testament. Jerome arrived at the Hebraica veritas largely with the help of primarily aggadic interpretation transmitted by the taimudic scholars of his age (aerasb). On the other hand, Hebraica veritasy as the battle-cry of the Reformers in their attempt at establishing the authority of the Word of God, is the result of the literal interpretation, pesbaf. Again, pesbat is nothing new; but it assumed an importance unknown to earlier generations as the only effective weapon in the battle for the truth of the Bible. This weapon was primarily forged by Jews for Jews in the Middle Ages as the best means of safeguarding Judaism against Karaite and particularly against Christian attack. Pesbat became almost identified with Hebraica veritas and played a decisive part in the dialogue between Jews and Christiana. It is for this reason that I gave this paper its title: the diameter of medieval exegesis determined its twofold significance. For the Jews it served to buttress and'maintain their identity, and thus it perpetuated the challenge to the Christian claim to be the vents Israel. For the Christians, it served as the authentic means of attaining the Hebraica veritas. Medieval Jewish exegesis has thus a share in the consolidation of the Reformation and of Puritanism in this country. It is based on a deeper understanding of the Hebrew language through grammatical and lexicographical studies, more systematic and rational than anything that has gone before. These Jewish studies in response to a challenge from within, Karaism, and without, Islam and Christianity, have advanced the scientific exploration of the language of the Bible. But there is more to it than that: the linguistic attainment of medieval Jewish grammarians and lexicographers has.become 266

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the foundation for our modem scientific study of the Hebrew Bible. This was possible because in their quest for knowledge and truth they managed to isolate their research as far as this was humanly possible from the theological struggle between the two faiths for which the Old Testament serves as Holy Writ. But this does not mean that their labours were unrelated to the perennial need of explaining afresh the Bible for the benefit of every succeeding generation of Jews. On the contrary, the Jewish commentators writing in Aiabic and later in Hebrew made full use of these grammatical and lexicographical studies. In this way they became source and medium for the Christian Hebraists of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in what they conceived to be
Hebraica veritas.

Before we look at the linguistic foundation of medieval exegesis which transformed lihcpesbaf and secured its ascendancy over the derasb, let us sum up the foregoing by pointing ouf that it was the Muslim and especially the Christian challenge which forced the Jews to develop the method of rational, literal interpretation. In turn, Christian medieval exegetes had to recognize the plain sense as one of the four methods of Christian interpretation of Scripture: bistoria corresponds to pesbaf. Earlier, Origen and his disciples referred to the Jews as a carnalis pcpulus, as amid liter at, and called the literal meaning the sensus htdaicus. This is quite correct for the rabbis insisted that en miqrdyose mute pisbufo ("no verse in Scripture can lose its literal (plain) simple meaning "). The figurative explanation exists alongside with the plain meanings it cannot set it aside or replace it. Origen and the other Church Augustine tolerated the literal rp<*aning provided the Christiana adhered to the spiritual or mystical sense. This became the prevailing attitude in the Middle Ages. While the Jews had to accept metaphor and metaphorical interpretation-i only to combat anthropomorphismallegory and allegorizing exegesis were frowned upon with the sole exception of the Song of Songs. At the same time, we find that the medieval exegetes like Rashi and his successors, Qimhi, Abraham b. F-*ra and others explicitly linkthe/wAzfwith the "answer" or rejoinder to the Christians. This is clear evidence of the connexion between literal interpretation and anti-Christian polemic The frequency with which polemical expressions occur in medieval Jewish commentaries testifies to the grave danger which the Jews had to face, and also shows how these commentaries served a real need in the life and thought of 267 -
Fathers opposed to this sensus htdaicus the sensus mystiats, but

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medieval Jewry. There is nothing academic about the refutation of Christian interpretation, and yet we find that, forced on the defensive, the Jews had to pay close attention to the structure of the Hebrew of the Bible and to the historical connexion of messianic prophecies which, as such,, did much to sustain the Jews and to fire them with faith and hope. The by-product of this defence is the scientific study of the Hebrew language as an academic discipline alongside the classical languages. The proper study of Hebrew begins with Saadya Gaon (882942) under the direct threat from the Karaites.. His grammatical and lexicographical pioneering efforts kid the foundations for the many commentaries written in Spain, France and Germany. Saadya is naturally influenced by Arab grammarians, in bis classification of Hebrew into nouns, verbs and particles, as also in his terminology. Masoretic studies were his starting-point and he applied to the explanation of biblical nouns and verbs the principle of the unity and continuity of the Hebrew language from the Old Testament over Mishnah and Talmud to his own age. He made use of his linguistic studies in his Arabic commentaries and translations of the Pentateuch, Isaiah, Proverbs and Job, as part of his literal interpretation, at which he arrived by using traditional rabbinic interpretationin so far as it was compatible with his linguistic understanding of the Hebrew textand also by applying his reason. For he was trained in Muslim philosophy and theology no less than in the secular sciences of his age which were the fruit of the renaissance of Hellenistic Greek science and philosophy. Next to Karaism it was Muslim rationalist theology which caused Saadya to concentrate on ptsbat and to lay down precise conditions for allowing an inner, hidden meaning. If the literal sense runs counter to reason or established tradition or is in opposition to another biblical passage, then and then only is a figurative interpretation permissible and called for. (I have dealt at length with his exegesis elsewhere and must therefore confine myself to a few remarks on his aim and method.) Just as the language of the Bible is a unity, so is the Bible itself, both as a wholeand in every one of its several books. Already his translation islike every translation of courseinterpretation. He says of it that it is a " simple, explanatory translation of the text of the Torab written with the knowledge of reason and tradition". He prefaces his comments with a short summary of the contents of the book and of its difficulties which he solves with the help of reason and linguistic knowledge. He has recourse to a 268

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metaphorical interpretation, but eschews allegory, typology or symbolism. It may be he is influenced by Christian exegesis in this restriction, the common property of rabbinic exegesis. On his exegesis, no less than on Arabic linguistic studies, is based the great advance of biblical studies in Muslim and Christian Spain, after the decline of the Babylonian centre. Here the dividing line between ptshat and derash became more marked, dose attention to grammar and syntax helped to bring" out the literal meaning of Scripture. Past history now exerted a strong influence on the i-hinlring of the interpreters, no doubt stimulated by a flourishing Arabic historiography. The historical books of the Bible were treated as historical records until, at the end of the period, Abravanel added extra-biblical and non-Hebrew, classical sources in his exposition of the Bible. In about 960 Menahem b. Sariiq initiated the intensive study of Hebrew in Europe with his Hebrew Dictionary, ma^bmth. Dunash b. Labrat effectively challenged Menahem, and a lively discussion of grammatical points and problems was carried on by the disciples of both. Dunash wrote on strong and weak verbs and foreshadowed the theory of triliteral roots in important points. But it was left to Hayyuj of Fez to present a scientific theory of triliteralism of the Hebrew verb. Menahem occupies a position midway between Saadya and Hayyuj in that he tried to present the Hebrew verb systematically in form and meaning, on the basis of reason and study "and from the context. He recognized the parallelism of Hebrew poetry, at least as far as synonymous parallelism (of the two verse halves) is concerned. like Saadya he often explains a biblical word by a mishnaic one, claiming unity and continuity of the language. The Targum naturally is often adduced in determining the meaning of a biblical word. Dunash's criticism drew its strength from a systematic investigation of morphology, grammar and syntax and was informed through a scholarly comparison between Hebrew, Aramaic and Arabic He also drew on the Masora and rabbinic rules of interpretation. As already mentioned, he is groping for triliteralism, rejects single-letter roots and tries to replace biliteral with triliteral roots. But only with Hayyuj docs Hebrew grammar reach full scientific status and significance. By applying his theory of triliteralism to the weak verbs he succeeded in accounting for the vowel changes and for the different grammatical forms, and formulated relevant laws. He also made a distinct contribution to the, better understanding of the Hebrew noun. 269

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Writing in Arabic, he throughout employs the terminology of Arabic grammar. His treatise on vocalization shows familiarity with Saadya's treatment of the sbiwa. His work was completed by 'Abdul Walid Merwan ibn Janah, better known by bis Hebrew name, R. Yonah. His aim was from the start a better and more correct understanding of the Bible text; he was not primarily a grammarian, But he systematically cultivated the comparative linguistics of Hebrew, Aramaic and Arabic and succeeded in perfecting the researches of his declared master Hayyuj, thanks to his original investigations the results of which he embodied in his principal work in two parts: grammar and dictionary. The latter under the title Book of Roots is the direct source for David Qimhi's dictionary of the same title which has pushed it aside, R. Yonah's attitude to rabbinic exegesis is critical on the basis of an advanced linguistic knowledge which, moreover, extended to questions of biblical style and diction. Thus his Dictionary is in itself a significant contribution to biblical exegesis. It was translated into Hebrew by Judah b. Tibbon. Hayyuj's writings in Arabic were made available to Hebrew speaking and writing Spanish and French Jews through translations made by Moses ibn Gikatilla of Cordova whose philological interpretations of many biblical passages are preserved in Abraham b. Ezra's writings. He also attempted to give a historical explanation: thus he refers some Psalms to the Exile anrl assigns Deutero-Isaiah to the Second Commonwealth. His rationalistic interpretation of the miracles was rejected by his compatriot Judah ibn Balaam who favoured the traditional view. Ibn Balaam's Commentary on Isaiah shows Saadya's influence. For chronological reasons, before dealing with Abraham ibn Ezra, the foremost exegete of Spain, we now turn to Northern France. Unlike their Spanish colleagues the French were without exception deeply learned in the Talmud. Hence, traditional exegesis played a great part in their own interpretation of the Hebrew Bible, with the result that the borderline between pesbaf and derasb is sometimes rather fluid. But because of the Christian challenge they all stress the literal interpretation which, following in the wake of the great master Rashi, they link with the"answer" to the Christians. The more bitter and relentless the conflict between the Church and the Synagogue became, the closer personal contact between these French exegetes and Chriri g hl f France and E l d grew. Their extensive commend England Th scholars of F
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taries formed together with those of Ibn Ezra and Qimhi the armoury of the Reformers and have found a permanent echo in the Authorized Version. It is usual to speak of David Qimhi in connexion with the entry of Jewish exegesis into Christian biblical scholarship in the Middle Ages and especially during the Reformation and after. This is correct as far as grammar and lexicography are concerned, and his comments arc certainly to be met with frequently in Latin and English commentaries on books of the Old Testament, and in the Latin translation of Sebastian Munster and the English versions down to the Authorized Version, no less than the Catholic Douay Bible. But first place should go to Rashi (R. Solomon b. Isaac of Troyes, 1040-96) and his school, as is clear from the important studies of Dr Smalley, especially on the school of St Victor, R. Loewe's work on Herbert of Bosham, and some earlier efforts of my own as far as the Reformers are concerned. His simple, often pithy, exposition has made a lasting impact on Jews and Christians alike. While there may be a little too much derash contained in his commentaries, his literal interpretation has set the pace for the French schools of Jewish and Christian exegetes. It is based on the best of previous rabbinic exegesis and on Menahem b. Sariiq's mabberetb and is informed with, for his time, sound, advanced linguistic knowledge and afinespontaneous feeling for the meaning of the Word of God. Hence, Reuchlin named him ordmarius Scripturae interpret, a phrase echoed in John Rainolds's "the author of their ordinary gloss" which we find in his commentaries on Haggai and Obadiah. Already Nicholas of Lyre reflects Rashi's exegesis so that Reuchlin could say that not much would be left of Nicholas's Postillae were we to take out the many references to "Rabi Salomon". Rashi was a principal source for Sebastian Munster, who bequeathed his comments to Coverdale, the Genevan and Bishops' Bibles and especially to the Authorized Version. Rashi was to them the embodiment of Hebraica veritas, perhaps chiefly because he utilized rabbinic tradition judiciously in his striving for the plain, literal meaning of Scripture. As remarked earlier on, Rashi linked thtpesbaf with the objection to christological interpretation of many passages in the Pentateuch, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel or the Psalms. We must remember that Rashi wrote in the first place for his generation of hard-pressed Jews in an atmosphere that produced the Crusades. Hence, we often find references to contemporary events, for example in his comments on Isa. liii. 9 or Ps. xxxviii. 18. He lived with his
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people and mixed with Christians -in his native town and on his travels. What is important is that in order to combat Christian interpretation he was prepared to depart from traditional exposition. For, to repeat, the first requirement for medieval Jewish exegetes was to provide for their generation a meaningful, satisfying interpretation of the Hebrew Bible in the course of which they had to answer Christian interpretations. If they had not done so the Jews might have succumbed in large numbers to Christian attempts at conversion. The danger was very real, and onlypesbat could avert it. Pesbat meant correct linguistic analysis and historical interpretation. Messianic prophecies must not refer to the Second Commonwealth but to the end-time, hence dose attention was paid to proving that these predictions had not actually been fulfilled during the period of the Second Temple. (Cf. Rashi's comment on Ps. ii: David is meant, not Jesus; Ps. xv refers to Israel, not to the Church. Edom is Rome; the Kittim mean Christian Rome; Zech. ix. 4 refers to the days of the Messiah, not to the Second Temple. For a departure from traditional exegesis cf. his interpretation of Ps. ix, x, xxi, of the Servant Songs in Isa. lii-liii, or of Zech. vi. 2.) This kind of anti-Christian polemic is common to all Jewish medieval exegetes, notably to Qimhi. They were aware that it would not be enough simply to reject the christological interpretation. What was more important was a positive interpretation by asserting that a biblical historical person or vent was meant and, especially, if this was linguistically and historically possible, that the passage in question contained a promise of the future redemption of Israel which all Jews then eagerly expected. Naturally, when assessing the objective scientific value of Jewish exegesis we must bear in mind that it was bound up with the facts and the spirit of the times. Hence, the conflict between the Church and the Synagogue looms large in Hebrew literature as do messianic hope and eschatological expectancy. Especially the latter is heightened by the fact that eschatology is not absent from the movement of the Crusades either. Everyday life is also reflected in the commentaries, especially of Rashi and his school. They use a large number of French glosses, lo'asym, many of which are the only extant witness to medieval French usage. They were meant for the ordinary Jewish reader and were to convey the exact meaning of a difficult word or phrase in the Hebrew. In passing it may be stated that apart from Rashi's commentary on the Pentateuch, those on Isaiah, the Minor Prophets and the Psalms were only published
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some twenty years ago in critical editions made from uncensored manuscripts. It is worth noting once more that the medieval commentaries not only reflect the conflict between the Church and the Synagogue, but also the dialogue between Jewish and Christian scholars. They met to discover the true meaning of the Bible. It is unlikely that the Christians could have obtained the Jewish interpretation from an independent study of the Hebrew commentaries in manuscript; they needed the help of individual Jews. In turn, they acquainted the Jews with the Vulgate, the interpretation of the Church Fathers and their own interpretations employing the fourfold method of biblical interpretation as it was evolved by the Venerable Bede and Hrabanus Maurus. One instance may be quoted: Qimhi frequently uses the terms gupbanitb and rubanitb, which exactly correspond to the Christian exegetical
terms corporealiter and spiritualiter.

Time does not permit me to discuss Rashi's successors in detail. Suffice it to mention his grandson R. Samuel b. Meir whose commentary on the Pentateuch shows how the method oipesbaf was developed by him into a fine art. He was not a trained grammarian but had an exceptionally fine feeling for the language of the Bible. This led him to disagree with traditional Jewish exegesis, using his own sound judgement. Let me illustrate this with his interpretation of shilob in Gen. xlix.. 10. He says that neither the Jewish nor the Christian interpretations are compatible with the strictly literal mining. It does not refer to Jesus, the Vulgate is wrong with its qui mitttndus est. Jewish reference to the promised Messiah is equally untenable. Shiloh is, he avers, the name of a town, near Shechem, to which the king of Judah, Rehaboam son of Solomon, is to come. Abraham b. Ezra (d. 1167) cites this explanation among others without mentioning its author. Next to Rashi's, Abraham b. Ezra's commentary on the Pentateuch is most widely studied by Jews. It shares with his other commentaries qualities quite peculiar to Abraham b. Ezra: remarkable insight into the theological and ethical content of the Bible; sound grammatical learning and wide secular knowledge as is to be expected of a Jew living in Spain. He mediated the results of the Spanish school of exegesis to the Jews of Italy and France, excelling them all in strict application of the literal method of interpretation. But he also liberally sprinkles his comments with hints and allusions to secrets hidden in commandments, stories and expressions of the
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Bible. Far in advance of his time in his literary criticism of the text of the Pentateuch and of Isaiah, for example, he shared the traditional acceptance of the Pentateuch as Mosaic. But he held that some additions were made to the Pentateuch after Moses and he distinguished a Second Isaiah from the First, at least he hinted at it. But he was not a higher critic; no medieval Jew or Christian could be such in the climate of the age. Only in respect of the Song of Songs did he accept an allegorical meaning alongside the literal one. He furnishes a threefold explanation: first of all, he sets out to explain every obscure word linguistically, then he explains the simple mining of the whole book and lastly he expounds the inner meaning in accordance with the method of derash. He has left us a precise statement on his own method of interpretation contrasting it with four other methods. The Geoninf (heads of the Babylonian academies) include too much extraneous material; by leaving tradition out of consideration the Karaites fail to understand Scripture; Rashi and his school incorporate too much midrashic material instead of making use of the results of the scientific study of Hebrew and of following the dictates of reason. For only a consistent application of the laws of the Hebrew language and of logic can lead to an understanding of the plain meaning of the text. Therefore, he also rejects the fourth method of interpretation, that of the Christian sages who allegorize everything, even the laws, statutes and ordinances of the Torab. As an adherent of tradition, which includes the acceptance of the Halakbah as obligatory on every Jew, he maintains that every commandment must be interpreted literally. But he admits that the Torab contains secrets like the stories of the tree of knowledge or of paradise. Of Qimhi's exegesis I need say nothing, since Dr Baker has fully dealt with it and I discuss his anti-Christian polemic elsewhere. The Qimhi family shared Ibn Ezra's attitude and method, and their grammatical and lexicographical writings formed an important element in the equipment of the Christian Hebraists of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, In Don Isaac Abravanel (1437-1509) we meet with the last medieval commentator of outstanding merit. Since exegesis reflects the.life of the times so vividly, we are not surprised that the man who epitomizes the best in biblical scholarship among medieval Jews should have paid special attention to messianic promises on the eve of the Jewish expulsion from Spain and in the wake of this disaster. Therefore, references to the events of his

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time abound in his commentaries, particularly in that on Daniel and in his treatise comprising all the messianic passages in the Bible, none of which had been realized during the Second Commonwealth but which were going to be fulfilled soon to bring Jewish suffering to a speedy end. His work as a. commentator exhibits some features which, despite his dependence on earlier Jewish and Christian exegetes, are quite his own. His method is scholastic; he carefully reviews earlier exegesis and then gives his own interpretation. Of Christian scholars he mentions Jerome, Bede, Isidore of Seville, Albertus Magnus and Nicholas of Lyre, and Paul of Burgos, a Jewish convert to Christianity. His knowledge of affairs gained in the service of Christen princes, chief among them the king of Spain who decreed the expulsion of the Jews, makes his criticism of predecessors realistic and sound. With this he combined considerable knowledge of past history gleaned from Latin chronicles and such Jewish historical, writings as Josippon and Abraham ibn Da'ud's sefer baqqabbaJab. He anticipated the modem science of introduction to the Old Testament by his serious discussion of date and authorship of the Historical Books and of the Hagibgrapha, and of chronological and literary difficulties in the text. While he is critical of much of traditional exegesis he is rather conservative in sticking to pesbat within the confines of the text itself, aided by a judicious use of rabbinic interpretation. Only if a literal interpretation runs counter to reason will he reluctantly admit a figurative explanation. His conservatism and highly critical attitude to philosophy and philosophical exegesis are due to the contemporary situation, which imposed a certain rigidity and withdrawal into strictly traditional Judaism. So much for the dominant characteristic of medieval Jewish exegesis, the great stress on the pesbat. Two other tendencies, though outside the main stream of exegetical activity with its predominantly practical purpose, must at least be mentioned: the philosophical and mystical explanations of the Hebrew Bible. Both can be accommodated under the general heading of derasb, though they widely differed from the midrashic method of edifying comment of an ethical nature. A strictly rational interpretation of Scripture was never entirely absent since anthropomorphism had to be combated, witness already the Targum. But in the High Middle Ages we are encountering a rational explanation in answer to the challenge of Hellenistic Greek philosophy. Divine Revelation was a historical

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fact accepted by all Jews since it was witnessed by the children of Israel assembled at the foot of Mt Sinai. The truth of revelation was accepted as an axiom of faith, but it had to be shown to be identical with philosophical truth arrived at by demonstrative argument. Saadya had tried to balance reason with trustworthy tradition, his successors often set aside the plain meaning through reading Aristotelian concepts into the Bible. Maimonides' Guide to the Perplexed is largely philosophical interpretation of the Bible; for him, its figurative meaning was in harmony with Aristotle. But Maimonides took good care not to undermine the foundations of the Torab; thus he accepted creation out of nothing and rejected the concept of the eternity of matter; providence or reward and punishment were religious doctrines essential for the life and faith of the people of Israel and had to be accepted literally. But he interpreted the angels as Aristotle's separate intelligences, and aroused fierce opposition since allegorical interpretation was dangerous, especially in view of the use the Church made of it in its interpretation of the Old Testament. Philosophical speculation was considered dangerous, but in the skilful hands of Maimonides and Gersonides it appealed to those intellectuals who had fallen under the spell of Aristotelian philosophy and could thus retain their loyalty to Judaism on the intellectual plane. That Thomas Aquinas thought highly of Maimonides' biblical exegesis may at least be mentioned in passing. Of the mystical exegesis of the Bible from the twelfth century onwards little need be said in our context. The mystics insist like the rationalist thinkers on the inner, hidden mining of Scripture, which they value higher than the plain, literal meaning. But very rarely have they permitted themselves an attitude and even less a practice which could be called antinomian: so strong in their case also was the adherence to the rabbinic principle that the plain sense must not be lost sight of and that it was binding on the preceptive side. Between 1150 and 1250 there arose a mystical movement in Germany, probably under the impact of the Franciscan "spirituals", which found eloquent expression in biblical exegesis of a pietist and devotional character. The movement spread to Spain where Nachmanides (1195-1270) gave the most profound expression to it in his important commentary on the Torab. Though thepesbaf predominates, securing wide acceptance among the Jews, the commentary is full of mystical allusions. His disciple Bahya b. Asher employs in his commentary on 276

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the Torab four methods of exegesis: pesbat, midrash, sekhel and qabbalab.

The first two are traditional, the third is philosophical strictly within the confines of text and tradition, and the fourth is new, combining both reme\ and sod, allusion and mystery. The four more or less correspond to the usage in the basic mystical work of the Middle Ages, the Zobar, which was so popular among the Jews for centuries and also led to the kabbalistic vogue among Christians in the sixteenth century. What is so significant is that the four methods are none other than the four Christian modes of interpretation, adapted to Jewish concepts and needs: pesbat is to anagoga. Scripture can have more than one meaning, and all is well as long as the different meanings exist alongside each other and none ousts the basic, literal mining on which the survival of Judaism and the Jews depended. All four methods were practised 1 order to arrive at the truth of the Bible. The Jewish exegetes were concerned to give their generations that moral and spiritual support which their faith based on the Bible needed. In doing their duty, they have also provided an exposition of the Bible which enabled the Reformers to give their co-religionists a translation of the Old Testament authentic within the limits of the biblical scholarship of the time and representing that Hebraica veritas the translators of the Bishops' Bible were instructed by Archbishop Parker to work for. They were enjoined "for the verity of the Hebrew to follow... Pagnine (Santes Pagnino) and Miinster specially, and generally others learned in the tongues ". In fact, Monster's exposition found an entry into the Great Bible, from there into the Genevan and thence into the Bishops' Bible. But it was left to the latter's chief editor, Archbishop Parker, to demand that his team of translators should follow Munster specially. There can be no doubt that the English versions owe much to Mtinster's Latin translation of the Old Testament, or that the informed, careful use of Jewish exegesis by Munster is responsible for their greater accuracy, their much closer approach to Hebraica veritas. How did Munster acquire the considerable knowledge of Hebrew and of Jewish exegesis which he considered essential for his task of translating the Old Testament? Through his teacher Conrad Pellicanus, himself the disciple of Reuchlin, Munster became acquainted with Reuchlin's Rjidimenta which are based on Qimhi's Sefer baMikhlol. But of

bistoria; dtrasb corresponds to tropologia; reme^ to allegoric; and sod

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more direct and lasting influence was his Jewish teacher Elijah Levita whose Masoretic studies had a profound effect on the English Hebraists of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries as well. Reuchlin, and more so Levita, provided him with a sound grammatical knowledge, and the new art of printing put the more important rabbinic commentaries, many major and minor Midrasbim, Hebrew chronicles and halakhic works in his hands. Rashi's commentary on the Torab was published in 1475; Qimhi's dictionary in 1480, his grammar in 1 j 32-4, both also a little later with Levita's annotations. The Bomberg edition of the rabbinic Bible, the Miqra'dtb Gedo/otb, enabled Miinster to publish his edition of the Hebrew text with the Masoretic accents and his Latin translation in 1537, and with fuller notes in 1546. He tells us that his aim in translation was to give simply Hebraica veritas with the help of the Jewish exegetes, whose works he used "not as oracles, but with discrimination". He consulted, so he writes, before all the Targum which he often finds clearer than the Hebrew text; Rashi,Qimhi, Ibn Ezra, Menahem di Recanati and Nachmanides' adherents of the mystical interpretation of Scripture. He defends his adherence to Hebraismus (against Steuchus), saying that this Hebraism has sometimes forced him to coin new Latin words unfamiliar to the ear in order to render Scripture more faithfully, for example herbifitart for berbam producere (Gen. i. 11) or reptificare for reptile multiplicare (Gen. L 20). He strove in his translation to make Christians understand the Old Testament as the foundation on which the New rests, for there is nothing in the New Testament that has not been foreshadowed in the Old. His vast knowledge of grammatical and exegetical Jewish works enabled him to produce a model translation as we know from Archbishop Parker's injunction. Much of the Jewish exegesis which went into the making of the finest monument to Hebraica veritas, the Authorized Version, goes back to Munster. The foremost defender of that translation from the Hebrew original was the Cambridge Regius Professor of Hebrew* Edward Lively, who combined sound classical learning with a competent knowledge of Hebrew language and literature, mainly through Mtinster's translations of Levita's grammatical, lexicographical and Masoretic writings. Thus, he attaches great importance to the accents in his interpretation of Dan. lx. 24-7 and insists on the correctness of the 'atbndb under sbibb'db (v. 25). To ignore it would destroy the true meaning of the passage. He sums up his position thus: "As I finde in the Hebrew
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so I have Englished, that is, the truthe of interpretation, be it understood as it may." His chief opponent was Hugh Broughton, and their dispute well illustrates " The Battle of the Vowel points " which had such an important bearing on the question of the antiquity and authenticity of the original word of God. He defends the Jews against the charge of falsifying and corrupting Scripture and wrote a special treatise in defence of the Hebrew Old Testament. The Hebrew text is "a fountaine wherin the most deare and perfect truth of the ould testament is conteyned". Neither Septuagint nor Vulgate "doth so purely expresse the divine and infallible truth of god his holy word. But as well the one as the other in infinit places errounious and faulty. So shall it deariy appeare that we do well in following the Hebrew, and not amisse in refusing those interpretadons." He would rather turn to the Jewish exegetes whose care for every letter of the Hebrew word of God he commends and whose interpretation, if sound, he unhesitatingly follows. Reverence for the word of God prompted the translators of the Authorized Version to apply linguistic and historical analysis to their task, in which they allowed themselves to be guided by medieval Jewish grammatical and exegetical works. Present translators of the Old Testament can no longer have that absolute faith in the authentic transmission of the original word of God. Textual and literary critidsm as evolved in modem biblical scholarship have made the task of faithful translation infinitdy more complex and difficult. SHORT BIBLIOGRAPHY
I. GRAMMATICAL AND LEXICOGRAPHICAL WORKS

Hayyuj, Two Trtatists on Vtrbs containing FttbU and Doubl* Litters, ed. J. W. Nutt, London, 1870. AW I WaliiMtrwan ibn D/andb, Optuadts et Traitis, ed. J. and H. Derenbourg, Paris, 1880. Abuhvalii Marwan ibn Jandb, Srpbtr Hascboraubim, ed. W. Bacher, Berlin, 1896. (Hebrew transL of Dictionary by Judah b. Tibbon.) David Qimhi, Book of Roots, ed. Biesenthal and Lebrecht, Berlin, 1847. Ubtr Responsiomu*, ed. S. G. Stern, Vienna, 1870. (Controversy about Menahem b. Saruq by his disciples and opponents.)
IL CRITICAL EDITIONS OF MEDIEVAL HEBREW COMMENTARIES ON BOOKS OF THE OLD TESTAMENT

Rashi: Commtntarius in Ptntattutbum, ed. A. Berliner, 2nd ed. Frankfurt, .190 5. German translation by S. Bamberger, Rasebis Ptntattucbkommtntar, 279

MEDIEVAL JEWISH EXEGESIS Hamburg, 1922; Parsbandatba, ed. J. Maarsen, pt. nIsaiah: Jerusalem, I953;pt. 1The Minor ProphetB: Jer. 1936; pt. inPsalms: unobtainable, but cf. Judah Rosenthal, Tbe Anti-Christian Polemic in Rasbi's Com-

mentarits on tbe Tnakb (Hebrew), in the Rashi volume pubL by the World Jewish Congress, also S. Poznanski's introduction to bis edition of
EJityer of Beaugncy; Rasbi on Eqekiel xl-xhnii, ed. Abr. J. Levy, Philadelphia, 1931; Pentattueb, with Targttm Onkelos, Hapbtarotb and Praytrs for Sabbatb andRasbi's Centmentary,taos....and annotated by M. Rosenbaum

and A. M. Silbermann, London, 1929-32. (I have only seen 3 volumes of this, the third being Leviticus); Rasbi on Genesis, L. Loewe. London,
1928.

R. Samuel b. Meir: Kommentar vyim Pentateuch, ed. D. Rosin, Breslau, 1881. Abraham b. Ezra: cf. M. Friedlaender, Essays on tbe Writings of Abraham ibn E%ro, TV, London, 1877. (Contains the Hebrew introduction to his commentary on Genesis, quoted in the paper.) David Qimhi: Isaiah i-xxxix, ed. L. Finkelstein, New York, 1926; Nahum, ed. W. Windfuhr, Giessen, 1927; Hosea, ed. H. Cohen, New York,
1929; Psalms: Tbe First Book of Psalms with tbe Longer Commentary ofR.

David Qimcbi, ed. S. Schiller-Szinessy, Cambridge, 1883 (Pss. i-viii transL A. W. Greenup, London, 1918); Second Book (xlii-tmi), ed. S. I. Esterson in H.U.C~A. x (193 j); no critical edition of third and fourth
books exists; Tbe Commentary on tbe Fifth Book of Psalms, ed. J. Bosniak,

New York, 1954. (Further references in my article in J.JJ., below.)

cf.

III. STUDIES DEALING WITH MEDIEVAL COMMENTARIES W. Bacher, Die Bibtkxtgtn vom Anjang des 10. bis %um Ends des 15. J abr bunderts,

in: Winter u. Wunsche, Die Judixcbe Utteratur..., (Important, basic, masterly survey.)

vol. 2, Trier, 1894.

Die Bibelexeffse der judiscben Religionspbilosopben des Mittelalters vor Maimuni, Strasbourg, 1892, and Die Bibilexegese Maimunis, 1897. Lebtn u. Werke d. Abdul Merwan b. Gandb u. d. Quellen seiner Scbrifterkldrung, Leipzig, 1885. S. R. Driver and Ad. Neubauer, Tbe Fifty-third Chapter of Isaiah ace. to tbe

Jewish Interpreters. Texts and translations, Oxford, 1876. I. Heinemann, "Die wissenschafdiche Allegoristik d. jud. Mittelalters", in H.U.C.A. xxm, 1950-1. (Especially for the Church Fathers.) H. Liebeschutz, "The Crusading Movement in its Bearing on the Christian Attitude towards Jewry", in J.JJ. x, 1959. (Deals with the religious issues, especially eschatology.) H. Loewe and J. B. Trend (eds.),Ir*v Abravanel, Cambridge, 1937. R. J. Loewe, "Herbert of Bosham's Commentary on Jerome's Hebrew Psalter", in Btblica, xxxiv, 1953. J. Pereira-Mendoza, Rasbi as Pbiloloffst, Manchester, 1940. A. Poznanski, Scbilob, Leipzig, 1904.
S. Poznanski, Elie^er of Beaugsncy's Commentaries on E^tkiel and tbe Minor

Prophets, Warsaw, 1910-13. (Especially Introduction (German).) Erwin L J. RosenthaL "Rashi and the English Bible", in Bulletin of tbe John
Rylands Library, xxrv, 1 (1940).

280

MEDIEVAL JEWISH EXEGESIS r - "Don Isaac Abravanel: Financier, Statesman and Scholar", ibid, XXL, 2 (i937)" Saadya Gaon: An Appreciation of his Biblical Exegesis ", ibid, xxvn,
1 (1942)-

Saadya Studies (ed.), Manchester, 1942. (Several contributions on his grammatical and exegetical studies, among others my Saadya's Exegesis of the Book of Job.) "Sebastian Munster's Knowledge and Use of Jewish Exegesis",.in Essays presented to DrJ. H. Hert\, ed. I. Epstein, E. Levine and C Roth, London, 1943. (This essay, that on Rasbi and the English Bible and that on Edward Lively deal fully with the influence of Jewish exegesis on the Reformers and the English versions of the Old Testament from Tindale to the Authorized Version, with illustrations.) Edward Lively: Cambridge Hebraist, in Essays and Studies presented to Stanley A. Cook, ed. D. Winton Thomas, London, 1950. "Anti-Christian Polemics in Medieval Bible Commentaries", in Journal of Jewish Studies, xi (i960). "Medieval Jewish Exegesis of the Hebrew Bible", being ch. 7 (e) of The Cambridge History of the Bible in the West, voL r, ed. G. W. H. Lampe to be published by the Cambridge University Press. Judah RosenthaL cf. above, p. 280, L 3. G. Scholcm, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism*, London, 195 5. S. L. Skoss, Saadia Gaon, th* Earliest Hebrew Grammarian, Philadelphia, 195 j Beryl Smalley, "Andrew of St Victor, Abbot of Wigmore: A Twelfth Century Hebraist", in Ruberebes Tbiologiquts Antiennts et Midievales, x. "The School of Andrew of St Victor", ibid. xi. The Study of the Bible in the Middle Ages*, Oxford, 1952. J. Weingreen, "The Rabbinic Approach to the Study of the Old Testament", in Bulletin oftbt John Rylands Library, xxxrv, 1 (1951).

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