Friday, June 26, 2009

Dating the Zohar and Chajes' mistake

From Hutner-David's Ph.d on Chajes:

"In an attempt to establish the Geonic era as the period for the composition of the Targum on the Book of Ecclesiastes, Chajes states : "I found [ in this Targum] names of angels not mentioned in the Talmud, such as . . . Raziel . . . in Chapter Ten. . . . "46 Citing the name of Raziel in the Tarqum as an argument for the Targum ' s Geonic origin makes sense only if one takes for granted that the name of Raziel first appeared i n Hebrew writings dating from the Geonic era. It is true that Raziel is not mentioned i n the Talmud, , but it does appear countless times in the Zohar. 47 Accordingly, Chajes ' comment implies that he must have believed the Zohar also to date back only to the Geonic period rather than to the Tanna, Shimon bar Yohai."

In fact Raziel appears in one of the incantation bowls dating to the 5th century:

Rav Ashi b. Mahlafta (Tarshish bowl JA1). A Rabbi of this name appears in the Bavli and seems to have lived at the end of the fourth to early fifth centuries. Incidentally, he was a contemporary of Huna b. Natan. This case is probably the most significant, since Ashi is not a common name, and only one person in rabbinic literature, of extreme importance for talmudic history, carries the title. The text of the bowl is itself fascinating. Typical beginning:אסו[תא] מ[ן שמיא תהוי לר]ב אשי בר מחלפתא... but things quickly get interesting. There is a visionary, hekhalot poetic section about God:

"? is his name, ש is his name, Amotz is his name, rwy is his name, Raziel is his name....King of king of kings is his name, kzyh is his name, which burns he repairs (it) above and over the highest heavens, in the palace of fire and hail, including its chariots and the heaven..."

[Notes: The above discussion is not to be confused with the Sefer Raziel which is supposed to have been authored by the angel Raziel. Shadal is rather sarcastic about Raziel's rather un-angelic habit of careless plagiarism (Shadal refers here to his plagiarism from Shabsi Donnelo, and elsewhere to his plagiarism from R Eliezer Rokeach's writings.) ]


joshwaxman said...

"A Rabbi of this name appears in the Bavli and seems to have lived at the end of the fourth to early fifth centuries."
who is this? the famous rav ashi? this would word with Huna b. Natan. but is there evidence that Rav Ashi's father's name was Machlafta?
otherwise, where is Rav Ashi bar Machlafta in the Bavli?


Academic Talmud said...

the names in the bowls go by the matronymic since it was conceived as a kind of refuah. Mahlafta is a woman's name.

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