Monday, February 16, 2009

Rashbam and Vulgate

A fascinating Rashbam in (Exodus 11:13) writes:

לא תרצח - כל רציחה - הריגה בחנם היא בכל מקום. מות יומת הרוצח. הרצחת וגם ירשת. צדק ילין בה ועתה מרצחים. אבל הריגה ומיתה יש בחנם כמו: ויהרגהו דקין. ויש בדין כמו: והרגת את האשה. ומה שכתוב: אשר ירצח את רעהו בבלי דעת, לפי שמדבר בענין רוצח במזיד, לכך הוא אומר: ואם רציחה זו בבלי דעת פטור. זו תשובה שהשבתי לאפיקורסים והודו לי. ואף על פי שיש בספריהם אני אמית ואחיה בלשון לטי"ן של לא תרצח, הם לא דקדקו

And this is a refutation of the heretics, and they have conceded the point to me. Even though their own books state "I kill, and I make alive" (in Deuteronomy 32:39) --using the same Latin root as for "thou shalt not murder"--they are not being precise

(taken from Daat and translation from Segal)

See here for Rosin's critical edition of Rashbam. If someone has Martin Lockshin's edition of Rashbam I 'd be interested to hear his take.

[Update: Prof. Lockshin was kind enough to send me his note to that Rashbam:

Klausner (Leshonenu 21 {1957], p. 201) concludes from this pasage that Rashbam knew Latin. As far as I know there is no evidence to prove such an assertion other than this passage. Arguably Rashbam may not have really known Latin but may have discussed this exegetical issue sufficiently with his Christian interlocutors to know that the Vulgate does not distinguish between רצח and הרג. On the issue of the knowledge of Latin by medieval Jews, see the many sources cited by Ephraim Kanarfogel in Jewish Education and Society in the High Middle Ages, footnote 37, pp. 169-170. In any case one does see clearly from this passage that Rashbam discussed issues of biblical exegesis with Christians, even a passage such as this that is not a central one in the hio\story of Jewish-Christian polemics.

Ad kan.

In my Hebrew version of Rashbam with Notes, to be published very soon by חורב, I say even more clearly that I really doubt that Rashbam knew any significant amount of Latin. And I remain convinced that it is doing a disservice to Rashbam to suggest that he was interested in discussing with Christians only those verses that are central in Jewish-Christian polemics.

He also directs us to an article by Gerald Bildstein in Judaism 14 (1965) and to this article by Eliezer Segal]

At the moment I have Morris Berger's Harvard Ph.d on Rashbam who writes pg. 156:

(He points to the words "the Minim told me" as possible proof that the Rashbam did not understand Latin and only knew of the Vulgate from others.)

I had thought that the verse "I kill and make live" had been somehow used by the Christians as proof for the birth, death, and 2nd coming of Yeshu but the Rashbam is only bringing this verse incidentally so I don't think this is correct. Suggestions?

[Yitzhak sends us to Philologos's column where he writes:

The conventional wisdom on the Jewish side has been that Christian translators preferred “Thou shalt not kill” for religious reasons: namely, that as representatives of the religion of “turn the other cheek,” they were uncomfortable with the distinction made by the Hebrew Bible between murder, which is the forbidden taking of human life, and killing, the sometimes permissible taking of human life in self-defense. ]

[A similar polemical Rashbam which refers to the Vulgate can be found in Genesis 49:10 (the polemical passage does not appear in all editions). Another reference to the minim can be found in Leviticus 19:19]


Anonymous said...

In your last paragraph you were mechaven to Touitou pg. 45 fn 44. Lockshin does not even bring the remez to Jesus as a possibility. He also questions whether this is sufficient proof that Rashbam knew Latin.

Anonymous said...

Philologos has an interesting survey of Jewish and Christian translations of the verbs הרג, רצח and המית here.

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