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Old Testament:

The targums are the Aramaic translation of the Hebrew texts. As a result of the Babylonian captivity the Jews learned Aramaic and forgot Hebrew. From the conquest of Cyrus the Great to the conquest of Alexander the Great the lingua franca of the day was Aramaic. Even in the New Testament Jesus most likely spoke Aramaic, the common language of Palestine at that time. The book of Matthew was probably originally written in Aramaic. I think this accounts for the differences in the other synoptic gospels. It is very interesting to see how the Targums translated and explained the OT.

The block script of Aramaic was adopted for writing the Hebrew text. This might have been to distinguish it from the Samaritan Pentateuch. In some of the Dead Sea Scrolls the name of God was written in Paleo-Hebrew while the rest of the text was in Aramaic block script.

The Targums can be divided geographically into two parts; Palestinian targums, and the Babylonian targums. There are three major Palestinian targums; Targum Neofiti I, Fragment Targum (Jerusalem II), and Targum Pseudo-Jonathan (Jerusalem I). There are two major Babylonian targums; Targum Onkelos for the Pentateuch, and Targum Jonathan for the Prophets. These two are authoritative for Judaism. These targums have been purged of midrashic additions.

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