Saadiah Gaon’s Arabic Bible Translation and Its Antecedents

Among the many accomplishment of the 10th-century sage Saadiah Gaon—one of the leading rabbinic authorities of his day—was a translation of the Torah and a few other biblical books into Arabic, along with a commentary. Although not the first to attempt to render the Bible into that language, he was the first Jew to do so. Harry Freedman explains some of Saadiah’s influences:

Nothing remains of [the Arabic-speaking Christian scholar] Hunayn ibn Ishaq’s [earlier] biblical translations, although it is likely that subsequent Arabic Bible manuscripts were based on his. Saadiah almost certainly drew on his scholarship, but only after it had been refracted through the prism of the literary critic and philologist ibn Qutayba.

Islamic writers and intellectuals of [Saadiah’s] time placed great emphasis on the literary economy of language. They frowned on the use of unnecessary words or phrases and on superfluous repetition. That the Hebrew Bible contained such apparently unnecessary material offered ammunition for the Muslim accusation that the Jews had falsified the Bible. Ibn Qutayba had ameliorated Hunayn’s classic Arabic translation by converting repeated names into pronouns and deleting phrases that seemed redundant. Saadiah’s Tafsir, as his translation came to be known, displays similar stylistic alterations.

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Read more at Bible and Interpretation

More about: Arabic literature, Hebrew Bible, History & Ideas, Islam, Saadiah Gaon, Translation

To Today’s Cosmopolitan and “Oikophobic” Left, Israel Can Never Be Acceptable

Aug. 23 2019

On the day the Knesset passed its nation-state law last year, Benjamin Netanyahu proclaimed, “This is our state—the Jewish state. . . . This is our nation, language, and flag.” This declaration, argues Wiliam Voegeli, points precisely to what the American left finds so unpalatable about Israel:

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Read more at Claremont Review of Books

More about: Anti-Zionism, Leftism, Nation-State Law, Nationalism