Page:Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar (1910 Kautzsch-Cowley edition).djvu/42
approaching completion, the Jews began to explain and critically revise their sacred text, and sometimes to translate it into the vernacular languages which in various countries had become current among them. The oldest translation is the Greek of the Seventy (more correctly Seventy-two) Interpreters (LXX), which was begun with the Pentateuch at Alexandria under Ptolemy Philadelphus, but only completed later. It was the work of various authors, some of whom had a living knowledge of the original, and was intended for the use of Greek-speaking Jews, especially in Alexandria. Somewhat later the Aramaic translations, or Targums (תַּרְגּוּמִים i.e. interpretations), were formed by successive recensions made in Palestine and Babylonia. The explanations, derived in part from alleged tradition, refer almost exclusively to civil and ritual law and dogmatic theology, and are no more scientific in character than much of the textual tradition of that period. Both kinds of tradition are preserved in the Talmud, the first part of which, the Mišna, was finally brought to its present form towards the end of the second century; of the remainder, the Gemāra, one recension (the Jerusalem or Palestinian Gem.) about the middle of the fourth century, the other (the Babylonian Gem.) about the middle of the sixth century a.d. The Mišna forms the beginning of the New-Hebrew literature; the language of the Gemaras is for the most part Aramaic.
[3b] 2. To the interval between the completion of the Talmud and the earliest grammatical writers, belong mainly the vocalization and accentuation of the hitherto unpointed text of the O.T., according to the pronunciation traditional in the Synagogues and Schools (§7h, i), as well as the greater part of the collection of critical notes which bears the name of Masōra (מָֽסוֹרָה ?). From this the text which has since been transmitted with rigid uniformity by the MSS.,
- On the name Masora (or Massora, as e.g. E. König, Einleitung in das A.T., p. 38 ff.; Lehrgeb. d. hebr. Sprache, ii. 358 ff.), and the great difficulty of satisfactorily explaining it, cf. De Lagarde, Mitleilungen, i. 91 ff. W. Bacher's derivation of the expression (in JQR. 1891, p. 785 ff.; so also C. Levias in the Hebrew Union College Annual, Cincinnati, 1904, p. 147 ff.) from Ez 2037 (מָסֹרֶת הַבְּרִית; מסרה, i.e. מֽוֹסֵרָה, being an equally legitimate form) is rightly rejected by König, l. c. The correctness of the form מָֽסֹרָה (by the side of the equally well-attested form מַסֹּרֶת) does not seem to us to be invalidated by his arguments, nor by Blau's proposal to read מְסוֹרֶת (JQR. xii. 241). The remark of Levias (l.c.) deserves notice, that with the earlier Masoretes מסורת is equivalent to orthography, i.e. plene- and defective writing, and only later came to mean .—G. Wildboer, in (ZAW. 1909, p. 74, contends that as מסר to hand on is not found in the O.T., it must be a late denominative in this sense.