The Changing Face of the Arabic Bible: Translation Techniques in Early Renditions of Ezekiel

Miriam L. Hjälm 1
  • 1 University of Munich, Germany

Abstract

This article presents a study of Ezekiel 1 in five unpublished Christian Arabic manuscripts dated from the ninth to the fourteenth centuries. We will demonstrate that the manuscripts, in principal, represent two different versions. Both versions are based on the Syriac Peshiṭṭa but various degrees of influence from the Septuagint are evident. Our main aim is to examine the approach to translation exhibited in the manuscripts. In general, the earliest witness represents a literal translation which pays attention to structural affinity but allows for minor deviations, mainly omissions for the sake of the target language. In the younger manuscripts, an increasing number of additions are introduced as a means of commenting, clarifying and ornamenting the biblical narrative. It appears that texts in the traditional liturgical languages were still in use, which explains their non-literal and target-oriented character.

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