(See OLD TESTAMENT; NEW TESTAMENT; SAMARITAN PENTATEUCH; and SEPTUAGINT.) TARGUM is the general term for the Aramaic or Chaldee versions of the Old Testament Ezra established the usage of regular readings of the law (Ne 8:2,8), already ordained in De 31:10-13 for the feast of tabernacles, and recognized as the custom "every sabbath" (Ac 15:21). The portion read from the Pentateuch was called a parasha; that from the prophets, subsequently introduced, the haphtarah. The disuse of Hebrew and the use of Chaldee Aramaic by the mass of Jews, during the Babylonian captivity, created the need for explaining "distinctly" (mephorash), as did Ezra and his helpers, the Hebrew by an Aramaic paraphrase. Such a combined translation and explanation was called a targum, from targeem "to translate" or "explain."
Originally it was oral, lest it might acquire undue authority; at the end of the second century it was generally read. Midrash first used in 2Ch 13:22; 24:27, "story," "commentary," was the body of expositions of Scripture from the return out of Babylon to a thousand years after the destruction of the second temple. The two chief branches are the halakah, from haalak, to go, "the rule by which to walk," and the haggadah, from haagad "to say," legend.
The targums are part of the midrash. Those extant are the Targum of Onkelos (or AQUILA, Smith's Bible Dictionary) on the Pentateuch (so named not because written by Aquila but because in Aramaic it did what Aquila aimed at in his Greek version, namely, to counteract the arbitrary corruptions of the Septuagint and to produce a translation scrupulously literal, for the benefit of those not knowing the original language); the Targum of Jonathan ben Uzziel on the first and last prophets, more probably of Rabbi Joseph the blind, in the middle of the fourth century, full of invectives against Rome (Isa 34:9 mentioning Armillus (Antichrist), Isa 10:4; Germany, Eze 38:6); also his targum on the Pentateuch; the Targum of Jerusalem on parts of the Pentateuch.
The Targum of Jonathan ben Uzziel and the Targum of Jerusalem are twin brothers, really but one work; these were written in Palestine much later and less accurately than that of Onkelos, which belongs to the Babylonian school; Jonathan ben Uzziel, in the fourth century, cannot have been the author, for this targum speaks of Constantinople (Nu 24:19-24), the Turks (Ge 10:2), and even Mahomet's two wives (Ge 21:21). The targum on the hagiographa (ascribed to Joseph the blind), namely, on Psalms, Job, and Proverbs; remarkably resembling the Syriac version; the targum on Job and Psalms is paraphrastic, but that on Proverbs most literal. Targum on the five megilloth, Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations, Esther, Ecclesiastes. Two other targums on Esther; targum on Chronicles; targum on Daniel.
EARLY ENGLISH VERSIONS. Among the pioneers of the KJV were Caedmon who embodied the Bible history in alliterative Anglo Saxon poetry (Bede H. E. 4:24); Aldhelm, bishop of Sherborne in the seventh century, who translated the Psalms; Bede the Gospel according to John in his last hours (Ep. Cuthberti). Alfred translated Exodus 20-23 as the groundwork of legislation, also translated some of the Psalms and parts of the other books, and "wished all the freeborn youth of his kingdom to be able to read the English Scriptures."
The Durham Book, of the ninth century (in British Museum, Cottonian manuscripts), has the Anglo Saxon interlinear with the Latin Vulgate The Rushworth Gloss of the same century is in the Bodleian Library, Oxford. Aelfric epitomised Scripture history and translated part of the historical books. The Ormulum of the 12th century is a Gospel paraphrase in alliterative English verse. Schorham, A.D. 1320, translated the Psalms; Richard Rolle, of Hampole, A.D. 1349, the Psalms and other canticles of the Old Testament and New Testament with a devotional exposition. In the library of Ch. Ch. Coll., Cambridge, is an English version of Mark's and Luke's Gospels and Paul's epistles. Arundel in his funeral sermon on Anne of Bohemia, wife of Richard II, says she habitually read the Gospels in English.
WYCLIFFE, A.D. 1324-1384, began with translating the Apocalypse; in" The Last Age of the Church," 1356, he translates and expounds Revelation, applying it to his own times and antichrist's overthrow. Next the Gospels, "so that pore Christen men may some dele know the text of the Gospel, with the comyn sentence of olde holie doctores" (Preface). Many manuscripts of this age are extant, containing the English harmony of the Gospels and portions of the epistles by others. Wycliffe next brought out the complete English New Testament Nicholas de Hereford proceeded with the Old Testament and Apocrypha as far as the middle of Baruch, then was interrupted by Arundel. Richard Purvey probably revised Wycliffe's and Hereford's joint work and prefixed the prologue.
All the foregoing are translated from the Latin Vulgate. The prologue says: "a translater hath grete nede to studie well the sentence both before and after. He hath nede to lyve a clene life and be ful devout in preiers, and have not his wit occupied about worldli things, that the Holie Spirit, author of all wisdom, cunnynge and truthe, dresse him in his work and suffer him not for to err" (Forshall and Madden, Prol. 60). In spite of Arundel's opposition the circulation was so wide that 150 copies are extant, and Chaucer (Persone's Tale) quotes Scripture in English, agreeing with Wycliffe's translation. Its characteristics are a homely style, plain English for less intelligible words, as "fy" for Raca (Mt 5:22), "richesse" for Mammon (Lu 16:9,11,13), and literalness even to a fault.
TYNDALE begins the succession which eventuated in our authorized version. By his time Wycliffe's English had become obsolete, and his translation being from the Latin Vulgate could not satisfy Grecian scholars of Henry VIII's reign. At the age of 36 (A.D. 1520) Tyndale said, "ere many years I will cause the boy that driveth the plow to know more of Scripture than the great body of the clergy now know." Erasmus in 1516 published the first edition of the Greek Testament; Tyndale knew hint at Cambridge. in 1522 Tyndale in vain tried to persuade Tonstal, bishop of London, to sanction his translating the New Testament into English. The "Trojans" of Oxford (i.e. the friars) declared that to study Greek would make men pagans, to study Hebrew would make them Jews. Tyndale had sufficient knowledge of Hebrew to qualify him for translating Genesis, Deuteronomy, and Jonah in 1530 and 1531.
But the New Testament was his chief care, and in 1525 he published it all in 4to at Cologne, and in 8vo at Worms. Tonstal ordered all copies to be bought up and burnt. Tyndale's last edition was published in 1535; his martyrdom followed in 1536, his dying prayer being, "Lord, open the king of England's eyes." The merit of his translation is its noble simplicity and truthfulness: thus "favour" for "grace," "love" for "charity," "acknowledge" for "confess," "repentance" for "penance," "elders" for "priests," "congregation" for "church." Tyndale was herein in advance of his own and the following age; the versions of the latter relapsed into the theological and ecclesiastical terms less suited to the people.
His desire to make the Bible a people's book has acted on succeeding versions, so that our English Bible has ever been popular rather than scholastic. "I call God to record (says he) against the day we shall appear before the Lord Jesus to give a reckoning of our doings, that I never altered one syllable of God's word against my conscience, nor would this day, if all that is in the world, whether pleasure, honour, or riches, might be given me."
MILES COVERDALE published his Bible in 1535, probably at Zurich, and at Cromwell's request, who saw that "not until the day after doomsday" (Cromwell's words) were the English people likely to get their promised 'Bible from the bishops if he waited for them. Coverdale's version was much inferior to Tyndale's, who made it his one object in life, whereas Coverdale "sought it not neither desired it," but undertook it as a task given him. Coverdale follo