Friday, February 09, 2007

A Spurious Addition to Targum Pseudo-Jonathan?

I notice that it is common to quote the Targum Pseudo-Jonathan to Genesis 4:1 as Mahlon Smith does at his website, where we find this translation:

And Adam knew that his wife Eve had conceived
from Sammael the angel (of death)
and she became pregnant and bore Cain.
And he was like those on high and not like those below.
And she said: "I have got a man from the angel of the LORD."

My problem with this translation is that the words in italics above are not found in any text of Pseudo-Jonathan. The only surviving manuscript of Pseudo-Jonathan (PsJ), in the British Museum, reads, according to the publication of it by Clarke, "And Adam knew that Eve his wife was pregnant from Sammael, angel of the Lord." The standard printed text (editio princeps) as published in the rabbinic bible reads: "And Adam knew Eve his wife, that she had desired the angel; and she conceived and bore Cain, and she said, I have acquired a man, the angel of the Lord."

Obviously the version with the addition is closer to the editio princeps than to the London MS, but neither text (and they are the only witnesses to the text of PsJ) has the addition. Nevertheless, the belief that the words really are in PsJ is widespread. James Kugel quotes the latter part of PsJ's version as "He resembled the upper ones [angels] and not the lower ones, and she [therefore] said, I have acquired a man, indeed, an angel of the Lord" (The Bible as it Was, p. 86). Birger Pearson, in an essay in The Rediscovery of Gnosticism (1981) quotes the same version (p. 479). And Phillip Davies, in the Blackwell Reader in Judaism (2001), does the same (p. 40). These are all reputable scholars.

As far as I can tell, there is no evidence that any version of PsJ (or any other targum) contains these words. However, another text that has some affinities to PsJ, the Hebrew Pirke de-Rabbi Eliezer, in relating the story of Cain's conception, says "she saw his likeness that it was not of the earthly beings, but of the heavenly beings." Is that where these words come from? Or is there a version of the text of PsJ that I'm not aware of?

I'm frankly stumped as to the source of this spurious text of the targum. Do any of my readers have any insight?

UPDATE (3/2): Many thanks to those who have left comments below. Andy, can you point me towards a source for that quote?


Anonymous said...

I don't know much about this, and may be mistaken, but it appears that the Moses Ginsburger 1903 edition (reprinted 1971) page 8 has the extra text, perhaps added from elsewhere. Note 4 at the end of the verse: "P.R.E. s. 21 u. Jalq. s. 35."

Stephen Goranson

Joe in Australia said...

In some editions of Mikraot Gedolot the latter section is separated from the first as "Pirush Yonatan". In my edition, a recent one from Machon HaMaor, the body of the text is:
"And Adam knew that Eve, his wife, desired the angel, and she conceived and she bore Cain, and she said 'I have acquired' to the man, the angel of the Lord."

The pirush attached to the first two words ("and Adam knew") says "According to the midrash, 'he knew' means 'he understood' that since his [Cain's] appearance was not like the lower beings but the higher ones, therefore he [Adam] knew that the angel SMA"L [An abbreviation? Or an interrupted spelling to avoid bad luck?] desired her and came upon her, and this is what 'a man with the Lord' means: 'with the angel'."

I don't know who wrote this pirush and it isn'ty identified even in the insert to my edition, which complains at length about the great corruption in the text of Pseudo-Jonathan and the difficulty of separating the text from the pirush. Anyway, that seems to be the answer: the text has become conflated with its commentary in some editions.

andy said...

The 13th century Italian jewish exegete, R' Menahem Recanti, quotes the targum with this addition already there.

andy said...

See Rieder's edition of PsJ.

andy said...

I see now that Shinan in his (Hebrew) book on PsJ (I think on pg 130, I will check later and correct this if I am wrong) mentions this Recanti as well.