Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Onkelos in Les Miserables

I'm always interested when the targums wind up in unexpected places. I ran into a mention of Onkelos in Victor Hugo's Les Miserables, ch. 5:

[The monsignor] was a man of letters and rather learned. He left behind him five or six very curious manuscripts; among others, a dissertation on this verse in Genesis, In the beginning, the spirit of God floated upon the waters. With this verse he compares three texts: the Arabic verse which says, The winds of God blew; Flavius Josephus who says, A wind from above was precipitated upon the earth; and finally, the Chaldaic paraphrase of Onkelos, which renders it, A wind coming from God blew upon the face of the waters.

The good bishop was apparently interested in renderings of Genesis 1:2 that translated ruach as "wind." No more is said in the novel of this interesting dissertation.

Many modern translations translate "wind," including the JPS and NRSV.

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