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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Samaritan Literature.

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Under this head propose to enumerate the works known to European scholars, somewhat in distinction from those current with the Samaritans themselves, which will be found under SAMARITANS, MODERN.

1. Grammar and Lexicography. In this department we have to mention three grammatical treatises, which were published from a MS. at Amsterdam, by Noldeke, in the Gottinger Nachricheten, 1862, p. 337, 385. They are built entirely on the philological views of Arabic grammarians, some sections (such as those on transitive and intransitive verbs) being copied word for word from their works. From the transcriptions of Hebrew words into Arabic, we may judge of the Samaritan pronunciation of the eleventh century. As to the present system of pronunciation, Prof. Petermann, of Berlin, has transcribed the whole book of Genesis after the manner in which it is now read in the synagogue of Nablus, and from this transcription the present system of pronunciation may be known, although it is difficult to decide whether the present system is due to genuine tradition, or whether it has become influenced by the Syriac and Arabic. According to Petermann's transcription, the first verse in Genesis would read thus: "Baraset bara eluwem it assamem wit aares." (Comp. Abhandlungen fur die Kunde des Morgenlandes d. D.M.G. 1868, vol. 5, No. 1.)

In the matter of lexicography there is little information to give; of dictionaries proper none has as yet come to light. At Paris (Bibl. Nat. Anciens Fonds, 6, Peiresc) there is a concordance of forms occurring in the Scriptures with the corresponding Arabic and Samaritan words in parallel columns, and a similar one is preserved at Cambridge (Christ's College Library), in which, however, the Samaritan equivalent is omitted. Of late the Imperial Library at St. Petersburg has obtained fragments of grammatical works and of Hebrew-Arabic dictionaries, or "Tardeschemans" (interpreters), as they are termed by Samaritans and Arabs, which will be described in the catalogue to be issued by Mr. Harkavy.

2. Calendars. In this branch there are some astronomical tables, two of which were published by Scaliger, and one was edited with a translation by De Sacy (iot. et Extr. 12:135, 153). Several more MSS. have found their way to Europe one written A.D. 1750, another written 1689, a third dated 1724 (see Journ. Asiatique, 1869, p. 467, 468). The Imperial Library of St. Petersburg also possesses several specimens.

3. Legends. The British Museum possesses a MS. (Add. MS. 19, 657), a commentary on the "legends ascribed to Moses." It has been translated by Dr. Leitner in Heidenheim's Vierteljahrsschrift, 4:184 sq. It borrows largely from Jewish sources. Of a similar type is the Jewelled Necklace in Praise of the Lord of the Hutman Race, composed in 1537 by Ismail Ibn- Badr Ibn-Abu-l-'Izz Ibn-Rumaih (Brit. Mus. Add. MS. 19, 021) in honor of Moses. It sets forth his divine nature, and extols the glories of his birth and miracles. With this may be classed a tract in which is contained a "complete explanation of the chapters on Balak" by Ghazal Ibn-ad- 'Duwaik (MS. 27, Bibl. Acad. Reg. Scient. Amst. p. 265-289); and another small tract (ibid. p. 292, 293), by the famous Abu Said, explaining the cause of the fear felt by Jacob on his way to Egypt (Genesis 46:1; Genesis 46:3), and by Abraham after the conquest of the five kings (ibid. 15:1), with a third (p. 294-296), by an unknown author, in which the fifteen occasions are quoted from Exodus and Numbers when the Israelites, by their complaints and abuse of Moses and Aaron, tempted God, and the times are mentioned at which the divine glory appeared.

4. Commentaries. Of great importance, especially for ascertaining the doctrinal views of the Samaritans, are their commentaries on the Pentateuch. The oldest extant is perhaps the one in the Bodleian Library (Add. MS. 4to, 99, and described by Neubauer in the Journ. Asiatique, 1873, p. 341 sq.), composed A.D. 1053 by an unknown Samaritan for the benefit of a certain Abul Said Levi. In this commentary we find quotations from the Pentateuch, the former and later prophets, Nehemiah, the Mishna, etc., but not from the Samaritan Targum. All anthropomorphisms are avoided.

Another interesting and important commentary is one preserved at Berlin, from which large extracts were given by Geiger in the Zeitschrift d. 1). M. G. 17, 723 sq.; 20, 147 sq.; 22, 532 sq. In it the national feeling as exhibited in opposition to the Rabbinic school of thought among the Jews is thoroughly represented.

An anonymous commentary on Genesis, brought frorn the East by bishop Huntington, and preserved in the Bodleian Library (Hunt. MS. 301), is of the same type as the preceding. The forty-ninth chapter was published by Schnurrer in Eichhorn's Repertorium, 16, 151-199.

To this class we must also reckon a hagadic commentary on the Pentateuch containing Genesis and Exodus, termed the Dissipater of Darkness from the Secrets of Revelation, written in 1753-54 by Ghazal Ibn-Abu-s-Surur al-Ghazzi (Brit. Mus. Add. MS. 19, 657), and another containing fragments of a commentary on Genesis, Exodus, and Leviticus, often quoted by Castellus in his notes on the Samaritan Pentateuch (Brit. Mus. Harl. MS. 5495).

A number of fragments of such commentaries are also preserved at St. Petersburg. Other writers seem to have devoted their energies to the same subject, but nothing now remains to us but their names and the titles of their books (Amst. MS. 27, p. 309, 314 sq.).

5. Chronicles. Here we mention:

(a.) The Samaritan Chronicle or Book of Joshua, sent to Scaliger by the Samaritans of Cairo in 1584. It was edited by Juynboll (Leyden, 1848), and his acute investigations have shown that it was redacted into its present form about A.D. 1300, out of four special documents, three of which were Arabic and one Hebrew (i.e. Samaritan). The Leyden MS. in 2 pts., which Gesenius (De Samuel Theol. p. 8, n. 18) thinks unique, is dated A.H. 764- 919 (A.D. 1362-1513); the Cod. in the Brit. Museum, lately acquired, dates A.H. 908 (A.D. 1502). The chronicle embraces the time from Joshua to about A.D. 350, and was originally written in, or subsequently translated into, Arabic. After eight chapters of introductory matter begins the early history of "Israel" under "King Joshua, "who, among other deeds of arms, wages war, with 300.000 mounted men "half Israel" against two kings of Persia. The last of his five "royal" successors is Shimshon (Samson), the handsomest and most powerful of them all. These reigned for the space of 250 years, and were followed by five high priests, the last of whom was Usi (? =Uzzi, Ezra 7:4). With the history of Eli, "the seducer," which then follows, and Samuel, "a sorcerer," the account by a sudden transition runs off to Nebuchadnezzar (ch. 45), Alexander (ch. 46), and Hadrian (ch. 47), and closes suddenly at the time of Julian the Apostate. The Hebrew of this chronicle is given by Kirchheim in his Karme Shomron.

(b.) The El-Tholidoth, or "The (book of) Generations." It professes to have been written by Eleazar ben-Amram in A.H. 544 (A.D. 1149), copied and continued by Jacob ben-Ismael 200 years later, and carried down by other hands to 1859, when the present MS. was written by Jacob ben- Aaron, the high priest. It was published by Neubauer in the Journal Asiatique for 1869, p. 385 sq. He gives the Samaritan, or rather Hebrew, text with notes and translation, citing the Arabic translation when the sense is not clear. His text is that of the Bodleian MS. numbered Bodl. Or. p. 651. collated in some passages with one belonging to a private owner. A German translation with explanations has been given by Heidenheim in his Vierteljahrsschrift fur deutsch- und englisch-theolog. Forschung u. Kritik, 4, 347 sq. The chronicle is of interest to geographers, as, while mentioning the various Samaritan families settled in Damascus, Palestine, and Egpt, it incidentally introduces the names of a considerable number of places inhabited by them. As to the importance of this chronicle for comparison with the "Book of Jubilees," comp. Ronsch, Das Buch der Jubilaen (1874), p. 361.

(c.) The Chronicle of Abulfath is a compilation from the Samaritan chronicle, as well as from various sources, Jewish or Rabbinical. It is full of fables, and contains little useful matter. The history in it extends from Adam to Mohammed, and was composed in the 14th century i.e. in 1355, or 756 A.H. at Nablus. Five MSS. of it are known one at Paris, another at Oxford, procured by Huntington, and three in Berlin; but one of the last three consists of nothing but a few fragments. Schnurrer gave a long extract from the Oxford copy, with a German translation, in Paulus, Neues Repertoriumfur biblische und morgenlandische Literatur (1790, Theil 1, 120 sq.); and in Paulus, Memorabilia (1791, 2 vols.); so, too, De Sacy, in his Arabic Chrestomathy, and Notices et Extraits des Manuscrits de la Bibliotheque du Roi, tom. 12. With an English translation by R. Payne Smith, it was printed in Heidenheim's Journal, 2, 304 sq.; 432 sq. Recently it has been published by Vilmar, with the title, Abulfathi Annales Samaritani, quos Arabioe edidit, cum Proll. Latine vertit et Commentasrio illustravit (Gothae, 1865), after a collation of the various MSS., and with learned prolegomena.

6. Miscellaneous. To this belongs a work of Abu-l-Hasan of Tyre, relating to lawful and forbidden meats, or "of force" (Bodl. MS. Hunt. 24; comp. also Journal Asiat. 1869, p. 468). In it the peculiar dogmas of the Samaritans as differing from those of the Jews are set forth and supported by arguments drawn from the Pentateuch. Closely resembling this is a work entitled "a book sufficing to those who desire the knowledge of the book of God," by Muhaddib Eddin Jussuf Ibn-Salamah Ibn-Jussuf al-Askari, commenced in A.D. 1041. It is an exposition of the Mosaic laws, and preserved in the Brit. Museum (Add. MS. 19, 656 [2]).

Another work by Abu-l-Hasan relates to the future life, with arguments drawn from the Pentateuch (Bodl. MS. Hunt. 350 [1]).

An Abridgment of the Mosaic Law according to the Samaritans, by Abul Farag Ibn-Ishag Ibn-Kathar, is preserved at Paris (Bibl. Nat. Anciens Fonds, 5, Peiresc); a work on penance. in Amst. (MS. 27, p. 304), which MS. also contains a treatise on the nature of God and man, etc. (ibid. p. 223), and questions and answers, with interpretations from the Pentateuch (ibid. p. 297).

The St. Petersburg collection also contains fragments of Samaritan law books (F. 4, 18); twenty-two documents in Arabic, relating to civil matters, and ranging from the 17th to the 19th century; about seventy contracts of marriage; and six amulets.

See Petermann, Versuch einer hebr. Formenlehre nach der Aussprache der heutigen Samaritaner (Leips. 1868), introduction; Juynboll, Commentarii in Historiam Gentis Samaritanae (Lugd. Bat. 1846), p. 58 sq.; Noldeke, Ueber einige samaritanisch-arab. Schriften, die hebr. Sprache betreffend (Gottingen, 1862); Geiger, Die hebraische Grammatik bei den Samaritanern, in Zeitschr. d. D. M. G. (1863), 17, 748; Heidenheim, Vierteljahrsschriff, in loc. cit.; Petermann, in Herzog, Real- Encykl. 13, 376 sq.; Theologisches Universal-Lexikon, s.v. "Samaritanische Literatur;" Nutt, A Sketch of Samaritan History, p. 134 sq.; Relandi Dissertt. Miscell. 2, 14; Smith, Dict. of the Bible, 4, 2814 sq.; Kitto, Cyclop. 3, 751; Kirchheim, Karme Shomron (Frankfort, 1851), p. 28 sq. (B.P.)

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Samaritan Literature.'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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