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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Samaritan Versions.

There exist three different translations of the Pentateuch in Samaritan, two of which have been translated into Greek and Arabic respectively.

1. Samaritan. The origin, author, and age of the Samaritan version of the five books of Moses has hitherto so Eichhorn quaintly observes "always been a golden apple to the investigators, and will very probably remain so, until people leave off venturing decisive judgments upon historical subjects which no one has recorded in antiquity" (Einleitung, 2, 320). Indeed, modern investigators, keen as they have been, have done little towards the elucidation of the subject. According to the Samaritans themselves (De Sacy [Mem. 3], Paulus, Winer), their high priest Nathaniel, who died about B.C. 20, is its author. Gesenius puts its date a few years after Christ. Juynboll thinks that it had long been in use in the second post- Christian century. Frankel places it in the post-Mohammedan time, on account of the many Arabisms. Other investigators date it from the time of Esar-haddon's priest (Schwarz), or either shortly before or after the foundation of the temple on Mount Gerizim. Kohn thinks that it was made by different authors. It seems certain, however, that it was composed before the destruction of the second Temple; and being intended, like the Targums, for the use of the people exclusively, it was written in the popular Samaritan idiom, a mixture of Hebrew, Aramaic, Syriac, and Arabic.

As a whole, the version cannot be called a good one, since the translator seems to have been guided by no proper rules of exegesis. Hence he falls into many mistakes. "Elohim" or "Jehovah" is commonly avoided, and "angel" put instead, to suit the supposed dignity of the divine being. The names of peoples, countries, cities, mountains, and rivers are changed from the old into more modern names, as the following list of geographical names will prove. Thus we read in

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

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