A thematic study of doctrines on death and afterlife according to Targum Qohelet

Lincoln, Lawrence Ronald (2019-04)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2019.


ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This dissertation examined how the Targum radically transformed Qohelet’s pessimistic, secular and cynical views on the human condition by introducing a composite rabbinical theology throughout the translation with the purpose of refuting the futility of human existence and the finality of death. The Targum overturned the personal observations of Qohelet and in its place proposed a practical guide for the living according to the principles of rabbinic theological principles. While BibQoh provided few if any solutions for the many pitfalls and challenges of life and lacking any clear references to an eschatology, the Targum on the other hand promoted the promise of everlasting life as a model for a beatific eschatological future. The dissertation demonstrated how the targumist exploited a specific translation strategy to introduce rabbinic ideologies to present the targum as an alternative context to the ideologies of wisdom literature as presented in Biblical Qohelet. The translation follows the Hebrew original but includes numerous additions and expansions from other sources of rabbinic literature. However, it is difficult to follow the original Hebrew text in the mass of disjointed additions. In order to analyse and make sense of the translator’s purpose and strategy, it was necessary to find an analytical tool to organise the many disparate elements of the Targum in order to understand its purpose and intent. For this study, the decision was taken to analyse the theological system as a whole in TgQoh, as it became clear that the targumist had created a unitary approach to the afterlife themes as these could not easily be separated from afterlife passages. I decided to follow the method of Jacob Neusner’s concept of finding religious paradigms as a means to analyse and explain the rabbinic system and its inherent complexity. The paradigms therefore became the building blocks for understanding the cognitive elements of religious experience in the form of a unifying taxonomy. Furthermore, the mass of information concerning an explanatory framework for the pattern of life-death-afterlife–resurrection as a theological system is massive and spread over sources that comprise the entire biblical canon and all the commentaries on it. The aim was to find a suitable method for collating and aggregating the range of topics and then to explain the system. The use of a paradigmatic approach introduced a structured means for explaining the complexity and range of rabbinic beliefs and how these relate to the promise of an afterlife in terms of the Targum and as a means of comparison against the Hebrew version. The use of paradigms drawn from religious experience and the underlying theology enabled the research to connect all the different elements of rabbinical religious categories that feature in the targum. These religious commands became the ultimate guidelines suggested by the Targum for humankind to follow on a progressive path towards living righteous lives according to the Torah in the earthly or mortal phase as the means to achieve the reward of an everlasting life in the world to come.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie proefskrif ondersoek die wyse waarop die Targum Qohelet se pessimistiese, sekulêre en siniese siening van die menslike kondisie radikaal aanpas deur ‘n saamgestelde rabbynse teologie regdeur die vertaling in te stel met die doel om die sinloosheid van die menslike bestaan en die finaliteit van die dood teen te werk. Die Targum werp die persoonlike sienings van Qohelet omver en stel in die plek daarvan ‘n praktiese gids vir die lewe voor volgens die beginsels van die rabbynse teologie. Waar BybQoh weinig, indien enige, oplossings vir die vele gevare en uitdagings van die lewe bied en geen duidelike verwysing na ‘n eskatologie het nie, beveel die Targum die belofte van die ewige lewe aan as ‘n model vir ‘n salige eskatologiese toekoms. Die proefskrif demonstreer hoe die Targumis ‘n vertalingstrategie aanwend ten opsigte van rabbynse ideologieë om die Targum as ‘n alternatiewe konteks tov die ideologieë van die Wysheidsliteratuur soos in Bybelse Qohelet voorgestel is, aan te bied. Die vertaling volg die Hebreeuse/Semitiese oorspronklike, maar sluit tallose toevoegings en uitbreidings van ander bronne van die rabbynse literatuur in. Dit is egter moeilik om die oorspronklike Hebreeuse teks te midde van die massiewe ongeordende toevoegings te volg. Ten einde sin te maak van die vertaler se doel en strategie, was dit nodig om ‘n analitiese instrument te skep om die talle uiteenlopende elemente in die Targum te organiseer in ‘n poging om hulle doel en intensie te begryp. Vir hierdie studie is die besluit geneem om die teologiese sisteem as geheel in TgQoh te analiseer, aangesien dit bekend geword het dat die Targumis ‘n eenvormige teologiese sisteem ontwerp het vir die temas oor die lewe na die dood. Ek het besluit om die metode van Jacob Neusner te volg waarvolgens die identifisering van godsdienstige paradigmas as ‘n wyse van analise en uitleg van die rabbynse sisteem en die se inherente kompleksiteit geld. Die paradigmas het daarom die boustene geword om die kognitiewe elemente van godsdienstige ervaring in die vorm van ‘n verenigende taksonomie te bepaal. Boonop is die informasie rakende ‘n verklarende raamwerk vir die patroon lewe-dood-lewe na die dood-opstanding as ‘n teologiese sisteem enorm en versprei oor talle bronne wat die hele Bybelse kanon en al die kommentare daaroor, dek. Die oogmerk was om ‘n geskikte metode van insameling van die omvang van die topoi te vind en daarna die komplekse sisteem te verduidelik. Die aanwending van ‘n paradigmatiese benadering het ‘n gestruktureerde werkwyse vir die verduideliking van die kompleksiteit en omvang van rabbynse geloofstukke en hoe dit verband hou met die belofte van ‘n lewe na die dood, ingelei, in terme van die Targum en as ‘n wyse van vergelyking met die Hebreeuse weergawe. Die gebruik van paradigmas verkry van godsdienstige ervaring en die onderliggende teologie het die navorser in staat gestel om al die uiteenlopende elemente van rabbynse religieuse kategorieë wat in die Targum voorkom, te gebruik. Hierdie religieuse bevele het die finale riglyne geword wat deur die Targum gesuggereer word vir die mensdom om na te volg langs ‘n progressiewe weg om regverdige lewens te lei volgens die Wet in die aardse of kortstondige fase, as die wyse om die ewige lewe as beloning te verkry in die eeu wat kom.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/106022
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