The Beginnings of Anglo-Jewish Biblical Exegesis and Bible Translation

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The last quarter of the eighteenth century saw the beginnings of Anglo-Jewish Biblical exegesis and Bible translation. In 1775 appeared, in English, the first book by an Anglo-Jewish Hebrew scholar which can be regarded as a contribution to Biblical exegesis. The name of that scholar was Raphael Baruh, a member of the Spanish and Portuguese community. In 1773 he published, in elegant Paitanic Hebrew, an Elegy on Haham Isaac Nieto. The Jews had been living openly in England for over one hundred years. They brought their faith and their Torah with them. It did not take long before Hebrew books were printed in England, but it took apparendy over one hundred years before the community produced Hebrew scholars who wrote in English. Raphael Baruh was one of them. He was, it seems, born abroad, as he speaks of himself as "a foreigner." Baruh's work was an endeavour to vindicate the Hebrew Text of the Bible against the criticisms of Dr. Kennicott. Kenni cott had collected many Biblical manuscripts, pointed out the varying readings in them and drew the conclusion that there were many mistakes and corruptions in the Hebrew Text of the Bible. He had various critics, such as Fowler Comings and Julius Bate, but also many followers. One of these was the author of a small anonymous book called Critica Sacra, or, A Short Introduction to Hebrew Criticism, published in London in 1774. The writer wanted to show in brief " by what means these corruptions [in the text of the Hebrew Scriptures] can be discovered, removed, and rectified."

He suggests the collating of " correspondent or parallel passages of scripture," the comparing of which may help in " correcting the Errors, and supplying the defects of the present text." " But if it should be thought too prolix for the mere purpose of collecting" he proposes " a more contracted scheme," exemplified in a specimen given on pp. 26-9.

In 1775 there appeared a criticism of this anonymous book by the Raphael Baruh who has been mentioned above, under the tide Critica Sacra examined: or An Attempt to show that a New Method may be found to reconcile the seemingly glaring variations in Parallel Passages of Scripture. And that such variations consequently are no Proofs of Corruptions, or Mistakes, of Transcribers, (vii ' + 254 pp.: printed in London, by W. Hay, and " sold at his shop next to the Academy of Artists, near Exeter Exchange, Strand.")

Baruh collated the whole of the Book of Chronicles with all the parallel passages in the other Books of Scriptures and studied that book with great care and assiduity, as far as his " small abilities could reach," and he hoped " to have discovered some lights which may merit attention." He examines altogether fifty-eight collations? i.e. passages in the Book of Chronicles and parallel passages in other parts of the Bible. At its end there is a very interesting attempt to explain the differences in the Decalogues in Exodus xx, 2?17, and

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