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The Biblical Antiquities of Philo, 5. ORIGINAL LANGUAGE

THE BIBLICAL ANTIQUITIES OF PHILO

TRANSLATED FROM THE OLD LATIN VERSION
BY

M. R. JAMES, LITT.D., F.B.A.


5. ORIGINAL LANGUAGE.

5. The ORIGINAL LANGUAGE of the book, its date, its form and its purpose, must now be discussed.

Original Language.--The Latin version, in which alone we possess the work, is quite obviously a translation from Greek. The forms of proper names, the occurrence of Greek words which puzzled the translator, ometocea, pammixia, epomis, etc., make this abundantly clear. It is hardly less plain that the Greek was a translation from Hebrew. As Dr. Cohn has pointed out, the whole complexion, and especially the connecting links of the narrative, are strongly Hebraic, and there is a marked absence of the Greek use of particles, or of any attempt to link sentences together save by the bald "et," which occurs an incredible number of times.

Some statistics may be given: Et factum est occurs at least 33 times; Et tum (usually of the past) 37; Tunc 25; Et nunc (of present or future) 85; In tempore illo 18; In diebus illis (and the like) 10; Et post haec, or postea 30; Ecce 105; Ecce nunc 47; Et ideo 27; Et erit cum, or si 24. Other common links which I have not counted are Et ut (uidit, etc.), Et cum, His dictis, Propterea.

The leading Hebraisms are present: adiicere, or apponere with another verb, meaning "he did so yet again," 9 times at least; the intensive participle and verb (Illuminans illuminaui) 15 times. We have Si introducing a question 4 times; a uiro usque ad mulierem and the like (XXX. 4; XLVII. 10); ad uictoriam, in uictoria (= למנצח, "Utterly"); IX. 3; XII. 6; XLIX. 6.

Hebraists, among whom I cannot reckon myself, may probably detect the presence of plays upon words, passages written in poetical form (some of which are indeed obvious), and mistranslations. 1

From what has just been said it will be rightly gathered that the literary style of Philo is not its strong point. Indeed, it is exceedingly monotonous, full of repetitions and catchwords. The author's one device for obtaining an "effect" is to string together a number of high-sounding clauses, as he does, for example, in his repeated descriptions of the giving of the Law. As a narrator, he has another trick. An incident is often compared to another in the past (or future) history of Israel, and many times is an episode from that history related in a speech or prayer.

Some of the recurrent phrases are: I spake of old saying about 25 times; in vain, or not in vain 14; it is better for us to do this than . . . 7; not for our sakes, but for . . . about 5 times; who knoweth whether 4; dost thou not remember 3; To thy seed will I give this land (or the like) 7-9; the covenant which he made 5-8; I know that the people will sin 8-9; God's anger will not endure for ever 10; The Gentiles will say 4-8; I call heaven and earth to witness 4-5; in the last days 4; make straight your ways 5-6; corrupt (your ways, etc.) 18; remember or visit the world 6; be for a testimony 10. Of single words accipere occurs 88 times in the first half of the text; habitare, inhabitare about 80 times in the whole text; iniquitas 33; disponere 37; testamentum 47; ambulare 21; uia, uiae 25; adducere 19; seducere 21; saeculum 27; sempiternus 15; constituere 20; expugnare 27; zelari 14; illuminare 12; renunciare 15.

Other lists are given in Appendix II.


Footnotes

27:1 Pitra thought that the Latin versions of these were by the same hand: I cannot confirm this idea, and indeed incline to question its correctness.
28:1 Of mistranslations I can only point to one. In VIII. 13 Visui appears as a proper name. It seems clearly to be a mistake for "and Isui." The error implies a Hebrew original: it is not found in the LXX. See the Appendix on Readings in loc.

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