Targum Pseudo-Jonathan (also known as the Jerusalem Targum, Targum Yerushalmi, or Targum Jonathan) is an Aramaic translation and interpretation (targum) of the Torah (Pentateuch) traditionally thought to have originated from the land of Israel, although more recently a provenance in 12th-century Italy has been proposed.[1]

As a targum, it is not just a translation but incorporates aggadic material collected from various sources as late as the Midrash Rabbah as well as earlier material from the Talmud. So it is a combination of a commentary and a translation. It is also a composite text, involving the Old Palestinian Targum, Targum Onkelos, and a diverse array of other material.[2]


The original name of Targum Pseudo-Jonathan was Targum Yerushalmi (Jerusalem Targum). However, due to an error in the fourteenth century, it came to be known as the Targum "Jonathan" instead of "Jerusalem" in reference to Jonathan ben Uzziel.[3] Due to the pseudonymous nature of this attribution, it is now also referred to as the Targum Pseudo-Jonathan, although this is variously abbreviated as TPsJ or TgPsJ. There are editions of the Pentateuch that continue to call it Targum Jonathan to this day.


The Talmud relates that Yonatan ben Uziel, a student of Hillel the Elder, fashioned an Aramaic translation of the Nevi'im.[4] It makes no mention of any translation by him of the Torah. So all scholars agree that this Targum was not authored by Yonatan ben Uziel. Indeed, Azariah dei Rossi (16th century) reports that he saw two very similar complete Targumim to the Torah, one called Targum Yonatan Ben Uziel and the other called Targum Yerushalmi. A standard explanation is that the original title of this work was Targum Yerushalmi, which was abbreviated to ת"י (TY), and these initials were then incorrectly expanded to Targum Yonatan which was then further incorrectly expanded to Targum Yonatan ben Uziel. For these reasons, scholars call it "Targum Pseudo-Jonathan".[5]


TPsJ is known from two extant sources. One is a manuscript called British Museum Add. 27031, stored at the British Museum in London, and first published by M. Ginsburger in 1903 though provenanced in 16th century Italy. Due to the many errors in Ginsburger's edition, Rieder published a new edition of this manuscript in 1973.[6] This manuscript bears the date 1598, though was written earlier, and was transcribed in an Italian hand. The second is the Venice edition first printed in 1591 and whose manuscripts were known earlier to Azariah dei Rossi (d. 1578), an Italian physician who discussed them in his work Meʾor ʿEynayim (1573–1575).[7]


Range of possible dates

Earlier scholarship once posited that the TPsJ dated to the first century or earlier, although this approach has been widely abandoned. The Aramaic dialect used is late and TPsJ is likely the latest of the Pentateuchal Targums.[3][8] Today, a wide variety of dates have been proposed for Targum Pseudo-Jonathan, ranging from the 4th to 12th centuries, although most date it to after the Islamic conquests[9][10] and the upper boundary for the date of the text is the 13th century due to its citation in material from that time, specifically its repeated reference by Rabbi Menahem Recanati (1250–1310) in his Perush 'Al ha-Torah.[11][12][13] Earlier citations to the TPsJ are not known, and none exist in the works of Nathan b. Yehiel of Rome who otherwise cited Palestinian Targums many times.[7] A small number of academics in recent times have continued to date the TPsJ prior to the Islamic conquests, and these have included Robert Hayward, Paul Flesher, and Beverly Mortensen who place the text between the late fourth century to the early fifth century.[14]

Terminus post quem

A lower boundary for the date of TPsJ is given by references to certain external events, activities, and people. For example, TPsJ describes the six orders of the Mishnah, and the Mishnah dates to around 200. References can also be found to the city of Constantinople which was constructed in 324–330.[15] Later still, the rendering of Genesis 21:21 in the TPsJ contains a polemic reducing the status of Ishmael and against Khadija (called Adisha in the text), the first wife of Muhammad, and a daughter of theirs name Fatima. As such, the current form of the targum must date to the mid-7th century at the earliest, although some argue that this material was inserted into an earlier core of the TPsJ at a later date with respect to its original composition.[15]

Recent views

Paul Flesher and Bruce Chilton have argued that all three major Targums, including Pseudo-Jonathan, should date to the fifth century or earlier because of a lack of Arabic loanwords, for one, and that the Jerusalem Talmud describes a variant containing an expansion of Leviticus 22:28 in y. Ber. 5.3 (9c) whose only similar witness is in the TPsJ. More specifically, this expansion includes the phrase 'My people, children of Israel' (‮עמי בני ישראל‬‎), which is known from Neofiti and the Cairo Geniza, as well as the phrase 'As I am merciful in heaven, so shall you be merciful on earth', only found in TPsJ. Flesher and Chilton take this to imply that the Jerusalem Talmud, which reached its form by the first half of the fifth century, has cited the TPsJ.[16] However, Leeor Gottlieb has retorted that this only provides evidence for the presence of a tradition acting as the common source for the Jerusalem Talmud and TPsJ Lev. 22:28. Instead, Gottlieb dates the TPsJ to the end of the 12th century in Italy on the basis of a textual relationship with a 12th-century Hebrew lexicon which Gottlieb argues has priority over it.[1] Independently, Gavin McDowell reached the same conclusion as Gottlieb, both for a provenance in the 12th century and for Italian origins, on the basis of his renewed argument fro dependence of the TPsJ on the Pirkei De-Rabbi Eliezer composed in the 9th century, as well as the Chronicles of Moses dating to the 11th century.[7] According to McDowell, a 12th-century Italian provenance also explains the absence of Arabic loanwords, which is sometimes used to argue for an early date.[7]

See also


  1. ^ a b Gottlieb, Leeor (2021-05-17). "Towards a More Precise Understanding of Pseudo-Jonathan's Origins". Aramaic Studies. 19 (1): 104–120. doi:10.1163/17455227-bja10019. ISSN 1477-8351.
  2. ^ "Biblical literature - Early Versions, Translations, Canon | Britannica". www.britannica.com. Retrieved 2024-01-22.
  3. ^ a b Croy, N. Clayton (2022). Escaping shame: Mary's dilemma and the birthplace of Jesus. Supplements to Novum Testamentum. Leiden Boston (Mass.): Brill. p. 30. ISBN 978-90-04-51701-1.
  4. ^ Megillah 3a
  5. ^ http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/1318065/1/322506.pdf [bare URL PDF]
  6. ^ Klein, Michael L. (1975-06-01). "A New Edition of Pseudo-Jonathan". Journal of Biblical Literature. 94 (2): 277–279. doi:10.2307/3265736. ISSN 0021-9231.
  7. ^ a b c d McDowell, Gavin (2021-04-21). "The Date and Provenance of Targum Pseudo-Jonathan: The Evidence of Pirqe deRabbi Eliezer and the Chronicles of Moses". Aramaic Studies. 19 (1): 121–154. doi:10.1163/17455227-bja10018. ISSN 1477-8351.
  8. ^ Flesher, Paul Virgil McCracken; Chilton, Bruce David (2011). The Targums: a critical introduction. Studies in the Aramaic interpretation of Scripture. Leiden: Brill. pp. 154–155. ISBN 978-90-04-21769-0.
  9. ^ Hayward (2010-01-01). Targums and the Transmission of Scripture into Judaism and Christianity. BRILL. p. 234. ISBN 978-90-474-4386-5.
  10. ^ J Zhakevich, Iosif (2022-01-19). A Targumist Interprets the Thora: Contradictions and Coherence in Targum Pseudo-Jonathan. BRILL. pp. 1–2, n. 2. ISBN 978-90-04-50383-0.
  11. ^ Staalduine-Sulman, Eveline van (2017). Justifying Christian aramaism: editions and Latin translations of the Targums from the Complutensian to the London Polyglot Bible (1517-1657). Jewish and Christian perspectives series. Leiden: Brill. p. 129. ISBN 978-90-04-35592-7.
  12. ^ "פירוש על התורה לר' מנחם מרקנאטי - רקנטי, מנחם בן בנימין (page 84 of 309)". www.hebrewbooks.org.
  13. ^ "פירוש על התורה לר' מנחם מרקנאטי - רקנטי, מנחם בן בנימין (page 85 of 309)". www.hebrewbooks.org.
  14. ^ Flesher, Paul Virgil McCracken; Chilton, Bruce David (2011). The Targums: a critical introduction. Studies in the Aramaic interpretation of Scripture. Leiden: Brill. pp. 151–152. ISBN 978-90-04-21769-0.
  15. ^ a b Flesher, Paul Virgil McCracken; Chilton, Bruce David (2011). The Targums: a critical introduction. Studies in the Aramaic interpretation of Scripture. Leiden: Brill. pp. 160–162. ISBN 978-90-04-21769-0.
  16. ^ Flesher, Paul Virgil McCracken; Chilton, Bruce David (2011). The Targums: a critical introduction. Studies in the Aramaic interpretation of Scripture. Leiden: Brill. pp. 157–158. ISBN 978-90-04-21769-0.