The Peshitta’s Rendering of the Numeruswechsel in Deuteronomy

The Hebrew version of Deuteronomy preserved in the Masoretic Text contains many shifts between second person singular and plural. This shift occurs in verbs, suffixes, and personal pronouns. There are many competing theories on the origin of this phenomenon, however, there has been little study devoted to the ancient translators’ understanding of these shifts. In particular, no one has investigated how the translator of the Peshitta version of Deuteronomy translated these shifts.

This paper will explore the various translation techniques the translator employed to make sense of these shifts. Particular attention will be given to instances where the Peshitta version disagrees with the Masoretic Text and instances where the Peshitta agrees with the Septuagint version against the Masoretic Text. Using data compiled for the author’s dissertation, the investigation can look beyond granular, word-level detail to examine if the translator translated according to the number found his Hebrew Vorlage in certain linguistic contexts and not others. For example, does the translation differ in certain clause types or if the suffix is part of an object rather than the subject? This study will also explore whether certain lexemes are translated with a different number than their Hebrew counterparts at a higher frequency than other lexemes.

The goal of the paper is to provide an explanation of only one aspect of the translator’s technique and to provide a framework for investigating other examples of number switching that occur in Syriac translations of the Hebrew Bible.

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