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Aramaic Dialectology and the Greek Translations of Daniel and Ezra

Andrew Glen Daniel

Pages 17 - 44


At the margins of Aramaic studies, the Septuagint (LXX) has proven itself an invaluable resource for Egyptian (and perhaps Palestinian) Aramaic in the Hellenistic period. Scholarship, however, has overlooked the Aramaic portions of the Bible (Dan. 2:4 b–7:28; Ezra 4:8–6:18, 7:12–26), no doubt due to the understandable conclusion that the Aramaic of Daniel belongs to Middle Aramaic and, therefore, dialect differences should be indistinguishable. Yet, some fifteen lexical items, scattered and fragmentary like epigraphic remains, provide insight into Aramaic dialectology between the demise of Achaemenid Official Aramaic and the great literary dialects of the Common Era. The LXX documents the loss of certain Akkadian and Old Persian loans with the rise of Hellenism, diachronic shifts in several lexical items, and geographic isoglosses. In many cases, the Septuagint translators are the earliest attestation of lexical meanings for certain roots by centuries. This data illuminates Aramaic in the late Hellenistic period at a time when textual remains are sparse.


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