Word order is a major component in interpreting Targum Aramaic syntax. With the use of Harald Weinrich’s text-linguistic method, Vasile Condrea answers key questions surrounding this topic.
In the indirect speech of Targum 1 Samuel, the text examined here, the reader is exposed to the flow of narrative, which represents the events as they happened. This flow is sometimes substituted with comment. Weinrich defined these two linguistic realities—the narrative and comment registers—and associated them with morphological tenses in modern languages. English narrates with tenses like past simple, but comments with the present and present perfect.
In Targum Aramaic, the narrative register is conveyed by VSO sentences. SVO sentences are closely linked with the comment register. In the comment passages, the presence of the biblical author is revealed through reports, notes, or clarifications of the story.
How can one distinguish between narrative, which records a sequence of events, and a narrator’s comment on these events, in the form of notes, clarifications, and retellings? Syntax of Targumic Aramaic: A Text-Linguistic Reading of 1 Samuel applies the insights of Functional Sentence Perspective and Text Linguistics to Targum 1 Samuel. Through this analysis, Condrea answers key questions about Aramaic syntax and recovers the voice and contributions of the text’s narrator.