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Farrar, in his "Life of Christ", says that it has been suggested that when Christ visited the Temple, at twelve years of age, there may have been present among the doctors Jonathan ben Uzziel, once thought the author of the Yonathan Targum, and the venerable teachers Hillel and Shammai, the handers-on of the Mishna.The Targums (the most famous of which is that on the Pentateuch erroneously attributed to Onkelos, a misnomer for Aquila, according to Abrahams) were the only approach to anything like a commentary on the Bible before the time of Christ They were interpretative translations or paraphrases from Hebrew into Aramaic for the use of the synagogues when, after the Exile, the people had lost the knowledge of Hebrew.These teachers are said to have handed down and expanded the Oral Law, which, according to the uncritical view of many Jews, began with Moses.This Oral Law, whose origin is buried in obscurity, consists of legal and liturgical interpretations and applications of the Pentateuch.Jamnia became the head-quarters of Jewish learning until 135.
Pagan systems may have natural religion highly developed, but with much concomitant error.One of the most successful at this was Rabbi Akiba who took part in the revolt of Bar-Kokba, against the Romans, and lost his life (135).The work of systematization was completed and probably committed to writing by the Jewish patriarch at Tiberias, Rabbi Jehudah ha-Nasi "The Prince" (150-210).Though this distinction did not occur to Philo, his exegesis served to tide over the difficulty for the time amongst the Hellenistic Jews, and had great influence on Origen and other Alexandrian Christian writers.
(2) The Targums In order to get on the main lines of Jewish interpretation it is necessary to turn to the Holy Land.We begin with the Jewish writers, and deal briefly with the Targums, Mishna, and Talmuds; for, though these cannot be regarded as Bible commentaries in the proper sense of the word, they naturally lead up to these latter. That Greek literature, in general, got its inspiration from Moses was an uncritical idea that dated back as far as Philo, the great Jewish writer of Alexandria.