Harris Francis Fletcher's pioneering work Milton's Rabbinical Readings has encouraged Milton scholars to seek Milton's primary sources for his rabbinical references and allusions. However, Fletcher's thesis that Milton used the Buxtorf Rabbinical Bible (1619) is without substantiation since almost half of the rabbinical glosses cited by Fletcher have been mistranslated. The mistranslations occur in Fletcher's material purporting to establish the Buxtorf Bible thesis, in the rabbinical hexaemeral parallels for Paradise Lost, and in certain esoteric angelological sources cited by Fletcher. While Milton's knowledge of biblical Hebrew is not disputed and his references to rabbinical literature are a matter of record, it is clear that rabbinical Hebrew, with its unique script, syntax, vocabulary, idiom, and absence of pointing and punctuation, is so different from biblical Hebrew that Fletcher was unable to cope with its complexities and that Milton himself utilized secondary sources for rabbinical citations or read the primary sources with limited comprehension.

The text of this article is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.