According to Gérard Garitte [G. Garitte, Traduttore traditore di se stesso, Bulletin de la Classe des Lettres de l’Académie Royale de Belgique. 5e sér. 57 (1971) 39–80; reprinted in: Idem, Scripta disiecta. 1941—1977. II, (Publications de l’Institut Orientaliste de Louvain, 22; Lovanii, 1980) 676–717], such calques as поновения are “les interférences implantées” in the language of translation and should be excluded from the list of the evidences that a given text is translated. Such calques are used equally in the original works, and there are original texts where the usage of such “interférences implantées” is much higher than in the translated texts in the same language. Garitte refers himself to the original Coptic sermons of Pachomius the Great where the number of Greek loanwords is greater than in the Sahidic New Testament by about 25%. The only “interférences” that should be taken into account when we are trying to define if a given text is translated or not, are “les interférences accidentelles” where a word of the original language was interpreted mistakenly. I am quoting here Gérard Garitte because this important theoretical paper on the ways of translation in the Christian Orient retains its value as to the Christian Oriental translations of the pseudepigraphic literature but is not well-known to the specialists in the late Jewish / early Christian literature.
However, though being almost irrelevant to the evaluation of the technique of translation from Hebrew into Greek and then into Slavonic, Kulik’s analysis of ApAb 9:9 holds as a demonstration that, due to its “ ‘templocentric’ attitude,” “ApAb might have been composed, with at least equal probability, in the late Second Temple period” (p. 47) (and not after AD 70, as it is generally accepted). I would like to emphasize and re-accentuate this conclusion: dealing with the Jewish apocalyptic literature, we are always in presence of such “templocentrism,” and so, no vision of temple is able to lead us automatically to the dating of any apocalyptic work. The heavenly temple that is open to the apocalyptic visionary is always in the center of his attention, and this temple exists regardless to the existence of its earthly likeness. In fact, an earthly temple is nothing but an imperfect mean to access the heavenly one, but the visionary by definition accesses the heaven independently.
In the next chapter, drawing his attention to the Semitic original, Kulik first of all turns himself, naturally, to the problem of its language, Hebrew or Aramaic (p. 61-64). His conclusion is very balanced: “As well as the proper names, most Semitic forms in our document may reflect an Aramaic original as well as a Hebrew one. In very rare cases we can indicate Hebrew forms impossible or unattested in Aramaic” (p. 63), that leads him to prefer a hypothesis of Hebrew as the language of original (p. 64). He carefully notes in advance: “In the period under discussion elements of these languages [Hebrew and Aramaic] could be mixed in a single text” (p. 61).
The ways of the retroversion into Hebrew Kulik divides into two groups: retroversion omitting the Greek stage (p. 64-66) and two-stage retroversion (p. 66-76).
The first are those where the Slavonic version reproduces Semitisms or misinterpretations of the Semitic original “which were not found in any extant Greek texts” or contains the citations or parallels to the sources preserved only in a Semitic language (p. 64). Here the examples of Kulik are borrowed from the previous scholarship. I would like to add another one, образование / образъ / образство in ApAb 21-22 as misinterpretation (on the Greek or maybe even Hebrew ground) of an ancient Aramaic term for propitiatorium, ׂחסא (cf. Lourié, Propitiatorium…).
The list of Kulik’s two-stages retroversions is relatively long and fascinating. He considers semantic calques (p. 66-68), syntactic biblicisms (p. 69-70) and phraseological biblicisms (p. 71-76). Some of them are occurring in the Greek and Slavonic Bible translations, and so, not all of them should be considered as translators’ mistakes. But this does not affect the importance of Kulik’s observations to our understanding of the text. Probably, Kulik would work in this field even more productive if he was bearing in mind the data of Raymond Martin (R. A. Martin, Syntactical Evidences of Semitic Sources in Greek Documents. Septuagint and Cognate Studies, no. 3. Missoula, MT: Scholars Press, 1974) unfortunately not mentioned by him.
Concluding chapter dedicated to the clarification (and then, retroversion) of the Slavonic text by explaining its intertextual links is also of importance. Probably the most impressing is the following case: ApAb 11:2-3, an extremely corrupted reading in the beginning of description of the appearance of Yahoel (chief angel, a kind of personification of the Name of God) (p. 83). The description starts by the words: “And the appearance of the body of his feets [тѣла ногу его “of the body of his feets (dual)”, but some mss have only тѣла его “of his body”] was like sapphire [cf. Ezek 1:10]…” Kulik opts for the lectio difficilior proposing a conjecture ногуева instead of ногу его, that is, “the appearance of the griffin’s body” (ногуи “griffin” = γρύψ, LXX has in Lev 11 :13 and Deut 14 :12 = פרסMT). This reading might be corrupted because the following part of Yahoel’s description deals with his human head quite inappropriate to a bird of prey. However, Kulik point out in 3 Enoch 26:3 a similar description of a human-eagle figure of the prince of the Seraphim, the angel Serapiel, as well as some other parallels from the same book. Probably, we can add here a medieval legend of the ascension of Alexander the Great that goes back to the Hellenistic epoch. Alexander reaches the heaven (or even heavenly Jerusalem) by four griffins (cf. G. Millet, L’ascension d’Alexandre, Syria 4 (1923) 85-133, and В. Лурье, Александр Великий — «последний Римский царь». К истории эсхатологических концепций в эпоху Ираклия, Византинороссика 2 (2003) 121-149). This proves that the griffons as conductors to heaven are not an invention of the authors of the hekhalot literature but a part of the common heritage of the late Judaism.
To sum up, Kulik managed to present ApAb in its integrity, as a late Jewish text that can shed light on our understanding of the late Judaism. I hope the talks about various “interpolations” into the text of ApAb have now to be stopped. Our understanding of the late Jewish theology will become more depending on the texts and our understanding of the texts will become less depending on our presumed knowledge of what the Jewish theology “should be”. Let us thank the author for this.