Monday, June 30, 2008

JSOT on 'tob' in Genesis 6.2

Carol Kaminski in JSOT:

In Gen. 6.2 the sons of God see that the daughters of humankind are 'beautiful', yet the adjective used in 6.2 is not {he}{pe}{yod}, 'beautiful, handsome', but {bet}{vav}{tet}, 'good'. An examination of the adjective {bet}{vav}{tet} in the present study leads to the conclusion that {bet}{vav}{tet} in Gen. 6.2 does not mean 'beautiful', but 'good'. This study proposes that 6.2 is not connected to the 'beauty' motif found in the ensuing chapters of Genesis, but to the 'seeing...good' motif in the preceding creation story (Gen. 1-3). The conclusion is reached that what sets the story in motion is not the attractive appearance of the women, but the false judgment by the sons of God whose actions recall Eve's in Gen. 3.6.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

The 'impossibility' of literally translating volition and succession in Ruth 2


From Muraoka's grammar (qtd by Steinberg):

The nuance of succession and the volitive cannot be expressed at the same time. Thus it is not possible to render the following literally: "I want to go and I (then) want to glean"; either the expression of succession or that of will must be sacrificed, to give either: "I want to go and to glean" (Ru 2.2) or "I want to go and (then) I shall glean" (cf. Ru 2.7).


אלכה־נא השדה ואלקטה

Heb (xlit)
ēləḵâ-nnā’ haśśāḏeh wa’ălaqŏṭâ

LXX (nets)
Let me go now to the field and gather

vadam in agrum et colligam spicas quae metentium

Y schal go in to the feeld, and Y schal gadere

Let mee goe to the fielde, and gather eares of corne

Let me now go to the field, and glean

Let me go to the field, and glean

Let me go to the fields and pick up

I'm going to work; I'm going out to glean

• The more I think about this, the more I wonder if English doesn't adequately convey both volition and succession in phrases like "I'd like to go and see them," or, in this case, simply "I will go and glean."

• I just realized I had it backwards; Muraoka is saying s&v can be simultaneously expressed in Hebrew but not in English. I think. I've confused myself.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Biblica on Heb. 9:11

S. Fuhrmann in Biblica(pdf):

My approach is based on the observation that a ‘soteriological reading’ of Heb 9,11 is neither necessary nor particularly meaningful. The participium coniunctum
παραγενόμενος ἀρχιερεὺς τῶν γενομένων ἀγαθῶν should rather be read as a strictly christological statement, meaning thus: ‘(Christ), arrived as the high priest whose good qualities (virtues) have come into being’.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

JETS on 'ya'al' as the last word of the Old Testament


John Sailhamer in JETS:

From a literary perspective, there is no intertestamental gap between the Testaments. The last word in the Hebrew Bible can also be understood as the first word in the NT. It is a verb without a subject ( וְיָֽעַל
2 Chr 36:23, "let him go up"). Its subject could very well be taken from the first chapter of Matthew in the NT. It is a call for the coming of that one "whose God is with him," and who is to build the Temple in Jerusalem. In Chronicles (and the post-exilic prophets) this one is the messianic (priestly) son of David. Matthew's Gospel, which follows immediately after this last word, begins like Chronicles, with a genealogy identifying Jesus as the Christ (Messiah), the son of David, who is Emanuel, "God with us."


The Messiah and the Hebrew Bible
John Sailhamer, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Journal of the Evangelical Society 44:1 (March 2001)

Friday, June 6, 2008

SJOT on 'masa' in Hab. 1:1


David Cleaver-Bartholomew in SJOT:

According to Tucker, prophetic superscriptions indicate how these texts were understood, and they characterize the book. The superscription in Hab 1,1 indicates that the early tradents who placed it at the beginning of the text understood that chs 1 and 2 should be read as a [משא]. Relatively recent research by Richard D. Weis has revealed that the term [משא] not only identifies a prophetic utterance, but also a genre of prophetic speech.22 One extremely important and relevant characteristic of this genre is that preexilic [משאות] texts frequently contain within themselves the revelations upon which they are based. Another important and relevant characteristic of [משאות] texts is that they respond to “a question about a lack of clarity in the relation between divine intention and human reality. Either the divine intention being expressed in some aspect of human experience is unclear, or the divine intention is clear enough, but the human events through which it will gain expression are unclear.”


Thursday, June 5, 2008

JSOT on Jeremiah's pun on 'brother,' 'supplant,' and 'Jacob'


Joachim Krause in JSOT:

While Jacob is liked for his shrewd tactics, people are well aware of the moral problem entailed. Unambiguous accounts are not wanting in the Bible. Hosea 12.4 interprets the prenatal struggle of the twins in an overtly critical account of Jacob’s career: ‘in the womb he supplanted (עקב)* his brother’. Harsher still sounds Jeremiah’s brief and unbalanced remark (Jer. 9.3), playing on the popular etymology of Jacob’s personal name as meaning ‘supplanter’: Trust not a brother, for every brother tries to supplant’ (אל־תבטחו כי כל־אח
עקוב יעקב וכל־רע

* The semantics of the root 􀀳􀁂􀀋 deserve careful treatment; see n. 5, below, and cf. M. Malul, ‘􀀡􀆖q􀆝b “Heel” and 􀀡􀆖qab “to Supplant” and the Concept of Succession in the Jacob–Esau Narratives’, VT 46 (1996), pp. 190-212. In the present instance, though (as in Jer. 9.3), the LXX’s 􀁑􀁕􀁆􀁓􀁏􀁊􀀑􀁛􀁘 (‘to outwit’) provides a well-chosen interpretation of an attempt whose factual outcome is illuminated by the English verb ‘to supplant’.


JBL on 'dikaioma' in Romans 5:16


J.R. Daniel Kirk in JBL(pdf):

Although mild defenses of the translation “justification” have been offered, I will argue that a better way forward is to render δικαίωμα with the well-attested meaning of “judgment,” “penalty,” or “reparation”—an action performed by a convicted person that satisfies the court and thus justifies the defendant. After summarizing the argument offered in favor of the translation “justification,” I will argue for “reparation” based on (1) inherent probability (that is, that Paul is more likely to use a word with a meaning his readers would understand), and (2) contextual considerations (these simultaneously undermine an assumptionmade in the argument for “justification” and support the alternative reading offered here).


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Hebrew verb + cognate participle as an idiomatic intensive, esp. in LXX quotes


Mark Krause:

If the LXX and thus the Hebrew background of the Greek verb + cognate participle are taken into account, any interpretation must see this construction as intensive; any translation must attempt to bring this out.

A survey of the English translations of Mk 4.12 will be illustrative at this point. Unfortunately, the AV translators apparently did not understand the idiom and rendered the text very literally: 'seeing they may see and not perceive; and hearing they may hear and not understand'.

Subsequent translations have followed suit:

NASB: 'while seeing they may see and not perceive; and while hearing, they may hear and not understand' (similarly ASV, NKJV).

Others have attempted to do something beyond such a literal translation:

JB: 'they may see and see again, but not perceive; may hear and hear again but not understand';

NEB: 'they may look and look, but see nothing, they may hear and hear and understand nothing'.

A few have apparently understood the intensive nature of this construction and tried to bring this out in translation:

NIV: 'they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding';

NAB: 'they will look intently and not see, listen carefully and not understand';

NRSV: 'they may indeed look, but not perceive, and may indeed listen, but not understand' (similarly RSV)

The translator should recognize the intensity of this construction and render it appropriately. The English method for intensifying a verb is frequently to use an adverb. The choice of adverb should be guided by the recognition that the Hebrew verb + cognate infinitive absolute construction seeks to intensify the verb's assertion, not its root meaning. Words like 'surely', 'certainly' (or 'most certainly') and 'intently' are appropriate. A possible translation of Mk 4.12 might be:

They are sure to look and not really see,
They are sure to listen and not really understand.

A possible translation of Mt. 13.14 might be:

You will surely listen but certainly not understand,
You will surely look but certainly not see.

— Mark Krause, in Biblical Greek Language and Linguistics, p.198-199

Monday, June 2, 2008

new light on Psalm 22:17?

The issue is introduced here by John Hobbins, with more to come there. (Update: Here it is.) My earlier meditation on this is here.

'Bethlehem': 'house of bread' vs. 'house of struggle'


From Chuck Cliff:

Not many are aware that [the word] Bethlehem is ... formed from "Bait", "house", and "LeHeM", "bread". Bethlehem therefore has the literal meaning "House of Bread".

The interesting [thing] is that the root meaning of bread refers to the kneading of the dough. As a verb, LHM can refer to battle, in particular the hand-to-hand combat one saw in olden times. Therefore, the word basically means "struggle", "strife", "confrontation".

A small thing, but interesting that the place where the Christian savior is born is, the "House of Bread" or "House of Struggle".


'gunai' and the limits of corpora


Micheal Palmer:

In some cases the limitations of working with ancient texts are recognized, by solutions are not proposed. E. Wendland and E.A. Nida, for example, offer the following statement in their article, 'Lexicography and Bible Translating':

The limited corpus of the New Testament and of other Koine Greek texts makes it impossible to undertake the find-grid distinctions which would be possible if there were more data available and particularly if informants of New Testament Greek were available.

They offer no discussion, however, of how their semantic theory may be adapted to this limitation. In fact, some of their statements might lead the skeptic to conclude that the limitation has been ignored. They state, for example, 'in Greek itself gunai has an associative meaning which is far more favorable than the English term woman.' While this may be a completely valid conclusion, how did they reach it? How can associative meaning be measured given the limited corpus available?

— Micheal Palmer, "How Do We Know a Phrase Is a Phrase?" in Biblical Greek Language and Linguistics, p.155

Paul the Platonist? 'Pneuma' in Romans 6-8


Emma Wasserman on Paul and Platonism, in JSNT:

As I have argued for chs. 6 and 7, a Platonic discourse about the soul provides for a more coherent interpretation of Paul’s diverse statements about sin. Once we understand the divide in Platonic terms as between sin, flesh, members, body (negatively) and passions, which are opposed to reason (the inner person), [nous] and law, these different statements cohere as elaborations of the same oral-psychological premises. But ch. 8 introduces something new to the picture developed in chs. 6–7: the [pneuma] (spirit) of God. This has important implications for God’s intervention with Christ in 8.1-13, as it suggests that Paul envisions a special type of [pneuma] that dwells inside the mind and restores its capacity for reason and self-control. While I cannot here explore the mechanism by which this happens, an infusion of God’s [pneuma], Paul consistently treats the new way of life offered to Gentiles as a new state of self-control. This makes good sense when considered as a restoration of the Gentile mind that God punished in Rom. 1.18-32 by handing it over to the rule of passions and to an evil mind (1.24, 26, 28).

Appreciating Paul’s use of Platonic assumptions allows one to make sense of the association between sin and flesh throughout 8.1-13 as well as exhortations such as ‘if by the [pneuma] you put to death the doings of the body, you will live’ (8.13). On my reading, this means that the [pneuma] enables a new mastery of the body with its passions and desires that allow for ethical behavior and acquittal at the final judgment. Platonic premises are particularly helpful for understanding 8.5-11 which attribute some form of intelligence to the flesh. ... In service of the analogy, Paul poses two hostile powers within the body, here flesh and spirit, and attributes them antithetical reasoning activities.