- Nick Norelli has sent me the Hebrew-English New Covenant: Prophecy Edition which he recently offered as a prize for his caption contest. This handsomely bound volume features the King James Version and the Trinitarian Bible Society’s Hebrew New Testament, also based on the Textus Receptus. I should like to thank Doug Chaplin for forfeiting his rightfully earned prize, and Nick Norelli for choosing me quite arbitrarily to receive it in Doug’s stead!
- Spanish-speaking readers might be interested to know that there exists a Spanish translation of the Septuagint, that by Guillermo Jünemann-Beckschaefer, a Chilean Roman Catholic priest and scholar of German ancestry. This is an extremely literal translation and in many ways, I have found, it paints a picture of the “translation Greek” quality of the original, much like the NETS does for English-speaking readers. Although completed in 1928, Jünemann’s translation of the Greek Bible was not printed in full until 1992, and is sadly now out print. Despair not, however: the full text (including his translation of the New Testament, which as far as I can tell is based on the Byzantine text) is available in an electronic edition which may be downloaded for free here!
- According to Sitemeter, someone from Calvin College in my old stomping grounds of Grand Rapids, Michigan, found my blog via Lingamish! That is very exciting to me, for as is well known by all, Grand Rapids is the Holy City of God (i.e., the New GRusalem). Visitors from Calvin, in particular, must know that I am able to pass this test with flying colors and quite effortlessly, and that at least one unsuspecting Oma has declared in the past that I’m “a very nice Dutch boy.” Ere zij God, ere zij God…
- Sitemeter also notes that someone in Austria found my blog by searching for me by name. Clearly it is time for me to go underground.
- I think the author of the best “Orthodox” blog in existence, Ora et Labora, is trying to tell me something.
- The watchful Trevor informs us that a spokesman of the Patriarchate of Moscow has recently named The Simpsons as an example of a cartoon that “can be even called Christian and promote[s] family values.” Outstanding! Surely this means that, as I have long suspected, The Simpsons make for appropriate Lenten viewing.
Now our friend Jeff over at Scripture Zealot brings to our attention another instance in which our English translations have likely conveyed an incorrect meaning in English, but this time by slavish adherence to form: Psalm 119:92.
If your law had not been my delight,
I would have perished in my affliction. (ESV)
But as Jeff notes, the idiomatic use of “perish” here doesn’t seem to mean precisely “to die,” but rather to be crushed under, to fall into despair. And much to his surprise (and to mine as well), only one English Bible seems to pick up on this nuance: The Message. Well, I guess that proves that it is not entirely useless, as I had previously thought! Go read Jeff’s post to take a look at Eugene Peterson’s rendering of this verse, and to read some relevant quotes from some older (and therefore better) Biblical commentators. (And to learn why I dutifully check out the likes of Matthew Henry, John Gill, and Adam Clarke before the thought of opening a critical commentary even crosses my mind, see the first paragraph of this older post.)
“Form,” while able to communicate meaning clearly in some instances, can be a hindrance in others. I can say in Spanish “Mi mamá me dio aliento,” which can be formally rendered as “My mom gave me breath;” however, this idiom does not mean that my mother gave me life, but rather that she encouraged me. Thus the formal translation quite plainly communicates the wrong meaning in English— and so slavish adherence to form leads us astray here. Let it be noted, however, that I believe it is greatly misguided to dispense with form as matter of principle. That seems to be rather en vogue these days, but I just find it to be a hopelessly obtuse endeavor. As I’ve noted before, there’s no reason to try to make a translation easier than its original! But more about that later.
Rather disappointing (though not of course surprising, given the source) is the fact that only the protocanonical books of the Old Testament are included. An edition of this type including the full Syrian canon would be a fantastic accomplishment, but needless to say, the wise should not hold their breath. This edition (along with, I believe, all other B&H Bibles) also prints Christ’s words in red. To quote Fr Ephrem Lash once again on this point, “I must protest most vigorously against the wholly unorthodox inverted Arianism of the typography whereby the words of Christ are printed in salmon pink, while his heavenly Father has to be content with mere black along with Caiaphas and Pontius Pilate.” Also printed in red are the “Messianic prophecies” of the Old Testament (not whole passages, naturally: only verses, and in some cases, even less than that; cf. Genesis 12:3). I’m quite unsure as to what advantage(s), if any, this crypto-Marcionite practice may present to the reader.
A peculiarity of this translation is that it uses the name “Yahweh” (and not “Yahveh,” which would be a more natural Spanish transcription) for the Tetragrammaton—and this not only in the Old Testament, but even in the New (and, in the latter case, even outside quotations from the OT; cf. II Peter 3:9). According to the relation of names in the back, this is because the translators understand the Aramaic Marya to be a contraction of Mar Yah, that is, “Lord Yahweh.” I am told, however, that R. Payne Smith’s standard lexicon indicates no such roots for Marya; and, as I recall, Aramaist extraordinaire Sebastian Brock specifically notes that it is merely an emphatic form of mar. I wonder, then, at the appropriateness of the use of this idiosyncratic translation. As I understand the matter, the use of Marya in the Peshitta simply parallels that of the anarthrous Kyrios in the LXX as a replacement of the Tetragrammaton (and indeed, the standard replacement of Adonai for YHWH in Hebrew reading). And of course, it should be noted that failing to render Marya as “Lord” throughout the Old and New Testaments makes it exceedingly difficult to read the Peshitta as the foundational text of the Syriac Patristic tradition, which no less less than the Greek, relies on this use of “Lord” for YHWH in the Old Testament to read it christologically.
In spite of the limitations and problems listed above, this new translation of the Peshitta into Spanish (the only one, in fact, readily available in print) remains a valuable contribution to the advancement of Biblical knowledge in the Spanish speaking world, and for this we are greatly in the translators’ and the publishers’ debt.
II. Have you ever wondered about what kinds of projects the infallible Moisés Silva is up to from his retirement in Litchfield, MI? I, for one, often lie awake at night pondering this question. Well, during a recent trip to the local office of the United Bible Societies, I came across a copy of Un Comentario Textual al Nuevo Testamento Griego (shown to the left), a Spanish translation of the second edition of the late Bruce Metzger’s Textual Commentary by Alfredo Tepox and, you guessed it, Moisés Silva. This volume has been published by the Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, and therefore should be available through the United Bibles Societies anywhere around the globe. This is yet another important addition to the body of technical literature in biblical studies available in Spanish, and will surely be greeted with enthusiasm by both scholars and students alike. While I cannot comment on the quality of the translation as I didn’t acquire a copy (being that I have both the first and second editions of Metzger’s Textual Commentary already sitting on my shelf), readers of this blog are well aware that I haven’t yet met a project of Moisés Silva’s that I didn’t like, and so might suppose (rightly or wrongly) what my assessment would be! But of course, it may be that in a joint project such as this we might encounter a translated text of uneven quality; in that case, we would have recourse to the old rhyme regarding the Liddell and Scott lexicon, which goes:
Two men wrote a lexicon, Liddell and Scott;
Some parts were clever, but some parts were not.
Hear, all ye learned, and read me this riddle:
How the wrong parts wrote Scott, and the right parts wrote Liddell.
Naturally, in that imagined scenario, the right parts of Spanish Textual Commentary would be Silva’s, which would make Tepox the culprit, in the end. But of course, I only jest: I have no reason to doubt that this is an excellent translation, and hope that it will prove eminently useful throughout the Spanish speaking world (and beyond—I note that, so far, I have only been able to find it available for sale in German and Portuguese language websites).
Ψαλμὸς τῷ Δαυΐδ.Κύριος ποιμαίνει με, καὶ οὐδέν με ὑστερήσει. Εἰς τόπον χλόης, ἐκεῖ με κατεσκήνωσεν. ἐπὶ ὕδατος ἀναπαύσεως ἐξέθρεψέ με. Τὴν ψυχήν μου ἐπέστρεψεν, ὡδήγησέ με ἐπὶ τρίβους δικαιοσύνης, ἕνεκεν τοῦ ὀνόματος αὐτοῦ. Ἐὰν γὰρ καὶ πορευθῶ ἐν μέσῳ σκιᾶς θανάτου, οὐ φοβηθήσομαι κακά, ὅτι σὺ μετ᾿ ἐμοῦ εἶ. Ἡ ῥάβδος σου καὶ ἡ βακτηρία σου αὗταί με παρεκάλεσαν. Ἡτοίμασας ἐνώπιόν μου τράπεζαν, ἐξ ἐναντίας τῶν θλιβόντων με. Ἐλίπανας ἐν ἐλαίῳ τὴν κεφαλήν μου, καὶ τὸ ποτήριόν σου μεθύσκον με ὡσεὶ κράτιστον. Καὶ τὸ ἔλεός σου καταδιώξει με πάσας τὰς ἡμέρας τῆς ζωῆς μου, καὶ τὸ κατοικεῖν με ἐν οἴκῳ Κυρίου εἰς μακρότητα ἡμερῶν.
A Psalm concerning David.The LORD shepherds me, and I will lack nothing. He made me encamp in a verdant place, he reared me by refreshing waters. He turned my soul around, he guided me along paths of justice for his name's sake. Even if I walked amid death’s shadow, I would fear no evils, because you are with me; your rod and your staff have comforted me. You prepared a table before me in front of those who afflict me. You anointed my head with oil, and your strong cup inebriated me. And your mercy will pursue me all the days of my life, and the LORD's house will be my dwelling for as long as I live.
“Ora et Labora. This is the best blog I’ve seen on Orthodox Christianity. The blogger, a Russian Orthodox clergyman who wishes to remain anonymous, posts frequently and with considerable insight and erudition.”
After only a few days of reading Ora et Labora, I can attest to the truth Patrick’s words and heartily recommend this wonderful blog to all. I admit: by and large, I don’t read “Orthodox blogs.”* But here is indeed a notable exception to the pseudo-academic, obnoxiously self-important, dolefully provincial yet militant Americanist ‘Orthodoxy’ that seems to dominate the Internet.
Since some of you have asked in the past about blogs by Orthodox authors that might be worth your while, I will take this chance to highlight those listed on my blogroll in addition to Ora et Labora, which are the ones that I myself read and find useful and interesting:
I’m sure there are others, but again, these are the ones I read, and they have yet to disappoint. (N.B.: There is also, of course, Kevin Edgecomb’s wonderful blog Biblicalia, but I’ve always thought of it more along the lines of a “biblioblog” by an Orthodox author.)
* I have no earthly idea of what an “Orthodox blog” may be. I have never seen a blog being baptized, chrismated or communed. Allowing for some imaginative exegesis of these words, however, I suppose that they might refer to blogs dedicated to theology and the spiritual life (which are, after all, one and the same thing) written by Orthodox Christian authors from the perspective of the Tradition of the Orthodox Church. This was, in any case, my working definition for my limited selection here.
The divine Fleming Rutledge, one of the finest preachers of our generation, has posted a masterful indictment of P. C. readings of the Classics. It is apparently P.C. to express that one feels compassion for the likes of Emily Brontë and Jane Austen on account of “lamentable restrictions in 19th century women’s lives,” but the divine Fleming cannot agree: “[S]hould Emily Brontë on her dismal moor be the object of our compassion, or our dumbstruck awe?” In the end, by feeling sorry for these giants, we only perpetuate quite sexist approaches to their lives and works.
The amazing John Hobbins has posted quite the thought-provoking post on the question of just how well did St Jerome know Hebrew. Since I have conclusively proved earlier in this blog that St Jerome rocks, no further arguments to this effect are necessary; but let me tell you, reading John’s excellent piece can’t hurt!
Jim West (tagged by Chris Brady) has decided to respond to yet another vile and foul meme, this time elucidating for us all why exactly it is he blogs. I find answers a & 2 to be quite clear and satisfactory, but answer 3 seems, well, a bit vague. “I want to,” says he. Well yes, Jim, but why do you want to? Here we are inexplicably met with silence. Thankfully, and in spite of Jim’s seeming reluctance to flesh out his rather laconic response, I have been able to find a most enlightening illustration that fully explains the real reason behind Jim’s drive to blog:
(And speaking of Jim West and Chris Brady, I learned yesterday that the latter had interviewed the former in April 2007 as the first in Targuman‘s “Bibliopodcast” series. It was a fascinating interview; I feel like I need to listen to it again and take notes! I know not, however, why the “Bibliopodcasts” have gone awry so soon; for his third (!) installment, Brady has chosen to interview the Rev Mr Tilling, a well-known Wrightianist and textbook example of why some sensible people just can’t believe there is a just and loving God. At least it was not a wholly wasted 27:30 minutes: I certainly did learn, for instance, that I cannot leave any of my original research around the prying eyes of Gordon Fee!)
And last but not least, those who enjoy the use of folk and contemporary music styles in the cultic gatherings of their faith communities will undoubtedly also greet with much delight this catchy praise song, addressed to one called “powerful sovereign lord.”
Lingy loves me, this I know,
For his blog post tells me so!
But then I noticed the category in which I was placed: “Pseudo-anti-orthodox.” Frankly, I don’t even know what this means, even though the Rev Mr Ker attempts to explain himself thusly:
“You might think the Orthodox [C]hurch is all about priests with big beards and funny hats. These guys [myself and one Mark Olson, also awarded in this category] show that it is just a bit more than that.” (brackets mine)
What stumps me, of course, is that I do indeed believe that the Orthodox Church is only about clergymen with impressive beards and funny (as in “awesome”) hats; I am unaware of where or how the Rev Mr Ker might have collected a different impression. Be that as it may, and given the actual description of the award, I suppose I could make my own Sally Field’s legendary acceptance speech at the 1985 Oscars:
“I haven’t had an orthodox career, and I’ve wanted more than anything to have your respect. The first time I didn’t feel it, but this time I feel it, and I can’t deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me!”
N.B.- This was Fields’ second Oscar, even as the Lingy was my second award. In a week.
II. My superfriend Juhem has stated publicly that mine is, hands down, the best biblioblog he’s ever read. That mine also happens to be the only biblioblog he’s ever read is irrelevant to the veracity of the claim, as proved by the following quote, in which our hero, the infallible Moisés Silva, recounts an episode from his seminary career:
“During my student days [at Westminster Seminary], Galatians was used as the basis for the New Testament exegesis course—a practice going back to Old Princeton—a course for which I prepared during the summer of 1967 by going through Lightfoot’s wonderful commentary on the epistle. My middler year, I submitted a paper on Gal. 5:13-26, which was awarded the Thomas E. Welmers Memorial Prize in Biblical Languages and Exegesis (and I was assured that the decision had nothing to do with the fact that I was the only student that year to submit a paper for that competition).” (Moisés Silva, Interpreting Galatians: Explorations in Exegetical Method [Grand Rapids: Baker, 2001], page 13; brackets mine).
I should note that Juhem made this remark in order to introduce his retelling of a story from our high school days. (So if you’ve been aching to know what kinds of things 14-year-old Esteban was up to, this is your chance!) There is one detail of the story that deserves further comment: note that we chose Pluto as the subject of our Earth Sciences solar system project. Therefore it is no wonder that, as Juhem notes, our presentation had “little science content”: as we now know, Pluto is not, in fact, a planet. In this we showed ourselves to be far ahead of the science then available to us, and I believe that, on account of this, we deserve extra credit to be retroactively applied to our grade.
III. My local Borders has bestowed upon me an exceedingly great prize: during a flash visit to the store this weekend, I found that they had placed in the clearance section a pristine copy of Richard Bauckham’s Jesus and the Eyewitnesses which was quite obviously meant for me, and I was thus able to obtain this important book for a mere $17! Clearly Borders is trying to make amends with me after sabotaging their formerly wonderful Bible section and earning a sound prophetic condemnation from Yours Truly. This is undoubtedly a good start; but ah, if only they would restore their Bible section to its former glory!