Sporadic theological and historical musings by Edgar Foster (Ph.D. in Theology and Religious Studies and one of Jehovah's Witnesses).
It seems odd to me why none of these general commentaries acknowledge that Hebrew has written vowels.
Coogan acknowledges that vowels came later in Hebrew. But they weren't there originally.
Another point is what he says about the potential meanings for YHWH.
It seems odd to me that these commentators make no mention of Flavius Josephus calling the letters four vowels. Is this an earlier work?
Philip,I would tend to believe that Coogan is familiar with the quote from Josephus. However, while we're not sure what he meant, there is good reason for believing that the Masoretes devised the vowels system for Hebrew as we know it. One article offers some ideas on what Josephus likely meant. So does Gerard Gertoux. Please see http://www.creationcalendar.com/NameYHWH/5-FourVowels.pdf
Duncan,I've got to run, but isn't ancient-hebrew.org also saying that the vowels were not originally there either, like Coogan notes. They came later with the Masoretic Text, right? That's what Coogan is saying. He is not denying that the current Hebrew text has the vowel markings. Best,Edgar
Edgar,That is not a point I am trying to make. I am just saying that there are many people who believe the vowel pointings do not necessarily indicate the original vowels used (but obviously it was spoken with vowel sounds) & that the original meaning in written form is not dependent on the vowels. Otherwise some vowel marking would have been assigned from it's early times.Also the comments on Judges 6:24 are misleading.יהוה שלום Yehu Shalom Yehu is completeness/wholeness.1 Corinthians 14:33 from Hebrew thinking is a god of wholeness not one of things broken apart in ακαταστασιας.
Duncan,There has to be some sense in which the vowel markings of the Masoretes are reconstructive. I would say most scholars accept this point. Isn't the somewhat reconstructive nature of the Masoretic vowel system demonstrated by the Masorah convention, qere and kithiv?I'm not sure what's problematic about Coogan's remarks on Judg 6:24. Shalom can be rendered "peace" although we recognize that the English rendering is pretty much a gloss. Of course, there are other shades of meaning with shalom. That doesn't invalidate the translation "peace." Furthermore, Tam also has that sense of soundness, wholeness. But I don't understand how "Lord of peace" implies that God YHWH can possibly be less than whole.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shalom#Etymology"The Hebrew term shalom is roughly translated to other languages as peace" ... "The use of shalom in the Scriptures always points towards that transcendent action of wholeness."The commentary you quoted (like many) tend to contract the meaning of the words rather than expand. Peace as a gloss is very narrow.So "Lord of peace" does not imply that God YHWH can possibly be less than whole but it does not explain the point of the term either.One place I have to ponder about is Matthew 5:48, was it Tam or Shalom.Tam = To Fill.Someone or something that is whole, complete or full. One who is mature and upright as one who is whole. Shalom = CompleteMade whole or complete by adding or subtracting.
Duncan,I've been heavily critical of Coogan before, so it's interesting that I now find myself defending him (to an extent). None of what I say below should be taken personally.1) We must consider the use of Judges 6:24 within the context of Coogan's entire work, and how it was intended to be used in the picture (box) I submitted to this blog.He's simply quoting Judges 6:24 with the familiar translation of "peace" to make a larger point about the divine name. The information I posted was not intended to be a thorough analysis of Judges or any other particular text or Hebrew word: He's simply making a brief pedagocial point about God's name in the Tanakh."Peace" as a translation/gloss is fine. There's a difference between defining and translating words. I'm sure you would agree that many translation approaches also exist. It's very difficult to say that the rendering "peace" is wrong. 2) Translations are not usually about explaining, are they? If I render the Latin expression "De gustibus non est disputandum" into idomatic English, my task is not to explain the expression, but translate it.3) Mt 5:48 is a good verse. It would be enlightening to see how Hebrew NTs treat that passage.
Edgar,I am open to all perspectives.I assume you meant pedagogical - from the roman teachers.I am pointing to the overall theme of our discussion, the meaning of YHWH.A YHWH of peace vs a YHWH of completeness, which have very different thinking in English.You are of course assuming that a word for word translation into English is even possible.To translate is to migrate a meaning from one word-form to another, it is not dependent on a relatively equal word count (that's why I am a fan of the JMNT for the greek). What we are looking at here is an interpretation or partial translation at best (looking through someones limited word filter). Which like some of my overly curt comments, can be very easily mis-understood. Sorry about that ;)"Translations are not usually about explaining" - the terms used should be self explanatory within the framework of the target language, as they would have been in the source.If we take the base concept to mean "Complete or whole". Then peace (nothing needs adding or removing) gives us a interpretation of peace in the sense of "quiescence"."We tend to think of the decades following the final overthrow of Napoleon as remarkably quiescent" (Walter McDougall).For one who "exist's" or "who is" this is apt (Nothing interrupts the continuous flow & becoming of YHWH).The Hebrew Names Version of 2 Corinthians 13:11Finally, brothers, rejoice. Be perfected, be comforted, be of the same mind, live in shalom, and the God of love and shalom will be with you.Yet it leaves Matthew 5:48 asTherefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.So Perfect is left in the Greek concept. I think they will not hazard a guess either.
Duncan,Yes, I did mean pedagogical.All I'm saying about Coogan's take on Judges 6:24 is that he's simply trying to demonstrate what YHWH could mean. The rendering "peace" has a subsidiary role in his sideline discussion. I don't see how a focus on Shalom contributes to an attempt to discover what YHWH could denote. At any rate, I also see nothing wrong with the translation "peace" for Shalom, even if we know that more explanation should be forthcoming when one is discussing this Hebrew term.To be clear, when I posted this blog entry, it had nothing to do with Shalom: I was completely focused on Coogan's explanation of YHWH. But I can see that we have differing translation approaches (philosophies) although my feeling is that you're assuming a little too much about my stand on Hebrew-Greek to English translation. No, I don't believe that a strict word for word translation from Hebrew/Greek to English is possible. However, there are clearly instances in which Hebrew/Greek terms can be rendered with approximate target language by translators. Remember the old saying, "The translator is a traitor." But translation (IMO) is not exegesis/commentary. That work should follow translation.For the record, I'm not offended by anything you've said. My attempt at this point is to clarify and see where we might differ.The word "peace" (like other words) has a semantic range; it doesn't necessarily have to convey the thought of quiescence. It can also refer to serenity, tranquility, or freedom from anxiety, etc. We can explain (exegete) after we translate.As for 2 Cor 13:11, the same translational difficulties that plague Shalom in Hebrew, also challenge Eirene in Greek. The words are similar but let's not flatten out the differences between Shalom and Eirene. :)That is not meant to imply that you're guilty of failing to differentiate these differences.
Couple of thoughts from 2 commentators on Judges 6:24:"Jehovah-shalom, i.e. the Lord's peace; the sign or witness of God's speaking peace to me, and to his people; or the place where he spake peace to me, when I expected nothing but destruction" (Matthew Poole). And from Gill's Exposition:and called it Jehovahshalom; the Lord is peace, the author and giver of peace, temporal, spiritual, and eternal; so Jarchi,"the Lord is our peace," a fit name for the angel that appeared to him, who was no other than the man of peace; who is our peace, the author of peace between God and man. This name he gave the altar, with respect to the words of comfort said to him in his fright:peace be to thee; and by way of prophecy, that peace would be wrought for Israel by the Lord, and prosperity given them; or by way of prayer, the Lord grant or send peace:
Duncan,if you have access to Rashi's commentary, see his treatment of Judg 6:24 too.
I thoroughly enjoy our discussions - it expands my range of studies immensely. Another's perspective is always good (especially someone as well read as you).http://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/15814#showrashi=trueThis as a commentary in English adds no clarity to the subject."the Lord is peace: The Lord is He Who bestows upon us peace."vs"the Lord is complete: The Lord is He Who bestows upon us completeness."So it could be interpreted as one who gives what we need to be peaceful/ quiescent - to be given that which is sufficient.http://www.ancient-hebrew.org/27_peace.htmlInterestingly some translate El Shaddai as "All-Sufficient One". Shad meaning breast which fits the proto Semitic symbols used, unlike almighty.
Duncan,I enjoy these discussions also. Though I often take the role of disputant--it's really a 2-way street for me in terms of learning.The rendering "peace" makes more sense to me as I read 6:22-23 in conjunction with v. 24. My only point in referring to Rashi is that he also seemed to understand Shalom in terms of peace, although I'm sure he knew that way of translating does not exhaust the potential meaning of shalom.This conversation goes to the heart of what I've been saying about Hebrew lexicality and etymology. Meanings and roots often are disputed by Hebrew scholars, but almost everyone agrees that context is king.We should think of the rendering "peace" as a starting-point rather than view it as a terminus.
Edgar,What I am not sure about is the original language that Shlomo Yitzhaki wrote his commentary. I have it as Hebrew in my JPS Hebrew/English study edition. Was it originally Hebrew or old French?If in Hebrew then it really adds nothing but in French it could be interesting.The English translation follows the form as many works prescribe - that peace is the primary meaning of shalom which is simply untrue.
Edgar,Just found some information on Rashi.Thought you might find it interesting:-http://jewish30yrs.mcgill.ca/abecassis/The deeper one looks the more complicated everything gets :(Would the real Rashi please step forward !I am assuming since no other comments are made, that his commentary was a Hebrew original & gives us no clue of European language options in translation.
Duncan,Rashi did write his commentary in Hebrew. He also had secretaries, to whom he dictated his thoughts. See Martin Sicker's Introduction to Judaic Thought, page 138.Best,Edgar
Thanks Edgar,page 138 does say:-"He often resorted to theuse of vernacular French to explain difficult words and phrases, andmore than a thousand of such instances are to be found in his work."Is there a reference that can provide me with these?
Came across this on pg 17:-"Translating Hebrew into a noncognate language such as English is both difficult and problematic, the subtleties of the one being obscured and sometimes distorted by the subtleties of the other. Moreover, because idiomatic expressions and usages cannot be translated literally and retain their meaning, and because differences in grammar may preclude literal translation, English translations, as well as those in other languages, of the Hebrew Scriptures are unavoidably also interpretations, the accuracy of which may be subject to dispute, especially when they affect fundamental concepts. This is not to suggest that the meaning of the biblical texts is absolutely clear to those who have a good knowledge of Hebrew."I enjoyed the level of understatement in the last sentence.
See Jonathan M. Weiser's article, "Translation as Interpretation" in Tradition 29.4.
I can second much of what is said on p. 117. Granted, the translator is a traitor and must perforce interpret. But I guess that translation/interpretation must be kept in check. E.g., the Amplified Bible or K. Wuest's NT.
Too much elaboration might obfuscate translation.
Post a Comment