Saturday, April 25, 2020

Roland E. Murphy Comments on Proverbs 8:22 (Word Biblical Commentary)

Murphy translates Prov. 8:22: "The Lord begot me at the beginning of his ways, the first of his works from of old"

His comments that follow: Several questions are raised about this verse: (1) the meaning of: “create,” “begot,” and “acquired” are all possible. The LXX reads “create” (ἔκτισε), and this caused some turmoil in early christological disputes. In view of the following verb ( , “I was brought forth,” vv 24–25), “beget” seems preferable (cf. also Gen 4:1), despite the arguments of B. Vawter (JBL 99 [1980] 205–16) for “acquired,” which was also the understanding of Symmachus, Aquila, and Theodotion. (2) “Beginning” ( ) is the preferred translation, but it can also be rendered as “first” (born) or “best.” The above translation construes it as being in apposition to “me” (a reference back to Gen 1:1?) or as an accusative of time. For a discussion of the various renditions of v 22, see G. Baumann, Weisheitsgestalt, 116–20.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Other Interesting Uses of EPI in the LXX

Numbers 3:32: καὶ ὁ ἄρχων ἐπὶ τῶν ἀρχόντων τῶν Λευιτῶν Ελεαζαρ ὁ υἱὸς Ααρων τοῦ ἱερέως καθεσταμένος φυλάσσειν τὰς φυλακὰς τῶν ἁγίων

Numbers 10:14: καὶ ἐξῆραν τάγμα παρεμβολῆς υἱῶν Ιουδα πρῶτοι σὺν δυνάμει αὐτῶν καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς δυνάμεως αὐτῶν Ναασσων υἱὸς Αμιναδαβ

See T. Muraoka, A Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint,pages 263-4.

Genesis 16:13 (LXX)

LXX: καὶ ἐκάλεσεν Αγαρ τὸ ὄνομα κυρίου τοῦ λαλοῦντος πρὸς αὐτήν Σὺ ὁ θεὸς ὁ ἐπιδών με· ὅτι εἶπεν Καὶ γὰρ ἐνώπιον εἶδον ὀφθέντα μοι.

Brenton: "And she called the name of the Lord God who spoke to her, Thou art God who seest me; for she said, For I have openly seen him that appeared to me."

NETS: "And Hagar called the name of the Lord who was speaking to her, 'You-are-the-God-who-looks-upon-me,' because she said, 'For truly I saw him face to face when he appeared to me."

Monday, April 20, 2020

Two Interesting Uses of EPI from the Septuagint

Exodus 2:14: ὁ δὲ εἶπεν τίς σε κατέστησεν ἄρχοντα καὶ δικαστὴν ἐφ᾽ ἡμῶν μὴ ἀνελεῗν με σὺ θέλεις ὃν τρόπον ἀνεῗλες ἐχθὲς τὸν Αἰγύπτιον ἐφοβήθη δὲ Μωυσῆς καὶ εἶπεν εἰ οὕτως ἐμφανὲς γέγονεν τὸ ῥῆμα τοῦτο

Esther 8:2: ἔλαβεν δὲ ὁ βασιλεὺς τὸν δακτύλιον ὃν ἀφείλατο Αμαν καὶ ἔδωκεν αὐτὸν Μαρδοχαίῳ καὶ κατέστησεν Εσθηρ Μαρδοχαῗον ἐπὶ πάντων τῶν Αμαν

Cribbed from the Greek Lexicon of the Septuagint by J. Lust, E. Eynikel, and K. Hauspie (editors) although it lists the verse in Esther as "Esther 8:12e" if I remember correctly.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Stanley Porter on "Literal" Bible Translations

From How We Got the New Testament:

Several observations are to be made regarding a literal or formal equivalence translation. First, no such translation can be as formal or literal as some would ideally like; there is always the caveat that it must still make sense in English. Otherwise, such a rendering would resemble an interlinear version, where there is word-for-word alignment and substitution. If one were to take John 1:1 as an example, a literal word-for-word rendering would read as follows (assuming that these are even the correct translational equivalents to use for the individual words):¹⁰⁷ In –beginning – was – the – word – and – the – word – was – toward – the – god – and – god – was – the – word. This makes some sense (though, realistically, only if one knows what it “should” say), but clearly it is not serviceable English even for the strictest literalist. Some English speakers say “in hospital,” but few say “in beginning.” The preposition “toward” does not sound like idiomatic English, and the word order, if it were not the familiar John 1:1, would be unusual if not unusable, apart from the last clause, which misrepresents the Greek syntax (the syntax should have “the word” as the subject of the clause). There is also the question, for literal and other translations, of whether “word” is the right rendering for λόγος, logos. I could raise questions about other words as well. So, even a simple passage like this makes strict formalism difficult if not impossible; there is always the need for accommodation to the fact that the source and target languages, because they are different and distinct language systems, are not equivalent, and so adjustments in lexis and syntax are required. A second observation, often overlooked in discussion of translation theory in general and particular translations specifically, is that such literalism (and what we now see as awkwardness) was never intended by those who were responsible for the Authorized Version in the first place. The Authorized Version was originally commissioned to be as “consonant” with the biblical languages as it could be.¹⁰⁸ Further, the guidelines to be followed by the translators indicated that biblical names were to be those commonly used, not literalistic renderings of Hebrew or Greek.

Critique of the ESV by Mark Strauss (Proverbs 30:26)--Rock Badgers Are People Too?

Mark Strauss wrote a paper some years ago that critiques the ESV. He likes the ESV, but feels that it could be improved in many ways. See

One verse that Strauss critiques in the ESV is Proverbs 30:26. It reads: "the rock badgers are a people not mighty, yet they make their homes in the cliffs"

Strauss mentions the "tortured word order" of the ESV for this passage and its use of the word "people" for rock badgers. Compare Prov. 30:25 which refers to ants as people too. A presidential candidate some years ago likewise insisted that corporations are people. Well, sort of . . .

NWT 2013: "The rock badgers are not mighty creatures, Yet they make their house in the crags."

In the footnote, NWT says the verse is literally "a people not strong." However, in the main text, NWT does not use "people."

But this is one of Strauss' points: "literal" translations are not necessarily good translations.

NET Bible: "rock badgers are creatures with little power, but they make their homes in the crags"

The word עַם denotes "people" in Exod. 19:5; Joshua 17:14, etc. Compare Jeremiah 5:31. BDB reports that עַם is used figuratively in Proverbs 30:25-26; compare Joel 2:2.

So the problem is not whether "people" is an accurate translation, but whether translating a word/phrase "literally" is preferable to more dynamic renderings.

Recently, I was reminded of the saying, "A translator is a traitor" (Traduttore, traditore).

As a side point, it was also interesting to learn that the KJV rendering" conies" (instead of "rock badgers" or hyraxes) is "a mistake." It's not correct.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Romans 7:14: The Spiritual Law (Jewett)

Greek: Οἴδαμεν γὰρ ὅτι ὁ νόμος πνευματικός ἐστιν, ἐγὼ δὲ σάρκινός εἰμι πεπραμένος ὑπὸ τὴν ἁμαρτίαν. (THGNT)

Robert Jewett (Romans Commentary in Hermeneia Series) writes regarding Romans 7:12: "it seems likely that Paul intends to imply that the Torah was created, activated and authorized by the Spirit."

ὁ νόμος πνευματικός ἐστιν

Compare Romans 7:12; 8:4.

Jewett says ἐγὼ in Rom. 7:14 is emphatic; for a similar use of Οἴδαμεν, see 1 John 5:19 although John does not use γὰρ in that verse.

σάρκινός ("fleshly") could be used in a special Pauline way here. See Jewett, page 461; compare Rom. 7:5.

To add to Jewett's observations, he also notes (461): "For Paul, to be 'fleshly' refers not primarily to the material nature of humans but to opposition against God, for it was precisely in his own zealous advocacy of the law that Paul found himself in such opposition. In his striving to demonstrate his righteousness under the law, he found himself caught in the throes of sin."

For the expression, εἰμι πεπραμένος ὑπὸ τὴν ἁμαρτίαν, see Leviticus 25:39; Isaiah 50:1; Jewett 461-2. Paul's use of the article (τὴν ἁμαρτίαν) is also unique.

πεπραμένος is the perfect participial form (m/p) of πιπράσκω: the term in Rom. 7:14 is evidently a metaphor for slavery.

Compare Jan Jambrecht, "Grammar and Reasoning in Romans 7,12 and 7,13-14," Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses, Vol. 80 (December 2004).

Monday, April 13, 2020

A Duns Scotus Bibliography

Duns Scotus (1266-1308 CE), theologian/philosopher/metaphysician

Bernardino M. Bonansea, Man and His Approach to God in John Duns Scotus (Lanham: University Press of America, 1983).

Frederick C. Copleston, Medieval Philosophy (New York and Evanston: Harper & Row, 1961).

Peter King, “Duns Scotus on Metaphysics” in The Cambridge Companion to Duns Scotus, ed. Thomas Williams (Cambridge, UK and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 15-68.

Mary Beth Ingham and Mechtild Dreyer, The Philosophical Vision of John Duns Scotus: An Introduction (Washington, D. C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 2004).

William A. Frank and Allan Bernard Wolter, Duns Scotus, Metaphysician, Purdue University Press Series in the History of Philosophy (West Lafayette: Purdue University Press, 1995).

Etienne Gilson, History of Christian Philosophy in the Middle Ages, New York: Random House, 1955.

Etienne Gilson, Being and Some Philosophers. Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, 1961.

Colin Gunton, Act and Being: Towards a Theology of the Divine Attributes , Grand Rapids: W. B. Eerdmans, 2003.

Anthony Kenny, Medieval Philosophy: A New History of Western Philosophy, vol. 2 Oxford University Press, 2005.

Also see:

Friday, April 10, 2020

Moisés Silva's "Biblical Words and Their Meaning: An Introduction to Lexical Semantics"

Silva gives his reason for writing this book:

We wish in this book, therefore, to establish principles and develop methods for the study of all types of words (not only theological terms) as elements of language in their own right. Our goal is not to deduce the theology of New Testament writers straight out of the words they use, nor even to map out semantic fields that in themselves may reflect theological structures.⁵⁷ We have the relatively modest goal of determining the most accurate English equivalents to biblical words, of being able to decide, with as much certainty as possible, what a specific Greek or Hebrew word in a specific context actually means. To some students, this task may seem only a bit less boring than, say, textual criticism. But just as the establishment of the correct text—no matter how tedious the process involved or how unsensational the results—is a fundamental step in biblical interpretation, so lexicology takes priority in the exegetical process. We may pursue the analogy and suggest that, although not every exegete need become a professional textual critic, every exegete must have sufficient involvement in that work to evaluate and assimilate the results of the “experts.” Similarly, all biblical interpreters need exposure to and experience in lexicographic method if they would use the linguistic data in a responsible way. In a survey of biblical scholars and students conducted in the late 1960s, some respondents commented on the need for “a better understanding of the nature, use, and limitations of a lexicon” on the part of dictionary users.⁵⁸ The point, which could hardly be disputed, is still valid today. This requisite understanding, however, can only be developed on the basis of a solid grasp of the theoretical foundations of lexicology. It is to these principial questions that the present book is devoted.

Note: The electronic version I used does contain the word "principial." So I did not remove it.

Thursday, April 02, 2020

Some Questions About Genesis

These are not questions that keep me up at night, but I mainly post these questions to illustrate the questions that might arise as one reads Genesis:

1. In what sense are humans made in God's image? Genesis 1:26-27
1a. Why does God say "let us" in Genesis 1:26?

2. Why did Lot linger before leaving Sodom? Genesis 19:16

3. Why did Lot's wife look back when Jehovah clearly told Lot and his family not to look back? Genesis 19:26

4. What was Isaac meditating on as he walked in the field? Genesis 24:63

5. Why was Abram put into a deep sleep? Why did he feel a sense of horror? Genesis 15:12