Wednesday, December 28, 2022

A Case Example in Translation: 2 Kings 8:26

One of my friends posted about this subject in another venue, but I want to take the topic in a different direction than he did.

NWT 2013: A·ha·ziʹah was 22 years old when he became king, and he reigned for one year in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Ath·a·liʹah the granddaughter* of King Omʹri of Israel.

Note: Lit., “daughter.”

Ahaziah was twenty-two years old when he began to reign, and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Athaliah; she was a granddaughter of Omri king of Israel.

NET Bible:
Ahaziah was twenty-two years old when he became king and he reigned for one year in Jerusalem. His mother was Athaliah, the granddaughter[a] of King Omri of Israel.

[a]: tn Hebrew בַּת (bat), “daughter,” can refer, as here to a granddaughter. See HALOT 166 s.v. בַּת.

Two and twenty years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign; and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Athaliah, the daughter of Omri king of Israel.

This brings up an issue of how one should translate the Bible: should it be according to dynamic equivalence or formal equivalence principles? What is the difference?

Bible translators explain that dynamic equivalence is also known as functional equivalence: Bibles that chiefly use this translation principle might render certain passages "literally," but for the most part, they seek to render the source language in an idiomatic way for the target audience. For example the NLT (a dynamic equivalence translation) renders Ezekiel 40:5, "
I could see a wall completely surrounding the Temple area. The man took a measuring rod that was 10 1⁄2 feet[b] long and measured the wall, and the wall was 10 1⁄2 feet[c] thick and 10 1⁄2 feet high." Conversely, the RSV translates this same passage: "And behold, there was a wall all around the outside of the temple area, and the length of the measuring reed in the man’s hand was six long cubits, each being a cubit and a handbreadth in length; so he measured the thickness of the wall, one reed; and the height, one reed."

The differences in these renderings illustrate how dynamic equivalence Bibles differ from functional equivalence translations: the NLT gives the measurements in feet whereas the RSV provides the units in cubits. Contra dynamic equivalence translations, formal equivalence Bibles attempt to stick to the form of the source language: they are called "literal" translations as we see with the RSV. The formal/functional translating of Hebrew and Greek applies not just to individual words but to the way sentences are constructed too (i.e., syntax).

Going back to 2 Kings 8:26, which way should translators handle the verse? Should they render the Hebrew word, bat, as "daughter" (KJV) or "
granddaughter" (NWT, et al.). One way seems more "literal" than the other but could be misleading since the Hebrew word in this context refers to a granddaughter. Another option is to do like NWT/NET and translate "granddaughter," but then add notes explaining the choice. Conversely, if one chooses "daughter," a note could also be supplied. I'm glad to know that Athaliah was the granddaughter of King Omri, not his daughter. It is interesting how Hebrew used this term as a reference to a daughter or granddaughter.

The NABRE translates bat in this case as "daughter," but includes the following note:

Note for 2 Kings 8:26: It is unclear whether Athaliah was Omri’s daughter (v. 26) or his granddaughter (v. 18). Perhaps “daughter” here is being used loosely for “female descendant.”

Sunday, December 25, 2022

Jonah: A Prophet on the Run

The prophet Jonah received a divine call akin to other prophets: Jehovah authoritatively commanded him to proclaim a message of repentance to the city of Nineveh, the capital of Assyria (Jonah 1:1-2). If the occupants of the great city did not repent or change their way of life, they would undergo divine retribution within forty days (Jonah 3:4). However, instead of heeding the call from Jehovah, Jonah proceeded to run away from the presence of God to Tarshish. The NET Bible suggests that Jonah started to obey but then thought better of it. While probably knowing that he could not truly get away from God by fleeing, the prophet likely hoped for respite in Tarshish. But just where exactly was Tarshish, especially in relation to Nineveh?

Professor Elizabeth Achtemeier relates that the "exact location of Tarshish has never been definitely settled, but most scholars are inclined to identify it with Tartessus, a Phoenician colony on the southwestern coast of Spain" (Achtemeier 261).

Leslie C. Allen likewise writes (The Books of Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, and Micah in the NICOT Series): "It is usually identified with Tartessos in southwest Spain near the mouth of the Guadalquivir. In Jer. 10:9 Tarshish is a source of silver and in Ezek. 27:12 of tin, iron, and lead. This information accords with Pausanias’ reference to Tartessos as a source of metal and to Pliny’s description of Spain as rich in lead, iron, bronze, silver, and gold."

See the NET Bible for more possibilities concerning Tarshish.

If Tarshish should be identified with Tartessus (Tartessos), then it would have been 2,200 miles West of Nineveh. As Allen reports, "at the other end of the world from Nineveh." But why did Jonah take such drastic measures to flee from the divine initiative? Why was the prophet so resistant to the commission that would permanently affect him and others?

There is no one accepted reason among scholars as to why Jonah initially refused his commission. Flavius Josephus writes that Jonah was afraid of the Ninevites and their brutal nature (Ant. 9.208). This view is plausible in the light of what history tells us about the eighth century BCE city of Nineveh. According to some records, the Ninevites as a whole were cruel, polemical, and bellicose. The prophet Nahum refers to Nineveh as "the city of bloodshed" (Nahum 3:1) and the annals of history support this description of the Assyrian capital. Based on archaeological evidence, it is safe to posit that the Ninevites generally were barbarous and inhumane to their enemies (Luckenbill 145-162). It is possible that Jonah felt he would be the next casualty by heeding the call of God.

Yet despite the seeming plausibility of Josephus' theory, the first chapter of Jonah does not give an exact reason for why Jonah fled. Nevertheless, some scholars point to Jonah 4:2-3 as a possible reason for his flight:
"And he prayed unto Jehovah, and said, I pray thee, O Jehovah, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I hasted to flee unto Tarshish; for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and abundant in lovingkindness, and repentest thee of the evil" (ASV).

A number of commentators think this is Jonah's real reason for fleeing:

"But Jonah rose up to flee.—The motive of the prophet's flight is given by himself (Jonah 4:2). He foresaw the repentance of the city, and the mercy which would be displayed towards it, and was either jealous of his prophetic reputation, or had a patriotic dislike of becoming a messenger of good to a heathen foe so formidable to his own country" (Ellicott's Commentary).

"He refused God's service, because, as he himself tells God afterward Jonah 4:2, he knew what it would end in, and he misliked it" (Barnes' Notes on the Bible).

Compare the notes for Jonah 4:2 in Robert Alter's translation of the Hebrew Bible that offer a similar explanation. On the other hand, if Jonah's intentions were so "benign," why did he receive the kind of discipline that Jehovah meted out to him? Whatever his motives, Jonah eventually stopped running, and I'm inclined to believe like others before me that the prophet finally learned his lesson.

Select Sources Used:

Achtemeier, Elizabeth. Minor Prophets I. Peabody: Hendrickson, 1996.

Allen, Leslie C.
The Books of Joel, Obadiah, Jonah and Micah. NICOT. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1976.

Luckenbill, D.D. Ancient Records of Assyria and Babylonia. 1926.


Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Training Children in the Ways of Jehovah (Modified Talk)

There is no greater gift that parents could give children than to train them in Jehovah's ways: no material gift or form of secular education is able to surpass a good relationship with our creator. However, what does it take for parents to bring up children who truly love Jehovah? Please turn to Deuteronomy 6:5

Jehovah told the ancient Israelites that they had to cultivate love for him first in their own hearts before they could teach their children how to love God. Parents should love Jehovah with their whole being as Deuteronomy directs. How can parents do that? By studying God's Word consistently and by meditating on what they learn. In this way, our children will notice what we love to talk about in our daily conversations: spiritual things. What we're learning from God's Word will just flow freely from our heart (Luke 6:45), and it will play a large part in the development of our children's spirituality.

A second point is found in Deuteronomy 6:6 (read) In addition to study and meditation, parents need to set a good example by applying Bible principles. From the time they're infants, children closely observe their parents and learn from them. They see what the values and interests of a parent are, then make those values and interests their own. Children are good at discerning parental love for Jehovah. For instance, we could say that we love Jehovah, but children look for tangible signs of such love like study, meeting attendance, and the field ministry. If we apply God's commandments, our love for Jehovah will be evident to our children.

A third way to train our children is expressed in Deuteronomy 6:7 (read) When should we discuss Jehovah and biblical truths with our children? As Deuteronomy implies, it could be when we do chores together, travel together or while we relax. Does this mean that we constantly lecture our children? No, but we can speak upbuilding spiritual words to them and point out wondrous aspects of Jehovah's creation and teach them about the variety in creation. Furthermore we can be thankful that Jehovah's organization has provided a wealth of information to help parents train their children. For instance, the Awake! magazine covers numerous subjects that are beneficial for young ones. Using the Awake! and other spiritual resources may help our children to develop their own appreciation for publications of the faithful and discreet slave.

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Augustine of Hippo, the Divine Essence, and the Trinity Doctrine

To say that all formulations of the Trinity doctrine are not the same is an understatement. While church historians warn that one should not overly emphasize the differences between western and eastern versions of the Trinity, I believe the divine essence is uniquely fundamental for Augustine, who is the chief representative of the western church. That is, Augustine appears to stress the essence of God when he reflects on the three persons rather than their putative status as divine persons. Edmund Fortman writes that Augustine "thought rather of one single divine nature subsisting in three Persons" (The Triune God, pp. 140-141). Furthermore, notice that Fortman quotes from Augustine's De Trinitate on p. 141 (second paragraph):

"Each person of the Trinity is God, and all together are One God. Each is the full essence, and all together are One essence."

Again from Fortman, we read: "And by presenting the divine essence with all its absolute perfections as existing identically in each of the three Persons . . ." (p. 141).

See other quotes on pp. 141-142 of Fortman.

Augustine writes in De Trinitate 7.2.3: 

Therefore the Father and the Son together are one essence, and one greatness, and one truth, and one wisdom. But the Father and Son both together are not one Word, because both together are not one Son. For as the Son is referred to the Father, and is not so called in respect to Himself, so also the Word is referred to him whose Word it is, when it is called the Word. Since He is the Son in that He is the Word, and He is the Word in that He is the Son. Inasmuch, therefore, as the Father and the Son together are certainly not one Son, it follows that the Father and the Son together are not the one Word of both.

Thursday, December 15, 2022

John 8:1-11 Research (Links)-The Pericope Adulturae

Christopher Keith's dissertation about John 8:1-11:

Entitled "Literacy, the Pericope Adulterae, and the Gospel of John"