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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Translating Psalm 46

Henry Neufeld recently blogged on translating Psalm 46. Henry discusses some translation approaches and displays the Hebrew of Psalm 46. He then provides his own translation of this beautiful Psalm:
(To the director, for the order of Korah, on high notes, a song)
1God is our safe hiding place,
Easy to find when danger strikes.
2We won’t fear
When the world is broken,
When mountains crash into the sea.
3When roaring waves crash over us,
As mountains shake at the sound.
4There is a river, with streams that make God’s city glad,
The holy place where lives the Highest God.
5God is there, right in town!
The city won’t be moved.
Early in the morning,
God will help.
6Nations are troubled!
Kingdoms totter!
God shouts!
Earth trembles!
7YHWH is here with his army.
Our parents’ God is our high ground.
8Come! See what YHWH has done!
The kinds of places he’s wiped out.
9He stops wars anywhere-now!
He splinters bows and breaks spears!
He burns chariots!
10Calm down. Know that I’m God.
All nations will know that I am boss.
The world will know that I am in charge.
11YHWH is here with his army.
Our parents’ God is our high ground.
Henry has even set this psalm to English poetry, in the form of a sonnet which you can read by clicking here.


At Wed May 24, 01:13:00 PM, Blogger lingamish said...

Thanks for the heads-up. His comments and translations are very interesting.

At Thu May 25, 04:13:00 AM, Blogger codepoke said...

His sonnet is very satisfying. Oddly, I don't find that true of this translation. It rings with the 70's to me, when young folk were trying too hard to make Jesus' words speak to the hippies.

At Fri May 26, 06:40:00 AM, Blogger M. J. Mansini said...

There isn't a whole lot different here in Henry's Psalm 46 that hasn't already been done a fair amount of times by translators over the decades (maybe even centuries).

"God is there, right in town", Ouch! This is not timeless english, but perhaps that was not his goal. I realize that many translators just want the current popular generation to understand their text, but really, I value timelessness in a translation, even an unpublished one. Although I very much agree that a translation should be "current", I also find it to be true that the english (in our case) should be kinda sort "one layer removed" from standard, everyday (re: the Message) speech.

Although there is certainly more to comment on here, one thing that got me was "Calm down...", this was almost comical. The translation up to this point just does not seem exciting enough to Calm down. For a rendering that gets my heart going, you cannot beat the New English Bible translation of Psalm 46, simply beautiful.


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