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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Pagnini: Psalm 2

Recent posts on Psalm 2 reminded me that I wanted to write one more time about the Pagnini Psalter. My copy is a diglot of the Hebrew and Pagnini Latin text. It is rebound and now begins with the third page of the preface which is signed Johannes Leusden, 1666 (in roman numerals). Since it is a Hebrew text this book opens towards the right. The frontispiece appears on the left. It was bought by my great grandfather in Saint Laurent du Pape, south of Valence, France.

The Pagnini Bible, originally printed in Lyon, 1528, was the first Latin version since Jerome's based on the original Hebrew and Greek text.

    This most unusual work puts the Hebrew Bible in Latin, but in such a way as to make the syntax of the Hebrew transparent in the Latin rendition. An aesthetic shock to a Latin stylist, Pagnini’s Bible was nonetheless of profound usefulness as a crib to the Renaissance scholar with excellent Latin and little Hebrew. D. Price 1

Jewish scholars considered the Pagnini Bible to be the only adequate Latin version. In 1542, Michael Servetus, knowledgeable in the Hebrew language and commentaries, annotated a version of this Bible.

    Servetus added a preface and notes to the Pagnini Bible recommending in the prologue the study of the history of the Hebrews for a better under­stand­ing of the Bible. He accused biblical studies of not reaching for the literal and historical sense but searching in vain for the mystical meaning.

    Servetus's reputation grew and he was contracted next by the Compagn­ie des Libraires at Lyon to correct and edit the Pagnini Bible in seven volumes which was published in 1545. 2

About the Christian interpretation of Psalm 2:7 Servetus wrote,

    I can not refrain here from sighing when I see the replies that Rabbi Kimchi made against the Christians on this point. I find the reasons with which they sought to convince him so obscure that I cannot but weep. They argue against him that the literal meaning did not refer to David. Friedman. 1994. page 44 3

The Pagnini version of Psalm 2:12 has "kiss the Son" - in Latin, of course - so there is nothing particular to note on this account. With regard to the capitalisation of "Son", I cannot tell from my version to what extent this was significant. However, one innovation of the Pagnini Bible has made a pivotal contribution to theology. It is here that מְשִׁיחַ - "anointed" first appears as unctus rather than christus in a translation of the Hebrew scriptures.

The Clementine Vulgate4, in which מְשִׁיחַ is typically translated as christus, represents the Latin version which was authoritative in the western church from the 8th century on.

Here is the Clementine Vulgate version of Psalm 2:1-2.

    1 Quare fremuerunt gentes, et populi meditati sunt inania ?
    2 Astiterunt reges terræ,et principes convenerunt in unum adversus Dominum, et adversus christum ejus.
Wycliffe 1395 is an English translation based on the Latin Vulgate.

    Whi gnastiden with teeth hethene men; and puplis thouyten veyn thingis?
    The kyngis of erthe stoden togidere; and princes camen togidere ayens the Lord, and ayens his Crist?
With Pagnini, 1528, christus gives way to unctus for the first time.

    1 Ut quid congregant se turmatim Gentes & populi meditantur inane ?
    2 Astant Reges terrae & Principes consilium capiunt pariter adversus DOMINUM, & adversus Unctum ejus.
These two translations show the influence of the Pagnini translation.

    Why do the Heithe grudge? why do the people ymagyn vayne thinges?
    The kynges of the earth stode vp, and the rulers are come together, agaynst the LORDE ad agaynst his anoynted. Coverdale

    Why do the Heathen so furiously rage together? and why do the people imagine a vayne thing? The kynges of the earth stande vp: and the rulers take counsell together against god, and against his annointed. Bishop's Bible. 5

With the use of unctus for מְשִׁיחַ, the Pagnini version became a Bible translation which was suitable for reading the Hebrew Bible with the historical sense in mind, not the christological sense, and marks a turning point in the history of biblical interpretation. The burning of Michael Servetus6 for heresy was also a landmark event in the history of the church.


1. D. Price in Formatting the Word of God

2. Servetus International Society

3. Friedman, Jerome. The Myth of Jewish Antiquity: New Christians and Christian Hebraica in Early Modern Europe. In Jewish Christians and Christian Jews: From the Renaissance to the Enlightenment ed. Popkin, R. H. and Weiner, G.M. . 1994. Springer.

4. The Clementine Vulgate is the official edition of the Latin Vulgate, corrected and standardized following the Council of Trent and promulgated in 1592 by Pope Clement VIII. While most of this is Jerome's translation of the Bible, the psalms are an exception - they are from the Old Latin version. Jerome's psalter is called Psalterium Juxta Hebraeos and was not encorporated into the Vulgate.

This quote suggests the nature of Jerome's approach to the Psalms.
    Herbert also wrote a Commentary on Jerome's Hebrew Psalter, basically about how to interpret the Bible. In 385 A.D. Jerome had gone to Israel and translated the Psalms from Hebrew into Latin. Jerome's interpretation was largely allegorical, for example when Jerusalem is mentioned, it was identified as goodness and and Babylon as evil. This way of understanding the Bible was widespread in the Middle Ages, and continues today in some Christian traditions (some consider it to be anti-Semitic). Herbert argued for a more literal and historical understanding and suggested that Christian should ask the Jews for guidance in order to obtain a better understanding of the Psalms. Church Historians of England
5. In the Pagnini translation, the second verb in verse 2 is broken into two words - consilium capiunt. This unique grammatical construction is mirrored in the Bishop's Bible with "take counsell". Perhaps I am speculating but it appears to me that we can trace the influence of the Pagnini Bible through some of these grammatical patterns.

6. Servetus was burned as heretic after John Calvin gave permission for his arrest and trial. Time. I had difficulty finding a reference for this that was relatively unbiased.



      At Fri May 18, 07:26:00 AM, Blogger beyondwords said...

      Thank you Suzanne--it's ironically reassuring to see how translation principles are so culturally biased. It gives me hope for our age. The church has somehow survived and the gospel is still being proclaimed.

      I also enjoy the examples of archaic English you provide. I have an odd habit of trying to listen to people speak and discern what English sounds like without being distracted by the meaning of the words. It's impossible, of course, but reading these very old words has a cadence and inflection I can hear. I'm sure modern English sounds much different, but it helps me understand where it has come from.

      At Fri May 18, 08:44:00 AM, Blogger Eric Rowe said...

      For the sake of clarification, the "mystical exegesis" Servetus was talking about probably involved much more than simply reading Psalm 2 as a prophetic Psalm about the messiah.

      Interestingly, Servetus mocks Christians who do not think the Psalm was originally about David. Today, any scholar who does think it was originally about David would be similarly derided as overly conservative.

      There is an important difference between the historical exegesis Servetus defends here and the kind of historical exegesis that is being done in the ongoing online discussion of Psalm 2.

      In the recent discussion online, those arguing for translating the Psalm according to its original historical context have in mind a context that is recognized by a distinctly modern method. First, a reconstruction of Israelite history is built on all available evidence, both inside and outside of the canon. This involves appropriating the conclusions of historical-critical analyses of the biblical books peeling off the layers of later sectarian scribes, comparison with historical data about the neighboring nations, and archaeology. As scientific as this approach is, it does not have the potential to reach any level of certainty. The evidence is just too thin to allow anything more than broad hypotheses. It is also undergirded by a worldview that stacks the deck against the historicity of the miracle-ridden biblical account of Israel's past. Second, Psalm 2 is viewed as a complete unit that can be separated from the book of Psalms and placed in its own historical context by lining it up with whatever point in the historical reconstruction it best fits. Needless to say, it is asking a lot from Bible translators to do this, to say nothing of lay readers. It is also a recipe for ephemeral Bible versions that are obliged to change with every passing fad in biblical historiography. I commend the scholarship of those academics who are involved in this. But I don't commend the method as a prerequisite to translating the Christian Bible.

      Clearly, Servetus's idea of historical exegesis was very different than that. He placed Psalm 2 in the context of the life of David. This is how Peter and John also read it (Acts 4:25). In fact, they didn't read it as an atomistic textual unit that could be separated from the book of Psalms and placed in its own context with its own referent. It was already, to them and to Paul, the second Psalm (Acts 13:33). For Servetus and the apostles, the historical context is important, just as it is for modern exegetes. But their idea of the historical context is determined completely by the history that is delivered to us in the canon itself, not by a hypothetical historical reconstruction that overlays it from outside. The only difference between the apostles and Servetus (although I'm not even quite sure he would disagree on this point) was that they believed the Psalms were not only Davidic, but, precisely because they were Davidic, they were also about the Messiah, not just because of some sensus plenior, but because of their inherent meaning within their canonical context (Acts 2:30). This conviction was not unique to them. They were fully within the mainstream of Judaism of the time in believing that. Christian theologians continued to hold this conviction for centuries--and not solely among the practitioners of "mystical exegesis".

      I am in no position to make any attempt at overturning the carefully developed reconstructions of Israelite history that hold sway today. But I also don't believe that Bible readers who wish to pay attention to the contexts of what they read need to be able to atomistically separate individual Psalms from the corpus and figure out an "intended" setting that is to be informed by a history that differs from the one contained in the larger book (the Bible) to which the Psalms belong.

      Psalm 2 would not be a part of the Christian Bible at all if it were not part of a collection of Psalms circulating in the Second temple period, centuries after the monarchy in which it was supposedly penned. This collection of Psalms was regarded as, for the most part, Davidic, prophetic, and about the Messiah (not a messiah, but the Messiah).

      When Christians study the Psalms, are they really supposed to peel away, not only the Christian heritage through which we have received it, but also the Second Temple Jewish heritage through which the founders of our faith received it? Are we really supposed to replace the story of the Bible with another more scientifically developed history in order to give each Psalm its own individual context? Or should we read them the way they have been read all along, ever since they were first ever read as part of Scripture by Jews and Christians alike?

      If we do the former, then clearly we need to discard the word "son" found in the Masoretic text of v. 12, and replace it with either something else that uses the same consonants or a textual emendation. But if we do the latter, then surely we need to retain the word "son" and understand that it was put there (whether by David, or an anonymous author, or a second Temple scribe, or the Masoretes who pointed it בַר instead of בֹר) as a reference to the Messiah.

      Perhaps the real problem that abounds today among Christian Bible translators is not the christianizing of the text, but the de-christianizing of it.

      At Fri May 18, 09:08:00 AM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

      Eric ended:

      Perhaps the real problem that abounds today among Christian Bible translators is not the christianizing of the text, but the de-christianizing of it.

      Eric, I think you are making the translation issue far more complicated than it needs to be by referring to peeling back layers of interpretation.

      The questions for the Bible translator, whether Christian or not, are: "What is the original meaning of this text and how that meaning is most accurately translated to English?"

      I repeat what one of my co-bloggers said so well recently: Because we believe that we need to translate each part of the Bible with integrity and faithfulness to its original local context, we translate each Hebrew Bible passage according to its meaning within that context. As Messianic Christians, however, when we come to the New Testament, we exult in the Spirit-inspired interpretation of many of those same passages and we also translate the N.T. passages with integrity, according to the meanings that their human authors inspired by the Holy Spirit intended.

      We should not use a revisionist framework to translate the O.T. We Christians can find encouragement in our faith because we believe we know "how the story ends". We know the subsequent interpretation put on O.T. passages later in the N.T. by human authors with divine inspiration.

      But we should not practice "interpretive translation", inserting N.T. meanings upon translation of Hebrew Bible passages.

      I do not have training in and I have not studied the kinds of heremeneutics which you decried. I was trained in a standard historical-grammatical hermeneutic. I don't have the time to study other heremeneutics. I try to translate the Bible as closely to the meaning it had in its original contexts as possible. I may be simple-minded in that approach, but sometimes simplicity, without "interpretive translation" results in the most accurate translation for any part of the Bible.

      If we are going to allow inter-testamental considerations to cause us to Christologize passages which were not intended to be Christological by their original authors, then we are going beyond what the Bible says and meant.

      I'm sorry if I have misinterpreted what you have said. I found it difficult to follow what you were saying about peeling off the various layers, because I do not have training in those kinds of hermeneutics.

      Let's just let the biblical text say what it says and translate the original meaning of what was said. We can leave it to the Holy Spirit to give subsequent interpretations, and we can leave it to theologians to help us find additional layers of interpretation. But let's leave the translation itself as lean and clean as possible.

      Let's neither christianize nor de-christianize any part of the Bible.

      At Fri May 18, 09:12:00 AM, Blogger Eric Rowe said...

      I really don't think it's as simple as you say, Wayne.

      You said, "The questions for the translator, whether Christian or not, is: 'What is the original meaning of this text and how that meaning is most accurately translated to English?'"

      Fair enough, but what is the proper horizon of what you call the "original meaning"? Is it the hypothetically reconstructed context of the individual Psalm? Or is it the known context of the book of Psalms, read as prophetic Scripture in the Second Temple Period? If you demand the former, then how do you know anything at all about the original author in order to translate the Psalm appropriately? If you are to place that author within Israel's history as the Bible portrays it, complete with miracles, fulfilled prophecies, and a voice of God speaking to David about the future of his eternal dynasty, then there should be nothing to prohibit you from recognizing, as the apostles and their contemporaries did, that David indeed wrote about the Messiah, the only one who really will rule the nations. If those pre-modern theological commitments are excluded from the translation process, then another historical context must be imagined. But what? Apart from placing the Psalm within a historical context provided by the Bible itself, can one really talk about any "original" at all? Aren't we going to be forced to view it as a rolling composition that changed through the centuries, with very blurry lines between whoever wrote the oldest parts of it and those author/scribes who changed and added to it in the ensuing centuries? Which author, at which time deserves that pride of place to determine its context? And how do Bible translators hope to objectively recognize the various layers within the text itself?

      The translator's job can't be to figure all of that out. It must be to translate Psalm 2 (and every other part of Scripture) as we have received it in its settled form, only allowing actual extant witnesses to the text to regulate its words (all of which are many centuries later than the monarchy). The original context must then be the context in which that form came to be. In the case of Psalm 2 I can't imagine going back prior to the Second Temple period without either demanding that the text itself be conjecturally emended (per the NRSV--only they don't go nearly far enough) or accepting the historical context that the canonical history itself provides (per the apostles).

      At Fri May 18, 09:29:00 AM, Blogger Eric Rowe said...

      Wayne, I also believe that the Psalms should be translated according to their historical context, provided that historical context be understood as the historical context of David knowingly writing prophetic words about the Messiah.

      The rejection of the reading "Son" is based on a rejection of that as the Psalm's historical context. I am not capable of defending that historical context on scientific grounds as a historian. But I can accept it on faith. To defend the historicity of the Bible would only digress into pure apologetics on my part here. But we all must have some broad narrative (i.e. historical context) in which we place the Psalm. The narrative I place it in is the oldest narrative context to which I can find any evidence for reading the Psalms; it is that of the apostles and that of generations of Jewish readers of the Psalms who came before them.

      I, like you, am a simple person. I see no other option than this biblically informed one as a way for me to read Psalm 2 in any kind of narrative context apart from forcing myself down a never-ending road of esoteric and technical historiography. Call this reading the New Testament into the Old Testament if you will. To me, it's just reading the Old Testament--a corpus of literature that by its very name attests to being a Christian book.

      At Fri May 18, 09:31:00 AM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

      Eric, thanks for tidying up your exchanges so that they would fit with my revised comment.

      I'm about to get a phone call from a speaker of a vernacular language for us to do an hour of work together.

      So I'll just briefly say that, like you, I do believe that Hebrew Bible authors *did* write about a coming messiah. I'm sure David and other psalmists did as well. I believe that when they wrote about a messiah we should translate that as accurately and clearly as possible.

      I'm not referring to such passages. I'm referring to passages where it is not clearly evident that the O.T. author was referring to a messiah, but, rather to someone else in his immediate local historical context. And for some of these passages, subsequent N.T. authors, writing under the inspiration of the Spirit, gave a messianic interpretation of the O.T. text.

      I am not trained to be able to discuss Second Temple issues, although I believe it is important to come to the Bible with as much training in these areas as possible. We all have to decide what our priorities in life have to be, since we have limited time and cannot study everything as much as we would like.

      I've said as much as I can. I continue to maintain that we should not place N.T. interpretations on O.T. passages as we translate. That's all I'm saying.

      At Fri May 18, 09:53:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

      A translation which "make[s] the syntax of the Hebrew transparent" promoted by someone with a heretical Christology: that sounds familiar somehow. But then the ESV, favourite of Calvinists, would be an odd bedfellow with a Bible edited by someone who found his nemesis in Calvin.

      At Fri May 18, 10:32:00 AM, Blogger Eric Rowe said...

      Wayne said,
      "I do believe that Hebrew Bible authors *did* write about a coming messiah. I'm sure David and other psalmists did as well. I believe that when they wrote about a messiah we should translate that as accurately and clearly as possible.
      I'm not referring to such passages. I'm referring to passages where it is not clearly evident that the O.T. author was referring to a messiah, but, rather to someone else in his immediate local historical context."

      But with the Psalms, their own text never gives us the historical context in which they originated. We have to provide that narrative. The narrative of David writing prophetically about the Messiah is the one that the Bible itself gives the Psalms in general and Psalm 2 in particular. For those who would say that Psalm 2 was originally written about someone other than the Messiah, they have to supply the narrative in which to place it. I can't criticize the historical acumen of those who reject that narrative as something they consider historically unlikely. But, if translators want to follow that approach of determining the "original" context that is to guide their translation of the Psalm they have to answer several very hard questions that are not answered by the Psalm itself:

      1) When was the Psalm written? It won't do to say simply "the monarchical era," an era which spanned many centuries.
      2) What were the "original" words of the Psalm? It would be gratuitous to presume it looked any more than vaguely similar to the text attested by witnesses that all came many centuries later than even the very end of the monarchical era.
      3) How do really know the answers to questions 1 and 2 anyway? Not from any evidence that is accessible to Bible translators to say nothing of lay readers--certainly not from evidence within the overarching narrative of the Bible itself.

      Undoubtedly, some translations like NET and NRSV make genuine attempts to follow such a method. But they are doomed to be overturned with each new version of Israelite history yet to come.

      Yet, while we can never be really sure about the original historical context of each individual Psalm atomistically separated from the rest, we can be fairly certain about the original context of the book of Psalms as a whole. It was a Second Temple collection of Psalms that were chosen, arranged, and possibly edited according to the underlying narrative of having been written by prophets (generally David). So, while I can't prove that this narrative was the actual original historical context of any given Psalm, I think I can prove that it is the narrative that belongs to them in the original context of the book of Psalms as a book. It is also the only narrative that the Bible itself provides for the Psalms. And it is the only narrative that can be applied to them today and still be valid with every passing fad for the history of the monarchical period. Those who think such a narrative is historically inaccurate can still accept that it is the narrative that the final settled composition of the book of Psalms presupposes for itself. Others, like me, honestly believe that narrative is the true history of the individual Psalms' origins. Neither group should have a problem identifying the "Messiah" in the Psalms with as much frequency as the apostles did, nor with reading Psalm 2 as applying to that Messiah.

      [I fear that I'm getting repetitive. Pardon all the space I'm taking up here.]

      At Fri May 18, 11:43:00 AM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

      Eric, I don't think it is necessary to work too hard at this issue. A fair amount of common sense can be used. And I mean that as no put down of good scholarship which I also believe in.

      Here is some common sense for interpreting and translating the O.T.: There is no doctrine of the trinity in the O.T. (trinitarians might believe they find hints of pre-theological notions about a trinity, but there is nothing explicitly developed and taught about a trinity in the O.T.).

      And there is no development of the idea that God had a son. Yes, there are references to "sons of God" but those are not plural of "son of God", the N.T. concept which is applied to Jesus.

      So if we see the word "son" in a psalm and think that it might refer to Christ "the Son of God", we can disallow that interpretation since that doctrine had not been developed at that time. The title "Son of God" as applied to Jesus is a N.T. concept.

      At Fri May 18, 12:04:00 PM, Blogger Eric Rowe said...

      That argument seems circular to me. The very Psalm in discussion says, "You are my son" (v.7). If this is a proclamation made to the Messiah by God, then the idea of the Messiah as God's son most definitely does exist in the OT. Even if nowhere else, it exists here. Translating בר in v. 12 as a reference to the same individual doesn't seem at all problematic to me.

      There may be debate about when such an idea developed. Translators who view the idea of Messiah as God's son as a Second Temple development and who think that Psalm 2 must be translated within the framework of some older point in a reconstructed history will naturally labor to remove this apparent later intrusion from their translation. But they would necessarily be searching for the lost "original" context of Psalm 2 as a discreet unit.

      The Psalm in the form we have received it, as a part of the canonical book of Psalms, does have that idea of the Messiah as God's son. If a translation follows the convention of capitalizing Jesus's title as "son" elsewhere, I don't see why they shouldn't here.

      At Fri May 18, 12:18:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

      Eric, I should have included in my previous comment that I am a trinitarian. I also believe in the deity of Christ. I am not questioning these doctrines. I am only claiming that these doctrines are not developed in the O.T. and so I believe we should not translate the O.T. in a way that makes it seem that they are.

      At Fri May 18, 12:31:00 PM, Blogger Eric Rowe said...

      I didn't interpret anything you said as anti-trinitarian. But the Trinity is not really at stake in Psalm 2, only the identification of the Messiah as God's son, which is binitatian at most. That concept was not something created out of thin air in the NT. It was already present in the Church's Bible, specifically in Psalm 2.

      At Fri May 18, 01:15:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...


      This is a quote from Chris Heard;s blog. I rather like it.

      Citations in an academic paper should not be used to try to establish the correctness of ideas. Rather, citations in an academic paper trace the genealogy of the ideas considered in the paper.

      This post was about tracing the changes in translation approaches. I am aware of how controversial Servetus' theology was but it still pays to know how and when the switch came about from christus to unctus and how that fit in with other ideas.

      At Fri May 18, 02:45:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

      The Psalm in the form we have received it, as a part of the canonical book of Psalms, does have that idea of the Messiah as God's son.

      Aren't you assuming your conclusion here?

      The history of interpretation of Psalm 2 illustrates that it has not been at all clear to all Bible scholars that Psalm 2 was addressed to a messiah. And that same history tells us that even Ps. 2:7 has not been universally understood to refer to literal (or "literal") sonship with God. The concept of "begetting a son" was, as I have understood it, used for more than just referring to fathering a son or even adopting a son.

      Believe me, I personally look at this, as a Christian, and see messianic material. But I don't think that we as translators have the right to translate the Hebrew text in a way that requires that interpretation. I think we need to leave such interpretation to theologians. Our job as translators is to translate the text, not to choose a single interpretation which limits what the human author might have intended what he wrote to mean.

      The same goes for Is. 7:14 and any other passage which we Christians find wonderful as some kind of prophecy about our messiah. Our job as translators is not to tell our translation audience that a passage is messianic. Our job is only to translate the text. We can leave it for ministers, theologians, and others to make the case that something was messianic. That is a subsequent task of application, not of translation.

      At Fri May 18, 03:09:00 PM, Blogger Eric Rowe said...

      Suzanne, please don't interpret any of my comments as an objection to something you wrote in your post. The only comment of mine that is really on the specifics of your post is my point that Servetus was probably not merely arguing against a messianic interpretation of the Psalm, but some of the particular allegorical points that went with that interpretation among the people he criticized. I was just trying to make sure that his comments aren't being used to support a de-christianized translation. The rest of my comments thus far have been more oriented to the ongoing debate about translating Ps 2:12. I found your post fascinating and informative.

      At Fri May 18, 03:32:00 PM, Blogger Eric Rowe said...

      I said, "The Psalm in the form we have received it, as a part of the canonical book of Psalms, does have that idea of the Messiah as God's son."

      Wayne replied, "Aren't you assuming your conclusion here?"

      I hope that by this point in the discussion it's clear that my view isn't just an assumption. But when it comes to translation, the translators have to take a view and go with it. No matter which view they take, they impress it onto their translation and influence its readers thereby. In this case, the translation could leave the meaning ambiguous by consistently leaving the word "son" in lower case letters when it refers to the Messiah. But so long as their convention is to capitalize it, then they have to show their interpretation of this passage by what they do. There is no neutral approach.

      This is even more clear in the other case you mention of Isa 7:14. The word must either be translated "virgin" as the Old Greek translation and Matthew both understood it, and as its usage throughout the Old Testament and in all other occurrences in ancient Hebrew and Ugaritic would support. Or else it can be translated "young woman" as later Jewish apologists against Christianity came to argue, and as many interpreters of Isaiah 7 believe the context requires. Neither translation is neutral. Either Isaiah saw a vision of a pregnant virgin or he did not.

      Interestingly, this is only another case where the translators' desire to render the "original" will lead them down a torturous path. Historical-critical exegetes of Isaiah 7 are not at all unified in viewing it as a composition from the time of Ahaz. The latest and greatest, Joseph Blenkinsopp and many others with him, view Isaiah 7-8, together with their partner narrative in Isaiah 36-39 as a Second Temple composition. Needless to say that "original" context, if accepted, would make a messianic intention of the passage more, not less, likely.

      But, again, do we really want to tell the translators of the Christian Bible that they need to conform their translations of every passage to whatever "original" context reflects the views of the latest and greatest historical reconstructions of its authorship, with alternating snippets of Isaiah reflecting "origins" that span everything from the 8th to the 3rd centuries BC, and similarly with the individual Psalms? Or do we want them to translate these Christian Scriptures as we have received them in their settled forms with all the messianic baggage that goes with them, as the Church has always done? They cannot take a neutral position.

      At Fri May 18, 04:39:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

      But, again, do we really want to tell the translators of the Christian Bible that they need to conform their translations of every passage to whatever "original" context reflects the views of the latest and greatest historical reconstructions of its authorship, with alternating snippets of Isaiah reflecting "origins" that span everything from the 8th to the 3rd centuries BC, and similarly with the individual Psalms?

      Eric, I'm sorry but I don't know what you are talking about. I am talking about translating the Hebrew text, not about reconstructions of any kind.

      We've had several exchanges on this and I'm not communicating clearly enough to keep us both on the same topic. I think I have to call it quits.

      I am *only* talking about translation of the Hebrew text of the Bible, not about all these other things you have mentioned. I am not a theologian. I am a translator.

      At Fri May 18, 05:37:00 PM, Blogger anonymous said...

      I am confused. Here is the introduction to the 2nd Psalm in the Bishop's Bible. This appears Christological to me:

      [Psalm 2]

      ¶ The argument of the .ij. psalme.

      ¶ All conspiracies of the Gentiles, Iewes, Princes, Magistrates, and Kinges, against Christe, be but altogether vayne, for God hath marueylously appointed hym Lorde and king ouer al people, to the vtter confusion of his aduersaries. An exhortation to Kinges and Iudges for to be learned, for to serue God, and for to receaue his sonne Christe: For happy are they that trust in hym.

      At Fri May 18, 05:59:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

      A point well taken. You're right - there isn't a similarity in theology between the Bishop's Bible and the Pagnini Bible.

      So two themes really,

      First, I was trying to demonstrate a continuity between the Pagnini Bible and the Bishop's Bible, that the one underlay the other in terms of grammatical construction.

      And, second, I wanted to demonstrate what I thought might be one reason the Pagnini Bible was accepted by Jewish scholars - the change from "christus" to "unctus". Of course, I could be wrong.

      However, these are two completely unrelated issues both connected to the Pagnini Bible but not to each other. I have not been clear about that.

      At Sat May 19, 07:04:00 AM, Blogger Eric Rowe said...

      "Eric, I'm sorry but I don't know what you are talking about. I am talking about translating the Hebrew text, not about reconstructions of any kind."

      Sorry about that, for my part, Wayne. My understanding was that you were advocating, not merely translating the Hebrew text as we have received it, but also translating it according to what you believe it meant in its "original" context. If that was not something you were advocating then, my mistake.

      I was just saying all those things to make clear that the whole issue of the "original" context of practically any verse of the Old Testament is a very complicated matter that translators might be better off avoiding, as you have so aptly chosen to do. For me, in place of a fruitless theologically neutral search for the "original" meanings of passages of the OT, they should be translated and read within a historical context that is determined by the Bible's own historical/theological narrative. Taking this approach invites a recognition of many more messianic prophecies than the historical-critical method may allow. A great book on the Messiah in the OT that does this in my opinion and is very readable for non-theologians is The Messiah in the Old Testament, by Walt Kaiser, published by Zondervan.

      At Sat May 19, 07:34:00 AM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

      Eric responded:

      Taking this approach invites a recognition of many more messianic prophecies than the historical-critical method may allow.

      I don't follow any historical-critical method when translating. I truly believe we should translate the text itself. I'm not so naive to believe that we can do so without reference to its immediate literary context, or its historical and cultural context. But I don't think we should translate based on peeling back a lot of layers, which you also have objected to.

      I was trained on the historical-grammatical hermeneutic, (Ramm, Mickelsen, Carson, et al.) which is miles apart from the historical-critical methodology, which I have not studied. My training leads me to translate the "plain text" meaning, not allegorical meanings, or meanings derived from any systematic theology, etc.

      A great book on the Messiah in the OT that does this in my opinion and is very readable for non-theologians is The Messiah in the Old Testament, by Walt Kaiser, published by Zondervan.

      I agree. And even though I find my messiah in many passages of the O.T. as Kaiser does, I feel it would be improper of me to translate the O.T. passages other than in a "plain text" way. I say again that translation is not theological application. Translation precedes application.

      I think we're closer to being on the same page, Eric. Thanks for your gracious reply.


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