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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Prosody of Ps. 22:1

As follow up to John's posts about the ISV, I would like to ask him, or anyone else, to comment on the first verse of Psalm 22.

    אֵלִי אֵלִי, לָמָה עֲזַבְתָּנִי
    רָחוֹק מִישׁוּעָתִי, דִּבְרֵי שַׁאֲגָתִי

Here are three Latin translations.
    Deus, Deus meus, respice in me : quare me dereliquisti ?
    longe a salute mea verba delictorum meorum.

    Deus Deus meus quare dereliquisti me
    longe a salute mea verba rugitus mei

    Deus mi deus mi utquid dereliquisti me,
    elongates es a salute me,
    et a verbis rugitus mei
The D-R translates the Vulgate as,
    O God my God, look upon me: why hast thou forsaken me?
    Far from my salvation are the words of my sins.
Coverdales is closer to Jerome's translation from the Hebrew,

    My God, my God: why hast thou forsaken me?
    the words of my complaint are far from my health.
The King James Bible reflects the way Pagnini divides up the second line into two phrases,
    My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
    why art thou so far from helping me,
    and from the words of my roaring?
Finally, the JPS 1917 is here,
    My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me,
    and art far from my help at the words of my cry.
While the Vulgate resulted from a mistranslation in the LXX, the other two variations depend on breaking up the prosody of the Hebrew in line two in different ways. Is there now an agreed upon translation for this verse?


At Tue Aug 21, 07:59:00 PM, Blogger John Hobbins said...

Hi Suzanne,

you sure picked an interesting verse. From the prosodic point of view, Psalm 22:2 (using the numbering system I'm used to) consists of two lines, each of which is made up of two versets. The structure is:


The verse is bisected by the appropriate cantillation mark after עֲזַבְתָּנִי.
The commas that you have in the Hebrew are rightly placed.

Scanned according to my text model, Ps 22 is a 40 line (22 + 18), 90 verset (50 + 40) poem. I should post the whole thing, shouldn't I?

The semantics of the line beginning with רָחוֹק far from clear. But that is another topic.

At Tue Aug 21, 09:38:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Sorry about the numbering system. I reviewed a dozen translations of this verse today and lost track of the details.

Would it look better to format this verse this way,

My God, My God,
Why have you forsaken me?
Why art thou so far from helping me,
So far from the words of my roaring?

The extra "and" was put into the Pagnini version in italics and I didn't represent that. It was an italic ampersand. It took me a minute to realize that it was italics on purpose.

Also, the other translations have "God, my God" but Pagnini's is closer to the Hebrew, "My God, my God" - more poetic and accurate.

Luther's translation is also good. I enjoy his Psalms a lot. They have very simple language but they are very poetic just the same.

At Tue Aug 21, 09:41:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

PS I would love to see the whole psalm in Jerome's Hebraica also.

At Wed Aug 22, 04:37:00 AM, Blogger Bob MacDonald said...

Hi Suzanne - I put my $.02 on my blog at

Thanks for all the stimulating posts.

At Wed Aug 22, 05:30:00 PM, Blogger John Hobbins said...


I like your formatting and your translation. The prosodic hierarchy might be put in greater evidence by formatting as follows:

My God, my God,
why have you forsaken me?

Why are thou so far from helping me,
so far from the words of my roaring?


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