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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Shaddai in Ps. 68

This is a short post to round up the series on Shaddai. Shaddai in Psalm 68 is translated in the Septuagint as the "Heavenly One."
    When the Heavenly One sets apart kings over it
    they will be snow covered in Selmon. Ps. 68:14 NETS
Finally, in Ezekial 10:5 Shaddai is simply transliterated as Σαδδαι. To sum up the different ways that Shaddai is translated in the Septuagint, we find, Pantocrator, theos, hikanos, Epouranios, Saddai, and in at least one case it is simply omitted. There is no definitive translation or easily established meaning for Shaddai. It is masculine in gender and I do not see that it is helpful to translate it as Breasted One. Neither do I see that as heresy. I will talk about this is a future post.

If we were to suggest an anatomically female name for God, we would wonder if there was a corresponding anatomically male name. Although the names of God have grammatical masculine gender (it is slightly more complicated than that) they don't refer to biologically or anatomically male characteristics.

The name "Lord of Hosts" is often referred to as a masculine name for God, the warrior God. However, it is worth noting that in Ps. 68:11, the "hosts" are women. Hosts is not an exclusively male term. So, rather than label the "Lord of Hosts" masculine and "Shaddai" feminine, I personally don't have a theory of gender for God's name. It doesn't seem necessary in deciding how to translate these names.

My sense is that names for God evolved somewhat independently in the different languages and that there has never been concordance or a one-to-one correspondance for translating the names of God from one language to another.

I hope to post on the name Adonai next and will also discuss feminine metaphors for God in a different post. These are both request posts.

I realize that there are some people who don't want to read about gender. This is a difficult thing. First, I have just looked at the flicks of the bibliobloggers lunch. There are lots of guy bibliobloggers. There are few enough of us who lack facial hair and don't talk about flatulence at lunch. I mean, how predictable is that. Get a bunch of guys in a room without a woman and what do they talk about! Get a woman alone on a blog and what does she talk about! We are so predictable.

Of course, some of you know that most of my work and writing has nothing to do with gender. I can talk of other things. However, at this time, it seems best for me to respond to the two requests I have on the table, Adonai, and the image of God as mother.

In any case, I have learned a lot about the Septuagint and about Shaddai, myself. I hope you have enjoyed it. John Hobbins has a great post on translating Gen. 1. There are also some good posts on Word Alone, He is Sufficient and This Lamp on translation.

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7 Comments:

At Wed Nov 28, 04:41:00 AM, Blogger J. K. Gayle said...

Suzanne,
The variances are curious.

Finally, in Ezekial 10:5 Shaddai is simply transliterated as Σαδδαι. To sum up the different ways that Shaddai is translated in the Septuagint, we find, Pantocrator, theos, hikanos, Epouranios, Saddai, and in at least one case it is simply omitted.

Some questions:
1) why do you think this is so? Different translators' choices? Different contexts?

2) In your opinion, what is the best (or are some of the better) Greek translation of Shaddai, - שַׁדַּי

3) Do the NT writers reference (or quote) the Septuagint passages with the translated name? And if they do, then do these writers just carry across the translation (or transliteration or omission) as in the early translation? Or do the NT writers choose a fresh reworking of the term?

On men and women, in the biblioblogosphere and at lunches, we are not all the same. It is, still, a man's world. And we're all really glad for you and other scholars who are women and bloggers.

 
At Fri Nov 30, 03:28:00 AM, Blogger J. K. Gayle said...

In Genesis 17:1, where two distinct names are mentioned, why do LXX translators decide to do this?

יְהוָה is κύριος

but

אֵל שַׁדַּי is ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ θεός

Wouldn't you have chosen the later Greek name for the former Hebrew name? And is Shaddai translated ego eimi ho theos elsewhere?

 
At Fri Nov 30, 10:25:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Kurk, I can't help wondering if it was because the LXX translators were incompetent. I can never understand why people are so interested in such a poor translation.

 
At Sat Dec 01, 04:28:00 AM, Blogger J. K. Gayle said...

Peter,
I do think there is a large degree of "incompetence." First, language is sloppy stuff; and, second, even the most "competent" of translators is infected with "theory" and "agenda."

It's this "incompetence" (or intended and unintended set of meanings) that make translation decisions so very interesting to me.

On the LXX per se, of course: its history is varied and suspect (as noted by Ivoy and his readers); its phrasal linguistics is varied and suspect (as Suzanne's post here shows); and its slips allow for all sorts of rhetoric (i.e., Jewish, anti-Semitic, anti-Aristotelian Greek, Aristotelian Greek, Jesus', the canonical New Testament's, and even feminist rhetorics). I've tried to show the rhetorics of the LXX in various posts such as here, here, here, here, here, and here.

So I wonder a few things:
1) Would we have the New Testament we have today without the LXX (and all it's "incompetent" translation)? This is the reason I ask questions 2 and 3 in my first comment above here. Any thoughts on answers to these, or even question 1?

2) Are the authors and editors of the NT more competent translators than the LXX translators?

3) Are our contemporary notions of translation much better than the notions of LXX and NT translators?

(I've argued on my blog that the Greeks--especially Aristotle--gives us only the philosophic underpinnings for certain linguistics, such as Chomskyan linguistics without any good basis at all for translation. But that Jesus and his followers, following the LXX translators, give us a much different sort of approach to language, to language's personal motivators--more rhetorical than logical, and to its translation. Of course it's "incompetent" which is sort of the point of Jesus but not so much the point of Aristotle.)

 
At Sat Dec 01, 05:17:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Well, Kurk, "incompetent" was a deliberately provocative word here. I think it would be more accurate to say that the translators were inconsistent in style and principles of translation as well as in competence. Also they were working from an underlying text different from what we have today, and unpointed. Their knowledge of Hebrew was probably limited, as becomes clear when we see what they have done with animal and plant names etc. And there is a vast and complex textual history behind LXX, which means that what we have now is probably not much like what the original translators wrote. Of course all of this makes for interesting study in itself, and occasionally helps us in understanding the Hebrew text of the Bible.

I think that many modern translations make too much use of LXX-based variants, but some are needed. But I don't think we should be taking too much note of the LXX in a blog which is primarily about better English Bibles.

NETS is a translation of the Septuagint. I would not really count it as a translation of the Bible, at least where it departs from what can be justified from the Hebrew text.

 
At Sat Dec 01, 08:06:00 AM, Blogger J. K. Gayle said...

Some good points, Peter.

but you say:

NETS is a translation of the Septuagint. I would not really count it as a translation of the Bible, at least where it departs from what can be justified from the Hebrew text.

What about the relationship between New Testament writers' quotations from the Septuagint? Does NETS count as an English "translation of the Bible" where it coincides with the Greek of the New Testament and its English translation?

I think that many modern translations make too much use of LXX-based variants, but some are needed. But I don't think we should be taking too much note of the LXX in a blog which is primarily about better English Bibles.

Can't LXX and variants tell us much about translation of the Hebrew? And, like-wise, about New Testament writers' choices of translating Hebrew (and/or Aramaic) into Greek? And about why we, using English now to translate both Hebrew and Greek, might think we're doing so much better? In all the discussions of "kaphale" on this blog, for instance, aren't the English translation choices much informed by both NT and LXX uses of this ancient Greek word?

 
At Sat Dec 01, 09:06:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Does NETS count as an English "translation of the Bible" where it coincides with the Greek of the New Testament and its English translation?

Yes, to the same extent that any Christian book counts as a translation of the Bible where it is quoting the Bible text in translation.

Can't LXX and variants tell us much about translation of the Hebrew? ...

Yes to this and the following questions, although in a lot of cases LXX gives us more of an example of what is wrong and how we must do better.

 

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