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Monday, April 30, 2007

naturalness poll results

There has been a natural English survey in the margin of this blog for several months. It is time to take it down. The survey instructions were:
Check each of the following which sound so natural to you that you might say them yourself sometimes.
450 blog visitors responded. Here are the results:


I was surprised that the last test sentence received the most number (308) of votes since it uses a generic "he" which many English speakers no longer use. I suspect, but cannot prove without further testing, that visitors to this blog are linguistically more conservative than the general public. Linguistically conservative speakers tend to maintain for a longer period of time the speech patterns which they learned as a child. Many visitors to this blog learned to use the generic "he" rather than other generic English forms such as the singular "they."

There is an increasing number of English speakers who no longer use the objective form of pronouns after a preposition. That's what the first sentence was testing. 85 respondents answered that "for Ruth and I" sounded natural to them. As with the last sentence, this small percentage also demonstrates to me that many visitors to this blog retain conservative linguistic speech patterns for some syntactic constructions.

The very low results (7) for the second second sentence reflect the fact that no one has been taught to use "whom," the objective form of the relative pronoun "who," as the subject of a sentence. A higher number found sentence #3, with its more difficult syntax, natural. Prescriptive grammarians would say that the proper pronoun for #3 is "who" not "whom," since the relative pronoun is serving as the syntactic subject of the embedded sentence "(someone) hit you."

Interestingly, although the results for the last sentence show that visitors to this blog consider generic "he" to sound natural in some contexts, the results for the fourth sentence indicate that almost exactly 50% of respondents also find singular "they" to sound natural, at least when it has the indefinite pronoun "anyone" as its antecedent. It would be instructive to test for differences among speakers for if they would consider singular "they" more natural when "anyone" is its antecedent than when the indefinite pronoun "no one" of the last sentence is its antecedent.

55% of respondents felt that the fifth sentence, "Who did you hit?" is natural. That differs from what what prescriptive grammarians have taught, since "who" serves as the object of the verb "hit" and, therefor, requiring the objective form of this relative pronoun, "whom." But a large number of English speakers have lost that rule when the relative pronoun appears first in a sentence. For them when this relative pronoun occurs sentence-initially, it always takes the form "who." It is a new grammatical rule for English. Only 20% of respondents preferred the form objective form, "whom" (sentence #6), when this relative pronoun is sentence-initial with all other sentence elements and semantic relations remaining the same as in sentence #5.

A bit less than half (48%) of respondents felt that "Who mailed that book to Peter and me?" sounded natural. According to prescriptive grammarians, it is perfectly grammatical. Perhaps there was something else in the sentence, other than the question of "who" vs. "whom" which made the sentence not sound as natural as some of the other sentences. It may be that the greater length and complexity of this sentence created processing difficulties for many speakers, causing them to question its grammaticality or naturalness.

#8 is an example of a cleft sentence. People generally do not learn to compose cleft sentences until several years after their initial early childhood language years. Probably many speakers never utter cleft sentences. So #8 may have had a relatively low score because of its cleft sentence syntax. It also uses the subjective form of "who" when this relative pronoun is actually functioning as the object of its relative clause. So the results for #8 may reflect both problems for respondents. I do utter cleft sentences and I also have the newer rule which calls for use of "who" at the beginning of a sentence (or clause). So #8 sounds natural to me.

#9, "Whom did he speak about?" is perfectly grammatical, according to prescriptive grammarians. But because it uses the newer rule which drops the "who"/"whom" alternation at the beginning of a sentence only 25% of respondents felt that it sounded natural.

These results are interesting. I believe that they are directly relevant to what kind of English we should use in Bible translations for current English speakers. I would suggest that these results call for English Bible translators to continue to use objective forms of pronouns, such as "whom," "me," "him," "her," and "them" following prepositions and verbs of which they are objects. I believe that Bible versions today should, however, probably not use the objective form of pronouns when they occur at the beginning of sentence or clauses, regardless of whether they are syntactic subjects of objects.

With respect to use of generic "he" or singular "they" in new English versions, respondents to this poll demonstrate that they understand both forms and consider both forms natural in different contexts. My prediction is that the poll results would be more heavily in favor of singular "they" if this survey were conducted in a more neutral public environment such as a shopping center parking lot. Although use of singular "they" in the TNIV has caused great consternation to those Bible users who prefer generic "he," results of this poll as well as other polls and observations from current speech and writing show that singular "they" is widely understood and used today. It is not, apparently, as claimed by TNIV opponents, considered to be plural by those who use it. It is syntactically plural but sounds semantically singular, or at least semantically indefinite, which is not exactly singular or plural, to millions of English speakers today.

If you are curious how I voted, the following sentences in the poll sound so natural to me that I would write or say them myself: #4, 5, 7, 8. The last sentence, with its generic "he," used to sound natural to me but it no longer does. In some situations I still write it when I do not want to offend someone who strongly believes that "he" is the only correct generic pronoun to use in English.

This poll will now be moved to my webpage of other surveys and polls where other Internet visitors can answer it.

BBB wins Thinking Blogger Award

Iris Godfrey of the Manna Word blog has awarded the Thinking Blogger Award to the Better Bibles Blog. We are honored and hope that we can continue to publish posts which demonstrate that we are thinking at this blog and that we try to cause BBB visitors to think. We especially honor Suzanne McCarthy on whose most recent post Iris announced the award in her comments on that post.

The Thinking Blogger Award now is now displayed at the bottom of the margin of this blog. This award was begun by Ilker Yodas of The Thinking Blog.

Bloggers who receive this award are asked to tag five other blogs which make them think. Suzanne is especially busy this week and has asked me to respond to this award. So, the BBB bloggers tag the following blogs which cause us to think:
  1. An Anabaptist Anglican, by Tim Chesterton
  2. Lingamish, by David Ker
  3. Ben Irwin
  4. Jesus community, by Ted Gossard
  5. Kruse Kronicle, by Michael Kruse

Sunday, April 29, 2007

My God, my God

As I continue to read through the Psalms in the Pagnini Psalter, I cannot not help but recognize again the powerful words of the King James Version in the Pagnini version of Psalm 22. Never again in the English language is this psalm translated with such powerful imagery.
    My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
    why art thou so far from helping me,
    and from the words of my roaring?
    O my God, I cry in the day time, but thou hearest not;
    and in the night season, and am not silent. KJV
Here are the same verses in the Wycliffe version which is a translation from Jerome's Vulgate.

    God, my God, biholde thou on me,
    whi hast thou forsake me?
    the wordis of my trespassis ben fer fro myn helthe.
    Mi God, Y schal crye bi dai, and thou schalt not here;
    and bi nyyt, and not to vnwisdom to me. Wycliffe
And the Douay Rheims,
    O God my God, look upon me: why hast thou forsaken me?
    Far from my salvation are the words of my sins.
    O my God, I shall cry by day, and thou wilt not hear:
    and by night, and it shall not be reputed as folly in me.
I rather think at this point that there is a bit of a problem with the Vulgate version of these verses. I believe that there are two different Psalter's attributed to Jerome so I am not entirely sure where the difficulty occurred. However, it is clear that the Wycliffe and D-R. versions are dependent on the Vulgate version which I see here in the official Clementine text.
    Deus, Deus meus, respice in me : quare me dereliquisti ?
    longe a salute mea verba delictorum meorum.
    Deus meus, clamabo per diem, et non exaudies;
    et nocte, et non ad insipientiam mihi.
But here is the Pagnini version once again eerily close to the KJV,

    Deues mi deus mi utquid dereliquisti me,
    elongates es a salute mea
    A verbis rugitus mei
    Dues mi, clamo per diem, et non exaudis,
    et nocte et non es silentium nihi
Distinctive in this version is the "roaring" in the third line. This is important because the lion does roar later in this psalm and the word is the same in Hebrew. There is also the abrupt shift from the roar of pain to the sharp lack of "silence" in "am not silent". And here for the first time is the translation which has "my God, my God".

While this psalm is often the object of meditation in a Messianic context, it also reflects the extreme emotions of abandonment and misery which we all may experience at some time in our lives. It speaks to me of one of the ways that Christ is our high priest, because he is like us, his brothers and sisters, in that he also experienced abandonment and pain and death.

    Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham's descendants. For this reason he had to be made like his brothers and sisters in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. Hebrews 2:14-18 TNIV

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Saturday, April 28, 2007

"a good man, be he of the male or female sex"

This afternoon, Randy Stinson is preaching on Bible translation and Gender. Coffee Swirls is blogging the event. I wonder if Randy will properly explain the meaning of aner in his address.

We do not wish to deny the possibility that the plural of aner could take on a wider sense such as “people” in the fixed idiomatic expression, andres + plural noun, such as “men of Athens,” “men of Israel,” etc. But where is the proof? If substantial evidence is forthcoming, we would be happy to change out understanding of plural andres, and we recognize that there may be such evidence that we have not yet seen, especially with regard to fixed idioms such as “men of Athens,” etc. But we have not yet seen clear evidence that this is the case. So we cannot at this point agree with the TNIV’s claim that aner “was occasionally used as a generic term for human beings.”

This is the quote on the CBMW website. But what do they make of Plato's Laws and the way aner is used in this passage? Can you talk in English about a member of our community, be he male or female, becoming a "good man"? I just don't think so.
ποτὲ ἀνὴρ ἀγαθὸς γίγνοιτ' ἄν,
τὴν ἀνθρώπῳ προσήκουσαν ἀρετὴν τῆς ψυχῆς ἔχων... ,
εἴτε ἄρρην τις των συνοικούντων οὖσα ἡ φύσις
εἴτε θήλεια, νέων ἢ γερόντων

… in which a member of our community--
be he of the male or female sex, young or old,--
may become a good citizen, possessed of the
excellence of soul which belongs to man. Plato's Laws 6. 770d
I was so relieved to find this quote. Finally - here is a way to show what anthropos and aner really mean. Anthropos is the quality of being human, and aner, that of being a citizen, or a member of society.

Think of how this passage would sound like this,

… in which a member of our community--
be he of the male or female sex, young or old,
-- may become a good man, possessed of the
excellence of soul which belongs to man. Plato's Laws 6. 770d

Not so great. In fact, I personally would just get rid of the generic "he" in this passage while I was at it. But, nobody asked me! The translation was done in 1926.

Much better like this,

    … in which a member of our community--
    be they of the male or female sex, young or old,--
    may become a good citizen, possessed of the
    excellence of soul which belongs to humankind. Plato's Laws 6. 770d

I was so happy to see that the Perseus Digital Library was back online that I did a little search and found that in Plato's Laws alone, aner has been translated into English by "friend", "individual", "citizen", "everyone", "person" and so on.

I think that it is safe to say that the TNIV is not breaking new ground when it translates aner in a gender neutral fashion. I don't think that the TNIV needs the blessing of the CBMW, but I would feel better if the CBMW expressed their happiness at receiving my evidence and changed their understanding of aner. Then they could retract their statement of concern against the TNIV.

Here is the article I am sending CBMW. This is my homework in preparation for the course I am planning to take with Fee this summer. ;-)

And there is lots more to say about aner in Hellenistic Greek -some other time. I enjoy this reasearch as it gives me a chance to try out the search capacity of Perseus and gets me reading a little more broadly in classical Greek while I am at it.

I am also trying to read a couple of Psalms in Hebrew, Latin and Greek together, which is way easier than reading them in Hebrew alone. I am much more likely to recognize the word in Latin or Greek. It is a bit of a langauge stew but I find the Hebrew by itself pretty daunting.

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Editing the ISV singular "they"

I have been checking the ISV, at the invitation of their translation team. I just found a use of singular "they." I suspect that the ISV team is not aware that they used a singular "they." It probably is just what sounded natural to their translator in this context, so they (!) used it. Elsewhere they very consciously use a generic "he."

The ISV singular "they" (boldfaced by me) is found in Jonah 3:8 :
Instead, let man and animal clothe themselves with sackcloth, and cry out to God forcefully. Let every person turn from their evil ways and from their tendency to do violence.
How does "their" there (!) sound to you?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Editing out the inspired singular "they"

James 2 is a real challenge to gender guidelines. I wonder if there was a statement of concern against the NIV for editing out gender neutral terms along with the inspired singular "they".

14 τί τὸ ὄφελος ἀδελφοί μου ἐὰν πίστιν λέγῃ τις ἔχειν ἔργα δὲ μὴ ἔχῃ μὴ δύναται ἡ πίστις σῶσαι αὐτόν

14 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?

15 ἐὰν ἀδελφὸς ἢ ἀδελφὴ γυμνοὶ ὑπάρχωσιν καὶ λειπόμενοι τῆς ἐφημέρου τροφῆς

15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food.

16 εἴπῃ δέ τις αὐτοῖς ἐξ ὑμῶν ὑπάγετε ἐν εἰρήνῃ θερμαίνεσθε καὶ χορτάζεσθε

16 If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,"

μὴ δῶτε δὲ αὐτοῖς τὰ ἐπιτήδεια τοῦ σώματος τί τὸ ὄφελος

but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?

17 οὕτως καὶ ἡ πίστις ἐὰν μὴ ἔχῃ ἔργα νεκρά ἐστιν καθ' ἑαυτήν

17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. NIV
The first thing I noticed in this chapter of James in the NIV is that three different words are translated by man in English. They are ανθρωπος, a "person"; ανηρ, a "man" or "citizen"; and τις, the gender neutral "someone".

But even odder is the way that the Greek was tidied up in English in the NIV. Note the "him" and "his" in verse 16, "if one of you says to him" and then "does nothing about his physical needs". In fact, in the Greek it says, "to them".

Somehow an English stylist must have come along and decided that the singular "they" was a product of the English translation, not the Greek, and edited it out. The TNIV has restored it. But if singular "they" is acceptable in Greek, why isn't it used more often? I don't know - maybe this one was just overlooked. Each epistle was written by a different author, or scribe, etc. They all had their preferences. So do we.

What is even odder is that the ESV, which does include the inspired singular "they", but whose translators have sworn, up, down and around that the singular of anthropos should be translated as "man", has suddenly translated anthropos as "person" in verse 20 - and inserted the word "you".
ὦ ἄνθρωπε κενέ
you foolish person
I wonder if this goes against the Colorado Springs Guidelines!

And at the end of all that, how many of us stopped to think about how we can help to clothe and feed our brothers and sisters. We don't need good grammar for that. Let us remember Rahab.



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Matt. 19:11 - Which teaching?

A couple of days ago I was checking a tribal translation of Matt. 19. After Jesus gives his teaching on divorce, the disciples respond (back-translated to English):
His disciples said to him, "If it is like that for a man and his wife then maybe it is better not to married, right?"
This is the same meaning as that found in English translations, such as:
The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.” (19:10 TNIV)
Next, verse 11 in the tribal translation chooses one exegetical option and expresses it like this:
Jesus said to them, "This word I am teaching is not for everybody, but it is given to those God chooses.
I checked my resources and found that this interpretation is one that some exegetes and commentators have accepted. But the majority of English versions that I checked have Jesus referring, in verse 11, not to his own teaching, but to what the disciples have just said in verse 10, for example:
But he said to them, “Not everyone can accept this teaching, but only those to whom it is given. (NRSV)

But he said to them, “Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. (ESV)

But He said to them, “Not all men can accept this statement, but only those to whom it has been given. (NASB)

Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. (TNIV)

But He told them, “Not everyone can accept this saying, but only those it has been given to. (HCSB)

Jesus answered, “This teaching does not apply to everyone, but only to those to whom God has given it. (TEV/GNT)

Jesus told them, “Only those people who have been given the gift of staying single can accept this teaching. (CEV)

“Not everyone can accept this statement,” Jesus said. “Only those whom God helps. (NLT)
The interpretation followed by each of these translations is consistent with the preceding and following contexts. In what precedes the disciples respond that it is better not to marry, if restrictions on divorce are as Jesus has just taught. In verse 12, which immediately follows, Jesus talks about those who do not marry.

Each of the version wordings for verse 11 are fairly clear. But I was struck by the God's Word rendering:
He answered them, “Not everyone can do what you suggest. Only those who have that gift can.
To me, the GW wording takes the prize for clarity. It is expressed in English more natural than that of most of the other versions and also makes it clear that it is what "you", the disciples have just suggested that Jesus is responding to.

Now, as always, clarity does not guarantee accuracy. But I sure do find it refreshing to read a clear translation, at least whenever the biblical language texts seem to be clear.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

What is your pulpit or pew Bible?

A few days ago I put up a new poll on the TNIV Truth blog. Since this blog gets more visitors than the TNIV Truth blog, I'll put it in the margin of this blog, as well. This poll is easy. It just surveys what is the pew, pulpit, or in any other way "official" Bible used as your place of worship. If you have already voted in the poll on the TNIV Truth blog, I think that the polling service will not allow you to vote here, as well. Votes from the poll on both blogs will be added together.

Monday, April 23, 2007

1 John 2:1 - Is something missing?

One of the passages read during our church service yesterday was 1 John 2:1. Our pulpit and pew Bible is the NRSV:
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;
My ears thought I heard something missing from the end of this verse. I need another sound check to see if it's just my hearing or whether your ears hear the same thing missing. To help, here are other English versions for comparison. Each version is, like the NRSV, essentially literal:
My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: (KJV)

My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. (NKJV)

My little children, I am writing this to you so that you may not sin; but if any one does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; (RSV)

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. (ESV)

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; (NASB)

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. (NIV)

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. (TNIV)

My little children, I am writing you these things so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ the righteous One. (HCSB)

(My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.) But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous One, (NET)
Do you also hear anything missing in the NRSV, and some other versions, at the end of the verse? By "missing", I am referring to something which, to you, sounds like it should be there. And if you sense something missing, is it enough to make the wording ungrammatical?

Or am I just hearing things?!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Luke 18:18-19 - "good" translation

You are probably familiar with this gospel story:
18. A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher,
what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
19. “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered.
“No one is good—except God alone.
20. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not
commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall
not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor
your father and mother.’”
21. “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he
said.
22. When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You
still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and
give to the poor, and you will have treasure in
heaven. Then come, follow me.”
23. When he heard this, he became very sad, because
he was very wealthy. 24. Jesus looked at him
and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the
kingdom of God! 25. Indeed, it is easier for a camel
to go through the eye of a needle than for the rich
to enter the kingdom of God.” (TNIV)
Have you ever stopped to wonder about the exchange in verses 18-19? A ruler addresses Jesus Jesus as "good teacher" and then asks him what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus doesn't answer his question immediately. He first questions the ruler about his calling Jesus good and says that only God is good. Then he goes on to address the ruler's question.

For me, this is another one of those passages like Matt. 18:10, which I addressed in the preceding post, which bumps for me. There is something missing in the translation (and its underlying Greek) which I *think* was there implicitly in the original exchange. For me, from my cultural background, it seems like it would be a good (!) thing for someone to address Jesus as a good teacher. Yet, Jesus questions the ruler about calling him good (which is not exactly the same as calling him a good teacher) and says that only God is good. I definitely consider that Jesus was a good teacher. And as I understand goodness, Jesus was definitely a good person. God is good also.

What do you think is going on in the exchange about "good"? Do you think Jesus was trying to make some point, other than the obvious, that God is good? And what did Jesus mean by saying that *only* God is good?

What is missing for any Bible readers like me who sense that something is missing for us to understand Jesus' point about "good"? Do you think that the ruler understood Jesus' point? How about others who were listening in? What point do you think we are supposed to get from that exchange? How and where can we communicate that point to users of our Bible translations?

Friday, April 20, 2007

Matt. 18:10: translating biblical non sequiturs

I'm in the middle of checking translation of Matt. 18:1-20 for a tribal language. I'm looking at the back translation (from the tribal language to English) of 18:10:
Don't be against these children! I am really telling you, their angels are in heaven, they are always with my heavenly Father there.
How does that translation sound to you? Does it seem accurate? Feel free to check the translation with any resources you wish.

The translation seems accurate to me, in that it says what the underlying Greek text says. (N.B. If you are concerned that the translation makes explicit who the little ones are, something which is clear in the context, this is permissible translation, according to the principles we follow as translation consultants. And if you are concerned that the translation says nothing about the "face" of Jesus' father in heaven, we should point out that face is a Semitic figure of speech, a synecdoche, which represents all of a person. The speakers of this tribal language do not have the synecdoche of face representing a person, so the translation has the figurative meaning of the synecdoche, which is permissible translation according to the principles we consultants follow as we check. These two issues are not in focus in this blog post. Please keep reading to get to the issue which is.)

Now, think for awhile about the two sentences in this verse. Feel free to look them up in the Greek or in any English translation. Feel free to examine any amount of their context. Does anything strike you as odd about these two sentences, in any translation?

If nothing does yet, consider this: What does Jesus give as the reason why people should "not look down on one of these little ones" (NIV)?

Does that reason make sense to you, in this context? Don't answer yes until you have thought about it for awhile.

If the reason given, as we have recorded by Matthew, doesn't make sense as a reason for not looking down on the little ones, do you think Jesus intended it to make sense to his audience? And if you think he did, what do you think is a translator's responsibility, if any, to enable their audience to understand the reason why people should "not look down on one of these little ones"?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Lord rules me; I shall not want

It doesn't have quite the same ring to it, does it? You might have thought I was a wee tad overexcited about Pagnini the other day, but, frankly, I think it is warranted.

Let's look at the first verse of the 23rd Psalm in two translations based on the Latin Vulgate.

    The Lord gouerneth me,
    and no thing schal faile to me;
    in the place of pasture there he hath set me.
    He nurschide me on the watir of refreischyng; Wycliffe

    The Lord ruleth me:
    and I shall want nothing.
    He hath set me in a place of pasture.
    He hath brought me up, on the water of refreshment: Douay-Rheims
Now, look at it in the King James Version.

    The LORD is my shepherd;
    I shall not want.
    He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
    he leadeth me beside the still waters.
The translators of this last one found all the pieces, not purely from studying the Hebrew source, but in earlier translations and commentaries, the LXX, the Vulgate, Rashi's commentary, Luther, Pagnini, Coverdale, and others. I can't tell you exactly who said what first because a few translations are still missing for me. For example, I haven't seen the Zwingli or Olivetan translations.

However, one can see that Pagnini wrote in Latin "he shepherds me", although it was Luther who penned "der Herr is mein Hirte". He wrote the Latin for "I shall not want" instead of "nothing fails me". Pagnini broke "set" into two words providing the underlying Latin for "maketh me lie down." He also provided the Latin for "quiet waters" instead of "refreshing waters." Besides "the valley of the shadow of death" which I mentioned last time, there are several other places in the remainder of the psalm where his influence is clear.

Little in the 23rd Psalm of the King James is original, but the translators did pick out the most eloquent phrases of historic text and weave together the varied threads of previous translations, turning it into poetry, doing justice to the source text. The result is arguably the most famous piece of literature in the English language. To my ears, Pagnini deserves the main credit.

I should mention that I find Luther's version, although very different in many respects, and not demonstrating dependence on Pagnini, also very poetic. But some translations are not.

For those who are interested, this is Psalm 23 in Pagnini's Latin version. The KJ version is remarkably close to this from beginning to end. It is worth considering whether Pagnini was attempting to do in Latin what Buber and Rosenzweig did in German, and Fox and Alter in English.

    Dominus pascit me : non deficiam
    In tuguriis germinis accubare facit me,
    Ad aquas requietum deducit me.
    Animam meam convertit,
    ducit me per semitas justitiae propter nomen suum
    Etiamsi ambulovero per vallem umbrae mortis
    non timebo malum, quoniam tu mecum es :
    virga tua, & baculus tuus ipsa consolantur me
    Praeparas coram me mensam,
    e regione hostium meorum
    impinguasti in oleo caput meum,
    calix meus exuberans
    Veruntamen bonum & misericordia prosequentur me
    omnibus diebus vitae meae,
    & habitabo domo Domini in longtitudinem dierum.

Congratulations

Congratulations to Kenny Pearce! I was contributing a rather dry and tedious comment on one of his posts when I noticed a photo on his blog. Best wishes to Lauren and Kenny.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

How to Choose a Translation for All Its Worth

Bible scholars Gordon Fee and Mark Strauss are co-authoring a new book, How to Choose a Translation for All Its Worth. This book follows an earlier book, co-authored by Fee and Douglas Stuart, How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, which has sold well and is now in its third edition.

The new book is aimed at helping people decide what kind of Bible version to use. It follows recent publication of similar books which we have had listed on the Bookshelf of this blog, A User's Guide To Bible Translations: Making The Most Of Different Versions, by David Dewey (amazon.co.uk) by David Dewey, and What's In a Version, by Henry Neufeld.

Fee and Strauss' new book is scheduled for publication later this year. The Zondervan website lists many booksellers which will stock this book, including amazon.com from which you can pre-order the book, if you wish. (Amazon.com lists an earlier title which has been changed to the title shown on the Zondervan website.)

You can also listen to an mp3 file accessible from the Zondervan website in which Mark Strauss describes the new book and some of the translation issues the book will deal with.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Daughters or children? 1 Peter 3:6

I just noticed an interesting issue related to gender language at 1 Peter 3:6. Peter, writing here to wives, says that if they behave properly they are the tekna of Sarah. Now tekna is the gender generic word for "children".

So it is interesting to see what various translations have made of this. Some translations are literal: ERV, ASV, RSV, NASB, ESV and HCSB all have "children"; also Darby and NJB, and more surprisingly and perhaps for different reasons, CEV. But the tradition of translating according to the sense "daughters" goes back to KJV and even to Wycliffe (the version at Bible Gateway), and has been taken up by NIV and NRSV and retained in TNIV, also in Douay-Rheims, Moffatt, NLT, NKJV, REB, Good News Translation, The Message, the Amplified Bible - and oddly enough in Young's Literal Translation. It seems that the rendering "children", like many literalisms, goes back to the English Revised Version and its policy of highly concordant translation. (I note that Darby's 1890 and Young's 1898 translations are later than ERV, NT 1881).

For comparison, it would be interesting to look at a place where tekna refers to males. But I can't find any plural examples. However, several individual males are called teknon. Most cases of this are in direct address, which does not necessarily give a good comparison. But Philemon 10 provides the best comparison in that Onesimus is referred to in the third person as Paul's teknon. How has this been translated? We find "child" in ERV, ASV, RSV, NRSV, NASB, ESV, NLT, HCSB, REB, NJB, Amplified, Young's, Darby, but "son" in Wycliffe, Douay-Rheims, KJV, Moffatt, NIV, TNIV, NKJV, GNT, CEV, The Message. Again the literalism originated with ERV.

Most versions are consistent in either being literal or in following the meaning. But Young's, Amplified, NRSV, NLT and REB are somewhat inconsistent in having "daughters" in 1 Peter but "child" in Philemon. And CEV is inconsistent in the opposite direction.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Santis Pagnini translation

This might be called an "aha" moment, or a "duh" moment. It all depends.

But, .... I thought, I really thought that the Wycliffe Bible was translated from the Latin Vulgate, as we know it, and the Tyndale, Coverdale, et al. from the Hebrew/Greek texts. Now, maybe overall there is some truth to that. I won't deny that, as a generality, it might be okay to think that.

However, I have been commenting on a post by Rick and it has really gotten me thinking. What text did the Wycliffite translators have anyway?

Here is a little background on the Vulgate. It was the official Latin text of the Bible. But it was not standardized until the late 16th century.
    Commissioned by Pope Damasus I and prepared c. A.D. 383-405, Jerome's Vulgate rapidly became the standard version of the Bible in the West and remained so for centuries. 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.
Now, I am going to admit to a bias. That's all it is, but it does influence me. If you learn a language, even a dead language, a language you only use for reading, when you are young, you may complain, it may be a great nuisance, but the language is, in some respects, more or less there, until Alzheimer's sets in and then, ...

So, I got to thinking .... I learned Latin when I was young, but I didn't study Hebrew until later - 20 actually, really old! uh-oh. Now, let's go back to Wycliffe et al. and Luther/ Coverdale et al. Latin was a nobrainer for these guys, right, but Hebrew?

Okay, let's look at Psalm 23:4 in several different Latin versions.

    sed et si ambulavero in valle mortis non timebo malum Jerome's Vulgate

    Nam etsi ambulavero in medio umbræ mortis, non timebo mala, Clementine Vulgate

    Nam etsi ambulem in medio umbre mortis, non timebo mala, Paris Psalter

    Þeah ic nu gange on midde þa sceade deaðes, ne ondræde ic me nan yfel, (Old English) also in the Paris Psalter

    For whi thouy Y schal go in the myddis of schadewe of deeth; Y schal not drede yuels, Wycliffe 1395

    Und ob ich schon wanderte im finstern Tal, fürchte ich kein Unglück. Luther 1545

    etiamse ambulavero per vallem umbrae mortis, non timebo malum, Santis Pagnini

    Though I shulde walke now in the valley of the shadowe of death, yet I feare no euell, Coverdale 1534
After reading Psalm 23 in the Pagnini translation, I have no doubt that it was one of the underlying texts of the Coverdale version and influenced the King James version.

So, I have a few questions, I don't have this book and I don't know it it mentions the Santis Pagnini Latin translation. That will take a trip to the library. I also don't know if there is a Pagnini reprint available.

Now for why this a "duh" moment for me. I just realized that the 1666 Hebrew-Latin Psalter sitting on my bookshelf is a Pagnini. I really just thought it was the Vulgate. But recently, reading a few posts on Rick's blog here and here, I got to thinking that I could read this Psalter and when I did, I realized it wasn't the Vulgate. And it has been sitting there for how long?

So now, when someone asks me about my favourite Bible translations, I will mutter hopefully - the Pagnini version. More about this later.

pitiful translation

Here's how the story begins. I have been editing a book about Bible translation. In it the authors cite James 5:11 from the KJV:
Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.
The point they make in that section of their book is that words often change meaning over time. In this case, in 1611 A.D., when the KJV was published, the word "pitiful" meant "pity full", that is full of pity or compassionate. Obviously, today it has a very different meaning.

I passed that wording on to some of my friends by email, pointing out the meaning change.

Lingamish has responded with an arresting blog post on how we frame the questions to our own advantage in debates about Bible translation. I felt a sting in my conscience when I read his post: I have been guilty of putting down some translations when it would be better to take a higher road in the debates. I encourage you to read his post, and to let it touch your conscience, as well. I'd be interested in any reactions you have. Please note them in comments on the Lingamish post or here.

Quotation Marks

At Evangelical Textual Criticism, PJ Williams asks:
Does anyone know whether there has been any study of the history of use of quotation marks in English Bibles?
He continues with some more specific questions. Maybe someone here can give him a more complete answer than the one I gave in a comment.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Journal of Hebrew Scriptures

Another resource which I am grateful to have found recently is the Journal of Hebrew Scriptures available online. I have become immersed in How the Bible Became a Book: The Textualization of Ancient Israel, which is right up my alley in literacy studies.

Ultimately it was this article which I wanted to share with readers of the BBB.
Robert Holmstedt, Issues in the Linguistic Analysis of a Dead language, with Particular Reference to Ancient Hebrew

In a few short pages Holmstedt covers a broad scope beginning with a very general discussion on the difference between philology and linguistics and progressing to the details of the relative words שׁ and אשׁר.

He also discusses "Analysing No longer spoken languages", "The linguistic status of Biblical or Ancient Hebrew", and "Ancient and Modern Hebrew."

Of particular interest to commenters on this blog, Holmstedt places linguistics and philology on an equal footing but with different objects of study.
    To summarize, then, linguists have as their goal the system of language, whereas philologists have as their goal a better understanding of the meaning of the text being observed, and language is simply the primary means to that end. But is "text versus system" all there is to the distinction between philology and linguistics? Would that it were so simple.

    There exists yet another important axis by which we can distinguish the two disciplines—by their primary (but not sole) method of inquiry. Philologists primarily adopt an inductive approach in that they take a finite corpus and reconstruct the grammar of that corpus from within. In contrast, linguists, particularly within the generative approach,17 adopt a deductive approach in that they proceed from a small set of presuppositions about the human mind, "language," and attested language systems and use the data to test and refine these hypotheses.

    That this is to some degree a legitimate distinction between the two approaches is supported by the common criticisms leveled by each against the other. On the one hand, philologists often claim that linguists impose theory on the data; on the other hand, linguists often describe philological activity as little more than listing and categorization of forms (i.e., simple, and therefore mostly un-insightful, taxonomy).

    Perhaps it is personal bias on my part, since I have formal training in both philology and linguistics, but I refuse to think that there is no way around this animus. I prefer an approach that allows for a functional and productive working relationship between the two disciplines. In other words, let us allow that the tools may be the same for philologists and linguists, but that the goals differ. ...

      In this way, any Hebraist who investigates the linguistic features of a particular corpus, e.g., a passage or book of the Hebrew Bible, is engaging in philological analysis. In contrast, those who examine linguistic features in light of some linguistic theory in order to make sense of some dialect or stratum of ancient Hebrew as a system are engaging in linguistic analysis. And, those of us who examine specific texts or corpora as well as linguistic systems can identify ourselves as both philologists and linguists.
                From the linguistic status of Biblical or Ancient Hebrew,


                  For example, consider the case of the relative word שׁ. It is often identified as a remnant of both a northern dialect and a standard feature of Second Temple period Hebrew. Additionally, the cases of שׁ have been explained as instances of a Hebrew vernacular (and רשׁא would then represent the literary idiom), which increasingly exerted influence on the literary register in the later Second Temple period.
                  Such an explanation, that שׁ was originally the northern colloquial relative word, made its way south after 722 B.C.E, and infiltrated the literary register until it became the item of choice by the period of the Mishna, may account for many of the occurrences, but not all. In some cases, it appears that the distinction between אשׁר and שׁ was used as a literary device, specifically to create a northern Hebrew or "other" atmosphere. For instance, in 2 Kgs 6:11, given in (5), the שׁ is placed in the mouth of an Aramean king.

                HT: Tyler Williams

                Saturday, April 14, 2007

                British and American Bible version differences

                Until a few months ago I thought that the replacement of "rooster" by the good old English word for this bird, as used in KJV, was the only difference, apart from trivial matters of spelling, between American and British (or Anglicised) editions of modern Bible translations. Then I discovered a difference in TNIV related to "empathize", which I consider to be an error. Since then I have discovered a few more differences. Here is a catalogue of what I have found so far (mostly from the gospels because these are the books I have been working on recently), giving just one example for each wording change. I have included KJV and REB which are both British translations with no American editions.

                "Rooster" / "Cock": Matthew 26:34

                KJV: "this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice"
                RSV and RSV-UK: "this very night, before the cock crows, you will deny me three times"
                NIV and TNIV: "this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times"
                NIV-UK and TNIV-UK: "this very night, before the cock crows, you will disown me three times"
                REB: "tonight before the cock crows you will disown me three times"
                CEV: "before a rooster crows tonight, you will say three times that you don't know me"
                CEV-UK: "before a cock crows tonight, you will say three times that you don't know me"

                "Empathize" / "Feel sympathy": Hebrews 4:15

                KJV: "cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities"
                RSV, NIV, REB: "unable to sympathize with our weaknesses"
                RSV-UK and NIV-UK: "unable to sympathise with our weaknesses"
                TNIV: "unable to empathize with our weaknesses"
                TNIV-UK "unable to feel sympathy for our weaknesses"
                CEV, CEV-UK "understands every weakness of ours"

                Note that REB uses an "American" spelling which is also considered a valid alternative here in Britain.

                "Grain" / "Corn", "Heads" / "Ears": Matthew 12:1

                KJV: "through the corn ... began to pluck the ears of corn"
                RSV: "through the grainfields ... began to pluck heads of grain"
                RSV-UK: "through the grainfields ... began to pluck ears of grain"
                NIV and TNIV: "through the grainfields ... began to pick some heads of grain"
                NIV-UK and TNIV-UK: "through the cornfields ... began to pick some ears of corn"
                REB: "through the cornfields ... began to pluck some ears of corn
                CEV and CEV-UK: "through some wheat fields ... began picking and eating grains of wheat"

                Note that in Britain "corn" is not maize but a generic word for grain.

                "Spit" / "Spat": John 9:6

                KJV, RSV, RSV-UK, NIV-UK, TNIV-UK, REB, CEV-UK: "he spat on the ground"
                NIV, TNIV, CEV: "he spit on the ground"

                "He spit" would be an error in British English.

                "In your midst" / "Among you": 1 Corinthians 3:16
                (example added 17th April, see the first comment)

                NIV and NIV-UK: "God's Spirit lives in you"
                TNIV: "God's Spirit dwells in your midst"
                TNIV-UK: "God's Spirit dwells among you"

                TNIV-UK did well to remove "midst", which sounds like an archaism in British English. It would have done better to make this change more consistently. But I don't understand the change from NIV's normal "live" to TNIV's archaic sounding "dwell".

                And here is a change which should have been made, for "broil" is not used in modern British English, but mostly has not been:

                "Broiled" / "Baked": Luke 24:42

                KJV, RSV, RSV-UK, NIV, NIV-UK, TNIV, TNIV-UK, CEV: "a piece of broiled fish"
                REB: "a piece of fish they had cooked"
                CEV-UK: "a piece of baked fish"

                Actually I think it should be "a piece of grilled fish". "Grill" is the best British equivalent to US "broil", both meaning "cook by direct radiant heat".

                I have also discovered that there are quite a number of other differences between the different editions of CEV, which is the only version for which I have electronic copies which I can compare. (Added note, 17th April: some of these are differences between the presumably US 1995 edition of CEV found at Bible Gateway and the "Global Standard" edition which I have received as part of a software package; comments below edited accordingly.) For example:

                Matthew 1:20:

                CEV-Global: "the Lord appeared to him in a dream"
                CEV-US and CEV-UK: "the Lord came to him in a dream"

                So this is not in fact a US-UK difference.

                Matthew 3:5:

                CEV-Global and CEV-US: "the Jordan River Valley"
                CEV-UK: "the River Jordan Valley"

                Matthew 4:5:

                CEV-Global: "the devil took Jesus into the holy city to the highest part of the temple"
                CEV-US: "the devil took Jesus to the holy city and had him stand on the highest part of the temple"
                CEV-UK: "the devil took Jesus to the holy city and made him stand on the highest part of the temple"

                The only US-UK difference is "had him stand" / "made him stand". Both are good British English but the latter is probably better style, and suggests compulsion rather than request.

                Matthew 4:23:

                CEV-Global: "teaching in their synagogues"
                CEV-US and CEV-UK: "teaching in the Jewish meeting places"

                Again not a US-UK difference, but it beats me why "synagogues" is acceptable in a "Global Standard" version but not in the US or UK versions.

                Acts 17:5 (example added 17th April, contributed by Lingamish)

                CEV-Global: "some troublemakers who hung around the marketplace"
                CEV-US: "some worthless bums who hung around the marketplace"
                CEV-UK: "some worthless louts who hung around the market place"

                I understand why US "bums" became UK "louts", but not why "marketplace" has been divided in two, nor why the "Global Standard" version has gone for the higher register "troublemakers" with a subtly different meaning.

                Does anyone know of any more examples? If so, please post them in comments here.

                Amazon.com UnSpun Best English Bible Translation

                UPDATE 16th April: This poll has been "got at" by people who have been adding, deleting and renaming entries in it in inappropriate ways. So you should probably ignore the results you see below. UnSpun could be a useful resource for polls of this kind, but only if there was some kind of protection mechanism to stop anyone with an Amazon.com account from making edits which completely invalidate the results.

                LATER UPDATE 16th April: Amazon.com staff have rolled back the unauthorised changes and taken steps to stop this corruption happening again. As I write, this poll is again in a reasonable state. I hope this time it remains so.

                UPDATE 17th April: More changes have been made to the poll. Some, such as by "who_cares", may have been accidental additions of duplicates. Others were clearly destructive, libellous and blasphemous. I am replacing the link to this poll with a link to a similar poll which I set up, which has now been closed to further edits of the list of translations. But so far this new poll has received relatively few votes. You can still vote on this alternative poll, and I would encourage you to do so if you have not already.

                Henry Neufeld has posted a link to the Amazon.com UnSpun Best English Bible Translation. This is effectively a best Bibles poll, with the interesting twist that you can vote Bibles down as well as up. Henry writes:
                I think it would be interesting to get the votes of many of the well-informed folks in the blogosphere to vote on this one and perhaps change the rankings a bit.
                So, since this is where a lot of you well-informed folks hang out, have a go! Here is the list. If it works from this blog page (as it does from Henry's WordPress blog) you can vote by clicking on the up and down arrows:



                It seems to work. Sorry if it slightly overlaps the sidebar.

                Henry also writes:
                I notice the CEV and the TNIV, two of my favorites, are way down the list.
                But after his votes and mine both of these Bibles have moved much higher. No surprise, I suppose, because so far it is based on votes from only 21 people. It will be interesting to see how this changes in future.

                For more details about this particular list and its rankings, see here. From this page, if you have or create an amazon.com account, you can rank the Bibles (these rankings are publicly visible) as well as vote for them. I'm not sure if this has an additional effect on the "community rankings".

                For more about UnSpun, read these FAQ. It is apparently easy to create your own list.

                Friday, April 13, 2007

                Luke 17:21 In your midst

                The following verses represent a particularly tricky translation issue. I do not believe there is a clear right answer but there are some observations that can be made.

                Luke 17:18

                  Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, "The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, 'Here it is,' or 'There it is,' because the kingdom of God is in your midst." εντος εν ὑμιν TNIV
                  within you KJV, NIV
                  among you HCSB, NRSV
                  in your midst TNIV, NASB
                  in the midst of you ESV, RSV
                Here the KJV and the NIV are in line theologically. However, the TNIV now reflects the interpretation of the other recent translations. It also has the more euphonic and clear "in your midst" instead of "in the midst of you". That expression probably had its origin in example # 4 below.

                1 Cor. 3:16

                  Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in your midst? εν ὑμιν TNIV
                    in you ESV, NIV, NASB, KJV, RSV, NRSV
                    in your midst TNIV
                  Here the TNIV reflects a very possible interpetation but it seems to be unique to the TNIV. It is certainly justified by this verse in John 1:14.

                    The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us εν ὑμιν
                    among us TNIV, ESV, KJV, NIV, NASB, RSV, NRSV
                  Matt. 18:2

                    He called a little child, whom he placed among them. εν μεσω αυτων TNIV
                    in the midst of them KJV, ESV, RSV
                    among them NIV, NRSV, TNIV, HCSB
                    before them NASB
                  I believe that this shows where the term "in the midst of" originated. However, most modern translations including the NASB have not felt that it was necessary to use this expression to provide a literal translation.

                  My sense is that "in the midst of" was a legitimate reflection of the Greek in the pattern of the KJV, but otherwise is inappropriate in a modern translation. On another note, there seems to be a basis for the unique interpretation of the TNIV in 1 Cor. 3:16.

                  Note: There is a message on the Greek B-list on Travelling alone and the death of Perseus. Fortunately my post this evening would not have received much benefit from having a Greek lexicon waved over it like a magic wand.

                    Thursday, April 12, 2007

                    Best-selling Bibles list changes

                    The monthly list of best-selling Bibles has a different format and Internet address. The list is now in a pdf file format. The familiar top ten rankings for sales of English Bibles remains, but it is now under a category of General versions/Translations. Three more categories of rankings for Bible sales have been added:
                    • Specialty Bibles
                    • Study Bibles
                    • Young adult/Children's Bibles
                    The top five best selling Bibles in each of these last three categories are displayed.

                    Here are the top ten best-selling general Bibles for the April display (February sales, I believe):
                    1 New King James Version various publishers
                    2 King James Version various publishers
                    3 New International Version various publishers
                    4 New Living Translation Tyndale
                    5 English Standard Version Crossway
                    6 The Message “Eugene Peterson, NavPress”
                    7 New American Standard Bible update various publishers
                    8 New Century Version Nelson
                    9 Reina Valera 1960 (Spanish) various publishers
                    10 Today’s New International Version Zondervan
                    Note that the NKJV is now in first place and the NIV has slipped to third place. Since there are relatively few differences between the NIV and TNIV, it would be interesting to know what the rankings would be if the NIV and TNIV sales were combined in a footnote, to see how these two versions compare to sales of the NKJV and KJV.

                    The ESV continues in the middle of the pack, where it has been for several months. The TNIV is now at #10, down from a higher ranking when The Bible Experience was first released. (We would expect sales of the TNIV itself to rise as people listen to its dramatic audio production in The Bible Experience.) It will be interesting to check the monthly rankings in the year ahead to see if the TNIV moves up in the list, with continued brisk sales of The Bible Experience (New Testament).

                    Now, if we could get access to Bible sales figures at general bookstores such as amazon.com, Barnes&Noble, Wal-Mart, etc., we would have an even more accurate picture of Bible sales rankings.

                    Wednesday, April 11, 2007

                    Tom Wright: Articles and sermons

                    I have recently been appreciating free access to articles by well-known theologians. Yesterday, I mentioned F. F. Bruce, and today Tom Wright. This is really just one more in a series of sites I enjoy.

                    This is from How Can The Bible Be Authoritative? on the Tom Wright Page.
                      I have argued that the notion of the ‘authority of scripture’ is a shorthand expression for God’s authority, exercised somehow through scripture; that scripture must be allowed to be itself in exercising its authority, and not be turned into something else which might fit better into what the church, or the world, might have thought its ‘authority’ should look like; that it is therefore the meaning of ‘authority’ itself, not that of scripture, that is the unknown in the equation, and that when this unknown is discovered it challenges head on the various notions and practices of authority endemic in the world and, alas, in the church also.
                      I have suggested, less systematically, some ways in which this might be put into practice. All of this has been designed as a plea to the church to let the Bible be the Bible, and so to let God be God—and so to enable the people of God to be the people of God, his special people, living under his authority, bringing his light to his world.
                      The Bible is not an end in itself. It is there so that, by its proper use, the creator may be glorified and the creation may be healed. It is our task to be the people through whom this extraordinary vision comes to pass. We are thus entrusted with a privilege too great for casual handling, too vital to remain a mere matter of debate.
                    Note: I have revised this post to shorten the quote. The full article may be read at the link provided.

                    F. F. Bruce articles

                    Since there is so much to read out there, I am going to take a break from writing! I have been reading articles uploaded at BiblicalStudies.org.uk

                      It is not given to mortals to attain complete objectivity―not even to mathematicians. But one can at least acknowledge it as an ideal and endeavour to approach it as closely as possible, instead of decrying it as a misleading will-o’-the-wisp. Theology is more than the application of grammar to the text, but it cannot dispense with the application of grammar to the text as a basic procedure.
                    F.F. Bruce on Primary Sense and Plenary Sense

                    Thanks to Rob Bradshaw who is uploading articles by F. F. Bruce and others to his website.

                    Tuesday, April 10, 2007

                    Torah translations: Red-Stuff

                    OK, Bible-critics, which of these two approaches to Bible translation do you prefer (Genesis 25:30–31)?

                    Esav said to Yaakov:
                    Pray give me a gulp of the red-stuff, that red-stuff,
                    for I am so weary!
                    Therefore they called his name: Edom/Red-One.
                    Yaakov said:
                    Sell me your firstborn-right here-and-now.

                    Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stuff, for I am famished!” (Therefore he was called Edom.) Jacob said, “First sell me your birthright.”

                    The second is the NRSV that we all know and love — but where is the first from? Is it even English? But it is distinctive — and compelling — and surprisingly tough (“Sell me your firstborn-right here-and-now!”)

                    The first translation is from Everett Fox’s translation of the Torah (Pentateuch), and this post is the first in a mini-series of three guest posts from “Anonymous” looking at three unconventional Jewish translations. The first two are formal translations, the third is an attempt to translate a “Rabbinic Bible.” Perhaps you will like or dislike these translations, but I think you’ll agree that they raise interesting questions about translations:

                    I’ll consider three translations in this mini-series:

                    All of Scripture may be inspired, but certain portions of Scripture are held in especially high regard. Jesus and his Apostles would certainly have been familiar with the traditional belief that God directly transmitted the Torah to Moses, and even today the Torah (or “teaching”) were given directly by God to Moses. Jews today hold the Torah to be the core of the Bible, and it is hardly surprising that it has received the greatest attention of translators. (The earliest writings [Letter of Aristeas, Josephus]of the “70 translators” who translated the bible into Greek — the Septuagint — mention that it was the Torah that was translated by the “70 translators”; the origin of the rest of the Septuagint remains murky.)

                    But at the same time, the Torah is the most ancient part of the Bible, and its language is the strangest. When one listens to the Hebrew of the Torah (it is chanted in the morning on holidays, Saturdays, Mondays, and Thursdays in the synagogue) one can’t but help notice the strong cadences in the Hebrew. And when one reads the Hebrew, one is struck by certain characteristics: word-play, repetition, constant use of “and” (in the form of the v’ prefix), portmanteau words, alliteration, and unusual grammar. These characteristics transform the quality of the spoken Hebrew from pedestrian to sublime.

                    By and large, conventional modern translations ignore these issues (although they usually point out some of the word-play in footnotes.) They focus their attention on what the meaning of the text (although, it must be said, in many cases the meaning of the Hebrew is elusive.)

                    But earlier translators felt obliged to capture it in their translations. The Tyndale tradition, culminating in the King James Version, was written in a Hebraic-English that was different than the English used by contemporaries. As is often pointed on this blog, the King James Version is strange — not only because it uses archaic language — but the sentence structure is different than conventional English, the idiom is different than conventional English. At the same time, one can’t but help be struck how good the King James Version sounds when it is recited — perhaps we may not always understand the language, but the rhythm and consonance is clear to all.

                    In this mini-series, I’ll consider the efforts of Fox, Alter, and Carasik to capture important Hebrew characteristics:
                    • Fox was influenced by an important pair of German Bible translators (Martin Buber and Franz Rosenzweig) and attempts to provide a highly literal translation of the Hebrew at the level of words — and produces text that seems to stretch the English language in the way that poetry stretches the English.

                    • Alter was influenced by the KJV translators and attempts to provide a translation that follows closely the rhythm and sound-effects of Hebrew while still being recognizable as English.

                    • Carasik attempts to capture the cacophony of arguments found on a page of the “Rabbinic Bible” with medieval commentators arguing amongst themselves in terse, highly connected and cross-referenced annotations.
                    Buber and Rosenzweig

                    To understand Fox’s approach, it is necessary to step back and understand a bit about German Bible translation. Two German philosopher, Martin Buber (of “I and Thou” fame) and Franz Roseznweig felt it necessary to translate the Bible in a way that reflected its origins in an ancient society. They reasoned that a Bible that was millennia-old and read like a 20th century piece of literature could hardly transmit the feel of the original text. Their goal was to produce a translation that read just as the original text did — capturing the many literary and theological elements often lost in translation. This went far beyond a mere interlinear translation — Buber and Rosenzweig aimed to capture the entire experience of reading the text in the original Hebrew, in all its strangeness. They felt free to make up new neologisms and take German to its furtherest limits. Their work began in before the First World War, but it was not completed until after the Second World War — and the loss of most German Jews. Still their translation Die Schrift remains influential among (primarily Gentile) German readers and remains in print both in paper and electronically.

                    Everett Fox, who teaches at Clark University, was deeply influenced by Buber and Rosenzweig’s approach and has translated the Torah and Samuel into English in an approach that mirrors in English what Buber and Rosenzweig achieved in German. Fox writes:

                    The premise of almost all Bible translations, past and present, is that the “meaning” of the text should be conveyed in as clear and comfortable a manner as possible in one’s own language. Yet the truth is that the Bible was not written in English in the twentieth or even the seventeenth century; it is ancient, sometimes obscure, and speaks in a way quite different from ours. Accordingly, I have sought here primarily to echo the style of the original, believing that the Bible is best approached, at least at the beginning, on its own terms. So I have presented the text in English dress but with a Hebraic voice.

                    The result looks and sounds very different from what we are accustomed to encountering as the Bible, whether in the much-loved grandeur of the King James Version or the clarity and easy fluency of the many recent attempts. There are no old friends here; Eve will not, as in old paintings, give Adam an apple (nor will she be called “Eve”), nor will Moses speak of himself as “a stranger in a strange land,” as beautiful as that sounds. Instead, the reader will encounter a text which challenges him or her to rethink what these ancient books are and what they mean, and will hopefully be encouraged to become an active listener rather than a passive receiver.

                    For Everett Fox, to read is to read aloud. Most literature in Greek and Roman times was read aloud — and even in the last decade of the fourth century, Augustine himself was surprised when he one day he came across a sage who read silently. Thus, the Bible is an oral (or aural) document.

                    Fox and Hebrew

                    Consider Genesis 32:21–22 (in Hebrew numbering; English number 32:20–21)

                    For he thought, “I will pacify him with these gifts I am sending on ahead; later, when I see him, perhaps he will receive me.” So Jacob’s gifts went on ahead of him . . . . [TNIV]

                    It looks like an unremarkable passage in English. But in the Hebrew, something special is going on. The word panim is constantly repeated (note that in Hebrew, the p sound sometimes is pronounced as ph). Panim means face, although it appears in multiple idioms. Fox translates it thus (Hebrew added in brackets):

                    For he said to himself:
                    I will wipe (the anger from) his face
                    [phanav]
                    with the gift that goes ahead of my face; [le-phanai]
                    afterward, when I see his face, [phanav]
                    perhaps he will lift up my face! [phanai]
                    The gift crossed over ahead of his face . . . . [al panav]

                    Now arguably, such an interpretation pushes into the unnatural side of English, but it also illuminates an aspect of the Hebrew that is otherwise lost to the reader. Fox’s translation proves to be one that repays careful study — it is tricky reading, to be sure, but so is the Hebrew. Translations such as the TNIV capture the idea of the the text, but translate away the oral/aural aspect of the text.

                    And why does this matter? Well, let’s read a bit further (32:31) when Jacob wrestles with mysterious stranger:

                    Yaakov called the name of the place: Peniel/Face of God,
                    for: I have seen God,
                    face to face
                    ,
                    and my life has been saved.
                    We see a thematic link with the previous text. And it foreshadows his success in the dramatic human confrontation that is to come (33:10), when Jacob meets Esau:

                    For I have, after all, seen your face, as one sees the face of God,
                    and you have been gracious to me.

                    Fox writes: “It could be said that in a psychological sense the meetings with divine and human adversaries are a unity, the representation of one human process in two narrative episodes. This is accomplished by the repetition of the word panim in the text. The above interpretation depends entirely on sound. Once that focus is dropped, either through the silent reading of the text or a standard translation, the inner connections are simply lost and the reader is robbed of the opportunity to make these connections for himself. Clearly there is a difference between translating what the text means and translating what it says.”

                    Fox’s English

                    Return to the quote which began this post:

                    Esav said to Yaakov:
                    Pray give me a gulp of the red-stuff, that red-stuff,
                    for I am so weary!
                    Therefore they called his name: Edom/Red-One.
                    Yaakov said:
                    Sell me your firstborn-right here-and-now.

                    This passage illustrates a number of features of Fox’s translation. First, note that names are presented in transliterated Hebrew rather than traditional English rendering — Yaakov and Esav, not Jacob and Esau (Fox does indicate traditional English names in his notes). Second, single Hebrew words that require multiple English words are indicated by a dash: red-stuff, Red-One, firstborn-right, here-and-now. Third, repetitions in the Hebrew are indicated in the English: the red-stuff, that red-stuff. Fourth, word play is indicated directly in the text: Edom/Red-One.

                    The familiar text of the Bible thus explodes with puns

                    Is that why his name was called Yaakov/Heel-Sneak? For he has now sneaked against me twice. [Genesis 27:36]

                    She [Rahel] became pregnant and bore a son.
                    She said:

                    God has removed/
                    ?asaf
                    my reproach!
                    So she called his name: Yosef,
                    saying:

                    May [GOD*] add/
                    ?yosef another son to me! [Genesis 30:23–24]

                    (NB: where I write [GOD*] Fox writes out the Tetragrammaton in English initials) although at times one wonders why only some meanings are translated:

                    As they returned, they came to En Mishpat/Judgment Spring—
                    that is now Kadesh,
                    and struck all the territory of the Amalekites and also the Amorites, who were settled in Hatzatzon-Tamar.
                    [Genesis 14:7]

                    Kadesh and Hatzatzon-Tamar have interesting meanings — why not translate them?

                    The text is also full of interesting repetitions

                    The man [Yosef] warned, yes, warned us
                    saying: You shall not see my face unless your brother is with you
                    [Genesis 43:3]

                    (NB: Note the reappearance here of the face/confrontation motif)

                    But he [Pharaoh] said:
                    Lax you are, lax,
                    [Exodus 5:17]

                    Fox’s translation is not without faults. His notes sometimes contain errors and he sometimes introduces anachronisms in his translation (e.g., his use of half-coin in weight in Genesis 24:22 — of course, coins would not be introduced for another millennium). Moreover, Fox’s line breaks introduce a characteristic not found in the original text and he generally does not attempt to reproduce Biblical cadence or alliteration.

                    More specifically, it can be argued that Fox’s translation has gone outside the reaches of English, and produced a text that is too alien to the modern reader. The strangeness of the text perhaps interferes with the simple understanding of the text. Still, Fox’s work is a tour-de-force on its own grounds — giving the English reader the closest taste to Hebrew that she is likely to encounter without learning the language. He allows the reader to discover connections that otherwise would be hidden, and unveils aspects of the original text that have not previously been shown in English translation.

                    Fox’s work is not a translation for beginners and maybe not even a translation for intermediate students of the Bible. I could not recommend to a reader who only was willing to consult a single translation. But for the serious student, Fox gives something that is not available anywhere else.

                    In my next installment, I’ll consider how UC Berkeley literature professor Robert Alter used a quite different approach — more subtle but also radical — to make his own translation of the Pentateuch.

                    The Ten Western Commandments

                    Jeremy Pierce posts the Veggie Tales version of The Ten Western Commandments, as they might have been given in the Old West. How about these as part of a Better Bible, for the right target audience?

                    Monday, April 09, 2007

                    Will the ESV become a standard Bible version?

                    opinion-minion gives pros and cons for widespread usage of the ESV on her Muddle House blog. From what I can tell, she likes the ESV. She has been memorizing the book of Ephesians from it. Here are the five reasons she believes the ESV will succeed:
                    1. Because the ESV has managed, by hook or crook, to connect with many critical people
                    2. The ESV blog
                    3. Those funky, crazy, hip covers
                    4. Its position, real or imagined, as an alternative to Mother-God translations of the Bible
                    5. The fact that it is a good translation, in many aspects
                    And here are five reasons she believes the ESV will not succeed:
                    1. Crossway
                    2. Its opposition, real or imaginary, against the TNIV
                    3. ESV, the Red-Headed Stepchild of the Bookstore
                    4. The fact that it's a literal translation
                    5. The fact that it's not used in many study Bibles
                    She ended with:
                    So there you have it. Five reason[s] why the ESV will, or will not succeed. Anyone have more suggestions?
                    So I added a a comment to her post.

                    For anyone who wonders what the word "standard" means in the title to my post, I intend that word to refer to a Bible version which has wide usage across denominational and age lines for a significant period of time. The KJV became a standard version for hundreds of years. The RSV became a standard version in many mainline churches. The NIV became a best-selling standard Bible version. The ESV may. What do you think?

                    Sunday, April 08, 2007

                    Lindisfarne Gospels: 12

                    a poetic reconstruction of luke 23:54 - luke 24:6
                    in the old english gloss

                    and the day was preparation
                    and the sun day lightened
                    and the wives following
                    came from galilee with him
                    saw the burial place
                    and how positioned was his human likeness
                    and coming back
                    they readied the herbs/sweet stench and ointment

                    and sun day they were
                    silent
                    according to the commandment

                    first of sun day in early dawn
                    they came to the burial place
                    carrying the sweet stench they had readied
                    and found the stone
                    rolled back from the burial place
                    and entering did not find
                    the human likeness of lord healer

                    and it happened
                    that their thoughts were confused
                    that behold there were two men
                    standing by/near them in shining clothes
                    and they were endreaded
                    and bent their outlook to the earth

                    and they said to them

                    why do you seek the living with the dead
                    is not here but arisen

                    remember how spoken it was to you
                    while you were still in galilee

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                    Friday, April 06, 2007

                    Lindisfarne Gospels: 11

                    Another nomen sacrum found in the Lindisfarne Gospels is "ihu" for Jesus. In Greek manuscripts the name Jesus ΙΗΣΟΥΣ (iota, eta, sigma, omicron, upsilon, sigma) became ΙΣ, ΙΥ, ΙΗΣ, or ΙΗΥ, and this became what you see in the image on the left in miniscule, lower case - "ihu". These are the first three letters of Jesus' name in Greek in the genitive case, meaning "of Jesus."

                    In the form of IHS, this was read in Latin as an acronym, Iesus Hominem Salvator - Jesus, saviour of mankind. However, in the Lindisfarne Gospels "ihu" was glossed simply as haeland, saviour or healer. Throughout these gospels Jesus' name is always written as haeland.

                    So it appears that in the Lindisfarne Gospels, Jesus' name has recovered its original meaning of 'salvation.'

                      And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Matt. 1:21
                    I can't tell whether this came about as a misreading of the Greek/Latin letters IHS or as a conscious understanding of the meaning of Jesus' name. Haeland in Old English is often translated into modern English as Healer. Now I can go back and reread the Dream of the Rood, with a new understanding. When it says,
                      But lying there long while, I,
                      troubled, beheld the Healer's tree,
                    I can also understand that it is roughly equivalent to the modern English,
                      But lying there a long while, I,
                      troubled, beheld Jesus' cross
                    The texts of Old English had once seemed curiously void of Jesus' name, but now when I read the word "Healer", I recognize it.

                    Appendices:

                    Further note on the papyri.

                    In the earliest manuscripts a lunate 's' was used, so the earliest nomen sacrum in the papyri for Jesus was IC or IHC. Joshua's name appeared identically in the Septuagint so the copyists seem to have thought of them as the same name.

                    The first image is from a third century MS 2648, Joshua in the Septuagint, on this page; and the second one, Jesus, is from John's gospel, P66 from here.


                    Full page image of Matt. 1:1 in the Lindisfarne Gospel (Right click and open in new window. Then read with the glosses below)
                    English - The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham
                    Old English gloss - bóc cneoreso haelandes cristes davides sunu abrahames sunu
                    Latin - liber generationis Iesu Christi filii David filii Abraham ("ihu xpi" for Jesus Christ)
                    Greek - ΒΙΒΛΟΣ ΓΕΝΕΣΕΩΣ ΙΗΣΟΥ ΧΡΙΣΤΟΥ ΥΙΟΥ ΔΑΒΙΔ ΥΙΟΥ ΑΒΡΑΑΜ (spaces added)

                    Enjoy!

                    Bibliography
                    Further note:
                    In the last century "Heiland" was a name taken by Hitler so this way of translating savior in the German Bible became highly problematic.

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                    Isaiah 53: suffering servant collage

                    1. Who hath believed our report?
                      and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?
                    2. For he grew up before him like a young plant,
                      and like a root out of dry ground;
                      he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
                      and no beauty that we should desire him.
                    3. He was despised and rejected by people.
                      He was a man of sorrows, familiar with suffering.
                      He was despised like one from whom people turn their faces,
                      and we didn't consider him to be worth anything.
                    4. Surely he has borne our infirmities
                      and carried our diseases;
                      yet we accounted him stricken,
                      struck down by God, and afflicted.
                    5. But he was pierced for our rebellion,
                      crushed for our sins.
                      He was beaten so we could be whole.
                      He was whipped so we could be healed.
                    6. We all went astray like sheep,
                      Each going his own way;
                      And the LORD visited upon him
                      The guilt of all of us.
                    7. Ill-treated and afflicted,
                      he never opened his mouth,
                      like a lamb led to the slaughter-house,
                      like a sheep dumb before its shearers
                      he never opened his mouth.
                    8. He was led away after an unjust trial –
                      but who even cared?
                      Indeed, he was cut off from the land of the living;
                      because of the rebellion of his own people he was wounded.
                    9. They made His grave with the wicked,
                      and with a rich man at His death,
                      although He had done no violence
                      and had not spoken deceitfully.
                    10. Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
                      and though the LORD makes his life an offering for sin,
                      he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
                      and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.
                    11. He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied.
                      By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many,
                      For He shall bear their iniquities.
                    12. And so I will give him a place of honor,
                      a place among the great and powerful.
                      He willingly gave his life
                      and shared the fate of evil men.
                      He took the place of many sinners
                      and prayed that they might be forgiven.
                    (KJV:1; ESV:2; GW:3; NRSV:4; NLT:5; NJPS:6; NJB:7; NET:8; HCSB:9; TNIV: 10; NKJV:11; TEV/GNB:12)

                    I find this chapter deeply moving. I hope that you do also. Feel free to share any thoughts that come to you from reading these verses. You are welcome to comment on the different version wordings, if you wish, but my greatest desire is that we might reflect upon what the suffering servant did for us.

                    And why did I display the verses as a collage from 12 different versions? Because the idea just popped into my head. And I think there is value in reading the Bible in different versions. Perhaps you can think of other reasons why there is value or beauty in having a Bible collage.

                    Thursday, April 05, 2007

                    His days are as grass

                    One of the things that I have wanted to rescue, to redeem, from the barrage of issues in Bible translation, is the sense that I had, in reading as a child and teenager, in many languages at once, that there was a creature called the human. That this was important and that the human stood at the bottom of a heap of supernatural beings and forces - not near the top. Next stop before God.

                    In the Iliad and the Odyssey, in Greek tragedy, in the Hebrew scriptures as they appeared to me in the KJV, there were beings called humans - who were at the mercy of the universe. (I think these creatures also existed in French literature as well.) These creatures were frail, mortal, vulnerable, and not in control; they tried, they had pride, they failed.

                    They were anthropos.

                    So I was surprised to see that this word anthropos, so full of meaning for me, is not always understood and translated as such in English. I certainly understood that 'man' in the KJV was the same as the Greek anthropos. Man was the human.

                    However, in this verse anthropos is not translated at all now.

                      God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one (ουδεις ανθρωπων) has seen or can see. 1 Tim. 6:15-16 TNIV (ESV is similar)

                      the King of kings, and Lord of lords; Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man (ουδεις ανθρωπων)hath seen, nor can see: KJV
                    I would think from reading the Greek that anthropos could be translated as the 'mortal'. No mortal has seen the immortal.

                    However, there is already a significant shift in translation philosophy in other passages. Here is Psalm 8:4 in the TNIV.

                      what are mere mortals that you are mindful of them,
                      human beings that you care for them?

                      Note:
                      Or what is a human being that you are mindful of him,
                      a son of man that you care for him?
                    The TNIV website provides this commentary,

                      It is clear that Psalm 8 is not speaking about one particular "man" but about humanity in general, about humanity's place in the scheme of things, in the order of creation. When the psalmist asks "What is 'enosh? [traditionally rendered "What is man?"], he uses a generic word for humanity that hints at human frailty.
                    The Hebrew is as follows,

                      מָה-אֱנוֹשׁ כִּי-תִזְכְּרֶנּוּ;
                      וּבֶן-אָדָם, כִּי תִפְקְדֶנּוּ
                    Then I started looking for confirmation that 'enosh אֱנוֹשׁ does have the sense of human frailty. The lexicon says little about this, although related words have the sense of' illness.

                    My only good clue so far is that I found this article, which I can't access but I hope that isn't a problem - that I have not misunderstood. The title has this phrase in it "as for man his days are as grass" from Psalm 103:15.* According to google, the article contains this quote,

                      Thus, in the psalm and in Isaiah, the speakers. emphasize that humans (’enosh, flesh) are mortal and that their fragile existence ...
                    Surely we can recapture this sense of human frailty and give anthropos a rich and full meaning without worrying about gender. I am curious. Does 'enosh really imply frailty and do others have the same sense of anthropos that I have?

                    HT: Rick and Larry who reviewed and compared the NASB and the NRSV in a series of posts on This Lamp. I enjoyed the full series.

                    * Psalm 103:13-17 KJV

                    Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.
                    For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.
                    As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.
                    For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.
                    But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children;

                    BBB in Brazzaville

                    BBB has been discussed in Brazzaville. Where's that, you may ask? This link may help.

                    Wednesday, April 04, 2007

                    Lindisfarne Gospels: 10

                    The Lindisfarne gospels have a great variety of abbreviations throughout both in Latin and in Old English. The ones that I noticed right away were those called the nomina sacra. In this kind of abbreviation either the first and last letter of the word are written, or sometimes 3 letters, while a line suspended above indicates that letters are left out.

                    They are generally called nomina sacra if they are one of the words on a list of 15 or so words that have been so abbreviated in the earliest Greek manuscripts only for their sacred use but not for the profane use. I have paraphrased the explanation from this page. Nomina Sacra in P46

                    Nomina sacra are special abbreviations which appear in Christian texts. Unlike most abbreviations, which are supposedly intended to save time (see Abbreviations in P46), nomina sacra are used to set certain holy words apart from the rest of the text. This is inferred from the fact that these words are abbreviated in their sacral usages but not in profane usages (e.g. ὑΐοϲ, 'son' is contracted to υϲ when it refers to Jesus, the Son of God, but the same word is not contracted in other usages).

                    There are two major lines of thinking about the origin of the nomina sacra. Either the abbreviation began as a utilitarian aid to easy writing and recognition of frequently repeated significant words; or a specific list of words were abbreviated in their sacred use, as special treatment.

                    The abbreviation KS for Kurios* (not pictured) is also found in the Septuagint.The question arises as to whether the development of the nomina sacra was in some way related to the use of the tetragrammaton in Hebrew. In each case the name of the Lord is, in some sense, dephoneticized. The written string of letters no longer represents a pronounceable string of sounds. I simply cannot comment any further on this at the moment, except to say that it is an extremely interesting line of investigation in the field of early manuscripts.

                    Naturally, in Greek and Latin, because of case endings, the last letter in the name will indicate the case, so the nomina sacra does not possess an immutable shape. In Latin Deus is either DS, DI, DM, and DO, for example. Dominus is DNS, DNI, etc. and Christus is XP, XPS, XPI, etc. with Greek letters later mixed into the Latin. So there was a weakened relationship with the phonetic values of letters and a stronger relationship with a constant visual relationship across languages, yet still representing the case endings.

                    I have found so far that further research into the nomina sacra has given me a lot to think about concerning how individuals and religious communities regard the name of God. People approach the name of God with reverence and accord it greater recognition and visibility while distancing it from the phonetic system.


                    Believers are drawn to a symbol for God, then Jesus, and later the saints, which crosses boundaries of time and space. But the old connections are sometimes forgotten and new ones need to be forged. Reading about the nomina sacra has inspired me to do further reading in how the name of God is represented in the Hebrew scriptures.

                    I will post soon on the nomen sacrum for the name of Jesus in the Lindisfarne gospels.

                    *I have not shown the KS nomen sacrum for Kurios, Lord, in this post but it can be found here in Ex. 40, 3rd century and is recorded on this webpage. (In actual fact, it is a KU in this image but it is called the KS)

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