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Monday, March 24, 2008

Holy Spirit in the manuscripts

There have been a few comments on the "holy spirit" in 2 Cor. 6:6 correctly indicating that it is not necessary for there to be an article for the term to denote the Holy Spirit. I have also looked at some early manuscripts and found that in the Codex Sinaiticus the word "spirit" in this verse was in nomen sacrum form.

However, the nomen sacrum for "spirit" is a later addition to the nomina sacra repertoire so this information simply tells us that the scribe for the Codex Sinaiticus believed that "spirit" should be in nomen sacrum form in this verse. This does not give us information about the original manuscripts.

Probably what tips the balance slightly for me is the fact that the expression "holy spirit" occurs in a list in both 2 Cor. 6:6,
    ἀλλ' ἐν παντὶ συνίσταντες ἑαυτοὺς ὡς θεοῦ διάκονοι
    ἐν ὑπομονῇ πολλῇ
    ἐν θλίψεσιν
    ἐν ἀνάγκαις
    ἐν στενοχωρίαις
    ἐν πληγαῖς
    ἐν φυλακαῖς
    ἐν ἀκαταστασίαις
    ἐν κόποις
    ἐν ἀγρυπνίαις
    ἐν νηστείαις
    ἐν ἁγνότητι
    ἐν γνώσει
    ἐν μακροθυμίᾳ
    ἐν χρηστότητι
    ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ
    ἐν ἀγάπῃ ἀνυποκρίτῳ
    ἐνλόγῳ ἀληθείας
    ἐν δυνάμει θεοῦ
And in Psalm 51,
    καρδίαν καθαρὰν κτίσον ἐν ἐμοί ὁ θεός
    καὶ πνεῦμα εὐθὲς ἐγκαίνισον ἐν τοῖς ἐγκάτοις μου

    μὴ ἀπορρίψῃς με ἀπὸ τοῦ προσώπου σου
    καὶ
    τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιόν σου μὴ ἀντανέλῃς ἀπ ἐμοῦ

    ἀπόδος μοι τὴν ἀγαλλίασιν τοῦ σωτηρίουσου
    καὶ
    πνεύματι ἡγεμονικῷ στήρισόν με
It seems that the only way that the ambiguity present in the original language can be resolved is by a footnote. We would normally be open to a translation choosing one or another of the alternatives but when the stakes are high as they are in the scriptures, a footnote offers an opportunity for reflection on what else a passage might be saying.

7 Comments:

At Tue Mar 25, 04:30:00 AM, Blogger J. K. Gayle said...

It seems that the only way that the ambiguity present in the original language can be resolved is by a footnote. We would normally be open to a translation choosing one or another of the alternatives but when the stakes are high as they are in the scriptures...

Suzanne,
Can the Holy Spirit intend no ambiguity? Does the example in 2 Cor. 6:6 show Paul using language in a sloppy way that English translators have to make neat and tidy? Are the LXX translators of David in Psalm 50/51 wrong not to leave a footnote here?

The book of Job offers no help with ambiguity in the Hebrew רוח (ruwach). Again LXX translators don't always make clear in Greek whether its the nomen sacrum for "spirit". There are, in Job, a few unambiguous uses of the word (which result in an English translation like "wind"); and sometimes the ambiguity resides in the speech of Job's unhelpful advisors. Nonetheless:

(LXX and NASB)

Job 10:12
ζωὴν δὲ καὶ ἔλεος ἔθου παρ ἐμοί ἡ δὲ ἐπισκοπή σου ἐφύλαξέν μου τὸ πνεῦμα
You gave me life and showed me kindness,
and in your providence watched over my spirit.

Job 12:10
εἰ μὴ ἐν χειρὶ αὐτοῦ ψυχὴ πάντων τῶν ζώντων καὶ πνεῦμα παντὸς ἀνθρώπου
In his hand is the life of every creature
and the breath of all mankind.

Job 27:3
ἦ μὴν ἔτι τῆς πνοῆς μου ἐνούσης πνεῦμα δὲ θεῖον τὸ περιόν μοι ἐν ῥισίν
as long as I have life within me,
the breath of God in my nostrils,

Job 32:8
ἀλλὰ πνεῦμά ἐστιν ἐν βροτοῖς πνοὴ δὲ παντοκράτορός ἐστιν ἡ διδάσκουσα
But it is the spirit in a man,
the breath of the Almighty, that gives him understanding.

Job 32:18
πάλιν λαλήσω πλήρης γάρ εἰμι ῥημάτων ὀλέκει γάρ με τὸ πνεῦμα τῆς γαστρός
For I am full of words,
and the spirit within me compels me;

Job 33:4
πνεῦμα θεῖον τὸ ποιῆσάν με πνοὴ δὲ παντοκράτορος ἡ διδάσκουσά με
"The Spirit of God has made me,
And the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

Job 34:14
εἰ γὰρ βούλοιτο συνέχειν καὶ τὸ πνεῦμα παρ αὐτῷ κατασχεῖν
"If He should determine to do so,
If He should gather to Himself His spirit and His breath,

 
At Tue Mar 25, 04:51:00 AM, Blogger Chrys said...

Hello from Greece! I am a native Greek and a new subscriber to your blog. Bible translation has been my favorite subject - and practice - for many years. So I was very happy to "discover" this blog. Eventually I will probably find reasons to post comments. In the meantime, keep up the good work you are doing.
Chrysanthos

 
At Tue Mar 25, 09:06:00 AM, Blogger solarblogger said...

Thanks, Suzanne. Interesting discussion, and helpful information.

j.k., I think I agree that the ambiguity could be intentional and be a good thing. But for those early readers, weren't the ideas we convey with "spirit," "wind," and "breath" all much closer related? Short of just transliterating, how do we present a word that conveys to the reader that these ways of rendering the idea are not so far apart? I know that some will see a translation render a word in a passage as "wind" that another renders as "spirit" and conclude that "spirit" has been altogether denied by such a rendering. I like leaving decisions to readers, but wonder how to get the reader to where he or she sees the options as the original reader would.

 
At Tue Mar 25, 09:45:00 AM, Blogger J. K. Gayle said...

But for those early readers, weren't the ideas we convey with "spirit," "wind," and "breath" all much closer related? Short of just transliterating, how do we present a word that conveys to the reader that these ways of rendering the idea are not so far apart?

Great questions, Solarblogger. Linguist George Lakoff (with Mark Johnson) says "Most of our fundamental [metaphorical] concepts are organized in terms of one or more spatialization metaphors." And I think space for any of us really starts with our bodies, don't you? Which is why I really like what Job 27:3 does with ruach; "spirit" is in relation to "nostrils." So, for me, "breath" or "breathing"--even "Holy Breath of Life"--is better than "spirit," which has all these alcohol and ghostly connotations. God doesn't have a body; but he does Breathe. Jesus does have a body; and he breathes with lungs and nostrils. (Jesus without a real body that has a pulminary vascular-cardio system? Peter Kirk gets to that today.)

(And this kind of bodily thing works with Southeast Asian cultures and languages, as well. In Vietnamese, for example, trúng gió literally means "to be hit by the wind" and is the metaphor for getting a cold; likewise, in Indonesian, it's "masuk angin" which literally is "wind has entered." The concept of the Holy Spirit or Holy Wind or Holy Breath "entering" a body is no big metaphorical thing in SEAsia.)

But I'm with you on transliteration. All kinds of problems ensue with it. Tim Enloe records one today, where the bodily spatial concept of Greek gets lost in weird abstracted English.

 
At Tue Mar 25, 10:53:00 AM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Kurk noted:

Linguist George Lakoff (with Mark Johnson) says "Most of our fundamental [metaphorical] concepts are organized in terms of one or more spatialization metaphors." And I think space for any of us really starts with our bodies, don't you?

I've had an eye for that book for some time, Kurk. If I could just foot the bill. Actually, I've owned it for quite awhile. It's the kind of linguistics book I can easily stomach.

The Bible is full of body part metaphors. They make for interesting challenges for Bible translation. For instance, the ancient Hebrews often used "heart" for what we English speakers typically use "mind". Different conceptual frameworks. I love this stuff.

 
At Tue Mar 25, 12:14:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Suzanne, your argument seems to depend on an assumption that all the items in a list are of the same kind. For our nice tidy western minds that is considered desirable. But I don't think we should impose it on ancient texts.

In Psalm 51 (in Hebrew, and as well translated in LXX) there is a clear difference in the grammar in the middle one of the three occurrences of "spirit", which is a strong argument against insisting on a harmonising interpretation of the three. I suggest that the most we have here is some kind of word play between two different senses of ruach.

In 2 Corinthians 6, we already have an extremely diverse list of items, each introduced with en. We have personal qualities: endurance, purity, patience, kindness, love. We have external circumstances: beatings, imprisonments etc. We have the results of these circumstances: sleepless nights, hunger. And we have divine attributes: the word of truth (or is this one "truthful speech", which would be yet another category?), the power of God. These categories are all mixed up, not in clear separate sections. There are even more categories if we admit also the items introduced by dia and hos in the continuation of this long list. Into which of these categories should we fit en pneumati hagio? It seems to me that a priori any of these is possible, that it need not fit with the immediately surrounding items. "In the Holy Spirit" fits well with "in the power of God". So there is really no clear reason to abandon the traditional interpretation here.

 
At Tue Mar 25, 12:32:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

I have certainly been persuaded that "Holy Spirit" is a possibility.

 

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