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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Psalm 103 cont.

Mike carries on the conversation on 1 Cor. 13, asking some of the same questions I did last summer. I was basically trying to keep the structure, but it was impossible to keep the verb forms at all times.

Mike also comments on Gender Blog's assessment of the TNIV. There is an interesting discrepancy between the two lists.

Since some still promote the notion that there is such a thing as a literal Bible whixh translates word-for-word, I thought I would do a rough critique of Psalm 103 in the NASB. It is still considered by many to be the most literal Bible available.

1. First, at least 6 feminine pronouns in the address to the soul are completely omitted by the NASB translation. The gender aspects of this psalm are not treated faithfully and universal truths are hidden.

2. The four different words for " human beings" in Hebrew are all translated as "man" in the NASB. This is especially destructive of the true sense of this psalm since enosh, verse 15, is the word used in the Messianic expression "son of man" in Daniel. The connection to this term is obscured.

3. The reference to the Spirit is also obscured. Ruach is translated as wind in verse 16.

4. While beni is faithfully translated as "sons" in the "sons of Israel" thus maintaining the truth that the sons represent all the people, in verse 13 the same word is translated as "children" thus obscuring the meaning of the text, that fathers have womb-like feelings for their sons.

5. Body metaphors are not translated literally. In verse 8, the evocative poetic features of the Hebrew are obscured by translating "long of the two nostrils" as "slow to anger." This has serious repercussions as the careful student of the English Bible will not be able to compare 1 Cor. 13:4 with this phrase. The scripture truth that "love is long in both nostrils at once" is no longer clear.

6. In verse 5 the word "vulture" has been transposed into "eagle" which is very likely reflective of the geopolitical origins of the text.

7. Participles have been turned into finite verbs throughout causing one more loss of fidelity.

It is a clear measure of God's providence that the NASB update comes after The Message in sales. I wonder if that reflects its level of literalness.

My recommendation is that people should be prepated to study Hebrew and make their own translation of this wonderful psalm.


At Thu Apr 10, 04:41:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

The scripture truth that "love is long in both nostrils at once" is no longer clear.

Has it ever been clear? In any language? I did point out that this is the metaphor underlying makrothumew in 1 Corinthians 13:4, which alludes to makrothumos in Exodus 34:6 LXX, also quoted in Psalm 102:8 LXX which corresponds to 103:8 in English. But is there any translation which makes this link clear? I don't even know of any translation which has anything like "long in both nostrils" in Exodus 34:6, let alone in 1 Corinthians 13:4.

Well, my Hebrew NT (in a Bible Society Israel Agency whole Bible) does have ma'areket-ap in 1 Corinthians 13:4, which does mean something like "long of nose", so I suppose the point is clear to Hebrew readers.

If your point is in fact that much is lost in even the most literal translation, I can only agree. But the point would have been more clearly seen from just Exodus 34:6. Indeed I made this point on this very verse here in 2005.

At Thu Apr 10, 05:21:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

this was actually Lingalinga (aka Lingamish)'s original discussion.

You've made me laugh through the entire second half of this post!

This is good. This is really good.

At Thu Apr 10, 08:06:00 AM, Blogger Bob MacDonald said...

talk about being in your face or under his nose!

At Thu Apr 10, 09:36:00 AM, Blogger J. K. Gayle said...

I really like how you pay attention to the structure--mirroring last summer in English what the Greek does, which reformatted looks like this.

Lingalinga called "μακροθυμέω makrothumeo" this: "a very tricky word in 1 Corinthians 13:4," and he muses "about the grammar of 1 Cor. 13:4-7: Should these be a series of predicate adjectives or are they active verbs?" Smart guy: he's almost hinting that there's some relationship between μακρο- θυμέω . . . and the long series.

Following your lead, and Lingalinga's, I took a stab at it at Mike's blog.

At Thu Apr 10, 11:03:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Perhaps we should translate 1 Corinthians 13:4 something like "love takes a long thyme", spelling deliberate as Greek thumos means "thyme", the herb, as well as "anger".

At Thu Apr 10, 12:15:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Love takes a long thyme would be the most literal translation or should I say transliteration.

At Thu Apr 10, 03:15:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Not transliteration. "Thyme" is a real translation of the literal concrete sense of thumos. Isn't that the sense the formal equivalence translation advocates want us to translate?


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