Thursday, April 18, 2019

Write me a hymn

The sequence of Psalms from the enigmatic oracle of 110 to the shortest psalm 117 surely would inspire some poet somewhere to construct a hymn. Or some musician somewhere to compose a melody.

Any takers? - A successful poem or composition based on these ideas might make it into the oratorio I am designing. I have spread these as a counterpoint to the human in the creation.

Notice how 111-113 and 115, 116 do not begin on the default tonic. This shows the continuity of these psalms into two groups 110-113, 114-116, 117 as a premonition of 150, but there is a long history between 117 and 150.

1 Of David a psalm,
an oracle of Yahweh to my Lord. Sit at my right hand,
till I set your enemies as your footstool.

1f Hallelu Yah. I will thank Yahweh with a whole heart,
Before the council of the upright, and assembly.

1f Hallelu Yah. A happy person fears Yahweh.
By his commandments he has much delight.

1f Hallelu Yah. Praise servants of Yahweh.
Praise the name of Yahweh.

1 When Israel came out from Egypt,
the house of Jacob from an exotic people,
2 Judah became his sanctuary,
Israel his parables.
1C Not to us Yahweh not to us,
but to your name give glory,
over your kindness, over your truth.

1g I love, for Yahweh heard,
the voice of my supplication.

1 Praise Yahweh, all nations.
Commend him, all the clans.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Bob's Bible, The Major Prophets

A 16 week publication schedule... The fourth volume to be published, Volume 3 The Major Prophets is now available.

Volume 6 The Five Scrolls was my starting point for obvious reasons. Get the keys before you try to open the doors of a large room.

I am in the midst of designing an oratorio around the music related to creation. Not such an easy task to find a strong parallel structure - one that will complement the already magnificent musical structure of Genesis 1.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Light and words related to light in the Hebrew Bible

One thing I have tried to do in my work is make the data clear for any claims I make about language patterns. If I am wrong, you will be able to see why. If I say certain words are used for certain things, then I support it with the raw data. You don't have to take my word for it. And you can critique my reasoning.

I read here (a free chapter from the publisher) that the 'one' word for light אור is dominant in prose and more varied in poetry. I hadn't noticed this. I wondered why.

There is a problem for me - I don't clearly distinguish prose from poetry except with regard to the 3 books (Psalms, Proverbs, and Job) and the 21. But if the claim were true, I would expect that the difference would show up by examining the distribution of stems in this domain between the 3 and the 21.

So first - here are all the stems that occur in my domain of light. And I note one additional, debatable, brilliant, זהר, normally related to teaching rather than light. Its occurrences are in Daniel, so irrelevant to this distinction between Hebrew poetry and prose.

Hebrew stems in the domain of light
You can observe from this that אור is indeed dominant. It is not the only word to suggest the impact of light. There are a very large number of others to consider.

The reason for the large number is that I put all the colours in this domain and the opposites of light. So here are the glosses. (Excluding other obvious glosses for these stems outside the domain of light. Semantics is always a work in process. But better that than nothing, which is what we have so far from the scholars in this area.) I made a few adjustments based on the image and came up with this list:

אדם ruddy (21) dyed red (6) ruddy stuff (2)
אמץ bay (2)
ארגמן purple (42)
בהט marble (1)
דר mother-of-pearl (1)
חום brown (4)
חכליל flush (2)
חמר red (2) redden (1)
ירק yellow-green (4)
כירמל cinnabar (3)
לבן white (35) bleach (1) whiten (1)
טלא patchwork (9)
עין colour (4)
צהב yellow (4)
צחר tawny (2)
רענן green (15) luxuriant (6)
שׁחר black (8) blackest dawn (1)
שׁישׁ alabaster (3)
שׁני scarlet (41)
שׁרב mirage (2)
שׁשׁר vermilion (2)
תולע crimson (36)
תחשׁ dyed indigo (11) indigo dye (2)

Opposite of light (I usually put opposites in the same domain for efficiency).
אפל gloom (21) gloomy (1) unripe (1)
חשׁך darkness (93) darken (8) dark (5) dark place (5) sooty (1)
חשׁר inky (1)
עלטה dusk (4)
ערפל dark turbulence (12) murk (3)
קדר blackness (5) (A slight overlap in stems ...)
כהה lessen (11) dim (7)
צמר eclipse (1)
נשׁף twilight (11) barn owl (3) blew twilight (1) breeze (1) twilight hour (1)

ערה nakedness (47) expose (25) sheath (5) exposure (2) genital (2) upend (2) exposed place (1)
בהיר scar (12) glare (1)

Light and its impact
אור light (171) enlighten (9) reveal (8) give light (5) gives light (2) lit up (2) shine light (2) aperture (1) first light (1) light-give (1) lighten (1) pyre (1) show light (1) there first light (1)
בזק sudden epiphany (7)
ברק lightning (16) glitter (6) carbuncle (3) bolt (1)
יפע shine (10)
עשׁת gleam (5) think (1) thought (1)
קרן intensely bright (4) intense brightness (2)
רעם thunder (18) thunderous (2)
לפד torch (14)
נגה illumination (16) illuminate (7) luminous (4)
נהר radiance (3) radiant (1) sunbeam (1)
ניר lamp (53) fire (9) fiery (8) nigh lamp (1)

Now let's look at the distribution of these last words between the books of poetry and prose.

אור light 63 poetry 108 prose, enlighten 5 4,  reveal 4 4,  give light 0 5,  gives light 2 0,  lit up 0 2,  shine light 1 1 aperture 0 1 first light 0 1 light-give 1 0 lighten 1 0 pyre 1 0 show light 1 0 there first light 0 1
בזק sudden epiphany 0 7
ברק lightning 6 10 glitter 1 5 carbuncle 0 3 bolt 1 0
זהר brilliance 0 2 brilliant 0 1
יפע shine 7 3
לפד torch 2 12
נגה illumination 0 16 illuminate 4 3 luminous 1 3
נהר radiance 0 3 radiant 1 0 sunbeam 1 0
ניר lamp 13 40 fire 0 9 fiery 0 8 nigh lamp 1 0
עשׁת gleam 2 3 think 0 1 thought 0 1
צהל bright 1 5
קרן intensely bright 0 4 intense brightness 0 2
רעם thunder 13 5 thunderous 0 2

And here is a summary by stem. There is no significant difference that I can find with the possible exception of יפה (shine) where a word in the domain of light is slightly more prominently used in poetry over prose. Also if I include Isaiah and 2 Samuel 22 in the poetry, נגה could be added (which I have glossed from the Latin lumen).

Stem% poetryTotal
אור 38.35206
בזק 07
ברק 30.7726
זהר 03
יפע 70.0010
לפד 14.2914
נגה 18.5227
נהר 40.005
ניר 19.7271
עשׁת 28.577
צהל 16.676

I agree with Alter in so many ways, (syntax, recurring words, play, rhythm, concreteness, compactness, foreignness) but there are significant differences in our approach to translation: my music is literally music. I do not use the word as a metaphor. I work from a database using pattern recognition. I am quite happy with Latin words commonly used in English. I work from the standpoint of faithfulness within a religious tradition that I have plenty of reason to reject. I do not work from the point of view of literature though I seek to see and hear beauty.

Unfortunately with this claim on page 5 of the preview noted above, Alter does not reveal enough information to clarify his claim, admittedly a minor claim used as a springboard for his larger criticism, a criticism with which I have considerable agreement.

For how many years has the KJV been revised? If a translation catches on, it must have the basis in the raw data from which it can be critiqued and revised. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Did I mention science?

I searched in my current blog for science to see if I have been respectful of how I learn. Testing and seeing...

And behold, there are almost 100 mentions of science going back to 2010 including this gem - what was I thinking!
I hope to address the whole nine yards of the science of God at some point: Unity, relationship to humanity, reward and punishment, Anointing and the world to come, time and science, election and the scandal of particularity, predestination, providence, and miracles, and who knows what else. This is my death-wish I suppose. For I like anyone else, cannot see God's face and live (Exodus 33:20). Whatever... I have died already in the Anointed. I will start and end there.
100 mentions may be worth a book... There can be no conflict between science and steadfastness (or faith by another name). Those who refuse science refuse God. Not that science is God but that God is not the author of confusion, superstition, or nonsense. Fearful humans author these things to their own detriment and that of others.

Some people might think my translations are 'literal'. No. They are not. They are ruled by a sense that the language is close enough to itself that it should be interpreted as pattern recognition. That is a subject I spent my life with as a programmer. (Apart from the music,) that is what I have done to the Hebrew Scripture, recognized the verbal patterns and read accordingly. It may be impossible to do this with a committee or a multiple person translation. Divergence is almost inevitable without algorithmic pattern recognition.

I have been proofing the prophets and I found a mislabeled score. Also I noted some unique words that really surprised me but they withstood my scrutiny.
I will sing, if you will, for my beloved, a song of my beloved for his vineyard.
A vineyard there is for my beloved against an intensely bright destiny of density.
Whoa - where did that wordplay come from? A unique phrase in the Hebrew,
כֶּ֛רֶם הָיָ֥ה לִֽידִידִ֖י בְּקֶ֥רֶן בֶּן־שָֽׁמֶן
 קרן followed by בן followed by שׁמן is unique as are the two sub-sequences of each pair of these stems. Everyone seems to render it as 'on a fruitful hill'. I have no idea why. Literally it is 'a horn of the son of oil'. Or 'an intensely bright child of an octave'. (Just kidding).

בן children (2,535) child (1,694) son (367) sons (189) he- (50) Ben- (31) squab (10) little one (6) -- (5) ben- (3) male foal (3) -kin (2) Ben (2) calf (2) cubs (2) grandson (2) kids (2) Son (1) destiny (1) eaglet (1)
קרן horn (84) intensely bright (4) two horn (4) intense brightness (2) Intense Brightness (1) Karen- (1)
שׁמן oil (183) eight (106) eighty (37) eighteen (21) stout (16) eighteenth (9) dense (7) stout thing (4) octave (3) oils (3) compared oil (1) density (1) eigh- (1) eightieth (1) oily (1) ointment (1)

These words are frequent, but the combination is unique. What will one do with it? The Hebrew is also alliterative.  beqeren ben-shemen.

Listen to Yahweh's determined hope for his people. (I didn't even mention this in my original posting on Isaiah 5.) But I did have a lot of other points to make.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Biblical Studies Carnival for March is available

Spencer Robinson at Spoiled Milks has produced the Biblical Studies March carnival #157. A very bright set of links for April Fool's day.

Textual criticism and music

Tim raised for me in a comment the need for footnotes at least with the issue of textual criticism in mind. I found this paper by Ronald Hendel. It is quite an intro to Textual criticism. There are several examples in Genesis 1 that would change the music significantly, adding whole phrases (verse 9) and moving certain repeated refrains (like and it was so) to different locations. It is hard to imagine a quick summary and would take a longer post than I have time for at the moment.

If I had undertaken this kind of study (and with a teacher and with more direct access to manuscripts and the Qumran texts), my current work would probably never have been completed. The degree of footnoting required for such a 'translation' would be overwhelming to both reader and writer. (Even JB does not mention some of the variants.) But fascinating it is indeed and I highly recommend the article.

Perhaps I will do a phrase by phrase comparison of Gen 1 at some later time but it is not likely from this source. I see that there is no attention paid to accents at all. I am sure I could be taught, but there is not enough in this text for me to see what's what with the variants where they did include accents. "Masoretic accents are not included in the critical text because of the technical limitations of my computer software and the minimal pragmatic value of such variants (see Goshen-Gottstein 1965: 42)." P 115

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Wrestling with the idea of meaning

In this world it is not hard to be outside - and imagine others on the inside, and vice versa. B K Blount whom I think I may have met or at least heard in a distant life, has this statement about otherness (Blount, B. (2019). The Souls of Biblical Folks and the Potential for Meaning. Journal of Biblical Literature, 138(1), 6-21. Retrieved from
Those who hold interpretive power establish those outside their circle as Other and assign to them the status of Problem and subsequently the problematic task of working their way out of their Otherness by becoming less like themselves and more like those holding such power.
You don't need to be visibly different from the crowd to feel this way.

In this article, Blount uses two words I avoid, soul, and meaning. Can I redeem those words for myself?

I continue to read the Bible. How could I do otherwise even if I never lifted a book again. It is embedded within me. I recognize both what I was first taught and what I reject as being without foundation, and the faith that enabled me to read this text. Truth is there somewhere, but should I try to name it? For me to 'put my finger on it' will untruth someone else. I have already put to one side some of those who taught me, both early and late.

Such rejection was not a part of my birth. It was bred in me by a residential school experience, uncertainty at home, growing up under the shadow of the Holocaust, a scientific background, and the usual slings and arrows. A recipe for implosion if I ever heard one! Early teachers taught with a stick and hid their own needs. As for family, who keeps a family together easily in any age? How did Christendom produce such bitter fruit, such unholy prejudice? When science conflicts with reading, which one should win? I was converted by one who, having died, probably knows better now.

Meaning is one of those words I avoid because it reduces sense to a mean. There is sense. And there is signification, but there is not just 'potential for meaning', but rather a multiplicity of potential meanings. The need to reduce them to one is an act of power rather than of love.

Curiously, I was just reading an English first world war novel with a scene in a small French town at a café. Someone asks: Is this chair taken? The Anglais could not understand the French question. The chair was there and empty. It isn't just the language that is a problem. It would have been equally silly to ask, Is this chair occupied? What was the meaning? That the questioner wanted to take or occupy the chair? Or was there an unseen person temporarily absent or expected shortly? Or, is it a reflection of social custom not to express one's own need first. May I have this chair? or May I sit here? Was the chair implicitly assigned to another table? Or did it belong to the one sitting at that table?

Then a few minutes later, talking to an old friend, an empty chair between them seemed to contain another mutual friend. So unoccupied, it was nevertheless occupied by a ghost. What is the ghost in this case but that part of the absent person's soul which she could never have known of. Yet is it a part of her soul as surely as she is in the minds of the two who are present? And as her soul is connected to them, are they also connected to her soul? The nature of the connection? Is everyone whom I have encountered a part of me as I am a part of them? If so, then we are one organism, one integral group. The soul is bigger than the individual.

The idea of this one body is implicit in the Shema. But perhaps I jump from rock to rock too quickly and maybe lose my balance. Ah well, someone will pick me up. I don't think this is a bad start for mutual responsibility and interdependence. I have already noted how dependent my project has been on people I have never met, especially noting the complexity of the technical environment I use.

On another front, one only has to think about the food we eat to know how dependent we are for every day needs on whole interacting systems of people. Who planted it, grew it, picked it, packaged it, sent it, bought it, sold it, prepared it, and who made what we can eat it with, and who built the house and its facilities that will receive our waste, and manage our cleanliness, and ensure that all these systems work on our behalf.

Are all these people part of us? And the people who fall by the wayside for whom the systems do not work, refugees, people near and far, whole and damaged, equally in need. Are they too part of my soul?

I cannot eliminate those who are past, saints or otherwise. One vast communion. Sheep and goats together. If Hitler had not persecuted Jews, then Haïk-Vantoura would not have had the same questions of her father... and I would not have written my program to run her key against the Leningrad codex. Even those in error have played a role.

So though, as a local individual in a small borough, I have to defend myself within a confined space and be defended by law and enforcement of law, I cannot allow this local culture to define a rigid other who is outside. My gates must remain open regardless of who is outside. Perhaps they have othered themselves, but perhaps they can also become other than what they seem to be to me now. And I may not be the keeper of the gates. Perhaps there are yet gates I must enter and overcome the otherness in myself from another's vantage point.

I don't have my copy of the JBL yet. It is thoroughly delayed by systems that are currently not working, so I have been reduced to scanning it online. My take from Blount may be quite peripheral to his intent. I hope he will forgive me for taking the empty chair next to him without asking.