Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Is G-d separate

A long discussion occurred on Ian Paul's website about Richard Rohr. I thought it a good idea for me to look up Richard Rohr. His twitter home is immediately inspiring. I am sorry to see this conversation degenerate into diatribe.

The Evangelical wing of the Anglican Church has to cease from its desperate grasping of poorly understood English translation of Scripture. It is a bit frightening to leave what one might think are secure moorings, but the fruit of those moorings: the suppression of women, the persecution of sexual minorities, and the destruction of other cultures and tradition, is the result of brackish water in the well. One cannot get bitter water from a sweet well.

I decided to reply to the thesis that God is separate from creation. I have shied away from theology because I think it so hard to come to conclusions. There is a risk that one’s readers will accept the conclusion without doing the hard homework.

I looked for separate in my translation work and found 45 uses of the stem in Hebrew. It has three uses: 17 as the animal, mule. Once as the word kernel, and the rest as our expected idea of separateness, the rivers of Eden, the islands of the nations, Abraham and Lot, the two nations in Rebekah’s womb, Elijah’s separation from Elisha, the bones of the subject of Psalm 22, and so on.

It’s a great read, the word פרד. Proverbs warns us against the degeneration of our words:
One who is wayward dispenses dissension,
and one who natters separates a thousand.
The unique usage as kernel is in Joel. There is no grain, the kernel is rancid.

Never is God mentioned as separate from creation. We are not to separate ourselves from others with abstract words.

How can I have a theological conclusion where there appears to be no support for it in Scripture? (If theology is indeed drawn out (abstrahere) from Scripture.) Admittedly I have not looked at the NT. But there I have just read of Holy Spirit in Matthew 1. I know, wrong season! But as Rohr suggests with his tweet, The seeds of Easter are already found in Christmas. Probably better to say that Easter determines that there was a holy seed.

Holy Spirit with or without caps, occurs as a phrase in Hebrew only once – in Psalm 51, but it is prevalent in the NT. There is where ‘separation’ lies. God is Holy. The Holy that protects Mary is the inner sanctum of God, the dwelling place of God with humanity, the whole thrust from wilderness tabernacle to the temple of the body. This is as far from separateness as one can get. God in us in our body.

It seems to me that the God who created Leviathan to sport with refuses separation from humanity and by implication from creation and the whole created order. I haven’t got an abstract name for this since there is no such abstraction in the Scriptures.

What is Scriptural for us who are in Christ is contained in 2 words from Jesus, “Follow me”. That is the shortest requirement for praxis. Even shorter than “Jesus is Lord”, an ambiguity completely lost on English Christians because of the problem with the sense of that very difficult word ‘lord’.

We are being called out of all our idolatry.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

The rest of Matthew 1

It's Easter Day, so here's a bit of Christmas lore, also a bit of a surprise concerning the Holy.

I have decided to return to a bit of translating in the New Testament. I don't know if I still have time to research Hebrew translations of the NT, but there's nothing like starting. If one doesn't start, one can hardly finish.

The first thing I note with chapter 1 is that 'holy spirit' appears out of nowhere. Everybody talks about Jesus and Christ and so on as if they know everything about him. But where did the expression the holy spirit come from.

God is spirit. But what is the origin of this in a Jewish context? The Jewish Annotated NT cites this pair of words as
"a reference to God's creative and enduring presence (Gen 1.2, 2.7, 8.1; Ex 13.21-22; Josh 2.16; Ps 51.11; and a Talmudic tractate Hagigah (Festal Offering)."
Interesting, if I were looking for the spirit of God in Tanakh, I would have looked for that pair of words in that sequence, but here we find cited more generic references to Yahweh God (2.7) or God - wind (8.1), the pillar of cloud (Ex 13). The reference to Josh 2:16 is baffling.

Well there's a question. רוח הקדשׁ never occurs in the Hebrew Bible. The only occurrence is ורוח קדשׁך and your holy spirit ... And treating holy as an adjective, the phrase should be הרוח הקדשׁ.

So how to approach this conundrum. I suppose I could just accept tradition. But this would be a cop out. What I notice about the use of קדשׁ in the Hebrew is that it is often the adjective holy, and it never appears in Hebrew with a definite article, but it is in some phrases interpreted as a divine name, the Holy or the Holy One. The definite article in English is understood because the next word in the Hebrew is an implied definite such as in קדשׁ קדשׁים the Holy of Holies or קדשׁ ישראל the Holy One of Israel. So this birth in the NT is from the sanctuary, the inner sanctum of Yahweh himself.

Note that this usage of קדשׁ is most prominent in Isaiah, occurring 31 times in the prophet, 25 times in other books.

Here's my rendition of the rest of Matthew 1 based on a Hebrew translation of the Greek but guided by tradition. No music reconstructed for this yet.

18 And the birth of Jeshua, the anointed, was thus.
As Miriam his mother was betrothed to Joseph, ere he came to her, but it was found that she was pregnant, for from the spirit of the Holy she was pregnant.
19 And Joseph, her man, was a righteous one and did not consent to give her the defamation of the people,
and he promised to send her away in secret.

20 While there was a matter on his heart such as this, behold a messenger of Yahweh appeared to him in a dream, saying,
Joseph, son of David, you will not fear to take to you Miriam your wife, for the one that is born within her was fashioned from the spirit of the Holy.

21 And she will give birth to a son and you will call his name Jeshua,
for he himself will save his people from their sins.

22 And all this has happened to fulfill the word of Yahweh by the hand of the prophet, saying,
23 Behold the young woman is pregnant and will give birth to a son, and they will call his name Emmanuel,
that is to say, God is with us.

24 And Joseph awoke from his sleep and he did as the messenger of Yahweh commanded him,
and he received his wife.

25 And he did not know her until she gave birth to a son, her firstborn,
and he called his name Jeshua.

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.