Monday, December 6, 2021

Isaiah 40

 Isaiah 40 was the lesson last night. I was surprised at my rendering so I checked the old version and the notes I made 4 years ago. The things we can't remember!

Who can search for a nettle in a hapax? Bob the Butcher. 

There are many surprises in this chapter. And if you think about them, they make sense, but not according to the careless synonyms of traditional translations with their presumed theologies. Is acceptance of iniquity the gospel or the beginning of a radical atheism?

One thing about my translation is that the decisions are transparent  and not hidden in the notes of a committee. Just use the concordance and see how rarely I have overlapped my glosses. Then by all means and with all tools, question.

Let us make up what is lacking in the suffering of the people who do not know their left hand from their right, not to mention all the animals.

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Psalms 110 - a diversion

When you find the road blocked, in the UK it's not a detour that you take, but a diversion, if I remember correctly. What are we to make of this psalm?

The inscription is the first key: Note that it is one where ldvid precedes mzmor. See also Psalms 24, 40, 68, 101, 109, 110, 139. The normal order for this phrase is mzmor ldvid. Kimhi says of these psalms that first the Holy Spirit rested on David and then he wrote the psalm. There is a commentary on this psalm by Kimhi here. (Kimhi was edited and published in 1883 in Cambridge, so Forbes could have had access to this in principle.) Kimhi will not begin with the prejudgments of Christianity about what a phrase signifies. The explanation of the priesthood of Mechizedek is very helpful:

since in his blessing he [Melchizedek] put Abraham first over the most high God, the Holy One, blessed be He, removed the Priesthood from him and gave it to Abraham, because it is said Thou art a priest for ever ... because of the word which Melchizedek spoke.

I had read bits of Kimhi when I did my translation but not this part. There is no need for a special gloss for the very common root dbr here in verse 4.

So this psalm is about David. I have rendered it as 'to', but prepositions are notorious for taking on many glosses. About would be just fine as a gloss. It makes good sense.

I agree of course, that the NT applies this psalm to Jesus, but I will be drawn into the host of motivations that apply these psalms in that first century or two of the common era to 'explain' why they or I would still apply it thus. Do we not all attempt to rule within and among our enemies? And I should not forget that we are, in spite of the enemies within and around us, also accompanied by many who are willing in the day of our weal. I like the ambiguity of that word. For there is both welt and wealth in our struggle.

Yahweh has sworn and without a sigh. Are we also accompanied by the real power? When does Yahweh sigh (nkm)? Or as traditional translations read, repent? First over humanity prior to the flood. Then at the incident of the golden calf. It is part of his character. It occurs only once in the Psalter. You can see them all at the link.

Verse 7 often surprises me. Kimhi associates it with Balaam's proverb of Numbers 23:24. For lifting the head high, he refers to David's reputation as noted in 2 Samuel 8:13.

Syllables: 143. Words: 65. Roots: 53. Root Recurrence: 32%. Average per verse: 3.
לְדָוִ֗ד מִ֫זְמ֥וֹר
נְאֻ֤ם יְהוָ֨ה ׀ לַֽאדֹנִ֗י שֵׁ֥ב לִֽימִינִ֑י
עַד־אָשִׁ֥ית אֹ֝יְבֶ֗יךָ הֲדֹ֣ם לְרַגְלֶֽיךָ
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.
a ldvid mzmor
naum ihvh ladoni wb limini
yd-awit aoibiç hdom lrgliç
l/dvd m/zmr
nam ihvh l/adn\i wb l/imn\i
yd a/wit aib\ic hdm l/rgl\ic
מַטֵּֽה־עֻזְּךָ֗ יִשְׁלַ֣ח יְ֭הוָה מִצִּיּ֑וֹן
רְ֝דֵ֗ה בְּקֶ֣רֶב אֹיְבֶֽיךָ
2 Yahweh will send the rod of your strength out of Zion.
Rule within and among your enemies.
b m'th-yuzç iwlk ihvh mxion
rdh bqrb aoibiç
m'th yz\c i/wlk ihvh m/xivn
rdh b/qrb aib\ic
עַמְּךָ֣ נְדָבֹת֮ בְּי֪וֹם חֵ֫ילֶ֥ךָ
בְּֽהַדְרֵי־קֹ֭דֶשׁ מֵרֶ֣חֶם מִשְׁחָ֑ר
לְ֝ךָ֗ טַ֣ל יַלְדֻתֶֽיךָ
3 Your people are willing in the day of your weal.
In the honour of holiness from the womb of the dawn,
yours is the dew of your childhood.

g ymç ndbot biom kilç
bhdri-qodw mrkm mwkr
lç 'tl ildutç
ym\c ndb\t b/ivm kil\c
b/hdr\i qdw m/rkm m/wkr
l\c 'tl ild\tic
נִשְׁבַּ֤ע יְהוָ֨ה ׀ וְלֹ֥א יִנָּחֵ֗ם אַתָּֽה־כֹהֵ֥ן לְעוֹלָ֑ם
עַל־דִּ֝בְרָתִ֗י מַלְכִּי־צֶֽדֶק
4 Yahweh has sworn and without a sigh, You are a priest forever,
by the word of Melchizedek.
d nwby ihvh vla iinkm ath-cohn lyolm
yl-dbrti mlci-xdq
n/wby ihvh v/la i/nkm ath chn l/yvlm
yl dbr\ti mlc\i xdq
אֲדֹנָ֥י עַל־יְמִֽינְךָ֑
מָחַ֖ץ בְּיוֹם־אַפּ֣וֹ מְלָכִֽים
5 My Lord is at your right hand.
He will wound kings in the day of his anger.

h adonii yl-iminç
mkx biom-apo mlcim
adn\i yl imn\c
mkx b/ivm ap\v mlc\im
יָדִ֣ין בַּ֭גּוֹיִם מָלֵ֣א גְוִיּ֑וֹת
מָ֥חַץ רֹ֝֗אשׁ עַל־אֶ֥רֶץ רַבָּֽה
6 He will advocate among the nations, a fullness of bodies.
He will wound exceedingly a head on earth.
v idin bgoiim mla gvviiot
mkx raw yl-arx rbh
i/din b/gvi\m mla gv\ivt
mkx raw yl arx rbh
מִ֭נַּחַל בַּדֶּ֣רֶךְ יִשְׁתֶּ֑ה
עַל־כֵּ֝֗ן יָרִ֥ים רֹֽאשׁ
7 ♪g He will imbibe from the torrent in the way.
Therefore he will lift a head high.
z mnkl bdrç iwth
yl-cn irim raw
m/nkl b/drc i/wth
yl cn i/rim raw
1 [Matthew 22:44, Acts 2:34-35, Ephesians 1:20, Hebrews 1:13, 10:12-13, 1 Peter 3:22]
3 weal, חיל (kil), or wealth or force, both of which I have used in other verses. The חיל of Egypt is destroyed in the sea. The parallels expressing womb and youth suggests a birthing image. The archaic weal (e.g. as in common weal) can be used to mean both wealth and hurt as in the birth process.
4 [Hebrews 5:6, 7:17, 21]

The Music of Psalms 110
Following Psalms 110, one of two oracles in the Psalter, we have the two acrostics 111, and 112. David is a man after God's own heart, so his journeys in Psalms 110 are celebrated by these two acrostics, one for the one who fears Yahweh and the other for Yahweh. Note how each of us is thus invited to become like Yahweh. Yet not alone as if individual perfection was possible, but together with the willing people and the power of God as Psalms 110 notes.

The Psalms are about character and the development of a community of the merciful, who are 'likest God'.

The Psalter #3

Following on from the prior posts in this series, Forbes, our author from 1888, determined not to use the New Testament as a conclusion, rapidly appeals to his prejudged authoritative source, the New Testament!

I also know the NT and much of the noise that is spread abroad from it and because of it, and I appreciate what has been reported that Jesus accomplished in himself and through many of his disciples. But - what is Messiah, what is the Son, and what is this humanity that I am a part of? Shall I prejudge the answer? I too am time-bound, a slave of the positive direction of time. Apart from interest and the probabilities of market forces, I cannot enlarge or diminish a moment that is past or its impact. I look back vaguely on the past and backwards into the future I walk, like anyone else. Here is the next bit of the intro. (It is slow to read in the pdf, so I am putting it out a piece at a time not wanting to misjudge his argument. Yet it is a wall to me, built up of hundreds of years of accumulated tradition.)

To illustrate this in a point that has been much contested:

—What is the teaching, if any, of the Psalter with regard to the coming and office of a Messiah ? 

All those Psalms which in the New Testament are quoted as prophetical of Christ have been, and, so long as we regard each Psalm as an isolated composition, may with some plausibility be, explained as referring solely to the existing king of the author's time, as, e.g. Psalms ii. and xxii. to David, Psalms xlv. and lxxii. to Solomon, Psalm lxxxix. to Rehoboam or Jehoiachin, The presumption, nevertheless, we cannot but think, even looking at each Psalm singly, is on the opposite side, if we keep in mind the two revelations made to David from the very first with regard to his royal seed: 1. (2 Sam. vii. 12-16) that his " throne should be established for ever ; " and 2. (Ps. cx.) that the royal seed should culminate in One who was not only to be a king, but " a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek," and to be so highly exalted above every human being that David styles him " my lord," and Jehovah seats him on His own right hand on His throne.

Now hold on a minute. Yes, David is in the inscription of Psalms 110. What will we say that this does for the words? I never thought to apply them to David or even to consider them as imitative 'of David'. I am too busy trying to figure out their enigmas. Is David a priest according to the word of Melchizedek? We know this psalm is applied to Jesus in the NT - but we are not supposed to be doing this

Just what is meant by forever (lyolm, by the way, this is different from yd which for want of English words I have sometimes rendered for ever - two words)? In 2 Samuel 7:13 the words are yd-yolm, which I render for evermore. (yd is really just a preposition maybe signifying something as simple as 'to' but it has its application temporally. Like every preposition, it gets a multiplicity of treatments. You can see their variations here.) In the passage in 2 Samuel, the word pair is repeated 3 times.

We had better have a closer look. Which of these verses will we apply to Jesus as Messiah and king? Surely this is the wrong question, but Forbes is inviting it. His proof-texting is picking and choosing as if the answers are obvious to a reader of Tanach. When the voice said to me - How can you speak of my roles when you do not read in my language, I paid attention. I did not come to this job of my own whim. Now I have to see if I can indeed read or say anything.

Here's the raw data for 2 Samuel.

2 Samuel 7:12-16

Syllables: 160. Words: 64. Roots: 39. Root Recurrence: 63%. Average per verse: 8.
כִּ֣י ׀ יִמְלְא֣וּ יָמֶ֗יךָ וְשָֽׁכַבְתָּ֙ אֶת־אֲבֹתֶ֔יךָ וַהֲקִימֹתִ֤י אֶֽת־זַרְעֲךָ֙ אַחֲרֶ֔יךָ אֲשֶׁ֥ר יֵצֵ֖א מִמֵּעֶ֑יךָ
וַהֲכִינֹתִ֖י אֶת־מַמְלַכְתּֽוֹ
12 ♪B When full are your days, and you lie down with your ancestors,
then I will raise up your seed after you, that goes out from your inner parts, and I will establish his kingdom.
ib ci imlau imiç vwcbt at-abotiç vhqimoti at-zryç akriç awr iixa mmyiç
vhcinoti at-mmlcto
ci i/mla\v im\ic v/wcb\t at ab\tic vh/qim\ti at zry\c akr\ic awr ixa m/my\ic
vh/cin\ti at m/mlc\tv
ה֥וּא יִבְנֶה־בַּ֖יִת לִשְׁמִ֑י
וְכֹנַנְתִּ֛י אֶת־כִּסֵּ֥א מַמְלַכְתּ֖וֹ עַד־עוֹלָֽם
13 ♪f He will build a house for my name,
and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for evermore.
ig hua ibnh-bit lwmi
vconnti at-cisa mmlcto yd-yolm
hva i/bnh bit l/wm\i
v/cn\nti at csa m/mlc\tv yd yvlm
אֲנִי֙ אֶהְיֶה־לּ֣וֹ לְאָ֔ב וְה֖וּא יִהְיֶה־לִּ֣י לְבֵ֑ן
אֲשֶׁר֙ בְּהַ֣עֲוֺת֔וֹ וְהֹֽכַחְתִּיו֙ בְּשֵׁ֣בֶט אֲנָשִׁ֔ים וּבְנִגְעֵ֖י בְּנֵ֥י אָדָֽם
14 Myself, I will be to him father, and he, he will be to me son,
that in his perversity, I will be his referee with the sceptre of men, and with the contagion of the children of humanity.
id ani ahih-lo lab vhua ihih-li lbn
awr bhyvoto vhocktiv bwb't anwim ubngyi bni adm
ani a/hih l\v l/ab v/hva i/hih l\i l/bn
awr bh/yv\tv vh/ck\tiv b/wb't anw\im vb/ngy\i bn\i adm
וְחַסְדִּ֖י לֹא־יָס֣וּר מִמֶּ֑נּוּ
כַּאֲשֶׁ֤ר הֲסִרֹ֙תִי֙ מֵעִ֣ם שָׁא֔וּל אֲשֶׁ֥ר הֲסִרֹ֖תִי מִלְּפָנֶֽיךָ
15 But my kindness will not turn aside from him,
as I have turned aside from Saul, whom I turned aside from your presence.
'tv vksdi la-isur mmnu
cawr hsiroti mym waul awr hsiroti mlpniç
v/ksd\i la i/svr m/mn\v
c/awr h/sr\ti m/ym wavl awr h/sr\ti ml/pn\ic
וְנֶאְמַ֨ן בֵּיתְךָ֧ וּמַֽמְלַכְתְּךָ֛ עַד־עוֹלָ֖ם לְפָנֶ֑יךָ
כִּֽסְאֲךָ֔ יִהְיֶ֥ה נָכ֖וֹן עַד־עוֹלָֽם
16 And dependable is your house, and your kingdom, for evermore.
In your presence your throne will be established for evermore.
'tz vnamn bitç ummlctç yd-yolm lpniç
cisaç ihih ncon yd-yolm
vn/amn bit\c vm/mlc\tc yd yvlm l/pn\ic
csa\c i/hih n/cvn yd yvlm

There is a circular structure here. It surrounds verses 14 and 15. A sort of "no matter how bad things get, I will not withdraw my kindness". Remarkable given how much hurt is available to us to inflict on others. This is God's answer to Job - I will be the referee. But we note that the rather perverse Solomon is the one who builds the 'house'.
Word / Gloss
והכינתי and I will establish
וכננתי and I will establish
כסא the throne of
עולם evermore
עולם evermore
כסאך your throne
נכון established
עולם evermore
And we should not ignore the music.
2 Samuel 7:12-16

You will perhaps cavil that I should not translate bhyvoto as in his perversity. But I am not out of line - you can see lots of the 100s of translations here. My uniqueness is to connect this imagined son with Job through that word we have already seen, i-c-k, referee. You can see all my choices for this word at the link. So I too am building a wall and leaning that wall against the wall of tradition. The Son? - there are no capital letters in the Hebrew Bible, so capitalizing son, as some do, is imposing on the text rather than revealing it. This is an ordinary child of an extraordinary promise. Do the psalms remember the promise? Yes, they do. But they also do not prejudge it. The psalms reveal the character of God. They are gospel through and through as I have noted on this blog repeatedly. They invite the human child to become 'likest God', as Shakespeare also teaches us, and to exercise 'the quality of mercy' (ksd). We do not need to force them into a given Christology.

Psalms 110 is a whole different kettle of fish. We could certainly write a whole book on these 7 verses. The psalm is the first of the sequence of psalms to 117 that I based my oratorio on. It is a chorale. Perhaps I will post it in full as a relief from this metaphysical wall of 1888.

Saturday, December 4, 2021

I hate, I refuse your translations

Bosco Peters notes that a new new revised standard version of the Bible is emerging from the bruit of the modern world.  He has committed himself to the RSV traditions. One reason he gives is for memorization. I agree with him that it is very hard to memorize 100 different translations. (And I am sure he hasn't read mine!)

Let's face it, the Bible is a big library representing 1000s of years of 'tradition' as the Fiddler notes. How does God get a good word about character to the billions of people to be spoken to?

Flood, fire, tempest, war, persecution, or a book? I suspect consequences are among God's modes of communications. God simply does not have time, (just all of it), to get to the folks to be loved and cherished. Consequences are a blunt instrument. I suspect also that the invisible and non-confrontational but sharp voice of tenderness is another mode. Does God use the churches? Committees, drafts, studies, scholarship, layer upon layer of signs and tongues, and revision after revision?

Who knows

As the king of Nineveh says. This God may turn and sigh, and turn from his fierce anger and we will not perish. 

The king was right in his assessment of anger. Jonah was wrong in his schadenfreude implying his assessment of punitive damages deserved. Who is revealing the character of God? 

Here is God as revealed to Moses. This is the verse (Exodus 34:6) that you need to memorize and see how often it is referred to in the Old Testament. (Yup - it's in the story of Jonah.)

וַיַּעֲבֹ֨ר יְהוָ֥ה ׀ עַל־פָּנָיו֮ וַיִּקְרָא֒ יְהוָ֣ה ׀ יְהוָ֔ה אֵ֥ל רַח֖וּם וְחַנּ֑וּן
אֶ֥רֶךְ אַפַּ֖יִם וְרַב־חֶ֥סֶד וֶאֱמֶֽת ׀
6 And Yahweh, passed over before him, and he called, Yahweh, Yahweh, a God compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger and abundant in kindness and truth,
v viybor ihvh yl-pniv viqra ihvh ihvh al rkum vknun
arç apiim vrb-ksd vamt
vi/ybr ihvh yl pn\iv vi/qra ihvh ihvh al rkvm v/knvn
arc ap\im v/rb ksd v/amt

Bosco believes that the RSV tradition is "as literal as possible, as free as necessary". This policy is simply not followed by the NRSV, no matter what they say. I noted a number of thoughts on NRSV in the Biblical Studies carnival 189 published Dec 1. E.g. in Habakkuk 1 and 2:1, how do you read the gloss punishment for the root that indicates correction, or referee, or reproof (yod-kaf-chet)? And then read in the very next chapter, that they fail to use the same gloss for the same root. 

The traditional translations in the versions derived from the KJV use punish for a half a dozen roots and sometimes when there is no root at all to match the gloss with. But even KJV does not use punish for i-c-k (yod kaf chet in SimHebrew) and in that translation the two glosses (correction / reproof) don't match, but at least the imputation for the character of God is acceptable. This is only one of the many tangles of glosses that are used in the standard / authorized versions.

Should we be memorizing the implication that God is one who punishes rather than corrects or reproves or visits or whatever? These translations - called standard and authoritative - bear false witness to the character of God.

Here's my story of Jonah - layer upon layer of signs interpreted, language, music, and character revealed. It's free (but the Ninevites paid dearly as did the Hebrews). Let me know if you like it.

My translation has been on the market for 2 years. It has been a dedicated 15 year effort. It has been published with the Hebrew text in a left-to-right accurate readable full-spelling. It's the only recent single-person translation I know of that has been published with a full concordance online. It is all in an Oracle database so it is updatable. This is a big job. What I have done is to comb out the tangles in the beloved's hair. But there is still work to be done. I have no doubt I have reduced the complexity of management of a translation. Equally I have no doubt there are blunders that should be corrected. Like Habakkuk, I am waiting for my own correction.

The Psalter - #2

 Reading this 300 page treatise carefully will be aa challenge. I haven't gone this slowly in years. So our author, Forbes, yes that's his name, begins with a surprising thesis.

Like the golden candlestick with its seven branches, three on either side being united by a central branch, the Psalter (besides its well-known division into five books) is shown to form one grand organic whole, consisting of seven divisions (Book V. being divisible into three distinctly-marked portions) —three Amen Books, or Books of Faith, taking the lead in the Devotional Manual of the Jewish Church ; and three Hallelujah Books, or Books of Praise, forming its close ; while both are united by a Central Book (xc.-cvi.) of an intermediate character, bearing as its signature one compounded of the distinctive signatures of the preceding and succeeding books, " Amen-Hallelujah " (Ps. cvi. 48). The place and number of the Amens and Hallelujahs are found to be adjusted with remarkable precision, two Amens closing each of the three Amen Books, and forming, with the single Amen of the Central book, in all seven Amens ; while the Hallelujah Books, beginning each with the words, " give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good : for His mercy endureth for ever," close with Hallelujah Psalms, the whole number of Hallelujahs in the Psalter being twenty-four (in reference to the twenty-four orders of Levites and singers), allotted in significant proportions to each of the several books.

 So - do we find indeed that Book 5 is divisible into three and the Psalter therefore into seven? The three Amen books he speaks of are Psalms 1-41, 42-72, and 73-89, the first three books of the Psalter. No dispute here, and the structure is long-lived. This old set of lecture notes from 2010 has some hints that the order of the psalms was known at least in part from the DSS. I don't have any further up to date information but this is sufficient for now as to a plausible pre-history in part.

Book 4 (90-106) then is Forbes central candle. So let's look for the three Hallelujah books. The word ksdo preceded by the root ylm occurs 34 times in the Psalms. The first is Psalms 100:5. The next begins Psalms 106. The remaining phrases occur in full exactly 3 times in Book 5 in Psalms 107:1, 118:1 and 136:1. Does each section indeed close with what he calls a Hallelujah psalm. Yes, after a fashion. Psalms 135 begins and ends with hllu-ih but Psalms 117 begins with hllu at-ihvh. Psalms 146 and following are full of hllu-ih.

Psalms 107:1 == 118:1 == 136:1 (and except for the Hallelujah = 106:1)

הֹד֣וּ לַיהוָ֣ה כִּי־ט֑וֹב
כִּ֖י לְעוֹלָ֣ם חַסְדּֽוֹ
1 Give thanks to Yahweh for it is good,
for his kindness is forever,
a hodu lihvh ci-'tob
ci lyolm ksdo
h/d\v l/ihvh ci 'tvb
ci l/yvlm ksd\v

So these are the verses where the author has made his divisions: 107-117, 118-135, 136-150. I think we would find each verse is identical. What about the count of Hallelujahs? Not quite. There are 25 by my count. One of them I translated as Praise Yah (117:2) to rhyme with its beginning. 

Here is the lot.
104 35 iitmu k'taim mn-harx urwyim yod ainm brci npwi at-ihvh hllu-ih Sinners will be completed from the earth, and the wicked - they are no longer. Bless Yahweh O my being. Hallelu Yah.
105 45 bybur iwmru kuqiv vtorotiv inxoru hllu-ih So that they would keep his statutes, and his instruction they would observe. Hallelu Yah.
106 1 hllu-ih hodu lihvh ci-'tob
ci lyolm ksdo
Hallelu Yah. Give thanks to Yahweh for it is good.
For his kindness is forever.
106 48 bruç ihvh alohi iwral mn-hyolm vyd hyolm vamr cl-hym amn hllu-ih Bless Yahweh the God of Israel from the everlasting and unto the everlasting and let all the people say, Amen. Hallelu Yah.
111 1 hllu-ih aodh ihvh bcl-lbb
bsod iwrim vydh
Hallelu Yah. I will thank Yahweh with a whole heart,
Before the council of the upright, and assembly.
112 1 hllu-ih awri-aiw ira at-ihvh
bmxvotiv kpx maod
Hallelu Yah. A happy person fears Yahweh.
By his commandments he has much delight.
113 1 hllu-ih hllu ybdi ihvh
hllu at-wm ihvh
Hallelu Yah. Praise servants of Yahweh.
Praise the name of Yahweh.
113 9 mowibi yqrt hbit am-hbnim wmkh hllu-ih who seats the barren in a house, a glad mother of children? Hallelu Yah.
115 18 vanknu nbrç ih myth vyd-yolm hllu-ih But we, we will bless Yah, from now and unto everlasting. Hallelu Yah.
116 19 bkxrot bit ihvh btocci iruwlim hllu-ih in the courts of the house of Yahweh, in your centre, O Jerusalem. Hallelu Yah.
117 2 ci gbr ylinu ksdo vamt-ihvh lyolm hllu-ih For his mercy has prevailed over us, and the truth of Yahweh is forever. Praise Yah.
135 1 hllu-ih hllu at-wm ihvh
hllu ybdi ihvh
Hallelu Yah. Praise the name of Yahweh.
Praise O servants of Yahweh,
135 3 hllu-ih ci-'tob ihvh
zmru lwmo ci nyim
Hallelu Yah, for Yahweh is good.
Sing a psalm to his name for pleasure.
135 21 bruç ihvh mxion wocn iruwlim hllu-ih Blessed be Yahweh from Zion, dwelling in Jerusalem, Hallelu Yah.
146 1 hllu-ih hlli npwi at-ihvh Hallelu Yah. Praise Yahweh, O my being.
146 10 imloç ihvh lyolm alohiiç xion ldor vdor hllu-ih Yahweh will reign forever, your God, Zion, from generation to generation. Hallelu Yah.
147 1 hllu-ih ci-'tob zmrh alohinu
ci-nyim navh thilh
Hallelu Yah, for it is good to sing a psalm to our God,
for it is pleasant. Praise is lovely.
147 20 la ywh cn lcl-goi umwp'tim bl-idyum hllu-ih Not has he done so to all nations, and his judgments they have not known, Hallelu Yah.
148 1 hllu-ih hllu at-ihvh mn-hwmiim
hlluhu bmromim
Hallelu Yah. Praise Yahweh from the heavens.
Praise him on the high ground.
148 14 virm qrn lymo thilh lcl-ksidiv lbni iwral ym qrobo hllu-ih And he will exalt the horn of his people, a praise of all those under his mercy, of the children of Israel, a people near him. Hallelu Yah.
149 1 hllu-ih wiru lihvh wir kdw
thilto bqhl ksidim
Hallelu Yah. Sing to Yahweh a new song.
His praise in the congregation of the-many who are under mercy.
149 9 lywot bhm mwp't ctub hdr hua lcl-ksidiv hllu-ih To make in them judgment inscribed. This honour to all under his mercy. Hallelu Yah.
150 1 hllu-ih hllu-al bqodwo
hlluhu brqiy yuzo
Hallelu Yah. Praise God in his holiness.
Praise him in the expanse of his strength.
150 6 col hnwmh thll ih hllu-ih All the breath-bearing praise Yah. Hallelu Yah.
150 6 col hnwmh thll ih hllu-ih All the breath-bearing praise Yah. Hallelu Yah.

The author continues without dependency on his slight miscounting. And the miscounting is irrelevant to his thesis that the Psalter was deliberately put together in the order we have it.

Such nicety of arrangement and elaboration in the external form of the Psalter seemed designed for the same purpose as the study of Parallelism had before taught me was sub-served by the external arrangement in single Psalms of strophes and verses, as well as by the regular sequence of the Hebrew letters in the Alphabetical Psalms  —namely, to aid in tracing the internal connection and meaning. Availing myself of the clue thus offered, I have been enabled to trace the connection in various groups of Psalms, and even in whole books, in a manner sufficient, I trust, to satisfy unbiassed inquirers that we must not regard the Psalms merely as isolated productions, but that in the order in which we now possess them they have been arranged and connected together with very great care, so as to bring out and enforce certain important truths with a clearness and distinctness not to be mistaken. So long as each Psalm is viewed as a separate and unconnected composition, it is easy to explain away its meaning, and to put upon its language very diverse and conflicting interpretations, according to the author, the occasion, and the age to which each critic may refer it. But when the Psalms are seen, in the form in which we now possess them, to have been grouped together as parts of a connected series, in order to bring out and give expression to some definite idea or important truth, we gain a certainty, not otherwise to be attained, of the meaning to be put upon the whole series, as well as upon individual expressions in each Psalm, which might otherwise be ambiguous.

This paragraph (above) is too vague to test. 

So he concludes that there are three sections - I would hardly call them books - in Book 5. Maybe. I have pointed out that Psalms 135 and 136 share a large number of roots. In my book I note that they share upwards of 30 roots, 20 of them in the same sequence. And I report that they share 54% of their words, the highest percentage of any two consecutive psalms that I have measured. It's hard to divide this connection. They both appear to be celebrating the Psalms of ascent. Nonetheless for the moment I will defer judgment till I have read more.

As for the alphabetical psalms, I have shown the verbal chiasms between them elsewhere, e.g. here and here. Their relationships have nothing to do with parallelism but purely with repeated words.

Friday, December 3, 2021

The order of the Psalms in the Psalter

 In last month's carnival I pointed out an 1888 pdf (well, the book was 1888 not the pdf - but you know what I mean) that discusses the sequence of the psalms in the Psalter.

The writer, John Forbes, D.D., LL.D., Emeritus professor of Oriental Languages, Aberdeen, is scholarly and in conversation with scholars of his time. They were approaching the Bible with the language of their time. I think they believed perhaps the way my teachers from the mid 20th century might have learned, but didn't teach. Perhaps they would have considered me too young for such in any case.

I would have learned this sort of language from attitudes I absorbed in my late '20s. I have gone away from this reasoning because it was founded for all its scholarship, on English words in translation.

I am no longer in a hurry, so I have thought I might read this ancient pdf slowly and see if I think the conclusions about the Psalter are supported by the arguments. My initial scan says to me that their conclusions are iffy, and are supported by a wholistic reading of the 'Bible' that I would not support. You can tell I still feel like a renegade. I do not want to be at home with power masking as truth. And there is power here. And I need power, but power to do, not power to reign at anyone else's expense, or power to have the last word.

I was told by a DD that I should not be reading the epistle to the Hebrews because I was not a priest. I am still astonished at this. His children were my adult friends. He was impatient with my ignorance. Of course and I was ignorant. But I was not going to get my ignorance fixed by being told not to read.

Priests and I do not have a good history. But even at 76 or whatever my age is when you read this, I am still ignorant of many things. The question now is, how do I manage the little knowledge that I have? Can I read and critique, and explain or counter-argue any better than I could 50 years ago? And will the results be good: fruitful of love, joy, and such.

Let's see.

Here's the beginning: 

This Book is simply what it calls itself—" Studies on the Book of Psalms." It does not pretend to be an exhaustive treatise on the Psalter, but only to follow out a certain line of investigation which long ago seemed to the Author to offer a satisfactory solution of many difficulties in Hebrew Literature. Advancing study of the Sacred Writings has not tended to weaken his faith in the fruitfulness of this line of inquiry, but, on the contrary, fully to justify it. The principles of Parallelism, as laid down by Bishops Lowth and Jebb, and followed out by the Author so far in his Symmetrical Structure of Scripture, are here applied more fully to the elucidation of some of the many problems that have perplexed the student of the Psalms. These principles do not need now any justification, since they have been acknowledged by all competent scholars. The applicability of them in particular instances, and for special purposes, may, however, call for proof, and such proof the Author has afforded in sufficient measure in these Studies.

These principles do not need now any justification, since they have been acknowledged by all competent scholars.  Really? I still have trouble with parallelism. I see it as too varied in form and too subjective.

Not individual Psalms merely, but the Psalter as a whole, is shown to have been arranged by the final editor, under the guiding hand of God, with great minuteness and delicacy of finish, and with one grand purpose dominating all. The point which these Studies are meant to establish is not affected by the hypothesis of many editors or of only one. There may have been collectors in the case of each of the seven Books, and the existence of such may tend to simplify matters to some critics ; but it is just as probable that one collector or editor, whether Ezra or not, arranged each series in its present order, and impressed upon each his own individuality. The contention of the Author of this book is that he did so, and that he arranged the whole in the present highly artistic form so as to prepare his fellow-worshippers in each series for further revelations of the Coming Messiah.

... one grand purpose dominating all - the Coming Messiah. OK - maybe so, but this was not the conclusion I came to. My conclusion was 

This psalm [149] is bound together by the חֲסִידִים, Chasidim. These may be identified with 'the saints' as is traditional but the word is not derived from holiness, but from that inimitable word חסד (ksd) which some would prefer to borrow into English rather than translate. The mercy or kindness so spoken of defines this plural character, the kasidim, which in turn defines the Psalter as the story of how mercy is shown, and how it is to work, and the story of the formation of a community of the merciful who have learned mercy through their covenant with God. (Seeing the Psalter, 2013, page 457.) No indication that I was reading Messiah back into the Psalms. 

The opening letter goes on to say:

The Author has not gone to the New Testament first for his ideas of what should be in the Psalms, but has tried to gather, from the Psalter itself, the thoughts which must have been in the minds of the individual Psalmists, and in that of the final collector—those ideas which would, therefore, after the Book had become the Church's Manual of Devotion for all time, naturally suggest themselves to the Israelite student as he pondered over its contents.

 not gone to the NT first, eh? In 1888, this desire would have been impossible for the author, DD, LLD or not. Anyway, going on, 

It is to be regretted that Dr. Forbes has, through advance of years, been unable to give the finishing touches necessary to the full development of his views. The critical eye may mark, for instance, that on p. 192 the Psalms of the Seventh Book are left untouched. It may be mentioned also, that Dr. Forbes intended, had strength permitted, to account for the existence of the series of "Elohim" Psalms occurring in the Second and Third Books. The master-hand has, however, failed, and the defect cannot be remedied now. From p. 264 to the end, with the exception of what relates to the twenty-fourth Psalm, the text is compiled from material which was evidently intended to be revised and recast by the Author for publication. It has been put into such form as will show how Dr. Forbes wished to conclude the task he assigned himself.

 Seventh Book! That was a new one on me. I will see (have already looked) if the claim of division of Book 5 into 3 books is justified.

The book now offered to the public will, it is hoped, be sufficient to justify in the eyes of the critical scholar the remark of Augustine, chosen as its motto, " Ordo Psalmorum niihi magni sacramenti videtur continere secretum," and may perhaps induce other labourers in the same field to carry on, amend, and perfect the work.

JAMES FORREST. The Manse, Lonmay, January 1888.

The Latin is roughly: The order of the Psalms seems to me to contain the secret of great mystery.

I have no problem with this thesis from Augustine. I should have no problem with Forbes and Forrest, but I do. They know the original tongues far better than I, but the end of Christendom was the Shoah. And that undoes my trust in their knowledge and their good.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Biblical Studies Carnival number 189

Biblical Studies Carnival

4*4*4 + 5*5*5 = 6*6*6 - 3*3*3 = 189

Via Claude M


Shmuel Klitsner on What did Anah find in the wilderness? 
Naomi Graetz on The Dinah story.
Erin Darby searches out the role of teraphim and finds the stories are a polemic against the northern tribes.
Meira Kensky on Jacob at the Jabbok, 'breaking the fourth wall'.

Via Jim Davila, shades of the remnants of giants, Mika Ahuvia on Angels in ancient Judaism.

Claude Mariottini begins a series on Exodus.

Bosco Peters shares some tol'dot videos here. (Suitable for children learning Biblical Hebrew.)


Nolan Lebovitz on how the women saw when the men were blind, and the heroine plays a crucial role in each succession narrative of covenant or royal line.

Hoffman on Holy. Rachel Barenblatt, the Velveteen Rabbi, on generational integrity. Via Jim Davila, Erez Ben-Yosef on King David. Bob MacDonald on Habakkuk and the NRSV and a follow-up. Claude on Malachi. (And Bob is offering a free e-book on Jonah.)


Steffen Jenkins traces the exegetical search for coherence in the shape of the Psalter to the second century C.E. He doesn't mention this publication from 1888 that emerged from Academia this month. (It takes a while to find things sometimes.)

(From 1888) We would plead, therefore, with our modern critics to grant to the psalmists and prophets of the Old Testament a little more intelligence and insight into their own utterances than they seem inclined to allow them.

Two potentially significant reviews of books on the Psalms emerged towards the end of the month, Discovering Psalms: Content, Interpretation, Reception by Jerome Creach, and Psalms, Book 4-5 by Nancy L. deClaissé-Walford.

via Jim Davila, the output of the 2019 international SBL conference in Rome on the formation of the Hebrew Psalter.

David Koyzis cites Diarmaid MacCulloch on the secret weapon of the reformation. He also points out a site on the psalms from Brazil Comissão Brasileira de Salmodia. And he has a question which some reader may be able to answer for him: Psalms and Proverbs: why?

Pete Enns on Our (Weird) Heavens and Psalms 19. And another stimulus for Psalms 19, Calvin DeWitt - the wonder of carbon.

Jim Davila points out a note buried in Todd Bolen's weekend roundup on Susa.

George Athas in conversation with John Dickson on the intertestamental period, transcript here, book soon to come in 2022. George suggests that the book of the 12, Chronicles, Ezra-Nehemiah, even Ecclesiastes and the Song of Songs were written in this not-silent period. A post related to aspects of Biblical vs Modern Hebrew here is not inconsistent with his thesis.

Lawrence M. Wills on the lead up to Chanukah in the Book of Daniel.

New Testament


Triangulation on a torus

David Gowler reviews Zimmermann’s single-authored book, Puzzling the Parables of Jesus.

Jacob Prahlow theologizes on forgiveness in Matthew.

Phillip Long has background on the gates of hell in reference to "the hostility the disciples will face once they begin their mission" and on binding and loosing in reference to Torah. Also many other informative posts like this one on the transfiguration.

Ian Paul on the Gospel of God and temporal puzzles in Mark.
Andrew Perriman reports from SBL on the Apocalyptic Symbolism of Mark 8:38 and (not) the Final Reign of God.

Bosco Peters continues lectio divina on Mark in Slow Motion.
Bart Ehrman, a guest post by Douglas Wadeson on Jesus as healer
James McGrath wants to know your opinion on triangulating John the Baptist.

Richard Bauckham introduces the distinct aspects of the gospel of Luke

Pete Enns, Willie James Jennings on the Book of Acts and the Acts of the Spirit.
Heather Anne Thiessen on Acts 10.


via Jim Davila, Clint Burnet reviews Emma Wasserman, Apocalypse as Holy War, Divine Politics and Polemics in the Letters of Paul. Related essay from 2020 here.

Emerging from the time of all saints and all souls, Targuman Christian Brady reminds us both to remember and to grieve, but not without hope. 
Brian Howell begins a series of posts on the body.
Marg Mowczko on 'authority over' on account of the angels.

Jacob Prahlow begins a series on Justin Martyr and the reception of Paul's letters 100 years after his time.

Bart Ehrman has an interesting look at judgment and mercy with respect to the Petrine traditions. "It is striking that even though 2 Peter was scarcely known during the first three Christian centuries, let alone revered, it became part of Scripture, whereas the Apocalypse of Peter, which was both better known and revered, disappeared into oblivion.  Understanding this reversal of fortunes will shed some light on the textual problem of Apocalypse of Peter 14, which, in its oldest form, indicated that at the end Christ will deliver all sinners from their torments in hell." Not very often that 2 Peter figures in a carnival.

Brian Small, notes that 'this post is late', so I have put him into this month's carnival. His content pulls in an essay on supercessionism by Jesper Svartvik. Also via Brian, Jonathan Rowlands reviews Jamieson's Jesus' Death and Heavenly Offering in Hebrews.

In A Jewish Apocalyptic Framework of Eschatology in the Epistle to the Hebrews, Jihye Lee 

"argues that a version of an Urzeit-Endzeit eschatological framework - as observed in some Jewish apocalyptic texts - provides a plausible background against which the arguments of Hebrews are most comprehensively explained."

Apocalypse via HAT
James Tabor points out a post from Scribes of the Kingdom on Jesus and God.

Heather Anne Thiessen on "God as a rock star" in the Apocalypse

Andrew Perriman draws lessons from the Biblical record and present day threats in an essay: Societal collapse, deep adaptation, and an agenda for mission. 

Ian Paul invites comments on the crisis of Climate change.

Journals, Archaeology, Books, Bibles, Billet-Doux

Phil Long reviews A New English Translation of Strack and Billerbeck, Commentary on the Talmud, ed. Jacob N. Cerone, trans. Joseph Longarino. "Using Strack and Billerbeck can enhance one’s understanding of the Jewish background to Jesus, Paul, and the rest of the New Testament. But it is a tool which may lead to unintentional consequences and misreading the Rabbinic literature." Jim Davila seconds this warning here.

Mike Bird and Andrew Judd #5, meaning, on 7 things I wish people knew about the Bible.

Bart Ehrman begins a series on why he likes the NRSV.
Doug Chaplin, on faith and science, a section from Augustine

Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions. 

breaking the tablets.
Gustave Doré

Noted by Vincent S Artale, Jonathan Orr-Stav announces the SimHebrew Bible, The Hebrew Bible in Simulated Hebrew – with English Guide.

Kelsie G. Rodenbiker on The Claromontanus Stichometry and its Canonical Implications.

Medieval Manuscripts blog shows images of the Floreffe Bible from 1170 CE.

Peter Gurry on Translation of the Seventy, History, Reception, and Contemporary Use of the Septuagint by Edmond Gallagher.

Bosco Peters on time and tenses in Biblical Hebrew.

Learn how to say thank-you in ancient Babylonian.

Jim West reviews Takamitsu Muraoka Why Read the Bible in the Original Languages. Lots from him on thanksgiving too (and in a time of plague) beginning here.

Phillip Long reviews Jacob Cerone and Matthew Fisher, Daily Scriptures: 365 Readings in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin.

A three-legged stool

Bosco Peters muses on Thomas Hooker.

Natan Offenbacher on the tension between Orthodoxy and Biblical Criticism.

Todd Bolen links to the now open road up to the temple mount.

Jim Davila on the Timna Valley excavation and Khirbet Qeiyafa and the 10th century BCE.

Elementary Sumerian
Irving Finkel via Livius Drusus delivers a lecture From Laundry Lists to Liturgy, The origins of Writing in Ancient Mesopotamia - beginning with an image from Iraq, a mound, where tablets, like potatoes, grow in the ground. Imagine a museum as a sausage, freeing the phoneme from the subject matter. - Watch the whole thing! - lots of wedge issues, and a few bite marks. 
Hilda of Whitby

Malcolm Guite on Hilda of Whitby, a patron of poetry - and a sonnet for thanksgiving.

Jim Davila on the Ascension of Isaiah here and here.

James McGrath wants you to know about the Mandaeans.

Peter Gurry and John Meade launched a new website for textual criticism, the Text and Canon Institute.

Ian Paul interviews Andy Judd on interpretations.

Matt Page notes the 40th anniversary of the publication of The Bible on Film.

Jim Davila points out Andrei Orlov's Embodiment of Divine Knowledge in Early Judaism.

Whether you pay well or not, you can read Bart Ehrman on Herod's big toe and other ailments.

Bart also reflects without constraint on thanksgiving and guilt.

Ayrton is celebrating 22 years online at Observatório Bíblico, Blog sobre estudos acadêmicos da Bíblia. He notes a book by Auth: Introduction to the Study of Second Testament Literary Forms: The Word of God in Human Language. São Paulo: Paulinas, 2021

Christian Brady announces an invitation for papers on the Targums for the international SBL in Salzburg in 2022.

Rabba Lindsey Taylor-Guthartz on 2 and 4 Maccabees and Evolving responses to Hellenism.

The Tyndale House Bulletin has been open access since October 2021. A list of active open access journals noted by ASOR this month is here. Ekaterini G. Tsalampouni notes the current issue of the Journal of Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies here. James McGrath likes the one by Rebecca Raphael on Sacred Semantics, or Ships and Sanctuaries.

Pete Enns, the podcast #189, on the slings and arrows thrown at 'faith on autopilot' closes this 189th carnival.

In Memoriam

Via Jim Davila, Shaul Shaked.
From the Westar Institute, John Shelby Spong. And follow the links for more.
From Malcolm Guite, C.S. Lewis.

Future Carnivals
Phillip Long will host the Biblical Studies Carnival #190 on his site, Reading Acts. He is taking reservations for 2022 carnivals, (what will be the most intriguing number?) so if you would like to host a carnival, contact him via email, plong42 at or DM on twitter (plong42).