Thursday, September 30, 2010

Reading and writing - at the Library

A part of the summary page for Psalm 110:5-6
In the morning I spent another 2 hours with Childs and in the afternoon I looked at and sampled several books on the psalms. I started with the bottom corner of a shelf and worked my way right to left to the next corner. At the beginning of the shelf was Text and Concept Analysis in Royal Psalms (2003) by Randy G. Haney. This is a detailed structural approach, an inventive description of the role of each lexical unit in Psalms 2, 110, and 132. He has a 2 page note on the crux of Psalm 2 - נַשְּׁקוּ-בַר kiss the son. He dismisses all the reconstructions including Holladay's suggestion (VT 28 1978 pp 110-12 which I had just read) of rearranging the spaces between the letters to spell "you who forget the grave". Haney eventually agrees with Craigie (Word Biblical Commentary) and accepts the Aramaic 'bar' for son.

I saw there the complete Les Psaumes Redécouverts - all three volumes where U of O only has one short summary. And all three volumes of the Word Biblical Psalms Commentary where UVIC only has volume 1 - O what riches. They process from 1000 to 1500 new books a week and the place has been hopping each day I have been there. I even bumped into Richard Bauckham three times the first day whom I met in St Andrews - and he kindly gave some advice when books can't be found.

I read in detail Holladay's short essay on translation in The Psalms through 3000 years p 316-329. He shares many of my concerns over typical translations of Psalm 1 including the request to keep the word order for the closure it indicates. And he has an intriguing suggestion of a Janus parallel in Psalm 137. A Janus parallel is a pun that allows simultaneous parallelism through multiple meanings with prior and following cola. He suggests that בְּתוֹכָהּ (betokah) could be read as 'in her midst' or 'in her oppression'. (see BDB p1063, Ps 10:7, 55:11 (Hebr 12)). For other examples of Janus parallelisms see this article on Job.

Here's a tidbit from him (mimenu) on Psalm 103:12 - the Hebrew for 'from us' מִמֶּנּוּ (mimenu) also means 'from him'. The spelling and the pointing are identical. So when we read

as east is far removed from west
so far removed from us/him are our transgressions

they are also removed from him - both senses should be included in the 'meaning' of the one word. The key is to hear the 'us' as inclusive of 'him'.

Here is a little of St Ambrose commentary on 12 Psalms. Having introduced the consequence of sin...
...David put his mind to studying how he could repair the wrong and so shape us anew. Using his gift of heavenly Psalmody he commenced in us a form of conversion... Anyone who reads this book has the means of curing, by special remedy, the wounds of his own passions... This prophet alone among all others foretold what the Lord himself preached in the Gospel.
I also scanned some introductory books (Anderson, Crenshaw, Tanner).