Saturday, April 30, 2011

Easter present

My wife has returned from the 25th anniversary 8-day tour of the Greater Victoria Youth Orchestra and a present appeared on my desk with 'Happy Easter'. I suspected chocolate. The tour was a triumph. They had Elgar Pomp and Circumstance on the program (decided a year ago - prescient given the wedding and such). 35% of the entire population of Bamfield were present at their concert there. And every concert in every town was a 'last day at the proms' with a standing ovation.

And every wedding is a royal wedding - O yes - bind those kings in chains (psalm 149). The Anglicans know how to do it, don't they.

Speaking of psalms. I made over 110 changes in my translations in the last two days (730 in the last 30 days - that's 30% of the verses!)- controlled and approaching concordance for all those lovely words like destruction, ruin, annihilation, extermination, end, extremity, slay and so on. Concordance is often possible for many words and it just feels right when you do it. Sure, sometimes it is not possible - but that's no excuse for not trying. Mind you, when you are in the middle of a list of 50 verses spanning 6 roots that all could overlap in 'meaning', it is mightily confusing too.

The computer based concordance helps to keep control somewhat - and of course I update that list as I make changes or I would quickly get lost.  I was surprised at both destruction שׁחת and ruin שׁואה. They combed out perfectly (well- not quite - I see I have used ruin for other stems too - will review again - and I still have errors in the stems to fix). But for destruction, no need for synonyms. I am glad I got in exterminate שׁמד and annihilate צמת too (but I kept struck out for the acrostic). Might have something more to say about hell eventually.

Then there is the question of the migration of the feel or tone of a word over the period when the psalms were written and also whether the English gloss matches the tone. Sometimes you can guess at this from the parallels. It's quite a puzzle matching exercise. Of course whatever I know or think I know comes from books, so like Manuel in Faulty Towers, my pronunciation and choice of words may be suspect.  One thing does not come from a book, as my Beloved reminds me. Is there knowledge in the Most High?

If you want to help (hah!) feel free. Pick a psalm - any psalm. Or pick a word.

Ah - my present, my Easter gift - it is The first 3000 years of Christianity by Diarmaid MacCulloch.  It may get my head out of the Psalter. The Introduction is lovely. I have been reading Crossan and Reed In Search of Paul - but only a few pages at a time. McCulloch looks like a book for immersion reading sessions.

Still - I must keep the discipline of doing notes on a psalm a day or I won't be ready for October back 'at school'. I am already looking forward to our planned trip across the US in the summer by Amtrak - NY to Seattle via the opera at Santa Fe. We'll be at St Thomas's Fifth Ave Aug 5-9, Washington, Chicago, the Santa Fe Aug 13-15, then to the west coast and back home on the 20th for what will be my last official week of 'work'.

Friday, April 29, 2011

End, extreme, finish, complete, consume, terminate, cease, etc


In October 2007 I drew the above diagram while musing on the colour of complete. How strange! Now I am wondering again how to translate and with what variability the various words for complete, finish, end etc in the Psalter.

There are several words I am wrestling with. These decisions are subtle even if the obvious solution is chosen. It's amusing - I started with one word in psalm 67 and am now looking at 57 verses linked directly or accidentally with this one word, אפס.
וְיִירְאוּ אוֹתוֹ כָּל אַפְסֵי אָרֶץ
and all the ends of the earth will fear him

Some of what I have found is just accidental, some intentional - originally I had extremities instead of ends, but it's a different word, קצו, that I used elsewhere for extremity - and to use it here would make a link that may be acceptable but might make a false resonance.

Here is a related example: a word used only in the Psalter - and only five times. The AV, bless its heart, has five differing glosses for it: cease, fail, come to an end, perfect, perform.

Are these verses connected at all and what's the mot juste?  Or is there one? And should it differ as it does in the corpus of the Psalter from all other words in the Psalter?

Here they are - what word do I use?  I would like to avoid complete - my preferred gloss for תמם. I would also like to avoid end, too common and ambiguous in English.  I didn't throw in sock here or towel to make you laugh. What do you think of cease?  (Obviously one could chose two or even 5 different words - but what are we doing then? making the rest of the phrase mean what it must mean to fit our preconceptions of what God does?)

Well this fits mine - we pray that evil may cease and bang - within 5 psalms - the merciful one is ceased!
But then - alas I have already used ceased elsewhere - so it has to go to another synonym.

Sometimes I don't take this approach - but this one is a bone to gnaw on. (the phrase 'bring to an end' could be made to work). Hmmm Obliterate would work. And it's better than cease because it is explicitly transitive and not stative. Maybe it will also make us oblates or literate.
HebrewPsalm verseEnglish
יִגְמָר נָא רַע רְשָׁעִים
וּתְכוֹנֵן צַדִּיק
וּבֹחֵן לִבּוֹת וּכְלָיוֹת
אֱלֹהִים צַדִּיק
7.10Obliterate, please, the evil of the wicked
and steady the righteous one
and test hearts and vital centres
O God of righteousness
הוֹשִׁיעָה יְהוָה
כִּי גָמַר חָסִיד
כִּי פַסּוּ אֱמוּנִים
מִבְּנֵי אָדָם
12.2Save יְהוָה
for obliterated is the merciful
for vanished are the faithful
among the children of dust
אֶקְרָא לֵאלֹהִים עֶלְיוֹן
לָאֵל גֹּמֵר עָלָי
57.3I will call to God Most High
to God who obliterates over me
הֶאָפֵס לָנֶצַח חַסְדּוֹ
גָּמַר אֹמֶר לְדֹר וָדֹר
77.9has his loving-kindness ended in perpetuity?
a word from generation to generation obliterated?
יְהוָה יִגְמֹר בַּעֲדִי
יְהוָה חַסְדְּךָ לְעוֹלָם
מַעֲשֵׂי יָדֶיךָ אַל-תֶּרֶף
138.8יְהוָה will obliterate for my sake
יְהוָה your loving kindness is forever
do not let go the work of your hands
There and that's final! (per Google)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Leviticus 18 and 20 as frame for 19.

Two thoughts - one on Spirit. Spirit does not mind dealing with what we find disgusting. But Spirit deals with it.

Second - a good comment on this week's teaching, Parashat Kedoshim, from Leviticus 18-20 - high and low, commended and distasteful, beautiful and disgusting. This is written by Dr. Judith Hauptman, E. Billi Ivry Professor of Talmud and Rabbinic Culture, JTS.

How will we be holy? By what means will Spirit teach us both love (Leviticus 19) and self-control (Leviticus 18, 20)?

Here's a challenge to those who actually know from the New Testament the means to holiness through consecration in the death of Jesus: can you find this means of grace in the Torah? And by Torah in this case I mean the entire canon of the Senior Hebrew Testament - Law, Prophets, and Writings.

Yesterday I had a brief talk with a poet who uses framing. He noted that the second time you read the frame after the surrounded text is read, the meaning of the frame is changed by the text that it contains. True!

Also I noted that there is one poem that now has a first time frame that I did not see on my first pass through the psalms when I rapidly removed all the frames to look at them last summer. That was psalm 96 and its first time frame is תבל, the world. This is the psalm of holiness to go along with the teaching of holiness from Torah - Leviticus 18-20.

I doubt that a non-participant in a faith system would find this question useless.
יִשְׁפֹּט תֵּבֵל בְּצֶדֶק
he will judge the world with righteousness

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

First complete pass at the glossary complete

By my count at the moment there are 1473 distinct roots in the psalms. That is that the 19584 words (yup changed again) reduce to 1473 distinct related words. (Give of take a few odd decisions and a few errors I haven't yet found.) That is a fairly large vocabulary. (That count excludes pronouns and particles used with the object marker which I almost always reduced to את.)

My English glosses count to 41,000 words, just over 2 x the Hebrew word count.  I think I have got them all in a place where I can scrutinize them!!!! and either be fixed by them or fix them.

My initial suspicions are that I have some places where I have been reasonably consistent. I know places where I have no intention of being consistent. And there are places where I have reduced multiple Hebrew words to the same English gloss - and I suspect that is unnecessary and probably due to the paucity of my language. There are also a few places where I have been deliberately slightly off the wall - whether these translations live on or not I don't know. But they do provide the occasional laugh. And there are places where I have blundered that I hope I will find.

Images from the space station

Here - have a look, HT Fr Stephen

The Royal cluster psalms 96-99

Psalm 96 reminds us of the invitation in psalm 29 where יְהוָה is not silent. Psalm 97 is dominated by the rejoicing and gladness of all the earth in the presence. Psalm 98 - harpists unite and sing psalms of the salvation of all the earth. Psalm 99 - call and answer, there is no secretary - יְהוָה answers the call and there are no numbers to press, no language barrier. Maybe you are the phone.

Male and female created he them

Psalm 87 reflects on male and female as so clearly shown by its keyword structure here
Join the dots from Genesis 1:27 to Galatians 3:28 by way of this one and that one in the city of God.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Spirituality

A comment here complains of the use of spirituality as being vague. Well - can there be any sense made of this word spirituality?

I will put it my answer in very few words: spirituality is substantial and sensible when Spirit is incarnate. That is when Spirit, the Spirit of God, is present in the day to day bodily and fleshly actions of a human being. That human is face to face - in the face of - in the presence of God. The face or presence (same word in the Hebrew) of God is greatly to be desired - but go softly. Who gets to live on the hill? (Psalms 15, 24) For the righteous one it is very desirable - but who can live in that presence? (Psalms 6, 38) For the wicked, the effect is shame. And shame is something we all avoid more than the plague. If we have a conscience, shame is the most painful of emotions.

But the poet wishes shame on enemies - prays shame for enemies. (Myriad references in the psalms) Is this praying for enemies? Yes - for shame leads to repentance and fixing the problem so that the presence of God the Spirit can again be enjoyed and desirable.

In my reading of the Psalter, it seems to me that the election of Israel is all about such incarnation of Spirit. God is pleased to make his dwelling there and has given the psalms for the formation of such a people of mercy and justice.

I think it would be worth teasing out this thesis with greater precision. It may be though that I have not the skill or training. So who else might take up such a discussion?

The laments of psalms 88-89

I have reached 90% in my glossary showing me what I have done and revealing mistakes and unnecessary inconsistencies and am slowing just a little since I see some things I want to change as I go through. (But I have to finish before Thursday when my wife returns from an 8 day youth orchestra trip).

One thing I noticed in psalm 89. It divides at verse 19 and 38 into three pieces that allow my tables of keywords to be seen if you shrink the type on a narrow screen or widen the screen.

Psalms 88 and 89 are very striking laments. Psalm 89:38 (Hebrew 39) contains the verb 'pass over', the same verb used repeatedly in Exodus, surely a deliberate move on the part of the poet.

Ready to begin - so teach me about words and worlds

It's been almost 5 years to the day since I determined to learn Hebrew. I can date it from the conference on Hebrews in St Andrews in 2006. The first two psalms took me the better part of 4 months to decipher. I used books like Lambdin and BDB which I can now read, but which then were nearly incomprehensible, like wandering in a forest with no paths.

But I have persevered. That much I can say. Perhaps this is part of being human, the face of the need to continue.

As it happens, the first post (and the only one of about 50) that I read this morning was David Ker's three point review of why the Old Testament is important for the Church. Yes and more.
First, the God of the Old Testament is the God of the New Testament. His covenant of love is consistent with regard to his interaction with humanity. Second, the Old Testament is essential background information to the New Testament. Katy shows at length how the New Testament is brimming with Old Testament references and concepts. It’s simply impossible to read the New without a familiarity with the [Old]. Third, we must become lifelong students of the Old Testament in order to enrich our understanding of the New Testament message.
I hear these same three reasons in differing words
  1. that God is love
  2. that we need the historical parable of the OT
  3. that the psalms build the very community we seek to be
It is really quite astonishing with respect to Israel how little has changed (see psalm 83). Mark Nanos at the St Andrews conference remarked to me that the days of Messiah could not have come because the world is not fixed  (psalm 72).

Establishing the world in mercy (repairing the word) is what the Psalter is designed to teach by forming its faithful hearers. All are invited, Jew and Gentile alike. Jesus as Anointed illustrates this by example not by force. As we follow, we learn the full and free extent of that promise of mercy and rebuke in covenant that forms a people. It's a good lesson, and it is not learned instantly. Add water and stir - a lifetime of stirring. But the result is real.


ignore the rest of this meandering...
Establish - good word, right? Where does the phrase tikkun olam as used by so many come from? Here is my first lesson in the splaying of language this morning. I looked up כון since I figured it came from that word. But in Genesis, the KJV uses 'establish' with 'covenant' 11 times - and the word is קוּם for which I would prefer the gloss, rise or arise. Surprise! So is it tiqun olam or tikkun olam? (olam is easy - age, world, etc). My guess is that the establish would have been derived from כון as in Psalm 48:8
אֱלֹהִים יְכוֹנְנֶהָ עַד עוֹלָם
And still this is not the 'meaning' that many associate with the phrase. A common gloss is 'healing the world'. Healing - Rafa - that's tennis. Google translate gives
 מרפא העולם.
What's your explanation of the derivation of this phrase? Modern Hebrew seems to prefer the derivation from קוּם but would use כּוּן for preparing. Psalm 89:2 (Hebrew 3) has the consonants תָּכִן. But for all that meandering, the word is probably from Ecclesiastes 12:9.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Instead of backwards

In my last tossed off post in the middle of glossing psalm 78, I threw up in the air (not out as if to discard) the hope that I might learn to identify with the elect poet and see things from the point of view of that time rather than through the 2000 years of answers to questions that constitute dogmatics. A thought stimulated in part by the Sacred Page here.

One example. Who intercedes for us? Is this expected as a role for the Messiah? How would you read this? (Psalm 72:15) - why is it rendered as passive in the KJV? (Nice paragraph on it in Lambdin in section 177 - reflexive yes, passive no mention.)
וְיִתְפַּלֵּל בַּעֲדוֹ תָמִיד
lit: and he will intercede on behalf of him continually
My conclusion - the Anointed King is a man of prayer for himself and all those whom he represents - who are 'in' him. This anticipates the claim in Hebrews that he lives to make intercession for those who come near to God through him. (Hebrews 7:25). How does the hope expressed in psalm 72 express itself in the poet's time so that the mind of the poet might be able to formulate it?

Psalm 72 (of Solomon) reads to me clearly as a source for the full scope of the Anointed King and his roles. Clearly Solomon was not up to the task. My thanks to Bruggemann who made this clearer to me and taught me to read with skepticism. My apologies that I don't go as far as he does - but that's because I don't see the need to go beyond the record - and Solomon's record is dismal for all its glory. But the praise due to God by the end of the Psalter is due indeed without any need for excuses - after all God teaches mercy and works against oppression.

Perhaps that's a way of seeing how and why the poet wrote - as a contrast to what was observed concerning horses and concubines. I read the Song with a similar anti-Solomon sentiment - a sort-of love is not what you thought it was, King Solly. And I read Ecclesiastes both as a romp and as a serious critique of Solomon's experiment in earthly glory at the expense of the oppressed.

My translation of the above is
and he will intercede in and for him continually

who will write me an essay on that preposition בַּעֲד? (who will bring me a fortified city?)

Here is the flexibility of a preposition: this one might be - in separation from, away from, behind, about, on behalf of, out through, in through, upon, in among, - Good for BDB p 126 - four times intercession Genesis 20:7, Numbers 21:7, 1 Samuel 7:5, and this Psalm 72:15 -  also with כפר atone! (Exodus 32:30, Leviticus 16:6). So here we see Abraham, Moses, and Samuel, and Aaron all playing an intercessory role anticipating the role of the Christ to pray in and for his people.  This is the kind of thinking that makes me see the Anointed in the 'Old' Testament.  This anointing and incarnation is already present in the world through the elected example of these things that were written aforetime of Israel for our learning.

I think I have found a section of the wall that will hold my grappling hook. I continue to climb. If I fall, I will sprout wings.

ABC on beauty, mystery, and love

This is lovely.
lots of people discovered me and were quite surprised ...
God doesn't sign off - what do we make of the metaphor of distance and nearness in the Psalter?

There are some recent posts on my shared items that are worth reading.

Lawrence Hoffman on The Catholic Liturgy, Mark Goodacre on the claims about reconciliation of dates between John and the Synoptics, Michael Barber on the Psalms and the Passion - I expect to have quite a different view of this when I am 'finished' [ed. hah!] my study. I hope to look forward rather than backwards through the traditional lenses.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Psalm 71 - very suitable meditation for Easter

Brancusi - The Kiss
Psalm 71 is filled with the prefix M - often translated as 'from'. Listen to it and be close. David is singing of the one who desires for us to be one in him and he in us. (John 17)


אֱלֹהַי
פַּלְּטֵנִי מִיַּד רָשָׁע
מִכַּף
 מְעַוֵּל וְחוֹמֵץ
4
O my God
secure me from the hand of the wicked
from the palm
from an evil and sour person
כִּי אַתָּה תִקְוָתִי
אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה
מִבְטַחִי
 מִנְּעוּרָי
5
for you are my hope
O Lord יְהוָה
from my trust
from my youth
עָלֶיךָ נִסְמַכְתִּי מִבֶּטֶן
מִמְּעֵי אִמִּי אַתָּה גוֹזִי
בְּךָ תְהִלָּתִי תָמִיד
6
by you I have been supported from the belly
from the womb of my mother you yourself severed me
in you is my praise continually


Whole psalm here. Do study the repeating words - very worthwhile.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Project status

I don't ask for your prayers, but I should have, so don't forget me. This is a long and complex project and I realize after making over 5000 corrections to my root derivations in the database and well over 500 changes to translations just how far away I am from knowing anything. Today I finished recording my glosses for psalm 49. This makes 44 psalms to go (I already finished books 1 and 5 and most of book 2) and 5439 words out of you know that number somewhere around 19583.  So I should not be discouraged. But Psalm 49 was very odd and my sometimes first pass guesses were no longer acceptable to me.  I must have been slightly inebriated when I did them.

The glossary is fun to skim - you can see things that you might not otherwise see if you are familiar with the psalms. As I skim, I think 'oh oh, there's something odd here', or 'well well, look at that, who'd have thought it?' When I'm done, and perhaps before, I will begin the next round of refinements.  Rosenberg had Zlotowitz to talk to about these enigmatic poems and Zlotowitz had Rosenberg. And they frequently agreed that they couldn't figure out the Hebrew.  I suspect they know more Hebrew than I do. So talk to me (if you have time).

Now - I remain stalled on first draft at psalm 65. Someone wrote recently - do the one thing that will be critical to the forward movement of your thesis. And that one thing is - finish your glossary.  So everything is waiting for this.  I hope to finish it by the end of the month. (And apart from 78 and 104-106, I have done most of the long ones.)

So - all the tables I have deleted from old posts are now automated and listed in this appendix. This shows first time usage for every key word used in any psalm sorted by chapter and Hebrew stem. And also with a click you can see every psalm where that stem is used as a frame in this appendix.  Then if one is foolish enough to want to read in Hebrew stem order every gloss for every one of the 19583 odd words in the Psalter kata Bob, it is in this appendix. But it is in the glossary where the decisions about words are clearest.

I recently published psalm 34 at PoC. I had a dream - well not exactly a dream - a conversation - the night before, and decided I should talk a bit about how this psalm engages the searching we do as humans for help, for healing, or for connection with the mystery that we call out to for whatever 'reason'. So a paragraph got added to the end that did not have the requisite 1 month fermentation period.  But I still have 30 psalms in hand for posting at PoC - that's three month's worth at the rate I'm going. (Aren't you impressed at my discipline - I haven't even updated the pdf's - too much work and too many changes in the way I am presenting the structural maps.)

The design of presentation will be a major task. I am still wondering how best to present and comment on structure. I am thinking that there needs to be a discovery type game to play. Ideas percolating...

Knock your socks off השועל בגרביים

Let's suppose for a moment that we don't know what sock means. How would we find out? Let's suppose that we don't know what תָם means. How would we find out? (maybe that should be השועל עם גרביים)

We have one useful thing, our life in the ear, mind, and body. We will have to sieve the usage of the word in question and then decide if we have got it. Sieves are useful - but they are full of holes.

So we will take all the usage of this word and see if we can discover meaning. Which word - why didn't you know that תָם means sock? Couldn't we figure out the meaning of sock from the usage?

When you have sock, you are upright. Psalms 25 and 37. When your enemy is socked, he is ruins. Psalm 9. You walk socked. Aha - we are getting somewhere. This metaphor is used repeatedly. Psalm 15 and as a frame in Psalm 26 - must be important. Also in Psalms 84 and 101. We have a theme!!!

From Psalm 18 we learn that God's way is socked - must be something good about sockiness. (Good and God are related words of course since they share so many letters.) When we are socked, God shows his socks. (Psalm 18:26) so we can be socked with him (verse 24) - this means keeping ourselves from guilt. Being socked is not only good - it might be important.

Psalm 18 also tells us that being socked is related to being clothed. Tov. Socks give you strength. Psalm 19 - and sockiness keeps things from ruling over you. Psalms 37 and 38 show us that being socked has something to do with peace. Socks are dangerous - you can get them filled up with terrors (Psalm 73). Also you could get socked from the earth or not - Psalms 102, 104. All in all though, sockiness has to do with  joy and avoiding shame. Sounds like it is worth investigating.

HebrewPsalm English
תֹּם וָיֹשֶׁר יִצְּרוּנִי
כִּי קִוִּיתִיךָ
25.21Translate me sock and upright
for I have waited for you
הָאוֹיֵב תַּמּוּ
חֳרָבוֹת לָנֶצַח
וְעָרִים נָתַשְׁתָּ
אָבַד זִכְרָם הֵמָּה
9.7Here the enemy is socked
ruins enduring
and cities you have destroyed
perished is their memory of them
הוֹלֵךְ תָּמִים
וּפֹעֵל צֶדֶק
וְדֹבֵר אֱמֶת בִּלְבָבוֹ
15.2One walking socked
and working righteousness
and speaking truth in the heart
וָאֱהִי תָמִים עִמּוֹ
וָאֶשְׁתַּמֵּר מֵעֲו‍ֹנִי
18.24and I will be socked with him
and I will keep myself from my guilt
עִם חָסִיד תִּתְחַסָּד
עִם גְּבַר תָּמִים תִּתַּמָּם
18.26with the kind you show yourself kind
with one sock you show yourself sock
הָאֵל תָּמִים דַּרְכּוֹ
אִמְרַת יְהוָה צְרוּפָה
מָגֵן הוּא לְכֹל הַחֹסִים בּוֹ
18.31This God, his way is sock
the promise of יְהוָה refined
he is a shield to all taking refuge in him
הָאֵל הַמְאַזְּרֵנִי חָיִל
וַיִּתֵּן תָּמִים דַּרְכִּי
18.33This God clothes me in strength
and he will give the sockiness of my way
גַּם מִזֵּדִים חֲשֹׂךְ עַבְדֶּךָ
אַל יִמְשְׁלוּ בִי
אָז אֵיתָם
וְנִקֵּיתִי מִפֶּשַׁע רָב
19.14Also from presumptions hold your servant
that they may not rule in me
Then I will be sock
and I will be clear of abundant sin
תּוֹרַת יְהוָה תְּמִימָה
מְשִׁיבַת נָפֶשׁ
עֵדוּת יְהוָה נֶאֱמָנָה
מַחְכִּימַת פֶּתִי
19.8The teaching of יְהוָה is sock
turning a life
The testimony of יְהוָה is nourishing
making wise simplicity
לְדָוִד
שָׁפְטֵנִי יְהוָה
כִּי אֲנִי בְּתֻמִּי הָלַכְתִּי
וּבַיהוָה בָּטַחְתִּי
לֹא אֶמְעָד
26.1Of David
Judge me יְהוָה
for I myself have walked in my sockiness
and in יְהוָה I trust
I will not slip
וַאֲנִי בְּתֻמִּי אֵלֵךְ
פְּדֵנִי וְחָנֵּנִי
26.11But I myself will walk in my sockiness
Ransom me and have mercy on me
יוֹדֵעַ יְהוָה יְמֵי תְמִימִם
וְנַחֲלָתָם לְעוֹלָם תִּהְיֶה
37.18יְהוָה intimates the days of the sock
and their inheritance will be forever
שְׁמָר תָּם וּרְאֵה יָשָׁר
כִּי אַחֲרִית לְאִישׁ שָׁלוֹם
37.37should you heed the sock or note the upright
because the result for this one is peace
אֵין מְתֹם בִּבְשָׂרִי
מִפְּנֵי זַעְמֶךָ
אֵין שָׁלוֹם בַּעֲצָמַי
מִפְּנֵי חַטָּאתִי
38.4and there is nothing sock in my flesh
in the face of your indignation
there is no peace in my bones
in the face of my sin
כִּי כְסָלַי מָלְאוּ נִקְלֶה
וְאֵין מְתֹם בִּבְשָׂרִי
38.8for my stupidity is a thorough disgrace
and there is nothing sock in my flesh
וַאֲנִי בְּתֻמִּי תָּמַכְתָּ בִּי
וַתַּצִּיבֵנִי לְפָנֶיךָ לְעוֹלָם
41.13but as for me, in my sockiness you hold onto me
and you set me up in your presence forever
לִירֹת בַּמִּסְתָּרִים תָּם
פִּתְאֹם יֹרֻהוּ וְלֹא יִירָאוּ
64.5in secret to shoot the sock
suddenly they shoot and they do not fear
יַחְפְּשׂוּ עוֹלֹת
תַּמְנוּ חֵפֶשׂ מְחֻפָּשׂ
וְקֶרֶב אִישׁ וְלֵב עָמֹק
64.7they plan injustice
they sock a master plan
of the inner person and deep heart
אֵיךְ הָיוּ לְשַׁמָּה כְרָגַע
סָפוּ תַמּוּ מִן בַּלָּהוֹת
73.19How suddenly they are wasted
Stopped, sock full with terrors
כִּי שֶׁמֶשׁ וּמָגֵן יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים
חֵן וְכָבוֹד יִתֵּן יְהוָה
לֹא יִמְנַע טוֹב
לַהֹלְכִים בְּתָמִים
84.12For battlement and shield is יְהוָה God
יְהוָה will give grace and glory
no good will he withhold
from those who walk in sockiness
אַשְׂכִּילָה בְּדֶרֶךְ תָּמִים
מָתַי תָּבוֹא אֵלָי
אֶתְהַלֵּךְ בְּתָם לְבָבִי בְּקֶרֶב בֵּיתִי
101.2I will teach insight in a way of sockiness
When will you come to me?
I will walk in the sockiness of my heart within my house
עֵינַי בְּנֶאֶמְנֵי אֶרֶץ
לָשֶׁבֶת עִמָּדִי
הֹלֵךְ בְּדֶרֶךְ תָּמִים
הוּא יְשָׁרְתֵנִי
101.6My eyes are on the faithful of earth
to live with me
walking in a way of sockiness
Such a one will serve me
וְאַתָּה הוּא
וּשְׁנוֹתֶיךָ לֹא יִתָּמּוּ
102.28but you are the same
and your years will not be socked
יִתַּמּוּ חַטָּאִים מִן הָאָרֶץ
וּרְשָׁעִים עוֹד אֵינָם
בָּרְכִי נַפְשִׁי אֶת יְהוָה
הַלְלוּ יָהּ
104.35sinners will be socked from the earth
and there is no time for the wicked
Bless יְהוָה O my being
Hallelu Yah
אַשְׁרֵי תְמִימֵי דָרֶךְ
הַהֹלְכִים בְּתוֹרַת יְהוָה
119.1All joy for those who are the sock of the way
who walk in the teaching of יְהוָה
יְהִי לִבִּי תָמִים בְּחֻקֶּיךָ
לְמַעַן לֹא אֵבוֹשׁ
119.80Yea, let my heart be sock in your statutes
so I will not be ashamed

This post is a response to going blue in German. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Translation philosophy - a one verse example, Psalm 68:1

Joel writes here about two translation philosophies and a number of related issues. Everyone writes at some time about form, function, grammar, word order, level of comprehension, audience, context, and so on.  Each of these expands into a host of questions around literature, social roles, history, word games, word painting, sound, figures of speech and so on. And so on. Joel's descriptive adjective is deceptive. Yes it is deceptive and let me find a few more adjectives: bizarre, misleading, over-simplified, reductive, and hobbling to the imagination to narrow down the decisions of translation to two approaches.

All of the above important without exception. That means that no one equivalence approach will be adequate to the task of translation. (And I didn't even mention theology or faith or communication with an ancient mind or an invisible obedience.)

I also didn't mention concordance. Roughly speaking concordance is used to allow a reader in the host language to hear inter-textual allusions that were in the guest language. Without this wider net, growth in the hidden obedience is shackled and you are walking hobbled.

I didn't mention aural impact or rhythm or prosody, or even my own reductive bias: recurrence structure. So many things to consider. So what do you do? You juggle and you guess as best you can. You throw out your grappling hooks and hope they find a wall for you to climb. If they fall to the ground, 1. take cover, 2. pick them up and throw again.

Easy examples: concordance. If there are two words in Hebrew for offering, then pick two words in English and stick to them. This is very difficult but becomes easier. E.g. offering, gift, present, etc. Similarly fear, dread, terror, etc. I had already explored this in the epic poem Job over the space of four months. The whole psalter, 2 and a half times larger than Job, is a much harder problem. And in some cases, the concordant approach at even this simple level may be inaccurate - for words shift in their allusions. Too bad - have to start somewhere.

Impossible examples: concordance. Life, soul, being, self, me, throat, throttle, etc. Lump it. Concordance with nephesh is simply not possible. And there are other examples - like chesed. At the psalms conference, it was suggested that this word not be translated. No. I cannot agree with this strategy. A many-faceted word needs a multiplicity of related words, in this case protection, reproof, mercy, loving-kindness, etc. Only in one case have I opted for not translating a word and that is with the tetragrammeton.  This is a word that if rendered Lord does damage to the rhythm of both host and guest languages.

Difficult examples: prepositions, tenses, sense of time, story. They are legion. And may be the subject of another post... later... much later in my process.

Easy example: when to leave in 'and' and when to leave it out. I think - but early stages - that the rhythm of the guest language must influence the expression of the text in the host language. So here is the beginning of psalm 68.

Who wins? Are the principles I derive reasonable?

The host language

1. Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered, let them also that hate him flee before him
2. May God arise, may his enemies be scattered; may his foes flee before him
3. Rise up, O God, and scatter your enemies. Let those who hate God run for their lives.
4. God shall arise, his enemies shall be scattered; and those who hate him shall flee before him!
5. God will arise. His enemies will be scattered. Those who hate him will flee from him.
6. Let God arise, and let his enemies be scattered: and let them that hate him flee from before his face
7. Rise doth God -- scattered are His enemies! And those hating Him flee from His face.

The guest language: יקום אלהים // יפוצו אויביו // וינוסו משנאיו מפניו
roughly: yaqum elohim // yaftsu oivav // venusu misanav mipanav
tenses: qal imperfect 3rd person singular - verb noun // qal imperfect 3rd person plural - verb qal-active-participle (enemy is action) // qal imperfect 3rd person plural - connector+verb piel-participle (hating is attitude) preposition+noun+object pronoun

1. can't fault it for rhythm and all its imitators do well. The jussive works.
2. misses the ו. The Hebrew is clearly 2, 2, 3 and the third phrase has a connector (vav) that in this case should, for the sake of the structure, not be omitted.  The connector vav hooks the curtains to the tabernacle. וָוֵיהֶם זָהָב their hooks gold - why would you leave out a golden hook?
3. This is clearly a mixed bag. There is no excuse (apart from the vav) for switching the tense. All three verbs of action are Qal imperfect. Is this narrative? Is that even relevant? Beginning a poem with a jussive (=third person imperative) already stations it as part of a larger narrative. I don't know a correct answer to this. Besides the tense mish-mash, the run for their lives is cute. But does this need a paraphrase? And if it does - what are they running from? They are running from his face with its angry nose. You better say that too.
4. Accurate, I don't like 'shall' and punctuation is a lost argument. Impact must be aural not visual.
5. Left out the gold, marginally similar to 4.
6. I like the face.
7. Not even a good literal rendering. The tense does not suggest continuous present to me. And fails on punctuation. Literal - forget it - strive instead for literacy.

Here's what I ended up with

God will arise
his enemies will be scattered
and those hating him will flee from his presence

I lose the impact of the jussive. 'presence' is a critical keyword in the first section of the poem, 8 times in the first 8 (9) verses, that must not be missed here. Whether I stick with this will depend on what I encounter in the rest of the poem. Is this a quiet confidence, or a call to arms - or does the poem include both?  I don't use punctuation. Read it with pauses - out loud. Whole psalm emerging here.

The Exodus and the Arab spring

A nice touch from Rabbi Marc Wolfe this week at JTS here on Parashat Pesah

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Righteousness stands for ever

You will all undoubtedly be familiar with the refrain,

כִּי לְעוֹלָם חַסְדּוֹ
 for his mercy endureth for ever or
 for forever is his loving-kindness
(42 times in KJV - 34 of these in the psalms)
But did you ever note the apparent uniqueness of,
צִדְקָתוֹ עֹמֶדֶת לָעַד
his righteousness endureth for ever or
his righteousness stands in perpetuity
I think I noted it before, but was trying to check it out with my limited Hebrew searching tools. This phrase occurs three times in the Scripture and all of them are in the pair of acrostics psalm 111 - 112 following the crux psalm 110.  Psalm 110 is a favorite of the NT authors. See my raw data on Psalms in the NT here.  Psalm 112:9 is referenced in 2 Corinthians 9:9.

So I am wondering what prompted the poet, having read Psalm 110 to write Psalm 111-112 - clearly these two are from the same hand.

(Interesting that endureth is a false concordant sound. In the Hebrew, the word does not exist in the mercy passages. But stands does exist in psalms 111-112.)

I suspect that the stimulus for the poet is in Torah but I have not identified the verses. Possibly Phineas with related concepts of the everlasting priesthood (Numbers 25:13) and imputed righteousness (Psalm 106:31), but I wouldn't particularly want to follow that line of reasoning. Possibly Genesis 18 where at least stand and righteous occur in the same chapter. There's no obvious single choice... maybe when I get to these psalms, something will have turned up.

Misreading Paul on Law

It is everywhere and certainly in my history that Paul is misread. I think it is largely because the Greeks translated Torah - teaching as Nomos - law.  I noted this comment on Daniel Kirk's blog.  I think it begins to represent for me an approach to reading Romans that is different from my first attempts.  Many interpreters of course have been trying to fathom Paul and his followers in the NT Canon.
Grace abounds in the Senior Testament - but it needs to be read closely and not with eyes far away in time. Yes Jesus is anointed and demonstrates such grace fully focussed. But this anointing in the Spirit is not distant in the Senior Testament. It is everywhere in it. Romans is a jewel of course but not if Law is over-emphasized over the meaning of Torah as teaching. Nomos may be emphasized but there is a false reading of law-free and law-vs-grace in the NT interpreters. God forbid we should be Teaching-free - i.e. let loose from God's Torah!  God forbid that God's teaching - all over the Senior Testament - is understood as devoid of grace!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Bach review and Easter things

Good review of our concert here.  And - as I was working through entering all my gloss choices in the database so I can critique them, I read psalm 109.

You know psalm 109 is a far more extended curse than psalm 137 - but it still ends up as a blessing.

This is the psalm that is used to justify the replacement of Judas in Acts 1.  That's for you NT folk that never read the OT slowly enough - read it!  What's the matter - afraid you might learn something?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Better Bibles

Better is a comparative word.

John Hobbins: Slow down, for goodness’ sake. A translation doesn’t have to be cash and carry.
Marshal Massey: ... the translators’ judgment is one of the things that really, really concern me.

There you have it. Speed and Trust. Are comparatives good?

There is time. Where you take the time, the trust in the hidden story-teller of your story will grow. That will make you better from those things that trouble you. Heal all your diseases. Bind all your enemies.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Bach BWV 234 tomorrow

Lovely Bach concert at St John's tomorrow evening - The A-Major Lutheran Mass (click on 234) with period instruments

Bach on Palm Sunday
Missa Brevis in A
Orchestral Suite in B minor
O Jesu Christ, meins Lebens Licht
Victoria Baroque Players
St John's Chamber Singers
played on period instruments
led by Paul Luchkow, baroque violin
April 17 2011 ●7.30pm
Church of St John the Divine
1611 Quadra St
Thomaskirche, Leipzig
$20 ●$5 students/children ● tickets at the door
www.stjohnthedivine.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Gems in the Flotsam

This new feed, the Biblioblog Reference Library, may replace much of my Google reader.  I hope the volume is not overwhelming and that the bloggers are reasonably focussed. It has made me scan blogs I normally would give a pass, but it has also introduced me to things I really should see and read.

There are probably several but I have only picked a few at the moment. The general tone and clarity of the posts by James Pate are a delight especially this one on the Song of the Sea.  Also Tony Siew gives me something to think about on Hebrew and Greek.  Admittedly, I am no judge of some content, and some content I won't look at if I can scan it quickly enough to notice, but it is nice to see where I might expand my horizon and James and Tony have already helped me a bit.

But I expect there will simply be too many to manage so after a few days I will have to add subscriptions manually and let this omnibus collector collect in an unread state.  I hate unread things - I should learn to ignore them shouldn't I.  But all my life I have been taught to be responsive. It's that tension between - a tidy book is a tidy mind - and a tidy desk shows an empty mind.  Tidiness is overrated.

What I am trying to do

In case of interest I thought I would ask the questions Travis asks in his recent posts here and here.

Do I dare write? What is my why, my how, and my what?

Can you say - over your head?  שְׁגִיאוֹת מִי יָבִין (Psalm 19:12) (13 Hebrew)

I have just glossed psalms 64-67. I changed my translation in almost every verse. Missed things, extra-ed things, extraneous things, irrelevant things, things of inertia and 16th century memory. In the last 10 days I have changed, refined, corrected, etc 271 verses out of the total 2525. I am just over 48% through putting all my glosses into the database (9418/19583 - count went up - found some missing words).  To be positive, in the past 70 days I didn't change 2000 verses but I still have 1000+ to review in detail. When I am finished, I will be able to see my decisions on glosses in Hebrew order at a glance - and the remaining perplexities and misfires will stand out like many sore thumbs.

With a little jiggery-pokery I could probably figure out how to sort them by the longest English part of the gloss to see how many times I have failed to find a suitable separate English gloss for differing Hebrew words.

It seems that 45 years in data processing has taught me methods for finding my own errors (or at least being consistently wrong).

Undoubtedly that will give me more reason to ask if more precision is possible. This exercise is mine - but anyone can chime in - anytime.  Some of you know it is a part of my futility.  But it is learning and it is polishing and it makes the poems more transparent for me.  It shakes me out of my complacent reading and lazy memory.  It forces me to think when I implicitly move from cause to effect, from forcing one reading rather than allowing many, and from missing connections that maybe should be there. Hey! - it's also fun or I wouldn't be doing it. It's just possible that I may discover something.

WHAT
So what am I doing: transparency of the poems - that's what. There may be times when I will not dare. For instance I was thinking about Psalm 31:13 (14 Hebrew)
 יַחַד עָלַי לָקַחַת נַפְשִׁי זָמָמוּ 
and wondering if snatch, even rape might be a possible gloss. (This word is used in Ruth when Boaz takes a quorum, and then takes Ruth, and when Naomi takes the child - all in chapter 4 - so it is a harmless enough word with wide usage like 'take' in English).

In this same verse we have one of the words that are very hard to make transparent in translation. נפשׁ is such a one. It could be one of several glosses: life, me, self, being, soul, throat, or even not translated. Maybe this verse could be rendered
'together against me they plan to throttle me.' 
But it would be hard in the translation to see or hear the recurrence with נפשׁ in the earlier and later verses. Eventually I let it be this (for now, tame):
they planned together against me to lay hold of my being
(Translation here - anyone who wants can comment. I know, I know.)  Soul, by the way, is not in my language. I love the word, but I never use it.


WHY
So why am I doing this? In a word, there's something good in the Psalms. The New Testament writers loved these poems. So why shouldn't I? There is ancient Eliot, Donne, Herbert, Milton, and Pembroke in this collection and they are all passionate about something. You can see my bias towards the metaphysicals. I never liked poetry much till I sang Donne's Holy Sonnets (Britten) and had to slow down my reading. How long does it take to learn to love language?

This 'why' is difficult to put in so many words. It is in the gaps. Like Debussy's music. It was, you may say ...

In short, the experience that the poet records in this historical collection - holds too much to ignore. And the NT authors knew it.

HOW
So how? I use layout, tables, computer (Oracle) to hold the intricate relations and possible allusions, always searching, knowing a little, waiting for several weeks or months before publishing notes - give them time to simmer, updating all my previous 150 posts from last year as I refine the translations - ! - very unbloglike altogether.  Probably should have waited longer - anyone who can change hundreds of verses in 10 days must have earlier had only one eye half open. And sometimes I changed them back again - but not often.

And dedication? It may be observable. I haven't been counting my hours - probably running around 60 a week some weeks these past months, but more like 40 most weeks - spread over 7 days and evenings. But there have been many more over the past five years in this bootstrap process and I am trying to put to bed a complete draft before October when I begin a fellowship at the University of Victoria. It's part of my serious preparation. I hope to figure out ways of presenting these ideas at that time and listening to whatever interest and feedback they stimulate.

A beautiful memoir of the turbulent personal life of Thomas Thompson

This is worth reading. HT Jim ! (Of course for all his posts I don't read, I always knew he was a nice guy.)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Psalm 103 - don't miss out big time

From the grab-bag dragnet of posts flying and creeping across my aggregator or otherwise dead in the water, I read Claude's continuing study of psalm 103. (My translation here.)

Verse 8 encapsulates the Old Testament. Most people nurtured on the New Testament and the Christian abstraction do not know this. They are all Marcionites. There - I will let this accusation stand. Hans Küng's little book 'Why I am Still a Christian', is a very honest micro tome. It is very hard to hold onto the adjective Christian when it is so abused and has so much ignorance adhering. Remember Psalm 101:3
I will not put before my eyes a thing of ruin
the work of distraction I hate
it will not cling within me
So:
1. Clean up the trivia - distractions from real life

and

2. it is time - well past time - to understand that the one whose name is salvation participates as the elect child with us. How else could Psalm 103:14 be read: for he himself knows our situation

It is in the psalms that we hear this voice. Such a reading from the author of Hebrews is not a magical prediction. It is not a simplistic wrenching of metaphor from its roots. It is a participation ourselves in the vine, the chosen, the one who has delighted from the beginning and who delights now and for ever in us. We both Old and New are the target of this covenant tenderness and loving-kindness that permeates the 'Old' Testament, which Dan Fraiken (Emeritus Professor of Systematic Theology Queen's University) aptly calls the Senior Testament. Christian - if you have not delved deep into this text, you are a surface dweller. And you are missing out big time.

Here's the table of keywords (occurring more than twice since there are too many - for the pairs see here).  Notice how beautifully the poet prepares verse 8 by using words from it before verse 8 and elaborating on them also thereafter.
Root1234567891011121314151617181920Vs
ברךברכי
bless
1
נפשׁ נפשׁי
my being
1
כל וכל
and all
1
ברךברכי
bless
2
נפשׁ נפשׁי
my being
2
כל כל
all
2
גמל * גמוליו
his rewards
2
כל לכל
of all
3
עוןעונכי
your iniquity
3
כל לכל
of all
3
חסד חסד
kindness
4
רחם* ורחמים
and compassion
4
עשׂה עשׂה
makes
6
צדק צדקות
righteousness
6
כל לכל
for all
6
ידע יודיע
he made known
7
בןלבני
to the children of
7
רחם* רחום
compassionate
8
חסד חסד
kindness
8
לא לא
not
9
לא ולא
and not
9
עלםלעולם
forever
9
לא לא
not
10
עשׂה עשׂה
has he dealt
10
לא ולא
and not
10
עוןכעונתינו
as out iniquities
10
גמל * גמל
has he rewarded
10
שׁמיםשׁמים
heaven is
11
גבר גבר
so powerful is
11
חסד חסדו
his loving-kindness
11
ירא יראיו
those fearing him
11
רחק כרחק
as far removed
12
רחק הרחיק
so far removed
12
רחם* כרחם
as nurtures
13
בןבנים
children
13
רחם* רחם
so nurtures
13
ירא יראיו
those fearing him
13
ידע ידע
knows
14
זכר זכור
he remembers
14
לא ולא
and no
16
קוםמקומו
its place
16
חסד וחסד
but the kindness of
17
עלםמעולם
is from everlasting
17
עלםעולם
everlasting
17
ירא יראיו
those fearing him
17
צדק וצדקתו
and his righteousness
17
בןלבני
to children's
17
בןבנים
chidren
17
זכר ולזכרי
and those remembering
18
עשׂה לעשׂותם
to do them
18
שׁמיםבשׁמים
in the heavens
19
כל בכל
over all
19
ברךברכו
bless
20
גבר גברי
strong of
20
עשׂה עשׂי
doing
20
דבר דברו
his word
20
דבר דברו
his word
20
ברךברכו
bless
21
כל כל
all
21
עשׂה עשׂי
doing
21
ברךברכו
bless
22
כל כל
all
22
עשׂה מעשׂיו
that he has made
22
כל בכל
in all
22
קוםמקמות
places of
22
ברךברכי
bless
22
נפשׁ נפשׁי
my being
22

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Biblioblog reference feed

This is possibly going to circulate the listed biblio-blogs more completely than before. I have put it on my reader. My initial reaction is wait-and-see. I think I like it that I will see some blogs I am otherwise ignoring. The posts so far are quite a grab bag - all sorts of fish and creepy-crawlies in the net, and a few weeds and rocks as well. Perhaps they have some interesting aspects like any flotsam and jetsam.

I hope there will be some gems too, and that the sifting does not prove too laborious.

Word recurrence as an analytical tool in the psalms

A friend studying Hebrew at The University of London showed me an article a few months ago by Jean Magné, Répétitions de mots et exegèse dans quelques psaumes et le pater (ISSN 0006-0887).  I saw immediately that his idea could be generalized once the data were in a database. So using my existing data for the psalms, I have developed a method of creating such tables.

Query 1 reads the recurring words for a section of text. Query 2 performs a cross-tab basing its selection on the number of entries in query 1. I have limited the cross-tab to 30 columns. In practice, 20 is too much unless you have a wide screen or a magnifying glass.  The result is part of where I have been headed over the last five years but it allows a simpler and more rapid presentation than a diagram.

Magné builds (for me) on the suggestion in Rabbi Jonathan Magonet's book A Rabbi reads the psalms. He tells us to read with a coloured pencil in hand to observe the words that repeat. This is impossible unless you read Hebrew, without a concordant translation. Yes one can see Lowth's parallels but they are conceptual repetition rather than word recurrence. And one can follow a system of prosody but this is different again from the observation of word recurrence.  These three techniques characterize the psalms. I find word recurrence the most objective of the three. (Note on the right panel on how to colour using your browser.)

Word recurrence is the deliberate repetition of sounds in a recognizable pattern in a poem. Examples: (1) John Hobbins posted recently on psalm 145. At the time his post sent me off to see what was there in a recurrence pattern. The immediately obvious structure is the repetition of כל - all, every. This creates a vertical line in the structural table (column 7 at the link). The poet has written this acrostic accolade with a word beginning with כ (kaf). John's post shows how the words ending with כ are equally prominent - this being the second person singular ending for verbs - in English this makes a 'you' sound (imagine explaining English to a non English speaker for a second). English loses all the cacophonous impact of the 56 kafs in the psalm.  But you can see it - even if you can't hear it.

(2) Another easy example is Psalm 114 here.  The pattern in this case is a pair of parallel lines.  The more interesting examples occur when the word recurrence is in a chiastic form. Here a set of words occurs in order 1 2 3, and their recurrences occur in the reverse order order 3 2 1. These will show up in the Magné type tables as an arrow head. The effect is to create a set of 'circles' in the text, often surrounding a key concept, central to the text, literally. These also go by the name of ring, or concentric structures. (3) Striking examples are psalm 51 - three interlocking circles of depth 4 (the four verbs blot out - wash- purify - know), 2 (heart - spirit), 1 (then - + maybe offer).  Each circle has a word related to righteous at the centre.

(4) And Psalm 22 has 3 concentric circles of animals in the first section, and five concentric circles around worship in the next section. (5) Psalm 137 shows clearly the backbone of remember amongst the three differing voices. See Rabbi Magonet's comments as reported here at the Psalms Conference last year.

Psalm 119 has some secrets to reveal to the diligent. Here is the recurrence structure for part 1 aleph alone. I interleaved several tables into it here for the time being, 16 verses at a time. The tables seem to indicate some measure of the coherence between the 11 pairs of letters in sequence.

Root123456789Vs
אשׁר אשׁרי
all joy for
1
דרךדרך
the way
1
הלךההלכים
who walk
1
אשׁר אשׁרי
all joy for
2
כל בכל
with a whole
2
לא לא
not
3
דרךבדרכיו
in his ways
3
הלךהלכו
they walk
3
צוה צויתה
commanded
4
שׁמר לשׁמר
to keep
4
מאד מאד
in full
4
דרךדרכי
my ways
5
שׁמר לשׁמר
to keep
5
חק חקיך
your statutes
5
לא לא
not
6
כל כל
all
6
צוה מצותיך
your commandments
6
חק חקיך
your statutes
8
שׁמר אשׁמר
I will keep
8
מאד מאד
full
8



Monday, April 11, 2011

Structure revealed

Yes - I have to say that sometimes the highlighting of verbal structure really draws a curtain open as at the beginning of a play. Here in Psalm 138 for instance.  The repetition does not necessarily reveal the prosodic divisions. In this case three words begin in the first two verses and are used in reverse order in the remainder of the poem. The last two verses stand apart from the rest of the poem except for one of those words.  But I was able to see the 'meaning' - yes the meaning - finally getting to the shot of adrenalin that poetry is meant to deliver to out halting souls.  Yes there is meaning and it's not mean, miserable or average stuff.

Here it is a bit of the universal, a topic of interest these days: all kings of the earth will give you thanks.

You can see the poet's mind working. We are near the end of the Psalter, we have mounted the steps of the Temple singing 15 songs and shouting Hey! 7 times. We have rehearsed the joy of the living God and his works of creation, redemption, sanctification, and universal Eucharist twice (psalms 135, 136) and we have remembered the extremes of trouble and then ... (the poet's mind) ... the poet begins with a promise to יְהוָה and in a moment, in the gap between verse 3 and verse 4, sees that even his enemies will also praise this God.

I am sure some people don't need to be hit over the head with this reading strategy, but I do.  (By the way, my word choices might give you pause. Promise is from my rendering of this recurring word in psalm 119 in order to distinguish it from that other word meaning word, thing or matter.)

Invisible updates

I am using this blog more as a workspace than a a blog. Much of what goes on is visible only if you go to the individual posts since updates are not syndicated. Last year in a rapid 10 week period in preparation for the Psalms Conference, I laid out 150 posts with my translations. Now I am updating them with many hundreds of changes.  And now again I am working through them one lexeme at a time. Analysis is emerging.

Here is the state: (2011.04.13 - our 43rd anniversary)
Psalms 1-11 - updated with replaced English-Hebrew composite structural tables [also pdf 11.04.12]
Psalm 12-29 - awaiting glossing so that the two tables showing structure can be merged into one (depending on the size of the poem).
Psalms 30-34 - in the glossary, proceeding forward in sync with PoC
Psalms 35-63 - notes drafted, will gloss as I post on PoC - some glossed in random order
Psalms 64-118 - no notes drafted, partially glossed, preliminary tables posted (note all book 2-4 has many changes to text and translation on the blog and in the database - will review in detail as notes are done) - some glossed in random order
Psalm 119-143 - in the glossary, tables in new form, no notes drafted
Psalms 144-150 - glossed - no notes done yet, completed the second full pass at error correction to allow me to see where I have erred more easily. (|done| 11.04.12 - I find I can enter the glosses for about 15 psalms a day depending on how many errors I stop to fix.)
The pdf text (1 week out of date - the database identifies the changes made in the last week - so must get on with it and review what I have done and see whether I still agree with my modifications! stopped at psalm 6 since the later changes will be picked up on the next pass.)

Seven (now 5) current touch points in the process. now with  roughly 120 'working' days before Oct 10 when this project must be ready for critique and fresh research approaches, should I finish a draft of every psalm? I think so - that means a little less than 1 psalm a working day - but there will be periods of intense work and periods of holiday...

The psalm 119 was impossible to gloss one word at a time into a table so it forced me to retype my English into the database so that I could eventually see every translation in a list together. This led I think to a much easier way of seeing the structure especially for English speakers. A test yesterday showed that the glossary will be about 2 Megabytes.  When I get some navigation into it (automated) I will make it available as a series of files linked from PoC.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

First frames in psalm 119

I have finished glossing Psalm 119. I changed many verses because my English word order was often unnecessarily prosaic where the Hebrew is striking.  People tend to read sentences and let their voice down at the cadence, so a reversal of word order which this poet often uses should be preserved especially in poems of this rhythm.

The following table shows the first time occurrences in this long psalm. (Good thing it is not the first psalm :).
Tables like this will make it abundantly clear where I have slipped unintentionally from one word to another. (Sometimes it is intentional - but I think I need to be aware of it.)  I now have several strategies for locating and refining such slips.  I hope I can continue long enough to have a polished rendering (however much one might disagree with my choices).

(Found a bug too - that would only emerge from hiding with a psalm with more than 100 verses).
Root123456789101112131415161718Vs
נבט * בהביטי
to gaze
6
שׁגה * תשׁגני
let me stray
10
נבט * ואביטה
and I will look to
15
שׁעשׁע * אשׁתעשׁע
I will delight
16
נבט * ואביטה
and I will see
18
אנכי * אנכי
I am
19
תאב * לתאבה
for longing
20
זד * זדים
the presumptuous are
21
שׁגה * השׁגים
straying
21
שׁעשׁע * שׁעשׁעי
and my delight
24
דבק * דבקה
cleaved
25
שׁקר * שׁקר
deceitful
29
סור * הסר
remove
29
דבק * דבקתי
determined I cleave
31
אצר * ואצרה
and I will observe
34
נתב * בנתיב
in the pathway of
35
תאב * תאבתי
I have longed
40
רחב * ברחבה
in maturity
45
שׁעשׁע * ואשׁתעשׁע
wherefore my delight will be
47
כף* כפי
my hands
48
נחם* נחמתי
is my comfort
50
זד * זדים
yet the presumptuous
51
נחם* ואתנחם
and I comfort myself
52
שׁקר * שׁקר
a lie
69
זד * זדים
those proud ones
69
אצר * אצר
I will observe
69
שׁעשׁע * שׁעשׁעתי
I will delight in
70
זהב * זהב
gold
72
נחם* לנחמני
strengthen me
76
שׁעשׁע * שׁעשׁעי
my delight
77
זד * זדים
yon proud
78
שׁקר * שׁקר
the deceit
78
נחם* תנחמני
will you comfort me
82
זד * זדים
those proud ones
85
שׁקר * שׁקר
in falsehood
86
שׁעשׁע * שׁעשׁעי
my delight
92
רחב * רחבה
wide
96
שׁקר * שׁקר
a lie
104
נתב * לנתיבתי
to my pathway
105
כף* בכפי
in my hand
109
סור * סורו
separate
115
אצר * ואצרה
for I will observe
115
שׂבר * משׂברי
my hope
116
שׁעה * ואושׁעה
and I will be saved
117
שׁעה * ואשׁעה
and I will look
117
שׁגה * שׁוגים
who stray
118
שׁקר * שׁקר
falsehood is
118
עשׁק * לעשׁקי
to those oppressing me
121
עשׁק * יעשׁקני
will oppress me
122
זד * זדים
the proud
122
זהב * מזהב
above gold
127
שׁקר * שׁקר
deceit
128
עשׁק * מעשׁק
from the oppression of
134
אנכי * אנכי
I
141
שׁעשׁע * שׁעשׁעי
are my delight
143
אנכי * אנכי
I
162
שׁקר * שׁקר
scandal
163
שׂבר * שׂברתי
my hope in
166
תאב * תאבתי
I have longed to come
174
שׁעשׁע * שׁעשׁעי
is my delight
174