Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Shared significant words in Isaiah 53 to 55

How far can one get with words?  It just so happens that I was today preparing for a session at the university tomorrow on the mysticism of Rumi and this snippet came my way from Jawid Mojaddedi, Professor of Religion at Rutgers University. [2014 Distinguished Lecture in Islam: Understanding Rumi’s Place Within the Sufi Tradition. 7:00pm, UVIC HSD Room A240] His area of research is early and medieval Sufism. Since the publication of his translation, The Masnavi: Book One, which was awarded the 2004 Lois Roth Prize, he has been working towards completing the six books of Jalal al-Din Rumi’s magnum opus. In addition, he has also published the monograph Beyond Dogma: Rumi’s Teachings on Friendship with God and Early Sufi Theories (Oxford University Press, 2012).

Well I am not a mystic, nor am I a dervish. Nor am I of Islam, though I do occasionally submit to the obedience of faith as noted in the frame of the Epistle to the Romans in the New Testament (in case you were wondering). I pursue words and it is true that water will not disturb them. This is a nice little parable.

So of Isaiah, much could be said on the prophet's use of words. It is clear that dividing them from each other in a dictionary will obscure the oral aspect of the prophecy. So I let the words be compared on the basis of their shared root or prepositional / pronomial form (where the root is lacking). One cannot hear the similarities in translation, but one can see them if the translator is careful. Here are the words shared by all three chapters. I have removed a bunch of prepositions, particles, and the divine names (על,לא,את,אלוה,יהוה,כי,לו,אשׁר,תחת) from the following. Otherwise there are too many to look at.

If three consecutive chapters use 8 words (or 17 if you count the exclusions) in common, does it follow that their content is shared? My experience in the psalms would say yes. It is rare for a triplet of consecutive chapters to share so many words. It is pretty clear from the following that these wrods are in a circular structure with  verses 1-11 of chapter 54 in the middle of it. Chapter 55, 11-13 are a coda for the section.

Shared Words in Isaiah chapters 53,54,55
Word / gloss1 2345678VsStem
seed וזרוע
 53.1זרע
earth, land מארץ
 53.2ארץ
peace שׁלומנו
 53.5שׁלם
water מי
 53.8מים
מארץ
 53.8ארץ
give ויתן
 53.9נתן
wicked רשׁעים
 53.9רשׁע
do, make עשׂה
 53.9עשׂה
please, delight חפץ
53.10חפץ
זרע
53.10זרע
וחפץ
53.10חפץ
יטו
 54.2נתן
וזרעך
 54.3זרע
עשׂיך
 54.5עשׂה
הארץ
 54.5ארץ
מי
 54.9מים
מי
 54.9מים
הארץ
 54.9ארץ
שׁלומי
54.10שׁלם
חפץ
54.12חפץ
שׁלום
54.13שׁלם
למעשׂהו
54.16עשׂה
תרשׁיעי
54.17רשׁע
למים
 55.1מים
רשׁע
 55.7רשׁע
מארץ
 55.9ארץ
הארץ
55.10ארץ
ונתן
55.10נתן
זרע
55.10זרע
לזרע
55.10זרע
עשׂה
55.11עשׂה
חפצתי
55.11חפץ
ובשׁלום
55.12שׁלם