Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Integrity

There are times when I choose a gloss, that I may not find the lesser worth of that gloss for several years. This happened yesterday when I saw a distinction between wipe out and blot out that required me to reverse a decision made when I first rendered Psalm 51 I don't know how long ago. Puzzle patterns are of such subtle shades when it comes to tongues. And here (see 2 Kings 21) a historical book provides a particular common concrete use of a word in this case through a simile, in a passage that invites little in the way of metaphor, abstraction, or generality.

Today I think again of the integrity of the blood noted in Genesis 9, where God hands over (נתן), gives (נתן), everything into the hands of humanity through the agency of the post-deluge conversation. What an awareness of responsibility and dread, though dread is not the word used but rather fear and dismay.

The non-human animals are dismayed by us, and we should be in dread of ourselves for the total violation of spirit that is yielded (נתן) to us by God in this discourse. Let not anyone, Jew or Gentile, bond or free, of whatever gender, put down the delivery (נתן) of the local earth into the hands of the earthling.

I do not use all these glosses for נתן, but some do. Are we delivered into each others hands? Are we a gift to each other? Where are you, Adam? The gap between Genesis 9:1 and Genesis 9:2 is massive.

Innocence (nonsense),
And God blessed Noah and his children,
and said to them, Be fruitful and increase and fill the earth.

What have you done?
And the fear of you and dismay of you will be on every living thing of the earth and over all the fowl of the heavens,
all that creep of the ground and on all of the fishes of the sea. Into your hand they are given.

What have you done to its maw?
Every creeping organism that is alive, to you they will be for food,
like the herb's foliage, I have given everything to you.

So I come to the crux word here, the one I refuse to translate as soul

But flesh in its integrity (נפשׁ), its blood, you will not eat.
אַךְ־בָּשָׂ֕ר בְּנַפְשׁ֥וֹ דָמ֖וֹ לֹ֥א תֹאכֵֽלוּ

You will not eat its soul, its blood.

And surely your blood for your integrity I will search out. From the hand of all that has life I will search it out.

And from the hand of the earthling, from the hand of each person's kin, I will search out the integrity of the earthling.

I do not know to what extent I can use integrity in this context. It too may be a gloss that I will have to discard or change when I get to later parts of this large puzzle.

One thing I do know, I cannot use 'life' as the KJV has done, here, in Leviticus 17, and Deuteronomy 12 in the later reflection on this central covenant for all people. (For this covenant, there is no facile explanation or words to 'put it in its place' as if it were of lesser importance than other covenants.)

And if I ever come back to the New Testament and set its foreign Greek to the music of the te'amim, I will find John 6 the central place in the fulfillment of the proscription on eating the soul of the beast, the integrity of life, the flesh and blood of Christ Jesus in the Eucharist.

What more do you need for provocation?

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