Monday, August 7, 2017

Psalm 1

I note in this article by John Meade on hidden Greek translations of the Hebrew c 325 CE that the historian Eusebius writes of a chaotic collection of translations at the time:
And in addition to the well-known translations of Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion, he discovered certain others which had been concealed from remote times, in what out-of-the-way corners I know not, and by his search he brought them to light.
He goes on - but I was particularly interested in John's choice of example: Psalm 1:1. Because it was the first psalm I ever attempted to read in Hebrew and I spent a whole summer just trying to get my eyes around the square script, I am curious what these early Greek translations were. Unfortunately only Psalm 1:1a is dealt with in the article. Still, a good note on how varied glosses can be:

Hebrew: אַ֥שְֽׁרֵי־הָאִ֗ישׁ‬ אֲשֶׁ֤ר ׀ לֹ֥א הָלַךְ֮ בַּעֲצַ֪ת רְשָׁ֫עִ֥ים Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked.

OG: Μακάριος ἀνήρ, ὃς οὐκ ἐπορεύθη ἐν βουλῇ ἀσεβῶν, Blessed is a man, who does not walk in counsel of wicked people.

Ε’. S’. τέλειος ὁ νεώτερος ὃς οὐκ ἀπῆλθεν ἐν βουλῇ ἀλλοτρίων, Devoted is the young man, who does not depart into counsel of foreign people.

Me: Happy the person who does not walk in the advice of the wicked

There are so many others that I will spare you modern day chaos. Is it blessed? What is that? Is it counsel or advice or does it matter? Is it the wicked or the ungodly? Is it the man, a man, a young man, a person, a one, singular? or a plurality? So many of these are responding to the trouble with all tongues that do not have distinct glosses for a generic singular personal gender. O Bother, said Winnie the Pooh, Bother.

The language of the Bible has been ground up in a meat grinder.

My opinion: it is happy, it is singular, it is gender generic personal, it's about walk and its advice or counsel, (I haven't needed two Hebrew stems for these two synonyms), also backbone in Hebrew, and it's wicked.  I would not use ungodly - nothing in the stem suggests god, and I generally reject a negative gloss when a positive gloss exists in the English tongue.

The choice of devoted is really quite nice. Often a translator will select a gloss that is what he or she thinks is intended by the text. This tells us about the translator and its relationship to the text more than about the text itself. Does happiness arise from such devotion? Good question. (What does arise is utter destruction חרם = devotion.) That's (retrospectively) why I did not use devotion.

The choice of foreign people is a real downer. I am just working on Deuteronomy 13. The reading of national or ethnic exclusivity in, into, or out of a text is an abomination to me.

Buckets have been written about this Psalm of course! Verse 3 is the centre as this post illustrates. Verses 1 and 3 include an ole-veyored, the secondary cadence on the supertonic that always, if it is there, precedes the atnah.

Here is the psalm in my usual way of presenting the text these days, 11 years after my first reading it in Hebrew. It is very hard to resist touching things up a bit.

Note how the first verse begins on an f. (Music below) This shows that the Psalms are a commentary on all that comes before them. They are where I started and likely where I will end. They are a key to Torah.

Psalms 1 Fn Min Max Syll
אַ֥שְֽׁרֵי־הָאִ֗ישׁ‬ אֲשֶׁ֤ר ׀ לֹ֥א הָלַךְ֮ בַּעֲצַ֪ת רְשָׁ֫עִ֥ים
וּבְדֶ֣רֶךְ חַ֭טָּאִים לֹ֥א עָמָ֑ד
וּבְמוֹשַׁ֥ב לֵ֝צִ֗ים לֹ֣א יָשָֽׁב
1 f Happy the person who does not walk in the advice of the wicked, and in the way of sinners does not stand,
and in the seat of the scornful does not sit.
3d 4C 14
כִּ֤י אִ֥ם בְּתוֹרַ֥ת יְהוָ֗ה חֶ֫פְצ֥וֹ
וּֽבְתוֹרָת֥וֹ יֶהְגֶּ֗ה יוֹמָ֥ם וָלָֽיְלָה
2 C In contrast: in the instruction of Yahweh is his delight,
and in his instruction he mutters day and night.
3e 4C 9
וְֽהָיָ֗ה כְּעֵץ֮ שָׁת֪וּל עַֽל־פַּלְגֵ֫י מָ֥יִם
אֲשֶׁ֤ר פִּרְי֨וֹ ׀ יִתֵּ֬ן בְּעִתּ֗וֹ וְעָלֵ֥הוּ לֹֽא־יִבּ֑וֹל
וְכֹ֖ל אֲשֶׁר־יַעֲשֶׂ֣ה יַצְלִֽיחַ
3 Such a one will be like a tree transplanted by streams of water,
that gives its fruit in its time and its leaf does not wither.
And in all that it does, it thrives.
3d 4C 12
לֹא־כֵ֥ן הָרְשָׁעִ֑ים
כִּ֥י אִם־כַּ֝מֹּ֗ץ אֲ‍ֽשֶׁר־תִּדְּפֶ֥נּוּ רֽוּחַ
4 Not so the-many wicked,
in contrast: like chaff that wind blows.
3e 4A 5
עַל־כֵּ֤ן ׀ לֹא־יָקֻ֣מוּ רְ֭שָׁעִים בַּמִּשְׁפָּ֑ט
וְ֝חַטָּאִ֗ים בַּעֲדַ֥ת צַדִּיקִֽים
5 So they will not arise, the wicked, in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the-many righteous.
3e 4C 11
כִּֽי־יוֹדֵ֣עַ יְ֭הוָה דֶּ֣רֶךְ צַדִּיקִ֑ים
וְדֶ֖רֶךְ רְשָׁעִ֣ים תֹּאבֵֽד
6 For Yahweh knows the way of those righteous,
but the way of those wicked will perish.
3e 4B 10

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