Monday, January 14, 2019

Word density

I'm sure this is somewhat old hat, but it is interesting to see if some words are more densely used in some books than others. Word density would be the number of occurrences of a stem over the total number of words in the passages being compared. I came across one significant one when doing the 7 different intros to my now 9 volume work on the Hebrew Bible. That is the word for nation, גוי, (goy).

It is more densely used in the latter prophets than in the former by a factor of 8.

This stem גוי, goi, occurs in the Hebrew text 561 times in 23 distinct word forms. In my reading it is always rendered as nation, a word derived from the idea of native, i.e. where you were born. There are 49 occurrences (0. 07% of the words) in the former prophets (just under one fifth of the Bible).  And in the later ones (just over one fifth of the Bible), there are 319 occurrences (0.55% of the words).

What would happen if we looked at other stems? Here's the density of דרך way. Malachi sticks out as do Ezekiel and Job. Leviticus and Qohelet hardly use it at all. There are 769 instances in the Bible in 83 differing word forms (i.e with appendages of articles, prepositions, conjunctions, pronouns, and as both verb and noun).
Usage density of דרך in the books of the Hebrew canon
A closer look at Malachi is not very helpful. The word only occurs 3 times in the book, but the book is so short that it distorts its own measure. Also my translation is inconsistent in its use of the gloss way. I use it for במה in what way. And I don't gloss דרך as way in one of the three cases but as journey. O bother, said Winnie the Pooh. I should probably not make much of single words in a text. (Let that be a lesson!)

In Job I am more consistent but it is a very flexible word. Here is usage in verse 19.

Job 40:15-19 Behemoth


Sunday, January 13, 2019

Of knights, camels, polemics, and beauty

Prepared for battle

I was just rereading the chapter on polemical language in my book, The Song in the Night. It's a good description. So many people who need to be right arguing about what they do not know. Curious. How much better is a good piece of music.

Behind this image of the castle is a small portion of my library of scholarly books trying to search out what their authors were discovering (why else does one write?) and variously succeeding or not. Where is the power? Why should we seek it?  You can see that it is a magnificently sunny day in castle land. The forces approaching the castle are led by a knight on a camel. Surely not - what knight rode a camel!

I too am preparing for a beta discovery of the errors and incongruities in my reading of the Scripture. How can I reconcile this with my faith. How does the NT fit with my musical appreciation for the OT? Based on my upbringing in the faith, it is clear that the conversation has to change. Polemics - being right - cannot be prophetic. Let's rather be beautiful. There must be a theology that will not pit us against each other.

There was a lovely service this morning at St Barnabas, with Palestrina's motet Sicut Cervus sung by the choir. It is nice to hear a choir sing well. This performance from the Sistine chapel is lovely.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Introduction to a translation for the music

I have added a few more examples of my rationale for my concordant reading of the Hebrew Bible for the sake of the music. If you are a reader, please have a look and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Jerome's introduction to the Vulgate

A fascinating read here:

A sampler
The present translation follows no ancient translator, but will be found to reproduce now the exact words, now the meaning, now both together of the original Hebrew, Arabic, and occasionally the Syriac. For an indirectness and a slipperiness attaches to the whole book, even in the Hebrew; and, as orators say in Greek, it is tricked out with figures of speech, and while it says one thing, it does another; just as if you close your hand to hold an eel or a little muræna, the more you squeeze it, the sooner it escapes. I remember that in order to understand this volume, I paid a not inconsiderable sum for the services of a teacher, a native of Lydda, who was amongst the Hebrews reckoned to be in the front rank; whether I profited at all by his teaching, I do not know; of this one thing I am sure, that I could translate only that which I previously understood.
Good for Jerome. I translated in order to seek what I could understand. I am suspicious of understanding in case I turn it into something else over which I think I have power. 

Re the Psalms:
"Jerome had, while at Rome, made a translation of the Psalms from the LXX., which he had afterwards corrected by collation with the Hebrew text." ...His friend Sophronius, in quoting the Psalms to the Jews, was constantly met with the reply, “It does not so stand in the Hebrew.”
and later on some detail,
Long ago, when I was living at Rome, I revised the Psalter, and corrected it in a great measure, though but cursorily, in accordance with the Septuagint version. You now find it, Paula and Eustochium, again corrupted through the fault of copyists, and realise the fact that ancient error is more powerful than modern correction; and you therefore urge me, as it were, to cross-plough the land which has already been broken up, and, by means of the transverse furrows, to root out the thorns which are beginning to spring again; it is only right, you say, that rank and noxious growths should be cut down as often as they appear. And so I issue my customary admonition by way of preface both to you, for whom it happens that I am undertaking the labour, and to those persons who desire to have copies such as I describe.  
ancient error is more powerful than modern correction

Well well - I don't think I am correcting, but I am challenging all the condensed theology I was taught in my early days.