Saturday, August 3, 2019

Tyndale House Bulletin

I was impressed by this intro to the greater and lesser traditional markings in the Leningrad codex because I have been working with both Genesis 1 and Jonah 4. Read it and see how clever the scribes were in numbering and annotating their Bibles. 

They processed pairs of words as I did in my search for concordance. My numbers do not agree with the markings of course because I am looking for consonant sequences only. My query does not use the vowels nor does it parse the sentence to see what the subject of the verb is. But the principle is similar, though I was not a scribe but a translator.

Keep on composing

Jonah playlist is ready (July 27)
Unleashing Leviathan is here too. (or is it leviathan unleashed?)

Much more to do when I find performers... I have also done Jonah as a string suite. Some of it may be too difficult to play - not sure if a double bass can imitate a harp? (Last movement, I had too many parts for a quintet - maybe I should keep the harp. It wouldn't be too hard to change.)

Composers - look here - hundreds of pages of possibilities - you too could write an oratorio! Or a song - using the melodies that are written into the Biblical text.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Developing a score from the music of the Bible

Here is an example of what I did to get from raw data to musical score. (All the scores in their raw data form, for the complete Bible, all 929 chapters, are available from this location:

The possibilities are endless. You can hear Jonah (development described below) in two sections, just less than 20 minutes in total, 1-2 3-4 on my YouTube channel. The full score is in a printable format in the prior post here. [I put this at the top since many of you won't get to the bottom and you will miss the treat!]]

The raw data I have chosen for this example is Jonah 1:1 and Jonah 3:1.

וַֽיְהִי֙ דְּבַר־יְהוָ֔ה אֶל־יוֹנָ֥ה בֶן־אֲמִתַּ֖י לֵאמֹֽר

Jonah 1:1 Note the accents: They translate into the music. e qad,z-q,f g# e (qad = qadma, z-q = zaqef qatan)

Here is the verse in its raw form. (All scores in music XML are available as noted above, so you can import them into any music program like Musescore for your own development. I highly recommend this program.) What will we do to them as arrangers / composers?
Jonah 1:1 interpreted through the deciphering key of Suzanne Haïk-Vantoura
In the transcription, there is no 'time value' to the notes [I could have made them all eighth notes or all quarter notes] and the bar lines are only there to show a change in reciting note.

The accents above the text (two of them above), indicate an ornament. The accents below the text (three of them above) indicate a change in reciting note. There is an accent on the first syllable that is not highlighted. It is the default starting pitch but here represents the emphasis on the first syllable: in English And.

It's the beginning of the book of Jonah, why would one emphasize the first syllable?

וַיְהִ֧י דְבַר־יְהוָ֛ה אֶל־יוֹנָ֖ה שֵׁנִ֥ית לֵאמֹֽר

Jonah 3:1 The accents are different, so the melody is different. There are no ornaments. The notes of the phrase are e c d g# f e.
Jonah 3:1 interpreted through the deciphering key of Suzanne Haïk-Vantoura
I have made a number of choices. First when the Lord speaks or acts, I have signaled it with a trill in the accompaniment. The trill is suggested by the initial ornament. I have also used the 'sound of many waters' or multiple voices for the word of Yahweh. No soloist here.

Jonah 1:1 turns into a grand opening, (noting the accentuation of the first syllable):
Composing to Jonah 1:1
Jonah 3:1 is quite different, though the trill is still there as a signal. 
Jonah 3:1 after some arrangement of the melody.
The wider interval in the harp indicates the movement of the sea as heard in Jonah 2. The harp is an important interpreter. As Psalm 33 instructs, Give thanks to Yahweh on the harp. Here is a part of a chorale I have started to work on.
Psalm 33:2 , Give thanks to Yahweh on the harp.
I see that Wikipedia reports that Haïk-Vantoua's
"reconstruction assumes the signs represent the degrees of various musical scales, that is individual notes, which puts it at odds with all existing traditions where the signs invariably represent melodic motives; it also takes no account of the existence of older systems of notation, such as the Babylonian and Palestinian systems. Musicologists have rejected her results as dubious and her methodology as flawed."
The rejection they note is c 1986. I didn't come across this opinion in my research. It might have turned me off all my consideration of her deciphering key. I will only judge and be judged by the result of the transcriptions. And they are often magnificent. This is not a dubious statement. They are undoubtedly magnificent.

There are issues, but the musicologists I have reviewed dismiss the whole interpretation in a sentence and have not worked within the framework for 10 years as I have. And it takes years to hear what is going on.

There are many ways of interpreting the text through the music. But it will take more encouragement than musicologists are likely to give.

No one knows what the music sounded like, but at least one could use the data that is evident. Haïk-Vantoura's key uses the placement of the accents like no other. She follows the rule of Occam's razor.

Certainly, one of the issues is sameness within the harmonic patterns. How often can you set e-b-a to music and remain interesting? But one only needs to study the Goldberg variations to know how to deal with sameness in composition.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

That great tale, Jonah

It only took a few short weeks to get this into a dramatic form based on the deciphering key of Haïk-Vantoura.

Here is a dramatic reading. I read it to a five-year old with automated musical background yesterday. He was captured, perhaps flagging a bit in the last chapter. He asked if the story was 'really true'. And presumptuously, I answered.

  • Is your anger true when you are angry? He said, Yes. 
  • Is your kindness true? He understood.
  • Do ships think they are going to be wrecked? He said, No.

Clearly, for those who have ears, this story is a highly overstuffed fable. The repetition of 'great' is a giveaway. The music is the means I have chosen to un-stuff the fable. The melody and motifs are derived directly from the accents that are in the Hebrew text of the Bible.

You will find some sample automated performances - i.e. rigid and unthinking rather than tested by humans - on my YouTube channel. The whole performance takes just under 20 minutes.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

An English to Biblical Hebrew alphabet book

The beginning of a list of the animals in the Bible
Have you ever wondered about all the animals, or all the body parts in the Bible?

Bob's Bible: A is for Abandon (and by the way, B is for baboon) is a source for such a journey. This semantic analysis of every word in the Bible is a simple way of thinking about all those words in 7 broad domains and subdivided into 109 distinct sub-domains. So if someone makes a claim about the uniqueness of a word signifying light in the Bible, you can check it out. What are the stems related to light? And if you have the concordance as well, (check it out) where do they occur?

This volume contains a translator's introduction with several examples of the types of decisions I made in the translation process.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Lullaby for an infant humanity

The incarnation role in my oratorio is taken by the harp. Here is a duet for the harp and alto (who must be wisdom) with an optional soprano second part at the end. After hearing yesterday's reading for Trinity, I clearly saw this passage would fill a hole in my design, a hole that I had created by moving Psalm 19 to day 1. So I looked at it and what do you know, it formed itself into a lullaby.

Verse 23 has an astonishingly simple shape. It has no mid-verse rest but is simply g, f#, e. "From everlasting I have offered libation from the beginning, out of the precedents of earth." It shares this phrase with Psalms 76:5. "Light-giving you are more excellent than mountains of prey."

 I have begun a presentation of Jonah based on the music of the accents - we'll see if it turns out. Allow me a few months elapsed time. I am just working on the storm scene. I think chapter 2 will provide some hilarity and at least one moral chorus.

Jonah playlist is ready (July 27)
Unleashing Leviathan here. (unleashed?)

Much more to do when I find performers...

Composers - look here - hundreds of pages of inspirational possibilities - you too could write an oratorio! Or a song - using the melodies that are written into the Biblical text.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Volume 8

Volume 8 of Bob's Bible is my full data base of the Hebrew Bible in its Hebrew to English form, a concordance of every Hebrew word and its full English gloss.
The volume contains every word in the Hebrew Bible. The glosses provided are for a close translation for the Music. The sequence presented is by Hebrew stem, Hebrew word form, Tanakh sequence, chapter, verse, and word sequence. In principle, the entire translation can be reconstructed from this data. (Just under 750,000 words).
This is Bob's Hebrew-English glossary after 8 years of my very human processing. What does a stem indicate in translation? How many differing senses can it have? Does it overlap with other stems? And so on. This glossary reduces the overlap of senses to a minimum. You may know about punishment, that there is no Hebrew stem that has punish as its dominant gloss. That is not true in traditional translations, where several Hebrew stems are rendered punish. They make the Bible read as if it was a book about rules and punishment. It is not such a book. Bob's Bible never uses this gloss. Search. You will not find it. The Bible is a book of instruction in love and a book about the depth of kindness from start to finish. There is no need for the wrong type of fear, a fear of torment. Healthy fear, of course, is quite appropriate. After all, we do not know everything, or even anything, fully.

Volume 9, A is for Abandon, will be out soon (next week!). This is the English-Hebrew equivalent with introduction and semantic analysis. It is a much shorter book (under 55,000 words). Every lemma form is listed with its stem and usage frequency.

Abandon assumptions (not hope).

These volumes reveal all my successes and compromises with concordance. Because no translation I am aware of has been done by a single translator with computer assisted pattern recognition and rules to show all failures of concordance, I suspect my translation has a far higher degree of concordance than any other available.

Volume 9 contains a list of all the stems that are exceptions to the glossing rules in the translation for the music, with their semantic sub-domain. Any single English lemma form that rendered two distinct Hebrew stems was flagged and investigated.

Exceptions were allowed in acrostic poems, word play, and of course for Aramaic. Also for English and Hebrew homonyms, closely related Hebrew stems through derivation or spelling, a few multi-faceted common words, and finally for some prepositions, particles, and conjunctions.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Not writing much

But I got this question from a conversation on Ian Paul's site -

"Are you sure you are not letting the media narrative of convenience, which allows little dissent, shape your view, rather than science doing so?"

Thanks for the question. I am not sure anyone will find my 'answer' satisfactory. What shapes my view? Certainly not 'the media narrative of convenience'. Nor do I seek 'dissent'. There is enough of that without seeking it. As for science, in this question it is not competent. The data are subjective. I cannot even identify myself without ambiguity. Can I even know if there are people who hate the gay agenda out of their own fears of who they are in themselves?

I was made a musician. I loved the music of Britten. How could I reconcile loving this music with despising its creator? I, a wasp, was made a scientist and a systems engineer. How could I pretend to understand all the stimuli in social structures that let me stay or think or act within an environment that was inherently prejudiced on dozens of fronts.

I found a starting point in Christ some 45 or so years ago. I am nearly 'finished' - on my way to the usual grave solution... but I can hardly say I have come to the end of the riches I have encountered. There is neither gay nor straight in the place which I have entered.

About 13 years ago, a voice in me said, How can you possibly understand the image of the son without learning the scriptures in the tongue I learned them in?

So I learned Hebrew and read the text and wrote it all out in English using my own computer programs to discover and enforce patterns in the source.

There is no substitution for actually reading the text.

I found there a full musical score embedded in hand signals in the text itself. This completely undoes the rigid logic of intellectual right and wrong that governs so much of our thinking.

We seek power. It is sin to take power without permission. I find now I cannot draw conclusions for others - individuals or groups - out of the Bible as if I had power over them because of my knowledge. I have no such power and cannot pretend to have it. "Knowledge puffs up".

Qohelet has a pithy verse that reminds me of the limits of ecclesiastical opinion. 4:17 (5:1 English) Keep your footing as you are walking to the house of God, and approach more to hear than to give an offering among the dullards, for they haven't a clue that what they do is evil (רע).

So here we are in 'the house of God' and we comment furiously regardless of the hurt (רע) that we might cause. We are the sea - we are leviathan, (am I the sea or a dragon that you put a guard over me? Job 7:12) we are brutes, (behemoth I was to you, Psalms 73:22).

Let's stop. Let's love someone who is excluded. We will certainly find the cost of love there.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Looking for books to read

Translator's Note to Buddenbrooks
We have been considering whether to downsize by giving away books. I have discovered that our library will accept donations in a bag - i.e. not too many at once. And if they don't use them, they will give them away. How useful!

I picked up Henning Mankell's Sidetracked on my wife's shelf, and I wondered if having seen the dramatization, I might not want to read it. Then considered rereading C. P. Snow's Strangers and Brothers, something that would occupy me for a while. I am sure I scarcely remember a word of it. Except perhaps the thought that in politics, nothing really ever gets done. Anyway, I descended to the floor looking for more books, and there are loads of them at that level whose jackets I can't see until I get dust on my own.

Here's one I found: Thomas Mann, Buddenbrooks, first published 1901, translated from the German. (No we did not buy a first edition. We're not quite that old.)

What struck me was the translator's 'note'. Perhaps also a Note to translators.

What does Bob say?

A teacher who is teaching Genesis this year to his class reported to me at a concert last night that his class loves to have that unique translation for the music available as a counterfoil to the traditional one that they learn from. The students have a simple question when they are discussing the text and have opposing views. "What does Bob say?". A few of them might know me from a lecture I gave the class last year and the year before. But I expect it's a mostly new class this year.

Anyway - nice to have an alternative to look at.

I have dared to put my oratorio onto paper for the first time. When one writes, or translates, or composes, one's soul is displayed on the page. (Even if I never use that word, soul, it is a useful word.)

This soul is keen, altogether too full of it, careful (i.e. full of cares), and untrained for what it has been chosen to do. It learns, we hope, through its work and by its experience.

The MP3 snippets of the piece are wooden and incomprehensible without the score. So here is the score. I may turn it into a book, in which case it will eventually disappear from this link.

If you want to perform it, please let me know, and please make a contribution to some useful effort like CF Canada, team Adventures with Ben or the like. You can make the contribution whether you perform it or not of course.

You can find my complete translation of the Hebrew Bible if you click here.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

A touch or two of my oratorio

I have put some MP3 transcriptions of my scores in the cloud.
E.g. here is the organ interlude in the middle of the piece. It is based on the Fibonacci series 8-5-3-2-1-1 twice used.

Here are a couple of the chorales: 111-112 and a bit of 110 (a reprise for the acrostics)

Bear in mind that these renditions are extremely wooden. And you can't get much of the idea of music with a mechanical rendition.

Here is the psalm I had the most trouble with 116. I chose the generic verse 5 (third person) as a refrain.

Here is some of the story: Job 38, Job 41

and Psalm 19

These will give you an idea of the constraints I put on my invention. The design is here.

Friday, May 24, 2019

The seventh volume

The Remaining Writings is the seventh volume of Bob's Bible. It is now published and available here.

This completes the text of the Instruction, the Prophets, and the Writings. It is curious that the seventh volume has the 'remaining' as part of its title. There is no simple title for this collection of books. But this is typical of taxonomies. They stall at 7. The first 6 are titled (Torah, Former prophets, Major Prophets, Minor Prophets, the Books of Truth, the Scrolls) and the 7th is what's left.

You can now buy the whole Bible for less than $21 (<$30 Cdn). And you could read it - but it is a long process. There are no easy answers.

Seven is 2 cubed (2*2*2) minus 1. Three parts are even easier to remember and that number still has the sense of 1, 2 and the rest (who would ever call a book 'writings'). The 'rest' of the books are important though. They contain the keys for interpreting the first two sections. Especially the Psalms, the Song, and Job. (At least that's my opinion).

I have been busy writing music so I am not blogging as much any more. The stats show it. My readership is down. I am more distant. But - don't forget the music. I think it is key to interpreting the Bible as a whole.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Oratorio first draft completed

Anyone with time on their hands :) to test a draft oratorio? Minimum instruments for the test - harp, organ, timpani, and woodblock, 4 singers. Length about 1.25 hours.

Its name of the work is Unleashing Leviathan. It presents the conflict in creation over the question - what is this mortal humanity. I.e. who are we in relation to the God of the Old Testament.

The musical themes are based on the work of Suzanne Haïk-Vantoura. The design is as follows:

1. The first day, Genesis 1:1-5 Recitative, soprano, in Hebrew, harp, chorus. 4
2. The heavens recount the glory of God, Psalm 19:1-7 Recitative, soprano, chorus
3. Man from Uz, Job 1:1, 19-22 . 5Recitative, aria tenor, in English, chorus, harp
4. Disappointment in Yahweh, Jeremiah 20:7 Recitative, bass, Hebrew or English, harp. 7
5. Let it be darkness, Job 3:4-8, Jeremiah 20:14-17 Duet, tenor and bass, harp
6. An oracle, Psalms 110 1,2, 5-7 Recitative, tenor, chorale, organ. 11
7. The second day, Genesis 1:6-8 . 13Recitative, soprano, in Hebrew, harp, chorus
8. Where were you? Job 38:4-7 Chorus ATB, harp
9. Acrostics 1 and 2, Psalms 111 and 112, 110:7 reprise . 21Chorale, organ
10. The third day, Genesis 1:9-13 . 27Recitative, soprano, in Hebrew, harp, chorus
11. The earth, Psalms 24, Aria alto, chorus. 28, harp
12. Ocean, its limits, Job 38:8-11 Chorus, harp
13. Praise, servants of Yahweh, Psalms 113, 110:7 reprise . 36Chorale, organ
14. The fourth day, Genesis 1:14-19 . 41Recitative, soprano, in Hebrew, harp, chorus
15. For I see your heavens, Psalms 8:4-7 Aria tenor, organ, harp. 42
16. The Pleiades, Orion, and the Great Bear, Job 38:31-2 Chorus, organ
17. The heavens’ heavens, Psalms 115:16 Chorus, organ. 45
18. Interlude: The image of a black hole seen through the lens of earth. Organ, timpani 47
19. The fifth day, Genesis 1:20-23 . 49Recitative, soprano, in Hebrew, harp, chorus
20. Am I the sea or a dragon? Job 7:12 Chorus, harp. 50
21. Behemoth Job 40:15 Chorus, organ
22. Redemption, Psalms 114:1-3a, Psalms 115:1 . 58Chorale, organ
23. The sixth day, Genesis 1:24-31 . 62Recitative, soprano, in Hebrew, harp, chorus
24. Jeremiah 4:23-27
25. What is this humanity, Psalms 144:3, Job 7:17, 19, Psalm 8 reprise Trio, ATB, harp. 64
26. Leviathan, Job 41 (a selection of verses) Chorus, harp. 67
27. Yahweh heard, Psalms 116 Aria soprano, chorus, harp
28. The seventh day, Genesis 2:1-3 . 73Recitative, soprano, in Hebrew, harp, chorus
29. Psalms 92, to the Sabbath, Aria alto, chorus
30. Praise, all nations, Psalms 117, Recitative, soprano, chorus, wood block
31. Praise, all breath-bearing, Psalm 150 Chorus, harp, wood block, organ, trumpet, timpani
Appendix 1 - Original scores and notes - these scores, direct from the Scriptures, provided the melodic material for this work.. 81

Here's a bit of the jig for day 6 of creation. This is definitely the funniest part of the text I have set.
Job 41 about the underparts of Leviathan
Please contact me via email or direct message on Twitter @drmacdonald if you are interested. Let me know what resources you have and your contact email. 

Friday, May 10, 2019

Bob's Bible The Twelve and The Books of Truth

Over the last two weeks, two more volumes of Bob's Bible, have appeared, The Twelve and The Books of Truth. These are volumes 4 and 5 of my translation of the Tanakh, (a.k.a. the Old Testament) done with an ear to the music and assisted for concordance by a number of algorithms to help me, the translator, remember my decisions and compromises consistently.

Each volume has its own introduction with examples. The translation stands alone without any Hebrew except in the musical examples. There are over 300 examples, at least 1 every 3 to 5 chapters on average. They are the Bible's own illustrations. The Bible doesn't come with visuals, but it does come with music. It is meant to be sung. The ear is the critical organ for human development. The eye is a marvel, but it is prone to short-circuits, too often putting its own power 'in charge' based on what is 'sees'. Real listening requires that we slow down.

You can find all the links to buy my books here.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

The first movement of the planets

Mars is a wonderful exercise in score reading. My musical children take this sort of thing for granted, but for me, it was an ear and eye-opener. The 5/4 rhythms in the timpani blew me away.

I am working on writing the oratorio I mentioned about 6 weeks ago. 32 sections, 18 drafted. I will wait until I have some critical feedback before saying much more. I haven't written much music before and my 'training' is moot.

What I have noticed with 6 weeks of imagining what can be done within the constraints of the melodic line of the Hebrew, yet setting English words, is that the music is constrained. The work of the accents is subtle. It does not use the full aural scope of musical possibilities. That takes a Gibbons or a Bach, a Beethoven or a Holst. These too stood faithfully in their training in a long tradition.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Local Music

Lots of music today. First Pacific Opera moved me to laughter with Kalman's Maritza. One would travel far to get an equal caliber of performance. And the English libretto is a hoot.

I think I remember these markings...
But $$$$ for opera and a good evensong is free - no collection - no sermon. Victoria friends, you shouldn't miss these.

This week was a lovely introit featuring George Herbert's Easter in the motet by Skellern called Easter Song, Smith's responses, Stanford in Bb, and the verse anthem by Gibbons, If ye be risen again, and the Voluntary:Howells Saraband for the morning of Easter.

Sopranos were in especially fine form. But I would also note the clear sound of the men in the unison Nunc Dimittus. All was well done by the choristers of St John the Divine, Quadra Street.

Next month, make a point of getting to evensong. (The fair daffodils are finished already but there is still more music.) Watch for the music list here.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Puzzle solving

Solving an ancient puzzle
Our younger grandchild is a great puzzle solver. We are all puzzle solvers. What else is science from the image of a black hole in a distant galaxy to the crisper correction of DNA sequences.

I had messed around with a 40 year old Rubik's cube a few days ago. They were the rage in the time of my children's youth (was it really invented only in 1974?). Anyway, I had never completed one before, and the 3 year old asked me when he saw the jumble, Grandpa, can you fix this puzzle? Three days later, and 25 hours of puzzling, here it is.

I think we should puzzle on and I think we should not necessarily accept the solutions that others have offered to our puzzling universe unless these solutions prove themselves good.

I have been puzzling the Hebrew Scriptures and their music following the solution key of Suzanne Haïk-Vantoura as many of you know. She persisted with her puzzle-solving and created a remarkable treasure trove of available music directly from the Scriptures.

I am exploring this now by composing with her themes to see where they lead me. My initial thought was to write an 'Adam' Oratorio, but I have renamed it Raising Leviathan. Ask me in a year or so whether an aging grand parent can write the music he dreamed of writing when he was 17.

(O - and spend $3 and buy a volume of Bob's Bible. You will enjoy the experience.)

Friday, April 26, 2019

The Magi part 1

Now here's a little more out of season stuff. This is Margoliuth reconstructed including the accents from here. The Hebrew differs in places from Salkinson-Ginsberg.

This the music M came up with.

Matthew 2 Fn Min Max Syll
וַכַּאֲשֶׁ֙ר נוֹלַ֤ד יֵשׁ֙וּעַ֙ בְּבֵית־לֶחֶ֣ם יְהוּדָ֔ה בִּימֵ֖י הוֹרְד֣וֹס הַמֶּ֑לֶךְ
הִנֵּ֗ה חֲכָמִ֥ים בָּא֛וּ מִקֶ֥דֶם יְרוּשָׁלָֽיְמָה
1 And when Jeshua was born in Bethlehem of Judah in the days of Herod the king,
behold, wise ones came from the east to Jerusalem.
4B 3d 23
וִַיֹּאמר֔וּ אַיֵּ֛ה מֶּלֶ֥ךְ הַיְּהוּדִ֖ים הַנּוֹלָ֑ד
כִּי רָאִ֤נוּ כוֹכָבוֹ֙ בַּקֶּ֔דֶם וַנָּבֹ֖א לְהִשְׁתַּחֲוֹ֥ת לֽוֹ
2 And they said, Where is the king of the Judeans born?
For we have seen his star in the east, and have come to worship him.
4B 3d 13
וַכְשְׁמֹ֖עָ הוֹרְד֣וֹס הַמֶּ֑לֶךְ
וַיֶּֽנַחֱרַ֣ד ה֔וּא וכָּל־יְרוּשָׁלַ֖יִם עִמּֽוֹ
3 And when Herod the king heard,
he was apprehensive, he and all Jerusalem with him.
4B 3d 9
וַיַּקְהֵ֛ל אֶת־כָּל־רָאשֵׁ֥י הַכֹּהֲנִי֖ם וְסוֹפְרֵי֣ הָעָ֑ם
וַיַּחְקֹ֣ר מֵֽאִתָּ֔ם אֵיפֹּ֖ה יִוָּלֵ֥ד הַמָּשִֽׁיחַ
4 And all the preeminent of the priests convened and the scribes of the people.
And they examined with them where the anointed would be born.
4B 3d 16
וַיֹּאמְרוּ אֵלָ֔יו בְּבֵֽית־לֶחֶ֭ם יְהוּדָ֑ה
֤כִּ֤י כֹ֣ה כָּת֔וּב בְּיַד֖ הַנָּבִֽיא
5 And they said to him, In Bethlehem of Judah,
for thus is written by the hand of the prophet:
4B 3d 12
וְאַתָּ֗ה בֵּֽית־לֶ֙חֶם֨ אֶרֶ֣ץ יְהוּדָה אֵינְךָ צָעִיר בְּאַלֻּפֵי יְהוּדָ֔ה אֵֽינְךָ צָעִּ֖יר בְּאַלּוּפֵ֣י יְהוּדָ֑ה
כִּ֗י מִמְּךָ֨ יֵצֵ֣א מֹשֵׁ֔ל אֲשֶׁ֥ר יִרְעֶ֖ה אֶת־עַמִּ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל
6 But you Bethlehem of the land of Judah, you are of no lesser account among the thousands of Judah,
for from you will emerge a governor, who will shepherd my people Israel.
4B 3d 32
אָ֗ז קָרָ֧א הוֹרְד֛וֹס לְחַכְמֵ֥י הַקֶ֭דֶם בַּסֵּ֑תֶר
וַיַּחְקֹ֨ר לָדַעַת הֵיטֵ֤ב מֵהֶם֨ אֶת־הָעֵ֔ת אֲשֶׁר֛ נִרְאָ֥ה הַכּוֹכָֽב
7 Then Herod called the wise ones of the east in secret,
and he examined to know the good from them, the time that the star appeared.
4B 3d 14
וַיִּשְׁלַ֥ח אֹתָ֛ם לְבֵּֽית־לֶחֶ֭ם וַיֹּאמַ֑ר
לְ֠כוּ וְדִרְשׁ֨וּ הֵיטֵ֜ב עַל־הַיֶּ֗לֶד וְכַאֲשֶׁ֤ר תִּמְצְא֨וּהוּ֨ השׁיב֣וּני דָבָ֔ר לְמַ֛עַן אָב֥וֹאָ גַם־אָֽנִּ֣כ֛י וְאֶשְׁתֲּחֲוֶ֥ה לֽוֹ
8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, and he said,
Go and search the good for the juvenile, and when you find him, bring back a word, so that I may go, even myself, and I will prostrate myself to him.
4B 3d 12
וְהֵ֗ם כַאֲשֶׁ֩ר שָׁמְע֥וּ אֶת־הַמֶּ֖לֶךְ נָסָע֑וּ
וְהִנֵּ֣ה הַכּוֹכָ֡ב אֲשֶׁ֩ר רָא֨וּ בַקֶּ֜דֶם הָלַ֣ךְ לִפְנֵיהֶ֗ם עַ֤ד אֲשֶׁר־בָּא֨ וַיַּעֲמֹ֔ד מִמַּ֕עַל לַאֲשֶׁ֛ר הָ֥יָה שָׁ֖ם הַיָּֽלֶד
9 And they, when they heard the king, pulled out,
and behold, the star that they saw in the east went before them until it came and stood from above where the juvenile was.
4B 3d 14
וְכִרְאוֹתָם֙ הַַכּוֹכָ֔ב שָׂמְח֛וּ שִׂמְחָ֥ה גְדֹלָ֖ה עַד־מְאֹֽד 10 And when they saw the star they were glad with great excessive gladness. 4B 3d 17

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Is G-d separate

A long discussion occurred on Ian Paul's website about Richard Rohr. I thought it a good idea for me to look up Richard Rohr. His twitter home is immediately inspiring. I am sorry to see this conversation degenerate into diatribe.

The Evangelical wing of the Anglican Church has to cease from its desperate grasping of poorly understood English translation of Scripture. It is a bit frightening to leave what one might think are secure moorings, but the fruit of those moorings: the suppression of women, the persecution of sexual minorities, and the destruction of other cultures and tradition, is the result of brackish water in the well. One cannot get bitter water from a sweet well.

I decided to reply to the thesis that God is separate from creation. I have shied away from theology because I think it so hard to come to conclusions. There is a risk that one’s readers will accept the conclusion without doing the hard homework.

I looked for separate in my translation work and found 45 uses of the stem in Hebrew. It has three uses: 17 as the animal, mule. Once as the word kernel, and the rest as our expected idea of separateness, the rivers of Eden, the islands of the nations, Abraham and Lot, the two nations in Rebekah’s womb, Elijah’s separation from Elisha, the bones of the subject of Psalm 22, and so on.

It’s a great read, the word פרד. Proverbs warns us against the degeneration of our words:
One who is wayward dispenses dissension,
and one who natters separates a thousand.
The unique usage as kernel is in Joel. There is no grain, the kernel is rancid.

Never is God mentioned as separate from creation. We are not to separate ourselves from others with abstract words.

How can I have a theological conclusion where there appears to be no support for it in Scripture? (If theology is indeed drawn out (abstrahere) from Scripture.) Admittedly I have not looked at the NT. But there I have just read of Holy Spirit in Matthew 1. I know, wrong season! But as Rohr suggests with his tweet, The seeds of Easter are already found in Christmas. Probably better to say that Easter determines that there was a holy seed.

Holy Spirit with or without caps, occurs as a phrase in Hebrew only once – in Psalm 51, but it is prevalent in the NT. There is where ‘separation’ lies. God is Holy. The Holy that protects Mary is the inner sanctum of God, the dwelling place of God with humanity, the whole thrust from wilderness tabernacle to the temple of the body. This is as far from separateness as one can get. God in us in our body.

It seems to me that the God who created Leviathan to sport with refuses separation from humanity and by implication from creation and the whole created order. I haven’t got an abstract name for this since there is no such abstraction in the Scriptures.

What is Scriptural for us who are in Christ is contained in 2 words from Jesus, “Follow me”. That is the shortest requirement for praxis. Even shorter than “Jesus is Lord”, an ambiguity completely lost on English Christians because of the problem with the sense of that very difficult word ‘lord’.

We are being called out of all our idolatry.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

The rest of Matthew 1

It's Easter Day, so here's a bit of Christmas lore, also a bit of a surprise concerning the Holy.

I have decided to return to a bit of translating in the New Testament. I don't know if I still have time to research Hebrew translations of the NT, but there's nothing like starting. If one doesn't start, one can hardly finish.

The first thing I note with chapter 1 is that 'holy spirit' appears out of nowhere. Everybody talks about Jesus and Christ and so on as if they know everything about him. But where did the expression the holy spirit come from.

God is spirit. But what is the origin of this in a Jewish context? The Jewish Annotated NT cites this pair of words as
"a reference to God's creative and enduring presence (Gen 1.2, 2.7, 8.1; Ex 13.21-22; Josh 2.16; Ps 51.11; and a Talmudic tractate Hagigah (Festal Offering)."
Interesting, if I were looking for the spirit of God in Tanakh, I would have looked for that pair of words in that sequence, but here we find cited more generic references to Yahweh God (2.7) or God - wind (8.1), the pillar of cloud (Ex 13). The reference to Josh 2:16 is baffling.

Well there's a question. רוח הקדשׁ never occurs in the Hebrew Bible. The only occurrence is ורוח קדשׁך and your holy spirit ... And treating holy as an adjective, the phrase should be הרוח הקדשׁ.

So how to approach this conundrum. I suppose I could just accept tradition. But this would be a cop out. What I notice about the use of קדשׁ in the Hebrew is that it is often the adjective holy, and it never appears in Hebrew with a definite article, but it is in some phrases interpreted as a divine name, the Holy or the Holy One. The definite article in English is understood because the next word in the Hebrew is an implied definite such as in קדשׁ קדשׁים the Holy of Holies or קדשׁ ישראל the Holy One of Israel. So this birth in the NT is from the sanctuary, the inner sanctum of Yahweh himself.

Note that this usage of קדשׁ is most prominent in Isaiah, occurring 31 times in the prophet, 25 times in other books.

Here's my rendition of the rest of Matthew 1 based on a Hebrew translation of the Greek but guided by tradition. No music reconstructed for this yet.

18 And the birth of Jeshua, the anointed, was thus.
As Miriam his mother was betrothed to Joseph, ere he came to her, but it was found that she was pregnant, for from the spirit of the Holy she was pregnant.
19 And Joseph, her man, was a righteous one and did not consent to give her the defamation of the people,
and he promised to send her away in secret.

20 While there was a matter on his heart such as this, behold a messenger of Yahweh appeared to him in a dream, saying,
Joseph, son of David, you will not fear to take to you Miriam your wife, for the one that is born within her was fashioned from the spirit of the Holy.

21 And she will give birth to a son and you will call his name Jeshua,
for he himself will save his people from their sins.

22 And all this has happened to fulfill the word of Yahweh by the hand of the prophet, saying,
23 Behold the young woman is pregnant and will give birth to a son, and they will call his name Emmanuel,
that is to say, God is with us.

24 And Joseph awoke from his sleep and he did as the messenger of Yahweh commanded him,
and he received his wife.

25 And he did not know her until she gave birth to a son, her firstborn,
and he called his name Jeshua.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Write me a hymn

The sequence of Psalms from the enigmatic oracle of 110 to the shortest psalm 117 surely would inspire some poet somewhere to construct a hymn. Or some musician somewhere to compose a melody.

Any takers? - A successful poem or composition based on these ideas might make it into the oratorio I am designing. I have spread these as a counterpoint to the human in the creation.

Notice how 111-113 and 115, 116 do not begin on the default tonic. This shows the continuity of these psalms into two groups 110-113, 114-116, 117 as a premonition of 150, but there is a long history between 117 and 150.

1 Of David a psalm,
an oracle of Yahweh to my Lord. Sit at my right hand,
till I set your enemies as your footstool.

1f Hallelu Yah. I will thank Yahweh with a whole heart,
Before the council of the upright, and assembly.

1f Hallelu Yah. A happy person fears Yahweh.
By his commandments he has much delight.

1f Hallelu Yah. Praise servants of Yahweh.
Praise the name of Yahweh.

1 When Israel came out from Egypt,
the house of Jacob from an exotic people,
2 Judah became his sanctuary,
Israel his parables.
1C Not to us Yahweh not to us,
but to your name give glory,
over your kindness, over your truth.

1g I love, for Yahweh heard,
the voice of my supplication.

1 Praise Yahweh, all nations.
Commend him, all the clans.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Bob's Bible, The Major Prophets

A 16 week publication schedule... The fourth volume to be published, Volume 3 The Major Prophets is now available.

Volume 6 The Five Scrolls was my starting point for obvious reasons. Get the keys before you try to open the doors of a large room.

I am in the midst of designing an oratorio around the music related to creation. Not such an easy task to find a strong parallel structure - one that will complement the already magnificent musical structure of Genesis 1.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Light and words related to light in the Hebrew Bible

One thing I have tried to do in my work is make the data clear for any claims I make about language patterns. If I am wrong, you will be able to see why. If I say certain words are used for certain things, then I support it with the raw data. You don't have to take my word for it. And you can critique my reasoning.

I read here (a free chapter from the publisher) that the 'one' word for light אור is dominant in prose and more varied in poetry. I hadn't noticed this. I wondered why.

There is a problem for me - I don't clearly distinguish prose from poetry except with regard to the 3 books (Psalms, Proverbs, and Job) and the 21. But if the claim were true, I would expect that the difference would show up by examining the distribution of stems in this domain between the 3 and the 21.

So first - here are all the stems that occur in my domain of light. And I note one additional, debatable, brilliant, זהר, normally related to teaching rather than light. Its occurrences are in Daniel, so irrelevant to this distinction between Hebrew poetry and prose.

Hebrew stems in the domain of light
You can observe from this that אור is indeed dominant. It is not the only word to suggest the impact of light. There are a very large number of others to consider.

The reason for the large number is that I put all the colours in this domain and the opposites of light. So here are the glosses. (Excluding other obvious glosses for these stems outside the domain of light. Semantics is always a work in process. But better that than nothing, which is what we have so far from the scholars in this area.) I made a few adjustments based on the image and came up with this list:

אדם ruddy (21) dyed red (6) ruddy stuff (2)
אמץ bay (2)
ארגמן purple (42)
בהט marble (1)
דר mother-of-pearl (1)
חום brown (4)
חכליל flush (2)
חמר red (2) redden (1)
ירק yellow-green (4)
כירמל cinnabar (3)
לבן white (35) bleach (1) whiten (1)
טלא patchwork (9)
עין colour (4)
צהב yellow (4)
צחר tawny (2)
רענן green (15) luxuriant (6)
שׁחר black (8) blackest dawn (1)
שׁישׁ alabaster (3)
שׁני scarlet (41)
שׁרב mirage (2)
שׁשׁר vermilion (2)
תולע crimson (36)
תחשׁ dyed indigo (11) indigo dye (2)

Opposite of light (I usually put opposites in the same domain for efficiency).
אפל gloom (21) gloomy (1) unripe (1)
חשׁך darkness (93) darken (8) dark (5) dark place (5) sooty (1)
חשׁר inky (1)
עלטה dusk (4)
ערפל dark turbulence (12) murk (3)
קדר blackness (5) (A slight overlap in stems ...)
כהה lessen (11) dim (7)
צמר eclipse (1)
נשׁף twilight (11) barn owl (3) blew twilight (1) breeze (1) twilight hour (1)

ערה nakedness (47) expose (25) sheath (5) exposure (2) genital (2) upend (2) exposed place (1)
בהיר scar (12) glare (1)

Light and its impact
אור light (171) enlighten (9) reveal (8) give light (5) gives light (2) lit up (2) shine light (2) aperture (1) first light (1) light-give (1) lighten (1) pyre (1) show light (1) there first light (1)
בזק sudden epiphany (7)
ברק lightning (16) glitter (6) carbuncle (3) bolt (1)
יפע shine (10)
עשׁת gleam (5) think (1) thought (1)
קרן intensely bright (4) intense brightness (2)
רעם thunder (18) thunderous (2)
לפד torch (14)
נגה illumination (16) illuminate (7) luminous (4)
נהר radiance (3) radiant (1) sunbeam (1)
ניר lamp (53) fire (9) fiery (8) nigh lamp (1)

Now let's look at the distribution of these last words between the books of poetry and prose.

אור light 63 poetry 108 prose, enlighten 5 4,  reveal 4 4,  give light 0 5,  gives light 2 0,  lit up 0 2,  shine light 1 1 aperture 0 1 first light 0 1 light-give 1 0 lighten 1 0 pyre 1 0 show light 1 0 there first light 0 1
בזק sudden epiphany 0 7
ברק lightning 6 10 glitter 1 5 carbuncle 0 3 bolt 1 0
זהר brilliance 0 2 brilliant 0 1
יפע shine 7 3
לפד torch 2 12
נגה illumination 0 16 illuminate 4 3 luminous 1 3
נהר radiance 0 3 radiant 1 0 sunbeam 1 0
ניר lamp 13 40 fire 0 9 fiery 0 8 nigh lamp 1 0
עשׁת gleam 2 3 think 0 1 thought 0 1
צהל bright 1 5
קרן intensely bright 0 4 intense brightness 0 2
רעם thunder 13 5 thunderous 0 2

And here is a summary by stem. There is no significant difference that I can find with the possible exception of יפה (shine) where a word in the domain of light is slightly more prominently used in poetry over prose. Also if I include Isaiah and 2 Samuel 22 in the poetry, נגה could be added (which I have glossed from the Latin lumen).

Stem% poetryTotal
אור 38.35206
בזק 07
ברק 30.7726
זהר 03
יפע 70.0010
לפד 14.2914
נגה 18.5227
נהר 40.005
ניר 19.7271
עשׁת 28.577
צהל 16.676

I agree with Alter in so many ways, (syntax, recurring words, play, rhythm, concreteness, compactness, foreignness) but there are significant differences in our approach to translation: my music is literally music. I do not use the word as a metaphor. I work from a database using pattern recognition. I am quite happy with Latin words commonly used in English. I work from the standpoint of faithfulness within a religious tradition that I have plenty of reason to reject. I do not work from the point of view of literature though I seek to see and hear beauty.

Unfortunately with this claim on page 5 of the preview noted above, Alter does not reveal enough information to clarify his claim, admittedly a minor claim used as a springboard for his larger criticism, a criticism with which I have considerable agreement.

For how many years has the KJV been revised? If a translation catches on, it must have the basis in the raw data from which it can be critiqued and revised. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Did I mention science?

I searched in my current blog for science to see if I have been respectful of how I learn. Testing and seeing...

And behold, there are almost 100 mentions of science going back to 2010 including this gem - what was I thinking!
I hope to address the whole nine yards of the science of God at some point: Unity, relationship to humanity, reward and punishment, Anointing and the world to come, time and science, election and the scandal of particularity, predestination, providence, and miracles, and who knows what else. This is my death-wish I suppose. For I like anyone else, cannot see God's face and live (Exodus 33:20). Whatever... I have died already in the Anointed. I will start and end there.
100 mentions may be worth a book... There can be no conflict between science and steadfastness (or faith by another name). Those who refuse science refuse God. Not that science is God but that God is not the author of confusion, superstition, or nonsense. Fearful humans author these things to their own detriment and that of others.

Some people might think my translations are 'literal'. No. They are not. They are ruled by a sense that the language is close enough to itself that it should be interpreted as pattern recognition. That is a subject I spent my life with as a programmer. (Apart from the music,) that is what I have done to the Hebrew Scripture, recognized the verbal patterns and read accordingly. It may be impossible to do this with a committee or a multiple person translation. Divergence is almost inevitable without algorithmic pattern recognition.

I have been proofing the prophets and I found a mislabeled score. Also I noted some unique words that really surprised me but they withstood my scrutiny.
I will sing, if you will, for my beloved, a song of my beloved for his vineyard.
A vineyard there is for my beloved against an intensely bright destiny of density.
Whoa - where did that wordplay come from? A unique phrase in the Hebrew,
כֶּ֛רֶם הָיָ֥ה לִֽידִידִ֖י בְּקֶ֥רֶן בֶּן־שָֽׁמֶן
 קרן followed by בן followed by שׁמן is unique as are the two sub-sequences of each pair of these stems. Everyone seems to render it as 'on a fruitful hill'. I have no idea why. Literally it is 'a horn of the son of oil'. Or 'an intensely bright child of an octave'. (Just kidding).

בן children (2,535) child (1,694) son (367) sons (189) he- (50) Ben- (31) squab (10) little one (6) -- (5) ben- (3) male foal (3) -kin (2) Ben (2) calf (2) cubs (2) grandson (2) kids (2) Son (1) destiny (1) eaglet (1)
קרן horn (84) intensely bright (4) two horn (4) intense brightness (2) Intense Brightness (1) Karen- (1)
שׁמן oil (183) eight (106) eighty (37) eighteen (21) stout (16) eighteenth (9) dense (7) stout thing (4) octave (3) oils (3) compared oil (1) density (1) eigh- (1) eightieth (1) oily (1) ointment (1)

These words are frequent, but the combination is unique. What will one do with it? The Hebrew is also alliterative.  beqeren ben-shemen.

Listen to Yahweh's determined hope for his people. (I didn't even mention this in my original posting on Isaiah 5.) But I did have a lot of other points to make.