Monday, December 28, 2020

Psalms 100

The last Psalm in Tate's book is of course 100, since the organizers of the Word Biblical Commentary arbitrarily split the Psalms into 3 by 50's. And what a great psalm it is, a psalm of thanksgiving. Here I can ask the question: how much scholarship do you need to make a decision about translating the text? You need to know the decision is possible - and then make your choice.

One decision I made when doing this psalm, before I had studied the work of many scholars, is well supported by Tate. This is the decision to read in verse 3 what is written (ktiv) /lv/ (lamed-vav) rather than what is read (qere), /la/ (lamed-aleph). They both sound the same (=lo). I chose what is written for the similarity of concept to the words of the Song, My beloved is mine, and I am his (lv). 

The traditional Coverdale translation has, It is he that hath made us and not we ourselves. I chuckled at Tate's quote of another scholar: "there is no suggestion of self-creation in the context of Psalm 100; the reading not we ourselves answers a question that no one was asking of even thought to ask." Tate thinks that is a little hard on the Masoretes, but he lists many possible interpretations of the /lo/ (in red below).
  • it has good support from some mss (Aquila, Jerome, and Targum).
  • there are several passages listed where written /la/ could be read as /lv/.
  • it could be an assertive lamed /l-/ (such as is found in Ugaritic) - and indeed we are his people.
  • it could be /lv/ - would that we be his people.
  • even /la/ can have an assertive rather than its normally negative sense.
  • there are related phrases to note in Psalms 95:7, 79:13. No mention there of any dangerous thoughts that we had created ourselves.
  • he cites additional grammatical issues like enjambment. I don't see enjambment here where the accents delineate a tricolon and a pause on the supertonic (ole-veyored).
  • Note also the emphatic repeated 'he'. And try not to laugh if you are singing it.
This decision about one letter illustrates just how detailed the decision making may have to be when rendering a translation. I would rather be in the positive place of knowing I belong, even if it hits my need to be responsible, than in the negative place of knowing I am somehow uncreative. That negative place is not our true place for we are creative, made in the image of the creator.
Psalms 100
מִזְמ֥וֹר לְתוֹדָ֑ה
הָרִ֥יעוּ לַ֝יהוָ֗ה כָּל־הָאָֽרֶץ
a mzmor ltodh
hriyu lihvh cl-harx
1 A psalm of thanksgiving.
Raise a shout to Yahweh all the earth.
עִבְד֣וּ אֶת־יְהוָ֣ה בְּשִׂמְחָ֑ה
בֹּ֥אוּ לְ֝פָנָ֗יו בִּרְנָנָֽה
b ybdu at-ihvh bwmkh
boau lpniv brnnh
2 Serve Yahweh with gladness.
Enter into his presence with a shout.

דְּע֗וּ כִּֽי יְהוָה֮ ה֤וּא אֱלֹ֫הִ֥ים
הֽוּא־עָ֭שָׂנוּ וְל֣וֹ אֲנַ֑חְנוּ
עַ֝מּ֗וֹ וְצֹ֣אן מַרְעִיתֽוֹ
g dyu ci ihvh hua alohim
hua-ywnu vlo anknu
ymo vxan mryito
3 Know, for Yahweh he is God.
He, he made us, and his we are,
his people and the sheep of his pasture.

בֹּ֤אוּ שְׁעָרָ֨יו ׀ בְּתוֹדָ֗ה חֲצֵרֹתָ֥יו בִּתְהִלָּ֑ה
הֽוֹדוּ־ל֝֗וֹ בָּרֲכ֥וּ שְׁמֽוֹ
d boau wyriv btodh kxrotiv bthilh
hodu-lo brcu wmo
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving, his courts with praise.
Thank him. Bless his name.
כִּי־ט֣וֹב יְ֭הֹוָה לְעוֹלָ֣ם חַסְדּ֑וֹ
וְעַד־דֹּ֥ר וָ֝דֹ֗ר אֱמוּנָתֽוֹ
h ci-'tob ihvh lyolm ksdo
vyd-dor vdor amunto
5 For good is Yahweh, forever is his kindness,
and ever, generation to generation, his faithfulness.
This psalm is of course the traditional Jubilate Deo, used occasionally as a canticle in Mattins. I have transcribed it into English as noted here. This music is very singable, robust, and both tuneful and meditative.

Psalms 100 Fn Min Max Syll Avg S/N
מִזְמ֥וֹר לְתוֹדָ֑ה
הָרִ֥יעוּ לַ֝יהוָ֗ה כָּל־הָאָֽרֶץ
1 A psalm of thanksgiving.
Raise a shout to Yahweh all the earth.
3e 4A 5
9
2.8
עִבְד֣וּ אֶת־יְהוָ֣ה בְּשִׂמְחָ֑ה
בֹּ֥אוּ לְ֝פָנָ֗יו בִּרְנָנָֽה
2 Serve Yahweh with gladness.
Enter into his presence with a shout.

3e 4B 8
7
3
דְּע֗וּ כִּֽי יְהוָה֮ ה֤וּא אֱלֹ֫הִ֥ים
הֽוּא־עָ֭שָׂנוּ וְל֣וֹ אֲנַ֑חְנוּ
עַ֝מּ֗וֹ וְצֹ֣אן מַרְעִיתֽוֹ
3 Know, for Yahweh he is God.
He, he made us, and his we are,
his people and the sheep of his pasture.

3e 4C 9
9
7
2.78
בֹּ֤אוּ שְׁעָרָ֨יו ׀ בְּתוֹדָ֗ה חֲצֵרֹתָ֥יו בִּתְהִלָּ֑ה
הֽוֹדוּ־ל֝֗וֹ בָּרֲכ֥וּ שְׁמֽוֹ
4 C Enter his gates with thanksgiving, his courts with praise.
Thank him. Bless his name.
3e 4C 14
7
3.5
כִּי־ט֣וֹב יְ֭הֹוָה לְעוֹלָ֣ם חַסְדּ֑וֹ
וְעַד־דֹּ֥ר וָ֝דֹ֗ר אֱמוּנָתֽוֹ
5 For good is Yahweh, forever is his kindness,
and ever, generation to generation, his faithfulness.
3e 4B 10
9
2.71
(Even if we had to create the creator, would we not want to justify the good as we brood over the chaos that we observe?)

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