Thursday, July 22, 2021

A brief on the SimHebrew Bible

We have prepared an introduction to the SimHebrew Bible. This brief is not a final product but a necessary preliminary to the problem of creating a preface for the whole Bible. The text of the Bible is complete from the Hebrew point of view. Two complementary approaches have converged on a single result, each confirming the other.

Now what needs to be said?

First that the beauty of the text cannot be known well if it remains unread. It is somewhat valuable to read in translation, but we all should know that there are thousands of competing translations on the market today. The translation committees seem to have disbursed into social media. One can learn from these of course, but one cannot check out their claims and assumptions without some knowledge of the architecture and the music of the Hebrew language. That's where SimHebrew comes into the picture. It allows a non-Hebrew specialist to read the Hebrew accurately. And there is full online support from a complete SimHebrew concordance.

My English translation is also complete and has been lived with and adjusted for 3 years now.

Where is the writer of today who can justify his works the way the King James translators justified theirs?

• 1 Another thing we think good to admonish thee of, gentle reader, that we have not tied ourselves to an uniformity of phrasing, or to an identity of words, as some peradventure would wish that we had done, because they observe that some learned men somewhere have been as exact as they could that way.

• 2 Truly, that we might not vary from the sense of that which we had translated before, if the word signified the same thing in both places [πολυσημα.] (for there be some words that be not of the same sense everywhere) we were especially careful, and made a conscience, according to our duty.

• 3 But that we should express the same notion in the same particular word; as, for example, if we translate the Hebrew or Greek word once by purpose, never to call it intent; if one where journeying, never travelling; if one where think, never suppose; if one where pain, never ache; if one where joy, never gladness, etc.;

• 4 thus to mince the matter, we thought to savour more of curiosity than wisdom, and that rather it would breed scorn in the atheist than bring profit to the godly reader.

• 5 For is the kingdom of God become words or syllables?

• 6 Why should we be in bondage to them, if we may be free? use one precisely when we may use another no less fit as commodiously?

What shall I say, gentle reader, "Give me a break!" This section is fine for 16th century English literary effects, but that's not the way a Hebrew writer thought. How can you hear or see architecture when the sound in the host language does not mimic deliberately repeated sounds in the guest language?

Doubtless there is polysemy in Hebrew, but for one example among hundreds if not more than a thousand English lemmas, goi, which I gloss as nation, is not a polysemic word unless the translator or committee impose additional senses onto it, as the KJV does when it includes Gentile, heathen, and people, as synonyms. These synonyms are interpretive in 17th century culture. Besides this translation error, the failure to use a consistent gloss in this case obscures significant structural connections in the text (as we have seen in our recent study of Psalms 8-10).

I love their archaic purpose for amr, but today we might not be understood. You can see all my polysemic choices and my careful combing out of the tangled glosses of the authorized versions in the concordance, their hair not like a troop of she-goats curled up on the hillside of Gilead.

wir hwirim d Song 4
a hnç iph ryiiti hnç iph yiniiç ionim mbyd lxmtç
wyrç cydr hyizim wglwu mhr glyd
d:-3, h:-6, i:-12, c:-6, l:-3, m:-5, n:-4, y:-7, r:-4, w:-3,
gl: 2, hn: 2, nc: 3, ph: 2, ry: 1, yd: 3, yr: 1,
1 Just look at you, beautiful, my friend. Just look at you, beautiful, your eyes doves from within your headscarf,
your hair like a troop of she-goats curled up on the hillside of Gilead.

The brief is no longer available for review. If you would like to comment or write an intro or a blurb, or assist with graphic design or anything else, be sure to get in touch @drmacdonald.

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