Thursday, October 29, 2009

(womanly) wordplay in Genesis 38

I was blogging elsewhere today, re-read the Septuagint translation of Genesis 38:9 and 10, and saw wordplay I'd overlooked.  Here's how it plays in my English.

What do you think?  Notice the Greek plays on Knowing as Birthing as Woman as Earth?  I've bolded for comparisons:

γνοὺς δὲ Αυναν ὅτι οὐκ αὐτῷ ἔσται τὸ σπέρμα ἐγίνετο ὅταν εἰσήρχετο πρὸς τὴν γυναῖκα τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ ἐξέχεεν ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν τοῦ μὴ δοῦναι σπέρμα τῷ ἀδελφῷ αὐτοῦ

9 But Onan had birthed knowledge that the sperm-semen seedwould not be born to him. So whenever he went in to his brother’sbirthing wombman he would waste it on the ground of birth, so as not to give the sperm-semen seed to his brother.

10 πονηρὸν δὲ ἐφάνη ἐναντίον τοῦ θεοῦ, ὅτι ἐποίησεν τοῦτο,
καὶ ἐθανάτωσεν καὶ τοῦτον

10 It was wicked, in fact, appearing in the face of God, this mess that was created,
and so he put him to death and so that was that.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Julia E. Smith's (outsider) translating

Here's some translating by Julia E. Smith:


SONG of ascensions to David. O Jehovah, my heart was not lifted up, and mine eyes were not exalted, and I went not in great things, and in wonders above me.
2 If I did not place and rest my soul as a child weaned of his mother: my soul as a weaned child.
3 Israel shall hope for Jehovah from now and even to forever.
She is translating all alone - not welcome on any Bible translation team of men of the late 19th century. Those men revising the KJV (without a woman or a Jew on their teams of American and British experts) differently-rendered the Hebrew psalm this way:

1 A Song of Ascents; of David. LORD, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty; neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too wonderful for me.
2 Surely I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with his mother, my soul is with me like a weaned child.
3 O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and for evermore.
What fascinates me is how the Smith translating and the Revised Version compare with the Jews' own translating from their Hebrew into their Hellene back in Egypt, in Alexandria, that namesake city of Alexander the Great (student of Aristotle) so far from Jerusalem. Here's that Jewish-Hellene translation that defies Greek imperialism:

1 ᾠδὴ τῶν ἀναβαθμῶν τῷ Δαυιδ κύριε οὐχ ὑψώθη μου ἡ καρδία οὐδὲ ἐμετεωρίσθησαν οἱ ὀφθαλμοί μου οὐδὲ ἐπορεύθην ἐν μεγάλοις οὐδὲ ἐν θαυμασίοις ὑπὲρ ἐμέ
2 εἰ μὴ ἐταπεινοφρόνουν ἀλλὰ ὕψωσα τὴν ψυχήν μου ὡς τὸ ἀπογεγαλακτισμένον ἐπὶ τὴν μητέρα αὐτοῦ ὡς ἀνταπόδοσις ἐπὶ τὴν ψυχήν μου
3 ἐλπισάτω Ισραηλ ἐπὶ τὸν κύριον ἀπὸ τοῦ νῦν καὶ ἕως τοῦ αἰῶνος
While there might be some dispute whether the Hebrew that the Jews in Alexandria were translating from and the Hebrew that the nineteenth century Brits and Americans were translating from was the same, there can be no argument over something else.

Notice how the Septuagint translators and Smith start verse 2 with the conditional. She says, "If I did not..."; and they say "εἰ μὴ."

Notice how Smith's and the outsider-Jews' own translation is a big departure from most other translations, including the Revised Version translation.

What does a woman know that most men don't? What do Jews far from home under a king in Egypt no less see in a Psalm of David and of his mother that other and otherwise "independent" men won't or can't?

Don't we get how central the relationship of a psalmist, as a baby, to his mother must be?