Friday, February 26, 2010

Of women and -μένη

J. R. Daniel Kirk at Storied Theology posts on what "ἐνεργουμένη means" and how theology of the translators motivates their renderings.  This has led to a number of other posts many of which Peter Kirk links to over at BBB here, where several still "are looking in particular at the Greek verb, actually a participle, energoumene, a present participle, feminine singular nominative, of the middle or passive voice of the verb energeo."  The word seems odd, a neologism perhaps, because in our extant Greek texts it only appears twice used once a piece by two different authors.  Where would they get this form from, and why?

Well, quite unrelated (probably) is the "present participle, feminine singular nominative, of the middle or passive voice of" two other Greek verbs I found.  Each has the suffix -μένη.

I don't really have time to say much of what I think about this, but I'd certainly welcome any comments.  The main thing to note, of course, is the wordplay here.

The Greek is a playful translating of Hebrew.  And the Hebrew seems full of wordplay (if the Masoretic text is what was being translated).  So here it is.  Please tell me what you see, and I promise as time allows to come back to talk with you and to make of it anything else we might see together.

Leviticus 21:7 and 21:14 (ΛΕΥΕΙΤΟΚΟΝ / ויקרא)

γυναῖκα πόρνην καὶ βεβηλωμένην οὐ λήμψονται καὶ γυναῖκα ἐκβεβλημένην ἀπὸ ἀνδρὸς αὐτῆς ἅγιός ἐστιν τῷ κυρίῳ θεῷ αὐτοῦ

χήραν δὲ καὶ ἐκβεβλημένην καὶ βεβηλωμένην καὶ πόρνην ταύτας οὐ λήμψεται ἀλλ᾽ ἢ παρθένον ἐκ τοῦ γένους αὐτοῦ λήμψεται γυναῖκα

אִשָּׁה זֹנָה וַחֲלָלָה לֹא יִקָּחוּ וְאִשָּׁה גְּרוּשָׁה מֵאִישָׁהּ לֹא יִקָּחוּ כִּֽי־קָדֹשׁ הוּא לֵאלֹהָֽיו׃

אַלְמָנָה וּגְרוּשָׁה וַחֲלָלָה זֹנָה אֶת־אֵלֶּה לֹא יִקָּח כִּי אִם־בְּתוּלָה מֵעַמָּיו יִקַּח אִשָּֽׁה׃

Here's Lancelot Brenton's solo translation of the Greek into English followed by Julia E. Smith's solo translation of the Hebrew into English (both completed in the nineteenth century):

They shall not take a woman who is a harlot and profaned, or a woman put away from her husband; for he is holy to the Lord his God.

But a widow, or one that is put away, or profaned, or a harlot, these he shall not take; but he shall take for a wife a virgin of his own people.

They shall not take a woman, harlot, or profane; and they shall not take a wife driven away from her husband, for he is holy to his God.

A widow, and the driven away, and profane, and an harlot, these he shall not take: but a virgin of his people shall he take a wife.

Why these translations?  What motivates the Hebrew, the Hellene translation?  How do they mirror one another, and in what way do they play with interpretation and with performance and with playfulness in different ways?


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