[B-Greek] LXX Psalms 118:112

Albert Pietersma albert.pietersma at sympatico.ca
Wed Feb 19 12:35:24 EST 2003

Excellent question, no easy answer. As I see it, the problem is essentially
that of the source text.  True, in translations that replace the original, such
problems are typically "solved," but that is not the kind of translation we
have in the Greek Psalter, where problems often get passed on.
What does the Hebrew mean?
NRSV translates the verse as:
(I incline my heart to perform your statutes)
forever, to the end.
The NEB translates more dynamically:
(I am resolved to fulfil thy statutes;)
they are are a reward that never fails.
There are other translations of MT that can be cited, but NRSV and NEB are
sufficient to point out the problem: what does one does with (QB, the last
three consonants of the verse, syntactically and semantically? Does it function
adverbially (NRSV) or does function as a nominal (NEB)? Does it mean "end"
(NRSV) or does it mean "reward" (NEB)? Since the three consonants can function
as and can mean either, a contextual argument can be made for both.
The Greek translator himself (=G)  waffles, and that within the same psalm. So
for example in 118.33 he translates (QB as DIA PANTOS ("I will seek it [the
way] continually") but in 118.112 as DI' ANTAMEIYIN. One might further note
that (QB is rendered by ANTAPODOSIS in 18[19].12 and by ANTALLAGMA in 88[89].52
both of which are in the same semantic ballpark as ANTAMEIYIS.

Two things in particular are of interest in 118.112: (a) G takes  (QB to
function as a noun and interpretively preposes DIA, thus making the entire
phrase into an adverbial; (b) though G clearly recognizes "reward/exchange" as
a component of (QB, only in our verse does he use ANTAMEIYIS as a gloss, all
the more interestingly since this Greek word is a hapax in the entire LXX!
Both (a) and (b) show that, within G's fairly restrictive parameters, he is
really trying to make sense of his source text. What sense did he manage to

LEH is correct as far as it goes, but it understandably does not try to exegete
Ps 118.112.  I would suggest that in this verse the kind of
exchange/reward/requital at issue is 'what one gets out of it for its own
sake.'  That is to say, "I inclined my heart to perform your statutes/
forever," because doing so has its own pay-back.  Differently put, it isn't
because doing so will win the psalmist  a reward in the hereafter, but because
doing so gives him happiness in life here and now. What reception history did
with Ps 118.112 is no doubt of interest but is another story.
Sorry for the length of this post.  Blame G :-)

D Jongkind wrote:

> The first line is clear to me, the first clause of the second line also, but
> what can the last clause mean? Lust mentions 'exchanging, requital' for
> ANTAMEIYIS but that does not help me much.
> Regards,
> Dirk Jongkind
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Albert Pietersma
Dept of Near&Middle Eastern Civilizations
4 Bancroft Avenue
University of Toronto
Toronto M5S 1C1
albert.pietersma at sympatico.ca
homepage http://www.chass.utoronto.ca:8080/~pietersm/

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