[B-Greek] The LXX phrase ERCOMENOS hHXEI in Habakkuk 2:3

Albert Pietersma albert.pietersma at sympatico.ca
Tue Jun 3 12:48:18 EDT 2003

The questioner has correctly answered his own question, and on the formal side
this has been underscored by Carl. That is to say, Hab 2:3 has the construction
it has because of the source text.

As has been noted, in Hebrew a so-called infinitive absolute can be used to
intensify other verbal forms. Most books within the Septuagint anthology
represent that intensifying infinitive in Greek. The two regular ways of doing
so are (a) by a cognative dative noun (cf. Gen 2:17 QANATW APOQANEISQE ) and (b)
by a cognate participle, as we have essentially in Hab 2:3.

Though the intensification of the Hebrew could have been transferred to Greek in
keeping with standard Greek usage,  the two modes typically resorted to result
in translationese Greek, i.e. such usage occurs only in translation literature
of the formal correspondence variety, but not in the living language.

How does one translate such translationese?  Not  by superimposing the Hebrew,
in my view, but in accordance with what it can mean within Greek. Thus Gen 2:7:
'you shall die by death' and Hab 2:3  'when he comes he will come and not delay'

The Greek is as grammatical as the English is. Both are, however, semantically

"Carl W. Conrad" wrote:

> At 6:17 AM -0400 6/3/03, "Philip Engmann" <philipengmann at ghanatel.net> wrote:
> >
> >
> >The LXX phrase, ERCOMENOS hHXEI found in Habakkuk 2:3 does not actually
> >make sense.
> >
> >I believe that the LXX phrase, ERCOMENOS hHXEI  found in Habakkuk 2:3
> >does not actually make sense and is really a bad translation from the
> >Hebrew to the Greek. This is because ERCOMENOS is a present
> >participle, and according to the definition of a present participle,
> >
> >"The function of the present participle may be understood as
> >follows: "The tense of the participle is relative to the time of the
> >leading verb. The present participle therefore is used if the action
> >denoted by the participle is represented as taking place at the same
> >time as the action denoted by the leading verb, no matter whether the
> >action denoted by the leading verb is past, present or future."
> >
> >hHXEI is a future verb meaning `he/she/it will come'.
> >
> >Therefore, since ERCOMENOS is a present participle, the action
> >denoted by the participle is represented as taking place in the
> >future i.e. at the same time as the action denoted by the leading
> >verb, and so both ERCOMENOS and hHXEI take place in the future.
> >
> >Both ERCOMENOS and  hHXEI have the same contextual meaning, `to come'.
> >
> >Since both ERCOMENOS and hHXEI have the same contextual meaning, `to come';
> >and both are in the future tense, the literal translation of ERCOMENOS
> >hHXEI found in Habakkuk 2:3 is `while he will be coming, he will come',
> >which is meaningless. My explanation for this `meaningless' translation is
> >that the LXX translators tried to mimic the infinitive absolute form of the
> >MT, which was a brilliant attempt but resulted in a bad translation.
> >
> >1. I would like other opinions of my analysis please.
> >
> >2. I would also like to see how others translate the Habakkuk 2:3 LXX
> >phrase, ERCOMENOS hHXEI.
> >
> >3. And also I would like to know whether various LXX versions have varying
> >readings for this particular phrase.
> There are probably others better qualified to respond to this, but it seems
> to me that the answer is relatively simple:
> I think you may be unaware of the Hebrew infinitive absolute construction
> in the original Hebrew text represented by this phrase ERCOMENOS hHXEI in
> the LXX. You might, if you have access to it, look at the Conybeare/Stock
> _Grammar of Septuagint Greek_, §81, "The Intensive Participle."
> In the present text the Hebrew of the Masoretic Text reads Bho' YaBho'
> which will have the sense, "will surely come"--and I believe that is
> precisely the sense which I think that the translator of the phrase in the
> LXX intended to convey.
> --
> Carl W. Conrad
> Department of Classics, Washington University (Emeritus)
> 1989 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
> cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
> WWW: http://www.ioa.com/~cwconrad/
> ---
> B-Greek home page: http://metalab.unc.edu/bgreek
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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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