Rolf Furuli furuli at
Wed Aug 25 17:18:41 EDT 1999

Matthew Anstey wrote

>GDay all,
>What do people think of the translation of go'el in Ruth as
>kinsman-redeemer? What are the arguments fro and against this, and what are
>other options? Is perhaps "kinsman" a simpler alternative? Thanks for your

Dear Matthew,

The answer to your question depends on your philosophy of Lexical
semantics, and how much you want to chew the food for your readers.  If we
look at Lexical semantics along the lines of Psycholinguistics -  meaning
is connected with the minds of living people rather than with the words in
a book - then I see problems with "kinsman-redeemer".  It fits very well
the book of Ruth, but hardly Isaiah 44:6,24 and Psalm 19:15.

A native speaker in the days of the Judges had a concept i their minds
which was signalled by G)L; the context would not contribute anything to
the *concept*, but would help him or her to understand which side of the
concept that the speaker or reader wanted to stress. In the book of Ruth
"kinsman" is stressed but this is hardly the case in Isaiah and the Psalms.
If the purpose of your translation is to convey meaning to your readers by
help of concepts in their minds, something that means work on the part of
the readers, I think that "redeemer" is the best in all cases of G)L,
including Ruth. But if the readers are not expected to do any
interpretation themselves, "kinsman-redeemer" is very fitting in your
context. The word "kinsman" alone is not fitting in any context as a
rendition of G)L  because it does not include the notion of loosing or
redeeming, according to my opinion.


Rolf Furuli
University of Oslo

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