Question Concerning Inspiration (was Joe)

Peter Kirk Peter_Kirk at
Wed Dec 13 14:36:24 EST 2000

-----Original Message-----
From: Ian Hutchesson [mailto:mc2499 at]
Sent: 13 December 2000 18:33
To: Biblical Hebrew
Subject: Re: Question Concerning Inspiration (was Joe)


>In the business of translation, the contextualisation of a text is
>important. Without such aid as a historical contextualisation can provide,
>one limits the efficacy of one's translation work.
>PK: Precisely. That's why my interest in history is not just a sideline.
>However, I don't find your approach to contextualisation very helpful, as
>the only historical context which you allow, in Daniel,

This was probably the only one we had a chance of agreeing on. You
definitely wouldn't accept a post-Josephus context for the redaction which

brought us the canonical Ezra and Nehemiah (and Chronicles for that matter).

However, when one knows that Daniel wasn't written in the sixth century BCE,
you can start to understand why the Aramaic is so problematical, ie that it
doesn't reflect any known Aramaic, especially not Persian chancelry Aramaic.
This is Garbini looked beyond literal (and incomprehensible) readings of the
text and found what was meant in a number of cases in his article of
"Biblical Aramaic" you may have seen on my website.

PK: Your "if" trick, but with "when" instead of "if". I don't "know" when
Daniel was or was not written. I would not stake my life on the 6th century
BCE, but I do not accept this as proven false. As for the Aramaic, I prefer
to base my views on the studies not of Garbini and yourself but of my fellow

>is in contradiction
>to what the text actually states (that these words were given to Daniel in
>the 6th century BCE), and as a translator I am bound to give priority to
>text over a speculatively reconstructed historical context.

I can only assume that you don't accept the historical context reconstructed
for Daniel. Does this mean you are willing to accept that the text has a
different context? perhaps one based on a literal reading of the text? which
forces adherents to invent kings, play games with the significance of the
text and stretch times to maintain credibility for such a reading?

PK: As far as I know, there is insufficient evidence to determine the
historical context of the writing of the book of Daniel.

>If there is no
>external evidence concerning the historical context e.g. of Kings, what can
>I do other than translate in harmony with the historical context as
>presented in these books?

Historical context is not something "presented in" a text. It may be
reflected in the text, but you need to establish a context before you can
judge the value of what is "presented in" a text. Your question seems to
mean: if I haven't got clues about a contextualisation, what can I do other
than make a literal translation. The expected positive response sounds

PK: Let me expand my shorthand. Scholars have over the years reconstructed a
historical context for the land of Israel in the 10th-7th centuries BCE from
the evidence in the books of Kings etc and the small amount of external
evidence. In the absence of anything better, I translate in harmony with
this reconstructed context. The process may be considered somewhat circular,
but what better can I do?


Peter Kirk

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