Isaiah 40:26/Stafford/Landers/Humpal

Norman E. Swift neswift at
Fri Jun 15 00:35:49 EDT 2001

Re 'ON
D. Humpal scripsit

> To claim that it means
> "dynamic energy" in order to match Einstein's theory is typical of some of
> the liberties the NWT often takes.  None of the seven translators of the NWT
> had any training in Hebrew or Greek, and it seems many of the
> interpretations are intended more for doctrinal purposes than accuracy

Solomon Landers scripsit
> I would not venture to assume why the NWT uses the term, any more than I would
> know  specifically why any other translation uses the terms it uses, unless I
> happened to be myself on that body of translators.

I find myself in a unique position to comment, because I proofread the MS of
that volume of the NW Translation of the Hebrew Scriptures together with its
page, galley and plate proofs until its release in 1958.  I worked with the
anonymous translator on a daily basis.  My memories are fond--and keen.

I have a clear recollection of this issue and the translator's aim and
intent:  a different word or expression to represent a different word choice
of the author.   Particularly fond of Latinisms, he read Jerome's
translation "fortitudinis et roboris virtutisque"  but rejected this kind of
language in favor of the Greek-flavored "dynamic energy," which he felt
conveyed the sense of the expression.  I assure you he had no physics
calculus in mind, nor some scientific precognition.

I tell you from personal knowledge that the translator was acutely aware of
his presuppositions and freely admitted them, as do most good translators.

My own contributions were modest, including some footnotes, hardly
qualifying as translation.   Others deemed part of the translation committee
contributed to cross-references and the like but did not translate.  The
"seven translators" without training is a canard and should be put in the
urban myth trashpile.

While clunky and stiff because of its literalness, the translation is
nevertheless a remarkable achievement precisely because of its translator's
lack of "training."  As to Isa 40:26, I read it today as a couplet in poetic
parallel, "great in strength, mighty in power."

Greg Stafford scripsit:

> The only problem I see with respect to the use of this text by the Watchtower
> Society is in relation to God's creation of the planetary heavens. This text
> does not seem to be speaking about the creation of such heavens, but of their
> preservation

I agree with Greg, whose fair and thoughtful analysis of the text and its
application I appreciated very much.  A writer has taken a text and made an
inference the Author/translator did not imply, much less articulate.
Happens all the time.

Thanks for letting me share this bit of serendipity.

Norman E. Swift

My bona fides to Gregg:
My name is to be found in the 1958 Yearbook, between Suiter, Swingle and
Sydlik.  The MS was typed by Arthur Gaux, linotypeset by Chester Goins, my
overseers Colin Quackenbush and Karl Adams.  FWF's personal encouragement to
begin study of "Essentials of Biblical Hebrew" by Sampy and Yates (? getting
long in the tooth), then used at Columbia University, started my life-long
love for Biblical languages.

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