Question: Off topic? More

Lisbeth S. Fried lizfried at umich.edu
Sat Mar 16 14:06:17 EST 2002




> -----Original Message-----
> From: Ken Smith [mailto:kens at 180solutions.com]
> Sent: Sat, March 16, 2002 1:16 PM
> To: Biblical Hebrew
> Subject: RE: Question: Off topic? More
> 
> 
> 
> > > Biblical translators do have the 
> > > special advantage of being informed by the Spirit.
> > 
> > Ha! Informed by their theologies and prejudices you mean.
> > 
> > Liz Fried
> 
> Hi, Liz.  This is perhaps off the topic of Biblical Hebrew, but it's
> come up a number of times, so I thought I'd at least throw out a short
> response.
> 
> I'm not sure being informed by the Spirit is necessarily antithetical to
> being informed by a critical understanding of one's theological
> tradition.  I think it's a misunderstanding of the nature of the Bible
> to believe that our goal as translators or interpreters is to move the
> reader back into the world of the 7th or 5th centuries, complete with
> all of their assumptions and cultural heritage.  Whether we are Jews or
> Christians, we have the Bible only because it has been handed down to us
> by a lengthy and creative process of editing, transmission,
> interpretation and reinterpretation.  I'm sure you're well aware of the
> complex processes by which the Bible came to take its present form --
> JEDP and so forth.  But I think it's clear that these editorial and
> redactional processes didn't just stop when, say, the Priestly writer
> put the final touches on the Pentateuch in the early post-exilic period.
> Placing Joshua after Deuteronomy was just as much a creative act of
> reinterpretation as placing the Priestly creation story before the
> Yahwistic one.  From a Christian perspective, it was just as much an act
> of genius -- it was just as much a significant, semantic act -- to place
> Revelation at the end of the canon as it was to place Genesis at the
> beginning.  Those who did so, whether consciously or unconsciously,
> subtly changed the meaning of both books: they mutually reinterpret each
> other.  
> 
> In other words, while it may be of real historical and even theological
> interest to evaluate the documents independent of each other, i.e., how
> they would have been understood by their pre- or post-exilic authors,
> editors or readers, I would argue that it is entirely legitimate (and
> even necessary) to understand the texts in light of the traditions by
> which they have been handed down to us.  Of course, we can't just make
> the texts say whatever we want them to say.  But since all words must be
> translated in light of their context, it is quite legitimate, in some
> instances, to allow this extended context to exert an influence in the
> translation process.  For example, it's obvious that Isaiah 7:14, in its
> original historical context, wasn't a messianic prophecy (though I often
> have a hard time making my students see that).  But in the context of
> the Christian Bible, it quite clearly *is*.  There's no doubt that the
> Christians who placed Isaiah between the same covers as the Gospel of
> Matthew intended for their readers to understand (LMH as PARQENOS.  So
> it isn't on the grounds of mere theological prejudice, but as the result
> of an informed and critical reading of the Christian tradition, that I
> have no objection to the NIV's choice of "virgin" in that passage.
> After all, the NIV is trying to translate the Christian canon, and not
> the Jewish.
> 
> Does that make sense?
No.

Liz Fried
> 
> Ken Smith
> 
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