[b-hebrew] Prophetic Perfect?

Harold R. Holmyard III hholmyard at ont.com
Wed May 19 11:51:47 EDT 2004


Dear Rolf,

>You are right regarding the NIV (and several othermodern 
>translations as well) that QATAL is occasionally translated with 
>simple future (but often rather reluctantly), something which shows 
>that the translators felt they had no other choice. But why not take 
>a look at the QATALs that the NIV translates by perfect and past 
>tense and ask in each case: Is the event time of this QATAL before, 
>contemporaneous with, or after the deictic center? Are not this 
>QATAL also a prophecy about what would happen with Bebel? And in 
>that case, why use past tense or present perfect? I had these 
>chapters in mind (among others) when I spoke of "back-and-fort" and 
>"hither-and-thither"- renderings of Hebrew verbs. And NIV is not the 
>worst example, so please look at other translations as well.


HH: Perhaps you are not a native English speaker, but what NIV has 
done reads very smoothly and needs no amendment from my perspective. 
English uses past and perfect verbs to express relative time. In 
relation to an event in the future but past in relation to some other 
future event, one can use a past verb in English. Furthermore, some 
of the verbs can refer to events that can at least start at the time 
Jeremiah writes (Jer 50:6). In 50:22 there is a verbless clause, and 
one could supply a future verb, but a descriptive present is also 
good, which means that the verbs in 50:23 should be taken as 
perfects. This is very attractive stylistically. To flatten out all 
verbs into futures is somewhat dull and loses the variation that the 
Hebrew itself has.

				Yours,
				Harold Holmyard





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