[b-hebrew] translations of important quotes using Rolf's ideas

Lisbeth S. Fried lizfried at umich.edu
Mon Apr 9 12:41:53 EDT 2007

Hi Peter,

> On 09/04/2007 16:20, Lisbeth S. Fried wrote:
> > How would this passage be translated if there were no presuppositions?
> > all the yiqtols and waqatals were translated as future, and all the
> > as past?
> >
> >> 52:13 Look! My servant will act with insight (YIQTOL). ...
> Your translation in fact looks quite similar in its English verb forms
> to the scholarly translation NRSV, and indeed to the traditional KJV.
> That is not to say that these translators did not have presuppositions,
> but perhaps that they did not allow those presuppositions to control
> their translation, and still less to control their understanding of the
> Hebrew verb system.
That is as it should be, it seems to me.
> > I used Rolf's translation, but translated the verbs without any
> > presuppositions, as if it were normal prose, with yiqtols and waqatols
> > always future, and qatals always past.
> > The ONLY reason not to do this, as far as I can see,  is the desire to
> > equate the subject with Jesus.
> >
> Maybe, but "the desire to equate the subject with Jesus" by no means
> implies that Rolf's method should be followed. Generations of Christian
> readers since KJV, indeed probably back to the 1st century CE using
> Greek translations (as quoted for example in Acts 8:32-33, complete with
> Greek aorists rendering the Hebrew QATALs and a Greek future rendering
> the YIQTOL in Isaiah 53:8), have had no trouble identifying Isaiah's
> servant with Jesus despite the mismatch in tenses. For they have
> realised that Isaiah is giving a narrative from a deictic point in the
> future, after the events he is relating, but that as a standard literary
> device this deictic point may be in Isaiah's own future.
That is, as you say, the Christian interpretation. It seems to me that a
plain reading of the text implies that the subject is undergoing his trials
in the time of the writer, that the writer is describing current events.
 After all,
> surely on every interpretation of (Deutero-)Isaiah, not just Christian
> ones, there must be some literary device of this kind, to explain QATALs
> in verses like 40:1 and 44:23 which must refer to future events.
I don't agree that 44:23 is intended to describe a future event. It
describes the fact that Cyrus has already permitted the Jews to return to
Judah. It is completely within the context of the advent of Cyrus (the
As for 40:1, I don't see a Qatal. Do you mean another verse?
Anyway, in general, I'd like to have the bible tell us how to translate it,
rather than saying the text "must mean" such and such so I'll translate it
this way here, and that way there.
Best regards,
Liz Fried
> --
> Peter Kirk
> E-mail:  peter at qaya.org
> Blog:    http://www.qaya.org/blog/
> Website: http://www.qaya.org/
Lisbeth S. Fried, Ph. D.
Visiting Scholar
Frankel Center for Judaic Studies and the    
Department of Near Eastern Studies
The University of Michigan
202 South Thayer Street- Room 4111
Ann Arbor, MI 48104

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list