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

Rolf Furuli furuli at online.no
Mon Apr 9 13:24:13 EDT 2007

Dear Liz,

Linguistic theory should be the driving force behind translation. While all 
translators are influenced by their philosophies, religious views or lack of 
such, conscious efforts should be exercised to curtail these influences when 
translation work is done. In order to translate a text from one of the 
prophets, I ask: Is this a prophecy about the future? This is not a 
theological but a translational (linguistic) question. As for Isaiah, the 
question is indifferent to the issue whether some of Isaiah´s words are 
prophecies ex eventu (spoken after the event). The answer sought is whether 
the writer wanted to apply the words to the future (if he wrote them after 
the event, he formed them as if they were written before the event). Thus, 
the time of writing is irrelevant for the answer.

A translator has the duty to consider the context, and when my judgement is 
that the particular text with which I am working, is a prophecy, I treat the 
whole text as such (parts of the chapter may of course refere to the past). 
I would claim that this was the reason why I translated Isaiah 53 as I did; 
my understanding of the context is that this text is a prophecy, and 
therefore the reference is future (and prophetic perfect  does not exist); 
the question about a possible fulfillment is only secondary.

Perhaps you would like to translate a more "neutral" text, namely Jeremiah 
50 and 51. My understanding of the context is that this is a prophecy about 
the fall of Babel (whether it was written before or after the fall is 
linguistically irrelevant). If you also view the text as a prophecy, working 
with this text may be interesting for you. In these 104 verses there are 84 
QATALs I interpret 14 as having past reference, 21 as having present 
completed reference, 3 as having future completed reference, and 57 QATALs 
and 6 WAYYIQTOLs as having future reference. If you just use the traditional 
rules for temporal reference, you will get a strange prophetic text. Several 
modern translations abandon the "rules" in some of these verses. For 
example, the NET Bible translates all 6 QATALs in 51:30 with English future.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Lisbeth S. Fried" <lizfried at umich.edu>
To: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Monday, April 09, 2007 4:20 PM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] translations of important quotes using Rolf's ideas

> How would this passage be translated if there were no presuppositions? If
> all the yiqtols and waqatals were translated as future, and all the qatals
> as past?
>> 52:13 Look! My servant will act with insight (YIQTOL). He will certainly
> be
>> high
>> (YIQTOL) and elevated (WEQATAL) and exalted (WEQATAL) very much.
>> 52:14 Just as many were appalled (QATAL) at him - so disfigured is his
>> appearance more than that of any other man, and his form more than that 
>> of
>> mankind -
>> 52:15 likewise he will startle (YIQTOL) many nations. Because of him 
>> kings
>> will shut (YIQTOL) their mouth.  For what had not been recounted (QATAL)
> to
>> them, they saw (QATAL), and to what they had not heard (QATAL)
>> they attended (QATAL).
>> 53:1 Who believed (QATAL) our message?  And to whom has the arm of JHWH
>> be revealed (QATAL)?
>> 53:2 He has come up (WAYYIQTOL) before him like a tender shoot, like a
> root
>> out of dry ground. He does not have a stately form nor any splendor
> (nominal
>> cl.). We will see him (WEYIQTOL), but he will not have an appearance that
> we
>> should desire him (WEQATAL).
>> 53:3  He is despised (participle) and avoided by men, a man of pain,
>> who was familiar (passive participle) with sickness. He was like one from
>> whom men hide their faces, a despised one, who we did not esteem (QATAL).
>> 53:4 Surely, our sicknesses are what he carried (QATAL) , and our pains
>> are what he bore (QATAL).  But as for ourselves, we considered
>> (QATAL) him as plagued, stricken by God and afflicted.
>> 53:5 Yes, he is being pierced (participle) for our transgressions and is
> being crushed
>> (participle) for our sins. The punishment meant for our peace is on him
>> (nominal cl.). And because of his wounds we were healed (QATAL).
>> 53:6 Like sheep we wandered about (QATAL), each of us turned (QATAL) to
> his
>> own way. But YHWH himself let our sin strike him (QATAL).
>> 53:7 He was oppressed (QATAL) and is afflicted (participle), but he will
>> not open (YIQTOL) his mouth. like a sheep to the slaughtering he will be
> led
>> (YIQTOL), and like an ewe before her sheares became mute (QATAL), he
>> will not open (YIQTOL) his mouth.
>> 53:8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away (QATAL). But who will
>> consider (YIQTOL) his decendants when he was cut off (QATAL) from the 
>> land
> of
>> the living?  It is because of the transgression of my people that he is
> getting
>> the stroke (nominal cl.).
>> 53:9 He was assigned (WAYYIQTOL) his grave with the wicked ones, and with
> the
>> rich in his death, though he had done (QATAL) no violence, and there was
> no
>> deception in his mouth (nominal cl.).
>> 53:10 But YHWH himself took delight (QATAL) in crushing him, and
>> caused him to suffer (QATAL). When he will give (YIQTOL) his soul as a
> guilt
>> offering, he will see (YIQTOL) his offspring and will prolong (YIQTOL) 
>> his
> days,
>> and the delight of YHWH will prosper (YIQTOL) in his hand.
>> 53:11 After the suffering of his soul he will look (YIQTOL) and will be
> satisfied
>> (YIQTOL). By his knowledge, the righteous one, my servant, wil justify
>> (YIQTOL) many people, and their sins he himself will bear (YIQTOL).
>> 53:12 For that reason I will give him a portion (YIQTOL) among the many,
> and
>> with the mighty ones he will divide (YIQTOL)  the spoil.  Because he had
>> let his soul be poured out (QATAL)  to death, and had let himself be
>> counted (QATAL) among transgressors.  He himself carried (QATAL) the sins
>> of many people, and he will make intercession (YIQTOL) for the
>> transgressors.
> 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.
> Liz Fried
Best regards,

Rolf Furuli
University of Oslo 

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