[b-hebrew] Definite Article 7:14

Isaac Fried if at math.bu.edu
Sun Jul 8 20:53:10 EDT 2007


I am afraid that the discussion is vague and aimless because of the  
lack for a clear criterion for what is meant by "definite". Is there  
a test for definiteness? and what does "indefinite" mean? One may  
argue that definiteness is knowledge, but knowledge comes by degrees,  
and is often imperfect.

Isaac Fried, Boston University

On Jul 8, 2007, at 5:03 PM, JoeWallack at aol.com wrote:

> In a message dated 6/25/2007 7:50:26 AM Central Daylight Time,
> peter at qaya.org writes:
> Seriously, and if we are talking translation rather than exegesis, it
> doesn't work in English to translate "the young woman", or "the  
> virgin".
> According to English usage of the article, this would imply a young
> woman previously identified in the text, and there is no such young
> woman, so the sentence is effectively ungrammatical. In English we  
> have
> to say "a young woman", or perhaps "this young woman" referring to  
> only
> one present at the time although not previously mentioned - which is a
> possible understanding of the Hebrew article.
> I say this despite  many English translations using "the" here.
> JW:
> Sorry about the delay. I had to take the bus to pick up the cat  
> from the  vet
> at the veterinary shop. Than I took the bus to drop off the paper  
> on the use
> of the Hebrew definite article with the Professor at the  
> University. What you
>  wrote above reminds me of the classic line from Ghostbusters,   
> "Actually,
> it's more of a guideline than a rule."
> Again, the starting point here is what is being communicated in the  
> Hebrew.
> We all seem to agree that the Hebrew definite article is the Hebrew  
> definite
> article and almost always, if not always, communicates something  
> definite in
> the  Hebrew. By usage we know that the overwhelming English  
> translation is
> "the" so  you would need a compelling reason not to use "the". As  
> I've indicated
> by  example above, your point above is not an English rule in any  
> case and
> easily  countered by specific contexts.
> You are also proof-texting as you haven't even considered the full  
> context
> of 7:14 here. If I claimed at this point that the combination of  
> use of the
> Hebrew definite article along with a prophecy to the immediate  
> Hebrew audience
> forces a translation of "the" ( a position that a relatively high  
> percent of
> correspondents here probably have) and the proper question than is  
> not whether
>  "the/a" is the proper translation but rather if "a" is even a  
> possible
> translation, you would be likewise unimpressed.
> As to existing translations, until modern times, Jewish translations
> generally had "the" while Christian translations generally had "a"  
> suggesting  that
> religious affiliation was the most important factor in the  
> translation.  This
> polemical war has already been fought and won/lost though as the  
> majority  of
> Christian translations now have "the", including the NKJV.  
> Interestingly, the
> NASB translators decided on "young woman" for 7:14 but were vetoed  
> by the
> American Bishops who retained "virgin". This is why I don't find  
> authority
> authoritative here.
> Joseph Wallack
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