[b-hebrew] authorities?

Bill Rea bill.rea at canterbury.ac.nz
Wed Oct 22 16:42:42 EDT 2008

Karl wrote:-

> This reflects much on how I learned Hebrew.
> It also reflects that I am a true son of the Reformation, where the text
> itself takes precedence over any statements by any expert. And that includes
> translators. And that includes the Masoretic points.

This is a theological issue and beyond the scope of the list. If I may beg
the indulgence of the moderators my own position is that the reformers were
wrong on this point. The text cannot be understood without learning from
people within the tradition. If I handed someone a copy of the Hebrew text
and said ``There you go, you have everything you need.'' They would never
learn anything. They would have to use some outside source or sources for
vocabulary, grammar, syntax and so on.
> So now whenever I see a question concerning what a verse says, the first
> thing I check is the Hebrew text itself, and its context, using dictionaries
> to check any term where I question the meaning. Even though I now have
> access to many translations, I found I never need them. Anyways, I would
> consider a translation valuable if and only if it agrees with the Hebrew
> text, not as a resource on how to understand the Hebrew.

Translations are closer to commentaries than to lexicons. I value them
because they are written by better scholars than myself. As a student of the
text I value their wisdom and insight. Often they put things differently
than I would so thinking about why they translated the text in the way they
did is helpful for me.
> So which is the priority, the text itself, or what others, e.g. translators,
> say about it?

If the text could be understood without the tradition then it would have the
priority. However, it cannot. The tradition is dynamic, not static, and new
insights and understandings are being added even today as the discussion on
cognate languages shows.

Bill Rea Ph.D., ICT Services, University of Canterbury \_
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