[b-hebrew] authorities?

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Wed Oct 22 20:25:31 EDT 2008


On Wed, Oct 22, 2008 at 1:42 PM, Bill Rea <bill.rea at canterbury.ac.nz> wrote:

> 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.

I thought the rule here was not to proselytize, not keep your theology
secret. That is especially true as in this case, where my theology informs
the methodology I choose to use. Then I think it more intellectually honest
to inform others where I am coming from, and why, rather than having them
puzzle over what I say, maybe completely misunderstanding what I am trying
to say, and maybe even trying to proselytize me to a position that I may
have rejected for theological (ideological) reasons.

> 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.
> I think you are combining two different ideas into one: there is the
technical study of linguistics which is the same whether one is studying the
Bible, the Iliad, or the Moabite stele; then there is theological tradition
that tries to tell how to read the text so that it fits a particular
political correctness. What I discount is not the technical study of
linguistics, rather indications of ideological traditions. As far as I
understand the Reformers, Luther, Calvin and others, they made the same
distinction: rejecting the theological traditions they were handed, while
supporting the technical study of languages and linguistics.

> > 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.
> All translation is partly commentary. That's part of the nature of the
craft. There's no way to avoid it. Having said that, the best translations
are those that have as little commentary by the translator as possible,
where even where he has to depart from the original text because of the
differences in language, he does so keeping as true to the author's
intentions and voice as possible.

> > 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 \_
> E-Mail bill.rea at canterbury.ac.nz                       </   New
> Phone 64-3-364-2331, Fax  64-3-364-2332               /)  Zealand
> Unix Systems Administrator                           (/'

Karl W. Randolph.

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