[b-hebrew] Takliyth

Barry nebarry at verizon.net
Sun Nov 4 07:30:27 EST 2012

On 11/4/2012 12:23 AM, Mike Burke wrote:
> Thank you.
> But where does the idea of perfection come in?
> What confuses me is that the Latin (perfectum) seems to carry the idea
> of completion too, and yet Augustine's comments on this verse seem to
> take the word in more the sense that a modern speaker of English takes
> "perfect."
> Here's what he wrote:
> "What is, 'with a perfect hatred'? I hated in them their iniquities, I
> loved Your creation. This it is to hate with a perfect hatred, that
> neither on account of the vices thou hate the men, nor on account of the
> men love the vices."
> http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1801139.htm
> Did he somehow read something alien to both the Hebrew word (תכלית
> TAKLIYT), and the Latin "perfectum" into this text?

I think the answer to this is that Augustine is dealing specifically 
with a theological issue, not a lexical one.  Have a look at the 
specific context of his statements:

“Have not I hated those who hated You, Lord?” Psalm 138:21. Why do those 
who are worse themselves require of me to separate myself in body as 
well as spirit from the wicked, so as to root up the wheat, together 
with the tares, before the time of harvest, that before the time of 
winnowing I lose my power of enduring the chaff; that before all the 
different sorts of fishes are brought to the end of the world, as to the 
shore, to be separated, I tear the nets of peace and unity? Are the 
sacraments which I receive, those of evil men? Do I; by consent, 
communicate in their life and deeds?...But where is, “Love your 
enemies”? Is it because He said “yours,” not “God's”? “Do good to them 
that hate you.” Matthew 5:44 He says not, “who hate God.” So he follows 
the pattern, and says, “Have not I hated those who hated You; Lord?” He 
says not, “Who have hated me.” “And at Your enemies did I waste away.” 
“Yours,” he said, not “mine.” But those who hate us and are enemies unto 
us, only because we serve Him, what else do they but hate Him, and are 
His enemies. Ought we then to love such enemies as these? Or do not they 
suffer persecution for God's sake, to whom it is said, “Pray for them 
that persecute you”? Observe then what follows. “With a perfect hatred 
did I hate them” Psalm 138:22. What is, “with a perfect hatred”? I hated 
in them their iniquities, I loved Your creation. This it is to hate with 
a perfect hatred, that neither on account of the vices thou hate the 
men, nor on account of the men love the vices. For see what he adds, 
“They became mine enemies.” Not only as God's enemies, but as his own 
too does he now describe them. How then will he fulfil in them both his 
own saying, “Have not I hated those that hated You, Lord,” and the 
Lord's command, “Love your enemies”? How will he fulfil this, save with 
that “perfect hatred,” that he hate in them that they are wicked, and 
love that they are men? For in the time even of the Old Testament, when 
the carnal people was restrained by visible punishments, how did Moses, 
the servant of God, who by understanding belonged to the New Testament, 
how did he hate sinners when he prayed for them, or how did he not hate 
them when he slew them, save that he “hated them with a perfect hatred”? 
For with such perfection did he hate the iniquity which he punished, as 
to love the manhood for which he prayed.

For Augustine, a hatred cannot be "perfect" on the part of David (and by 
extension, any human being), unless It is the hatred of the wickedness 
(iniquitates) rather than the creation (conditionem, it sounds almost 
like the modern evangelical "hate the sin and not the sinner"), and that 
it is the hatred of God's enemies, and not simply one's own. Augustine 
seems especially concerned with reconciling the NT "love your enemies" 
with this text. Now, I'm not going to comment on his solution, but 
simply observe that it does not mean imputing the later developed idea 
of "perfect" (i.e., morally without flaw) into the word, but that a 
"complete" hatred can be exercised as long as the object of that hatred 
is the proper object.

How perfect comes to mean what it does in English is a discussion 
beyond, I think, what b-Hebrew is all about. It is clear that what the 
Hebrew means, however, and Jerome's Latin captures the same sense.  BTW, 
in my earlier response, I referred to the Greek TELEION in the LXX as 
adverbial, forgetting that the word for hatred, MISOS, is a contract 
neuter. TELEION modifies it directly. Mea culpa and all that...

N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Semper melius Latine sonat
The American Academy
The North American Reformed Seminary
Bible Translation Magazine


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