Dealing with the Hebrew text and English Translation

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by gb93433, Aug 29, 2003.

  1. gb93433

    gb93433
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    I am curious how some of you deal with the Hebrew in translating it and then comparing to the English translation. I am particularly concerned when it comes to a text when the English is in the present tense and the Hebrew does not even have a present tense. I uderstand the thought behind the Hebrew that if it is in past tense it is also brought forward in the present tense. I understand the idea that if you knew someone you also know them. But there are some texts where it is much more difficult. Such as in Exodus 3:14 where the English says I am who I am. That is in the present tense in Englsih but in the imperfect tense in the Hebrew text. How have you dealt with things like that?
     
  2. HankD

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    There is no "present" VERB tense as such in Hebrew but functionally it exists in the form of verbal nouns, and adjectives and the use of the infintive and the gerund much like in English.

    That is, one turns the verb into a noun or infintive or gerund.

    For instance, to say :

    Moses talks with the Lord in the tabernacle.

    Infinitive : Moses to talk with the Lord in the tabenacle.

    Gerund : Moses talking with the Lord in the tabernacle.

    Clumsy in English but acceptable in Hebrew.
    However, in older Hebrew this is rare.

    The Hebrew perfect and imperfect indicate completed or incompleted action rather than a position in time (past, future).

    HankD
     
  3. Pastor Larry

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    Verbal aspect in Hebrew is a relatively complicated issue. Ancient languages (Greek included) are not as cut and dried as our English is. That is why it is often confusing to talk of them and very difficult to be a "cookie cutter" translator. The perfect, imperfect, preterite, with all of the various stems are not formulaic.

    If you have particular examples, perhaps you could throw those out and we could talk about them. That would probably be an interesting and profitable discussion, unlike most in this forum.
     
  4. gb93433

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    I am thinking of the idea that there is not a present tense in Hebreew but so often the English translation has it in present tense.

    For example in Exodus 3:14, "God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM" But in the Hebrew it is in the imperfect tense denoting incomplete action. To me that makes it much more interesting. It tells that God is with Moses now and will be with him in the future. The translation seems to comply more with the I am's in John's gospel rather than what is really said and its full impact.
     
  5. HankD

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    Because it is in the imperfect some versions translate "I AM THAT I AM" as "I will be who I will be".

    Personally I believe God is relating to Moses (to pass on to the people) that the revelation of Himself is not yet complete.

    "and the Word was made flesh".

    This is the final and complete revelation, the revelation of our God come in the flesh.

    Greek has a present tense, therefore Jesus said "before Abraham was, I AM".

    HankD
     
  6. gb93433

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    My question is how do you deal with the differences like when it says, I am who I am," I believe it is much more accurate to say, " I will be who I will be." I am sure all of us have run into this. But when I see it I am always thinking of a good way to explain that. I don't want people to feel like I discredit their Bible but at the same time I don't feel as though what is written is quite correct. I have seen times when the English follows the LXX tradition. I am told that many yers ago that often the OT was translated from the LXX and Hebreew was not emphasized nor studied very much. From what I read in the LXX it seems to take some liberty with the MT which I am not so comfortable with.

    Anyway I am curious how some of you deal with these issues.
     
  7. Forever settled in heaven

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    i remember reading abt Isaiah 7:14 in the The Word of God: A Guide to English Versions of the Bible
    by Lloyd R. Bailey (Editor)
    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0804200793/kjb1611biblevsmo/

    where he writes in an appendix that a better translation of the Hebrew grammatical structure wld be "a young woman is already with child" whereas the LXX, followed by Matthew, has "a virgin shall conceive."

    this might be another example u're lookin for.
     
  8. HankD

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    Dear gb,

    Here is how others (myself included) have dealt with this.

    If you already haven't, pursue a formal course study in biblical Hebrew.

    But I assume you haven't because if you had you would know that although there is no definitive "present" tense in Hebrew it exists functionally in the other parts of the Hebrew grammar.

    For instance one Hebrew grammar says that Hebrew knows of no past, present or future tenses but instead a perfect and imperfect tense and that the equivalent is supplied by the participle.

    From A Practical Grammar For Classical Hebrew. J. Weingreen, Oxford Press 1959, Page 56.

    In another source we are told that since Hebrew has no verbal tense the consecutive wa:w may be used to indicate tense including present tense when combined with an infinitive or a participle.

    From Biblical Hebrew. T Nakari, Bookman Assoc. 1951, page 53.

    If you are concerned then I suggest either formal or self-study in Biblical Hebrew.

    It is not easy as Pastor Larry indicated and it takes study to learn the intricasies of the language.

    A short cut is to get a CD with several English versions and an engine that will allow comparisons of the same verse on your screen to get the “sense” of the Scripture.

    You can (as you alluded) use the LXX to see how the Hebrew verbs were anciently translated into Septuagint Greek (It is NOT Koine), but then you have to learn Greek and the differences between LXX and Koine.

    The one thing apart from learning Hebrew (or adopting the KJVO point of view – just kidding) which will probably give you the best results you are looking for:

    Buy a JPS Hebrew-English Tanakh (Amazon.com) and compare its English with the KJV (1769)/ASV (1901) to get the best sense of the Scripture.

    My opinion of course (but you asked [​IMG] )

    HankD
     
  9. Surfer5

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    I am more concerned with which Hebrew text is being used. The Hebrew text of the O.T. used in Modern Versions is a different text than the historical one used by Protestants. Since this is the case, how can you be sure that the text in Hebrew you are reading is good or valid ? What exactly do we know about Kittel and his Biblia Hebraica ?
     
  10. Pastor Larry

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    Would you please list for us all of the differences in these Hebrew texts. List them using the Hebrew language rather than translation. Please give your own translation of each variant alongside of the listed differences.

    [​IMG] This should be good ... See how long this takes ...
     
  11. Surfer5

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    I think that I would simply point out, that Kittel did not personally believe that Jesus was the Christ. He also did not believe that it was possible for us to know which Bible was the "real" one. He believed in fact, that the Bible had been corrupted and that 2 streams of texts had become confused together. Kittel believed that Elohim and Adonai were two entirely different Gods.

    Kittel was the product of German Textual Criticism which was an attack on the Bible and on the deity of Jesus Christ. His own views reflect the same thing, since he wrote many books in addition to his O.T. translation.

    The Text that Kittel Chose was the Leningrad Codex based on the work of Ben Asher. It is dated to around 1000 A.D.

    The Text that the KJV ( & Geneva Bible) uses is based on the Hebrew Massoretic Text, based on the work of Ben Chayyim. This is the text that was good enough for Calvin, for other Puritans & Protestant leaders.

    When the dead sea scrolls were found in 1947/48, a comparison was done with the Books of the BIble among the Dead sea scrolls and the Old Testament.
    THe Text of the O.T. found among the Dead Sea Scrolls agreed with the O.T. massoretic text used by the KJV.

    So even though the KJV only was finished in 1611, it has a Hebrew Text which pre-dates the Hebrew Text of Modern Versions by Twelve Hundred Years.

    And obviously, Kittel played no role in the Hebrew Text which underlies the KJV.


    ====

    Surfer5
     
  12. Pastor Larry

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    This is a complete and utter failure ... You were asked directly to substantiate your claims. Why not do this?? Why resort to avoiding the question?? You keep talking about texts that agree with the KJV. Demonstrate for us where the BHS text differs from the KJV. Just put the facts on the table. Do not avoid the issue.
     
  13. Surfer5

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    Nonsense. Just because you ask a question imposes no obligation on me in the least. Perhaps you though you were reincarnated & living under the divine right of kings ?


    All I am doing is putting forth what I believe the truth to be. I am not interested in convincing you and whether you share my opinion is inconsequential. I do not post a lot of these messages to pursuade. I am well aware concerning most of this research that most of what I state is something that most people will have to see with their own eyes to believe. What I say is for the most part, little more than a whisper in a potentially good direction.

    While I am happy - if by thought, chance or research - you are pursuaded, it is not my job to do so.

    All I do is put options forth for others to do their own research, such as leads, ideas, concepts, questions, and a few conclusions - several of which will be disagreed with...as I fully expect.

    Many people from the Baby Boom generation are usually trying to get others to do their own research for them. Do your own research. I don't expect others to do it for me. Stop hiding behind the old "well you didn't do My research for me, so I'm going to pretend that no information new to me - exists" routine, and lift a finger.


    I reserve the right to draw my own conclusion and to remain unpersuaded of that which either I am not convinced of, or others have not convinced me. I would expect others to do the same. But I do know that I am responsible for my own choices.

    Chosing to believe as you wish is your choice. Choosing to lift a finger and motivate yourself to go and find out if new research has come about in the past 15 years that you may not be aware of, that is your choice also. But God will not hold me accountable for what you believe nor what you preach or teach. Beyond the leads and information that others give you, the choice of what you do with it, and how God will evaluate you, - That will be up to you.


    Surfer5
     
  14. Surfer5

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    ======
    Because you are a Pastor, PASTOR Larry, and I expect much higher standards from you than I do from anyone else who is a layman.

    And because I would expect that you would already
    know the answer to the question that you asked me. As a Pastor and someone who claims to know and represent Christ, why don't you become familiar with the material you are claiming to represent ? You should already have studied for yourself, whether there are discrepancies and variations between the O.T. Hebrew Text of Modern Versions, and the Hebrew Text used by the Baptists of Old. So if you do not already know this, you are remiss.

    You should already have looked into the life of Kittel. You should be able to explain to us what the differences are in the various O.T. Versions used. You should know the history of these things. You should be proud of your heritage. You should know your Protestant Heritage, and you should know your Baptist heritage as well. You should already have studied the life of Kittel. You should know the lives and biographies of all of the translators of whatever version you use,
    because every Sunday, you are getting up and asking people to trust the work of those translators, and many of them will do Just exactly that...based on your words - like it or not.

    So you should be familiar with Textual Criticism, with its history and with those who within that field, are oponents of Christ and those who are Advocates of Christ.

    You should also be familiar with the history of the translators of the Greek Versions that you are using, defending or recomending.

    You should have been able to say to me:

    "You know surfer - as a matter of fact, I am already familiar with the following points you made etc..." ...

    You should have been ready to give a real answer of the hope that lies within you, and of which Hebrew text you are using, rather than deflecting the question because it either did not occur to you, or you evaded the question in the past, or your Seminary training was inadequate (though you may not have realized it).

    I am hardly perfect, and I certainly do not hold you to standards of perfection. I just expect you to be an Actual shepherd, and a defender of the Faith. ANd it takes a lot more than flippant remarks, which help mask what you don't know, for you to actually believe that others should presume that you are a Pastor in the Biblical sense of the word.

    93% of Generation Y Teenagers - who presently attend an Evangelical Church and claim to know Christ personally and are growing up in a Christian home - know that their own pastors have been so succesfull in presenting the truth of Jesus Christ in their own lives, that when they are Adults - Those same Teenagers are NEVER coming back to CHURCH.

    How would you think Stockholder should react, if 97% of regular subscribers of a product, for a corporation...were NEVER coming Back ???

    I will cite my research for you: Aside from the books by Barna, you can find more in the latest book by Josh McDowell called "Beyond Belief to Conviction". Again I will not do your research for you, but I will give you the leads.

    And if by chance you do make it up to Heaven, as I actually expect you will, I suggest that you pray to God that none of those teenagers would have grown up in your church and that their souls nor spiritual state would be on your head.

    There are many Fake Shepherds. THere are far to few real Pastors. I hope that you are among the real ones. The Church is the way it is today because of Pastors and Seminaries. Don't ever expect any slack from me. I am a layman. You are a Pastor. I may or may not know certain things.
    You are in the position of being "supposed to" know.

    Whatever laymen learn on their own, Pastors should have known much better and far more comprehensively.
     
  15. Forever settled in heaven

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    Because you are a Pastor, PASTOR Larry, and I expect much higher standards from you than I do from anyone else who is a layman.
    [/quote]

    what a shame. that's the most dishonest form of evasion fr the truth as i've seen in a long, long time. :(

    more ad hominem, w no shame. Larry's been around a while, n he's actually been pointing out the wolves in sheep's clothing as a true shepherd shd. flippant remarks? talk abt a pot calling ...

    sheesh, this takes the cake. "if by chance ... as i expect u will"? perhaps the Moderators wld like to examine this personal attack on Larry's salvation, followed by a condescending "as i actually expect u will"?

    why assume that Larry isn't informed as a pastor? it sounds like a bad case of Jude 8, of hurling attacks at people n then hiding under a layperson's hide.
     
  16. Surfer5

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    Because I see him not being informed as to the question that he asked me about...and I believe he should already have that answer.


    The short answer was no I would not...because this is the research I believe that Larry should have already done himself and be informing us about as a PASTOR, and also because it seemed to be a sarcastic reply.

    Further, this was his response to what I initially posted on this thread. He did not address the issues that I brought up first, so it appeared to me as though he was avoiding them.


    Good ! That's good to know. I hope you are right and I look forward to seeing it.


    Surfer5
     
  17. Pastor Larry

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    I expect the same from myself. At least we agree on something.

    I do know this. I suspect that you do not. That is why I ask. If you are going to come in here and spout off in the manner in which you have begun, you are going to have to belly up to the table in a hurry and start talking facts. I do not want these nebulous charges. I know exactly what these changes are and I know how many there are. I want you to list them for us so that you can demonstrate you own knowledge (or lack thereof) and give us an idea of your true understanding.

    Many people of your persuasion have no idea what they are talking about. They simply parrot things they have heard others say. We sniff those out in a hurry.

    I have but it is irrelevant, as anyone who has actually studied the text will know.

    I can. Can you?

    I do.

    Not really. My glory is in the gospel. I do not care much about heritage.

    I do.

    You already said this once.

    This is stretching the case. We do not even know all of the translators and copiers of Scripture throughout church history. The test of a good translation is not the names on the translating committee but rather the fidelity of the translation to the original language texts. As you have said, you should have already known this. The fact that you are chasing rabbit trails casts a grave shadow on teh depth of your understanding.

    Personally I translate every passage I preach on Sunday mornings. Then I compare the various translations and study from there. So I have a very good idea of what the text says. Just yesterday I translated the first two chapters of Jonah in preparation for an upcoming series.

    I am familiar with this.

    I am familiar with this as well.

    I could have. But I am not going to bail you out. I expect you to know what you are talking about and to demonstrate it by answering the simple question. I rather suspect that you don't know what you are talkign about and you have not given me any reason to change my mind so far. In the amount of time you have spent here, you could have answered the question instead of attacking me on baseless grounds.

    I can assure you that my seminary training is far above whatever you might have. I can assure you that I can give a reason for the hope that lies within me and I can assure you that it has nothing to do with which Hebrew text I use. I can assure you that Peter had no intention for that verse to be used in reference to a Hebrew text. I can assure you that I have not deflected the question. I am the one who asked it. You are the one who has deflected it.

    [q/b]I am an actual shepherd, and a defender of the faith. I have made no flippant remarks; I have not masked something I don't know. I know the answer to the question. Again, I want to know if you know or if you are merely spouting ignorance that you have heard somewhere else.

    Irrelevant for this discussion though certainly a topic worthy of discussion in the proper forum. Please start a discussion there. I put little stock in what Barna says however, because his survey methods are so inadequate to determine real information. Elsewhere, if you start the thread and time permits, we can discuss this. I share your concerns here very much.

    However, I do appreciate your baseless attacks on me based on your ignorance of who I am and what I know. I do not appreciate the fact that you have not yet answered the question I asked. Why?? Do you really not have an answer?? Are you, like so many other KJVOs, in the dark on the actual facts of the situation?? I hope not. I hope you will stop avoiding the question and just answer it.
     
  18. Pastor Larry

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    Just raising this up to the top so that Surfer, who I am sure is willing and able to inform us of these matters does not forget.

    It is sometimes easy to forget questions and I want to make sure that Surfer has every opportunity to show us whether or not he knows what he is talking about.

    So Surfer, please show us these changes in the Hebrew text and tell us how they affect translation.
     
  19. Scott J

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    Bump again. I think this is an issue that surfer needs to answer.
     
  20. gb93433

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    Dear gb,

    Here is how others (myself included) have dealt with this.

    If you already haven't, pursue a formal course study in biblical Hebrew.

    But I assume you haven't because if you had you would know that although there is no definitive "present" tense in Hebrew it exists functionally in the other parts of the Hebrew grammar.

    For instance one Hebrew grammar says that Hebrew knows of no past, present or future tenses but instead a perfect and imperfect tense and that the equivalent is supplied by the participle.

    From A Practical Grammar For Classical Hebrew. J. Weingreen, Oxford Press 1959, Page 56.

    In another source we are told that since Hebrew has no verbal tense the consecutive wa:w may be used to indicate tense including present tense when combined with an infinitive or a participle.

    From Biblical Hebrew. T Nakari, Bookman Assoc. 1951, page 53.

    If you are concerned then I suggest either formal or self-study in Biblical Hebrew.

    It is not easy as Pastor Larry indicated and it takes study to learn the intricasies of the language.

    A short cut is to get a CD with several English versions and an engine that will allow comparisons of the same verse on your screen to get the “sense” of the Scripture.

    You can (as you alluded) use the LXX to see how the Hebrew verbs were anciently translated into Septuagint Greek (It is NOT Koine), but then you have to learn Greek and the differences between LXX and Koine.

    The one thing apart from learning Hebrew (or adopting the KJVO point of view – just kidding) which will probably give you the best results you are looking for:

    Buy a JPS Hebrew-English Tanakh (Amazon.com) and compare its English with the KJV (1769)/ASV (1901) to get the best sense of the Scripture.

    My opinion of course (but you asked [​IMG] )

    HankD
    </font>[/QUOTE]I am not so concerned with how to translate the Hebrew text. I feel comfortable with that. I am mostly concerned about how you deal with the translation you come up with from the Hebrew text compared to the English translation that is in front of the people. So often the English seems to be more closely related to the LXX tradition. For example when you stand up to the pulpit and expound on the imperfect tense in Exodus 3:14 and their Bible reads "I AM WHO I AM." Which is what the LXX tanslates into but the Hebrew MT does not. The MT has it in the impefect tense which is quite different than the present tense in their English Bible or the LXX. The inperfect tense includes so much more than the present tense translation in English. It spans two tenses and is not just a point in time but rather it is incomplete action. Does not the present tense in English convey the message of a point in time that is complete? Whereas the Hebrew imperfect does not.

    How do you deal with these matters from the pulpit and adhere to the Hebrew text faithfully. So often when I have stayed close to the Hebrew text I have had people come and tell me that it isn't what their Bible says.

    Also we can look back from the Greek text into the Hebrew past and give some sort of response. But if we are to be fatihful to the text we must interpret just as the writers wrote. They were looking forward. So if we are to translate and inperpret shouldn't we do the same?

    I have seen times that the English translation follows the LXX and deviates from the MT. So how do you explain the dilemma to the congregation so they can understand. I have tried and sometimes I get some strange looks. What I have dome is to explain that we don't have that tense in English and move forward with and explanation.

    I understand the idea that the perfect tense in Hebrew can certainly include the present tense but I don't see the imperfect tense being best translated in the present tense in English.

    What do you think? How do you handle the differences.
     

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