Translation or Commentary?

Discussion in 'Bible Versions/Translations' started by Pastor_Bob, Oct 22, 2010.

  1. Pastor_Bob

    Pastor_Bob
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    The following quote comes from Methodist theologian Adam Clarke on the book of Isaiah. He gives quite an endorsement to the writings of a certain "Bishop Lowth," of whom I am unfamiliar. My question is, does Clarke reference a "translation" of the book of Isaiah or merely a "commentary" of the book of Isaiah? If a translation, then his opinion becomes subjective. If a commentary, then he does greatly err to elevate man's thoughts and words to that of divine Scripture.

     
  2. BobinKy

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    I think that Adam Clarke made reference to a "translation" of the book of Isaiah. However, as the following links illustrate, Lowth also wrote about Hebrew poetry and early publications of his translations contained extensive notes and have been referred to as commentary as well as translation. In the Church of England, he probably was pretty big stuff in his day and age.

    First, here are a couple of "preview" online editions of his translation of Isaiah.

    1825 edition

    2008 edition



    And a few other links about Bishop Lowth.

    Wikipedia -- Bishop Robert Lowth (b. 1710, d. 1787)

    Obituary for Bishop Robert Lowth http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Gentleman's_Magazine/Some_Account_and_Character_of_the_late_Robert_Lowth,_D.D._Lord_Bishop_of_London

    Gary Stanstell's article -- The Poet's Prophet: Bishop Robert Lowth's Eighteenth-Century Commentary on Isaiah http://books.google.com/books?id=oZOPd1rsMCYC&pg=PA223&lpg=PA223&dq=Bishop+Robert+Lowth+translation+of+Isaiah&source=bl&ots=pcl-USErle&sig=84qeYTxXLRfcE_Z6JsoDnQvuoxQ&hl=en&ei=t_PBTOCMDoH98Aa4qbT7Bg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&sqi=2&ved=0CBwQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=Bishop%20Robert%20Lowth%20translation%20of%20Isaiah&f=false

    Online Encyclopedia article on Robert Lowth http://encyclopedia.jrank.org/LOB_LUP/LOWTH_ROBERT_1710_1787_.html
     
    #2 BobinKy, Oct 22, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 22, 2010
  3. Pastor_Bob

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    Very good information. Thank you Bob.
     
  4. stilllearning

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    Hi Pastor_Bob

    You said.......
    The idea of elevating man’s thoughts and words, to that of divine Scripture, is nothing new, for this day and age.
    (Hardly being called “error” by most Christians.)

    And unfortunately, the idea of “Scripture” being considered divine, is considered a little old fashioned by most also.
    --------------------------------------------------
    Praise the Lord, I still have faith in God’s preserved Word, but the idea of believing a mere “translation” to be perfect, is too much for most people to swallow.
     
  5. BobinKy

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    I should thank you for the post. I knew about the Methodist commentator Adam Clarke (b. 1760/1762, d. 1832), however, replying to your post gave me the opportunity to learn about Robert Lowth.

    . . .

    I notice from your profile you are a reading fan of western novelist Louis L'Amour . Several years ago I read through many Zane Grey westerns. Some of his novels are available online . Growing up, I watched the Zane Grey Theatre . As you may know Zane Grey grew up in Zanesville, Ohio--a town where I once lived close to. Then one day, I gave all of my Zane Grey books to a business associate, except one--The Zane Grey Cookbook http://www.amazon.com/Zane-Grey-cookbook-Barbara-Reiger/dp/0139837590, which I kept for several years as I tried out the various wild game recipes--when I was able to come by wild game.

    My apologies to the readers for my Zane Grey excursion.

    ...Bob
     
    #5 BobinKy, Oct 23, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 23, 2010
  6. franklinmonroe

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    I would say that translation and commentary are merely relative terms folks can apply at various points on a what is actually a continuous scale. In other words, it is possible that a genuine translation could appear commentary-like in one person's estimation, and vice versa (I have Peterson's The Message somewhat in mind here). Virtually every choice made by translators is their opinion; there seems to be very little objective about it. So why should there be such a huge disparity in the treatment of a man's opinion when it's called "translation" rather than when it's called "commentary".

    Have you ever seen the English translation of Erasmus' Paraphrases of the New Testament? We would probably call it a commentary today. The Living Bible (a true paraphrase since it has an English original source) has virtually no commentary in the text, but certainly contains a man's opinions. Of course, the more formal (literal) a translator attempts to be there is less room for extreme subjectivity, but there is still much room for subtle subjectivity.
     
    #6 franklinmonroe, Oct 23, 2010
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  7. Deacon

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    It’s been a couple centuries since Robert Lowth wrote his book.
    I looked through a few commentaries on Isaiah and found that most reference his works...

    ... even in the preface to the 1873 edition of the KJV .

    I encourage you to read the first 20 pages of his book posted by BobinKy,
    ...by then you’ll be hooked!

    Here’s one verse of interest:


    And he cried, A lion:
    My lord, I stand continually upon the watchtower in the daytime,
    And I am set in my ward whole nights:
    Isaiah 21:8 (AV 1873)


    And he that looked out on the watch cried aloud;
    Oh my Lord, keep my station all the day long
    And on my ward I have continued every night.
    Isaiah 21:8 Robert Lowth (1778)

    Some modern versions follow his emendation as well.

    Then he who saw cried out:
    “Upon a watchtower I stand, O Lord, continually by day,
    and at my post I am stationed whole nights.
    (ESV)

    Then the lookout called,
    “O Lord, I stand continually by day on the watchtower,
    And I am stationed every night at my guard post.
    (NAS)

    His emendation was confirmed in the writings of the Dead Sea Scrolls [1QIsa].

    Rob
     
    #7 Deacon, Oct 23, 2010
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  8. stilllearning

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    Hello Deacon

    Thank you for your post.

    You noted Isaiah 21:8.......
    “And he cried, A lion: My lord, I stand continually upon the watchtower in the daytime, and I am set in my ward whole nights:”

    ......and you intimated that Robert Lowth somehow improved upon this verse with.......
    “And he that looked out on the watch cried aloud; Oh my Lord, keep my station all the day long And on my ward I have continued every night”

    Then backed this up, by pointing out how some MV’s followed his lead.....
    Then he who saw cried out: “Upon a watchtower I stand, O Lord, continually by day, and at my post I am stationed whole nights. (ESV)

    Then the lookout called, “O Lord, I stand continually by day on the watchtower, And I am stationed every night at my guard post. (NAS)

    You, yourself pointed out how he “removed” the words “A lion”.

    How is this an improvement?
    --------------------------------------------------
    If indeed, it is “an improvement”, to remove “lion”(yra ‘ariy ar-ee’) from this verse, than why not remove the same Hebrew word from Genesis 49:9.....
    “Judah is a lion's whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up?”

    And if “lion” is removed from Genesis 49:9, than it could not be referenced in.....
    Revelation 5:5
    “And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.”

    --------------------------------------------------
    Now we don’t know what motivated him to make these changes, but it sure looks like he is trying to change our perception of Jesus Christ.(the Lion of the tribe of Judah).

    My point is; It was wrong for Robert Lowth to mess with God’s word, just as it is wrong to mess with it today.
    Because we don’t know the true motivation, behind the changes.
     
  9. Jerome

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    Spurgeon's Commenting and Commentaries calls Bishop Lowth's Isaiah a "grand work" but notes that:
     
  10. Deacon

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    Of course Spurgeon commented before they found the ancient texts in Qumran.

    It's facinating to compare Lowth's suspicions with these texts.

    No, he's not always right but there are times when he's dead-on.

    **********

    Thank you Stillearning; nice to see you still reading.

    Perhaps the KJV is lion to you about what the text really is. :tongue3:

    Rob
     
  11. BobinKy

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    :laugh: Funny post.

    Methinks we may swerve toward a KJVO discussion?

    But before we swerve, I encourage all readers to click one of the online editions I included in my first post, and read a short passage in Lowth's translation -- "The Oracle Concerning the Desert of the Sea" (Isa. 21:1-10). And be sure to turn further in the online edition (after the translation) and read Lowth's commentary (notes) on this passage.

    ...Bob
     
    #11 BobinKy, Oct 24, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 24, 2010
  12. Jerome

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    From reference book entries for Bishop Lowth:

    Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage:
    International Cyclopedia:
     
  13. Logos1560

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    Robert Lowth's translation of the book of Isaiah was published together with Benjamin Blayney's translation of the book of Jeremiah along with the translation of other books by others. Benjamin Blayney was the editor of the 1769 Oxford edition of the KJV. This combined translation was entitled A Literal Translation of the Prophets.
     
  14. Pastor_Bob

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    I am an avid reader of Louis L'Amour books. As far as I know, I own every book he has written with the exception of a book of poetry entitled Smoke From This Altar. I also have several Zane Gray novels as well as Clarence Mulford's stories of Hopalong Cassidy and the Bar 20. My personal preference is L'Amour, but I enjoy reading the other authors for a change of pace now and then. I also enjoy collecting his books that were made into films.
     
  15. ReformedBaptist

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    Sounds like Lowth had a place at the table of a translator of the text. But I am not comfortable with a one man show. The AV had a team of 70 translators, all very educated men, who discussed the translation.

    There is no divine promise for an infallible translation. But we may expect to be helped of God in the work. Any translation of the Scriptures ought to be done by a team of educated and godly men, not just one man.
     
  16. Rippon

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    That team of 70 leaned very hard on the work of a one-man translator -- William Tyndale.
     

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