Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Psalm -48 June 2007 (111)
Psalm -87 June 2007 (54)

Two more - slightly coloured. These two are both songs of Zion. Goulder maintains they were at first songs of the North, i.e. of Dan. I wonder if those rapscallion children of Korah left additional hints that they were the authors in each one. Psalm 87 has an odd title order which almost puts Korah concentrically opposite the players (traditional translation) which I rendered 'the profane'. Korah after all was profane as far as the priests in Jerusalem were concerned.

לִבְנֵי קֹרַח

My alter blogo has started a story. He has been known as a story teller sometimes in the past 10 years. I wonder if he can manage the serial form and whether he will get any feedback in this medium.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Korah and Co.

Psalm -29 June 2007 (91)
Psalm -44 June 2007 (197)
Psalm -45 June 2007 (160)
Psalm -84 June 2007 (116)
Psalm -85 June 2007 (96)

A few more psalms hit the draft stage.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Goulder and the history of Dan

Goulder's book on the Psalms of the Sons of Korah is delightful. He is dependent for some of his reasoning on the documentary hypothesis - perhaps unnecessarily. Is it still in vogue these days?

His thesis is that the sons of Korah were centred in Dan and then moved to Jerusalem after the fall of the Northern Kingdom. Far more than any single book for me, he has opened the OT in detail as to its history and cultic festivals. Just setting Psalms 42-48 in the autumn festival on the slopes of Mt Hermon reframes the whole Psalter. He has even made me want to reread Chronicles since he says it is an editing of the history by the Sons of Korah whom he even traces to modern day England (Corah and sons who are suppliers to Marks and Spenser)!

I will be working with his book this week at least to adjust my table of contents for the Psalms and to show possibly up to four festival sequences among the psalms book 2 (42-48) , 3 (84-89), 4 entire, and 5 (120-134). Goulder shows the depth of the liturgical use over a long period. We have a similar use of liturgy in the Anglican tradition from the 16th to 20th century but in an more technical society where we know how texts are propagated. The imagining of the beginning of such worship going back to 1200 BCE is gripping - to say the least.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Psalm studies & canon

Two excellent books partly read on the train today: Michael Goulder on the Psalms of the sons Korah JSOT 1982, and Yitzhak Avishur, Studies in Hebrew and Ugaritic Psalms, Hebrew University Press 1994. I noted this book on my other blog under the Future of Canon because it relates to the intensifying ongoing discussion on canon.

There is also a brief post on necessary and sufficient conditions. Arguments have to have some rationale. Maybe this can help - with 1500 years of development, one can't be too quick on the decision. I am away from computers for a day - maybe this will help the thought process - one thousand years as a day. Hmmm, perhaps a day and a half would be better.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

New Library

It was easier to renew my library cards than to get them the frist time. Ottawa Public Library has a smart card that makes borrowing at U of O and Carleton a breeze - so I have a whole new collection of BS-1430 (Psalms) to browse in - unfortunately much in French. One translation into French also of some letters on Judaism by Samson Raphael Hirsch and these contain some Psalms too - the French is more cumbersome than the English. And of course they are not Hirsch's translations.

Avant que les montagnes ne fussent créées;

Ah - the subjunctive - what a fussy sound! What do the French do with God's turning?

שׁוּבָה Turn
Tourne-toi de nouveau vers nous,
יְהוָה עַד מָתָי LORD, how long
ô Eternel! Jusques à quand tarderas-tu encore?
וְהִנָּחֵם and sigh
Aie pitié
עַל עֲבָדֶיךָ over your servants
de tes serviteurs!

9 words in English, 7 in Hebrew, 19 in French

Aie pitié is a curious turn of phrase. What is that nxm root? It may result in pity or mercy, but I think it is better related to God's repenting. It is the root of Nehemiah, the rebuilder of the temple. I almost wonder if it is the work of the Spirit in us as advertised in the NT. Speaking of the Spirit, the groaner (my alter blogo) has a few words to say about cessationism.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Less than a milestone

It's embarassing publishing bugs in one's own calculations. That's why we always do walk-throughs when developing code. One should also pay attention to the little voice that says: your indicators do not make sense yet.

I have less than a bit of a milestone - more than 33% of the verses and of the phrases are in a drafted form in English and Hebrew on the emerging contents.

These three tipped the two measures over 33%.
Psalm -44 June 2007 (197)
Psalm -45 June 2007 (160)
Psalm 128 June 2007 (47)

I hope to do some consolidation over the next two weeks reviewing the consistency and variety of my drafts and doing exercises in Brettler especially in the area of verb recognition (I get to borrow the book for 2 more weeks!) . I hope to reduce my dependency on having first to find the word in some literal translation in order to find it in BDB using the Strong's number. What a history we have here - primitive identifications of words manually sequenced as if the body parts could make up a life! But I have to admit, for one who is not fluent at recognition, I could not have moved in this time period alone without the alternative lookup mechanism.

What is the best way to teach something so new as a language? Even just translating psalms 44 and 45 made me recognize that I was in the presence of another writer in the psalter - the prepositions even seem different (like מִנִּי which occurs in this form only in Ps 44,45,68,74,78,88 and Job many times, only 2 other places according to my Hebrew-Latin concordance. Maybe one of the sons of Korah, or someone named Asaph, also wrote Job.)

Friday, June 08, 2007

Thoughts on Canon

Some first thoughts on a discussion related to the canon are here. There is a slight relation to psalms as a source of help.

Thursday, June 07, 2007


It's been almost a week since I've written anything. I am still recovering from trying to speed-read Bauckham's Jesus and the Eye Witnesses - not a good idea. But what a beautiful Grammar Book I have been loaned - Brettler, Marc Zvi , Biblical Hebrew for Students of Modern Israeli Hebrew, 2002 [marvelous!]

Can you imagine a marvellous Grammar book? It is so cool - it reads in Hebrew and English concurrently and explains one or two words at a time in Hebrew so you learn fast. I am not a student of modern Hebrew but I've pored over Lambdin and a Hebrew-Latin concordance for a year and believe me this new book though based on Lambdin is a real speed-read. If only I took the time to do all the exercises - later...

The strongest component is its understanding of morphology - why propretonic reduction works and how consistent it really is. At some point, the implied rules will also help my root derivation algorithm - but that may need to wait till I retire from my day job :

Milestones: I no longer turn Hebrew books upside down - I can read the letters from the other side of the table without getting confused (that indicates internal visual brain connections growing - like the seed in the ground that grows without the farmer knowing).

Zvi's brilliant timing of his prose shows me that word recognition is happening without excessive conscious memorization. This shows that even old dogs can learn a language not by translation but by usage.

He introduces about 25 words per chapter - that's 275 words so far + a few more that aren't in the vocabulary lists. It's not many but I did recognize most of them immediately.

Newish psalms (some with minor changes, some a fresh draft) - the number in brackets is a word count - I'm looking for patterns...
Psalm -26 June 2007 (85)
Psalm -90 May 2007 (140)
Psalm 120 June 2007 (51)
Psalm 121 May 2007 (56)
Psalm 122 June 2007 (62)
Psalm 123 May 2007 (41)
Psalm 124 May 2007 (57)
Psalm 125 June 2007 (49)
Psalm 126 June 2007 (50)
Psalm 127 June 2007 (60)

Friday, June 01, 2007

Psalm 123

I haven't read any commentaries (except a snippet of Calvin) on this Psalm yet - and Calvin doesn't cut it. As reported in Psalms in community : Jewish and Christian textual, liturgical, and artistic traditions / edited by Harold W. Attridge and Margot E. Fassler, Calvin says that the contempt repeated in verse 3 is because the Church will always be scorned by the at ease and the proud. Or something of that nature. The poem I hope will admit of a different interpretation - for Calvin here smacks of a persecution complex. It would be more like a son, in my opinion, to be considering the love he has for those who are offended - or even contemptuous, proud, and at ease. What kind of projection am I reading into this rather odd Psalm - which starts and does not finish? Maybe when I finish all the songs of ascent, there will be a further clue as to the meaning of this stark unpoem. Can you imagine singing this on your ascent to the festival? You should be running for cover!

Speaking of songs of ascent - is this also a construct form? for it is shir הַמַּעֲלוֹת hama`aloth - which looks just like a king of the glory. So maybe there is some decision in hearing and translation as to whether two consecutive nouns are in a construct relation or not... and if they are not, one might stretch the tongue a bit to make its timing have a quizical, playful, or other impact on the sequence of processing in the brain. So I modified Psalm 24 to play a bit more with the he, this, a and the - as if the poet was finally going to get to the full impact of the construct only in the last verse.