Friday, February 22, 2008


You may have read how Secundus wrote in the margins of his sister's codices - things he thought were appropriate. And you may have guessed that some mischievous child thus contributed to the manuscript variants that textual critics struggle with. Well - all those first translators of the Psalms did the same thing! They changed the Word of God to suit themselves! O Joy, O Rapture! Batter my heart! How will we sing the Lord's Song in a strange tongue?

All the discussion over translation - why? What do you want to accomplish? Only one thing surely - only that one thing that is needful - that we should find our home at the feet of the Master - that part that will not be taken away. Such a dwelling. Would you preclude others from finding it except on your terms? - - - Perfect love casts out fear.

Those Psalm titles - someone once told me they were not inspired. Hah! That old five volume commentary by Neale and Littledale is quite a piece of work. They treat the Hebrew, the LXX, the Vulgate, and the Syriac as if they were all equally inspired. They are pleased (if a little randomly) to move by association to almost any theological point from any one of these 'originals'. How interesting it will be if that new Jerusalem project gets to where it would like to get to, including the reception history that is planned.

Example: Psalm 81 - To the chief musician upon Gittith, A Psalm of Asaph.
Chaldee Targum: For praise, upon the harp brought from Gath, by the hand of Asaph.
LXX: To the end, for the presses, A Psalm of Asaph.
Vulgate: To the Conqueror, [on the fifth of the Sabbath] for the presses, A Psalm of Asaph.
Syriac: Of Asaph, when David was making ready by him for the festivals.

I think I will get all five volumes from the library next time I am there - for musing. (But it is a bit difficult to follow the commentators' immediate Christological responses to the Psalms.)

Here's an example:

For this was made a statute for Israel : and a law of the God of Jacob

כִּי חֹק לְיִשְׂרָאֵל הוּא מִשְׁפָּט לֵאלֹהֵי יַעֲקֹב

For the word mishpat, here translated law, the LXX and Vulgate more literally read judgment, which draws the following comment from S. Augustine: where there is a statute, there is a judgment. For they who sinned under the Law shall be judged by the Law. And the LORD CHRIST, WORD made flesh, is the giver of the statute: "For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see, and that they which see might be made blind." (John 9:39) Thus we are warned that the Lawgiver and the Judge are one, and that the commands He lays upon us are not merely subject for meditation by Israel, the contemplative saints, but for practical operation by Jacob, the saints of active life, and as the final test for all at the Doom. (S. Bruno Carth.)

And so on... - note what S. Bruno makes of the parallelism! Like the Rabbis, he makes each parallel specifically different as it suits his thought.

Ref: Commentary on the Psalms from primitive and mediaeval writers : and from the various office-books and hymns of the Roman, Mozarabic, Ambrosian, Gallican, Greek, Coptic, Armenian, and Syriac rites / by J.M. Neale and R.F. Littledale.

No comments: