Sunday, March 02, 2008

Psalm 25

[Update - for a fascinating thesis on the incompleteness of the acrostics of Book 1, see this article by Ronald Benun HT Rochelle Altman]
Psalm 25 is an irregular acrostic. א occurs twice once in verse 1: אֵלֶיךָ and again in verse 2, but ב is missing (unless you count the trust in the third word of verse 2). In the middle vav is missing. At the end, resh is repeated, and the last verse does not participate in the acrostic (but maybe it wasn't supposed to).

In rereading Jerome Creach's short book on יְהוָה as Refuge and the Editing of the Hebrew Psalter, I have been reviewing my diagram of the psalm but I have not attempted yet to correct my translation since it is so hilarious. Trying to imitate a Hebrew acrostic in English and returning to the attempt 9 months later makes the original too funny to change.

Have no fear, I am changing and correcting all sorts of things as I discover them. This psalm 25 also has a number of interesting structural elements besides the acrostic. There are no less than 6 significant word recurrences in verses 1-3 and 18-22 and two of them are related to the refuge word-field as Creach defines it. (Life, lift up, trust/refuge, shame, enemies, wait.) These create two pairs of concentric circles in sequence and the wait verb is also sequential: life, lift up, trust, ashamed, enemies, wait // lift up, enemies, life, ashamed, sheltered, wait. Note however the differing objects of lift up - and the enemies recurrence tangles the circles.

I will probably start with this word field for a global view of the theme of refuge in the Psalter - and I will hope to prove and make visible Creach's Appendix A with technology that will help us see his results better.

(What is holding me back is a reliable search mechanism by lemma. I started manually annotating the 19000 or so words in the Psalter and I realize a. that I will make too many typographic mistakes this way, and b. there are real decisions to make and I am not fluent enough yet to make them.)

There is also a significant meditation on the way דרך. This word (drk) appears 6 times as noun and verb in the body of the poem (vs 4-17). There are several other recurrences that are tightly tied into inner structures like remember (zkr) and goodness (tov - translated top-notch for the necessary tet), teach (lmd), loving kindness (xsd), set (yrd - translated teach in AV but not = lmd). [Perhaps the sinners noted as set are those who are forgiven much and therefore love much, knowing their debt.]

There is a lot of potential colouring here- and it is a really fun poem to boot. I have coloured a few significant words and connected a few others. [update - I did some connecting - it's a highly connected poem with a lot of recurrence]

John Hobbins is also coloring these days but his work is more on a micro basis than mine (not to mention more accurate). My eye sees gross structures easier than the fine points of grammar.

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