Sunday, September 07, 2008

Psalm 136 - just how did I get here so fast

Psalm 136
I do wish I was better at verbs - but see below how careful I have been to see what is complete and what is ongoing. Note that even the created order is ongoing - represented in the Hebrew by an active participle. But some actions are once only and completed such as the death required for rebirth.

[Update: 08.11.05 see this critique - I used 'for' in the first half of each somewhat carelessly - 'in' or 'as' gives the verbal distinction between ki = causative 'for' in the second half of each verse compared to the leading lamed 'l' indicating something less than a causative preposition.
Update: 08.11.10 - I think I prefer my accidental causative original! - The inordinate repetition of English 'for' will have to stand as a historical or poetic accident. Why do we praise - because of all these things - should we be so lucky to see hope rather than transient opportunism.
Another change - to be really difficult - I am going to change the chorus - see if you can see why.
Update 08.12.11 - detailed alternative here - to be analysed later...]

Invocation to the hymn

Give thanks to יְהוָה for he is good, and his loving-kindness is for ever
Give thanks to the God of gods, for his loving-kindness is for ever
Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his loving-kindness is for ever
for doing great wonders for his servant, and his loving-kindness is for ever
Creation
for making the heavens with understanding, and his loving-kindness is for ever
for stretching out the earth over the waters, and his loving-kindness is for ever
for making the great lights, and his loving-kindness is for ever
even the sun to rule by day, for his loving-kindness is for ever
even the moon and stars to rule by night, for his loving-kindness is for ever
Redemption
for smiting the first-born of Egypt, and his loving-kindness is for ever
and he brought Israel from their midst, for his loving-kindness is for ever
with a strong hand and an extended arm, for his loving-kindness is for ever
for parting the sea of rushes into parts, and his loving-kindness is for ever
and made Israel pass through in its deeps, for his loving-kindness is for ever
and shook off Pharaoh and his hosts in the sea of rushes, for his loving-kindness is for ever
Sanctification
for leading his people in the wilderness, and his loving-kindness is for ever
and he smote great kings, for his loving-kindness is for ever
and he destroyed majestic kings, for his loving-kindness is for ever
so Sihon, king of the Amorites, for his loving-kindness is for ever
and so Og, king of fruitful Bashan, for his loving-kindness is for ever
and gave their lands as inheritance, for his loving-kindness is for ever
the inheritance of Israel his servant, for his loving-kindness is for ever
Universal Eucharist
our humiliation he remembered for us, for his loving-kindness is for ever
and tears us from our enemies, for his loving-kindness is for ever
giving bread to all flesh, for his loving-kindness is for ever
Completing the circle
Give thanks to the God of Heaven, for his loving-kindness is for ever

4 comments:

hebrewandgreekreader said...

Bob,

I've conversed with v4-7 of your translation at hebrewandgreekreader.wordpress.com. Thanks for the discussion, hope it continues!

daniel

hebrewandgreekreader said...

Bob,

Any new thoughts on participles?

I also wanted to point out that taking a substantival-participle view (as I do) would not allow the lameds to be rendered 'in'. Rather they would continue to mark the object of praise, as both of us have them in v1-3.

Hope to see you in Boston.

Bob MacDonald said...

Regrettably, Daniel and Tonya, I will not be at SBL this year. I have to be in England and France shortly after and the travel just does not work.

I have had no further thoughts on participles but in rereading your critique, I think I see where you have taken the argument and I can see I have much more to learn about Hebrew - not to mention grammar and translating.

We don't use participles the way the early Hebrew did - so next time round on this psalm, I will need to consider how to to be creative in English so that we don't simply take for granted the 'obvious' meaning.

In some sense, I don't want to ignore the chorus. I will leave the question open: what is the importance of the repetitive nature of this refrain?

Bob MacDonald said...

Heh- ignorance will have its stubborn streak. I have returned to my first draft - two reasons. One as noted in the update, but also, I want to preserve the difference between the participle and the completed aspect of other verbs. It strikes me that there is then a suggestion that the smiting of the firstborn of Egypt is not over and done with - what a terrifying aspect.