Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Thinking on Psalm 2

Such noise - so many words
- they do not seek you
- but what of your people?
They do not stand against you

The light was good - good for whom?
A table is my throne
The chairs have all been moved
I await instructions to depart

Is it a table for enntertainment?
for food? an operating table?
or an altar?

The peoples mutter
they are unconscious of their bonds
and of his bonds too
are they kings?
are they your children?

Is God a boss?

(To paraphrase Browning: When I wrote this God and I know what I was thinking - now only God knows.)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Psalm 1 - a holiday meditation

I have been having a hard time starting to write again after my holiday. I wrote lots with pen and paper on the cruise, but the fourth page has been stopping me from reworking later pages. I had with me only psalms 1, 2 and 149 - as if I could learn from an opening and closing bracket. It strikes me that one should not divide translation into different types as the early posts from Joel Hoffman's blog seem to be doing and as many translators do. Translation must encompass the word for word, the dynamic equivalence, and the idiomatic all at once. Perhaps where there was no idiom a new one will arise from the translation. Perhaps where the literal is impossible, one will pass into equivalence as best as one can, and last but first in my bias, from the point of view of sound rather than meaning alone, one must hear the frame in order to know the content. Yet too - one might at times have to obscure the frame. In these cases, a footnote is important. I sympathize with Joel in his latest post.  A footnote that says 'Hebrew obscure' or unclear, is not very useful information. Obscure to whom? It certainly is obscured to the reader by such a comment.

So here is my meditation on Psalm 1. It is dialogue.
V. Walk stand sit... is that all I do? I thought it wicked to lie down.
R. You abstract wicked. I do not. My wicked are personal, not disembodied. The saints on their bed are blessed. I said nothing about lying down.
V. Blessed? Happy, you mean, don't you? Did you divide the wicked and the righteous from the beginning?
R. It has been mine from the beginning to know the differences between the one and the others.
V. So walk stand sit are a merism for me. And sinners and scornful are a subdivision of wicked. The other trio, advice way seat, is it one also?
R. No they are many and indistinguished.

V. The one has three times as many words as the many! "In your teaching his delight." Do many know your delight that is his teaching? or her teaching?
V. No question. Your teaching becomes his. Learning such inexpressible delight. All senses participate in delight. So there is fruitfulness. The unfaded leaf can be touched. It has heard. It nourishes both itself and others. It propagates. It is deeply known. That is one way, named as such, known in the opening of the ear to learning from you. No other teacher will do though many may stimulate the beginning of the path. But the beginning is also the end for the end is you. That you know this way, their dross consumed, their husk scattered: that too is a type of fruitfulness. There is no point in me without you.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Post # 500 - trying to remember...

I took away with me to Alaska and on the south-bound cruise to Vancouver two 'work'-like things -
  1. the Summer edition of JBL in which I read several articles. I very much enjoyed 'The Tale of an Unrighteous Slave' by Fabian Udoh  - a striking review of the parable of the unjust steward, and 'The Jewish Messiahs, the Pauline Christ, and the Gentile Question', by Matthew Novenson. This article was an almost direct anwser to some of my meandering questions on the meaning of Anointed. 
  2. my old diagram of Psalm 1, 2 and 149 - just to keep in practice for reading and translation. Without any props or reference grammars, I found my three-year old brain confused over the pronomial suffixes of Psalm 2. Why is the translation not like this?
Let us break his bonds asunder and cast away his cords from us.
ננתקה את־מוסרותימו ונשליכה ממנו עבתימו

The suffix is a vav - meaning his. It is not a 'hem' meaning theirs. My grammar would not go with me in my head - so now I am back and searching Lambdin - and nowhere can I find a 'them' or 'their' where the word ends in a vav. Similarly in Putnam - a final vav (except for 1st person plural final nun-vav) is always his - never their. What am I failing to remember and failing to see?

Psalm 2 was an early psalm for me - and even a second time through, my familiarity with traditional translations and carefree nature as regards grammar prevented me from seeing this funny problem.