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Bob MacDonald

LOL - I am glad someone has a sense of humour!

Robert R. Cargill

the best 'bible' to have:

1. buy a mac
2. buy accordance
3. layout the greek, hebrew, and all desired modern translations within multiple panes on a single frame.
4. setup alternate frames with the dss, mishna, nw semitic inscriptions, lxx, targumim, syriac, bdb, kb, etc. etc.
5. read them all

then, when someone says 'nice set you've got there,' you can rest assured that they are talking about your accordance setup, and not your zizim. :)

JohnFH

Robert,

I do the same with Logos, which also has Ugaritic.

But Accordance people have the mishnah and the talmudim on the same platform? No fair! C'mon Logos, get with it.

David Ker

Hey, I grew up on the farm. I know lots of interesting vocabulary.

"rather than his own thumb" I burst out laughing at that one.

How am I supposed to explain this to my wife?
"How did your trip go, sweetie?"
"Great. I spent the weekend thinking about teats..."

JohnFH

You might want to emphasize that we began by thinking about buckles.

Duane

John,

Fun post. Thanks for letting me know about it. The Ugaritic example is relevant but I actual think the Akkadian is more definitive. I'm more than a little confused about this whole translation issue. At one level, I can't figure out why it's so darn important. There are a couple of quite useful, even brilliant, translations Homer where contact with the original Greek is only occasionally clear. There are sections in Butler's classic translation where it is possible to image that he read the Greek one day and got around to writing down his translation about a week later. Not that I think he actually did this. To me the whole issue is one of purpose rather than principle. If one desires a close reading, then a close, perhaps wooded, translation is required. If one wants to address a broad audience than contemporary idiom is required. I place the exact issue you are addressing in this post under the category of "pulpitizing," attempting to make the translation fit for the pulpit. For most congregations I'd guess that "breast" is more acceptable than "nipple." I do worry that many translations of the Bible want to make it seem harder to read and understand, make it "holy" by strange language, than is helpful to the general/casual reader. In so doing, the translation actually causes a distance between the reader and the text that does not serve such a reader well but does serve those whose employment depends in part on bridging that distance. One of the problems, of course, is that some of those who make a living bridging that distance have trouble imaging anyone casually reading the Bible in the same way they might read Homer or Shakespeare.

Peter Kirk

John, I can't help imagining what might have happened if you, age 16, had first come across "teat" in a version of Isaiah 66:11 being read out in church. Would you have asked the girl, or older woman, next door to you what it meant? What would the reaction have been, of her and of anyone else who observed the exchange?

Of course this is a good argument why words like "teat", and for that matter also "buckler" and "justify", should not be used in texts being read out in church where some of the congregation are not yet educated enough to understand them. After all, would it really be a good idea if all the 16-year-olds and younger started asking one another what words mean in the middle of the service?

JohnFH

Duane,

that's kind of you to back up, from a disinterested point of view, the sweet B's choice to translate 'nipple' with 'breast.'

And you are right: if I read my translation of Ezekiel 16 from the pulpit, I might lose my job. Actually, I have read it from the pulpit, and I didn't lose my job. You couldn't hear a pin drop after I read it. It's amazing what you can get away with from the pulpit.

JohnFH

Peter,

you are supposed to keep questions like that for afterwards. My God, have you not read I Corinthians? These are old problems. The way you wish to solve them, by removing words the authors used, like "buckler," "teat," and "justify," is a depressingly anti-intellectual road to go down.

Eric

Thanks for the compliment and the link.

Kevin P. Edgecomb

One "suckles," intransitively, the connoted teat. One suckles, transitively, whoever's suckling. Or one "sucks at the teat." "Suckles at the teat" just doesn't work.

We should know our English as well as we know our Hebrew (etc) if we're to translate well.

JohnFH

Kevin,

It is however, true, that if you google "suckle at," you will discover that "suckle at" the public teat, or the teat of big business, has become a standard phrase in English. Consciously or unconsciously, I see David playing off of phrases like that when he coined his "suckle at the teat of ancient languages."

"Suckle" may actually be a euphemism for "suck" in these instances.

Language is fun. Rich in Vitamin D. Can't get enough of it.

Kevin P. Edgecomb

Oh sure, I know people use it that way, but that doesn't make it right. It's as illiterate as "predominately" and any number of modern day screwups and other oddities.

JohnFH

"Predominately" is wrong, I knew that, or at least, I think I did.

Ros

Surely teat has rather more of an agricultural nuance to it than Isaiah 66 intends? Or maybe that's just my farm girl side coming out. I don't remember ever having heard it apply to women, though I sympathise with your fellow student who found herself having to explain the word to you in class and took the most expedient route. She's probably still telling that story, too.

It does seem odd to me that bible translators are worried about references to breastfeeding. Nipples are one of the first things that babies learn to appreciate - nothing to be ashamed of there.

JohnFH

Hi Ros,

I concur: 'teat' probably had a wider semantic range in the days of Shakespeare. NJB's 'generous nipple' is a defensible translation.

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