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Dunash ben Labrat

Ali Ahmad Said

Verbal System of Ancient Hebrew

The Bible as seen through the eyes of . . .

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Derrick Tate


Hi John,

You use of "crock" is understandable; although in 11:8b, I'd feel the term "a crock" would sound more natural. From looking up the term online, it seems that your use is perhaps more British. American usage is listed as short for the phrase "a crock of sh-".

Other terms that come to mind with similar connotations that you could consider would be "hot air" and "arm waving".

***

Hmm. Overall it seems like now you're arguing for something like The Message:

1:2-3 Smoke, nothing but smoke. [That's what the Quester says.] There's nothing to anything—it's all smoke.
What's there to show for a lifetime of work,
a lifetime of working your fingers to the bone?

1:14-15 I've seen it all and it's nothing but smoke—smoke, and spitting into the wind.

Life's a corkscrew that can't be straightened,
A minus that won't add up.

11:8b Take delight in each light-filled hour,
Remembering that there will also be many dark days
And that most of what comes your way is smoke.

[You probably wouldn't advocate going this far, but some of the metaphors/expressions would be suitable for what you're advocating as a metaphor-for-metaphor translation.]

***

So with OT poetry, there's image (visually what comes to mind), connotation, and register and you could add continuity with Tyndale-KJV and/or attempts to capture or replace poetic devices such as alliteration and strophic structure. Then it's a question of ranking these, being consistent in applying them, and resolving any tensions among them.

One place I've seen problems are literal translations in which the connotative meanings give the wrong impression. I'm thinking of something like ESV's use of "David slept with his fathers". It's a euphemism in Hebrew, and it's a euphemism in English, but not for the same act. Perhaps, "David passed away" would be appropriate?

Alter seems to prioritize image, brevity, and to a lesser extent alliteration.

[I believe with your psalms translations, from what I've read, you've been emphasizing brevity/strophic-structure and register, followed by KJV-continuity.]

***

A translation that seems diametrically opposed to Alter is The Voice (eg, _The Voice of Psalms_), which spells out in explanatory italics the intended implications/interpretation of the text.

The explanation of the translation process emphasizes the authors' intention to be poetic: "The translation process for each book began as negotiation between a gifted writer and scholars working in the original language. After that first phase, a few selected scholars carefully read the manuscript, compared it to the original language, and evaluated the faithfulness to the text and the theological and historical nuances of the translation."

However, I couldn't find any review of how well it works as poetry, but I would think spelling things out would lessen the poetic impact.

1:2-3 Teacher: Life is fleeting, like a passing mist.
It is like trying to catch hold of a breath;
All vanishes like a vapor; everything is a great vanity.

1:14-15 I have witnessed all that is done under the sun, and indeed, all is fleeting, like trying to embrace the wind. There is an old saying: Something crooked cannot be made straight, and something missing cannot be counted.

11:8b but he should not forget the dark days ahead, for there will be plenty of them. All that is to come--whether bright days or dark--is fleeting.

John Hobbins

Hi Derrick,

Thanks for your insightful comments.

An article of mine in which I discuss inter alia the master metaphor of Qohelet should appear soon (see my "ABOUT" link, upper right corner). In the meantime, here are three footnotes from that article that you may find helpful:

As I see it, Q labels things as הֶבֶל “air” or רְעוּת רוּחַ / רַעְיוֹן רוּחַ “preoccupation of the consistency of air” or “preoccupation with air” in order to express disappointment and frustration with premises, consequences, and end-results of endeavors, experiences, and life in general. הֶבֶל “(hot) air” and רוּחַ “air” are container metaphors that remand to (missing) contents. They stand for something that should be there, but isn’t. Under Q’s microscope, hard work, wisdom, and self-denial are not sufficiently rewarded virtues; upstanding behavior and life in general lack a satisfying moral teleology. The judgment that x isn’t what it should be is the common denominator of instances in which Q says that x is הֶבֶל: 1:2-3, 14-15, 17; 2:1-2, 11, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 26; 3:19; 4:4, 6, 16; 5:6; 5:9; 6:1-2, 4, 9, 11, 12; 7:6, 15; 8:10b-13, 14; 9:1-2 [emended], 9; 11:8, 10; 12:8. Hebel judgments communicate the perception that a lack compromises an entire space. The closest thing to the point of Q’s “it’s all hebel” in the taxonomy of The Metaphors We Live By (George Lakoff and Mark Johnson; Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1980), is a LIFE IS A CONTAINER example: “Life is empty for him.” Though the evidence is slim for the view that הֶבֶל references “foulness” per se, Douglas Miller’s thesis that Q’s הֶבֶל judgments amount to saying that “the thing stinks” is solid enough (Douglas B. Miller; Symbol and Rhetoric in Ecclesiastes: The Place of Hebel in Qohelet's Work [Academia Biblica 2; Leiden/Atlanta: Brill/Society of Biblical Literature, 2002]).

“Crock” is a container metaphor that remands to contents, like “cup” in “Are you able to drink the cup I am about to drink?" “Crock” is efficacious precisely because it remands to the point of not remanding: it takes on a life of its own. A typical exchange: “Jeff said, ‘Matt did you just say X?’ Matt replied, yes he had. With that Jeff said, ‘That is a crock. I want to completely disassociate myself from that.’”

Crock1, as in “that story is a crock”; crock2, as in “the boy grimed with crock and dirt from the hair of his head to the sole of his foot”; crock3, as “like nearly every poor crock out there I owe you [a famous doctor] a peculiar debt of gratitude.” Kraecke [= kraak] in Middle Dutch was used of a broken-down horse.

For the rest, I don't think fleeting/ephemeral is a fitting abstract substitute for hebel, even if it works on various occasions more or less.

"Smoke" would be an obscure metaphor-for-metaphor translation in most cases as far as I can see (no pun intended).

Note also that hebel is used beyond Qohelet as an important metaphor, and "crock" seems to work well as a nearly universal metaphor-for-metaphor translation for hebel wherever it is attested as a metaphor in ancient Hebrew.

Bob MacDonald

Would you put the crock in Psalm 39 also? (I think it would work - but not if you think Psalm 39 is pious. I find it somewhat comical after Psalm 38).

But as you know, some years ago, I made it a rule, being such a fool, to translate Qohelet, in a Seussian spirit.

So here is the beginning, a Seussian swinging of Things declaimed
by David's child
king in Jerusalem

An utter futility,
touts Qohelet,
an utter futility,
total futility.

Bob MacDonald

Hmmm - crock and cup? I would have a hard time making this connection. Mostly because I think I would burn my lips on the crock but not on the wine in the cup. Crock is what I cook in not what I drink from. Also cup and sacrifice are close particularly through the idiom of libation.

Still - I like the reaching and the search for idiom and metaphor. Very refreshing.

I trust it is OK to mention you by name and by blog address in my acknowledgments of online resources and encouraging words in my forthcoming book on the Psalms (1Q2013). I assure you I do not blame you for any of my idiosyncrasies!

John Hobbins

Hi Bob,

In a metaphor-for-metaphor translation, the goal is, in the case of a composition like Q in which הֶבֶל is a master metaphor, to find an equivalent metaphor in the target language.

No equivalent will be perfect, but "crock" works well enough throughout Q, whereas "futility," in any case a non-metaphor, works in some instances but not others.

There are a few cases in which הֶבֶל seems to be a metaphor for something transitory. But "crock" is suitable enough in the bulk of loci in and beyond Q in which the traditional translation is vanitas, and also for those instances in which graven images of gods, the ultimate crocks from a Yahwist standpoint, are referenced.

Mitchell Powell

The above is a valuable discussion all around of what sorts of English metaphors do jobs most similar to what hebel does for Qohelet. All well and good, but I'd like to ask a somewhat different question (I've got the good Dr. Hobbins in mind, but if someone else wants to have a go at it, go ahead).

In the past, John, you've made mention of the need for a common English Bible for liturgical use, one that Catholics and Prots can both read out of in their synagogues, one which clings as much as it can to both the sense of the passages as originally intended, the senses the passages have had for the communities of faith through the ages, and the hard edges of the biblical diction.

If you were assigned to oversee the work on Qohelet, two questions (1) what would you name the book as a whole, [Qohelet, Ecclesiastes, something else?], and (2) how would you render hebel in 1:2 and elswhere for week-to-week lectionary purposes in English-speaking churches?

Mitchell Powell

PS: Myself and some of my compatriots, at least, cannot hear the word crock spoken aloud without expecting the word of and a choice synonym for merde to follow. From a liturgical standpoint, would it be bad for us to hear the word "crock" from the pulpit, or would this association help clarify what Qohelet is up to?

David Reimer

My own preference for some time now (or at least, since it occurred to me while listening to Stuart Weeks give a lecture on the topic) has been to equate "hevel" with Mr Moulder's "gammon" from Anthony Trollope's Orley Farm (which is here http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/23000 should anyone be inclined to CTRL-F the lot of them). Consider this from the end of ch. VI:

"Now, that's what I call gammon," said Moulder.

"What is gammon, Mr. Moulder?" said the other, beginning to be angry.

"It's all gammon. The chairs and tables is gammon, and so is the stools and the screens."

"Mr. Moulder, I didn't call your tea and coffee and brandy gammon."

"You can't; and you wouldn't do any harm if you did. Hubbles and Grease are too well known in Yorkshire for you to hurt them. But as for all that show-off and gimcrack-work, I tell you fairly it ain't what I call trade, and it ain't fit for a commercial room. It's gammon, gammon, gammon! James, give me a bedcandle." And so Mr. Moulder took himself off to bed.

Or this, from ch. XXIV:

"I does not like these business talkings on Christmas night," said Mrs. Moulder, when the matter was arranged.

"What can one do?" asked Moulder.

"It's a tempting of Providence in my mind," said Kantwise, as he replenished his glass, and turned his eyes up to the ceiling.

"Now that's gammon," said Moulder. And then there arose among them a long and animated discussion on matters theological.

Or Moulder again, in ch. LXI:

"Lord bless you, John, they'll turn you round their finger like a bit of red tape. Truth! Gammon! What do they care for truth?"

"But I care, Moulder," said Kenneby. "I don't suppose they can make me tell falsehoods if I don't wish it."

"Not if you're the man I take you to be," said Mrs. Smiley.

"Gammon!" said Moulder.

"Mr. Moulder, that's an objectionable word," said Mrs. Smiley.

Or, if we want to try out how it sounds in Qohelet's mouth, "Gammon!", said Qohelet, "gammon, gammon, gammon!"

Works for me. :)

Bob MacDonald

I am so glad I came back - I am ROF'L - bravo for getting to the points!

I have to come back manually - cause I can never remember how to subscribe to comments.

John Hobbins

Hi David,

The first issue I have with "gammon" is the obscurity of its reference. The second issue I have is that it is a cipher, not a metaphor.

Bob,

I'm not sure how to make the comment feed work properly either. I hope to work on that with my techie this summer.

Hansen

Since my Dad often used the expression "That's a crock" I guess I have something to contribute to this discussion.

"Crock" is a shortened form of "crock of sh.." A faithful parallel might be found by comparing the use of the term "bull" and "bullsh.." The shortened form in both cases is less vulgar.

Considering that most people know what a crockpot is, the meaning of crock might best be understood to refer to a container of dung.

Does this best capture the entire meaning of "vanity" in Q? I think not. Perhaps the best way to understand "vanity" is to find parallelisms which define the word. We also must consider that there may be more than a single legitimate meaning both inside and outside of Q.

Examples:

Job 7:16 I loathe my life; I would not live alway: Let me alone; for my days are vanity.

To "not live alway" in parallel with "vanity" makes the case for "transitory" as a definition of vanity

Below, vain man is compared to a shadow that passes away. Again transitory. A similar passage appears in Q itself:

Ps 144:4 Man is like to vanity: His days are as a shadow that passeth away.


Ec 6:12 for who knows what is good for a man during his lifetime, during the few years of his futile [vain] life? he will spend them like a shadow. For who can tell a man what will be after him under the sun?

"Vanity" is used in parallel with "terror" here:

Ps 78:33 Therefore their days did he consume in vanity, And their years in terror.

Vanity is contrasted with "labor" in this passage:

Pr 13:11 Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished; But he that gathereth by labor shall have increase.

John Hobbins

Hi Hansen,

Here are a few remarks in response. In Qohelet hebel (and preoccupation with ruach) appears to be a master-metaphor. A good default hypothesis is that it has a single stable meaning even if, by definition, metaphors are plastic and applicable to a variety of things, a greater variety often than abstractions are.

So it is a red herring to point out that, in Qohelet and elsewhere on occasion, something is hebel (a crock, as I use it, in the sense of something devoid of sense) because it is transitory. That's true, but in other cases, something is hebel because it is absurd, unjust, or ridiculous.

You take something away from the book of Qohelet by reducing its master-metaphor to one or more abstractions. You are subtracting from the text when you do so.

For the rest, it is essential to keep in mind that a metaphor like hebel, or crock in English, has a Venn diagram sort of semantic pattern to it. It has something of the same meaning all the time (or much of the time). It also has particular shadings some of the time.

Hansen

Hi John, You have done a wonderful job of covering the various meanings of LBH. I wouldn't choose the word "crock" as an English equivalent of LBH but you are certainly welcome to.

The LXX equivalents of LBH are ματαιος <3152> and ματαιοτης <3153>. These two words turned up 9 times with an Online Bible search. Would you agree that these passages cover the range of the word in the OT?

Ac 14:15 and saying, "men, why are you doing these things? we are also men of the same nature as you, and preach the gospel to you that you should turn from these vain <3152> things <3152> to a living god, WHO MADE THE HEAVEN AND THE EARTH AND THE SEA AND ALL THAT IS IN THEM.

Ro 8:20 for the creation was subjected to futility <3153>, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope

1Co 3:20 and again, "THE LORD KNOWS THE REASONINGS of the wise, THAT THEY ARE USELESS <3152>."

1Co 15:17 and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless <3152>; you are still in your sins.

Eph 4:17 so this I say, and affirm together with the lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility <3153> of their mind,

Tit 3:9 but avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless <3152>.

Jas 1:26 if anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless <3152>.

1Pe 1:18 knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile <3152> way of life inherited from your forefathers,

2Pe 2:18 for speaking out arrogant words of vanity <3153> they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error,

John Hobbins

Hi Hansen,

So here's my first question. What equivalent metaphor-for-metaphor translation of hevel in Qohelet do you prefer?

More questions. I'm wondering whether you agree that the usage of ματαιος and ματαιοτης in the NT is irrelevant to the task of determining the meaning of hevel in the OT in general and Q in particular. I'm wondering whether you agree that the variety of English glosses used in modern English translations to render the Greek terms is no less irrelevant. Linguists have a variety of procedures for determining the meaning of a lexeme in a given language. I'm wondering why you set those procedures aside.

Finally, as I've pointed out before, a word study approach to meaning is viewed with suspicion by those of us with at least a smattering of linguistic training. Meaning is something that resides, not in words or dictionary definitions of words, but in clauses, sentences, and beyond. It is a function of syntax and tropes like metaphor as much as, and more than, the meaning of lexemes in the abstract.

Derrick Tate

Hi John,

Thanks for the information from your article. It sounds interesting. I'll see if I can track it down.

I do think that "crock" works in bringing out the meanings you list. crock1 is most prominent to me as a Southerner. crock2 would be least familiar. crock3 has at least some connection to fleetingness/ephemerality although more in a sense of decay and falling apart than disappearing. I like the idea of using a concrete term instead of abstractions.

If you wanted to think about creating a metric, I can see two levels or types of mapping for assessing metaphor-to-metaphor (language A to B) translation. One is on the alignment of use of metaphor-B with its context: does metaphor-B apply to instances 1 to n (number successful vs unsuccessful)? Second, would be alignment of definitions of metaphor-B with metaphor-A. So do definitions crock1 to crock3 match uses of hebel1 to hebeln, and are any definitions of hebel not covered? Metaphor-B or metaphor-A could each potentially be more or less broad than the other. (Hmm. You'd need something like a dot product, but your vectors are of unequal length....)

So a couple of questions occur to me:
Assume that use of a metaphor-to-metaphor approach is warranted for hebel as an important or master metaphor. Would there be a scale or threshold of importance below which metaphor-to-metaphor translation would not be advisable?

Would metaphors in poetry be handled differently than metaphors in prose?

Would a similar approach be applied to other types of expressions for the purpose of matching register, such as euphemisms, idioms, chengyu, etc.?

How much explanation (eg, footnotes) would be desirable? If so, how would it be best presented? For example, crock presents the right meanings, but does not have the same visual imagery as a breath. Would too much explanation be too distracting for the reader?

John Hobbins

Hi Derrick,

As I noted above, the article has yet to appear, but when it does, I will play it up.

To your questions. I am in favor of metaphor-for-metaphor translation wherever such is possible. It is not about poetry or prose. It is about tropes and preserving them in translation.

It always helps to discusses examples. Take one of the I am statements, "I am the door." This is part of a prose passage that is, nonetheless, an extended simile even if Jesus says, "I am the gate" [to the sheepfold], not "I am like a gate of a sheepfold."

True, one might translate in a disambiguating manner, "I am the sole point of access." But then the extended simile breaks down. Further, tie-ins with related similes are erased. He is also the good shepherd in an extended simile in which his followers are once again sheep.

Disambiguation has all kinds of unintended consequences.

Yes, I am in favor of matching register to register where possible. Explanation has a place, but I am after a translation of the book of Qohelet that stands on its own, even if it has to be read carefully in order to grasp meaning.

Keep in mind that Q is the closest thing we have in the Hebrew Bible to a philosophical treatise. In that genre, we almost expect an author to deploy key terms in a thoughtful manner, to the point of giving them added value in some way, to the point of redefining their sense for a particular purpose. I believe Q does with hebel and ruach. In translation, I do the same with crock.

John Hobbins

Hi Mitchell,

Sorry, I overlooked your excellent questions until now.

As for the name to give to the book in question, Ecclesiastes is terribly misleading unless one knows Greek. Qohelet is a transliteration, a sad solution, but perhaps the best available. I have a soft place in my heart for the traditional German title, der Prediger, the preacher. True, if preachers preached like Qohelet, they wouldn't have much of an audience. If I could wave a magic wand and convince people to adopt a new alternative, I would propose "The Philosopher."

Jerome's classic translation of hebel by vanitas = emptiness, aimlessness, absence of purpose is an example of what I am arguing against in this post. So that puts me in a bit of a pickle since translation tradition I believe pretty much followed Jerome (who depends also on translation equivalents in the LXX, with an eye also to New Testament usage). Moreover, "crock" would not fly because it has a vulgar overtone to many people. That overtone is not there in Q, though it is a very strong term, like evil, disease, and so on, with which it sometimes co-occurs.

Hansen

Dear John,

"Finally, as I've pointed out before, a word study approach to meaning is viewed with suspicion by those of us with at least a smattering of linguistic training."

Do you think that Weust, Vincent, and A.T. Robertson had a smattering of OL training? How about Adolph Deissmann, a scholar who could buy and sell most contemporary language scholars several times over with the accomplishments he kept in his vest pocket. Do Moulton and Milligan qualify as individuals with linguistic training?

How do you think lexicographers create a lexicon? They examine the appearance of various words in a variety of contexts and ascertain the meaning. They do word studies.

The recognition of koine turned NT lexicography on its head. How many modern lexicons contain a list of "Biblical Greek" words? The old ones did. They didn't have the benefit of word studies done in the papyri.

Moulton and Milligan, as well as Deissmann, created lexicons based on word studies, studies which go a long way in illuminating the meaning of various NT words. You can do all the grammar work you want but unless you know what the words actually means, people are going to be disappointed.

Deissmann's "Bible Studies" might as well have been named "Word Studies."

Do I agree that ματαιος and ματαιοτης are irrelevant to understanding LBH in the OT? Let’s look at a few facts:

LBH and its root are used ~67 times in the OT. 30 of those appearances are in Q. ματαιος and ματαιοτης also appear ~30 times in Q. ματαιος and ματαιοτης appear 114 times in the LXX. Like LBH, they reflect a range or meaning. These Greek words are the equivalents of at least 3 different Hebrew words which appear more than ~150 times in the OT—LBH <01892, 01891>, QYR <07385>, and ‘VhS <07723>.

Now if you have the time, go ahead and look at the ~150 citations in the Hebrew. Or you can look at 11 verses in the NT where ματαιος and ματαιοτης are found. The chances that the NT, in its 11 citations, captures the entirety of the LXX/Hebrew usage, is extremely high.

In your May 21 response to Derrick above, you presented a word study, referring to the numerous appearance of LBH in Q. It’s obvious that you do word studies, yet you regard others who do them with suspicion? Now that’s a “crock..”

Hansen

"Wuest" not "Weust"

John Hobbins

Hi Hansen,

I am still hoping you will answer my question about a metaphor-for-metaphor translation of hevel. That is, after all, the focus of my post.

You say: "The chances that the NT, in its 11 citations, captures the entirety of the LXX/Hebrew usage, is extremely high."

That is not the kind of statement people like Moulton and Milligan would have ever made.

Lexicographers, including those who put together lexica back in the days before a book like James Barr's Semantics of Biblical Language was written, do not make the kind of claims you are making.

The semantics of Hebrew is one thing, of Greek another. Moreover, allowance for differences in usage patterns within the Hebrew Bible (a mixed corpus) and beyond, the LXX (another mixed corpus) and the NT (a third mixed corpus) needs to be made.

A lexicon is a useful tool but its usefulness is limited, as is evident as soon as one compares two or three lexica that cover the same corpus, for example, BDB, HALOT, and Alonso-Schokel. The lexica often disagree among themselves in terms of the glosses they offer for specific words-in-context.

How does one determine the meaning a word has in a particular passage - that is, the contribution a particular word makes to the semantics of a syntactic unit like a multi-clause - if not by an analysis of syntax and tropes? There is no substitute for mastery of a language.

Of course I am in favor of having a provisional understanding of the range of contexts and applications of a particular lexeme. But such an understanding is at best a preliminary step in a case like the one under discussion.

Hansen

John, I wouldn't presume to offer an alternative translation of LBH unless I had devoted considerably more time to studying the appearance of the word in its context.

A parallelism is the best way to discover a suitable alternate translation. The Hebrew word LsT <06738>, rendered as "shadow" in the NASB seems to capture the sense of LBH <01892>.

Ps 144:4 man is like a mere <01892> breath <01892>; his days are like a passing shadow <06738>.

Ec 6:12 for who knows what is good for a man during his lifetime, during the few years of his futile <01892> life? he will spend them like a shadow <06738>. for who can tell a man what will be after him under the sun?

The key to understanding the word might actually be found in what appear to be its idiosyncratic usages. Those texts could be or likely are the ones which actually define the word.

"Uncertainty" permeates the various appearances of LBH. Idols can not be depended upon. Those who trust in vanity are contrasted with those who trust in the LORD (Ps. 31:6).

The use of the word "crock" brings to mind the potsherds of the ME contrasted with metal vessels. In that sense, crock does capture the sense of something transitory. Crockery is not as dependable or trustworthy as metal vessels. Unfortunately, most contemporary readers are going to think crockpot rather than potsherds

On the other hand, crockery is something tangible while the sense of LBH is something intangible, like trying to catch the wind.

Incidentally, whatever the limitations of M&M might have been, in general, the appearance of words in the NT defines their meaning in the LXX. You can figure out what that implies for Hebrew lexicography.

John Hobbins

Hansen,

I don't know why you insist on thinking that the appearance and range of meanings words have in the NT "define their meaning in the LXX." No competent student of language would be caught dead making such a claim.

Again, although the translation choices made in the various translation units of the LXX (a mixed corpus) relative to particular Hebrew lexemes provide control data for a Hebrew lexicographer, the primary data set is in Hebrew, and in Hebrew alone. You are not giving that data set its proper place in your NT>LXX>Tanakh approach. Not even close.

The problem at hand is the specific semantic content presented in Qohelet by way of the long list of hebel-predications scattered throughout the book. It will not do to cite a verse or two from outside Q in which hebel appears and transfer the connotations hebel appears to have in those loci to hebel in Q.

Hebel is predicated of particular facts or situations in Q. On the reasonable assumption that hebel when predicated of something in Q is going to have a stable meaning throughout with particular shading in particular instances, the question then is, as I have framed it: what metaphor-for-metaphor translation works best across the board?

The answer I have given is clear. I propose a prominent LIFE IS EMPTY metaphor from the repertoire available in English: crock.

But again, you are welcome to propose another. Since you and Derrick on this thread seem to think transitoriness is predicated of a fact or situation in Q when it is called hebel in Q, I would draw your attention to the following hebel-predications in which that theory seems something of a crock:

Qoh 2:23; 6:1-2; 8:14.

I would ask you to start with these examples. You say: "A parallelism is the best way to discover a suitable alternate translation." I have misgivings about that principle. It is easy to abuse. Still, you might want to take note of the parallelisms these loci offer.

Hansen

John,

"No competent student of language would be caught dead making such a claim." John, That remark is similar to this one: "Finally, as I've pointed out before, a word study approach to meaning is viewed with suspicion by those of us with at least a smattering of linguistic training."

Why do you make such sweeping assertions? As I pointed out previously, you yourself engage in word study, yet you regard people who do them, apparently including Deissmann and Moulton and Milligan, with suspicion.

You were obviously mistaken about responsible word study by qualified scholars. Apparently, you regard your own techniques with suspicion.

Now you want to dispute that the use of LXX terms in the NT is the final determinant of the Hebrew antecedent's meaning.

This entire discussion about the meaning of LBH is essentially a matter that can only be resolved by word study, that is examining the various appearances of a word in its context and then, short of a defining text, extrapolating its meaning.

My assertion, in the context of this discussion simply means that the best definition of LBH can be determined by looking at how its Greek equivalents are used in the NT.

I'm not suggesting that every appearance of a word must conform to a static definition; however, "transition" with its attendant uncertainty, is one definition suggested in even the passages you mention.

Take Q, chapter 2. The entire passage has to do with the uncertainty of transition. It might be summarized by saying that no matter how hard you work or how wise you are, your efforts may be appreciated by another once you are gone. The certainty of death puts everything in its shadow.

Chapter 6 essentially says the same thing: We all go to one place, life here is transitory, regardless of our efforts.

Chapter 8:14 decries good happening to bad people and bad happening to good people; in the end, however, as chapter 9 points out, all end up in the same place.

The writer admonishes us to make the most of this life due to its transitory nature (Q 8:15).

Instead of "crock," I would go with "potsherds" as in "Potsherds, potsherds, it's all just a field of potsherds."

John Hobbins

Hansen,

I'm sorry I've been so blunt. I am trying to make a simple point. The way you approach word-study is very different from old-school, Deissmann and M & M included, and very different from new school. Your NT>LXX>Tanakh approach has it literally backwards.

It is wrongheaded to claim that "the use of LXX terms in the NT is the final determinant of the Hebrew antecedent's meaning." The evidence does not back up this strange notion. Nor is it clear why anyone should jump off the cliff with you in your leap of faith.

As for your attempt to force the texts I cited in to your "transitory" pattern, the attempt is unconvincing. You are riding roughshod over fine and large details in the texts, details you fail to integrate into your analysis, because, I would suggest, they do not conform to it.

As for your potsherds proposal, like a lot of theories it sounds nice until you try it out for size. One example will do for now, 8:14:

There is a *hebel* that occurs on the earth: there are righteous people touched by what is appropriate to the deeds of the wicked and there are wicked people touched by what is appropriate to the deeds of the righteous. I said that this too is a *hebel*.

A *crock* works pretty well. A *(field of) potsherds* does not.

BTW, the hebel of what happens in this case would be mitigated if it were transitory. But it is not a transitory evil that is spoken of.

Hansen

John, There have always been people who want to interpret the NT in light of the Old rather than OT in light of the New. To me, that's the wrong direction. If you want to go down that road, please enjoy yourself.

The NT is the inspired explanation of the OT. In the same vein, the appearance of LXX words in the NT capture the range of the words as used in the LXX.

This would not be hard to demonstrate; however, you are going to do a word study in order to prove or disprove it. Since you don't do word studies, (or do you?), you will never know.

Since I have done the studies, I can say with some degree of certainty that the range of meaning of word's multiple appearances in the LXX is captured by the few appearances of the same word in the NT.

As with most things, there are exceptions.

As for LBH, as I said earlier, I would not use crock but you are welcome to. Continuing with potsherds, I would translate Q 8:14 thusly: "This is another broken vessel upon the earth: righteous people are treated as evil ones and evil people are treated as righteous ones. This is also potsherds"

It's not the transitory of evil that is the issue. It's the transitory nature of life, which makes whatever takes place on earth vanity. Whether one does good or evil, life still comes to an end, all go to one place.

Many language scholars are unable to understand the meaning of Scripture in their L1, as you have just illustrated; consequently, they pursue the OL. If they simply took a course in literary analysis or reading comprehension, they would discover, in their native tongue, what still evades them after they master [which is doubtful] the OL.

You know, of course, what happens to most of these would be scholars. They never master the OLs or they discover that they still need to analyze and comprehend the text. If they couldn't do it in their own language, doubtful they will do it in L2 or 3 or 4.

In the face of their impotence, they turn to the viagra of the clergy, commentaries. Unfortunately, they may find that the author, perhaps a language scholar, is an atheist more or less, who sets about viciously criticizing Scripture instead of explicating it [see the Anchor commentary on Daniel for a good example of this].

In the end, the would be scholar, who can't actually read/comprehend his own language nor the OLs either, makes a shipwreck of his faith.

But that won't happen to us...

John Hobbins

Hansen,

The NT authors themselves interpret what they heard, saw, and what eyewitnesses passed on to them in the light of the OT. I go down the same road. It would be passing strange if, as a Christian, I did not. As the gospel of Matthew has it, we are to draw out treasures new and old (Matt 13:52).

At the same time, I also consider it appropriate to interpret the OT in light of the New. But that is not the same thing as your NT>LXX>Tanakh approach to word study. There is simply no justification, theological or linguistic, for your approach.

Beyond that, I will also say that I am not impressed by your manhandling of Qoh 8:14 such that it is still, according to you, about the transitoriness of human life.

The fleetingness of certain things is a theme in Q, but it is not the universal theme of Q. It is not the overriding meme either.

Q's overriding meme is expressed through his hebel-predications which encompass far more than frustration with the vagaries of time.

Evil is at stake. Pervasive dysfunctionalities. The crockiness of life is what bothers Q. He offers temporal salves to that condition - enjoy life while you can; don't be stupid even if wisdom is not all that it is cracked up to be; fear God but not with a Pollyanna attitude along with - but he nowhere whitewashes life's perennial absurdities. On the contrary, he highlights them.

I hope that helps. I am trying to be constructive here, even if I am adamantly opposed, as you know by now, to your attempt to do theology by way of Strong's concordance with the expectations you bring along with you.

Hansen

John, I haven't opened a Strong's concordance for many years. I prefer the Online Bible. If you like, you can use a modified form of the Strong's numbers or simply run searches using the original languages. I especially like the searches that bring up a group of words with the same root.

Below is a complete list of all appearances in the NT of the LXX equivalents of LBH. If you have the time to review the use of the words, can you show me a use of LBH in the OT that doesn't correspond to one of these NT appearances of the LXX equivalents [ματαιος and ματαιοτης]

Ac 14:15 and saying, "men, why are you doing these things? we are also men of the same nature as you, and preach the gospel to you that you should turn from these "vain things" to a living god, WHO MADE THE HEAVEN AND THE EARTH AND THE SEA AND ALL THAT IS IN THEM.

Ro 8:20 for the creation was subjected to "futility", not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope

1Co 3:20 and again, "THE LORD KNOWS THE REASONINGS of the wise, THAT THEY ARE "USELESS"."

1Co 15:17 and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is "worthless"; you are still in your sins.

Eph 4:17 so this I say, and affirm together with the lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the "futility" of their mind,

1Ti 1:6 for some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to "fruitless" discussion,

Tit 1:10 for there are many rebellious men, "empty talkers" and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision,

Tit 3:9 but avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the law, for they are unprofitable and "worthless".

Jas 1:26 if anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is "worthless".

1Pe 1:18 knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your "futile" way of life inherited from your forefathers,

2Pe 2:18 for speaking out arrogant words of "vanity" they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error,

John Hobbins

Online Bible, Strong's Concordance: same difference.

Let me repeat your conclusion, in your own words:

"The chances that the NT, in its 11 citations, captures the entirety of the LXX/Hebrew usage, is extremely high."

On the contrary. One example will suffice.

Hevel is rendered by καταιγίς in Isa 57:13. Aside from the fact that the LXX in this instance is a free paraphrase rather than a literal translation, it is clear that your conclusion is false. The NT, in its 11 "citations," does not capture the entirety of the semantic range of hevel in Hebrew.

The method you use is obviously misguided. I'm not quite sure why you don't see that. I trust you mean well, but that is the long and short of it.

Hansen

John,

καταιγις does not appear in the NT. Early on I stated that I was referring to LXX terms found in the NT; furthermore, it is an idiosyncratic translation of LBH. I found 15 occurrences of kαταιγις in the OT [using the Online Bible]. Only one time is it used in the place of LBH. In that verse, Isaiah 57:13, it is used in parallelism with hCVR. LBH and hCVR appear in parallel structure eight times in Q and once in Isaiah 57:13.

How can you say that the meaning of LBH in Isaiah 57:13 is not represented in the NT when it is used in parallelism with a word which very clearly is represented?

Words such as “futile,” “vanity,” “vain,” “worthless,”--are you suggesting that they do not capture the meaning of LBH in Q?

I’m not a clergyman. In general I lack pastoral concern; however, in your case, I must say that your partisan interests appear to have eclipsed your rational mind. Is that the fruit of language mastery, obscurantism?

To grasp an idiosyncratic use of a term and then generalize from that use hardly befits you. I know you know better and are capable of more.

There are often exceptional uses of words in both testaments. That’s all they are, exceptions.

John Hobbins

Hansen,

This is what pains me: you are clearly smart enough to take the time to learn Hebrew rather than depend on the strange methods you do.

You have a unique approach to the determination of meaning. Without much effort, I too might find an approach to follow as idiosyncratic and off the wall as yours. You are right: I am capable of more. But I am going to stick to methods that have proven their worth both inside and outside the field of biblical studies.

Hansen

John, Here is a good example of how following the Hebrew to LXX to NT path can shed light on word meanings.

We have already determined that the LXX equivalents of LBH are ματαιος and ματαιοτης. These words occur only 9 times in the NT; consequently, the data base is quite manageable.

Note the following appearance of ματαιοτης in Romans 8:
18 for I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
19 for the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of god.
20 for the creation was subjected to futility <ματαιοτης>, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope
21 that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of god.

You can see that being "subject to futility" is the same as being in "bondage [to] corruption." This state in which the creation finds itself, a slave of corruption, is described as having been "subjected to futility."

This explains the observations made in Q, regarding inequity. Some things are as they are because the world is in bondage to corruption.

John Hobbins

Hi Hansen,

You say:

"the Hebrew to LXX to NT path can shed light on word meanings."

As you word it, that's plainly true.

But you turn around and superimpose the sense a LXX translation equivalent of hebel has in a NT text onto the sense hebel has in Q.

This approach, in which you allow the sense a NT term has, a term which also serves as a translation equivalent of a Hebrew term in the LXX, to determine the meaning of the Hebrew term, is unacceptable from a linguistic point of view and unjustifiable from a theological point of view.

Hansen

John,

Are you saying that defining LBH as situations which exist consequent to the slavery of corruption/subjection to futility, have no bearing on the meaning of LBH in Q?

Mitchell Powell

Forgive for butting in, but Hansen, what do you mean by "LBH"?

John Hobbins

Hansen, I am certain, means H(e)B(e)L, not LBH.

Hi Hansen,

Yes, that is what I am saying. The approach you are taking to (1) determining the meanings of lexemes in Hebrew via the NT's deployment of LXX translation equivalents cannot be justified.

On the other hand, (2) there is no doubt that aspects of Paul's train of thought in Roman 8 may very well owe something to an internalization of Qohelet's thought in the Jewish tradition to which Paul is indebted, and/or to Paul's own reading of Q.

(3) Moreover, if I were writing a biblical theology, I might very well choose to highlight the strong sense in which Q and Romans 8 are on the same page.

Approaches (2) and (3) are defensible. Approach (1) is not.

Hansen

John,

So you accept the conclusions but not the methodology? If that is the case, which it appears to be, I find that rather incredible.

From H(e)B(e)L to ματαιος/ματαιοτης in the LXX to ματαιοτης in Romans 8, you like the destination but not the ride?

Mitchell, Go with John on the spelling. H(e)B(e)L.

John Hobbins

Hansen,

Yes, I would argue for (2) and (3) but on the basis on plain old, vanilla-flavored exegesis, not on your (1).

It *is* possible to come to acceptable conclusions by an unacceptable path. Just as people often do the right thing for the wrong reasons, or the wrong thing for the right reasons. Life is like that.

Mitchell Powell

Ah, gotcha. I will now leave you two to work it out as I try desperately not to scream curses at the day that Strong's Concordance was born.

Hansen

OK John, lets try it in reverse. Suppose you are exegeting Romans 8. You come across ματαιοτης in verse 21. You want to better understand the meaning of the word. After exhausting its appearances in the NT, you decide to look for some good illustrations of its use in the LXX.

You can use a Concordance to find the locations of the word, or you can read the LXX in its entirety and make a note of each location. Since we only have one lifetime to complete this study, let's try a concordance.

Do a wildcard search <μαται*> and you will come up with about 114 references in the Online Bible LXX. You can use Hatch&Redpath if you prefer. There are 31 citations in Q. You light upon the following verses as examples of particular genre of <μαται*> usage:


Ec 6:2 (LXXE) a man to whom God shall give wealth, and substance, and honour, and he wants nothing for his soul of all things that he shall desire, yet God shall not give him power to eat of it, for a stranger shall devour it: this is "vanity," and an evil infirmity.

Ec 7:15 (LXXE) (7:16) I have seen all things in the days of my "vanity": there is a just man perishing in his justice, and there is an ungodly man remaining in his wickedness.

Ec 8:10 (LXXE) And then I saw the ungodly carried into the tombs, and that out of the holy place: and they departed, and were praised in the city, because they had done thus: this also is "vanity."

Ec 8:14 (LXXE) There is a vanity which is done upon the earth; that there are righteous persons to whom it happens according to the doing of the ungodly; and there are ungodly men, to whom it happens according to the doing of the just: I said, This is also "vanity."

Which do you think makes more sense, defining Romans 8: 20,21 in the light of the above passages or defining the Q passages in the light of Romans 8:20,21?

John Hobbins

Hansen,

If you want to understand Romans 8:20-21, the first thing to do is not to go on some wild goose chase with the help of a concordance but rather (I know, it's not very romantic) read and re-read Romans in Greek until it is coming out of your ears.

On that basis, you are likely to come to a conclusion like the following:

Given the use of ματαιόω (“make vain, empty”) in Rom 1:21 to describe the frustration and destructiveness of persons or groups who suppress the truth and refuse to recognize God, it seems likely that Paul has in mind the abuse of the natural world by Adam and his descendants.

Jewett, R., Kotansky, R. D., & Epp, E. J. (2006). Romans : A commentary. Hermeneia--a critical and historical commentary on the Bible (513). Minneapolis: Fortress Press.

It is also likely that Paul wants his readers to recall the bonfire of vanities of which Q speaks, but in light of the train of thought of Romans 1-7, a tie-in with an understanding of sin in terms of Adam's Fall and other original and originating sins in Gen 1-11 is likely, not on the basis of Q, but on the basis of developing tradition which emphasize said sins before the Flood. Developing traditions which you avoid, perhaps because to understand them you would have to read deeply in extra-biblical literature. To do that goes against a tacit assumption you seem to make, namely, that a writer like Paul read his Bible in a vacuum rather than in a matrix of pre-existing exegetical tradition. Should you look for traces of such an exegetical tradition, this is what you might come up with:

We find the same idea derived from Genesis in 4 Ezra 7.1, “And when Adam transgressed my statutes, what had been made was judged.” A later rabbi expressed the same idea: “Although things were created in their fullness, when the first man sinned they were corrupted, and they will not come back to their order before Ben Perez (the Messiah) comes.”

Jewett, R., Kotansky, R. D., & Epp, E. J. (2006). Romans : A commentary. Hermeneia--a critical and historical commentary on the Bible (514). Minneapolis: Fortress Press.

As to your question:

Which ... makes more sense, defining Romans 8: 20,21 in the light of the above passages or defining the Q passages in the light of Romans 8:20,21?

*Neither* is the correct answer, though something of the specific Q passages you cite may stand in the deep background of Romans 8:20-21. The correct answer is that one defines the meaning of Romans 8:20-21 in light of its own content and constructions and the connection of both with proximate content and constructions in the same chapter in connection with the preceding train of thought from Romans 1-7, and the following train of thought through at least Romans 11.

Hansen

John,

Why would anyone spend years learning Greek and read Romans in Greek until it "comes out of their ears" to learn what they can learn in a few minutes by reading the commentary to which you refer?

I'm sure you know that no other <μαται*> cognate exists in Romans other than 8:20. While your approach certainly has merit, it lacks the precision I strive for when interpreting Scripture. There is no <μαται*> cognate in the Greek Apocrypha. References drawn from the Apocrypha are based on interpretive speculation rather than linguistic cohesion [word study].

As a thoroughly practical matter, if understanding Scripture requires reading deeply in extra Biblical literature of the period, another nail has been driven into the body of Christ, since few people have the ability or resources to do so.

As you see it, in order to understand Scripture, one must be fluent in the OL and read deeply in extra biblical literature, is that right?

John Hobbins

The reason why people spend years and years mastering an ancient language is the same reason why people spend years and years with a modern language. In order to understand.

No one would be so foolish as to think that they achieve precision in understanding a Mandarin Chinese text without knowing the language inside and out.

Root studies and concordance searches are a ludicrous substitute. The precision thus achieved in understanding a Mandarin Chinese text by someone who did not really know the language would be entirely deceptive.

It is no different with a text in ancient Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek.

In order to understand Scripture, i.e., its message of salvation, thanks to the Holy Spirit it is possible to receive and assimilate that message without understanding countless phrases and individual texts within Scripture. In order to understand Scripture in that sense, it is an advantage to be retarded (in the strict sense; if you haven't seen the movie, "Praying with Lior," I highly recommend it), have all three theological virtues (faith, hope, and love) in abundance, and be completely deficient in notional knowledge (in the process of passing away, according to Paul).

But what if you are called to be a preacher and teacher of the Word?

Then you will want to use whatever intellectual gifts you have such that you will be able to bring out the meaning of texts with exactitude rather than impose meanings, however beautiful, from one text onto another by means of root studies and a concordance.

Then you will want to master the ancient languages, so that you can be a discerning reader of commentators who claim to have mastered the languages (even if they have mastered the languages, they may still get things wrong).

A colleague of mine at the university researches ancient Chinese texts. In order to understand them, he has spent a lifetime with them and has learned not only more than one variety of ancient Chinese but more than one variety of ancient Japanese so that he can grasp both text and history of interpretation of text. He spent years in Japan learning from a master who taught in modern Japanese.

Does my colleague engage in root studies and use a concordance? Of course he does. But his ability to benefit from those studies is only as good as his overall mastery of the languages and his adherence to sound linguistic principles.

Your problem, Hansen, is that you care little for both of the latter.

Hansen

John, It's an unfortunate fact that few of the most popular and gifted teachers/preachers of the word are masters of the OL. Many of them haven't read deeply in extra Biblical literature.

The average person in the pew may find scholarly rhetoric in a sermon boring, the sermon nothing more than a snooze fest. Many congregants respond more to shuck and jive than noun and participle.

I'm not familiar with your "ministry." If success as an expositor of Scripture is premised upon OLs and deep reading in EBL, then you must be in the throes of a developing mega church. If such is not the case, you can comfort yourself with the thought that you are gathering a remnant from those suffering under preachers who are not as smart as you.

In my experience, linguists and "scholars" are usually not very effective preachers. One of the best modern preachers I listened to was Kip McKean, founder of the Boston Movement of the ICOC.

He was often skewered by "scholars," yet his ministry brought forth a remarkable, vibrant community of new believers from many walks of life. I doubt he mastered the OLs but he might have. Most of the pastors in the Boston Movement were laymen who were effective communicators with winning personalities, not linguists or scholars.
They were very effective in ministering a life changing message to their adherents.

You are right that I don't care much about linguistics or "mastery" of the OLs. I've learned more Mandarin [not much] on the streets of China than at the university. I often ditched class to play swords in the park with local friends. I paid prostitutes for their time so I could practice the language.

An acquaintance of mine, who makes a good living as a professional clergyman with an M.Div and a nice retirement package recently asked me what a Hatch Redpath concordance is.

Why should I have to explain that to a clergyman?

John Hobbins

Hansen,

I wish you well, but I cannot endorse your dissing of scholarship. Your attitude appears to be a way of justifying a lack of discipline on your part.

On the other hand, I am perfectly aware that for every Jerome, Martin Luther, and John Calvin, there are a hundred non-scholars and non-linguists whom God uses for his highest purposes. Why you feel a need to sell one category short in favor of another is beyond me.

According to Eph 2:8–9, we are saved by grace in order to do good works prepared in advance for us to do. It behooves each of us to consider what, given the gifts we have been given, those good works are.

Hansen

John I wish you well too. It's not scholarship I disrespect. It's your particular brand of elitism and popery which sneers at average people, such as myself, who interface with God through his Word.

One paragraph in the above post doesn't mitigate the general thrust of your agenda.

John Hobbins

Hansen,

And I won't back down from my agenda as you call it.

You can claim that you are not anti-intellectual and not disrespectful of the need for sound scholarship in the life of the church, but that is what you are based on your comments on this thread.

Derrick Tate

Hi Hansen,

Let me disagree with the premise of your comments: "It's an unfortunate fact that few of the most popular and gifted teachers/preachers of the word are masters of the OL. Many of them haven't read deeply in extra Biblical literature....The average person in the pew may find scholarly rhetoric in a sermon boring, the sermon nothing more than a snooze fest....In my experience, linguists and "scholars" are usually not very effective preachers."

I agree with the numbers that comparatively few teachers/preachers are masters of the Old Testament (and Hebrew) in comparison with the NT and Greek. Which is unfortunate, because both are valuable for building up the church and Christians.

As a counterexample to the effectiveness of scholarship along with preaching, I'll refer you to the sermons of Gordon Hugenberger, Adjunct Professor of Old Testament at Gordon Conwell. Sermons here: http://www.parkstreet.org/sermon_audio

In my experience, as a listener, knowledge of the OT and scholarly approaches can provide fresh insight even for NT passages that are familiar. (You're welcome to disagree.)

***

As for learning Mandarin, "university" classes in China are geared towards students who want to get college credit and pass a certain proficiency level of the HSK, probably neither of which are a fit for your goals. Moreover, many of the students (in Beijing) are from Korea or Japan and have different background knowledge than you. So while there may be a mismatch between your objectives and the course design, the course may still satisfy the objectives of the institution and the majority of its students.

Daniel Rodriguez

What about...

*accrues > deposits

???

Just thinking.

Love you!
D

John Hobbins

Hi Daniel,

יִּתְרוֹן refers to the "plus" or "profit" which accrues to a person in a successful transaction.

The gist of it is this, as far as I can see. It bothers the heck out of the Philosopher that "profit" is here one day and gone the next, or worse still, goes to someone who didn't earn it. Specifically, there is no advantage in being righteous or wise. On second thought, perhaps there is, but even if there is, that does not cancel out the fact that life is a crock and the entailments which life awards to the living are disappointing in the extreme.

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    a place to explore what it might be like if Christians finally got the head, heart, and hands of their faith re-connected (archive)
  • Conversational Theology
    Smart and delightful comment by Ros Clarke, a Ph.D. student at the University of the Highlands and Islands, at the (virtual) Highland Theological College (archive)
  • Daily Hebrew
    For students of biblical Hebrew and the ancient Near East, by Chip Hardy, a doctoral student at the University of Chicago
  • Daniel O. McClellan
    a fine blog by the same, who is pursuing a master of arts degree in biblical studies at Trinity Western University just outside of Vancouver, BC.
  • Davar Akher
    Looking for alternative explanations: comments on things Jewish and beyond, by Simon Holloway, a PhD student in Classical Hebrew and Biblical Studies at The University of Sydney, Australia
  • Deinde
    News and Discussion by Danny Zacharias
  • Discipulus scripturae
    Nathan Stitt's place
  • Dr. Claude Mariottini
    balanced comment by a professor of Old Testament at Northern Baptist Seminary, Lombard IL
  • Dr. Platypus
    insightful comment by Darrell Pursiful, editor at Smyth & Helwys Publishing, on the New Testament faculty of Mercer University
  • Dust
    A diary of Bob MacDonald's journey through the Psalms and other holy places in the Hebrew Bible
  • Eclexia
    The heart and mind of this Bible and theology blogger sing in unison
  • Eat, Drink, and be Merry
    The journey of a grad student with a love for ancient languages at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary (archive)
  • Elizaphanian
    Rev Sam tussles with God, and limps away
  • Emerging from Babel
    Stephen investigates the potential of narrative and rhetorical criticism as a tool for expounding scripture
  • Evangelical Textual Criticism
    A group blog on NT and OT text-critical matters
  • Evedyahu
    excellent comment by Cristian Rata, Lecturer in Old Testament of Torch Trinity Graduate School of Theology, Seoul, Korea
  • Exegetica Digita
    discussion of Logos high-end syntax and discourse tools – running searches, providing the downloads (search files) and talking about what can be done and why it might matter for exegesis, by Mike Heiser
  • Exegetisk Teologi
    careful exegetical comment by Stefan Green (in Swedish)
  • Exploring Our Matrix
    Insightful reflections by James McGrath, ass't. professor of religion, Butler University
  • Faith Matters
    Mark Alter's place
  • Ferrell's Travel Blog
    comments of biblical studies, archaeology, history, and photography by a tour guide of Bible lands and professor emeritus of the Biblical Studies department at Florida College, Temple Terrace (FL)
  • Fors Clavigera
    James K. A. Smith, professor of philosophy at Calvin College, thinks out loud.
  • Friar's Fires
    an insightful blog by a pastor with a background in journalism, one of three he pens
  • Gentle Wisdom
    A fearless take on issues roiling Christendom today, by Peter Kirk, a Bible translator
  • Giluy Milta B‘alma
    by Ezra Chwat and Avraham David of the Institute of Microfilmed Hebrew Manuscripts, Jewish National and Hebrew University Library, Jerusalem
  • He is Sufficient
    insightful comment on Bible translations, eschatology, and more, by Elshaddai Edwards
  • Higgaion
    by Chris Heard, Professor of Religion, Pepperdine University
  • Idle Musings of a Bookseller
    by James Spinti of Eisenbrauns
  • if i were a bell, i'd ring
    Tim Ricchiuiti’s place
  • Imaginary Grace
    Smooth, witty commentary by Angela Erisman (archive). Angela Erisman is a member of the theology faculty at Xavier University
  • James' Thoughts and Musings
    by James Pate, a doctoral student at HUC-JIR Cincinnati
  • Jewish Philosophy Place
    by Zachary (Zak) Braiterman, who teaches modern Jewish thought and philosophy in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University
  • kata ta biblia
    by Patrick George McCollough, M. Div. student, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena CA
  • Ketuvim
    Learned reflection from the keyboard of Jim Getz
  • Kilbabo
    Ben Johnson’s insightful blog
  • Kruse Kronicle - contemplating the intersection of work, the global economy, and Christian mission
    top quality content brought to readers by Michael W. Kruse
  • Larry Hurtado's blog
    emeritus professor of New Testament Language, Literature & Theology, University of Edinburgh
  • Law, Prophets, and Writings
    thoughtful blogging by William R. (Rusty) Osborne, Assistant Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies as College of the Ozarks and managing editor for Journal for the Evangelical Study of the Old Testament
  • Lingamish
    delightful fare by David Ker, Bible translator, who also lingalilngas.
  • Looney Fundamentalist
    a scientist who loves off-putting labels
  • Menachem Mendel
    A feisty blog on rabbinic literature and other Judaica by Michael Pitkowsky, Rabbinics Curriculum Coordinator at the Academy for Jewish Religion and adjunct instructor at Jewish Theological Seminary (New York)
  • mu-pàd-da
    scholarly blog by C. Jay Crisostomo, grad student in ANE studies at ?
  • Narrative and Ontology
    Astoundingly thoughtful comment from Phil Sumpter, a Ph.D. student in Bible, resident in Bonn, Germany
  • New Epistles
    by Kevin Sam, M. Div. student at the Lutheran Theological Seminary, Saskatoon SK
  • NT Weblog
    Mark Goodacre's blog, professor of New Testament, Duke University
  • Observatório Bíblico
    wide-ranging blog by Airton José da Silva, Professor de Bíblia Hebraica/Antigo Testamento na Faculdade de Teologia do CEARP de Ribeirão Preto, Brasile (in Portuguese)
  • Observatório Bíblico
    Blog sobre estudos acadêmicos da Bíblia, para Airton José da Silva, Professor de Bíblia Hebraica / Antigo Testamento na Faculdade de Teologia do CEARP de Ribeirão Preto, SP.
  • Occasional Publications
    excellent blogging by Daniel Driver, Brevard Childs' scholar extraordinaire
  • old testament passion
    Great stuff from Anthony Loke, a Methodist pastor and Old Testament lecturer in the Seminari Theoloji, Malaysia
  • Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Blog
    A weblog created for a course on the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, by James Davila (archive)
  • On the Main Line
    Mississippi Fred MacDowell's musings on Hebraica and Judaica. With a name like that you can't go wrong.
  • p.ost an evangelical theology for the age to come
    seeking to retell the biblical story in the difficult transition from the centre to the margins following the collapse of Western Christendom, by Andrew Perriman, independent New Testament scholar, currently located in Dubai
  • PaleoJudaica
    by James Davila, professor of Early Jewish Studies at the University of St. Andrews, St Andrews, Scotland. Judaism and the Bible in the news; tidbits about ancient Judaism and its context
  • Pastoral Epistles
    by Rick Brannan and friends, a conceptually unique Bible blog
  • Pen and Parchment
    Michael Patton and company don't just think outside the box. They are tearing down its walls.
  • Pisteuomen
    by Michael Halcomb, pastor-scholar from the Bluegrass State
  • Pseudo-Polymath
    by Mark Olson, an Orthodox view on things
  • Purging my soul . . . one blog at a time
    great theoblog by Sam Nunnally
  • Qumranica
    weblog for a course on the Dead Sea Scrolls at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, taught by James R. Davila (archive)
  • Ralph the Sacred River
    by Edward Cook, a superb Aramaist
  • Random Bloggings
    by Calvin Park, M. Div. student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, South Hamilton MA
  • Resident aliens
    reflections of one not at home in this world
  • Revelation is Real
    Strong-minded comment from Tony Siew, lecturer at Trinity Theological College, Singapore
  • Ricoblog
    by Rick Brannan, it's the baby pictures I like the most
  • Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
    Nick Norelli's fabulous blog on Bible and theology
  • SansBlogue
    by Tim Bulkeley, lecturer in Old Testament, Carey Baptist College (New Zealand). His Hypertext Commentary on Amos is an interesting experiment
  • Ancient Near Eastern Languages
    texts and files to help people learn some ancient languages in self study, by Mike Heiser
  • Midrash, etc.
    A fine Hebrew-to-English blog on Midrash, by Carl Kinbar, Director of the New School for Jewish Studies and a facultm member at MJTI School of Jewish Studies.
  • Phil Lembo what I'm thinking
    a recovering lawyer, now in IT, with a passion for a faith worth living
  • Roses and Razorwire
    a top-notch Levantine archaeology blog, by Owen Chesnut, a doctoral student at Andrews University (MI)
  • Scripture & Theology
    a communal weblog dedicated to the intersection of biblical interpretation and the articulation of church doctrine, by Daniel Driver, Phil Sumpter, and others
  • Scripture Zealot
    by Jeff Contrast
  • Serving the Word
    incisive comment on the Hebrew Bible and related ancient matters, with special attention to problems of philology and linguistic anthropology, by Seth L. Sanders, Assistant Professor in the Religion Department of Trinity College, Hartford, CT
  • Singing in the Reign
    NT blog by Michael Barber (JP University) and Brad Pitre (Our Lady Holy Cross)
  • Stay Curious
    excellent comment on Hebrew Bible and Hebrew language topics, by Karyn Traphagen, graduate, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia PA (archive)
  • Sufficiency
    A personal take on the faith delivered to the saints, by Bob MacDonald, whose parallel blog on the Psalms in Hebrew is a colorful and innovative experiment
  • The Sundry Times
    Gary Zimmerli's place, with comment on Bible translations and church renewal
  • Sunestauromai: living the crucified life
    by a scholar-pastor based in the Grand Canyon National Park
  • ta biblia
    blog dedicated to the New Testament and the history of Christian origins, by Giovanni Bazzana
  • Targuman
    by Christian Brady, targum specialist extraordinaire, and dean of Schreyer Honors College, Penn State University
  • Targuman
    on biblical and rabbinic literature, Christian theology, gadgetry, photography, and the odd comic, by Christian Brady, associate professor of ancient Hebrew and Jewish literature and dean of the Schreyer Honors College at Penn State
  • The Biblia Hebraica Blog
    a blog about Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, the history of the Ancient Near East and the classical world, Syro-Palestinian archaeology, early Judaism, early Christianity, New Testament interpretation, English Bible translations, biblical theology, religion and culture, philosophy, science fiction, and anything else relevant to the study of the Bible, by Douglas Magnum, PhD candidate, University of the Free State, South Africa
  • The Forbidden Gospels Blog
    by April DeConick, Professor of Biblical Studies, Rice University
  • The Naked Bible
    by Mike Heiser, academic editor at Logos Bible Software
  • The Reformed Reader
    by Andrew Compton, Ph.D. student in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures (focus on Hebrew and Semitic Languages) at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
  • The Sacred Page
    a blog written by three Catholic Ph.D.s who are professors of Scripture and Theology: Michael Barber, Brant Pitre and John Bergsma
  • The Talmud Blog
    a group blog on Talmud News, Reviews, Culture, Currents, and Criticism
  • Theological German
    a site for reading and discussing theological German, by Mark Alter
  • theoutwardquest
    seeking spirituality as an outward, not an inward quest, by David Corder
  • This Lamp
    Incisive comment on Bible translations in the archives, by Rick Mansfield
  • Thoughts on Antiquity
    By Chris Weimer and friends, posts of interest on ancient Greek and Roman topics (archive). Chris is a graduate student at the City University of New York in Classics
  • Threads from Henry's Web
    Wide-ranging comment by Henry Neufeld, educator, publisher, and author
  • Tête-à-Tête-Tête
    smart commentary by "smijer," a Unitarian-Universalist
  • Undeception
    A great blog by Mike Douglas, a graduate student in biblical studies
  • What I Learned From Aristotle
    the Judaica posts are informative (archive)
  • Bouncing into Graceland
    a delightful blog on biblical and theological themes, by Esteban Vázquez (archive)
  • Weblog
    by Justin Anthony Knapp, a fearless Wikipedian (archive)
  • Writing in the Dust
    A collection of quotes by Wesley Hill, a doctoral student in New Testament studies at Durham University (UK), and a Christian who seeks the charism of chastity
  • גֵּר־וְתוֹשָׁב
    by David Miller, Associate Professor of New Testament and Early Judaism, Briercrest College & Seminary, Caronport, Saskatchewan, Canada
  • ואל-תמכר
    Buy truth and do not sell: wisdom, instruction, and understanding - a blog by Mitchell Powell, student of life at the intersection of Christ, Christianity, and Christendom
  • משלי אדם
    exploring wisdom literature, religion, and other academic pursuits, by Adam Couturier, M.A. in Old Testament/Hebrew Bible (graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary)

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  • Ancient Hebrew Poetry is a weblog of John F. Hobbins. Opinions expressed herein do not reflect those of his professional affiliations. Unless otherwise indicated, the contents of Ancient Hebrew Poetry, including all text, images, and other media, are original and licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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    Copyright © 2005 by John F Hobbins.