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Re: orion translation central?
I'm writing a "me-too" message to urge the points made by Jonathan Safran
and Dave Washburn, that
a) the age of the text is not the same as the age of the ms
b) the ane examples, of Ugaritic and the Akkadian-Sumerian Epic of
Gilgamesh, have intertextual connections with the language of the HB.
The example Jonathan Safran brings, of
Isaiah LWYTN NX$ BRX // LWYTN NX$ 'QLTN
Ugaritic LTN BTHM BRX // LTN BTHM 'QLTN
where both roots beginning with L indicate the sea monster Leviathan,
and the example of the Song of Deborah (Judges/Shofetim 5), which has two
translations into Greek, with many doublets (see the E Tov article) and a
generally mangled approach to its poetry, where the poem which has been
transmitted via the MT (Masoretic Text) retains archaic language and
poetic features which are parallel to the poetry of the Ugaritic mythic
cycles of 1400 bce at the latest.
I realize that there can be beautiful, poetic translations and adaptations
of a not-so-poetic original language piece; there's artful rhyme in the
Syriac Psalms of Solomon, which are translated, probably from the Hebrew
(see Trafton, ABD & book-length discussion of 1985 in Septuagint and
Cognate Studies series). I'm working with a beautiful poetic piece in
Syriac that incorporates an earlier rhymed translation into a later
intricate rhymed structure, that could not be more artful if it were an
I think the presence of doublets, one fairly universal sign of the
tendency of translators to use two words to express something that is said
in only one in the original, is a helpful and fairly universal sign that
distinguishes language of translation from language of original.
For the Song of Deborah, we may only have the medieval MT text, but there
are many things about it which indicate that it could not have been
translated from or paraphrased from or freely composed according
to the Greek. Here there are two Greek versions that don't seem original,
and one Hebrew version that is highly similar to poetry older
than almost anything extant in Greek.
The Leviathan example that Jonathan Safran has brought is another good
one, as these remnants of a sea monster legend that we see in fuller form
in Ugaritic are found scattered throughout the HB, never given in full.
All of the HB locations of the legend fragments are given in Jerome
Rothenberg and Harris Lenowitz, <book>Exiled in the Word</>, about 1987.
They are probably also given in Ginzberg's <ref>Legends of the Jews</>.
> Dear Jim,
> Do you assume that these Hellenized folk were acquainted with the language and
> details of the Gilgamesh Epic or Atra-Hasis (cf. Gen. 6-9) and the Sumerian
> Gilgamesh legends (cf. Qohelet, which once cites the Akkadian Gilgamesh Epic and
> once Gilgamesh and Agga, I believe).
> Do you also assume that expressions such as lwytn nx$ brx lwytn nh$ 'qltn (Is.
> 27? can"t remember), which has its exact equivalent in Ugaritic ltn bthm brx ltn
> bthm 'qltn, somehow had Greek equivalents?
> I think the cultural and linguistic evidence, just to name two aspects, is
> against your theory.
> Jonathan D. Safren
> Beit Berl College
Sigrid Peterson UPenn email@example.com
PS The texts span approximately two millenia bracketing the period of
Qumran occupation. Perhaps Qumran centrality is an indicator that we can
discuss such a question on Orion?