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Re: orion Re: translation central

Jim West summarized:
> Many thanks to those who took the time to respond to my theoretical musings.
> Richard Weis, Paul Flesher and Bob Kraft's comments have been very helpful,
> along with many others.
> The basic problems with my theory seem to melt down to two
> 1- the biblical mss at Qumran show that the Hebrew text is at least as old
> as the greek text.
> 2- the greek text shows definite signs of being a translation.

Another MAJOR problem, I think, is your overly concrete conception of "the
OT" as though it were or could be a unit (such as our codices produce); 
at the level of examination of which you speak, individual books and/or
groupings of books need to be treated, each with its own characteristics
in Greek (and in Hebrew/Aramaic). The Greek of the Pentateuch is far
different from that of the Psalter or Isaiah or Ruth, for example.

Now I don't find it difficult to imagine that these various Greek
compositions could have been written de novo, by persons with various
Greek styles and idiosyncracies. (Martin's valuable work does not PROVE
anything about the Greek being translated, but on the assumption that the
Greek is translated, Martin establishes useful criteria and statistics for
looking at other Greek materials; his conclusions at least show vast
differences between various Greek works, however one explains those
differences.) What I do find virtually impossible to imagine is that
semitic translators would arrive at the identical Hebrew rendering for
such disparate Greek terms as "Lord Almighty" (e.g. Minor Prophets) and
"Lord of the Hosts" (e.g. Psalter) and "Lord Sabaoth" (Isaiah), to use an
obvious example. And this sort of thing could be multiplied many times in
a close examination of the evidence. Further, the ways in which such
otherwise distinguishable elements are juxtaposed in Samuel-Kings, for
example, would be extremely difficult to understand if S-K were viewed as
an original Greek composition. The Devil (or God) is in the details, and
these details are, I would say, incompatible with the theory you propose
-- unless, of course, you engage in massive appeals to exceptions and
other such "special pleading."

> Concerning the first objection- translation of a document deemed very
> significant can and often does take place within a few years.  This is true
> now and seems to be within the pale of reality or at least possibility for
> the period BCE as well.

But wouldn't this model suggest some semblance of homogeneity in the
translations that would be produced? It doesn't seem to be there.
> About the second- I simply have grave difficulties with the thesis that a
> document demonstrates "characteristics of being a translation".  Are we to
> assume that every wooden document written in a stilted, horrid, not very
> grammatical style is a translation?  If so, many third graders must be
> translating documents written in greek!
> My point is, stilted writing styles do not a translation make.

Agreed. But that is but the tip of a gigantic iceberg (see above).
> So- despite the objections raised, I still do not think that there is
> anything impossible or even necessarily unlikely about the idea that the OT
> documents were orignially composed in Greek and later translated into
> Hebrew.  But I am very interested in learning otherwise.

I would say, certainly "unlikely," and by most normal measures even
"impossible." Take some time to explore the details! I don't see how you
could make the theory work without ignoring most of the nitty-gritty
evidence. But the will to believe can be very strong, and if you have that
going for you, who can argue against it successfully?!
> Again, thanks.
> Jim

Robert A. Kraft, Religious Studies, University of Pennsylvania