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orion-list Translations of Josephus
About a week ago, Robert Kraft was kind to provide comparative passages from
Whiston and Thakeray of parts of Josephus. I was particularly interested in
the translations of two passages. In 11c Wh. translates that Banus "lived in
the desert". Thack. has the passage as Banus "dwelt in the wilderness". Is
there any argument for preferring one or the other of the words "wilderness"
or "desert"? Then in 11d-f Wh. translates that Banus "bathed himself in cold
water". Thak. has the translation "using frequent ablutions in cold water".
Again, is there an argument for preferring "bathed" over "ablutions"?
I am interested in the choice of words because I have been trying to
understand the characteristics of the geographic area at the approximate time
involved. For example, R. Arav, R. Freund and J. Shroder, Jr. have an
interesting article "Bethsaida Rediscovered" in the Jan/Feb 2000 Biblical
Archaeology Review. Page 46 of that article compares the water level of the
Sea of Galilee now and 2,000 years ago. It seems to me that the implications
of the higher water level there would stongly imply (or confirm) the same
situation for the Dead Sea and also carry implications about the climate,
annual rain fall and what area was "desert" vis a vis "wilderness". The use
of the word "bathed" seems to possibly infer a bath to bathe in. I
understand that this is not necessarily true, but to me it does seem to be
reasonably implied. However, "ablutions" does not carry the same inference
for me. So, I was wondering about the choices of words used in the two
transalations and would appreciate any comments.
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