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Saturday, July 09, 2016
The Torah, full of blessings
Ostler mentions Psalm 130 as an example of the Bible translation-debates in Europe (p. 247). I'm here to riff on this topic too, in this case to fill out that missing-chapter on Jewish translators into Greek.
For the Bible as a whole, the Anglophone Jews now own a literal translation that punts on every word that might be technical. Its Verse 4 reads,
In the Greek Bible, matters are much different for "Psalm 129" - here probably translated in Seleucid Palestine. Its translator(s) went with
In the psalm as I read it, "Law" as such is too mechanical. Israel is not guilty of transgression, but of general sin against God - this is a Deuteronomical sin of para-idolatry, not a Levitical sin of breaking ordinances. Also I find difficult to see a Jew, especially, shifting "Torah" - were it there - to "fear". Gentiles, I think, wouldn't directly care.
Instead I could see the reverse, among the Jews of pre-Maccabean Palestine. I think the Vorlage of the Greek Psalm did read "torah" here. I wouldn't be surprised if the mistake lingered well into Roman days and got into Vetus Latina directly. It is a credit to the Pharisees, ancestors of Jews today, that they have arrested this mistake and preserved the correct reading to the days of Erasmus and beyond.
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