Thursday, 28 June 2018

Yahweh Translation Survey Results Out Here!

Hi everyone, I have just completed an apparently needed survey of the Hebrew Bible and Septuagint to examine exactly how the most significant names of the Israelite god, Yahweh and Adonai, were translated into the Greek Kyrios, while also factoring in Greek case. Yahweh, it has long been considered, was convened as "anarthrous" in the Greek translation *Kyrios*, now at last we know quite how much, and what that looks like right across the OT canon. The upshot of this is that Peterson seemed to have sensed something significant when he translated Yahweh by GOD in The Message, not the redundant "the LORD".

But let's get back to the data before we run away with English translation implications.

This first graph tells us that the rates of article before Kyrios (nominative "the LORD") and Kyriou (genitive "of the LORD") are typically very scarce indeed, with Job being a radical outlier. Let's exclude Job now to zoom in on the rest.

So now we can access a more nuanced picture of the rest of the canon. We can summarise it to say that the Pentateuch is, as expected, super low and precedent-setting, although even those first five books we will see some interesting further variation in the following graph. The traditionally ranked "first" historical books of Joshua and Judges seem to follow that pattern before rates increase for 1 Samuel through 1 Kings. 2 Kings, Chronicles, Nehemiah and Ezra bring the rates back down. That is significant in re-evaluating Hong's claim that an early euphemism is evidenced in 1 Chronicles 17, "after" 2 Samuel 7 was written (there is clear literary dependence between the two, but either the Chronicler changes Adonai Yahweh into Yahweh Elohim (Hong) OR Samual changes Yahweh Elohim into Adonai Yahweh. This survey, along with other historical data around the trickiness of the Yahweh Name in particular, might favour the latter scenario, contra Hong. That's quite significant.

Psalms provides the greatest number of arthrous translations of Yahweh into ho kyrios and tou kyriou: 56 by my count. Clearly, this translator and the translator of Proverbs (if not the same) were aware of the translational practice but did not feel quite as bound to it. On the minor prophets, what we notice is quite a wide range of fluctuation of this awareness, which fits well into the likely ad-hoc nature of the establishment of the translation of the latter parts of the Hebrew Bible.

What about the other Greek cases?

Well, they're all over the place, mostly. Deuteronomy is a notable exception, however, and could point to it being the original blueprint for the anarthrous rule.

Note, the graphs exclude the books Esther, Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon, none of which have retainable data on the question.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks very much for your feedback, really appreciate the interaction.