Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Provocative Vocative in Psalm 47

Keith Bodner in JTS recently:

Ps. 47:10 (v. 9 in many English translations) has perplexed commentators and proved elusive for translators. M. D. Goulder wryly describes the syntax of v. 10a as something of an ‘embarrassment’, no doubt because of the theological implications which arise. This short note surveys several opinions and argues that the impasse can be resolved if 10aß is translated as a vocative. This proposal has the advantage of preserving the MT and poetically coheres with the larger structure and drama of the psalm.

Bodner’s recommended translation:

The princes of the peoples have been gathered together,
O people of the God of Abraham,
For to God belong the powers of the earth,
He is greatly exalted.

The ‘Embarrassing Syntax’ of Ps. 47:10: A (Pro)Vocative Option
Keith Bodner
The Journal of Theological Studies 2003 54(2):570-575

Note these translations:

KJV
The princes of the people are gathered together,
*even the people of the God of Abraham:
ESV
The princes of the peoples gather
as the people of the God of Abraham.

NRSV
The princes of the peoples gather
as the people of the God of Abraham.

NIV
The nobles of the nations assemble
as the people of the God of Abraham

Msg
Princes from all over are gathered,
people of Abraham’s God.

[Note the ambiguity of the syntax in the Message; 9b appears to be an appositive, though it could also be a vocative.)

Now I want to write a paper on vocatives in the Psalms. But I’ll have to learn Hebrew first…

Other biblical language tidbits:

- “Another verb that is used less frequently to describe the return is [bw] (... in Ezra 2:2 and ... in 2:68). This term also can have connotations of pilgrimage ...”

Pilgrimage Imagery in the Returns in Ezra
MELODY D. KNOWLES
Journal of Biblical Literature 123.1 (Spring 2004)

- “James Harrison observes ... that modern scholarship, while focusing on the theological significance of [charis] as a ‘timeless construct’, has for the most part ignored the background of the term’s usage in its Graeco-Roman context.”

Gary Griffith, Book Review: Paul’s Language of Grace in its Graeco-Roman Context
Journal for the Study of the New Testament 2005 27: 494-496.

Posted by Nathan Bierma on 08/10 at 10:44 AM
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