Sunday, June 19, 2011

Proverbs 14 Part IV (Hebrew and/or Greek in translation)

This is Part IV of a series on Proverbs 14. In this particular post, I'm interested in how the Hebrew and the Greek in English translation may compare and contrast. Below is the literal translation of the Hebrew by Julia E. Smith in 1876, and then immediately following verse-by-verse is the more-or-less literal translation of the Greek by Lancelot C. L. Brenton in 1851.  These two literal translations are much different from the ones done by Robert Alter in 2010 and by the Common English Bible translation team in 2011 and by the New International Version team in 2011; our much newer translations consider both the Hebrew and the Greek together, and they seem to use the Greek translation of the Hebrew to correct the Hebrew; and, furthermore, (in the context now of much translation theory and many translation debates about literal vs dynamic equivalence and such) the 21st century English is also much more nuanced and sensitive to gender differences in English and thus in the Hebrew and Greek.

However, the translation by Smith tries only to bring across the meanings of the Hebrew; and the translation by Brenton attempts just to render the meanings of the Greek translation of the Hebrew.  Furthermore, Smith's and Brenton's 19th century translations have English that included gender-neutral or gender-inclusive uses of "man" for "men and women" (without all the added burden of whether a literal translation really gets at the meanings in a dynamic-equivalent way).

I've appreciated all the insights and questions offered in comments made following the first several posts in this series.  (I've also been fascinated elsewhere by the description of the Greek by blogger and UC Berkeley linguist Rich Rhodes:  "the LXX was in Biblish to the writers of the NT," which somehow suggests that the writers of the New Testament did not have access or give much priority to the Hebrew and whether it also seemed "biblish."  In conversation with Rhodes, blogger and Hebrew poetry enthusiast John Hobbins calls the Greek quoted in the NT "Septuagintalisms."  Wonder what they'd make of how Brenton translates the Greek translating the Hebrew compared with how Smith translates the Hebrew?)  To help in reading the two translations side by side, I've now put in bold font the translation of the Hebrew by Smith; the italics in the translation of the Greek by Brenton are his.  Now what do you make of the differences and the similarities of the respective translations of Proverbs 14 by Smith and by Brenton? 

1 THE wise woman built her house: but the foolish will pull it down with her hands.
 Wise women build houses: but a foolish one digs hers down with her hands.

2 He going in his uprightness will fear Jehovah: and he perverted in his ways, despised him.
He that walks uprightly fears the Lord; but he that is perverse in his ways shall be dishonoured.

3 In the mouth of the foolish one a rod of pride; and the lips of the wise shall watch them.
Out of the mouth of fools comes a rod of pride; but the lips of the wise preserve them.

4 In no oxen the stall clean, and much increase in the strength of the ox.
Where no oxen are, the cribs are clean; but where there is abundant produce, the strength of the ox is apparent.

5 A witness of faithfulnesses will not lie: and a witness of falsehood will breathe out lies.
A faithful witness does not lie; but an unjust witness kindles falsehoods.

6 He mocking sought wisdom, and none: and knowledge being easy to him understanding.
Thou shalt seek wisdom with bad men, and shalt not find it; but discretion is easily available with the prudent.
7 Go from before to the foolish man and thou knewest not the lips of knowledge.
All things are adverse to a foolish man; but wise lips are the weapons of discretion.
8 The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way: and the folly of the foolish is deceit.
The wisdom of the prudent will understand their ways; but the folly of fools leads astray.
9 The foolish will mock at guilt: and between the upright acceptance.
The houses of transgressors will need purification; but the houses of the just are acceptable.
10 The heart will know the bitterness of its soul, and in its joys the stranger shall not mingle.
 If a man’s mind is intelligent, his soul is sorrowful; and when he rejoices, he has no fellowship with pride.

11 The house of the unjust shall be destroyed: and the tent of the upright shall nourish.
 The houses of ungodly men shall be utterly destroyed; but the tabernacles of them that walk uprightly shall stand.

12 There is a way straight before man, and its latter state the ways of death.
 There is a way which seems to be right with men, but the ends of it reach to the depths of hell.

13 Also in laughter the heart shall have pain, and its latter state of joy, grief.
 Grief mingles not with mirth; and joy in the end comes to grief.

14 He drawing back the heart shall be filled from his ways: and a good man from above him.
 A stout-hearted man shall be filled with his own ways; and a good man with his own thoughts.

15 The simple will believe to every word: and the prudent will understand to his going.
 The simple believes every word: but the prudent man betakes himself to after-thought. 

16 The wise one feared and departed from evil: and the foolish overflowing, and being confident.
A wise man fears, and departs from evil; but the fool trusts in himself, and joins himself with the transgressor.

17 He reaping anger will do folly: and a man of mischiefs will be hated.
 A passionate man acts inconsiderately; but a sensible man bears up under many things.

18 The simple inherit folly: and the prudent shall be surrounded with knowledge.
 Fools shall have mischief for their portion; but the prudent shall take fast hold of understanding.

19 The evil bowed before the good, and the unjust at the gates of the just one.
 Evil men shall fall before the good; and the ungodly shall attend at the gates of the righteous.

20 Also the poor shall be hated by his neighbor: and many loving the rich one.
Friends will hate poor friends; but the friends of the rich are many.
21 He despising to his neighbor, sins: and he compassionating the poor, he is happy.
He that dishonours the needy sins: but he that has pity on the poor is most blessed.
22 Shall they not go astray, seeking evil? and mercy, and truth to those seeking good.
They that go astray devise evils: but the good devise mercy and truth. The framers of evil do not understand mercy and truth: but compassion and faithfulness are with the framers of good.
23 In all labor will be profit: and the word of the lips only to want.
With every one who is careful there is abundance: but the pleasure-taking and indolent shall be in want.
24 The crown of the wise is their riches: the folly of the foolish, folly.
A prudent man is the crown of the wise: but the occupation of fools is evil.

25 A witness of truth delivers souls and deceit will breathe out lies.
A faithful witness shall deliver a soul from evil: but a deceitful man kindles falsehoods.

26 In the fear of Jehovah the trust of strength, and to his sons a refuge.
In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence: and he leaves his children a support.

27 The fear of Jehovah a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.
The commandment of the Lord is a fountain of life; and it causes men to turn aside from the snare of death.

28 In a multitude of people the king's decoration: and in the cessation of the people the destruction of the prince.
In a populous nation is the glory of a king: but in the failure of people is the ruin of a prince.
29 The slow to anger of much under standing: and the short of spirit exalts folly.
A man slow to wrath abounds in wisdom: but a man of impatient spirit is very foolish.
30 A heart of healing, the life of the flesh: and jealousy the rottenness of the bones.
A meek-spirited man is a healer of the heart: but a sensitive heart is a corruption of the bones.

31 He oppressing the poor reproached him making him: and he honoring him compassionated the needy.
He that oppresses the needy provokes his Maker: but he that honours him has pity upon the poor.

32 The unjust one shall be driven away in his evil: and the just one trusted in his death.
The ungodly shall be driven away in his wickedness: but he who is secure in his own holiness is just. 

33 In the heart of him understanding, wisdom shall rest: and in the midst of fools it shall be made known.
There is wisdom in the good heart of a man: but in the heart of fools it is not discerned.

34 Justice will exalt a nation: and sin a reproach to nations.
Righteousness exalts a nation: but sins diminish tribes.

35 The acceptance of the king to a servant of understanding: and his wrath shall be to him causing shame.
An understanding servant is acceptable to a king; and by his good behaviour he removes disgrace. 

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