Interpretive Spins and Literary Sparks in the Ψαλμοὶ: Ps. 68
This post is another in a series on the interpretive spins and literary sparks in the Greek translation of the Hebrew Tehillim called Ψαλμοὶ (or Psalms). Translating the Septuagint (LXX) Greek into English, Albert Pietersma has noted that there are the sparks and spins, but he fails to identify them. Pietersma in the NET Septuagint has said, for example, the following about the translator of the Hebrew into the Greek:
My eye was directed to a possible literary spark in Psalm 68 this past week. Wayne Leman posted an announcement about the new “International Standard Version” of the Bible, and I was looking at how Dr. Mona Bias (for the ISV) had translated the Psalm. Although the ISV editors generally seem to suggest that their English is to be English as an international language, I was wondering.
Also, the ISV translators supposedly use the LXX Greek among various resources. So here is what I noticed, when comparing what Bias has done for the ISV with what other version translators have done (who don’t necessarily use the LXX as a source and who do often translate with English regionalisms). I’m just comparing the very first part of verse 14 (or 13, depending on the numbering system):
Now here is how Robert Alter translates the same (and as we all know Alter refers to the LXX many times):
In this case, however, it seems that Alter finds nothing useful in the Greek rendering of the Hebrew. His note points to other issues:
We can compare Alter’s translation with Bias’s. And we can add to these Ann Nyland’s rendering of the same. The reason Nyland’s might be interesting is that she, like Bias and like Alter, also consults the LXX. Nyland has this:
Her footnote gives these explanations:
Now, let’s compare the Hellene of the LXX with the Hebrew. The Masoretic Text has this:
The LXX translator has this:
Pietersma makes this Greek the following English:
And Brenton’s English version of that Greek goes like this:
So what’s going on?
Could it be that there’s an allusion to the lots so famously in Sophocles somehow? Like this:
commonly put into English like this?
Well, you can see that we have questions. On just this little bit of scripture, we have that much. We know we don’t know much. Except there is some fancy Greek before and after this little “lot.” The lot, of course, is an unusual bit to show up here in the Psalm. I think it’s an echo to the playwright for some now unknown reason. Maybe we’ll say more some later.
What do you think?