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Woman Translating Man? אָח : ἀδελφιδός :: “brother” : “brotherkin”?

November 16, 2013

How about the Septuagint translator(s) of the Hebrew Song of Songs if authored by a woman?

Was she also a woman, then, rendering the Hebrew into Hellene? And how would a female do that? What sort of Greek would she use?

NETS translator Jay C. Treat leaves open the possibility, conjecturing:

Its use in 5.9 and in 8.1, where it translates אָח (“brother”), shows that Greek Song is using this diminutive as a term of endearment. Its use may suggest that the translator was a woman. Because ἀδελφιδός must have sounded unusual in Greek ears, the NETS translation [by Treat himself] consistently renders it with a formal equivalent that sounds unusual in English: “brotherkin.”

What’s strange and perhaps unfortunate is how Treat so cleverly and consistently uses “brotherkin” as a supposed womanly “unusual” sounding diminutive term of endearment coinage, as if this is just what a woman (not a man) might do. He also keeps on referring to the Greek translator of the Hebrew by “he” and not by “she.” So Treat is more consistent in his own talk about the translator as a default man; and yet he wants to have her also a woman who doesn’t really know what good Greek sounds like, and he inflicts that on his English readers’ ears.

Is there scholarship and research on the sex of the Song of Songs LXX translator beyond Treat’s guess here based on one odd Greek phrase?

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