Monday, September 22, 2014

Shakespeare and Psalm 46

Do you already know about this? I heard about it last night, as I started a series at a church on the formation of the Bible. Afterward someone asked me whether Shakespeare was involved in translating the KJV, since in Psalm 46 the word 'shake' is the 46th word and the word 'spear' is the 46th word from the end, and Shakespeare would have been 46 around the time of the publication of the translation. Well, I had never heard this before, so I said I'd check into it.

Didn't take a lot of searching to discover all of the following.

There are some people who are not completely nuts who think this Shakespeare bit is possible. For example, William Harmon (English prof., UNC) wrote an article a couple decades ago in which he considered it possible. Also, an English prof. at Taylor University, Dennis Hensley, considers it likely.

On the other hand, Hannibal Hamlin, English prof. at Ohio State and expert on things relevant to this subject, thinks it absurd. Personally, I'm going with this opinion, but not for all the reasons Hamlin gives. He criticizes the idea partly because Shakespeare was no Greek and Hebrew scholar. But the idea, as promoted by someone like Harmon, is not that Shakespeare actually translated the psalm, but that he took a translation produced by linguists and polished up the poetry. I think the idea is farfetched just because there's absolutely no evidence for it (Shakespeare's name doesn't appear anywhere in connection with the translation, for instance), only this neat little number game in one psalm.

I'm not sure where the idea came from. Hamlin says it goes back to the 1890s, but he doesn't cite anything (at least not in that online article). Something similar to this idea can be found in one of Rudyard Kipling's stories, Proofs of Holy Writ, published in Strand magazine in 1934. In that story, Shakespeare and Ben Johnson work on enhancing the literary quality of Isaiah 60.

Our exact idea appears in two published works by Anthony Burgess (author of A Clockwork Orange): his biography of Shakespeare published by Knopf in 1970 (pp. 233–34) and his Enderby's Dark Lady (1984), pp. 24–34. In both places, Burgess just suggests the idea as possible. This response to Harmon's article (linked above) by Paul J. C. M. Franssen is very helpful for unraveling some of these details. (BTW, Harmon says he did not get the idea from Burgess, but neither did he think it up himself.)

Friday, September 5, 2014

Augustine and the Hebrew Bible: The Evidence of His Quaestiones in Heptateuchum

This post concludes a series. For earlier posts, see here, here, here, and here.

Augustine is well-known as someone who advocated continued use of the LXX as the Church's Bible in the face of those--like Jerome--who would replace it with a text closer to the Hebrew Bible, or at least downgrade its status significantly. He echoed a prominent Christian (and Jewish) tradition ascribing inspiration to the Seventy translators. But whereas earlier Christians (and Philo) had seen the Seventy to be inspired specifically for the purpose of producing a faithful translation--a miraculously accurate translation (see more here)--Augustine's innovation was in proposing that the Seventy were inspired to produce changes in the biblical texts, not really substantial changes, but small changes that ultimately pointed toward spiritual realities.

I believe that Augustine developed this position in response to Jerome's textual scholarship; Augustine did not feel competent to challenge Jerome's assertions that the LXX diverges often from the Hebrew text available in his day, and admitting this point seems to have made it untenable to continue to insist that the LXX was a more accurate translation than Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion. Jerome took this to mean that a new translation was needed. Augustine held on to the idea that the Seventy were inspired, but since they also changed the biblical text, that must have been what God inspired them to do. Augustine tries to diminish the strangeness of such an opinion by comparing the Seventy translators to the ancient Hebrew prophets--God inspired Isaiah and Jeremiah to say different things, and so it should not seem strange if he later inspired the Seventy prophetic translators to say things different from (but not, mind you, contradictory to) either Isaiah or Jeremiah (City of God 18.42-43). Elsewhere Augustine compares the relationship of the translators to their Hebrew Vorlage to the relationship among the four Evangelists, who were all inspired to produce different accounts of the life of Christ (Harmony of the Gospels 2.66.128).

In 1986, Anne-Marie la Bonnardière asked the question, "Did Augustine Use the Vulgate of Jerome?" (pp. 303–12 of this collection). To answer this question, she looked especially at the Quaestiones in Heptateuchum and the City of God. In regard to the Quaestiones, she counted 18x that Augustine compared the Hebrew translation to the LXX. I also count 18x (see below), but the passages that we include are a little different.

She omits Quaest. Gen. 2 and 169, and she includes Quaest. Gen. 97. She counts Quaest. Ios. 19 twice because in that passage Augustine discusses both Josh 16:10 and 6:26. And she references Quaest. Gen. 192, which she says is a discussion of Gen 41:50 (p. 305 n. 12). This is obviously a typo: there are not 192 questions for Genesis. I think she probably means Quaest. Gen. 152 on Gen 46:26–27, which is otherwise not in her list and obviously should be. Also, she later cites this question as an example of where Augustine speaks of the prophetic inspiration of the Seventy translators (p. 306 n. 16). 

As a general statement, she says: "En effet ces essais de confrontations n'aboutissent pas à ébranler l'estime d'Augustin pour la Septante" (p. 306). This is of course true, but I think somewhat unremarkable. In the context of early Christianity, this is the normal position. What I find more remarkable about Augustine--especially given his strong defense of the LXX as inspired and authoritative for the Church--is his willingness to engage occasionally with (a Latin translation of) the Hebrew text and use it for exegesis or even for textual criticism.

See here for the full post on Genesis. I discussed five questions, but quest. 97 does not discuss variants between the LXX and Hebrew (it only says that Hebrew is useful for exegesis), so I leave it out below.

  • Quest 2: the correct reading of Gen 5:25 is the one found in the Hebrew text and the more accurate Greek codices. 
  • Quest 152: the question of how many descendants went down with Jacob to Egypt (Gen 46:26–27) becomes so confusing that Augustine gives up trying to figure it out. He recognizes that the LXX and the Hebrew text say different things, but he insists that neither one of them make any sense. He concludes that scriptural numbers are often mysterious, meaning, I guess, that the presence of these problems must mean that we need to be thinking spiritually. 
  • Quest 162: he says that the Hebrew text makes good sense, and he seems to think that the Seventy translators have changed the text and also produced a good meaning. 
  • Quest 169: the Hebrew Bible and the LXX diverge on the number of days granted for Nineveh's repentance (40 vs. 3), but both texts have spiritual meanings. 
See here for the full post on Deuteronomy. I discussed three questions, but quest. 3 does not discuss variants between the LXX and Hebrew, so I leave it out below.
  • Quest 20: Augustine finds the Hebrew text (or Jerome's translation of it) to be clearer in reference to the tithing law. The feature that Augustine finds so helpful about Jerome's translation is actually not a precise reflection of the Hebrew text but an interpretive addition made by Jerome. 
  • Quest 54: the Seventy translators have added a phrase for a spiritual purpose. 
See here for the full post on Joshua. I discussed five passages. 
  • Quest 7: Augustine finds the Hebrew text to agree with his own interpretation of a potentially confusing passage. The feature of the Vulgate that Augustine finds so helpful is an interpretive addition by Jerome. 
  • Quest 15: Augustine generally seems to prefer the Hebrew text here, though he does not completely rule out the reading preserved in his traditional Latin translation. 
  • Quest 19: the Seventy translators made additions to fill out the consequences of the narrative, consequences about which they were aware because they were later chronologically than the prophets. 
  • Quest 24: this discussion is difficult for me to interpret, but it looks to me like early on Augustine thinks the Seventy have opted for an odd but spiritually significant translation, and later he thinks that maybe his Latin version just contains a mistranslation. 
  • Quest 25: Augustine thinks the Seventy have slightly altered the text in order to point toward spiritual realities. 
See here for the full post on Judges. I discussed seven passages. 
  • Quest 16: the Hebrew text confirms Augustine's interpretation. 
  • Quest 21: the Hebrew text confirms Augustine's interpretation. 
  • Quest 25: Augustine simply notes a divergence between the Hebrew text and LXX without explaining it. 
  • Quest 37: Augustine cites the variant in the Hebrew text and says that it is planius (more clear). Augustine is not clear on whether he thinks the Hebrew reading to be original. 
  • Quest 41: the Hebrew text confirms Augustine's interpretation. 
  • Quest 47: the Hebrew text confirms Augustine's interpretation. The element of Jerome's translation that Augustine finds helpful is an interpretive element added by Jerome. 
  • Quest 55: the Hebrew text confirms Augustine's interpretation. 

Final results (18 questions): 
  • First of all, la Bonnardière is absolutely right to stress that Augustine engages the Hebrew text only 18x out of the hundreds of questions that he pursues in this work. It would be nice to know why he didn't do this more. He found consultation of the Hebrew text to be valuable for his exegesis sometimes, but he the vast majority of the time he did not do it. 
  • 10x the Hebrew text stands as correct, either as preserving the better wording, or as more clearly stating what is less clear but implied in the LXX: Quaest Gen. 2; Quaest. Deut. 20; Quaest. Ios. 7; 15; 24 (?); Quaest. Iudic.  16; 21; 41; 47; 55. 
  • 4x the Seventy translators altered the biblical text for spiritual purposes: Quaest. Gen. 169; Quaest Deut 54; Quaest Ios. 19 (not really so much for spiritual purposes as historical ones); 25. 
  • 4x Augustine is not sure of the right answer or he does not reveal his own thoughts: Quaest Gen 152; 162; Quaest Iudic. 25; 37. 
This is very similar to the conclusions reached by la Bonnardière, who judges (p. 306 n. 16) that Augustine regards the LXX as prophetic at Quaest Gen 152; Quaest Deut 54; Quaest Ios. 19; 25, and she says (p. 306 n. 17) that Augustine regards the Hebrew as valuable or clearer at Quaest Gen 97; 162; Quaest Deut 20; Quaest Ios 7; 15; Quaest Iudic. 37; 47. (She also acknowledges that sometimes Augustine does not express an opinion.)

As for her first category, I would only switch out Quaest Gen 152 for Quaest Gen 169. For the second category, la Bonnardière has a total of 7 references, while in my similar category I have a total of 10. But not only would I add a few references, I would also switch out a few. At any rate, my study in some ways confirms, but also moves beyond, the study of la Bonnardière.

I also find it interesting (funny) that Augustine sometimes finds helpful (and regards as original Hebrew) the interpretive additions made by Jerome (Quaest. Deut. 20; Quaest. Ios. 7; Quaest. Iudic. 47).

If you just can't get enough of Augustine on the Hebrew Bible, be at the San Diego Convention Center (Room 30 D, upper level) at 1pm on Saturday, November 22, and you'll hear me give a paper on the subject. It wont be all dedicated to the Quaestiones in Heptateuchum, so don't be concerned that you've already been over this ground. And if you're that interest in the topic, let's meet and discuss it!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Augustine's _Questions on Judges_ and the Hebrew Bible

Earlier posts in this series are here (Genesis), here (Deuteronomy), and here (Joshua). As Judges is the last book of the Heptateuch, this is the last book covered by Augustine in his Quaestiones in Heptateuchum.

NB: Rahlfs printed two separate translations of Judges, an A text (Codex Alexandrinus plus Origenic and Lucianic mss) and a B text (Codex Vaticanus).

Question 16 on Judges 2:13 (p. 458)
And they forsook the Lord, and served Baal and Ashtaroth. (Judg 2:13 KJV)
Both Greek versions of Judges say much the same thing as the MT. Augustine wants to explain to his readers who these foreign gods are, so he says that people in that part of the world call Jupiter "Baal" and Juno "Astarte". Scripture refers to Juno in the plural (Junos = Ashtaroth) because there are many idols of Juno, and each idol can itself be called Juno. Jupiter is in the singular simply for the sake of variety.
hoc autem, id est nomine plurali Iunones in graecis secundum Septuaginta reperimus, in latinis autem singulariter erat. quorum in illo, qui non habebat Septuaginta interpretationem, sed ex hebraeo erat, Astaroth legimus nec Baal, sed Baalim. quodsi forte aliud in hebraea uel syra lingua nomina ista significant. deos tamen alios fuisse constat et falsos, quibus Israhel seruire non debuit.
But this--Juno in the plural--we found in Greek codices according the LXX, but in Latin codices it was singular. Of which, in that one that was not containing the LXX translation but was from the Hebrew, we read Astaroth and not Baal but Baalim. But if perhaps those names signify anything different in the Hebrew or Syriac language, yet it is agreed that they are different and false gods, which Israel shouldn't have served.
Here it seems to me that Augustine is citing the translation from the Hebrew in order to confirm his conjecture that the text could just as easily have put Baal (or Jupiter) in the plural as in the singular. But what Augustine says is in the Vulgate (Baalim) does not appear in the extant manuscript evidence, according to the Roman edition.

Question 21 on Judges 3:17 (p. 463)
And he went and presented the gifts to King Eglom of Moab. Now Eglom was a very handsome man. (Judges-B 3:17 NETS).
The A-text says basically the same thing. You may recall that the MT does not describe Eglon as handsome, as do the Greek texts (ἀστεῖος), but rather as fat (בריא), reflected in the Vulgate (crassus). [But fat can mean healthy, thus good-looking; cf. Gen 41:2.] Now Eglom is also fat in the LXX; when Ehud (or, rather, Aod in Greek) thrusts his dagger into the king's belly, "the fat closed over the flame" (3:22, both texts: ἀπέκλεισεν τὸ στέαρ κατὰ τῆς φλογός).

[The Hebrew להב can mean "flame" or "blade"; the Greek φλόξ usually just means "flame," but Muraoka (p. 717; also LSJ) suggests the meaning "blade" in this single passage. I assume that's what a Greek reader would have understood in this passage, even if he would have thought it an odd way of phrasing it.]

Augustine finds in his Latin text at v. 17 that Eglom was exilis valde, very thin; but he later (v. 22) finds that the fat closed over the wound. He decides that v. 17 must be intended contrary to fact. He compares lucus (forest), which does not give light (minime luceat), despite what its name might imply. Or in scripture the word "bless" often actually means "curse," for which Augustine cites the story of Naboth's vineyard (cf. 3Reigns 20(21): 10, 13 = 1Kings 21:10, 13).

At the end of the comment, we find:
nam in ea interpretatione, quae non secundum Septuaginta, sed ex hebraeo est, ita inuenimus: erat autem Eglom crassus nimis.
For in that translation which is not according to the LXX but from the Hebrew, we find thus: "now Elgom was very fat."
Augustine cites the translation from the Hebrew to confirm his own exegesis. It is not clear whether he thinks the Seventy translators themselves are responsible for speaking contrarily to fact in v. 17, or whether he thinks they have precisely represented the Hebrew and it is Jerome who has offered a more straightforward statement. Based on other passages in Augustine, I would guess that he would attribute precision to Jerome and the difficult or odd phrasing to the Seventy (though he would of course not view that as a negative).

Question 25 on Judges 3:31 (pp. 464–65)

The MT of Judg 3:31 has Shamgar strike down 600 Philistines with an oxgoad, or a cattle-goad (במלמד הבקר). The LXX seems instead to have him killing a bunch of calves: "fully six hundred men, as well as calves of cattle" (NETS; ἐκτὸς μόσχων τῶν βοῶν).

Augustine remarks:
sed quid sibi uelit quod addidit: praeter uitulos boum, obscurum est. 
But what it means that it adds beyond the calves of the cattle is obscure. 
Augustine suggests that maybe killing the cows was just a side effect of the battle against the Philistines. But then why does it specify calves? "Maybe the custom of the Greek language is to use the term calves even for those that are big?" Augustine finds Egyptian and Latin parallels for such a suggestion. And then:
non autem habet interpretatio ex hebraeo "praeter uitulos boum," sicut ista quae secundum Septuaginta est; sicut habet illa ex hebraeo: uomere occisos sexcentos uiros, quod ista non habet. 
But the interpretation from the Hebrew does not have "beyond calves of cattle," like the translation according to the LXX; just like the one from Hebrew has "600 men killed with an ploughshare," which the other does not have.
End of the discussion. Augustine does not explore why the Hebrew and LXX have different wording. He simply notes it and moves on.

Question 37 on Judges 7:6 (pp. 470–72)

This is the story of Gideon weeding down his army from 32,000, to 10,000, to 300, the last of which resulted from the particular way that his men drank from a stream. But the Latin codices reflect the multiple Greek forms of the book: Augustine finds in some Latin codices that the 300 men drank "with their hand" (= B text) and other codices that say they drank "with their tongue" (= A text). Augustine says that the Greek text has both: manu sua, lingua sua, and he explains what this would mean. I don't find any evidence for this double rendering in extant Greek mss (according to the Larger Cambridge edition), though Origen does preach both readings: it signifies that a Christian must work with both his hand and his tongue, that is in deed and word (Homilies on Judges 9.2, pp. 116–17).

Then Augustine says:
nam et interpretatio ex hebraeo planius id habet his uerbis: fuit itaque numerus eorum qui manu in os proiciente aquam lambuerant trecenti uiri. 
For also the translation from the Hebrew has it more clear in these words: so the number of those who had licked the water with the hand going up to the mouth was 300 men. 
That's really all for Augustine's comparison of texts. He moves on to explaining how men and dogs are accustomed to drink, and then explores the spiritual significance of the number 300 (= Greek tau, and so signifying the cross) and why God would choose those who drink like dogs (he likes to choose the base and despised things of the world).

Augustine doesn't really comment on which text is correct, or why there is diverse wording. He is content here simply to note the diversity and explain what each reading would mean in a way that harmonizes them all.

Question 41 on Judges 8:26–27 (pp. 473–75)

After Gideon's victory, made took some gold from the Israelites and constructed an ephod in Ephratha for Israel to worship. Augustine has a lot to say about this ephod, but the comment that concerns us has to do with the composition of the ephod. Augustine's Latin text seems to say that Gideon took all the gold and used it to make an ephod, but Augustine knows well that ephods are made of more than just gold (cf. Exod 39:2 MT; 36:9 LXX), and Gideon wouldn't have used all of the gold to make this ephod. So he explains that when his Latin text says fecit illud in ephud (he made it [= the gold] into an ephod), what it really means is fecit ex eo ephud (he made from it an ephod). He then quotes the interpretatio ex hebraeo, which has this exact rendering. The Hebrew translation confirms Augustine's exegesis.

Question 47 on Judges 10:1 (pp. 479–80)
And after Abimelech, Thola son of Phoua, son of his father's brother, a man of Issachar, rose to deliver Israel, and he himself lived at Samaria in the hill country of Ephraim. (Judg 10:1 NETS A text). 
The A and B texts say basically the same thing. The expression "son of his father's brother" is a little odd, and most English translations take the Hebrew a little differently: "son of Dodo." If dodo is actually a proper name rather than a common noun meaning "his uncle," then the entire explanation given by Augustine is irrelevant, but this option isn't open to Augustine because of the texts he's working with. Even Jerome translates it with patruus, "uncle."

Augustine finds in his Latin translation the confusing and potentially misleading expression filius patris fratris eius. Augustine wants to clarify for his readers that this does not mean "son of the father of his brother" but rather "son of the brother of his father," that is, "son of his uncle." Augustine says that Gideon and Puah were brothers, so Abimelech (Gideon's son) and Tola (Puah's son) were cousins, which means that Tola was the son of Abimelech's uncle, and therefore Abimelech must be the antecedent of eius. Augustine says this is found more clearly (euidentius) in the translation from the Hebrew. He doesn't quote the translation, but he's right that Jerome certainly presents the text so that this interpretation is a little more straightforward: filius Phoa patrui Abimelech ("son of Puah, uncle of Abimelech"). The rest of Augustine's comment is concerned with explaining how Gideon and Puah could be brothers, even though Puah is said here to be a man of Issachar while Gideon is from the tribe of Manasseh (6:15).

Augustine cites Jerome's translation as confirmation for his own interpretation.

Question 55 on Judges 15:8 (pp. 505–6)
And he struck them on the thigh [ἐπὶ μηρόν; B: shank upon thigh, κνήμην ἐπὶ μηρόν], a great blow, and he went down and was staying by the wadi in the cave of Etam [B: sat in a hole in the rock of Etam]. (Judg 15:8 NETS A text)
Augustine, reading a Latin translation of the B text, asks, "Why does it say that Samson struck the foreigners tibiam super femur?" The tibia is below the femur, not above it. And if it's talking about where on their bodies Samson struck them, are we supposed to believe that he struck everyone on the same body part? Can it mean that Samson used the tibia of an animal to strike the Philistines on their femurs? No, because it doesn't say tiba super femur but tibiam super femur, and, in any case, we've already said that it's absurd to think that Samson would have paid such attention to where on their bodies he was going to strike them. "Certainly this unusual locution creates an obscurity." Augustine says that it must mean that the Philistines reacted to the great slaughter wrought by Samson by putting their tibias on their femurs, which he interprets as a posture of amazement, as if they put their hands to their faces.

Then he cites the Vulgate:
hunc sensum ita se habere etiam interpretatio, quae est ex hebraeo, satis edocet; nam ita legitur: percussitque eos ingenti plaga, ita ut stupentes suram femori inponerent. 
This matches exactly the Weber-Gryson edition of the Vulgate. Augustine cites Jerome's translation to confirm his own interpretation.

Conclusion for Judges 

Out of the 7 passages in the Questiones de Iudicibus in which Augustine cites Jerome's Hebrew translation for comparison, 5 times the purpose of the citation is to confirm the interpretation that Augustine has already proposed for the passage (questions 16, 21, 41, 47, 55). The other two times he cites the Vulgate (questions 25, 37), he simply notes the reading as distinct from the LXX and explains it on its own terms without trying to determine how the two different readings arose or which is correct.