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On Translations and Teaching Part II

May 8, 2007

The problem with writing posts while working double shifts during finals is that you often wind up leaving a point unstated. Alas, that was the case with my first post On Teaching and Translation.

Namely, I misspoke (miswrote?) when I jumped from the problems positing an Aramacism for בר, to simply taking it as “foot” — while missing the obvious middle step of noting the reconstructed text (see note b-b in BHS at location). I have personally found the first reconstruction more persuasive over the years, the one taken by the NRSV. So, I’m here eating my virtual crow and want to give props to Christopher Heard at Higgaion who sets me straight: בר doesn’t mean “foot” all by itself — it exists merely in the bizarre mind of an overworked grad student.

In addition, Christopher makes a great point in regard to my larger quest in my previous post:

If ideological commitments demand gender-inclusive language, and scholarly integrity demands a commitment to as accurate a representation of the text as possible, this seems to be a no-win situation. The NRSV offers gender-inclusive language throughout, but in Psalm 2:12, the NET and NJPS translation has a much better claim to “accuracy” than any of the other mass-market translations.

This is exactly the bind I see myself in at the moment. I’ve been trying to find a silver bullet translation. However, it seems that it might be best to reappropriate the wisdom of Donald Rumsefeld and state: “You go to class with the translations you’ve got.”

Finally, in dialog both here and in “meet space” (i.e. the real world) I’m becoming more persuaded by those who would posit בר as “pure” rather than reconstructing the line. BDB leaves this as an option and posits possibly seeing it as an adverbial use of the adjective. While I still have problem with translating it as a personal form “the pure one,” I wonder if it might be instructive to look at Ps.2 in light of the temporary sacralization of the king in Ugaritic ritual texts (noting the participial/verbal adj form of brr in these ritual rubrics). I hope to write on this in the not two [sic!] distant future.

Update (5/9): Tyler F. Williams at Codex has a great post outlining all (or most of) the text critical issues related to Ps 2.11-12, including Hebrew reconstructions and discussion of the LXX.

As a side note, I find it quite interesting that my little post — written off the cuff and honestly working out issues as I wrote (and continue to write!) — has generated so much interest. I’ve been trying to read what folks write, but have only been able to comment sporadically. Thank you all for your comments and posts! And please, tell me all what translations (if any) you’re making your students read.

  1. May 9, 2007 5:06 am

    Hi Jim,
    I’m a grad student, too and I understand the stress. Your last sentence is an indicator you need some good night’s sleep. 😉
    “I hope to write on this in the not two[sic] distant future.”


  2. jimgetz permalink*
    May 9, 2007 9:12 am


    Dang it! This is what I get for blogging on the run.

  3. May 9, 2007 9:58 am

    Corrections are all part of the journey, Jim. Welcome to the world of being normal! 🙂

    I’ve linked to your followup post, as well.


  1. Codex: Biblical Studies Blogspot » Blog Archive » Psalm 2:11-12 - A Text Critical Crux Interpretum
  2. Higgaion » Psalm 2:12, once again

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