Re: Acts 2:23

From: Joe Friberg (
Date: Sat Aug 14 1999 - 02:33:59 EDT

In response to:
> -----Original Message-----
> From: []
> Sent: Thursday, August 12, 1999 7:46 PM

Several general points first:
1. Note that there are two separate kinds of phenomena represented in the
data you have cited wrt Pv 24.21: (a) translation and (b) quotation. These
represent different processes, and consequently must be treated
differently. Further, these processes enter into the context to be
considered when interpreting. A translator has access to the source
language, and is expected to make shape the product. A quotator does not
always have access to the original source, and often/may respect the
translation itself as authoritative; hence, s/he is *not* expected to shape
the product. In the case of the early church fathers, they often had no
access to the original, and often respected the authority of the LXX

2. I have not yet located your source in Ignatius; it would be helpful to
the overall discussion if you could give the quote and at least sketch the
background of the quote.

3. Interpretation of any translation includes as part of its context the
fact that it is a translation, and that the source language may overly
affect the product in the receptor language. This fact can never be
ignored or waved aside.

4. In the case of the clause in question (FOBOU TON QEON, hUIE, KAI
BASILEA), it is a simple fact that it does follow the Hebrew

5. You are correct that not all of Proverbs is a word-for-word translation.
 In fact, much of it is quite 'free'. Johann Cook did an extensive study
_The Septuagint of Proverbs_ (Brill, 1997) covering 6 or so chapters of Pvs
(but not ch.24). He repeatedly notes the free character of the
translator's translation technique, "giving his translation nuances on the
basis of his religious motives" (p. 30), and further, that "He clearly had
the literary freedom to interpret, to stylise and to add or leave out
whenever he felt inclined to do so. *However, as was the case [in] earlier
[chapters], he in some instances translated rather literally*" (p. 244, my
emphasis). In the present verse, we observe an instance of the
'literalness', and the question is why. As you have noted, there are a
number of factors going on.

Now to specifics:
> In a message dated 8/12/99 8:05:35 AM Pacific Daylight Time,
> writes:
> << I would prefer Wallace's solution of exempting translation Gk. from
> certain interpretive/semantic rules: it appears by far to be the
> simplest
> solution:
> Pv 24.21 LXX (Rahlfs) reads:
> and MT reads:
> Note that the Gk follows the word order of the Hb. The LXX
> appears to be a
> 1-1 literal translation at this point. The details are copied,
> down to the
> *lack of* a defn. art. w/ MELEK. This makes for poor
> translation theory,
> but often an empahsis on literal, word-for-word translation sacrifices
> accuracy of meaning for the sake of 1-1 formal correspondence,
> and this is
> true of various parts of the LXX. >>
> Yes, but it is not true even of the context of this passage. The LXX
> translator of Proverbs does not always follow the Hebrew
> literally, and this
> still leaves unanswered the following question: Why did the LXX
> translator of
> Proverbs not reword this theologically significant text so that
> no confusion
> would arise regarding identity of referent, IF the LXX translator
> accepted
> article-noun-KAI-noun constructions the way Sharp did? (See below on the
> question of whether he was simply "messy.")

1. Perhaps the degree of ungrammaticalness of the article-noun-KAI-noun
construction used to reference two distinct entities is not so great as to
cause more than a raised eyebrow (or a twitch of the ear in passing).
Especially in light of the other considerations:
2. hUIE intervening
3. emphasis of the indefiniteness of BASILEA
4. MHQETERWi AUTWN disambiguates the phrase completely.
(Side question: has a thorough study of the use/disuse of the definite
article been done for Pvs as a genre?)

> << As to the question of Ignatius et al. quoting the LXX w/o
> emendation (I
> could not verify this right now, but take your word for it), that should
> not be surprising, even if the exact quotation went against the common
> Semantic (Sharp's) rule. After all, the context is probably enough to
> counteract the interpretation (God = king) that is predicted by Sharp's
> rule. >>
> I agree. Indeed, Ignatius is not even making a word-for-word
> quotation of the
> LXX at this point (though he may be quoting a variant reading),
> so Wallace's
> suggestion that the vocative hUIE disrupts the semantics of
> Sharp's rule in
> this instance does not come into play for Ignatius, and it cannot
> be shown
> conclusively to have any bearing on the LXX of Proverb 24:21.

Again, I would appreciate the quote at this point to work with.
> << And I might even ask rhetorically (but gently), when was the last
> time that you consciously modified an standard translation
> on-the-fly, w/o
> consulting the original language first? I don't think such intentional
> emendations would have been made lightly. (The real questions
> to ask arise
> when there are variants between the LXX and quotations!) >>
> Then what are we to make of the intentional emendations in the
> surrounding
> context of Proverbs 24, in the LXX? I gather from your earlier
> comments that
> you have not checked this matter out thoroughly. May I (gently)
> suggest that
> you do so, prior to sharing your views about what the LXX
> translator may or
> may not have 'intentionally' done?

Here is where I am making a distinction between translation and quotation.
The LXX tranlator clearly took liberties with the text at various points;
at other points, he was dealing with a variant Hb text. My point on
emendation was *only* wrt Ignatius in the process of *quotation*.
> <<On the other hand, though, I would not think it appropriate to put the
> exemption for translation Gk into Sharp's (or any other Semantic or even
> Syntactic) rule. Sharp's rule stands on its own, and we must
> simply invoke
> the principle that sometimes translations are messy/imperfect, as in the
> case of Pv 24.21 LXX! >>
> No, we "must" not do any such thing. It is unnecessary to make any such
> assumptions, especially when the passage is not only found in a
> translation
> (LXX) but in the works of Greek writers in the first century and
> following.
> Did they, too, 'mess up'? Instead of taking the easy way out and assuming
> that Sharp's rule "stands on its own," it, like every other rule
> of grammar,
> should be evaluated per occurrence, and each of the nuances and
> differences
> of the text where an instance of the rule presents itself should be
> considered afresh, without any assumptions hindering our attempt
> to exegete
> it.

True, that every rule of grammar must be evaluated against each occurence:
every rule may at times be overridden by a competing rule. That is more or
less my point: there are in this passage several factors at work, one of
which is the translation factor. The translation process cannot be left
out of the context considered. Not that it is the only thing considered,
but it must be considered among all things considered.

Again, the distinction must be made between translation and quotation. To
quote accurately may perpetrate a problem/error (if such it be), but it is
not thereby 'messing up'. Again, some examples from first and later
century Gk writers would be nice.
> <<That is, the general principle that 'translations do
> not always follow the grammar of the receptor language to convey the
> correct meaning' comes into conflict with and overrides
> grammatical rules
> in specific passages, as in the ex. above. This does not mean that *no*
> translated passage will follow Sharp's rule, but that in some
> instance(s)
> they *might* fail to *because* they are translation Gk! >>
> Of course, they "might." But in this instance we are not forced
> into thinking
> that the LXX translator of Proverbs was slavishly literal; he
> clearly was not
> so tied to the Hebrew throughout his work.


> When we couple this
> with the fact
> that other writers quote the essence of the text and still do not
> write the
> passage as if they recognize some rule that "stands on its own,"
> then we have
> a right to question that rule, and determine its value in
> interpreting other
> texts where, similar to Proverbs 24:21, the context makes matters quite
> clear, as you yourself acknowledged.

We must identify what are truly the relevant factors accounting for this

What do you think the actual factors are, in order of importance?

God bless you always!
Joe Friberg

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