Bibhistctxt: Biblical Hebrew Isn’t Uniform

Biblical Historical Context, “Israelite Origins: The Song of Deborah” (8.10.20),

Using English translations of the Bible it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the uniform English we read represents a uniform Hebrew beneath it. What’s actually the case is that different phases of the development of the Hebrew language are represented in different places in the Hebrew Bible. If we could flip the situation on its head we’d have a modern Hebrew book translated from modern English texts, some Charles Dickens, some Elizabethan texts, a bit of Chaucer, and a few lines of Beowulf. The modern Hebrew would “hide” the variation seen across the various original English texts. That’s kinda what’s going on in our English translations, just in reverse.

2 Comments on “Bibhistctxt: Biblical Hebrew Isn’t Uniform

  1. My first step away from Christian fundamentalism was to learn the original languages. As soon as you start seeing the challenges in the manuscript traditions as well as just the act of translation, it’s really difficult to hold a hard line in terms of a fundamentalist view of the Bible. They aren’t fatal challenges, obviously, but they get you asking questions about things you didn’t used to question.

    Liked by 1 person

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