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"And" in Hebrew


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#1 Jon D

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Posted 29 September 2008 - 10:10 PM

This is a distinctive characteristic of Hebrew historical accounts. Although that may seem odd, it is a fact; the reason is partly to do with how some Hebrew tenses are formed (which I won't go into now, but will happily explain if asked). But it's not a mere grammatical technicality, the word "and" is really there and really functioning in Hebrew with the same sense we see in the English translation.


Mark,

I've taken this from the Creation thread so as not to clog it up. Could you explain the above further? Is it, like in English, a continuous word? The reason I enquire is because I believe Jonah 1 vs. 1 is an example of a book that starts with "And" in Hebrew (see YLT). This is interesting because the book is then following on from something, which is well worth a study. However, I may be completely wrong!

Thanks...

Even so, come, Lord Jesus


#2 Russell

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Posted 29 September 2008 - 10:46 PM

I studied Hebrew many years ago. My teacher's opinion was that there are two distinct uses of vav (translated "and"). One is as a joining prefix (for example translated "and"). The other use is NOT to be translated as "and" but only converts the tense of the verb. The Septuagint and most English translations seems to translate it as "and" even when it is conversive.

#3 Mark Taunton

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Posted 30 September 2008 - 03:59 AM

Elimelech, thanks for asking.

A detailed explanation will take some time, so forgive me for not immediately responding. However I would like to address what Weasley said:

I studied Hebrew many years ago. My teacher's opinion was that there are two distinct uses of vav (translated "and"). One is as a joining prefix (for example translated "and"). The other use is NOT to be translated as "and" but only converts the tense of the verb. The Septuagint and most English translations seems to translate it as "and" even when it is conversive.

Far more importantly than what uninspired translations do, the holy spirit in the NT more than once disproves your teacher's opinion, and translates vav into Greek separately, even when the vav is conversive in the Hebrew source.

One example of that is Genesis 15:6, cited multiple times in the NT, such as in Rom 4:3 and Jas 2:23: "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted/imputed unto him for righteousness." Here "and it was imputed/acccounted" uses Greek 'kai' ("and") for the Hebrew vav ("and"), AND separately renders the verb in the converted form (past tense, not future as it would have been without the conversive vav prefix).

Another example is Exo 32:6, "and the people sat down to eat, and rose up to play", quoted in 1 Cor 10:7. Here both Hebrew verbs, for "sat down" and "rose up" are in vav-conversive form. Paul by inspiration renders both as past tenses in Greek, but starts the quotation after the first "and". He is free to do that, as 'kai' does not serve the same grammatical purpose in Greek as the vav prefix does in Hebrew. He includes the second "and" only to join the two clauses. This shows beyond doubt that the "and" joining sense and the tense-conversion function are both present, at the same time, in such uses of 'vav'.

Edited by Mark Taunton, 30 September 2008 - 04:08 AM.


#4 Fortigurn

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Posted 30 September 2008 - 04:23 AM

Elimelech, thanks for asking.

A detailed explanation will take some time, so forgive me for not immediately responding. However I would like to address what Weasley said:

I studied Hebrew many years ago. My teacher's opinion was that there are two distinct uses of vav (translated "and"). One is as a joining prefix (for example translated "and"). The other use is NOT to be translated as "and" but only converts the tense of the verb. The Septuagint and most English translations seems to translate it as "and" even when it is conversive.

Far more importantly than what uninspired translations do, the holy spirit in the NT more than once disproves your teacher's opinion, and translates vav into Greek separately, even when the vav is conversive in the Hebrew source.


Mark, before you start making claims about what the Holy Spirit translated, I suggest you check the LXX and see how it is used there. Weasley has just told you that the LXX translates it as separately even when it is conversive. You say that the Holy Spirit translates it separately even when it is conversive. Let's put these two statements together:

* Weasley: The LXX translates it separately even when it is conversive in the Hebrew
* Mark: The LXX translates it separately even when it is conversive in the Hebrew

You are saying the same thing. This contradicts nothing Weasley's teacher said, and indicates that the LXX is translating it the same way as you believe the Holy Spirit translates it. So this uninspired translation is doing exactly what you claim the Holy Spirit did, indicating that the LXX is a lot more reliable than you usually suggest.

This being the case, it is going to be difficult for you to prove that any actual 'translation by the Holy Spirit' of the Hebrew vav takes place in the New Testament. This evidence supports the conclusion that the New Testament writers overwhelmingly used the text of the LXX. For example, almost every Old Testament quote in the book of Hebrews is from the LXX:

* Enoch was not, because God translated him

* Jacob ... worshipped, leaning on the top of his staff

* Let all the angels of God worship him

* What is man, that thou art mindful of him?

* I will declare thy name unto my brethren

* Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not

* Today, if ye shall hear his voice

* Today, if ye shall hear his voice (second usage)

* And they all shall wax old as doth a garment

* The Lord is my helper

* But my righteous one shall live by faith

Edited by Fortigurn, 30 September 2008 - 05:06 AM.

Miserere mei Deus,
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Et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum
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______________________________________________________________________
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______________________________________________________________________
‘John Wesley once received a note which said, “The Lord has told me to tell you that He doesn’t need your book-learning, your Greek, and your Hebrew.”

Wesley answered “Thank you, sir. Your letter was superfluous, however, as I already knew the Lord has no need for my ‘book-learning,’ as you put it. However—although the Lord has not directed me to say so—on my own responsibility I would like to say to you that the Lord does not need your ignorance, either.”

Osborne & Woodward, ‘Handbook for Bible study’, pp. 13-14 (1979)

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#5 Mark Taunton

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Posted 30 September 2008 - 04:28 AM

Elimelech, you mentioned Young's Literal Translation. You are correct, as YLT shows, about Jonah's book beginning with "and". And it's not the only such case - Ezekiel does too.

However a word of warning about YLT. Sad to say, Robert Young was really confused about some aspects of Hebrew. Crucially, he picked up and really ran with a bogus idea that gained a strong following amongst scholars in the 19th century (and still lingers in patches even today) about Hebrew tenses, namely that Hebrew does not have a future tense. If you check his YLT OT, you will find that he steadfastly refuses to render Hebrew future tense forms into English future tenses, despite doing so for comparable tenses in Greek. He did so even in the many places where an OT passage is also translated in the NT using a Greek future tense.

So yes, Young is certainly helpful in many ways, but he is by no means to be relied upon, especially in such matters!

#6 Mark Taunton

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Posted 30 September 2008 - 04:33 AM

Fort, please re-read what Weasley said. He was indicating, so far as I can see, that his teacher's opinion is apparently opposed in practice by both the LXX and many English translations, i.e. that his teacher's opinion was wrong, exactly as I said.

Issues of the LXX must wait for another day, and another thread, I suggest.

#7 Flappie

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Posted 30 September 2008 - 04:47 AM

Having theological bias dictate grammar is usually a bad way of going about things.
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#8 Mark Taunton

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Posted 30 September 2008 - 04:50 AM

Having theological bias dictate grammar is usually a bad way of going about things.

Certainly. But are you saying I'm doing that? I'm seeking to use scripture to interpret scripture, comparing spiritual things with spiritual to search out God's meaning. He wrote the book, so he defines the rules, by how he uses his own words.

#9 Fortigurn

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Posted 30 September 2008 - 05:12 AM

Fort, please re-read what Weasley said. He was indicating, so far as I can see, that his teacher's opinion is apparently opposed in practice by both the LXX and many English translations, i.e. that his teacher's opinion was wrong, exactly as I said.


On the contrary, he said that his teacher said that there were two ways of rendering vav, and he said that the LXX and many English translations use one of them. Not only that, but you dismissed the LXX as an uninspired translation, saying we shouldn't take any notice of it. But as I pointed out, since this uninspired translation rendered vav exactly the way you say the Holy Spirit translated it, then clearly the LXX was as accurate in this case as an inspired translation.

Issues of the LXX must wait for another day, and another thread, I suggest.


You can't make claims about the Holy Spirit translating the Old Testament in the New Testament, unless you deal with the LXX evidence.

Certainly. But are you saying I'm doing that?


Of course you are. The form of belief in plenary inpsiration which you hold dictates your understanding of Greek and Hebrew grammar, vocabulary, and syntax. The result is errors in translation and interpretation.

I'm seeking to use scripture to interpret scripture, comparing spiritual things with spiritual to search out God's meaning. He wrote the book, so he defines the rules, by how he uses his own words.


God wrote the book in human languages, the rules of which are defined by humans. Your understanding of inspiration has the Bible written in a mysterious language known to no one. It's not Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek, it's just what looks like Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, only with certain word meanings, syntax, and grammar which don't appear in any of these languages.
Miserere mei Deus,
Secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
Et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum
dele iniquitatem meam.

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">I am a Christadelphian. Click here to see my confession of faith.
______________________________________________________________________
‘John Wesley once received a note which said, “The Lord has told me to tell you that He doesn’t need your book-learning, your Greek, and your Hebrew.”

Wesley answered “Thank you, sir. Your letter was superfluous, however, as I already knew the Lord has no need for my ‘book-learning,’ as you put it. However—although the Lord has not directed me to say so—on my own responsibility I would like to say to you that the Lord does not need your ignorance, either.”

Osborne & Woodward, ‘Handbook for Bible study’, pp. 13-14 (1979)

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">Apologetics

#10 Flappie

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Posted 30 September 2008 - 05:38 AM

Having theological bias dictate grammar is usually a bad way of going about things.

Certainly. But are you saying I'm doing that? I'm seeking to use scripture to interpret scripture, comparing spiritual things with spiritual to search out God's meaning. He wrote the book, so he defines the rules, by how he uses his own words.


You are denying the existence of the consecutive form because of your ideas on inspiration.
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#11 Mark Taunton

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Posted 30 September 2008 - 06:02 AM

Having theological bias dictate grammar is usually a bad way of going about things.

Certainly. But are you saying I'm doing that? I'm seeking to use scripture to interpret scripture, comparing spiritual things with spiritual to search out God's meaning. He wrote the book, so he defines the rules, by how he uses his own words.


You are denying the existence of the consecutive form because of your ideas on inspiration.

I'm not denying it at all! On the contrary, I believe vav-consecutive converts the tense. I gave scriptural evidence for the truth of that. What I disagreed with was Weasley's former teacher's view that vav could only serve one purpose at a time, either joining, or as a tense-conversion, but not both at once. The examples I gave show that that opinion is incorrect.

#12 Flappie

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Posted 30 September 2008 - 06:12 AM

My apologies, I misread what you said.
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#13 Mark Taunton

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Posted 30 September 2008 - 06:41 AM

On the contrary, he said that his teacher said that there were two ways of rendering vav, and he said that the LXX and many English translations use one of them.

No, Weasley did not say that. His word "even" is the one to take note of. But perhaps he can state himself what he meant. Either of us may have misunderstood.

Not only that, but you dismissed the LXX as an uninspired translation, saying we shouldn't take any notice of it. But as I pointed out, since this uninspired translation rendered vav exactly the way you say the Holy Spirit translated it, then clearly the LXX was as accurate in this case as an inspired translation.

I agree with the pope on a few points, but I don't believe he has the slightest bit of authority over me. That the LXX does the right thing in those cases, does not give it any special authority. It merely shows that in that respect it doesn't oppose a correct scriptural understanding. In other ways, it does.

You can't make claims about the Holy Spirit translating the Old Testament in the New Testament, unless you deal with the LXX evidence.

Why not? A good start would be to find mention of "the septuagint" or any other form of reference to such a book, in the NT itself. You repeat the common claim that the NT quotes from it, but that's not the same thing.

The form of belief in plenary inpsiration which you hold dictates your understanding of Greek and Hebrew grammar, vocabulary, and syntax.

Yes, because I take God's word, the scriptures, as being the final authority in respect of the meaning of the scriptures. Why need God submit his word to human rules?

The result is errors in translation and interpretation.

I'm certainly capable of making errors in translation and interpretation. I don't deny that - we all are. But you would need to show where I have done so in any individual case, by reasoning from the contexts at issue, in a scriptural framework.

I'm seeking to use scripture to interpret scripture, comparing spiritual things with spiritual to search out God's meaning. He wrote the book, so he defines the rules, by how he uses his own words.


God wrote the book in human languages, the rules of which are defined by humans.

No. God defines the rules and meaning of his words by his usage, just as humans define the rules and meaning of their words (including words of the same form as God's, whatever the meaning), by their usage. Humans differ, by different usage, in the meaning that they give to the same word. I was once sitting on a plane at an airport when the captain announced "we will be getting airborne momentarily". To the Americans on board, there was nothing of particular note in that statement. To Brits such as I, his words gave cause for amusement, or possibly even alarm.

Your understanding of inspiration has the Bible written in a mysterious language known to no one. It's not Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek, it's just what looks like Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, only with certain word meanings, syntax, and grammar which don't appear in any of these languages.

No, the meanings are as we can determine them (and I believe we can determine them) from actual scriptural usage. While commonly there is no particular difficulty, in some cases the meaning from biblical usage does differ from that given by non-biblical usage.

However, if you're going to push on this point, please continue it in the "inspiration" thread, or somewhere else, not this one: the purpose of this thread is quite specific. I must say however, that I won't have time to respond in any depth at the moment; there are several more pressing matters that I have to deal with.

#14 Mark Taunton

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Posted 30 September 2008 - 06:43 AM

My apologies, I misread what you said.

No problem.

#15 Russell

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Posted 30 September 2008 - 06:52 AM

George Stern, my long-ago Hebrew teacher, may still be alive. I heard him on the radio a few years ago. He believes that the vav is either conjunction or conversive, but not both simultaneously.

I have wondered myself about the NT usage of the Septuagint as contradicting George, and I remember expressing my doubts to another student at the time. As has been said the LXX is a subject that deserves another thread. I have an open mind on the subject. Conversive vav starting a book of the Bible suggests that George might be right.

#16 Mark Taunton

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Posted 30 September 2008 - 07:12 AM

George Stern, my long-ago Hebrew teacher, may still be alive. I heard him on the radio a few years ago. He believes that the vav is either conjunction or conversive, but not both simultaneously.

I have wondered myself about the NT usage of the Septuagint as contradicting George, and I remember expressing my doubts to another student at the time. As has been said the LXX is a subject that deserves another thread. I have an open mind on the subject. Conversive vav starting a book of the Bible suggests that George might be right.

But what do you make of the examples I gave?

#17 Russell

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Posted 30 September 2008 - 07:26 AM

George Stern, my long-ago Hebrew teacher, may still be alive. I heard him on the radio a few years ago. He believes that the vav is either conjunction or conversive, but not both simultaneously.

I have wondered myself about the NT usage of the Septuagint as contradicting George, and I remember expressing my doubts to another student at the time. As has been said the LXX is a subject that deserves another thread. I have an open mind on the subject. Conversive vav starting a book of the Bible suggests that George might be right.

But what do you make of the examples I gave?


These are examples of where the NT is much closer to LXX than to Masoretic. Does that mean that we should discard the OT Masoretic and use only the LXX as a basis for translating the OT? That seems very extreme! Surely not. I thought that the LXX varies considerably in quality depending on which book of the OT and which scroll. Plus, there is some evidence that LXX has been tampered with by Christians. Why did the translators use the Masoretic text?

I have to bow out though. I am just not knowledgeable enough to have a very useful opinion. It is an interesting subject.

#18 Flappie

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Posted 30 September 2008 - 10:25 AM

George Stern, my long-ago Hebrew teacher, may still be alive. I heard him on the radio a few years ago. He believes that the vav is either conjunction or conversive, but not both simultaneously.

I have wondered myself about the NT usage of the Septuagint as contradicting George, and I remember expressing my doubts to another student at the time. As has been said the LXX is a subject that deserves another thread. I have an open mind on the subject. Conversive vav starting a book of the Bible suggests that George might be right.

But what do you make of the examples I gave?


These are examples of where the NT is much closer to LXX than to Masoretic. Does that mean that we should discard the OT Masoretic and use only the LXX as a basis for translating the OT? That seems very extreme! Surely not. I thought that the LXX varies considerably in quality depending on which book of the OT and which scroll. Plus, there is some evidence that LXX has been tampered with by Christians. Why did the translators use the Masoretic text?


If I read Mark (elsewhere) correctly, he thinks the LXX shouldn't be used at all, so you've misunderstood him somewhere. He however does believe that the way the NT translates Hebrew is more authoritive than what George says, even if every Hebrew textbook on the planet says the same thing.


That basically means using the LXX anyway, but that's the subject of another thread.

Edited by Flappie, 30 September 2008 - 10:33 AM.

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#19 Fortigurn

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Posted 30 September 2008 - 02:46 PM

On the contrary, he said that his teacher said that there were two ways of rendering vav, and he said that the LXX and many English translations use one of them.

No, Weasley did not say that. His word "even" is the one to take note of. But perhaps he can state himself what he meant. Either of us may have misunderstood.


His word 'even' shows that the LXX only uses one of them, even though his teacher says there are two.

I agree with the pope on a few points, but I don't believe he has the slightest bit of authority over me. That the LXX does the right thing in those cases, does not give it any special authority. It merely shows that in that respect it doesn't oppose a correct scriptural understanding. In other ways, it does.


No one is asking you to think that the LXX has any special authority. The point is that the LXX proves that you do not have to be inspired to treat the vav in the way you say is correct. Therefore, you have no evidence that this translation of the vav was specially inspired. What we do find is that if your theory of inspiration is true, God inspired the New Testament to use the same grammar as the LXX when it came to the vav.

You can't make claims about the Holy Spirit translating the Old Testament in the New Testament, unless you deal with the LXX evidence.


Why not?


Because of the huge number of quotes in the New Testament which match the LXX. This evidence flies in the face of your claim that the New Testament verses were not quoted from the LXX.

A good start would be to find mention of "the septuagint" or any other form of reference to such a book, in the NT itself.


I don't need to find the word 'LXX'. The LXX was not known as the LXX until much later. The Jews simply referred to it as 'The Law'. Remember, it only contained the first five books of the Bible. Other Old Testament books were translated into Greek after this, but they weren't known as the LXX. Much later (from the late 1st to 2nd century), compilations of the Greek Old Testament texts were made (by Jews and Christians, namely Aquila, Symmachus, Theodotion, etc), and they were eventually called the LXX. But before those texts adopted the name, the original LXX (the first five books), was what was referred to as the LXX, up to the 3rd century AD.

The New Testament refers to 'the Scriptures' and 'the Law', and 'Moses', and 'the prophets', and 'David', and 'the Law and the prophets', etc (all standard Jewish phrases to refer to the Old Testament), without identifying whether the text referred to is Greek or Aramaic. But when the quotes match the extant Greek translations known to us as the LXX, it's not difficult to see where the New Testament was quoting from.

You repeat the common claim that the NT quotes from it, but that's not the same thing.


Of course it's not the same thing. It's even better. Instead of wondering where these quotes came from, we have only to compare them with the texts containing matching quotes. Simple.

The form of belief in plenary inpsiration which you hold dictates your understanding of Greek and Hebrew grammar, vocabulary, and syntax.

Yes, because I take God's word, the scriptures, as being the final authority in respect of the meaning of the scriptures.


It's important to have on record that you yourself say that the form of belief in plenary inspiration which you hold dictates your understanding of Greek and Hebrew grammar, vocabulary, and syntax. Of course if this is what you believe, then why do you use a concordance?

Why need God submit his word to human rules?


Erm, if God wants to communicate in Hebrew, He needs to use Hebrew vocabulary, grammar, and syntax or no one will understand what He means. Let me give you an example. I'll write you a couple of sentences in English:

* 'Hsdfidoa adfsadr, eeaohuih. Ojoaserfa erpoei navea veeareae. Hadfa, asdfarerar I (arepoqanrqwera), adafmk arpeoadsf, lkjlkj, area.'

As you can see, I've used some English grammar and syntax, but I've used some other grammar and syntax. I've used some English vocabulary, but I've also used some other vocabulary. Now please tell me what I just wrote.

I'm certainly capable of making errors in translation and interpretation. I don't deny that - we all are. But you would need to show where I have done so in any individual case, by reasoning from the contexts at issue, in a scriptural framework.


Helpfully, you provided a good example here:

Gen 4:14 Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me.
15 And the LORD said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.


The word for "finding" here has in its scriptural usage the sense of a result of purposeful activity, not accident. (There is at least one other word with a sense of seemingly unexpected discovery, but neither Cain (v14) nor God himself in the account (v15) uses it.)


I corrected this using a proper lexicon, in this post.

God wrote the book in human languages, the rules of which are defined by humans.

No. God defines the rules and meaning of his words by his usage, just as humans define the rules and meaning of their words (including words of the same form as God's, whatever the meaning), by their usage.


Can you clarify this please? I said that God wrote the Bible in human languages. Are you denying that? I said that the rules of human languages are defined by humans. Are you denying that? If God was defining His words by His usage, then He was not using Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, or any other human language. So what is the language in which the Bible was written, and why does the text of the Bible look strangely like Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, with the odd Persian, Syriac, transliterated Latin, Egyptian, Ugarit derivatives, and whatever else?

Humans differ, by different usage, in the meaning that they give to the same word. I was once sitting on a plane at an airport when the captain announced "we will be getting airborne momentarily". To the Americans on board, there was nothing of particular note in that statement. To Brits such as I, his words gave cause for amusement, or possibly even alarm.


I don't understand the purpose of this analogy.

Your understanding of inspiration has the Bible written in a mysterious language known to no one. It's not Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek, it's just what looks like Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, only with certain word meanings, syntax, and grammar which don't appear in any of these languages.


No, the meanings are as we can determine them (and I believe we can determine them) from actual scriptural usage.


As I demonstrated previously, this ends up as a circular argument. How do you understand the meaning of a Hebrew word like 'lamed'? Well, you tell me, you look it up in context. But how do you understand the context? Understanding the context means you have to understand all the words which constitute the context. So how do you understand those words? Well you tell me, you look them up in context. But how do you understand the context? Understanding the context means you have to understand all the words which constitute the context. And so it goes on.

Anyway, if you really believed this then you wouldn't use a concordance, which was written by a man with a man's understanding of what the Hebrew in the Bible means (and in your case using an out of date concordance with an out of date understanding of Hebrew). You're relying on a man's translation of the Hebrew in the first place.

While commonly there is no particular difficulty, in some cases the meaning from biblical usage does differ from that given by non-biblical usage.


In rare cases the Biblical meaning has a meaning which is uncommon in the non-Biblical usage, or even found only in the Bible, yes. But the very fact that these examples are so rare is evidence that the vast majority of the words in the Bible have been used with exactly the same common meaning which humans ascribe to them.

However, if you're going to push on this point, please continue it in the "inspiration" thread, or somewhere else, not this one: the purpose of this thread is quite specific. I must say however, that I won't have time to respond in any depth at the moment; there are several more pressing matters that I have to deal with.


I think it's directly relevant to this thread, because of the claims you're making with regard to the Hebrew, since the LXX contradicts those claims. It's also relevant because as I've pointed out, your entire position on inspiration affects all of your exposition of any passage.
Miserere mei Deus,
Secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
Et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum
dele iniquitatem meam.

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">I am a Christadelphian. Click here to see my confession of faith.
______________________________________________________________________
‘John Wesley once received a note which said, “The Lord has told me to tell you that He doesn’t need your book-learning, your Greek, and your Hebrew.”

Wesley answered “Thank you, sir. Your letter was superfluous, however, as I already knew the Lord has no need for my ‘book-learning,’ as you put it. However—although the Lord has not directed me to say so—on my own responsibility I would like to say to you that the Lord does not need your ignorance, either.”

Osborne & Woodward, ‘Handbook for Bible study’, pp. 13-14 (1979)

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#20 Mark Taunton

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Posted 01 October 2008 - 10:53 PM

Weasley,

Conversive vav starting a book of the Bible suggests that George might be right.

If that happened in the beginning of Genesis (the earliest book), then I would agree - but it doesn't. Leviticus and Numbers start with vav-consecutive, but they are themselves respectively consecutive from earlier books.

But what do you make of the examples I gave?


These are examples of where the NT is much closer to LXX than to Masoretic. Does that mean that we should discard the OT Masoretic and use only the LXX as a basis for translating the OT? That seems very extreme! Surely not. I thought that the LXX varies considerably in quality depending on which book of the OT and which scroll. Plus, there is some evidence that LXX has been tampered with by Christians. Why did the translators use the Masoretic text?

I have to bow out though. I am just not knowledgeable enough to have a very useful opinion. It is an interesting subject.

I appreciate from what you say that you may not respond further, but a couple of comments on what you say.

Firstly, to clarify: as Flappie said, I do not consider the LXX to be relevant in understanding NT quotations of the OT. I think you misunderstood my comment about "uninspired translations" - I was including the LXX in that category. I believe the translators were right to use the Masoretic text in rendering the OT into English.

Secondly, you helpfully raise an important point, that "there is some evidence that LXX has been tampered with by Christians". It is important because the LXX manuscripts where that is most apparent (where there is closest match in the Greek between an LXX rendering and the NT's quotation of some OT passage, whereas the Masoretic text seems to differ from both) all date from long after the first century. Not that there are anyway more than a few small fragments of Greek OT text - and then only of Pentateuch passages - dated from before the NT's writing.

Lastly, I am confused by your comment ("much closer to the LXX") about my examples of NT quotes of OT (Masoretic) passages which use the vav-conversive form (or vav-consecutive, as it is often now termed). So far as I can see, 1 Cor 10:7 is pretty much word-for-word matched to the MT of Exo 30:6. There is a slight apparent presentational difference ("and it was counted" vs "and he counted it") between Rom 4:3 and Gen 15:6, though even that is not 100% distinct; otherwise the sense is fairly directly lined up.

(Edited: minor corrections/clarification)

Edited by Mark Taunton, 02 October 2008 - 02:12 AM.


#21 Mark Taunton

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Posted 02 October 2008 - 11:26 PM

Elimelech,

This is a distinctive characteristic of Hebrew historical accounts. Although that may seem odd, it is a fact; the reason is partly to do with how some Hebrew tenses are formed (which I won't go into now, but will happily explain if asked). But it's not a mere grammatical technicality, the word "and" is really there and really functioning in Hebrew with the same sense we see in the English translation.

Mark,

I've taken this from the Creation thread so as not to clog it up. Could you explain the above further? Is it, like in English, a continuous word? The reason I enquire is because I believe Jonah 1 vs. 1 is an example of a book that starts with "And" in Hebrew (see YLT). This is interesting because the book is then following on from something, which is well worth a study. However, I may be completely wrong!

Sorry to be delayed in giving you any kind of response; this was partly because of the discussion above, about related issues. I've put together below a little preliminary desciption about this topic. It's very much rough-and-ready, completely unpolished through lack of time, but I offer it in the hope you, and perhaps others will find a little value in it. Please feel free to come back with questions and issues; there may be mistakes in it, for which I apologise in advance. Hopefully there will nonethless be some bits I got right!



In Hebrew, the textual form most commonly translated as "and" is not written separately in the text, but is simply the letter 'vav' (or 'vau' or 'waw' - the spoken/written representation varies somewhat), prefixed onto another word. I do not think vav ever occurs on its own; certainly it does not do so in the Masoretic Text (MT). Vav is the sixth letter of the Hebrew alphabet. In classical Hebrew form, made large for clarity, it looks like this:

ו

Of course the exact shape you see above was chosen by a font designer, but you get the general picture. In other (earlier) written forms of the Semitic alphabet, it took slightly different shapes, more like our letter y or Y, or with a bit more complication, having extra horizontal lines near the top. By way of another reference point, some Bibles show the Hebrew letter forms above each 8-verse section of the acrostic Psalm 119, for the letter that each verse in the section starts with. Verses 41-48 all start with vav.

As it happens (very conveniently, but not by accident I'm sure!) only a tiny number of words in Hebrew actually begin with 'vav'. (Of those that do, perhaps the most notable is the word for the "hooks" of the pillars mentioned in Ex 26,27,36,38. The word is always plural there, and it is spelled beginning with vav-vav-yod. Note that hooks in context are joining pieces, physical analogues of the job of "and" itself; I think that is not insignificant!) Because of that rarity, there is never any difficulty in seeing when a particular Hebrew word-form is actually a vav on the front of another word. For example, in Psa 119:41-48, every word-form begins with vav as a prefix, but none of the main words itself actually starts with vav, so they all effectively mean "and", though the KJV tends to disguise that more than would have been helpful!

So the vav prefix basically means "and"; pretty much as in English, it joins something to the thing that preceded it. When it prefixes a noun or some other parts of speech, as in its the first occurrence in Gen 1:1 - "the heaven and the earth", there is really no issue about the meaning. That instance obviously groups the heaven and the earth together, as being created together by God - the word "created" comes only once but is applied explicitly by means of the "and" to both of them (there’s a second detail of the Hebrew there, the “eth” object marker, used twice in relation to the two objects of “created”, which I mention in passing for completeness, but needn’t concern us further here.)

Now vav is multi-talented, just like “and” in English. It can also join larger structures together, not just noun terms or similar, but whole sentences or statements. In such use it combines otherwise self-standing pieces of meaning (i.e. things that make sense separately on their own); "and" informs us to read them together in order. This happens first at Gen 1:2 - "And the earth was...". In the Hebrew, reflected in the KJV word order, "And" attaches to "the earth": (i.e. the vav is prepended to 'ha-aretz' - "the-earth"), and the verb "was" is the next word along, and operates separately. The use of 'vav' here tells us to join this statement to what preceded it; had it not occurred we would just have read the two statements independently, but "And" is linking them together. OK, that maybe seems obvious, sort-of, but it still needs to be stated. Sometimes, as here, it may make quite a big difference, though to avoid distraction I'll not go into this particular case.

And there is another feature of the vav prefix, a rather important one. In the great majority of cases where vav prefixes a verb (at least when it's in one of the more common verb forms), it turns out that vav does a second job, by changing how we understand the verb. The technical term used of this is "vav-consecutive" or "vav-conversive". To cut directly to the chase, the basic function of vav as a verb prefix is to convert between two tenses: a past tense becomes a future tense; a future tense becomes a past tense. (I stress that this happens in the majority of cases. Occasionally it seems not to happen. That is, in context, and from context, the converted tense seems to be inappropriate, and the unconverted tense seems right, and so it is then assumed that the vav is not being conversive there. There aren't that many such cases, so far as I have ever found, but it's important to be aware that they do occur; maybe one day I'll understand what else around their contexts helps explain more specifically why, but right now I can't be sure. They are rare enough that we needn't worry further about the point at this stage.)

The first instance of the vav-consecutive form is at Gen 1:3, where the KJV, along with many modern translations, has "And God said". (Some others give "Then" for "And", but the sense is obviously similar.) Here, the Hebrew is equivalent to "and-said God", as two word-forms (the second word is 'elohim'). Now the critical detail is this. If you take the word-form for "and-said", and strip off the 'vav' ("and-") prefix, you would naturally think to translate what is left as "(he) will say", or similar; it is a (masculine subject) future tense form of the word for to say. An example of such a translation of exactly that non-prefixed form is in Deut 5:27 - "all that the LORD our God shall say". What we understand however from the context in Genesis is that the Hebrew is recounting what God did, it is telling us about the past. The whole passage is not in any obvious sense prophetic, describing something he will do. He did say "let there be light", and he had said it at the time the words here were written down. So in the specific context, we are obliged to understand the meaning of the verb itself in this form as "(he) said", not as "(he) will say", even though it appears it should have that meaning. What is understood as causing this is that (as I summarised above), the use of the vav prefix converts the tense, in this case turning a future "he will say" into a past, "he said".

There are also many places where the conversion works the other way: the vav prefix also converts a future tense into a past tense. Indeed, an example of just that transformation follows straight away (as if God is giving us a rapid introduction to this feature of Hebrew, as being a fundamental detail we need to know). In verse 3 the whole of that well-known sentence is "And God said, let there be light, and there was light". This includes both the first vav-consecutive, the one we just considered ("and" + "will say" became "and-said"), and the second instance, which works the other way. But we have a lovely extra element: the second instance is as it were a "worked example" showing the full detail of how vav-consecutive works. Here's how:

In the phrase "let there be light", the Hebrew has just two words, the "let there be [become]", a verb, and the word "light". The verb is a type of future tense, sometimes called a "jussif": a command form, implicitly a future tense, since you can't command something to already have happened(!). The command is as it were addressed to light, even before there was any, to come into existence, to become. Then comes the (to me) most beautiful part, showing the perfect power of God's word. Less importantly (in the sense that we don't need to understand the technicalities, though we ought to understand the principle at work) it also shows the detail of how the vav-consecutive construction operates.

The second part of the statement is "and there was [became] light". Again there are just two word-forms in the Hebrew. The spelling of the Hebrew word for "let there be" is yod-heh-yod. The spelling of "there was[became]" is also yod-heh-yod, but this time it is prefixed by a vav ("and-"). Clearly we can see that the direct result of the word being spoken was it coming to pass. The word of God has perfect power. As Psa 33:9 summarises: "he said, and it was". God's intent is indeed accomplished, by means of the very word which reveals that intent, the word of the commandment. So the first yod-heh-yod is matched to the second: the first expresses the commandment, the second is the performance of it, showing its fulfilment. The difference between the two halves of the record is simply the word "and", prefixing the second instance of the verb, changing the tense from future to past; the two parts of the sentence are hinged around it, almost as if it itself stood for the instant in time when light first shone, when the command was performed. It joins the two parts, to show how God's word works, fulfilling his will, at some moment.

Thus what God said should become, became. Light became, because God said that light was to become. The word, the thing spoken, became reality. (Just as later, the word, the thing spoken, became flesh in Jesus, the man in whom God's glory was set forth, because he obeyed the commandment that had uttered from his father's mouth. In him was not just light, but life, given by God, which was the source of the light.) Thus we see the principle; and it's the simplicity and elegance of the vav consecutive construction that presents the force so directly.

So now we reach the point and issue at which Weasley joined the thread. Does the vav-consecutive construction work only one way at once? Does it either convert the tense, or have the sense of "and", but only ever one of those in any particular instance? Or does it do both?

I am in no doubt, Fort's attempts to argue on this point notwithstanding. The vav-consecutive does do both things at once. I sought to prove that with reference to the inspired NT's quotations of a couple of vav-consecutive occurrences, which are authoritative precisely because scripture is inspired. That is how we can really prove it. But uninspired translations also do the right thing: let me show that…

We can see that in fact the great majority of translators into English understand the vav-consecutive is not an exclusive single-purpose form, but can function both as "and" and to implement tense-conversion, at the same time. It's easy to see. Look here. Note that of the English translations of Gen 1:3 represented on that Blue Letter Bible page, only one (the "Hebrew names version") omits any connective word at the start of Genesis 1:3. All the rest have either "and" or "then" there. But not one of them renders the verb in the unconverted tense as "will say". Every last one puts "said"; that is, they translate the verb on the basis of the tense conversion. They really haven't got any choice about it! (OK, I lied, Young messed up with "saith", but I commented before on how he really didn’t understand Hebrew tenses - a great pity.) And every last version does have the connective "and" between the two parts of the rest of the verse, with the converted verb tense also clear in all but YLT with its absurd "is". (Poor, poor, confused RY…)

So I say again, vav-consecutive, at least in many cases, is not exclusive of the sense of "and". Both work together, far, far more often than not.

Suffice to say further that the vav-consecutive plays a major role in Genesis 1: "And God said" comes several times; "and it was [so]" is another example of the same conversion mode. So we can't ignore it. It's really very frequent, not just in the record of creation but throughout historical narrative in the OT. It would take a long time to really get a full representative spread of all aspects of it, but the basic idea is I hope now clearer.

OK, I'll stop at that for the moment, perhaps rather abruptly. I've only summarised - in a rather muddled way - a few basic aspects of "and" in Hebrew, and something about the vav consecutive/conversive. We didn't get far in any detail, just the first 3 verses of the OT, but I hope you've been able to see something helpful anyway. It's a start, at least!

Finally, I must also stress that I'm definitely not an expert. I know brethren with a considerably deeper and stronger grasp of Hebrew than my own, and they would also say they were still learning it. We all can safely say that none of us will ever truly master biblical Hebrew, before Yahweh turns to the people a pure language, to call upon his name, and to serve him with one consent. Then, I believe, we will indeed all know it, and use it, perfectly. May that day come soon!

Edited by Mark Taunton, 02 October 2008 - 11:56 PM.


#22 Fortigurn

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Posted 03 October 2008 - 02:11 AM

So now we reach the point and issue at which Weasley joined the thread. Does the vav-consecutive construction work only one way at once? Does it either convert the tense, or have the sense of "and", but only ever one of those in any particular instance? Or does it do both?

I am in no doubt, Fort's attempts to argue on this point notwithstanding.


I didn't argue that point.
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‘John Wesley once received a note which said, “The Lord has told me to tell you that He doesn’t need your book-learning, your Greek, and your Hebrew.”

Wesley answered “Thank you, sir. Your letter was superfluous, however, as I already knew the Lord has no need for my ‘book-learning,’ as you put it. However—although the Lord has not directed me to say so—on my own responsibility I would like to say to you that the Lord does not need your ignorance, either.”

Osborne & Woodward, ‘Handbook for Bible study’, pp. 13-14 (1979)

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#23 Flappie

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Posted 03 October 2008 - 03:33 AM

On the contrary, he said that his teacher said that there were two ways of rendering vav, and he said that the LXX and many English translations use one of them.

No, Weasley did not say that. His word "even" is the one to take note of. But perhaps he can state himself what he meant. Either of us may have misunderstood.


His word 'even' shows that the LXX only uses one of them, even though his teacher says there are two.


I think this is what confused people.

Weasley said

The other use is NOT to be translated as "and" but only converts the tense of the verb. The Septuagint and most English translations seems to translate it as "and" even when it is conversive.


He wasn't saying that the LXX doesn't convert the verb, but that it translates it as "and" as well. The LXX does both while George says it can only mean one thing at a time.

Mark claims that the way the NT translate it proves it can have both usages at the same time, which, if that is accurate proof, shows George is wrong.
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#24 Mark Taunton

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Posted 03 October 2008 - 07:31 AM

What is understood as causing this is that (as I summarised above), the use of the vav prefix converts the tense, in this case turning a future "he will say" into a past, "he said".

There are also many places where the conversion works the other way: the vav prefix also converts a future tense into a past tense.

...
[verse 3] includes both the first vav-consecutive, the one we just considered ("and" + "will say" became "and-said"), and the second instance, which works the other way.

Silly me! On no it doesn't! That's what comes of posting late at night... Despite my saying "the other way" twice, of course both examples work the same way. All the examples I gave are converting from future tense to past tense.

So just quickly, here's one showing conversion from past to future:

Genesis 4:14 Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me.

In "and I shall be", the Hebrew prefixes 'vav' ("and") onto "I was" to form "and I shall be". The "I was" part on its own is translated as "I was" in the KJV in e.g. Genesis 31:40 and Joshua 1:5, and as "I have been" (also a past tense, obviously) in e.g. Exodus 2:22.

Likewise in "and it shall come to pass", we have "it was" (or "he was") prefixed by "and" becoming "and it shall be". Instances of "it/he" "was", without the 'vav' prefix, are plentiful (over 330 times in MT). The first is Gen 3:1 "And the serpent was more subtle ...".

Sorry about my obvious mistake over that!

Edited by Mark Taunton, 03 October 2008 - 07:34 AM.


#25 Jon D

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Posted 03 October 2008 - 07:33 AM

Many thanks Mark - I found that very interesting. :damien:

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