Category Archives: Translation

Gothic Primacy – Matthew 6:24

Just joking.

Jeff A. Benner wrote an article at Ancient Hebrew Research Center about this verse:

‘None is able to serve two lords, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to the one, and despise the other; ye are not able to serve God and Mammon.’ (YLT)

I would like to explore the idea of his last paragraph, so I quote half of it:

There is one other possibility that did come to mind as I studied the word mammon. This word could be a translation of the Hebrew word gad. Besides being the name of one of Jacob’s sons, gad is also a Hebrew word that means “wealth” or “profit,” just as mammon does. But not only that, both the Hebrew word gad and the Aramaic word mammon are also the names of gods, both being the gods of, you guessed it, “wealth and profit.”

That’s Jeff’s idea. What is my idea?

My understanding of Gothic history has them living near Syria up to late bronze-age, being the Guti people mentioned here by Wikipedia. Jordanes then, in his prehistorical section, has them splitting in two peoples, one being the Goths, the other being the Persians. This means we could have Gothic language underlying the biblical text at any point in time—Old Testament and New Testament—such as Jesus quoting a saying in Gothic and translating it into Hebrew, Greek or Aramaic.

What is this verse in Gothic if we replace ‘Mammonin‘ with a proper case of the name Gad?

Gad is not mentioned within the surviving Gothic corpus, but an *Azgad is mentioned in gentive “Azgadis” in Nehemiah 7:17. Actually, he is mentioned as Gad, as the Gothic version probably leaves out the Az- prefix. I find no class of nouns that end in -is in genitive singular, which end in anything other than -a in dative singular, except feminine words, but Gad was probably a male God, so we get:

… ni maguþ Guda skalkinon jah Gada.
… 𐌽𐌹 𐌼𐌰𐌲𐌿𐌸 𐌲𐌳𐌰 𐍃𐌺𐌰𐌻𐌺𐌹𐌽𐍉𐌽 𐌾𐌰𐌷 𐌲𐌰𐌳𐌰:

In addition, there may have been a change of word-order in translation, so the saying could have been:

Ni Guda jah Gada skalkinon maguþ.

Jewish Encyclopedia writes about Gad: “The name was doubtless originally an appellative, meaning “the power that allots.”” So next time you hear someone burst “Oh my Gad!”, you will know they serve not God, but the socialist government—the power that allots.

Psalm 28-29 in Scanian

For fun, let’s translate David’s psalm for the last day of the Tabernacle feast into Scanian. Here it is:

1. Gai Jehowâ, ni gudasöner;
Gai Jehowâ er hai o bravâd!
2. Gai Jehowâ hans namnets hai;
tilbai Jehowâ i hans hailia sâl!

3. Herrens kall øver vannen, Gud Haili dauna, Herre øver många vann.
4. Herrens kall i førsvâr; Herrens kall i ammelihait.
5. Herrens kall kærvar caider o Herren kærvar Libanons caidrar,
6. får dem att vaja som en Libanaisisk tjur, o Sirion som af ainhørninga ætt.

7. Herrens kall e reivande ilds låga.
8. Herrens kall ryster ørken; Herren ryster aiden Kwadesh.
9. Herrens kall swarvar hindar o barkaflænger lund o i hans tempel snackar alla haider.

10. Jehowâ uppehåller sig i inflödet
o Jehowâ sitter kung i aiwena.
11. Jehowâ ger manke åt sitt folk.
Jehowâ bringar sitt folk fred.

As far as I know (C. ambrosiana O 39 sup.), Origenes kept the Name of G-d in verses 1-3, but not in the other places. Recognizing the “Call of the Lord”-pattern of verses 3-5 and 7-9, and since we have the advantage of digital editing (it’s more frustrating when you see the pattern after you have written the line on super-expensive parchment), it seems reasonable to keep HaShem in every verse except the ones with the call.
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More almighty tradition

After having written a post about how revisers and translators have sneaked glosses into two texts to make God out as almighty, I thought I would leave that subject as I am not really interested in challenging the idea that he is. A Catechism of The Roman Catholic Church was delivered to me and I opened it on page 100 in order to learn as much as possible about Roman catholicism within a short time. The subject, beginning on page 99, was: “The Almighty”…

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Bread of affliction

I read in the news today that at least 43 of the dead in covid-19, the Wuhan Virus in Sweden so far (when official figures were a total 225 dead) were Suryoyo/Assyrians. Another two ethnicities with disproportionately large number of dead were Somalis and Jews. Probably the official numbers miss a digit or so, but still. It happens to be Påsk/Pesach/Pascha, and the triage used by the medical complex cannot avoid reminding us of the eugenics programmes which Pharao ran, according to Lysimachos as quoted by Flavius Josephus:

The people of the Jews being leprous and scabby, and subject to certain other kinds of distempers, in the days of Bocchoris, king of Egypt, they fled to the temples, and got their food there by begging: and as the numbers were very great that were fallen under these diseases, there arose a scarcity in Egypt.

Hereupon Bocehoris, the king of Egypt, sent some to consult the oracle of Hammon about his scarcity. The god’s answer was this, that he must purge his temples of impure and impious men, by expelling them out of those temples into desert places; but as to the scabby and leprous people, he must drown them, and purge his temples, the sun having an indignation at these men being suffered to live; and by this means the land will bring forth its fruits.

Upon Bocchoris’s having received these oracles, he called for their priests, and the attendants upon their altars, and ordered them to make a collection of the impure people, and to deliver them to the soldiers, to carry them away into the desert; but to take the leprous people, and wrap them in sheets of lead, and let them down into the sea. Hereupon the scabby and leprous people were drowned, and the rest were gotten together, and sent into desert places, in order to be exposed to destruction.

In this case they assembled themselves together, and took counsel what they should do, and determined that, as the night was coming on, they should kindle fires and lamps, and keep watch; that they also should fast the next night, and propitiate the gods, in order to obtain deliverance from them. (the story continues in Josephus’ book) — Against Apion I.34

The only thing I know about liturgy, and I learnt it from an East Orthodox author, is it is supposed to be a symbol of real life. Ironically, if I say that about the bread and wine served at Pascha, whereas a Jehovah’s Witness would agree, most high-church people would emphasize that the bread becomes Christ’s body literally. Well yes. This should not prevent it from functioning as a symbol, but maybe that’s what has happened. Who cares about real life when churches are so beautiful?

Deuteronomy 16:3a
ἑπτα ἡμερας φαγῃ επ αυτου αζυμα αρτον κακωσεως, ὁτι εν σπουδῃ εξηλθετε εξ Αιγυπτου
seven days eat with it unleavened bread of affliction, for in a haste did you exit Egypt

Verse 6 in this same chapter is a bit funny. In Josua chapter 8 we learn that Josua built an altar on the mountain Ebal. The Samaritan Pentateuch uses the verb בחר bachar ‘elect’ in a form which can refer to past or present time, while the Jewish Pentateuch uses יבחר jibchar ‘will elect’ in a form which suggest future or something on-going. This enables Samaritans to claim that the mountains Ebal and Gerissim were elected to be the place where the passover sacrifice should be made. And it enabled the Israelites to claim that later Jerusalem was elected to be that place.

The septuagint is then an unbiased arbitrator. It uses subjunctive with the little word “an” which is also used in Scandinavian languages. It is always difficult to know if Koine Greek works the same way as a Germanic language which happens to have the same construction, but if it does in this case, then ὁν αν εκλεξηται would translate to ‘which ever [he] may elect’, yelding:

αλλ η εις τον τοπον ὁν αν εκλεξηται Κυριος ὁ Θεος σου,
But in the place, whichever the Lord your God may elect,
επικληθηναι το ονομα αυτου εκει,
to have his name called [upon] there,
θυσεις το πασχα ἑσπερας προς δυσμας ἡλιου
you will sacrifice passover in [the] evening at sunset
εν τῳ καιρῳ ᾡ εξηλθες εξ Αιγυπτου
at the time when you exited from Egypt.

So both the Israelites and the Samaritans were right, except when they accused each other of being wrong. Nowadays, however … gospel of John 4:19-21.

Love is a Limited Resource

I overheard, recently, a Christian sister arguing that we should not judge others but love everyone, try to save everybody, and pray for everyone. This in response to a brother quoting John 17:9.

“I make request concerning them; I make request, not concerning the world, but concerning those you have given me; because they are yours.”

She was somewhat mistaken of course — pearls before swine and all that — and somewhat right — some fell on stony ground, some fell among thorns.

But is there a tendency among churches to deviate in the love-whoever-scares-you-most direction?

Look at this delicious beechnut in the Swedish State-made Bibel2000 — Daniel 2:18:

Och han uppmanade dem att bönfalla himlens Gud att visa barmhärtighet och låta dem veta hemligheten, så att inte han och hans kamrater och alla andra visa i Babylon skulle mista livet.

Translation from the Swedish above by me:

And he called upon them to suplicate the God of Heaven to show mercy and let them know the secret, so that he and his comrades and all the other wise in Babylon wouldn’t lose their lives.

Did Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah really pray for the sake of the other wise men in Babylon?

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The older layer of the Gothic version

This concludes a series of articles exploring places where the use of synonyms could indicate that the biblical text was translated into Gothic at two different times or by two different translators. The main attraction of this article is the table where we compare the conclusions of my vocabulary study of Gothic Luke with Dieter T Roth’s reconstruction of Marcion’s version of Luke.

It is colour-coded according to how strongly it indicates the presence or not of the text in the respective early version.
Blue = maximum certainty of presence.
Green = probably present.
Yellow = hard to say.
Orange = probably absent.
Red = maximum certainty of absence.
Roth doesn’t use colours to designate levels of certainty, but I allowed myself to interpret from descriptions like “[…] attested but no insight into wording can be gained.” to the colour displayed for Luke 18:12, and so on.
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Gothic synonyms: Biuhti and sidus

I attempted to write an article on orthographic variants involving the words for devil and apostle that the Gothic version received transcribed from Greek. However the possible explanations for the rather few variants branched out too much and I found I don’t have access to the variants from Codices Ambrosianus because the transcription at Project Wulfila, that of Streitberg, is somewhat normalized so that some orthographic variants have been removed and some have remained in the text. I leave it to my dear readers from the next generation as I guess digital facsimiles will be made and released some day. Anyway, here is an illustration with two of the words: apaustauluns and unhulþom from Luke 10:1 in Codex Argenteus:

Luke 9:1 in Codex Argenteus

Biuhti and sidus can both be translated with ‘custom’, ‘manner’ or ‘habit’ in English. Biuhti is the more commonly used word in the Gothic version, and so is unquestionably original. In Peshitta it sometimes correspond to the similarly sounding ܒܥܝܕܐ bayādā ‘by habit’. But usually, it is matched by ܕܡܥܕ damād. In the Greek, we have mostly ἔθος ‘custom’ and εἰώθει from εἴωθα ‘be accustomed’ or ‘make into a custom’. So both the Greek tradition and the Syriac tradition deviate from the Gothic. The usual Latin word is a form of consue-, such as consuetudo.

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Immigration in Sweden and in Swedish bibles

Will you, dear reader, excuse another vain post about this wretched country?

There are elections upcoming scheduled 9 September (2018) and the all-eclipsing issue is migration. The two largest parties used to be Socialdemokraterna (the Socialists) and the Moderates (moderate socialists). These two parties have led one political bloc each, and have taken turns accepting more and more immigrants into the 10-million-inhabitant state, against some fierce popular resistance.

Now as it happens, Socialdemokraterna is also the party which has the most influence over the church which was until year 2000 run by the government, and which has, for a legacy, more than half the population as members. Year 2000 is also the year when a government commission released a bible paraphrase which was intended to become the “leading bible-text for the Swedish language area”. It is called Bibel2000.

One of its many features is it renders MT: גר/ LXX: προσήλυτος as ‘immigrant’, in Swedish ‘invandrare’.

A consequence is it becomes hard for Christians to argue in favour of a more restrictive migration policy, since the burden of loving the גר/προήλυτος as commanded in Torah is substantial, and whereas Christians aren’t bound by the law, it teaches them the principles and reasoning of God, so it cannot really be ignored.

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The Salty Sower

What is the best way of reading John’s gospel in Greek? From P66 of course. Even the spelling mistakes are divine, except when they aren’t.
I was considering the political risk in running a business within a certain formerly democratic state when my eyes fell on John 4:36-37 in this most ancient document …

Ὁ θεριζων μεισθον λαμβανει και συναγει καρπον εις ζωην αιωνιον· ϊνα ὁ σπιρων ὁμου χαιρη και θεριζων·
Εν γαρ τουτω ὁ λογος εστιν αληθινος ὁτι ἁλος εστιν ὁ σπειρων και αλλος ὁ θεριζων·
Added rough breathings and capital letters.

The reaper receives payment and collects the fruit unto generations of life, so that the sower can rejoice like the reaper.
For in this, the word is genuine that: “A salty one there is who sows and another who reaps”.

The difference between P66 and other manuscripts is a λ — αλος ‘salty’ vs αλλος ‘another’. Now salt was used by the ancients, patriarchs and kings, to enter agreements. They would eat salt together. If we trust in laws and agreements we will be more likely to sow in the sense of investing, but not particularly likely to reap as Isaiah 65:21-22 hints.

But what if this is not about investment? Salt was used in Israel to flavour sacrifices. But a sacrifice wouldn’t rejoice would it? Perhaps it would if it weren’t sacrificed, like Isaac in Genesis chapter 22. Otherwise it’s surprisingly hard to find people on the street who rejoice because they haven’t been sacrificed recently. It is also a bit challenging to find an article about chanterelles which mentions how to sow them and not just how to eat them.

In a sense reaping and sowing are opposite actions. When it comes to wheat or chanterelles, sowing is more enriching for a third party. When it comes to human souls, reaping is so much more essential for the survival of mankind and mother earth, so if you are somewhat old and there is room in your heart, why not accept a disciple?

By the way, the usual text says: “There is one who sows and another who reaps.”