Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Gen. 16:12 - "he will become a zebra of a man"

A book which examines most twentieth century English versions of the Bible: So Many Versions? (SMV), by trinitarian Bible scholars Dr. S. Kubo and Dr. W. Albrecht provides a page and a half of what it calls "peculiar translations" (pp. 108-109) by the NWT. Many of these "peculiar translations" are comparable to translations found in more popular Bibles of Christendom. But these comparable renderings are not criticized at all in SMV's critique of them.

One of these "peculiar translations" is of Gen. 16:12:

Gen. 16:12 - "he will become a zebra of a man" vs. RSV's "He shall be a wild ass [pere] of a man." This may be one of SMV's most accurate criticisms. But notice how very nit-picking it really is. Both translations refer to a man by the metaphor of a wild, stubborn donkey-like animal. What real difference is there if one is very slightly more accurate than the other? And what purpose would there be for anyone to invent such a definition?

Granted, "wild ass" is the more popular definition of the Hebrew word here, but "zebra" was not invented by the translators of the NWT as SMV seems to imply:

"The word `pere,' rendered `zebra' (NWT) has also been translated `wild ass.' Because of their similar characteristics, both zebra and wild ass fit the context of the scriptures cited above [which include Gen. 16:12]. However, a recent Hebrew and Aramaic lexicon by Koehler and Baumgartner defines `pere' as `ZEBRA.'" - Aid to Bible Understanding, p. 1682.

Ludwig Koehler and Walter Baumgartner, (eds.) A Bilingual Dictionary of the Hebrew and Aramaic Old Testament "English and German. The publication of the first edition of A Bilingual Dictionary of the Hebrew and Aramaic Old Testament by Ludwig Koehler and Walter Baumgartner in 1953 marked a major event in Old Testament studies. It presented a vast treasure of lexicographical material, with renderings into both German and English. Its publication superseded at once all other existing dictionaries, mostly stemming from the 19th century. The Dictionary offered for the first time a strictly alphabetical order of entries, rather than a simple arrangement by roots. This feature not only saved the scholar much time and work, it also set the standard for future lexicographical work on the Old Testament." - from Abebooks (on-line bookseller) blurb.

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