Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Translation Notes 3: Psalm 100:3

I apologize at the beginning that this is a somewhat technical post, but many of them will be, due to the nature of the case.

So. Why is it that some translations of Psalm 100:3 have “and we are his,” while others have “and not we ourselves”? In short, because of the Ketiv-Qere (see Translation Notes 2). The consonantal Hebrew text (the Ketiv) in Psalm 100:3 has the word lw’ (note the apostrophe, as it stands for a Hebrew consonant), which means “not.” But the Masoretic scribes have it marked to indicate that it should be read (the Qere) as lw (note: no apostrophe), which means “to him” or “his.” Some translations have followed the advice of the Masoretic scribes, and translated according to the Qere (ESV, HCSB, NLT, NIV84, NIV11), while others (NKJV, NASB, NASBUpdate) have followed the Ketiv. The question is why there is not unity, with all following the Qere.

The answer is that the rest of the textual evidence is mixed. The manuscript that underlies the text of the academic Hebrew Bible (Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia) has the Ketiv and Qere as noted above. However, many other Hebrew manuscripts have the Qere written into the text. That is, those manuscripts have no Ketiv-Qere marking. The Septuagint (LXX) has “and not we ourselves” which indicates either that the translator followed the Ketiv, or in the text he translated from there was no Qere marking. In addition, the Vulgate follows the Ketiv. Perhaps it too was translated from a text not having the Qere marking, or perhaps it was influenced by the LXX. The Targum of the Psalms has “we are his,” as does Jerome in a translation of the Psalms that he did separately from his translation of the Vulgate.

As a result, the evidence is mixed, and translation committees have simply come to different conclusions as to which reading should be preferred. However, the reader should note that neither translation is problematic from a theological point of view. We certainly belong to God, and we certainly did not make ourselves.

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