Psalm 40 v6 "my ears you have opened" or a body you have prepared"?

Discussion in 'OT Wisdom Literature' started by Eoghan, Oct 5, 2011.

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  1. Eoghan

    Eoghan Puritan Board Junior

    I am intrigued at the translation of this verse by modern scholars and the writer of Hebrews who in Hebrews 10 v 5 translates this as a body you have prepared.

    The ESB footnotes suggest that the Hebrew idiom is literally "ears you have dug for me" which seems to suggest a body being prepared/created possibly in the womb.

    Can anyone en;large on this and strengthen the link between Ps 40 and its translation in Hebrews 10?
  2. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    Matthew Poole:
  3. Eoghan

    Eoghan Puritan Board Junior

    I thought the LXX which is the "Greek" to which you allude was less reliable?

    I have also heard (FF Bruce I beleieve) that the LXX was not a complete translation until well after the NT and that we are being treated to a translation of the Hebrew by the writer to the Hebrews?
  4. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    1) Poole refers to the rendering as a "paraphrase" by the writer to Hebrews, and not as belonging to the LXX

    2) It is "close" to the LXX, in that the verb is the same (katartizo--to make, to prepare, to fit), but the LXX (in our standardized modern versions) goes with ear" (exact from the Hebrew).

    3) I will not say that I "know" the LXX was "complete" in the days of the NT. But personally, I've never heard that the translation was "incomplete." The NT contains many Gk renderings, including the Psalms, that are pretty clearly Septuagintal. The LXX had no "standardization" such as we would understand the idea today. It may have had quite a variety of expression, being a translation. And it may have been "fragmentary" in different places, as some portion or other of the translation made its way by parts into different places. The Torah would have been of greatest importance. But assuming that people didn't have some text to refer to is gratuitous.

    4) Poole's point is that the writer-to-Hebrews' paraphrase--regardless of where it originates--is as complete a statement of the truth as the original. In fact, it better conveys with clarity the intent of the epistle in adducing the Word of God for support. Nor does it violate the integrity of the original text to do so. It exposes the latent truth already present.

    5) I think Poole does an outstanding job in expressing both the writer's intent, as well as the sense of the whole passage. He ties the action of Ps.40:6 to Ex.21:6, concerning the boring of the ear with the awl of the voluntary life-servant. And then shows the necessity of a whole body for that (ideal) servant, so that there be an "ear" to bore. The apostolic church was eager to show that the OT predicts in countless ways the coming into the world of Messiah, even God's taking on flesh to dwell with us and to save us.
  5. iainduguid

    iainduguid Puritan Board Freshman

    Although many before and since Poole have linked Psalm 40 with Ex 21, I think that is the wrong track since a different Hebrew verb is used in these two passages. Ex 21 talks about "piercing" the ear of a slave, where Psalm 40 speaks of "boring" or "hollowing out" the ear (hence the ESV). I think the idea in Psalm 40 has to do with God shaping the ear, which stands for the whole person by metonymy. If God shapes the person's ear then it follows that he shapes the entire body. The reason that the ear is the particular focus in Psalm 40 is that it is the organ by which the psalmist hears (and obeys) the Lord's will. The LXX (followed by Hebrews) is a dynamically equivalent rather than word for word translation at this point, capturing the point of the image but omitting the detail.

    Iain Duguid
  6. Eoghan

    Eoghan Puritan Board Junior

    LXX was a 'work in progress'

    The Greek translation of the scriptures was made available from time to time in the third and second centuries BC (say during the century 250-150 BC). The law, comprising the five books of Moses, was the first part of the scriptures to appear in a Greek version; the reading of the law was essential to synagogue worship, and it was important that what was read should be intelligible to the congregation. At first perhaps, the law was read in Hebrew, as it was back home in Palestine, and someone was appointed to give an oral translation in Greek. But as time went on a written Greek version was provided, so that it could be read directly.

    In the course of time a legend attached itself to this Greek version of the law, telling how it was the work of seventy or rather seventy-two elders of Israel who were brought to Alexandria for the purpose. It is because of this legend that the term Septuagint (from Latin septuaginta, ‘seventy’) came to be attached to the whole of the Old Testament in Greek, and the original legend of the seventy was further embellished. The legend is recorded originally in a document called The Letter of Aristeas, which tells how the elders completed the translation of the Pentateuch in seventy-two days, achieving an agreed version as the result of regular conference and comparison. Later embellishments not only extended their work to cover the whole Old Testament but told how they were isolated from another in separate cells for the whole period and produced seventy-two identical versions — conclusive proof, it was urged, of the divine inspiration of the work! Philo, the Jewish philosopher in Alexandria, relates how the translators worked in isolation from one another but wrote the same text word for word, ‘as though it were dictated to each by an invisible prompter’; but both he and Josephus confirm that it was only the books of the law that were translated by the elders. It was Christian writers who extended their work to the rest of the Old Testament and, taking over Philo’s belief in their inspiration, extended that also to cover the whole of the Greek Old Testament, including those books that never formed part of the Hebrew Bible (Bruce, 44).

    Bruce, F.F., The Canon of Scripture. 1988

    ---------- Post added at 02:30 PM ---------- Previous post was at 02:28 PM ----------

    The books of the Apocrypha considered to be canonical by the Roman Catholic Church are first found in Christian era copies of the Greek Septuagint, a translation of the Hebrew Old Testament. According to Old Testament authority F. F. Bruce, Hebrew scholars in Alexandria, Egypt, began translating the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek around 250 B.C. because the Jews in that region had given up the Hebrew language for Greek.{1} The resulting translation is called the Septuagint (or LXX) because of legend that claims that seventy Hebrew scholars finished their work in seventy days, indicating its divine origins.

    The books or writings from the Apocrypha that the Roman Catholic Church claims are inspired are Tobit, Judith, Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, 1 & 2 Maccabees, Letter of Jeremiah, additions to Esther, Prayer of Azariah, Susanna (Daniel 13), and Bel and the Dragon (Daniel 14). Three other Apocryphal books in the Septuagint, the Prayer of Manasseh, and 1 & 2 Esdras, are not considered to be inspired or canonical by the Roman Catholic Church.

    This disagreement over the canonicity of the Apocryphal books is significant if only for the size of the material being debated. By including it with the Old Testament one adds 152,185 words to the King James Bible. Considering that the King James New Testament has 181,253 words, one can see how including the books would greatly increase the influence of pre-Christian Jewish life and thought.

    This issue is important for two other reasons as well. First, there are specific doctrines that are held by the Roman Catholic Church which are supported by the Apocryphal books. The selling of indulgences for forgiveness of sins and purgatory are two examples. Secondly, the issue of canonicity itself is reflected in the debate. Does the church, through the power of the Holy Spirit, recognize what is already canonical, or does the church make a text canonical by its declarations?
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