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Question about Psalm 141:7

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  • Mathew G M
    We are all very familiar with Psalm 141 (which is numbered 140 in the Syriac Pshetha). We receite it as part of the Evening Prayer. My question is to Syriac
    Message 1 of 4 , Mar 3, 2012
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      We are all very familiar with Psalm 141 (which is numbered 140 in the Syriac Pshetha). We receite it as part of the Evening Prayer.

      My question is to Syriac scholars about verse 7 of this psalm.

      In NASB and NRSV translations this verse is:
      "As when one plows and breaks open the earth,
      Our bones have been scattered at the mouth of Sheol."

      In NKJV translation it is :
      "Our bones are scattered at the mouth of the grave,
      As when one plows and breaks up the earth."

      Note the difference is 'Sheol' vs 'Grave'.

      The Hebrew/Syriac word 'Sheol' translated as 'Hades' in Greek is usually translated into Malayalam as 'pathalam'.

      In Matthew 16:18 NKJV we read:
      "And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it."

      In 'Vishudha Grandham' (by Kaniamparambil Achen) Matthew 16:18 we read:
      "Nee Keepha-yakunnu; ee paramel njan ente sabha paniyum. pathala-vathilukal atinmel prabalappedukayilla."

      Here we can see 'Hades' aka 'Sheol' is translated as 'pathalam'.

      Now coming back to Pslam 141:7 (140 in Pshetha), Vishdha Grandham (by Kaniamparambil Achen) reads:
      "Kozhuvu bhoomiye pilarkkunnatu-pole, savakkuzhi-yude vaykkarikil avarude asthikal chitarippoyi."

      Here Vishudha Grandham is using 'savakkuzhi' ie 'grave' like in NKJV and not 'pathalam' ie 'sheol' as in NRSV.

      So my question is, what is the Syriac word for grave? Is it Sheol ? What is the word used in Syriac Peshitha in 141(140):7 ? Is it Sheol?

      Mathew G M
      0929
    • Dr. Thomas Joseph
      Peshitta Psalm 140:7 in transliteration: akh sekhto dSoryo ar`o ethbadar garmayhoon `al foomoh dashyul. So, it is Shyul (Syriac form of Sheol). The Syriac
      Message 2 of 4 , Mar 7, 2012
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        Peshitta Psalm 140:7 in transliteration: akh sekhto dSoryo ar`o ethbadar garmayhoon `al foomoh dashyul.

        So, it is Shyul (Syriac form of Sheol).

        The Syriac tradition makes nuanced distinctions between qabro, Shyul and Geehano, although sometimes these terms are conflated/used interchangeably.

        qabro - tomb, grave - the physical location where the human remains are interred.

        shyul (Sheol, Heb.) - Hades, lit. the pit or grave. - the netherworldly abode of the dead, the collective destination of all human beings who return to the dust from which they were formed, wherein they await the resurrection. This is the common destination of every human being (besides Enoch and Elijah.) The Fathers portray Sheol as a place free of iniquity and suffering, although the unrighteous are sometimes portrayed as subject to anticipatory suffering that awaits them in Gehenna.

        geehano (Gehenna, Heb.) - Hell, the place of fiery torment for the
        wicked, unpopulated until the day of judgment. The anticipatory suffering in Sheol for the unrighteous is not the same as the fiery torment of Gehenna.

        For an understanding of the Syriac Father's contemplations on life after death, read Thomas Buchan, "Blessed is He Who has brought Adam from Sheol": Christ's Descent to the Dead in the Theology of
        Saint Ephrem the Syrian, Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press, 2003. [ http://gorgiaspress.com/bookshop/p-344-buchan-thomas-blessed-is-he-who-has-brought-adam-from-sheol-christs-descent-to-the-dead-in-the-theology-of-saint-ephrem-the-syrian.aspx ]

        (Note: This is a Ph.D. dissertation, not light reading, yet quite readable.)

        Regards,
        Thomas
        ---
        Thomas Joseph, Ph.D.
        Beth Mardutho: The Syriac Institute [ http://www.bethmardutho.org ]
        Syriac Orthodox Resources [ http://sor.cua.edu/ ]
        ID: 0202
      • Mathew G M
        Dear Dr.Thomas, Thank you very much for the detailed reply. This is very helpful. So a more literal translation of Psalm 141(140):7 should be: Kozhuvu
        Message 3 of 4 , Mar 7, 2012
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          Dear Dr.Thomas,

          Thank you very much for the detailed reply. This is very helpful.

          So a more literal translation of Psalm 141(140):7 should be:

          "Kozhuvu bhoomiye pilarkkunnatu-pole, pathala vaykkarikil avarude asthikal chitarippoyi."

          Since the syriac verse uses Shyul and not Qabro.. right?

          Mathew G M

          --- In SOCM-FORUM@yahoogroups.com, Dr. Thomas Joseph wrote:
          >
          > Peshitta Psalm 140:7 in transliteration: akh sekhto dSoryo ar`o ethbadar garmayhoon `al foomoh dashyul.
          >
          > So, it is Shyul (Syriac form of Sheol).
          >
          > The Syriac tradition makes nuanced distinctions between qabro, Shyul and Geehano, although sometimes these terms are conflated/used interchangeably.
          >
          > qabro - tomb, grave - the physical location where the human remains are interred.
          >
          > shyul (Sheol, Heb.) - Hades, lit. the pit or grave. - the netherworldly abode of the dead, the collective destination of all human beings who return to the dust from which they were formed, wherein they await the resurrection. This is the common destination of every human being (besides Enoch and Elijah.) The Fathers portray Sheol as a place free of iniquity and suffering, although the unrighteous are sometimes portrayed as subject to anticipatory suffering that awaits them in Gehenna.
          >
          > geehano (Gehenna, Heb.) - Hell, the place of fiery torment for the
          > wicked, unpopulated until the day of judgment. The anticipatory suffering in Sheol for the unrighteous is not the same as the fiery torment of Gehenna.
          >
          > For an understanding of the Syriac Father's contemplations on life after death, read Thomas Buchan, "Blessed is He Who has brought Adam from Sheol": Christ's Descent to the Dead in the Theology of
          > Saint Ephrem the Syrian, Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press, 2003. [ http://gorgiaspress.com/bookshop/p-344-buchan-thomas-blessed-is-he-who-has-brought-adam-from-sheol-christs-descent-to-the-dead-in-the-theology-of-saint-ephrem-the-syrian.aspx ]
          >
          > (Note: This is a Ph.D. dissertation, not light reading, yet quite readable.)
          >
          > Regards,
          > Thomas
          > ---
          > Thomas Joseph, Ph.D.
          > Beth Mardutho: The Syriac Institute [ http://www.bethmardutho.org ]
          > Syriac Orthodox Resources [ http://sor.cua.edu/ ]
          > ID: 0202
        • Dr. Thomas Joseph
          Dear Mathew, If we consider the equivalents of qabro, shyul and geehano in Malayalam to be savakkuzhi, pathalam, and narakam, you can make a case for the
          Message 4 of 4 , Mar 14, 2012
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            Dear Mathew,

            If we consider the equivalents of qabro, shyul and geehano in Malayalam to be savakkuzhi, pathalam, and narakam, you can make a case for the translation offered. However, the Syriac Fathers like Mor Ephrem who used the medium of poetry to express profound concepts were not constrained by the mode of doctrinal expression in precise and rigid terms that was de rigueur among the Greek Fathers. Hence, as I alluded to earlier, you find qabro and shyul being used interchangeably in certain contexts and with distinct meaning in others.

            The venerable Kaniamparambil Achen will have had his reasons to prefer his translation; since we have the fortune of his presence among us, perhaps this is something to ask Achen about. I suspect that at least one of his reasons was to conform to established convention in earlier translations in a verse where introducing a change was not really called for.

            Regards,
            Thomas
            ID: 0202


            --- In SOCM-FORUM@yahoogroups.com, Mathew G M wrote:
            >
            > Dear Dr.Thomas,
            >
            > Thank you very much for the detailed reply. This is very helpful.
            >
            > So a more literal translation of Psalm 141(140):7 should be:
            >
            > "Kozhuvu bhoomiye pilarkkunnatu-pole, pathala vaykkarikil avarude asthikal chitarippoyi."
            >
            > Since the syriac verse uses Shyul and not Qabro.. right?
            >
            > Mathew G M
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