3630Translation Shift in Greek Zechariah 8?
- Jun 3, 2011Greetings, Colleagues!
Currently, I am considering writing my Th.M. thesis on textual issues in Greek Zechariah.
(For the sake of convenience, I will simply refer to Greek Zech, and base my
observations from Rahlfs. The textual tradition is more complicated than that,
of course, as I'm sure we all know [from Nahal Hever, the Gottingen LXX, etc.]. So,
"Greek Zechariah" is just a label for convenience here.)
(PLEASE NOTE: Since I'm not sure who reads this forum, I've tried to be
respectful in the way I represent the Divine Name, and so on. I've also
attempted to transliterate, since I'm not sure what fonts everybody can
read. Please let me know if I need to alter this style. Also, I've posted this to a the Tanak discussion group, but received no feedback yet.)
Here is my question:
Is there a translation shift between chapter 8 of Greek Zechariah and the Masoretic
If I am reading the Qal perfects correctly, then Hebrew Zechariah seems to
clearly view these events as having already transpired. Consider:
Zechariah, Chapter 8 (Modified
8:1 Then was (WYHY) the word of ADONAI
of hosts saying,
8:2 "Thus says ADONAI of hosts,
'I am exceedingly jealous for Zion,
with great wrath I am jealous for her.'
8:3 "Thus says ADONAI,
'I HAVE RETURNED (SHAVTI: Qal perfect, no waw)
and I HAVE COME TO DWELL (waw sheva + Qal
Perfect. This is not without problems. If “come to dwell” were
intended here, wouldn’t Piel express that better?) in the midst of Jerusalem.
Then Jerusalem WAS CALLED (waw sheva + Niphal
Perfect) the City of Truth,
and the mountain
of ADONAI of hosts [was called] the
mainly where my questions lie: Greek Zech [and NASB] reports these actions with future tense, but for
that to be the case in the Hebrew, the first verb should be imperfect
ASHAV. So, ADONAI has ALREADY come to dwell in Zion, according to Zech 8:3, but is still EXPECTED
to dwell in Zion according to Greek Zech. This is made even
more poignant by the use of IMPERFECT)
8:4 "Thus says ADONAI of
'Old men and old women will again sit (QAL
Imperfect, no waw) in the streets of Jerusalem,
each man with his staff in his hand because of
8:5 'And the streets of the city will be
filled (Niphal Impf, no waw) with boys and girls playing in its streets.'
8:6 "Thus says ADONAI of hosts, 'If
it WILL BE TOO DIFFICULT/ASTONISHING (Niphal
impf) in the sight of the remnant of this people in those days,
WILL IT [ALSO] BE TOO
DIFFICULT/ASTONISHING (Niphal impf) in My sight?'
declares ADONAI of hosts.
So, there clearly seems to be a distinction in
the Masoretic Text between past and future events: ADONAI is CURRENTLY in Zion,
having just returned as the Exiles are restored to the Land. As a result,
old people and children will one day have no fear to amuse themselves out in
the open, as the Divine Government is established (in the future).
However, Greek Zechariah seems to see all these
events as future.
If we continue through the chapter, Hebrew Zech
8:7 uses a Hiphil participle to speak of Adonai saving His people: so, He is
rescuing them in Zechariah’s day (or rather, the author of Zechariah presents
them as concurrent with the historical period of Zechariah 8, regardless of
when or by whom Zechariah may actually have been written/redacted).
Greek Zech (contra NASB,
incidentally) translates this as PRESENT TENSE (anasozo), not as future (anasoso)
A similar shift can be seen beginning in
Zech 8:8, where Hebrew perfects are translated as Greek future tense.
My issue with the text is that the use of qatal,
yiqtol and wayiqtol forms in the Hebrew seems very deliberately
designed to layer the temporal features of the oracles: Adonai HAS
ALREADY begun to dwell in Zion; old people and children will one day sit/play
in the streets; Adonai is currently rescuing His remnant; then in verse 8: “I
HAVE brought them, I HAVE SETTLED them, I WILL BE their G-d.
Colleagues: What are your thoughts on this comparison of
Hebrew and Greek Zechariah?
As far as I can tell, there are no textual variants to suggest that the
differences are due to a different Vorlage, and no Greek witnesses seem to
attest to readings of the Hebrew close to mine.
This would suggest that the differences between the Greek and Hebrew may be
motivated by the original Greek translator's desire to show these actions as
future. For instance, if the Greek translator produced his text during the
Seleucid or Ptolemaic period, he may have wanted to present the Restoration as
something that had not yet commenced in Zechariah's day; while the author of
Hebrew Zechariah may have wanted to encourage the Returnees by describing
events as present realities.
Of course, I also have to rule out other possible reasons
for this apparent translation shift (such as aspectual concerns, or other
intra-textual influences, etc).
So, do these texts give us different viewpoints of the events they represent in
I appreciate any feedback you have to offer.
Th.M. Candidate, Old Testament
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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