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3632RE: [lxx] Translation Shift in Greek Zechariah 8?

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  • Ken Penner
    Jun 3 1:27 PM
      Let me see if I understand your questions.
      In Zechariah 8, are the tenses translated in an unexpected way?

      Here are the expected patterns:
      According to Logos’s LXX (without doing a manual check), in Zechariah, the wayyiqtol gets translated as aorist 166 out of 183 times; as future 14 times.
      The weqatal gets translated as future 149 out of 159 times; as aorist 3 times.
      The yiqtol is future 104 of 152 times; aorist 24x.
      Qatal is aorist 60/137; present 29x; future 12x.

      In Zechariah 8, some patterns are different.
      First, the most common verb form in this chapter is qatal (25x), and yiqtol second (14x).
      Second, those qatals are often translated as presents 11x, but those are all אמר as λεγει. But only two of the qatals become futures: the one in 8:3, and another in 8:10.
      But weqatal is translated as future (or aorist subjunctive), as expected.

      The simple answer is that the translator misread shavti as if it had a waw prefix, i.e., as a weqatal form. That explains the και and the tense shift at the same time.
      The other tenses are as expected: waw + sheva + perfect normally becomes future in Greek.


      Ken M. Penner, Ph.D.
      Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic vocabulary memorization software:

      From: lxx@yahoogroups.com [mailto:lxx@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of C L
      Sent: June-03-11 1:04 PM
      To: lxx@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [lxx] Translation Shift in Greek Zechariah 8?

      Greetings, 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
      from NASB)

      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)
      to Zion

      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
      Holy Mountain.'

      (This is
      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
      impf) in the sight of the remnant of this people in those days,

      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
      this section?

      I appreciate any feedback you have to offer.


      Chris Lovelace

      Th.M. Candidate, Old Testament

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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