Implied Information ?

I accidentally posted here and then removed it. It’s on my bookshelf blog. Here is nice little puzzle instead. Psalm 84:5,

    Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
    (A) in whose heart are the highways to Zion. (a)

    (a) Hebrew lacks to Zion ESV

    Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee;
    in whose heart are the ways of them. KJV

    Happy is the man who finds refuge in you,
    whose mind is on the [pilgrim] highways. JPS

There are some nice little puzzles to ponder. What did the ESV do with the “man? Why did they add “to Zion?” Why did JPS add “pilgrim?” These are not in the text.

Is it “heart” or “mind?” And “strength” or “refuge,” “happy” or “blessed?” These are all literal translations. And I guess I have to ask if “those” which is plural, can have only one “heart?” – look at the ESV. Lots of questions here and I have probably missed some.

5 thoughts on “Implied Information ?

  1. r.quanstrom says:

    John Goldingay’s translation of the verse follows the ESV’s rendition.
    He generally doesn’t remark on textual variations but among other comments, notes that “…will appear in Zion” is found in the LXX and Aquila.

  2. Peter Kirk says:

    This is an interesting one! Here is the Hebrew transliterated followed by a highly literal translation and a not quite so literal one:

    ‘ashrey ‘adam `oz-lo bakh
    msillot bilvavam

    “blessed/happy (a) human-being strength to him in you,
    paths in their(masc) heart(sing)”

    “blessed is the person whose strength is in you,
    paths are in their heart”

    ESV has done what some of its translators condemn the TNIV translators for doing: it has replaced the singular noun ‘adam “man (gender generic), human being” with a plural pronoun in the first half of the verse. Its excuse can only be to harmonise with the second half of the verse which has the plural pronoun. KJV and NJPS have harmonised in the opposite direction, but I don’t know how KJV justifies “of them” following “ways” rather than “heart”.

    As for the interpretation of “paths are in their heart”, I guess this is based on LXX anabaseis which means (I think) “ascents”. It is well known that to ascend or go up, in Hebrew and in the NT, refers to going to Jerusalem: compare anabas in Acts 18:22, to be understood as Paul visiting Jerusalem and so translated in TNIV. But I suspect that this is the LXX translator’s interpretation, possibly based on a textual variant, as the Hebrew msillot does not mean “ascents” and still less “ways to Jerusalem”.

    I find the ESV rendering astonishing in what is claimed to be an “essentially literal” translation. The explanation is presumably that it is a minor revision (in a gender generic direction!) of RSV:

    Blessed are the men whose strength is in thee,
    in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
    Footnote: Heb lacks to Zion

    Compare NIV’s rendering which seems a much better compromise:

    Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
    who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.

  3. Suzanne McCarthy says:

    Hi Peter,

    Good thoughts. This is a case where the LXX has aner for ‘adam, so this verse lines up aner with a gender neutral term in the ESV. That was actually something I noticed after I chose this verse to write about.

    My understanding is that there isn’t a text variant for this verse. Interesting any case.

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