Friday, February 20, 2009

You surely will not die / 你們決不會死

Though hard, the more I studied Hebrew, the more I enjoyed it. Especially enjoy the insights and discussions with friends (classmates) from reading the bible from its original language, without any massage from interpretations etc.

Here to share with you my finding from two verses, they are both out of Genesis.

Gen 2:18: Then the LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him." (NASB)
A very familiar passage yet also with many controversies. Some feminists would suggest since God use "helper" to describe woman, whom God created after He said this, and that "helper" is a term commonly used to describe God being a helper of man throughout Psalms, women are actually superior to men!

Reading this passage in Hebrew is actually interesting. We noted that there is one word in Hebrew that's not being translated in any of the English version bible - kenegdo, which literally means "like/as his opposite". From our discussion, we believed it is best translated as "like his counterpart", which emphasizes the equalness of the two genders, no one is superior than the other or subordinate to the other. Of course, we also was wondering how come this never got translated in the bible ... I wonder if it were translated in the first place, would it not help diminished the many arguments between men and women to be the superior?

The second passage I came across lately is from Gen 3:4, which have couple translations, or I should say interpretations.
Interpretation #1 - You will not die
NASB - The serpent said to the woman, "You surely will not die!"
新譯本 - 蛇 對 女 人 說 : 你 們 決 不 會 死
Interpretation #2 - You may not die
KJV - And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die
NIV - "You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman.
和合本 - 蛇 對 女 人 說 : 你 們 不 一 定 死 ;

In Interpretation #1, the serpent is giving a clear message to the woman that she will not die from eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, whereas in #2, the serpent is only giving a suggestion that may be she won't die from eating.

From the Hebrew text, there is a "no/not" word in the phrase, and then the rest of the phase is a strong emphasis expressing that one will die. Based on the Hebrew grammar, it should really mean that the serpent is confidently saying to the woman that they will not die. The whole discussion was brought up as many in class had heard sermons about the serpent tempted the woman by suggesting that they may not die from eating instead of the serpent telling the woman that they will not die.

The above also attested to something that I was looking into earlier regarding the origin of the 和合本 Bible. This translation was being translated by missionaries to China in the 18th C, and its translation of Gen3:4 coincides with that of the KJV and NIV somehow attesting to that the translation was highly influenced by the English translation verses the original language. Of course, we cannot draw conclusion from one evidence, yet it is interesting to note.

Both of the above are very good discussions, and they give me joy and encouragement to continue to learn the original languages of the Bible~~

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