Wednesday, March 23, 2011

NABRE: Jeremiah 31:31-34

We continue our look at the NABRE with an important passage from Jeremiah 31:

"See, days are coming--oracle of the LORD--when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors the day I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt. They broke my covenant, though I was their master--oracle of the LORD. But this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days--oracle of the Lord. I will place my law within them, and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people. They will no longer teach their friends and relatives, "Know the LORD!" Everyone, from least to greatest, shall know me--oracle of the LORD--for I will forgive their iniquity and no longer remember their sin."

Original NAB:
The days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers the day I took them by the hand to lead them forth from the land of Egypt; for they broke my covenant and I had to show myself their master, says the LORD. But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD. I will place my law within them, and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer will they have need to teach their friends and kinsmen how to know the LORD. All, from least to greatest, shall know me, says the LORD, for I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sin no more.”

8 comments:

Colleague said...

At the outset, I'm curious about the decision to leave out the definite article "the" when it translates "(the) days are coming." This appears to be largely based on a Septuagintal reading, I think.

Also, "oracle of the Lord" may be more historically and culturally accurate, but I generally find it to be an annoyance in the text which doesn't flow freely at all.

Timothy said...

Colleague,

It is indeed a mouth-full to get through the text.

Colleague said...

I understand that many contemporary readers who are unfamiliar with the forms and processes of prophecy in the ANE would not realize that God was believed to speak through an oracle, like a prophet, and did not appear above the clouds like in Monty Python's Holy Grail speaking with a physical mouth. I can appreciate that textual aid. However, not only is it clunky, it seems to be incorrect. I know of no other translation that translates the Hebrew this way.

Colleague said...

Correction: I stand by my earlier statement. This passage has to be based on the Septuagint. The Hebrew seems to consistently translate as "declares" or "says," but with Greek φησὶν allows for the English "oracle" to be used.

Correct me if I'm wrong, though.

rolf said...

Instead of: 'says the Lord' or 'oracle of the Lord', the NETS Septuagint translation uses: 'quoth the Lord'.

Theophrastus said...

Colleague --

I believe you are misunderstanding the Hebrew. The literal Hebrew meaning is "oracle of the Lord", and indeed, in many translations (e.g., Anchor Yale Bible, NET translation in footnotes) this is the phrase chosen.

Here is the entry from the 1999 The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (emphasis added):

נְאֻם,, (ca. 360 times, Jr ca. 160 times, Ezk 80 times, Is 25 times, Am and Zech 20 times, Hg 12 times): cs. of *נָאוּם, Bauer-L. Heb. 472x; DSS most often נואם, pronounced nōʾa/em or *nūm, cf. Origen νουμ (cf. Kutscher Lang. Is. 393, 4; Martin Scrolls 1:14); an almost completely fixed technical expression introducing prophetic oracles and in connection with other expressions, esp. with אָמַר י׳ → כֹּה, → Rendtorff ZAW 66:27ff; Baumgärtel ZAW 73:277ff; Wildberger BK 10/1:62: orig. whispering > announcement, but cf. נאם; normally a concluding expression; an initial expression Is 568 Zech 121 Ps 1101; interpolated Am 211 (→ Commentaries); apart from the prophetic books Gn 2216 Nu 1428 1S 230 2K 926 1933 2219 Ps 1101 2C 3427; נְאֻם הַגֶּבֶר Nu 243.15 2S 231 Pr 301; נְאֻם בִּלְעָם Nu 243.15; נְאֻם שֹׁמֵעַ אִמְרֵי אֵל Nu 244.16; נְאֻם דָּוִר 2S 231, → Baumgärtel ZAW 73:283f; נְאֻם פֶּשַׁע Ps 362 ? פֶּ׳ as an inspired demon (Gunkel; Mowinckel), alt. פֹּשֵׂעַ Sept. Vulg., → Commentaries (cj. instead of נְאֻם read נָעִים or נָאוֶה).

See also the 3 volume commentary of Jack Lundbom (Anchor Yale Bible), the annotations of Marvin Sweeney (Oxford Jewish Study Bible), the commentary of Walter Brueggemann (The Theology of the Book of Jeremiah), etc.

Carl said...

Stuff like this makes me thankful for the much better RSV-CE2

Geoffrey Miller said...

Yeah, oracle of the Lord is really clunky. It may be literally correct, but it certainly isn't literarily correct. People aren't going to read a translation that doesn't flow well and comes across as confusing.