Jeremiah 50(27): 17-20 poetry or prose?

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Stirling Bartholomew
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Jeremiah 50(27): 17-20 poetry or prose?

Post by Stirling Bartholomew » January 7th, 2018, 3:47 pm

Is greek Jeremiah 50(27): 17-20 poetry or prose?
Jer. 27:17 ¶ Πρόβατον πλανώμενον Ισραηλ, λέοντες ἐξῶσαν αὐτόν· ὁ πρῶτος ἔφαγεν αὐτὸν βασιλεὺς Ασσουρ καὶ οὗτος ὕστερον τὰ ὀστᾶ αὐτοῦ βασιλεὺς Βαβυλῶνος. 18 διὰ τοῦτο τάδε λέγει κύριος Ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ ἐκδικῶ ἐπὶ τὸν βασιλέα Βαβυλῶνος καὶ ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν αὐτοῦ, καθὼς ἐξεδίκησα ἐπὶ τὸν βασιλέα Ασσουρ. 19 καὶ ἀποκαταστήσω τὸν Ισραηλ εἰς τὴν νομὴν αὐτοῦ, καὶ νεμήσεται ἐν τῷ Καρμήλῳ καὶ ἐν ὄρει Εφραιμ καὶ ἐν τῷ Γαλααδ, καὶ πλησθήσεται ἡ ψυχὴ αὐτοῦ. 20 ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις ἐκείναις καὶ ἐν τῷ καιρῷ ἐκείνῳ ζητήσουσιν τὴν ἀδικίαν Ισραηλ, καὶ οὐχ ὑπάρξει, καὶ τὰς ἁμαρτίας Ιουδα, καὶ οὐ μὴ εὑρεθῶσιν, ὅτι ἵλεως ἔσομαι τοῖς ὑπολελειμμένοις ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, λέγει κύριος.
I'm currently reading the Oracles against Egypt and Babylon in the Greek translation of Jeremiah (Jer). My secondary resources include G. Walzer’s Commentary on Jeremiah in Codex Vaticanus Brill 2012 and J.A. Thompson Jeremiah NICOT, 1980. J.A. Thompson considers Jeremiah 50: 17-20 MT poetry. I went looking for a simple answer to the question: does the Greek translation of Jeremiah render this passage as poetry? It turns out that identifying poetry in the Greek translations of the Hebrew Bible is not simple. To clarify, this is not a question about classical Greek poetry. It's a question about an attempt by the translator to transfer the salient features of Hebrew poetry into the Greek Version. In other words, can we detect a shift from poetry to non-poetry at Jer. 27:17.

I searched the web for septuagint poetry. The top and only relevant hit:

Poetry in the Septuagint and Beyond | Andrei Desnitsky - Academia.edu
https://www.academia.edu/6167763/Poetry ... and_Beyond

A. Desnitsky’s paper[1] is not lite reading.

A relevant Feb 2005 exchange between Trevor Peterson and Albert Pietersma.
https://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/b-g ... 33206.html
https://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/b-g ... 33220.html


[1] if you're using a Macintosh the format may give you grief. It appears to be an MS Word file with complicated formatting including tables with embedded Hebrew and Greek fonts. I attempted to convert it into OpenOffice which wasn't successful. I opened it with MacOS TextEdit and saved it as a PDF. Not perfect but readable.
C. Stirling Bartholomew

RandallButh
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Re: Jeremiah 50(27): 17-20 poetry or prose?

Post by RandallButh » January 8th, 2018, 4:51 am

That is a good question, Stirling.

Certainly, the lines do not scan as Greek poetry
short= ∪
long = −
Πρόβατον πλανώμενον Ισραηλ, ·
∪ ∪ ∪ , − −, ∪ ∪ −, ∪ −,

λέοντες ἐξῶσαν αὐτόν·
∪ −, ∪ −, − ∪, − ∪

On the other hand, someone bi-lingual and accustomed to reading Hebrew poetry can feel similar rhythms to the underlying Hebrew.
שֶׂ֧ה פְזוּרָ֛ה יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל
אֲרָי֣וֹת הִדִּ֑יחוּ
This 3+2 in Hebrew becomes 3+3 in Greek words, or 4+4 in feet.
The αὐτόν in Greek fills in an object for ἐξῶσαι/ἐξωθεῖν, not completely necessary since the first line can be the object, and produces a tight balance.
κτλ.

Good question.

Stirling Bartholomew
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Re: Jeremiah 50(27): 17-20 poetry or prose?

Post by Stirling Bartholomew » January 8th, 2018, 4:09 pm

RandallButh wrote:
January 8th, 2018, 4:51 am


... someone bi-lingual and accustomed to reading Hebrew poetry can feel similar rhythms to the underlying Hebrew.
שֶׂ֧ה פְזוּרָ֛ה יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל
אֲרָי֣וֹת הִדִּ֑יחוּ
This 3+2 in Hebrew becomes 3+3 in Greek words, or 4+4 in feet.
The αὐτόν in Greek fills in an object for ἐξῶσαι/ἐξωθεῖν, not completely necessary since the first line can be the object, and produces a tight balance.
κτλ.

Good question.

Randall,

I'm still pouring over the analysis in the 100+ page paper. The research model and the statistics are difficult for me to evaluate, I don't understand what is being compared to what. Computational Analysis of stress patterns in ancient Greek texts would require enriched data. Rhythmic patterns are difficult to analyze without hearing the language. Assuming it is somehow possible to perform such a computational analysis, there are probably other assumptions that need to be clarified.

A. Desnitsky carefully nuances his conclusions. The question: "Is this LXX text a sample prose or poetry?" doesn't lend itself to a yes or no answer. Features of Hebrew poetry are detectable in the Greek translation of texts which are otherwise genre ambiguous. Surprisingly, A. Desnitsky identifies text samples where the Greek translation avoids rhythmic patterns.

Hebrew poetry employs numerous varieties parallelism. Computational analysis of parallelism would appear to be even more difficult than stress patterns. However, Parallelism can be analyzed without hearing the language.

I'm still working on this.
C. Stirling Bartholomew

Ken M. Penner
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Re: Jeremiah 50(27): 17-20 poetry or prose?

Post by Ken M. Penner » January 8th, 2018, 5:41 pm

Stirling Bartholomew wrote:
January 7th, 2018, 3:47 pm
Is greek Jeremiah 50(27): 17-20 poetry or prose?

... It turns out that identifying poetry in the Greek translations of the Hebrew Bible is not simple. To clarify, this is not a question about classical Greek poetry. It's a question about an attempt by the translator to transfer the salient features of Hebrew poetry into the Greek Version. In other words, can we detect a shift from poetry to non-poetry at Jer. 27:17.

I searched the web for septuagint poetry. The top and only relevant hit:

Poetry in the Septuagint and Beyond | Andrei Desnitsky - Academia.edu
https://www.academia.edu/6167763/Poetry ... and_Beyond
A mishmash of other possibly relevant bibliography:
Levine Gera, Deborah. “Translating Hebrew Poetry in Greek Poetry: The Case of Exodus 15.” BIOSCS 40 (2007): 107–121.
van der Vorm-Croughs, Mirjam. “LXX Isaiah and the Use of Rhetorical Figures.” The Old Greek of Isaiah: Issues and Perspectives. Edited by Arie Van der Kooij and Michaël N. van der Meer. CBET 55, 2010.
Mørk, Hans-Olav. “Hearing the Voice of the Other: Engaging Poets and Writers as Bible Translators, with a Case Study on Isaiah 7.14.” The Bible Translator 63, no. 3 (2012): 152–168.
Emanuel Tov, “Loan-Words, Homophony, and Transliteration in the Septuagint” Bib 60 (1979): 216-236
Jan de Waard, “ ‘Homophony’ in the Septuagint,” Bib 62 (1981): 551-561.
Aejmelaeus, Anneli. “Characterizing Criteria for the Characterization of the Septuagint Translators: Experimenting on the Greek Psalter.” Pages 54–73 in The Old Greek Psalter: Studies in Honour of Albert Pietersma. Edited by Robert J.V.; Cox Hiebert. Journal for the Study of the Old Testament. Supplement Series 332. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2001.
Ausloos, Lemmelijn, and Kabergs, “The Study of Aetiological Wordplay as a
Content-Related Criterion in the Characterization of LXX Translation Technique,” in Die Septuaginta: Entstehung, Sprache, Geschichte, pp. 273-294, ed. Kreuzer, Meiser, and Sigismund. WUNT 286. (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2012).
Van der Louw, Transformations in the Septuagint: Towards an Interaction of
Septuagint Studies and Translation Studies, Contributions to Biblical Exegesis and Theology 47 (Leuven: Peeters, 2007), 383.
Joosten, Jan. “Elaborate Similes--Hebrew and Greek : A Study in Septuagint Translation Technique.” Biblica 77, no. 2 (1996): 227–236.
Aitken, James K. “Rhetoric and Poetry in Greek Ecclesiastes.” BIOSCS 38 (2005): 55–79.
Ken M. Penner
St. Francis Xavier University

RandallButh
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Re: Jeremiah 50(27): 17-20 poetry or prose?

Post by RandallButh » January 9th, 2018, 5:45 am

Hebrew poetry employs numerous varieties parallelism. Computational analysis of parallelism would appear to be even more difficult than stress patterns. However, Parallelism can be analyzed without hearing the language.
Just a heads-up: Parallelism does not form or define Hebrew poetry but it is a feature within Hebrew poetry. This is most noticeable in so-called 'synthetic parallelism'. "Synthetic parallelism" was a term for lines or half-stichs that were NOT parallel yet were obviously being constrained into short line lengths. Unfortunately, while Hebrew poetry is constrained by line lengths, or perhaps better, uses line lengths, it is also a free-flexible rhythm. The rhythmic balance, deviance, and/or inversion, is all part of the reading/poetic experience.

Stirling Bartholomew
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Re: Jeremiah 50(27): 17-20 poetry or prose?

Post by Stirling Bartholomew » January 9th, 2018, 12:18 pm

RandallButh wrote:
January 9th, 2018, 5:45 am

Just a heads-up: Parallelism does not form or define Hebrew poetry but it is a feature within Hebrew poetry. This is most noticeable in so-called 'synthetic parallelism'. "Synthetic parallelism" was a term for lines or half-stichs that were NOT parallel yet were obviously being constrained into short line lengths. Unfortunately, while Hebrew poetry is constrained by line lengths, or perhaps better, uses line lengths, it is also a free-flexible rhythm. The rhythmic balance, deviance, and/or inversion, is all part of the reading/poetic experience.
In his Introduction, R. Holmstedt[1] leaves one with the impression that none of the features commonly associated with Hebrew poetry serve to identify Hebrew poetry. Holmstedt lists several features evident in Psalm 1:1 and then denies that they identify the text as poetry.

A. Desnitsky on excessive parallelism in the LXX[2]:
‘Excessive parallelism’. The LXX translators by all means were not unaware of the most universal solution for an unclear passage: a contextual guess. What is particular about the biblical texts, it is their wide use for
parallelism. So, the translators did not always resisted the temptation to understand it as “saying the same
thing twice” and therefore they interpreted the meaning of an unclear hemiverse as a repetition of the parallel line (Gen 49:5; Num 23:9; Num 23:21; Num 24:7). The phonetic image of a word was also taken into account: see, for instance, ζηλωτός in Gen 49:22 or, in particular, νιφετός in Deut 32:2 where the phonetic similarity seemed to be the best argument for explaining this particular word. Sometimes translators obviously wanted their text to contain more parallelism than the Hebrew original, as was the case in Ex15:16 where the expression ὁ λαός σου is translated twice. Sometimes, such changes may have taken place already in the LXX Vorlage.


[1] The Syntax of Poetry in Biblical Hebrew
Robert D. Holmstedt, The University of Toronto
CSBS, May 27, 2017
https://ancienthebrewgrammar.files.word ... bs2017.pdf

[2]A. Desnitsky, Poetry_in_the_Septuagint_and_Beyond, 4.1.2.2. Adjusting the form
https://www.academia.edu/6167763/Poetry ... and_Beyond
C. Stirling Bartholomew

RandallButh
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Re: Jeremiah 50(27): 17-20 poetry or prose?

Post by RandallButh » January 9th, 2018, 2:36 pm

I am underwhelmed when it comes to Holmstedt's judgement on things syntactical in Hebrew.
He gets a lot of basic stuff wrong/backwards, e.g., he thinks default word order is SVX, primarily aspectual, no ve-qatal modal/future/imperfective structure. That's just not how Hebrew works.

Stirling Bartholomew
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Re: Jeremiah 50(27): 17-20 poetry or prose?

Post by Stirling Bartholomew » January 9th, 2018, 2:37 pm

Holmstedt[1] defines “Parallelism” as a syntactic binary opposition between Apposition // Non-Apposition. He appears to be focusing on this as a central syntactic feature of Hebrew poetry. But you will notice in his description, this feature is impossible to identify without getting deeply embroiled in the semantic structure of the text.
“Parallelism” = Apposition // Non-Apposition (p.13)
{snip}
... at the end of each line, I look ahead for the next line to determine whether the
subsequent line pauses to elaborate, refine, or reformulate the image introduced in the first line, or
move on by adding new information to the current image or transitioning to a subsequent image.
Syntactically, this is the binarity of the apposition/non-apposition choice; literarily, this is what
Dobbs-Allsopp describes as
the characteristically closed and recursive shape of biblical Hebrew poetic rhythm ... A
clausal or sentential whole (frame) is articulated and then reiterated once or twice over,
producing (optimally) a halting or pulsing series of progressions—one step forward,
iteration, and then another step forward, reiteration, and sometimes twice over (in the
case of triplets), and so on.” (2015:45)16
Apposition is a syntactic means in poetic verse to allow the brain to pause and process the poetic
image (see Dobbs-Allsopp 2015:44). Once the poet has determined that the image is sufficiently
elaborate, he or she moves to the next image by non-appositional syntactic means.
Tearing this out well into the argument doesn't do justice to the author which is why a link is provided below.


[1] The Syntax of Poetry in Biblical Hebrew
Robert D. Holmstedt, The University of Toronto
CSBS, May 27, 2017

https://ancienthebrewgrammar.files.word ... bs2017.pdf
C. Stirling Bartholomew

Stirling Bartholomew
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Re: Jeremiah 50(27): 17-20 poetry or prose?

Post by Stirling Bartholomew » January 9th, 2018, 9:50 pm

Finished Holmstedt's article. Seems to me he is employing "apposition" as a metaphor rather than a syntax category. What more traditional analysis referred to as parallel elements in poetry, Holmstedt now analyzes as a pattern somehow deemed to be similar (??) to a noun (nominal) constituent followed by one or two appositional modifiers. In my thinking this is a metaphor, since many of the parallel clauses under consideration will include verbs in parallel with other verbs.

I think I have sufficiently grasped what he's trying to do and will test it out in Jeremiah 50(27) LXX. I'm inclined to agree with J.A. Thompson that Jeremiah 50(27):17-20 is poetry. I think we can demonstrate that focusing on the syntax and the semantics.
Jer. 27:17 ¶
Πρόβατον πλανώμενον Ισραηλ,
λέοντες ἐξῶσαν αὐτόν·
ὁ πρῶτος ἔφαγεν αὐτὸν βασιλεὺς Ασσουρ
καὶ οὗτος ὕστερον τὰ ὀστᾶ αὐτοῦ βασιλεὺς Βαβυλῶνος.

λέοντες ἐξῶσαν αὐτόν is an "appositional" expansion or explanation of the first line.

In the second parallel ὁ πρῶτος ... οὗτος ὕστερον make it pretty obvious what's going on here. The Greek version drops the verb found in the second line of MT. This is called "gapping" which is a feature of parallelism. βασιλεὺς Ασσουρ and βασιλεὺς Βαβυλῶνος are kind of like bookends. Would have been nice to reverse the word order in the first clause starting with βασιλεὺς Ασσουρ but our translator didn't find that in his vorlage. It would also raise difficulties with πρῶτος ... ὕστερον.

I agree with Holmstedt syntax and semantics matter when it comes to analyzing poetry. Not sure how useful the apposition metaphor will be. Someone else can comment on that. It is quite possible that I have missed the boat so to speak in regard to apposition.
C. Stirling Bartholomew

Stirling Bartholomew
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Re: Jeremiah 50(27): 17-20 poetry or prose?

Post by Stirling Bartholomew » January 14th, 2018, 2:18 pm

Ken M. Penner wrote:
January 8th, 2018, 5:41 pm

A mishmash of other possibly relevant bibliography
Thank you Ken.

Last week I found a plethora of portable documents (PDF) addressing Biblical Hebrew poetry. Two that stand out:
Retaining and Transcending
The Classical Description of Ancient Hebrew Verse*
John F. Hobbins 2007

Identifying Poetic Features in
Biblical Texts, Chapter 1
The Poetic Priestly Source
by Jason M. H. Gaines
2015
Reading these while continuing to study Jeremiah 50-51 (27-28 LXX), I observe the poetic features wax and wane in Jeremiah. In the oracles against the nations, the content of the oracle itself tends to fall into bicola or tricola. Whereas the narrative surrounding and introducing an oracle may or may not.
Identifying these poetic elements in a text is the first step necessary to
distinguish poetic and prosaic material. Differentiating between biblical
poetry and prose is difficult, though, as no clear binary contrast exists
between the two styles.[2] The ancients themselves provide little guidance,
leaving no definitions or stylebooks. Moreover, no single definition of poetry
can apply to the whole Bible and its many authors speaking different Hebrew
dialects over many centuries. Poetry instead exists to a matter of degrees;
individual verses and sections require separate examination and their own
unique poetic description. By this method, all writing in the Bible falls at
some point on a poetry-prose continuum
.

[2] James L. Kugel best makes this observation in The Idea of Biblical Poetry: Parallelism
and Its History (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1981). A full discussion of Kugel
will follow

Jason M. H. Gaines
2015
This is a very apt description of what I have observed in Jeremiah.

A. Desnitsky (LXX) and John F. Hobbins (MT) spend some time addressing sound patterns. I remain more than a little skeptical about recovering sound patterns from the study of ancient manuscripts. Desnitsky is very cautious in his treatment of the evidence. When Hobbins works with the markings in the medieval manuscripts of the MT, my initial inclination is to ask, what can they tell us about ancient Hebrew poetry? Hobbins is certainly aware of the difficulties:
Lowth believed that ancient Hebrew verse instantiated metrical structures, but he deemed them irrecoverable given our ignorance of the pronunciation and stress rules of pre-Masoretic Hebrew.

John F. Hobbins 2007
The Greek Version of Jeremiah is translated in something approaching interlinear style. For this reason, several of the formal features of Hebrew poetry automatically get transferred to the translation. Obviously sound patterns are going to be a different issue.
C. Stirling Bartholomew

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