Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Translations Over Time

 After reading Psalm 27 in Robert Alter’s The Book of Psalms, and The Bay Psalm book, I noticed a colossal difference in the flow or gate of the psalm. The meanings are fairly close with each other. I thought The Bay Psalm book, was especially difficult to read and deciphering the messages took a bit longer. Being that the The Bay Psalm book is a Puritan text from the 1640s, this text might be a little cynical when regarding non-believers especially with the style in which it is written. However, the wording may be a bit different and a little more difficult to read, but the messages are still relatable to each other. For example, in passage 4 of psalm 27, the translation in The Bay Psalm book, goes as followed...

Robert Alter's translation closely resembles the quote above, although the wording is slightly different, the overarching meaning is still the same.
                    "One thing do I ask of the LORD,
it is this that I seek- 
                   that I dwell in the house of the LORD
                                  all the days of my life,
                 to behold the LORD’s sweetness
                                 and to gaze on His palace". 
When comparing these, quotes, one can clearly see a common message in both of these quotes. Both texts reflect ones most cherished desire is to spend his or her time in the house of the Lord as well as to feel the Lord's presence. 

Another passage that shows a close resemblance to both psalm translations can be see in verse 11 of psalm 27. In this comparison, there is a slight distinction between Puritan culture and modern culture. 
VS.  "Teach me, O LORD, Your way,                                                      and lead me on a level path
                        because of my adversaries."
The two translations reflect almost identical messages, but yet the last couple words are a little different, "adversaries" (ones opponent) versus "observers". Why the word "adversaries" is used might reflect our modern-day culture for instance, how people can become segregated by dividing from non-religious people and other "less superior religious classes, thus becoming ones opponent. 

When comparing these psalms from cultures centuries and millennia ago, one can begin to see how interpretations and translations might have changed over the course of time.

1 comment:

  1. I'd like to see more in the way of real distinction as you compare the versions.. It is definitely the case that the psalms convey basically the same message, but work to tease out differences.