Saturday, May 12, 2012

Again, Zechariah 9:6

Troublesome Translation

Sometime ago, I came across Zech. 9:6, which is very interesting. I decided to see what the various translations are. #1 seems to conceal the reference, while #2, #3, #5, #6 are evident in their meaning.

1. And the divider shall sit in Azotus: and I will destroy the pride of the Philistines. (Catholic, Douay)

2. And mongrels shall dwell in Ashdod; and I will cut down the pride of the Philistines. (trans. J. M. Powis Smith, 1941, Univ. of Chicago Pr.)

3. A half-breed race shall rule in Ashdod. So I wipe out the pride of the Philistines. (trans. James Moffatt, 1934, Harper & Bros.)

4. And a bastard shall dwell in Ashdod, and I will cut off the pride of the Philistines. (King James Version)

5. A mongrel people shall settle in Ashdod, and I will make an end of the pride of Philistia. (New Revised Standard Version, 1995, Oxford Univ. Pr.)

6. und in Aschdod werden Mischlinge wohnen. Und ich will die Pracht der Philister ausrotten. (trans. Martin Luther)
Luther's term Mischling was a term also used in the Third Reich.

Now I can add yet another translation:

7. Foreigners will occupy Ashdod, and I will cut off the Pride of the Philistines. (New International Version, 1978, Zondervan.)

The New International Version is the product of evangelical Christians, those who seem to inhabit some faith-space between fundamentalism and modernism. Of all translations, this seems to be the most designedly innocuous one. Was it arrived at by translators who were preoccupied with the need to find more believers in the Third World? One suspects that this translation is an attempt to use a euphemism, that the translations of Luther, the King James Version, the New Revised Standard Version are closer to the original meaning. The ancient Israelites, whether modern-day evangelicals like that fact or not, were obviously preoccupied with questions of descent, of lineage, of race.

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