Sunday, August 29, 2010

Read over here - music and love

I am annotating my recent spate of posts over here with music and colour - What a fabulous performance of Psalm 110 - Handel's Dixit Dominus I found.

You need to go and listen - and while you are listening, read the posts and help me correct my prosody and interpretations - where are you my readers?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

If you get here by chance

I have done a lot of work over at Dust - There's my translation of Qohelet in the style of Dr. Seuss and a third pass at the psalms concentrating of the first recurring usage of words in each psalm in sequence - treating the psalter as a gallery. Also there is a translation of the Song of Solomon. And some nice pictures. Flowers mostly.

Monday, April 5, 2010


I have posted a change in direction - a bunch of questions here

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Bob's log and Sufficiency now blogging at Me afar (out)

Please update your links and readers to's where I will be posting 95% of the time - one person one blog till I run out of room again.  I am working through the Song of Songs - No one should miss a verse or be averse to correcting me if necessary.

Monday, March 15, 2010



There are tons of tafs in מגילת רות, the scroll of Ruth. Of course it is a grammatical letter and so more common. The first thing to note about this last letter is how it substitutes for a ה when forming a construct. The root of that word above is מגלה, used for example in Psalm 40:7

בִּמְגִלַּת־סֵפֶר כָּתוּב עָלָי

In the scroll of the book it is written of me
מגלה is not a particularly common word (but a related word did occur this past Sunday morning in the lesson from Joshua 5:9,
הַיֹּום גַּלֹּותִי אֶת־חֶרְפַּת מִצְרַיִם מֵעֲלֵיכֶם 
today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you
hence the name Gilgal. (Who says etymology is unimportant - roll-scroll to you!) Note here too that the reproach has been modified from absolute to construct, from חרפה to חֶרְפַּת

This replacement occurs when adding an object pronoun to a feminine ending for a verb - how about this example from Ruth 2:13?
כִּי נִחַמְתָּנִי
for you have comforted me
This taf is a normal part of the second person qal perfect suffix. The additional nun helps identify the remainder of the suffix as a first person object pronoun.

A third suffix in which ת plays a part is the feminine plural (vav-taf or holem/taf ot).  ת is also common in the role of prefix. Remember that א gives us a signal as a first person singular imperfect, ת is a signal as a second or third person singular or plural imperfect. 

The whole of verse 13 illustrates all five of these uses
אֶמְצָא-חֵן בְּעֵינֶיךָ אֲדֹנִי
כִּי נִחַמְתָּנִי
וְכִי דִבַּרְתָּ עַל-לֵב שִׁפְחָתֶךָ
וְאָנֹכִי לֹא אֶהְיֶה כְּאַחַת שִׁפְחֹתֶיךָ
and she said,
taf prefix signals the third person imperfect (preterite)
let me find favor in your eyes my Lord
for you have comforted me
taf is the second person singular suffix (masculine in this case) qal perfect as is the first taf in the next line
for you have spoken to the heart of your handmaid
שפחה became שִׁפְחָתֶ forming construct from absolute
and I myself am not one or your handmaids
the holem-taf represents the feminine plural - in this case there is no vav with the taf to illustrate as a reading helper.

If we back up a bit to Ruth 1:8, we find another grammatical role for taf in the ending תֶם- for second person plural qal perfect. As noted previously, (Ruth - Vol 7 in The Anchor Bible by Edward Campbell, 1975) this masculine pattern may be a dual. The feminine תֶן is not found in Ruth (at least I could not see one).
כַּאֲשֶׁר עֲשִׂיתֶם עִם-הַמֵּתִים וְעִמָּדִי
Taf does have a number of words where it plays a part in the root. Even some of these like בַּיִת (house) may be derived from a verb in this case בָּנָה in this case ending in ה. As a final letter, it is third in מות, death, though is this a real tri-literal root or is the vav a meter here? The latter, I think.

But this exercise of reading Ruth letter by letter is now declared complete even though it could go on forever!
Time to tend another vineyard. I think I will retranslate the Song - in fact I think I will look at all the megillot and put these into my new/old peculiar Poetry and Flowers blog. I notice that this Sufficiency blog now has a backup larger than 4M so I think I will blog elsewhere. Look for me at the links and please do update your aggretors and stay in touch. Just look at all the grammatical letters here: 8 of 14, > 50%. Can you read this verse?
כַּרְמִי שֶׁלִּי לֹא נָטָרְתִּי

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Essence

Henry Neufeld has posted briefly on Finding and Protecting the Essentials. There is probably a ton of stuff on this subject - essentials and Christianity - on the web ranging from the turgid to the polemical. (In my earlier days, I even wrote on it.) It can be a divisive subject. Perhaps that is why there are as many varieties of Christian denominations in North America as there are varieties of cheese in France. "Come ye out from among them and be separate. Touch nothing unclean." And so on.

I began to wonder though what I do regard as Essence - note the singular. And the capital. This morning there were 5 sermons from five lay women at the parish I used to attend. (Besides some other issues, I can't manage to sing the hymns in that hymn book without getting angry - but that is not the Essence).  My wife was #4 of 5 and she was also singing the alto in the Et in Unum from the B Minor Mass so I decided to skip 'my' church this morning and attend at St John the Divine.

The third sermon was on the creative process of sculpting and was based on the healing of the leper. You remember (Matthew 8:1 and parallel)

"Lord, if you will, you can make me clean." And he stretched out his hand, and touched him, saying, "I will; be clean." And immediately the leprosy left him. And he charged him to tell no one
On the creative process, she emphasized the need to wait and in that one word, she communicated waiting on God for the inspiration, the aha moment. After that, she said, there is available all the necessary time for construction and there is no hurry. About this healing, she touched on the beauty of the choice of Jesus in healing the leper, that act of election that I have had coming into my mind these past several months, the freedom of God to act, and the recognition of that freedom in the leper. (Not to mention touch.)

As she said these things, I thought of the essence for me: (that's free association on my part!).

Except you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you (John 6:26 ff). This is part of a poetic chiastic structure which you can see at this link.

Let's see if I can copy it across - yup it's readable...

Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 
    Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of man will give to you; for on him has God the Father set his seal.
        Then they said to him, "What must we do, to be doing the works of God?" Jesus answered them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent." So they said to him, "Then what sign do you do, that we may see, and believe you? What work do you perform? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'" Jesus then said to them,
            "Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven, and gives life to the world." They said to him, "Lord, give us this bread always." 
                Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst.
                    But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe.
                        All that the Father gives me will come to me; and him who comes to me I will not cast out.
                            For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me; and this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up at the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that every one who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
                                The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, "I am the bread which came down from heaven." They said, "Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, 'I have come down from heaven'?" Jesus answered them, "Do not murmur among yourselves. 
                            No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, 'And they shall all be taught by God.'
                        Every one who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. Not that any one has seen the Father except him who is from God; he has seen the Father.
                    Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life.
                I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die.
            I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.
        The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me
    This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever.
This he said in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum.

This is Essence to me - but it can go by many names and it happens by the choice of God, not by my argumentation. As he lives, so I live, come what may. But there are others who do not know him as I have come to know him in part and who do not even know his name, who have no theology of incarnation. He is able to draw them to himself also, without turgidity or polemics. So may it be that the church might not water itself down, but also that it might not engage in defending its essentials with polemics and unreadable prose.

The ark will not stumble.

Ruth and Targum Ruth

Chris Brady is just coming to his presentations of Ruth in the traditions of the Targumim. He writes:

This paper is part of my larger work on Targum Ruth. This summer I will be presenting a paper at IOTS on the character of Boaz in Tg Ruth. But first, we need to consider how Boaz is presented in the biblical text.

It's very timely for me that Chris would write this now. Readers of this blog will know that I have been living with the text of Ruth for more than a year and I am just finishing my bootstrap exercise of hearing the grammar of Hebrew by reading Ruth letter by letter to see how each letter sounds in the story. I was, months ago, particularly struck by 'tet', a letter I have named as scorekeeper for the grammatical first eleven (a cricket metaphor). Tet occurs in the word gleaning and 25% of the uses of this word occur in chapter 2 of Ruth.

When I began reading Ruth, I did immediately notice that it was a story meant to be performed. I imagined sitting around a campfire to hear it. I am hoping to continue telling it as story. It is the first book I attempted to read in Hebrew without helps (it was a failure for me a year ago as I read chapter 1 - now I think I am up to about 50% able to read without helps). It needs to find its audience in this strange time where purpose, poverty, and social relationships are not heard as story.

See also this paper on the use of the scrolls in Jewish Liturgy - the fascinating history related to the canonical order of the 5 scrolls is much later than one might think.