titanic translation

I am moved by this translation (The Message) of Psalm 36:5,6 which my wife and I just read after our breakfast today:

God’s love is meteoric,
his loyalty astronomic,
His purpose titanic,
his verdicts oceanic.
Yet in his largeness
nothing gets lost;
Not a man, not a mouse,
slips through the cracks.

This is powerful *English* poetry, a rhetorical translation equivalent to the original Hebrew poetry. Obviously, it is not a translation equivalent on the lower levels of language, the smaller units of the phrase, the clause, etc. But it is translation at the overall, discourse level, capturing the rhetorical message of the original and putting it in equivalent rhetoric (but not details) of the Hebrew.

Such rhetorical level translation does not address every purpose for Bible translation. But it does a better job of communicating the big picture to English speakers than some translations which focus on the smaller linguistic units. I am a detail person and when I check translations, I check for details. But I’m learning that it’s also important to look at the big picture to see if a translation communicates that adequately. Big, hmm, titanic translation!

27 Comments

  1. Posted April 16, 2010 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    Interesting, Wayne! I’m hoping to do a literary translation of Philippians starting soon. I, too, am usually a details person. However, I’m discovering that the rhetorical impact is too good to ignore in translation.

  2. Ernst Wendland
    Posted April 16, 2010 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

    Good point, Wayne, I agree 100% — and would like to use this example in the next edition of the “LiFE-style translating” workbook. Looking forward to more such poetic (rhetorical) instances, as you happen to find them!

  3. Posted April 16, 2010 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for this translation excerpt, Wayne. Where did it come from?

  4. Posted April 16, 2010 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

    Scott, it’s from The Message. That was an oversight not to identify the translation. I have put it into the post now.

  5. Posted April 16, 2010 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    Ernst, coming from you with all your experience in translation of biblical poetry, I appreciate your comment very much.

  6. Posted April 16, 2010 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

    There is no doubt that Peterson captures in his rendering some aspects of the rhetoric of the original better than any of the standard translations.

    Yet the original is a prayer, for goodness’ sake, addressed to the “you” who is being praised. This is not a small detail of the base text’s rhetorical configuration.

  7. Posted April 16, 2010 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know, Wayne. For example, one is immediately struck by the similarity between Tehillim 35:6[5]

    NJPS: O LORD, Your faithfulness reaches to heaven; Your steadfastness to the sky
    NRSV: Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.
    KJV: Thy mercy, O LORD, is in the heavens; And thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds.
    BHS: יְ֭הוָה בְּהַשָּׁמַ֣יִם חַסְדֶּ֑ךָ אֱ֝מֽוּנָתְךָ֗ עַד־שְׁחָקִֽים

    with Tehillim 85:12[11].

    NJPS: Truth springs up from the earth; justice looks down from heaven.
    NRSV: Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, and righteousness will look down from the sky.
    KJV: Truth shall spring out of the earth; And righteousness shall look down from heaven.
    BHS: אֱ֭מֶת מֵאֶ֣רֶץ תִּצְמָ֑ח וְ֝צֶ֗דֶק מִשָּׁמַ֥יִם נִשְׁקָֽף

    Similarly, contrast with Isaiah 45:8

    NJPS: Pour down, O skies, from above! Let the heavens rain down victory! Let the earth open up and triumph sprout, Yes, let vindication spring up: I the LORD have created it.
    NRSV:
    Shower, O heavens, from above, and let the skies rain down righteousness; let the earth open, that salvation may spring up, and let it cause righteousness to sprout up also; I the LORD have created it.
    KJV: Drop down, ye heavens, from above, And let the skies pour down righteousness: Let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, And let righteousness spring up together; I the LORD have created it.
    BHS: הַרְעִ֤יפוּ שָׁמַ֙יִם֙ מִמַּ֔עַל וּשְׁחָקִ֖ים יִזְּלוּ־צֶ֑דֶק תִּפְתַּח־אֶ֣רֶץ וְיִפְרוּ־יֶ֗שַׁע וּצְדָקָ֤ה תַצְמִ֙יחַ֙ יַ֔חַד אֲנִ֥י יְהוָ֖ה בְּרָאתִֽיו

    We can see a solid connection of imagery and language in all three passages. But in the Message, those connections are hidden:

    * God’s love is meteoric, his loyalty astronomic

    * Truth sprouts green from the ground, Right Living pours down from the skies!

    * “Open up, heavens, and rain. Clouds, pour out buckets of my goodness! Loosen up, earth, and bloom salvation; sprout right living. I, GOD, generate all this”.

    The common symbolism of these three verses is largely lost in Peterson, who isn’t even consistent with the little things (like the capitalization or “right living”.)

    In fact, Peterson’s words, while producing a pleasing effect, don’t even have meaning when one looks at them closely. (For example, what does it mean to say “love is meteoric”?)

  8. Anthony
    Posted April 16, 2010 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

    Since I’m a linguist, I have Bibles in scores of languages, so when I read a passage, I check in other translations as well. When it comes to the Hebrew, I admire the Esperanto translation, since the translator of the Esperanto version was a Hebrew speaking Jew and I can comprehend the Esperanto translation more than the original Hebrew. Here is the passage in Esperanto:

    Ho Eternulo, ĝis la ĉielo atingas Via boneco,
    Via vereco ĝis la nuboj
    Via justeco estas kiel la montoj de Dio,
    Viaj juĝoj estas granda abismo;
    Homon kaj bruton Vi helpas, ho Eternulo.

    and my English translation:
    O Lord, your goodness reaches to heaven
    your truthfulness (or veracity) reaches to the clouds.
    Your righteousness (or justice) is like the mountains of God
    your judgments are like huge abysses
    you help both man and beast (animal), oh Eternal Lord

  9. Anthony
    Posted April 16, 2010 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

    Isaiah 45:8 in Esperanto:
    Gutigu, ho ĉielo, de supre, kaj la nuboj verŝu virton; malfermiĝu la tero kaj produktu savon, kaj virto kune elkresku. Mi, la Eternulo, tion kreis.

    Come down in drops o lord, from above and the clouds will pour out virtue; May the earth open and produce salvation, and together may virtue flourish. I, the Lord, has created that.

  10. Mike Sangrey
    Posted April 16, 2010 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Wayne.

    I find the contrast to the non-rhetorical ASV to be almost startling.

    Thy lovingkindness, O Jehovah, is in the heavens;
    Thy faithfulness reacheth unto the skies.
    Thy righteousness is like the mountains of God
    Thy judgments are a great deep: O Jehovah, thou preservest man and beast.

    And here it is again, but with interspersed comment. And, I honestly do not believe these comments of mine are in any way forced. The comments were the first thing that came to mind.

    ———————
    Thy lovingkindness, O Jehovah, is in the heavens;
    But, we’re down here.

    Thy faithfulness reacheth unto the skies.
    It doesn’t reach us??? From the heavens it stops at the skies??!!??!

    Thy righteousness is like the mountains of God
    I honestly don’t understand the simile. I don’t know what large righteousness is. I don’t know what high righteousness is. Or is it cold, hard to climb, distant?

    Thy judgments are a great deep:
    I guess I can’t understand these judgements. They are unfathomable.

    O Jehovah, thou preservest man and beast.
    O!, that’s a good thing. Right now (given what I just read and didn’t understand) I’m without hope. At least I’m somehow preserved. Though, it’s a preservation which the beasts have, too. But, I didn’t think their preservation had any hope of being permanent. Maybe this preservation is purely temporal. I’m quite discouraged.

    ———————
    The rhetorical effect I get from the Message is very different than the effect I get from the ASV.

  11. Posted April 16, 2010 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

    (For example, what does it mean to say “love is meteoric”?)

    We sometimes say in English that someone’s rise to fame, fortune, or political status is meteoric. By analogy, if God’s love is meteoric, it’s awesome, vast, extensive, far-reaching. That’s how I understand this anyway. Perhaps I’m reading too much into the word “meteoric” in Peterson’s poetry. If we should, instead, limit meanings we get from poetic use of “meteoric” to ones having to do with speed, rate of movement, then, like you, I can’t get much, if anything, out of thinking of God’s love as being as fast as, well, a speeding bullet, or a meteor.

  12. Posted April 16, 2010 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

    >>>We sometimes say in English that someone’s rise to fame, fortune, or political status is meteoric. By analogy, if God’s love is meteoric, it’s awesome, vast, extensive, far-reaching…

    A meteoric rise to fame is fast – it “blazes on the scene” and may carry the suggestion that it will disappear just as quickly. It “comes out of nowhere.”

  13. Posted April 16, 2010 at 11:15 pm | Permalink

    Interesting exercise, Mike. We need to do more checking as you have done. We too often try to shoehorn an English translation into a mold of a biblical language shoe rather than how the words in the translation actually communicate to people.

    I thought, “Well, maybe the poetry is flat and ineffective because Mike used the ASV, which uses English outdated for our time.” So I looked at the NIV. It uses more updated English, but is just as ineffective poetically as the ASV:

    Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens,
    your faithfulness to the skies.
    Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
    your justice like the great deep.
    O LORD, you preserve both man and beast. (NIV)

    At a minimum, the first line or two could use an English expression that retains the Hebraic metaphors of sky and height:

    “Your love is sky-high”

    The line about justice could be something like:

    “Your justice is ocean-deep”

    or shifting to a simile:

    “Your justice is as deep as the oceans”

    I suggest that the more literal translations are poetically ineffective precisely because they attempt to preserve as much of the form of the original Hebrew as possible without trying to translate the rhetorical meaning of both the original forms and their genre (poetry). Poetry that has some poetic form (Hebrew does and English rhyming and/or meter does) does not translate easily from one language to another. Translators have wrestled with this issue for eons.

    I think that Peterson’s translation has translated the meaning of the original *poetry* pretty well. We get the same basic rhetorical impact as the writer of Psalm 36 intended, even though the metaphors used are different. I have no problem with that since metaphors seldom translate accurately from one language to another, if translated literally.

  14. Posted April 17, 2010 at 12:05 am | Permalink

    Wayne, the usual understanding when we say someone had a “meteoric rise” is that it was, as the dictionary says “transiently brilliant” — that is sudden. When applied to something that it can be either long-lasting or short-lasting (like love) it has the secondary connotation of being “fleeting” — just like a meteor’s flash. That doesn’t seem consistent with the Hebrew plain-reading of the poem.

    * * *

    In Hebrew, these particular pairs are rather elegant, but Peterson’s English sounds much less so to me:

    his purpose titanic/his verdicts oceanic

    sounds like someone was trying for a rhyming iambic trimeter couplet but forgot that “titanic” has 3 syllables while “oceanic” has 4 syllables. It comes off worse than free verse would.

    What do I think of The Message? My verdict is oceanic — this is watery verse.

  15. Posted April 17, 2010 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    Compare Philip Sidney’s attempt at versifying Psalm 36(5,6); (I’ve added the …’s for formatting):

    Lord, how the heav’ns thy mercy fills,
    ….Thy truth above the cloudes most hy!
    ..Thy righteousnesse like hugest hills,
    ….Thy judgments like the deepes do ly.
    ..Thy grace with safty man fulfills,
    ….Yea beastes, made safe, thy goodenesse try.

    No Hallmark greeting card stuff there. And yet, for Mike, there’s that reassuring reach and safety in its message. But, of course, there’s more: measured meter, the effect of iambic tetrameter, a “rhetorical” effect?

    The only other time Eugene Peterson uses any one of his rhymed words of his Psalm 36 (i.e., meteoric, astronomic, titanic, or oceanic) is in his Ezekiel 23:31-34, where the Hebrew parallels and poetry of the writer’s voice of God (i.e., the verse encompassed by [אדני יהוה]) falls short and falls away into English free verse:

    …”‘This is the Message of God, the Master:

    …”‘You’ll drink your sister’s cup,
    …a cup canyon-deep and ocean-wide.
    You’ll be shunned and taunted
    …as you drink from that cup, full to the brim.
    You’ll be falling-down-drunk and the tears will flow
    …as you drink from that cup titanic with terror:
    …It’s the cup of your sister Samaria.
    You’ll drink it dry,
    …then smash it to bits and eat the pieces,
    …and end up tearing at your breasts.
    I’ve given the word—
    …Decree of God, the Master.

    http://expansivepoetryonline.com/journal/cult0297.html

  16. iver larsen
    Posted April 17, 2010 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    I have never liked the Message, but I realize I am not part of the intended audience, not being an American, and therefore it is not quite fair of me to evaluate it.

    From my background, this is how I understand his rendering which I would not call a translation:

    God’s love is meteoric –
    It is very fast moving, frightening and fleeting, not a reassuring description of God’s constant and eternal love.

    his loyalty astronomic –
    It means nothing to me, maybe because I was never good at astronomy. I can understand astronomic as something very big in physical size, but I cannot see how it can describe an abstract concept like loyalty.

    His purpose titanic –
    I immediately think of the movie Titanic, not reassuring to me. His purpose is for me to go under?

    his verdicts oceanic –
    This may be very huge or very deep, but what that says about verdicts I do not know.

    On the other hand, the very literal renderings of ASV and NIV loses impact by using metaphors unknown or unfamiliar to many people, of course depending on their environment and culture. For the Sabaot who live on the great Mount Elgon, it is fine to compare something with a mountain – and we kept that – but the most famous hill in flat Denmark is about 500 feet and yet is called the “Heaven Mountain”.

    Anyway, in our Danish version we chose a middle path between the ASV and the Message which I would consider as two extremes.

    Herre, din nåde er uden ende,
    din trofasthed er uden begrænsning.
    Din godhed er uden sidestykke,
    din visdom er ufattelig som havets dyb.
    Du holder hånden over både mennesker og dyr.

    A back translation into English loses some of the poetic elements – like the four words starting with u-, but I’ll give it anyway:
    Lord, your mercy is without end,
    your faithfulness is without limit.
    Your goodness is without equal,
    your wisdom is beyond understanding as the depth of the ocean.
    You care for both people and animals.

    I like to translate poetry as poetry, and we did make all Hebrew acrostics Danish acrostics, but I think the Message has sacrificed too much of the meaning. That is always the dilemma for poetry: how to balance faithfulness to form as well as to meaning.

  17. Posted April 17, 2010 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    NET Bible:

    Psa 36:1 Psalm 361

    For the music director; written by the LORD’s servant, David; an oracle.2

    An evil man is rebellious to the core.3
    He does not fear God,4
    Psa 36:2 for he is too proud
    to recognize and give up his sin.5
    Psa 36:3 The words he speaks are sinful and deceitful;
    he does not care about doing what is wise and right.6
    Psa 36:4 He plans ways to sin while he lies in bed;
    he is committed to a sinful lifestyle;7
    he does not reject what is evil.8
    Psa 36:5 O LORD, your loyal love reaches to the sky;9
    your faithfulness to the clouds.10
    Psa 36:6 Your justice is like the highest mountains,11
    your fairness like the deepest sea;
    you preserve12 mankind and the animal kingdom.13
    Psa 36:7 How precious14 is your loyal love, O God!
    The human race finds shelter under your wings.15
    Psa 36:8 They are filled with food from your house,
    and you allow them to drink from the river of your delicacies.
    Psa 36:9 For you are the one who gives
    and sustains life.16
    Psa 36:10 Extend17 your loyal love to your faithful followers,18
    and vindicate19 the morally upright!20
    Psa 36:11 Do not let arrogant men overtake me,
    or let evil men make me homeless!21
    Psa 36:12 I can see the evildoers! They have fallen!22
    They have been knocked down and are unable to get up!23

  18. Dan Sindlinger
    Posted April 17, 2010 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

    Iver,

    My reaction to meteoric, astronomic, titanic and oceanic is essentially the same as yours.

    I like and prefer the Danish translation “…without end, …without limit, …without equal.”

  19. Posted April 17, 2010 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

    >>>…I like and prefer the Danish translation “…without end, …without limit, …without equal.”…

    What the Psalmist literally says is that “your CHSD is in the sky.” What CHSD suggests is “commitment.” And his commitment is in the sky. The modern view of the sky is that it is “the limitless universe,” but to the ancients, it was a solid structure that was one tower-height above the dry land and the bottomless abyss. The sky is where God hung his bow as a reminder of his commitment to not wipe out humankind and the animals. It was his chalkboard, where he repentantly wrote a hundred times:

    “I WILL NOT GET ANGRY AND KILL EVERYBODY AND EVERYTHING”
    “I WILL NOT GET ANGRY AND KILL EVERYBODY AND EVERYTHING”
    “I WILL NOT GET ANGRY AND KILL EVERYBODY AND EVERYTHING”

    The sky is not limitless to the ancients. Now the sea was. The ancients conceived of the sea as having no bottom. Hence, it was a point to ponder how the dry land stayed up. One popular view was that the dry land was on the backs of large, endlessly swimming turtles. For the Hebrews, the dry land was on mysterious pillars that YHVH laid.

    The sky functioned as a tent for the resting sun that got up each morning as athlete in training to run across its face.

    Into this tent – this curtain – this moving “structure” upon which were connected tiny lights, called “the fixed stars”… YHVH placed the rainbow, and when it rained, it lit up and reminded him:

    “YOU WILL NOT GET ANGRY AND KILL EVERYBODY AND EVERYTHING”
    “YOU WILL NOT GET ANGRY AND KILL EVERYBODY AND EVERYTHING”
    “YOU WILL NOT GET ANGRY AND KILL EVERYBODY AND EVERYTHING”

    He also relied on blood on doorposts to keep him from being “Trigger Happy” (any Danes who are present may know that show!)

    It would be anticlimactic to say “your love extends into infinite space” and then say “and it also goes about 11 miles up to the clouds.”

    I would offer “your commitment is in the sky” as a translation, and then offer a cross reference to this verse:

    Genesis 9:13 I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.

    I might add another cross reference to Johnathon expressing his commitment not to harm David, also by giving a bow:

    1 Samuel 18:4 And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle.

    YHVH is not *constitutionally* incapable of getting angry and smashing the undeserving, but he has made a very specific *commitment* to not do so (though, floods occur periodically as they always have, and the scriptures suggest that the wrath of God has been accumulating, and will vent later on after all…)

    The very psalm that people want to read as being about a faithfulness to man and beast, without boundaries, refers to the **end** of the wicked. He is NOT preserved. Only the faithful Hebrews are, and you can count those on one hand (as far as the scriptures are concerned).

    The scriptures do not share modern sentimental notions of a warm, fuzzy God. He’s a god of wrath, a god of war, a god of judgment… but, a god of commitment, to a very finite but comforting “covenant” that the psalmist finds comfort in, because God will take care of him, and wipe out his lousy neighbors.

  20. Posted April 18, 2010 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    As usual, J. K. Gayle displays unfailing excellent literary taste. The psalter of Sir Philip Sidney and Mary Sidney was an outstanding literary interpretation and a great experiment in stretching English to produce a psalter which was recognizable as English poetry. I recommend this inexpensive edition for its modern spelling, its excellent introduction, and its thorough annotation, and its textual notes.

    Reading Sidney has the additional advantage, of course, of being an outstanding literary theorist; Sidney’s Defense of Poesie still remains a lucid response to Platonic theories of poetry, and certainly has much to commend it to potential translators, Biblical or otherwise. The connection to Biblical translation is not speculative extrapolation; note that the original edition of the standard annotated volume (edited by Geoffrey Shepherd) was published by Thomas Nelson. (This version has subsequently been revised by R. W. Maslen and is now published by Manchester University Press.) Perhaps the least expensive and most convenient edition is published by Penguin. This Penguin edition contains not only Sidney but 250 pages of additional Renaissance literary criticism, as well as an 70 pages of introduction and 125 pages of notes.

    However, for true poetry thrill seekers, I recommend the Oxford Poets’ Book of Psalms which contains the full psalter with interpretations from a variety of poets. This book is now print-on-demand and rather overpriced, but is readily available cheaply on the second-hand market. (Of course, one featured poet is Milton, whose psalm translations can be found in any of his poetry collections, such as this inexpensive and well-annotated one.)

  21. Anthony
    Posted April 19, 2010 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    a1books has it cheaper:

    http://www.a1books.com/catalog/0141439386&WVSESSION_ID=1933805032

  22. Posted April 19, 2010 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    Wayne, I’ve always liked Peterson’s playful language in this one. As poets (you and me and Eugene) we are free to do what we wish with the language. As linguists… well, linguists aren’t very good at deciding what anything actually means so both source and receptor text are obscure.

  23. Posted April 19, 2010 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

    David Rosenberg, whose Thirty-Sixth Psalm is in the Oxford Poets’ Book of Psalms that Theophrastus gets us looking at, really does write for “true poetry thrill seekers.” Rosenberg’s A Literary Bible: An Original Translation has an apt subtitle!

    So back to the Hebrew poetry (as shown in BHS); the poetry doesn’t just beg for strong meter in translation but it also has parallels and (silent, divine) echos. I’ve tried to format it to illustrate some of it (even when we don’t “know” Hebrew):

    יְהוָה

    בְּהַשָּׁמַיִם חַסְדֶּךָ
    אֱמוּנָתְךָ עַד־שְׁחָקִים׃

    צִדְקָתְכָ כְּהַרְרֵי־אֵל
    מִשְׁפָּטֶךָ תְּהֹום רַבָּה

    אָדָם־וּבְהֵמָה
    תֹושִׁיעַ

    יְהוָה׃

    Here’s how the Septuagint’s re-presents that as Hebraic Homeric Hellene:

    κύριε

    ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ τὸ ἔλεός σου
    καὶ ἡ ἀλήθειά σου ἕως τῶν νεφελῶν

    ἡ δικαιοσύνη σου ὡσεὶ ὄρη θεοῦ
    τὰ κρίματά σου ἄβυσσος πολλή

    ἀνθρώπους
    καὶ κτήνη σώσεις

    κύριε

    And here’s how Pamela Greenberg, with her newly-released The Complete Psalms: The Book of Prayer Songs in a New Translation, renders that poetic Hebrew in English:

    God, your kindness is in the heavens,
    your faithfulness lofty as the highest clouds.

    Your righteousness is tall as mighty mountains,
    your justice like the great depths of the sea.

    Person and beast–you rescue them, God.
    What a source of wealth is your kindness!

  24. Posted April 20, 2010 at 5:31 am | Permalink

    J.K. — yes, David Rosenberg is fairly far out there — but his work is not without advantage: it is thoughtful, has a point of view, is highly literate, and raises many interesting points.

    Here is a list of the poets represented in the Oxford Poets’ Book of Psalms:

    Francis Bacon 1561-1664 Psalms 12, 90, 127
    Robert Burns 1759-1796 Psalm 1
    Thomas Campion 1567-1619 Psalm 19
    Thomas Carew ca. 1598 – ca. 1639 Psalms 51, 91, 113, 114, 137
    Samuel Taylor Coleridge 1772-1834 Psalm 46
    Miles Coverdale 1488-1569 Psalms 14, 124, 128
    John Davies 1569-1626 Psalms 5, 20, 43, 47, 67, 95, 103, 150
    John Donne 1573-1631 “Upon the Translation of the Psalms”
    Anne Finch 1661-1720 Psalm 146
    John Hall 1529-1566 Psalms 24, 34, 44, 140
    George Herbert 1593-1633 Psalm 23
    Mary Sidney Herbert 1562-1621 Psalms 44, 45, 50, 52, 56, 59, 62, 66, 69, 71, 75, 76, 84, 92, 93, 96, 98, 99, 108, 112, 117, 119, 122, 128, 134, 138, 139, 144, 147]
    John Milton 1608-1674 Psalms 2, 7, 80, 85, 87, 136
    Francis Quarles 1592-1644 Psalm 16
    David Rosenberg 1943- Psalms 36, 58, 82, 101, 133
    George Sandys 1578-1644 Psalms 77, 94, 106
    Philip Sidney 1554-1586 Psalms 4, 10, 13, 18, 22, 24, 31, 37, 40, 41
    Christopher Smart 1722-1771 17, 35, 42, 49, 61, 64, 68, 79, 86, 89, 105, 115, 127, 136, 141, 145
    Stanley Thomas 1625-1695 Psalm 148
    Henry Howard of Surrey 1516-1547 Psalms 8, 55, 73, 88
    Henry Vaughan 1622-1695 Psalms 65, 104, 121
    P. Hately Waddell 1817-1891 Psalms 15, 57 63, 70, 83, 110, 131
    Laurance Wieder anthology editor, 1946- Introduction, Psalms 9, 21, 33, 39, 53, 72, 74, 78, 97, 100, 107, 109, 118, 120, 149
    George Wither 1588-1667 Psalms 11, 48, 81, 112, 116, 125, 142
    Thomas Wyatt 1502-1542 Psalms 6, 32, 38, 102, 113, 143

    Too much literary goodness!

    It also includes the full KJV psalter.

  25. Posted April 20, 2010 at 6:12 am | Permalink

    And notice how deftly the anthology balances authorship: Male and Female, Reformer and Recusant, Presbyterian and Anglican, Puritan and Cavalier, Royalty and Commoner, Scientist and Mystic, Bishop and Layman, Scots and English, Plain and Fancy, Anachronist and Historian, New World and Old World, 16th and 17th and 18th and 20th century, and even a Jew.

  26. Posted April 20, 2010 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    the anthology balances authorship

    Theophrastus,
    Thanks for listing these various poet translators, whose Message, like that of Tehillim 35:6[5], can’t be some singular “point” that readers and listeners must invariably get, isn’t cliché or trite or saccharine, even if it could be intended with some force of rhetoric. David Rosenberg rightly gets (and translates) the Hebrew book of the Psalms as “Blues of the sky.” If there’s a “big picture” point in the diverse and inclusive list of authors you give, it’s the one Laurance Wieder makes at the end of his introduction. Wieder quotes “Rabbi Huna … in the name of Rabbi Assi” telling a Midrashic parable which reminds that there are “ten authors” named in and for the Tehillim and that these songs are all sung by “a company of musicians.” And yet the singular intention is that these be sung by the one “voice” that is not simply saccharine but that truly “is sweetest.”

  27. Posted April 20, 2010 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    Man, I want a copy of that book!

    When I hear someone talking about the blues my ears perk up. If only our churches sang the blues for the loss and the hope represented by our faith. Portuguese fado is particularly good at capturing saudades, a longing for home, the past, the future, you name it.

    Peterson’s language is often fresh and playful but maybe not so good at capturing the thread of lament that runs through the Psalter.


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  1. By Wednesday Link List « Thinking Out Loud on May 12, 2010 at 9:59 am

    [...] Most of the stuff on Wayne Leman’s blog about Bible translation issues may be over the heads of many, but here’s a simple post on how a Bible version expert appreciates a titanic translation. [...]

  2. [...] example, in a discussion on BBB of “meteoric,” reference was made to the “dictionary definition” of [...]

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