A stone shall cry out from a wall: studies on the translation style of Old Greek Habakkuk
Mulroney, James Alan Edward
What was the Old Greek translator’s literary and theological understanding of the book of Habakkuk? This is the central question of this thesis. The prophecy of Ambakoum (OG translation of “Habakkuk”) shows evidence of Greek rhetoric amidst numerous linguistic transformations. These features reflect part of the translator’s personal literary and translational style in the transformation process – an act of interpretation. The meaning of the Hebrew Scriptures was carried over into a new Greek text by a multi-lingual translator, working in Alexandria sometime in the second century B.C.E. The process of interpretation was affected by more than so-called literalism, but also by socio-historical, linguistic and theological considerations. When the translator was not literal his approach was not simply free or exegetical. A real challenge for the translator was not his comprehension of, or ability with, his Hebrew text, but his choice of words, syntax and grammar in his own language. Sometimes his knowledge of Aramaic, which was more familiar than Classical Hebrew, was a quicker or more logical recourse through which to make decisions when rendering his Koine text. An understanding of the translator’s style is derived from an examination of the linguistics (i.e. lexemes, morphosyntax, semantics, etc.) and literary shapes of the new target text. This provides a basis upon which to then derive the translator’s sense for his Hebrew Vorlage. It is the Greek translation that lays out his view(s). This thesis puts the translator’s style on display by providing studies on the different aspects of it. The shape of the target text highlights subtle differences that reveal the translator’s particular textual and thematic perspective. These studies answer the main question; they draw out and explain the translator’s approach, linguistic hurdles and inventions, Aramaic interference, and some subtle theological distinctions. Only by building upon a study of the Greek document can one then form a constructive response to this enquiry. This thesis contributes to the field by clearly presenting the translator’s adept ability with his own language, which was also marked with some Greek rhetorical devices. It also examines the concept of literalism in the Septuagint by drawing into focus the multi-faceted aspects of the translational, and therefore interpretational, process. And by reading Ambakoum as a religious and historical product, the theological differences with that of MT appear germane to the target text, unbound from our later readings of the source. The translator simply read his Hebrew text differently from the way we read ours; this thesis shows how.
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