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Polysemy in the OT - Printable Version

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Polysemy in the OT - aux - 03-03-2015

I was just thinking about split words in the NT translations and started to wonder if we shouldn't find the same thing in the OT translations, which would serve as a sort of 'control' we can compare to since I don't think there's anyone willing to argue that the TNK was originally in Greek and translated into Hebrew (and some Aramaic) -- then again I probably shouldn't give people ideas! -- just to see if a similar phenomenon emerges among the different translations that come from the Hebrew TNK.

Then I realized I already found an example of a polysemic term in the Hebrew TNK which I mentioned in another post, "the Hebrew word "repha" (rephaim singular) also means "to heal."" in addition to: 1) shade, ghost, departed spirit; 2) giant. I was able to find two examples of one Hebrew term "repha(im)" translated two completely different ways only instead of the two translations being split between different Greek translations (as in the NT) they were split between the Greek translation of the Hebrew TNK (LXX) and the English translations of the same. Virtually all English versions I checked had the same idea but sometimes used slightly different terms, ie. departed spirits/deceased/dead/shades or simply left as "Rephaim," as opposed to the other two main definitions, "giants" or "healers/physicians."

[Image: 2hob7tc.png]

So "rephaim" in Hebrew are all translated to English with the same idea in mind, shades/departed spirits (blue), while the Greek translation takes a left turn and translates "rephaim" with a totally different term referring to physicians (green) and only the original Hebrew term (yellow) includes both ideas. This is what we should expect polysemic terms with a set of definitions in an original language translated to totally different languages without equivalent terms with the same set of definitions to look like, precisely what we see happening in the NT when we compare different Greek MS families with the Aramaic Peshitta text.

The same thing happens in Psalm 88.10 but the chapter numbering system is different with the Greek. I haven't seen polysemy in the OT discussed here before but if it has been, sorry for beating a dead horse!

PS - In the course of looking up verses for this post I read that Psalm chapter 151, found in the LXX and DSS but not in the MT, is included among some manuscripts of the Peshitta. Hmmm.. I'll have to investigate further some time.

Re: Polysemy in the OT - aux - 03-12-2015

I added the Latin Vulgate and its English equivalent (Douay-Rheims) translations marked in red. Now we have the full spectrum of concepts behind the Hebrew term "rephaim" on display across different language translations kind of like a rainbow. Perhaps in a way they are all valid?

[Image: Screen_shot_2015_03_12_at_9_40_41_AM.png]
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Re: Polysemy in the OT - judge - 03-21-2015

Good point