Thursday, April 23, 2009

McCarthy vs Wallace 4

I have figured out by now that I have not actually communicated the difficulty with Wallace and Burer's position. I'll try from a different angle.

Wallace and Burer state, "The parallels include (a) people as the referent of the adjective."

Here are four translations of this line from Psalms of Solomon 2:6.
    "the sons and the daughters in painful captivity, their neck in a seal, in (a place) visible among the Gentiles" (Brenton translation).

    "The sons and daughters (were) in harsh captivity, their neck in a seal, a spectacle among the gentiles." Psalms of Solomon by R. B. Wright in J. H. Charlesworth, ed., The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (London: Darton, Longman, and Todd: 1985), vol. 2, p. 652

    “Sealed (?) (was) their neck, branded (?) (was it) among the nations.” R. H. Charles, Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1913), vol. 2, p. 632: “in the sight of” as an alternative translation.

    The sons and daughters were in harsh captivity, their neck in a seal, with a mark among the nations. New English Translation of the Septuagint. Kenneth Atkinson in A New English Translation of the Septuagint by Albert Pietersma and Benjamin G. Wright, OUP 2007
These are the options -
  • a [place] visible
  • a spectacle
  • branded (ie with a brand)
  • in the sight of
  • with a mark
These reduce to three options.

a) an adjective qualifying an elided (omitted) noun topos (place)- 1 translation
b) idiomatic (based on an adjective with elided noun) - 2 translations
c) a noun - 2 translations

I argued for option c) that episemo is a noun in this case. Wallace and Burer argue that episemo is an adjective refering back to the Jewish captives. This in impossible since episemo is in the dative singular and the Jewish captives, "the sons and the daughters," in the nominative plural. They have to match and they don't. Episemo, in this passage cannot refer to the Jewish captives, or to people at all.

My comment, that episemo is a noun, is possible and is used in the most recent and very literal translation of the Septuagint, the NETS. My comment on, Adrian's blog, mentioning this translation, was deleted.

In their article, Wallace and Burer did not cite any translation of the Septuagint, making it impossible for me to verify the origin of their translation of this phrase.

They also state that, "it is followed by the dative plural referring to people" that is ethnesin - the "nations," which are according to them, are people, and explicitly not places. Later, in his blog post, Burer elaborates,
    But that more literal translation still supports our understanding of Rom. 16:7 as “well-known to the apostles,” for in Ps. Sol. 2:6 the place was “visible” or even “well-known” to the Gentiles. (The text does not say, “in (a place) visible among other places” or something like that, which would be parallel to “outstanding among the apostles.”)
Working from the English, Burer emphasizes that "apostles" in Rom. 16:7 and "gentiles" are both people, and therefore parallel. He indicates that it does not say among "places." I argue that the Greek says "nations." This is a possible parallel to the other papyri that say "cities" and "regions.` These are all places. If this is taken to be significant, then the phrase means "in a prominent [place] within the gentile nations," and not "visible to" the gentiles as Burer concludes.

In fact, we have no occurrence in Greek literature of en episemo meaning "visible to" other than the English translations for this one verse, that we see above. We cannot argue from these translations if we do not know if they are accurate.

Wallace and Burer cannot cite even one case where en episemo unambiguously means "visible to." Since none exist, then it is encumbant on the authors of this article to demonstrate that their prefered translation for Psalms of Solomon is correct, or at least, possible.

Wallace and Burer stated that episemo was

1) an adjective refering to the Jewish captives, (no)
2) was followed by en plus dative plural (yes)
3) and the dative plural referred to people, that is "gentiles" and specifically NOT places (no)

I protested.

It is not as if this has any relation to Romans 16:7 anyway, because Romans 16:7 does not contain the alleged idiom en episemo. In fact, Wallace and Burer, in their original article did not mention en episemo as an idiom at all.

It is possible that this is because there is no record that the idiom en episemo ever existed. What did exist was an idiom tois episemois tou nomou topois - "the prominent places of the region." That is as close as it gets. The other instance, which, once again Burer calls a parallel, omits topos and the editor of the manuscript has commented that
that "its omission was a mistake on the part of the original author of the papyrus." Burer cites this here.

So, let me recap. The so-called idiom, in which episemo is an adjective modifying an elided noun, is not verified to have ever existed, apart from the one time it is thought to be accidental. Apart from the English translations that we see of this phrase in Psalm of Solomon 2:6 and in 17:30, we have no evidence that the expression en episemo, with an elided noun, actually exists. The recently published NETS translation treats each occurrence of episemo as a noun, and not an adjective qualifying an elided noun.

If en episemo with an elided noun does not exist as an idiom, then episemo cannot be an adjective, and must be a noun. That is what I said. (It is technically possible then that Bible Works is wrong in this case.)

At this point, I note that the Wallace and Burer article

- did not mention the phrase en episemo but only episemo
- did not provide evidence that the expresson en episemo with an omitted noun (in which episemo can be an adjective) actually exists
- did not provide a literal translation for episemo
- did not reference the translation which they did use
- did not correctly note the case agreement of episemo
- did not provide evidence that the idiom en episemo existed

Their further comment that the use of en plus the dative indicates that the first group of people are not members of the second group of people, cannot be proven to be true in NT Greek. Many times en plus dative is used to indicate the members of a group - ὁ μείζων ἐν ὑμῖν Luke 22:26 (en plus dative) "the greatest among you."

When Wallace and Burer mention "collocation with words of perception" there is another difficulty, since there is no word of perception in the Greek. Episemos, as an adjective, means "to be marked."

My comment, that in Psalm of Solomon episemo is a noun, rather than an adjective, agrees with all the evidence concerning this verse and with the recent NETS translation. The only reason that two or three of the translations have used an idiomatic expression like "spectacle" and "visible" is because Psalm of Solomon is translation Greek, thought to be based on a Hebrew original and contains many phrases that are difficult to translate. This is one of them.

If, in fact, this work is a translation of the Hebrew, then it is even more unlikely that an idiom, not actually attested to elsewhere, would be used. Likely this is an over literal translation of an underlying Hebrew meaning "with a mark or brand" and stands in parallel to the words "captivity," "seal" and "yoke" in Pss. of Solomon 2:6 and 17:30. Branding slaves was not uncommon.

I did say that "It is very painful for me to constantly have to watch people make simple grammar mistakes." Yes, I stand by that statement.

PS. I don't expect anyone, except perhaps Mike Aubrey, to read these posts. The question is whether it is possible to clearly refute Wallace and Burer's article, or is it still such a muddle that it is basically his word against Linda Belleville, myself and a few others.


mike said...

D*mn this is an awesome post.

(can I say that? Is that allowed?)

Peter Kirk said...

You have at least one reader other than Mike - me! I'm glad you are writing these things clearly.

Perhaps you should consider making a more concise summary, with less of the personal matter, and submitting it to a journal for publication. That way you will get a few more readers and Wallace and Burer will get a challenge which they need to do something about.

Peter Kirk said...
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Sam C said...

I'm reading it also, and finding it very interesting.

Rebecca said...

I concur. You should definitely publish in a peer reviewed journal. It will take the discussion to another level.

J. K. Gayle said...

Mike and his *'s today :) ! So here's a puzzler for Mike, for Suzanne, or for any of us:

Suzanne, You say:

"In fact, we have no occurrence in Greek literature of en episemo meaning 'visible to' other than the English translations for this one verse, that we see above."

How would we translate the phrase in Book IV, Line 13, of the (Horoscope Astrology) Anthology of Vettius Valens? Unfortunately, this work has been far less translated into English than even Ps. Sol. 2:6 -- unfortunately, of course, because we're not real sure of typical meanings for en episemo in lots of contexts, as you point out.

Here's the bit from Vettius Valens (with some context around the phrase):

Ἥλιος Ζεὺς ὡροσκόπος Καρκίνῳ, Σελήνη Τοξότῃ, Κρόνος Διδύμοις, Ἄρης Ταύρῳ, Ἀφροδίτη Ἑρμῆς Λέοντι· κλίμα γʹ. ἐν ἐπισήμῳ τάξει στρατευσάμενος κατηγορίᾳ περιπεσὼν τῷ ληʹ ἔτει καθῃρέθη τῆς δόξης. ἐχρημάτισε γὰρ ἡ ἀναφορὰ τοῦ Ταύρου κγʹ καὶ Ἄρεως περίοδος ιεʹ, γίνονται ληʹ, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἑξάγωνος πλευρὰ Κρόνου καὶ Ἀφροδίτης ληʹ. ἀπὸ μὲν οὖν τοῦ λζʹ ἔτους φθόνους καὶ ἐναντιώματα ὑπέμεινε· Σελήνη γὰρ τὰ κεʹ ἐδήλου καὶ Τοξότης τὰ ιβʹ· γίνονται λζʹ, ἐναντιουμένου Κρόνου· ἀλλὰ καὶ Καρκίνος κεʹ καὶ Ζεὺς ιβʹ, ὅθεν μικρᾶς βοηθείας ἔτυχε.

J. K. Gayle said...
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J. K. Gayle said...

A much clearer, less mystical text (than the bit from the Vettius Valens Anthology) is John Chrysostom's commentary on Acts 10:24, speaking of Cornelius in Caesar City (aka Caesarea); and Philip Schaff give the English rendering:

Ἐπίσημος ἦν ὁ ἀνὴρ, ὡς ἐν ἐπισήμῳ πόλει τυγχάνων.

"The man was a person, of note, and it was in a city of note that he then was."

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Thanks. I did once research a lot of these. They refered to a prominent place of some kind. Here you have

ἐν ἐπισήμῳ τάξει - in a prominent position or rank

ἐν ἐπισήμῳ πόλει - in a prominent city

And from P. Oxy.

τοῖς ἐπισημοτάτοις τόποις τ[ῶ]ν κωμ[ῶν] 2108

τ[οῖς ἐπι]σήμοις τοῦ νομοῦ τόποις 2705

These are very common expressions. But I have not seen anything in which the noun for the place was omitted. Have you?

That is, I don't think that there is an idiom ἐν ἐπισήμῳ without a noun.

So the question is then how to translate that expression when it occrs in the Pss. of Solomon 2:6 and 17:30.

οἱ υἱοὶ καὶ αἱ θυγατέρες ἐν αἰχμαλωσίᾳ πονηρᾷ ἐν σφραγῖδι ὁ τράχηλος αὐτῶν
ἐν ἐπισήμῳ ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν

καὶ ἕξει λαοὺς ἐθνῶν δουλεύειν αὐτῷ ὑπὸ τὸν ζυγὸν αὐτοῦ
καὶ τὸν κύριον δοξάσει ἐν ἐπισήμῳ πάσης τῆς γῆς
καὶ καθαριεῖ Ιερουσαλημ ἐν ἁγιασμῷ ὡς καὶ τὸ ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς

I am suggesting that the expression here could be regarded as "in a brand" to parallel seal and yoke.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

One of the things that I forgot to add is that on Adrian's blog, Burer explicitly said,

"Thus there appeared to be an idiom in Hellenistic Greek which allowed the adjective ἐπίσημος when it referred to a place to stand alone, the noun τόπος being elided."

But this idiom is unknown outside of the Psalms of Solomon and not recognised by the NETS translation.