prophetic perfect again

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R.J. Furuli
Posts: 109
Joined: Sat Sep 28, 2013 10:51 am

prophetic perfect again

Postby R.J. Furuli » Thu Nov 08, 2018 5:25 am

Dear list-members


I have just completed a translation into English of Isaiah, chapters 15 and 16. And I have some comments:

The words of 16:13 show that Isaiah 15:1-16:12 is a prophecy about the destruction of Moab, and that Isaiah received this prophecy before he wrote it down. At the time of writing, Moab still existed. But in three years, the prophecy would be fulfilled, and Moab would be destroyed. This means that the verbs of the two chapters have future reference. I count 17 imperfects and one imperfect consecutive (in 15:4), and I translate all these with English future. I count 31 perfects, and 28 of these I translate with English future. But the perfect in 15:7 and 16:6 I translate with English perfect, and the last perfect in 16:8 I translate with English past. I count seven perfect consecutives, and I translate all these with English future.

My principles are: I view the imperfective aspect as a “close-up” view of an action with details visible, while the perfective aspect is a viewpoint of an action, as if from “some distance,” with details not visible. I view the perfects and perfect consecutives of the chapters as normal future references with details not visible. But sentence initial perfects, which are rare, I also view as emphatic. When the aktionsart of the verbs allow for it, the use of imperfects and the imperfect consecutive make details of the future actions visible. For example, I translate the imperfect consecutive in 15:4 as “will be weeping aloud,” (Most translations render the imperfect consecutive with English present or future.) But the last perfect of the verse I translate as “his very soul will tremble.” I use the emphatic adverbial “very” because the subject precedes the verb and therefore it is stressed.

All Bibles I have consulted have zig-zag translations of these chapters, where most perfects are translated by English past or perfect, while the imperfects are translated with future. This shows that the metaphysical view of prophetic perfect has penetrated the whole discipline of Bible translation. I never stop wondering how intelligent linguists are not able to see that such a zig-zag translation in a future setting is nonsensical. But tradition die hard.


Best regards,


Rolf J. Furuli
Stavern
Norway

kwrandolph
Posts: 909
Joined: Sun Sep 29, 2013 12:51 am

Re: prophetic perfect again

Postby kwrandolph » Tue Nov 13, 2018 9:31 am

R.J. Furuli wrote:The words of 16:13 show that Isaiah 15:1-16:12 is a prophecy about the destruction of Moab, and that Isaiah received this prophecy before he wrote it down. At the time of writing, Moab still existed. … All Bibles I have consulted have zig-zag translations of these chapters, where most perfects are translated by English past or perfect, while the imperfects are translated with future. This shows that the metaphysical view of prophetic perfect has penetrated the whole discipline of Bible translation. I never stop wondering how intelligent linguists are not able to see that such a zig-zag translation in a future setting is nonsensical. But tradition die hard.


A lot of translators are not that good of linguists, which is why I don’t consider translations as evidence when discussing Biblical Hebrew.

Another problem is that there are professors who teach medieval Tiberian Hebrew or even modern Hebrew with some archaisms, and call it “Biblical Hebrew”. Many of those who end up as translators were taught by such professors. I was. That explains the continued popularity of Gesenius’ dictionary and grammar, which teach Tiberian Hebrew.

How many translators were taught Hebrew by translating to English in class, and never got beyond that stage? For me, I concentrated just on reading for understanding to try to get as close as I could to how an ancient Hebrew would think.

Combine the reasons given above, and you get traditions that refuse to die.

Karl W. Randolph.

R.J. Furuli
Posts: 109
Joined: Sat Sep 28, 2013 10:51 am

Re: prophetic perfect again

Postby R.J. Furuli » Thu Nov 15, 2018 3:45 am

Dear Karl,


A lot of translators are not that good of linguists, which is why I don’t consider translations as evidence when discussing Biblical Hebrew.


You are right, translations cannot be used as evidence for the meaning of Hebrew. But the opposite is true, Hebrew can be used as evidence for translations. The problem I try to illuminate is that the so-called "prophetic perfect" is taken out of thin air and is based on metaphysics. Yet, almost all Bible translations translate in accordance with "prophetic perfect."

In order to illustrate: As a basis for my doctoral dissertation I analyzed all the 57,000 finite and infinite verbs in the Tanakh. The results showed that yiqtol, wayyiqtol, weyiqtol, qatal, and weqatal refer to past, present, and future. This is objective evidence showing that the verb forms are not tenses—no verb form has an intrinsic tense meaning. Because the different temporal references of the mentioned verb forms occur in all the books of different ages, there is no evidence of a grammaticalization process in progress.

My results also showed that all the mentioned verb forms refer to completed and uncompleted actions at the deictic center. Thus, no verb form could be viewd as having a completed or uncompleted intrinsic force, or even a complete or non-complete force. These results are not metaphysical, but they are based on sound linguistic procedures. But that is not the case with "prophetic perfect." So, I challenge anyone who believe in the "prophetic perfect" to give linguistic evidence in favor of this belief.


Best regards,

Eolf J. Furuli
Stavern
Norway


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