External influences in the Peshitta version of Proverbs

Steyn, P. E. (1992-03)

Dissertation (D.Litt.) -- University of Stellenbosch, 1992.


ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The study of the Peshitta version of Proverbs started as research into the text-critical value of the Peshitta. By utilising the translation technique an attempt was also made to determine on which Vorlage(n) this book is based. In the course of this investigation it became clear that all the additions, of which the longest are found in chapter 9, cannot be sufficiently explained only by ordinary translation technique and/or style. Although these pluses may have been in the translator's Vorlage, there is considerable concurrence between the pluses and most of the deviations in the Syriac text with the Greek text, which indicates other reasons for their existence. It can be accepted with reasonable certainty that the Peshitta translator utilised the LXX to a considerable extent in order to establish a legible and simple translation. This fact is widely accepted and most scholars' treatises merely confirm most of the conclusions to which Hermann Pinkuss came in an article published in Z.A . W. of 1894. The exact nature and extent of this utilisation, however, have not been satisfactorily established as yet. In all the ordinary cases this utilisation extends from difficult and corrupt readings to readings that, according to the translator, may have been ethically or morally unacceptable. It was reasonably successfully shown that the Peshitta translator used a Hebrew text that probably did not differ from the MT to any significant degree. For example, the translator experienced similar problems with the MT to those that modem translators have to contend with. These problems were solved with the aid of the LXX and sometimes by means of harmonisation with other verses in the text. Judging from the translation technique of the Peshitta version of Proverbs it is clear that, where the translator came across some difficulty in the Hebrew text, he used the interpretation of the LXX quite liberally. The term interpretation should actually be stressed, because the Peshitta translator did not merely translate from the LXX. The tendency of the Syriac translation is always in line with the translation technique, which primarily attempted to explain what is written in the Hebrew. For this reason there are, in relation to the MT, fewer additions in the Peshitta than in the LXX. The Peshitta translator tried wherever possible to remain as close to the Hebrew text as the Vorlage and his understanding of the text would allow him. A larger problem, however, is to explain the existence of more extensive additions, which in some cases consist of several verses. After considering the relation of the Peshitta with other versions, it became clear that the possibility of other external influences, including the social and religious environment, had to be considered. Pinkuss stated that the Peshitta does not appear to present any connection with the Jewish or Christian religion. It should be borne in mind, however, that Judaism and Christianity share many ethical tenets. Furthermore, the Peshitta translation reveals remarkable nuances and would present only extremely subtle references to any belief. The Peshitta is after all a Christian document and the additions should perhaps be explained as an extention of the translation technique, which is to present the reader with a clear, unambiguous translation. Therefore the translation should perhaps be considered closely within the context of its religious milieu, namely, Syriacspeaking Christianity. Firstly, one should not expect Christianity in the East to present the reader with a dynamic, equivalent translation where every element of the text is carefully translated into Syriac. The rules of translation in the Syriac Church differed from the conventional translation technique in the West (which was too often concerned only with the avoidance of misinterpretation). It developed independently, because in a critical stage of the development of the Peshitta text (the fourth and fifth century), the Syriac Church was virtually cut off from the intellectual influence and debate in the West, which was critical in combatting the extensive increase in sectarian and heretical tendencies in the Church. Furthermore, most of the believers, and even priests, knew only Syriac. , Secondly, Eastern Christianity had more than Hellenism and a few philosophies that opposed the truth. The Church had to contend with a prolific number of cults and religions (not to mention sects) in all the cities in Syria. Thirdly, due to political factors, Syriac literature developed its own identity and traditions with regard to the establishment of Christianity in Osroene. The long strife that the Church had experienced with the Church in the West also fostered a unique self-image that the Syriac Church had of itself in the world. The schools in Edessa played a major part in perpetuating this tradition. Owing to the above-mentioned factors there would have been a number of readings in the Peshitta text that, according to the translator, warranted the changing of some words and phrases in the translation of Proverbs. Some familiar symbols and words with familiar references in the Syriac mind may have influenced the translation as well. Some variants are antiheretical and others are anti-anthropomorphic. The influence of Judaism should not be discarded in seeking the "rules" of translation in the Eastern Churches. The influence was more marked here than in the West. Numerous Jews even converted to Christianity and the intellectual contribution of Jews made to the Syriac Church and life is undeniable. Some Jewish practices (like the crowning of the bridegroom during the wedding ceremony) were maintained in the Eastern Churches. That this influence should come to the translation of texts was inevitable. Of course, the date of translation is important, but traditions did remain for a long time. In the light of all this, the additions in Proverbs do not render the Peshitta a Targum, but they should be considered a legitimate part of translation in Syriac Christianity. In conclusion, the external influences that played a part in the translation of the Peshitta are complex and are not limited to the Peshitta Vor/age(n) alone. The nature and extent of the influences on the translation of the Peshitta need to be extended to the socioreligious milieu as well. All the verses discussed in this thesis are investigated on their own merits and any identifiable influence is considered.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die studie van die Peshitta weergawe van Proverbia het begin as 'n tekskritiese ondersoek na die tekskritiese waarde van die Peshitta. Daar is gepoog om aan die hand van die vertalingstegniek van die vertaler ook te probeer bepaal watter Vorlage(n) hierdie boek ten grondslag le. In die loop van die ondersoek was dit egter duidelik dat gewone vertaaltegniese en/of styl nie al die byvoegings waarvan die twee langstes in hoofstuk 9 voorkom, voldoende kan beantwoord nie. Alhoewel hierdie plusse in die Vorlage van die vertaler kon wees, is daar sterk ooreenstemming tussen die plusse (sowel as die meeste ander afwykings in die teks) en die Griekse teks wat die vermoede van ander oorwegings vir hul byvoeging laat ontstaan. Daar kan met redelike sekerheid aanvaar word dat die Peshitta vertaler geredelik gebruik gemaak het van die LXX om 'n maklik leesbare en eenvoudige vertaling daar te stel. Hierdie feit word deur alle geleerdes aanvaar, waarvan die meeste, wat Proverbia betref, net die gevolgtrekkings bevestig waartoe Hermann Pinkuss in 'n omvattende artikel in die Z.A.W. van 1894 gekom het. Die aard van hierdie gebruikmaking is nog nie ten volle bepaal nie. In alle gewone gevalle kan hierdie raadpleging strek van m.oeilike en korrupte lesings tot by lesings wat na die mening van die vertaler eties of moreel onaanvaarbaar was. Dit is ook redelik suksesvol uitgewys dat dit'. vertaler van 'n Hebreeuse teks, wat nie te veel verskil van die MT nie, gebruik gemaak het. Die vertaler het byvoorbeeld ook dieselfde probleme gehad as wat modeme vertalers met sekere lesings het. Soms is hierdie lesings m.b.v. die LXX en soms d.m.v. harmoniering met ander gedeeltes opgelos. Die vertalingstegniek van die Peshitta weergawe van Proverbia is van so 'n aard dat waar die vertaler moeilike Hebreeuse lesings raakgeloop het, het hy geredelik van die interpretasie van die LXX gebruik gemaak. Selfs die veranderde lesings stem ooreen met die huidige MT. Die woord interpretasie word gebruik, want die Peshitta vertaler het die LXX lesings nie sonder meer onveranderd aanvaar nie. Die tendens van die vertaling was altyd in lyn met die vertalingstegniek, wat poog om die Hebreeus te verklaar. Om die rede is daar heelwat minder byvoegings in die Peshitta t.o.v. die MT as die LXX en is daar duidelik met die vertaling gepoog om so na as moontlik aan die Hebreeuse teks te bly. 'n Groot probleem is egter nie om die voorkoms van afwykings nie, maar om die uitgebreide plusse wat in sommige gevalle hele verse beslaan, te verduidelik. Pinkuss het al verwys na die Peshitta vertaling as sou dit geen beduidende aanknopingspunte met die Christelike of die Joodse godsdiens he nie. Daar moet egter in gedagte gehou word dat baie etiese vraagstukke deur Jode sowel as Christene gedeel word. Verder is die vertaling genuanseerd en indien enige verwysings bestaan, sou dit subtiel wees - om die minste te se. Hierdie byvoegings, of te wel plusse, kan egter aan die hand van die leefwereld van die vertaler en sy teiken-gehoor, d.i. die Siriessprekende Christene van die provinsie Osrhoene, verklaar word. Die Peshitta is egter 'n Christelike dokument en moontlik moet die verklaring vir hierdie afwykings gesien word as bloot 'n voortsetting of verlenging van die vertalingstegniek naamlik om 'n duidelike, ondubbelsinnige vertaling daar te stel. So gesien kan die vertaling eerder in 'n religieuse lig, gesetel in 'n spesifieke samelewing, ondersoek word. Eerstens, in die Siriese Christendom moet daar nie 'n dinamiese vertaling waarby elke element van die Vorlage presies weergegee word, verwag word nie. Die reels wat in die Christelike kerke in die ooste gegeld het, verskil van die konvensionele vertalingstegniek in die weste, waar 'n tegniek wat hoofsaaklik gerig was op die vermyding van enige waninterpretasie, gevolg is. Die Siriese kerk het nie die diep intellektuele insette in die Christelike godsdiens en die gepaardgaande uitgebreide literatuur gehad wat enige sektariese en heretiese tendense in die kiem kon smoor nie. Buitendien was die oosterse Christendom op 'n kritieke stadium van die ontwikkeling van die Peshitta teks (die vierde en die vyfde eeu), afgesonder van die westerse kerk. Boonop was 'n oorgrote meerderheid van sy lidmate, asook selfs sy priesters, net Siries magtig. Tweedens, die oosterse kerke het baie meer as net die Hellenisme en 'n paar Filosofiee as teestanders van die waarheid gehad. Daar was doodeenvoudig net te veel kultusse en randgodsdienste, om nie eers te praat van sektes waarmee die Kerk te karnpe gehad het nie. Derdens, die Siriese literatuur en tradisies wat verband gehou het met die vestiging van die Christendom in Osrhoene, het baie groot invloed gehad op die selfbeeld van die Siriese kerk betreffende sy plek in hierdie teenswoordige wereld. Die skole van Edessa waar al hierdie literatuur onderrig is, het ook 'n rol gespeel om die tradisies voort te sit. Weens al die bostaande faktore was die vertaler van die Peshitta genoodsaak om enige dubbelsinnigheid wat kon voorkom in enige vers in Proverbia, in die kiem te smoor. Daar is boonop ook subtiele verwysings wat m.b.v. sekere woordkeuses en byvoegings vertaal is, sodat dit na bekende simbole en sake van die leefwereld waarmee die Siriese leser vertroud sou wees, verwys het. Sommige variante is ook anti-hereties en anti-antropomorfisties van aard. Verder was die oosterse Christendom nader aan die oosterse leefwyse in die algemeen en sou die invloed van die Juda'isme hier sterker wees as in die weste, veral gesien in die lig van die feit dat daar heelwat Jode was wat hulle tot die Christendom bekeer het. Selfs sekere Joodse gebruike is ook in die Siriese Kerk bedryf (soos die kroning by 'n bruilof). Dat hierdie invloede tot by die vertaling van die literatuur sou strek, is onvermydelik. Die Joodse Christene het Hebreeus geken en die kerk was dus nie aangewese op die kennis van die Westerse Kerk nie (met wie hulle nie altyd kontak gehad het nie). Boonop was Latyn 'n ontoeganklike taal vir baie mense in die Siriese kerk. Natuurlik is datering van die vertaling belangrik, maar ongeag die Christene se verhouding met die Jode, sou vroee invloede beswaarlik net uit die Kerk uit weggeval het. Ten slotte, die eksteme invloede wat 'n rol gespeel het in die vertaling van die Peshitta is kompleks en is nie beperk tot die Peshitta se Vorlage(n) alleen nie. Die aard en omvang van die invloede op die vertaling van die Peshitta behoort die sosio-religieuse milieu in te sluit. In die ondersoek na die eksteme invloede is al die verse op meriete beoordeel.

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