Sunday, August 24, 2014

Fun With Latin!

Bears are natural scholars.
Job 26.13 (Vulgate) "Spiritus ejus ornavit cælos, et obstetricante manu ejus, eductus est coluber tortuosus."

The Bear's translation: "His Spirit has decorated heaven, and His midwife's hand drew forth the winding serpent." (A constellation.) The Bear likes the image of God as a midwife, bringing all the magnificent, surging, struggling elements of creation to birth one by one. Hey, it's even inclusive!

The wonderful 16th century Douay Rheims Bible startles with one of its frequent Latinate firecrackers. "His spirit hath adorned the heavens, and his obstetric hand brought forth the winding serpent." The Bear thinks most people today would picture an OB GYN doc, which is a bit less poetic, and not as accurate, as births were attended to by midwives back in the day. Hence midwife.

Modern translations talk about the hand of God piercing a fleeing serpent, not bringing it forth like a midwife! St. Jerome had access to Hebrew texts long perished. On the other hand, God was abusing the monster Rahab in the previous verse, and the Jews liked their parallelisms. St. Jerome was not perfect, but I'm going with the "obstetric hand" -- or "midwife's hand."  It fits with adorning the heavens, and no one, not even God pierces a fleeing monster with his hand.

3 comments:

  1. I definitely prefer your translation! I love midwife, though I suggest "adorned" instead of "decorated".

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes! Adorned! Move over Monsignor Knox!

    ReplyDelete
  3. maaaaaan...you guys talk really purty.

    ReplyDelete

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