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Language, polysemy, study of words during translations, Is the Bible translated faithfully?

How faithful are translators of the Holy Hebrew words ?

Introduction

Many websites have language teachers who declare polysemy common in all languages. They say English words are 60% polysemonous. Is this really true? Such teachers say that those who believe in monolinguisticism are doomed to failure as learners of another language, because languages are commonly polgotism. What this is doing is making those who believe languages have words with single basic meanings into a 'human oddity', while the 'majority of us' believe in multiple meanings is very common in languages. Sure the author agrees all languages do experience some polysemy, some words do have multiple meanings, but is this truly common, as these language teachers say? Today we might say evolutionary processes and technology processes are making older words have additional meanings, and this multiply meaning is known as polysemy.

However, some scholars say, multiple meaning words all come from a common origin. If that is so, then there is no real examples of words with very different meanings, only shades of differences, thus we might say words are related in meaning.

The translation process is quite complex and difficult, especially if the translator has reverence for his task, and the Holy Hebrew scriptures he has to translate from one language to another. Such translators might be dynamic, meaning they convey the meaning of the Hebrew into another language, without regard to the actual Hebrew words themselves. Such translations are poor, because you the reader, has to trust the translation implicitly in your language. Another translation process is more mechanical, such as the old KJV, where the Hebrew word is translated into an English word. But upon investigating the older KJV, we find they use a variety of English words for the same Hebrew word, suggesting that the Hebrew word has many meanings.

One can say Hebrew has broad meanings, thus perhaps many shades of meanings, but how far do we go with this idea? Do we simply trust our translators? Or do we do a simple check to validate their faithful work of translation?

This study cannot validate words with multiple meanings, because the Author does not know each language sufficiently good enough to see this. What we will look at is the faithful use of each language using the same word for the Hebrew, suggesting that in any language, there is a single basic meaning regardless of context.

This study looks at the languages of German, Spanish, French and English; as well as Greek and Hebrew to ascertain how the translation process works in Scripture, to see how faithful each translator was to the Holy Words.

Looking at 'adown' the Hebrew word for 'Lord'

(1)

Ge 24:9 And the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and sware to him concerning that matter. (English KJV)

Ge 24:9 "ebed" "suwm" "yad" "yarek" "Abraham" "adown", "shaba" "al" "zeh" "dabar". (Hebrew)

Ge 24:9 Da legte der Knecht seine Hand unter die Hüfte Abrahams, seines Herrn, und schwur ihm solches. ( German LGB)

Ge 24:9 Le serviteur mit sa main sous la cuisse d'Abraham, son seigneur, et lui jura d'observer ces choses. ( French LSV)

Ge 24:9 Entonces el criado puso su mano debajo del muslo de Abraham su señor, y juróle sobre este negocio. ( Spanish SRV)

So here is a typical Hebrew word 'adown', meaning Lord acording to the Author.

(2)

Isa 36:8 Now therefore give pledges, I pray thee, to my master the king of Assyria,...( English KJV)

Isa 36:8 "arab", "adown" "melek" "Ashshuwr",...(Hebrew)

Isa 36:8 Wohlan, so nimm's an mit meinem Herrn, dem König von Assyrien: ...(German)

Isa 36:8 Maintenant, fais une convention avec mon maître, le roi d'Assyrie,...(French)

Isa 36:8 Ahora pues yo te ruego que des rehenes al rey de Asiria mi señor,...(Spanish)

Here we see differences already in the language words chosen for the Hebrew word 'adown'. From the Author's point of view the word should still be Lord, because one is trying to remain faithful to the Hebrew, not faithful to the language one is reading in...It would be up to the language your reading in, to interpret the meaning slightly differently to suit your favour of language, thus you the reader are the translator, not the translator itself.

The King James is consistent making 'adown' as 'master' so far...

The German is consistent making 'adown' as 'Herr' so far...

The French has 'seigneur' for Abraham's Lord, and 'maître' for the Assyrian 'master'... (assuming my child like reading of languages is OK)...thus the French has additional words for different person relationships...

The Spanish has 'señor' for Abraham's Lord, and 'señor' for Assyrian's 'Lord'.

(3)

Now let's see what these translators do for a heavenly Lord...

Ps 8:9 O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! (English KJV)

Ps 8:9 "Y@hovah" "adown" "addiyr" "shem" "erets" (Hebrew)

Ps 8:9 [10] HERR, unser Herrscher, wie herrlich ist dein Name in allen Landen! (German LGB)

Ps 8:9 (8:10) Éternel, notre Seigneur! Que ton nom est magnifique sur toute la terre! ( French LSV)

Ps 8:9 Oh Jehová, Señor nuestro, ¡Cuán grande es tu nombre en toda la tierra! (Spanish SRV)

All translators do an excellent job here, the German add a suffix I think to Herr (scher). The King James translates 'adown' as Lord here, but not for human references of 'adown'.

(4)

Now let's test how these translators go on the famous Psalm Jesus quoted about Himself...cross referencing the OT with the NT words, from Hebrew to Greek.

Ps 110:1 The LORD said unto my Lord, ...(English KJV)

Ps 110:1 "Y@hovah" "n@'um" "adown"...(Hebrew)

Ps 110:1 Der HERR sprach zu meinem HERRN:.... (German)

Ps 110:1 Parole de l'Éternel à mon Seigneur:...(French)

Ps 110:1 JEHOVA dijo á mi Señor: (Spanish)

All translators do an excellent job here, they are consistent when referencing a heavenly Being.

(5)

Now let's test what they do with a OT Psalm and NT in the Greek.

  • Mt 22:44 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? (KJV)
  • Mt 22:45 If David then call him Lord, how is he his son? (KJV)

  • Ps 110:1 "Y@hovah" "n@'um" "adown"...(Hebrew)
  • Mt 22:44 'kurios' 'epo' 'mou' 'kurios' (Greek)

  • Mt 22:44 "Der HERR hat gesagt zu meinem HERRN: Setze dich zu meiner Rechten, bis daß ich lege deine Feinde zum Schemel deiner Füße"? ( German LGB)
  • Mt 22:45 So nun David ihn einen HERRN nennt, wie ist er denn sein Sohn? ( German LGB)

  • Mt 22:44 Le Seigneur a dit à mon Seigneur: Assieds-toi à ma droite, Jusqu'à ce que je fasse de tes ennemis ton marchepied? ( French LSV)
  • Mt 22:45 Si donc David l'appelle Seigneur, comment est-il son fils? ( French LSV)

  • Mt 22:44 Dijo el Señor á mi Señor: Siéntate á mi diestra, Entre tanto que pongo tus enemigos por estrado de tus pies? ( Spanish SRV)
  • Mt 22:45 Pues si David le llama Señor, ¿cómo es su Hijo? ( Spanish SRV)

    Notice each language uses the language words in that language consistently and faithfully.

    Let's go through them one language at a time....

    (1) In the English King James, "The LORD said to my Lord, if David called Him Lord"...King James does not translate this verse as 'master. despite inconsistent OT uses of 'adown'. Here the word is 'Lord' for 'adown' and this is correct. The translation says Jesus is "Lord', not 'master'.

    (2) The Greek does the same thing as the King James, using 'kurios' for 'Lord' including 'YHWH' as 'kurios'. However there are inconsistent translations of the King James suggesting Jesus is 'master' and not 'lord'.

  • Col 4:1 ¶ Masters (kurios) , give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master (kurios) in heaven

    In this verse both words are 'kurios' the same Greek word used in Matthew 22:44, but while Matthew gets 'Lord', Colossians 4 does not and gets 'master'.

    This suggests 'adown' has at least two meanings depending upon context. Is this true?

    (3) The German does not agree 'adown' has multiple meanings.... The use of 'Herr' for 'lord' is always consistent.

  • Col 4:1 ¶ Ihr Herren, was recht und billig ist, das beweiset den Knechten, und wisset, daß ihr auch einen HERRN im Himmel habt. (LGB)

    Martin Luther uses 'Herr' for 'lord' suggesting Jesus is 'Lord' in heaven, just as David called Jesus 'Lord' in the Psalms 110.

    (4) The French follows the KJV view that 'adown' can also mean 'master'...

  • Col 4:1 ¶ Maîtres, accordez à vos serviteurs ce qui est juste et équitable, sachant que vous aussi vous avez un maître dans le ciel. (LSV)

    The French use 'maitres' for both occurences of 'kurios' in the Greek, completely ignoring faithful Greek word used in Matthew 22:44. In other words the French are making a dynamic translation, not a mechanical one, and have decided to use a different French word here rather than 'Seigneur', which they used in Matthew 22:44.

    (5) The Spanish follow the same idea as the French, a dynamic translation with different Spanish words where neccessary.

  • Col 4:1 ¶ AMOS, haced lo que es justo y derecho con vuestros siervos, sabiendo que también vosotros tenéis amo en los cielos. (SRV)

    Here the Spanish word 'amos' meaning 'master' is used in this verse rather than 'senor'.

    So now we have a problem regarding trust... Who do we trust with our translators?

    Does German have a German word for 'master' ? yes, 'Meister' which may be the Hebrew word for 'teacher'?

    During the reformation, Martin Luther produced this German Bible translation, and it is a fine mechanical translation of the Hebrew indeed, so the Author trusts Luther more than other translators.

    From the Author's own work of reading and studying Hebrew, with scholars such as Jeff Benner, it is clear a pure mechanical translation of Hebrew into English is possible.

    On the next web page, let's look at possible multiple meanings..

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