Isn’t it much more interesting what God said than what any human said? Really, doesn’t God’s spoken language always come to us in translation? At least if we’re reading the Bible it does, doesn’t it? You can’t watch God on youtube or listen to God on your ipod, can you? And whatever God says is translated into what we humans say, or am I just saying “blah blah”?
So (at BBB) I find Dannii Willis’s problem with what Abram said in three Christian versions of the Bible so much less interesting than what God said. (What Abram said in the ESV Bible is “how am I to know …?” What he said in the NLT Bible and in the GOD’S WORD® Bible is “how can I be sure/certain?” Dannii questions as “very odd” the natural English of the ESV and wonders whether the NLT Bible and the GOD’S WORD® Bible take “the right approach” and asks if “all these translations miss the point completely.” The point of Dannii’s problem is to get at “whether this verse [is] about Abram’s cognitive dissonance.” Saving faith and doubtful knowledge make the communication of the point of the Bible rather problematic, with no help from translations that fail to mind this relevance, so Dannii says.)
What God said, in the ESV Christian Bible, is “Know for certain …”; what he said in the NLT and the GOD’S WORD® Christian Bibles, Dannii doesn’t tell us. (It’s, respectively: “Know for certain … ” and “You can know for sure … ”.)
We’re thinking God spoke to Abram in Hebrew. Moses has written (in what we call Genesis 14:13) that Abram was Hebrew, and Moses has written that in Hebrew. So is Moses translating or isn’t he? At least he’s transposing, isn’t he? It’s speech to text, right? What’s that sound like?
I like how Everett Fox makes it sound:
“You must know, yes, know … ”
Notice how Fox is having God say the same thing twice:
“know, yes, know … ”
Earlier translators, who were Hebrews, used their Hellene to have God say something similar:
“γινώσκων γνώσῃ … ” [ginoskon gnose]
The same thing twice.
So the Hebraic Hellene and the Hebraic English sounds like the Heavenly Hebrew, which sounds presumably like something God said, said twice. The Heavenly Hebrew written by Moses as translation sounds like this:
If you speak Hebraic Yiddish, then that might sound to you like this:
The point of that for some linguists is that there’s something for communication but of an “origin unclear,” which means, “perhaps onomatopoeic of blather.” One linguist conjectures a “Putative Yiddish etymology” for the reduplicated phrase, without ever thinking it’s a translation of Hebrew Godspeak. Is God saying “blah blah” in French or Swedish or English to the Hebrew named Abram? Whatever. We humans just now “know” it’s our language: