Of Blogs and Prepositions

David Ker is keeping blogging alive by announcing its death. And, like Friedrich Nietzsche, he keeps repetitively blogging other things like “Repeat after me: ‘There is no such thing as a prepositional phrase’.” (Nietzche was as extremely contrary in his positions, saying: “Extreme positions are not succeeded by moderate ones, but by contrary extreme positions.” Notice the ironic use of the prepositions, “by.”)

Not wanting to disappoint David or Friedrich, I still have something to blog. I think I mentioned this week that another friend lent me some books to read and that one was by Brennan Manning. There’s an online preview here, but I’m going to post below here on a Bible verse writer Manning says is transformational for him. It’s a verse from “Song of Solomon” which the author and his publisher quote as follows:

I AM MY BELOVED’S,
AND HIS DESIRE IS FOR ME.
(7:10 NASB)

If I were David, I’d try to ignore the preposition. If I were Friedrich, then I’d try to take some contrary extreme position to say it has nothing to do with God (or no longer does). If I were Brennan, then I write that the “FOR” is huge and that the “MY BELOVED” is God alive.

Since I’m J. K. Gayle, blogger for a few days more, I’ll just look at the Hebrew in the MT and the earlier Hebrew translation to Hellene in the LXX. I’m curious about blogging and prepositions and God and extreme contrary positions and love and lyrics and language and such.

Here’s the MT:

אֲנִ֣י לְדֹודִ֔י וְעָלַ֖י תְּשׁוּקָתֹֽו׃ ס

Here’s the LXX:

ἐγὼ τῷ ἀδελφιδῷ μου καὶ ἐπ᾽ ἐμὲ ἡ ἐπιστροφὴ αὐτοῦ

Now, whatever you make of it, there’s an extreme reason to believe that the Hebrew word ועלי is positional. It’s extremely pre-positional, and by that I’m suggesting that the language itself is playful, that it is alliterative with the other words, that it plays or enacts a relativity between the other words. There’s a relationship established. No, that’s too strong. There’s a relationship presumed. It’s a presumptive little word in a big sense. We don’t really have to go into commentary on whether the lovers are a king and a concubine or an uncle and a niece or God and Brennan Manning, not even a Jew but a Catholic, and perhaps not even now much of a Catholic if you know his story. The point is somebody’s singing about somebody else. And it’s a song that can be prayed, with MT vowels in Hebrew and CAPITAL LETTERS IN THE NASB.

When we turn now to the LXX, we get a different preposition. It’s ἐπι. Again, there’s this presumption of relationships, some also like the Hebrew, something similar to the conjoining AND in English, but we tend to use it more for “over and above” in English. It’s mashed up in the extreme with another phrase to make ἐπιστροφὴ. The Greek NT readers are quickly going to note how it’s very uncommon there. David might even call it dead Greek. It’s the word most English translators call “conversion,” as in Acts 15:3, where the nations or the goyim or the ethnics or the Gentiles are converted. But this is much more an LXX word, although not much more of one. The “turning over” here suggested by the Hellene phrases in the Hebrew Song turns the Greek reader back to the repetitive calls to the Lover (in verse 6:13). In Hellene, it’s ἐπίστρεφε ἐπίστρεφε ἡ Σουλαμῖτις ἐπίστρεφε ἐπίστρεφε. In later sung Hebrew, it’s the mirrored שׁוּבִי שׁוּבִי הַשּׁוּלַמִּית שׁוּבִי שׁוּבִי. Interesting thing is that Brennan Manning says he prayed this one verse (IN NASB we guess) repeatedly and it converted him. In a “significant interior development” he suggests, that moved him, turned him over “from I should pray to I must pray.” I’m noticing the prepositions here, how very personal, how extreme this is.

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2 responses to “Of Blogs and Prepositions

  1. Fermat was a brilliant mathematician in his spare time. He was a very dull clerk for a “living.” I suspect you are not a dull professional but I know you are a brilliant blogger. You will be missed when you’re gone.

    • You have to be proud of yourself. Didn’t you teach me to blog? I’ll look forward to reading about myself in your murder mystery. And, watch out, I may turn novelist like you.

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