THE ORACLES OF JEREMIAH IN NORTHWEST SEMITIC RESEARCH

R Althann

Abstract


The oracles of Jeremiah, who prophesied in the 7th-6th century B.C., offer a great challenge to the translator. The elliptic poetic style of the Biblical poets continues to puzzle scholars who, faced with a limited quantity of classical Hebrew literature, frequently have recourse to the Old Greek or Septuagint translation, made in the 3rd-2nd century B.C. at a time when Hebrew had ceased to be the ordinary language of the chosen people. How well, then, was classical Hebrew poetry understood? Archaeological discoveries of the 20th century, especially those at Ras Shamra-Ugarit, have disclosed a considerable corpus of texts written in languages closely related to ancient Hebrew. This has greatly improved our understanding of Biblical Hebrew grammar and poetic techniques. While current scholarly opinion tends to maintain that the shorter oracles of Jeremiah found in the Septuagint translation more faithfully reflect those of the prophet, careful analysis of the standard Hebrew version of Jeremiah’s words in the light of the wider Northwest Semitic literature discloses finely constructed, artistic poetry whose grammatical and stylistic features were frequently missed by the Old Greek translators. 

Keywords


Oracles of Jeremiah; Elliptic poetic style; Biblical poets; Old Greek; Septuagint translation; Classical Hebrew poetry; Ras Shamra-Ugarit; Biblical Hebrew grammar; Northwest Semitic literature

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7833/16-0-1955

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ISSN 2305-445X (online); ISSN 0254-1807 (print)

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