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The Translation of the Great Isaiah Scroll
Topic Started: Dec 31 2010, 03:33 AM (1,222 Views)
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The Essenes in Qumran who copied this scroll approximately 100 BCE are not to be considered the protectors of an accurate text identical with the Tanach which would have been revered by the Rabbis. They were actually far from the main stream and it is clear that the Q text of Isaiah is a "dialect" of Hebrew. It is not a translation, but is characterized by modifications in spelling and personal pronouns to match the then current Aramaic dialect that the Essenes would have spoken. It was much like changing "ye," "thee" and "thou" to "you" and "thine" to "yours" would be to us. Thus the preservation of an identical letter for letter received text was not at all a part of their motivation in their use of the scriptures. The Qumran texts that I have translated (1QaIsa) and (1QpHab) are dialects of Hebrew and not the Hebrew of the Tanach. Preservation of the original Hebrew letter for letter text was the role played by the Rabbis of the "main stream" in Jerusalem and Babylon (Sura, Nahardea and Pumbidita) and they had a special class, an office called Scribes, who carefully copied manuscripts then kept the new and destroyed the old. The Essenes were not and did not claim to be copyists of the same genre.

With this fact in mind, (that the Qumran scribes used their own discretion to alter the text to fit their own dialect), then the correspondence between the text of the Great Isaiah Scroll and the Masoretic text of Isaiah is all the more remarkable.

In the following translation I am only changing word order within some lines but not between lines; for instance the Hebrew word order in line 6 of page 44 is "ground dry" and I am changing it to "dry ground." In English, adjectives usually precede nouns and in Hebrew they follow after the noun they modify. If one is able to make sense out of the word order even though it is clumsy in English I am leaving it as it is in a word for word order where possible. I am making as nearly as possible a word for word translation and using the person and number of verbs and number and gender of nouns and pronouns that are in the Q text. If the person number or gender of nouns, pronouns or verbs differs from the M text in this translation you can be fairly certain that the Q text contains that reading. There are idioms that are difficult to translate word for word. For instance "he has healed us" on page 44 in verse 5 in line 11 is a possible rendering of the text. Most translators have chosen "with his stripes we are (or were) healed" The word for word Hebrew is idiomatic and hard to translate word for word. It is "in the wounds of him we are healed to us." (Heb. "u-va-chavuratiyv nirp'a lanu)

Words that are implied but not in the actual text I have placed in italics. I am certain that the rendering below is accurate but as it is possible for humans to make mistakes I would appreciate it if you find one to point it out to me.

Relative to the time of a verb: as to it being past or present time: Hebrew verbs are not time defined. Only the context can determine the time (past, present, or future) Thus in the translation it is legitimate for you to change the tense of the verb to suit what you believe to be the case. For instance line 8 of page 44 it would be just as accurate to write "he is despised and we do not esteem him. Surely our griefs he bore" as would be "he was despised and we did not esteem him. Surely he is bearing our griefs."

I have not corrected idioms but left them word for word: for instance in line 15 of page 44 at the end of verse 8 I have left the literal words "a wound was to him" instead of smoothing it out to "he had a wound" or "he was wounded."

Paragraphs which are part of the Q text are shown by adding (PP) to the end of the paragraph and leaving a blank line between the numbered lines.

In the translation of the Great Isaiah Scroll which follows: The Column numbers and the line numbers correspond to the pages and the corresponding lines in the scroll. All the corresponding words are found on the same numbered line in the scroll without exception. The numerals in parentheses mark the verses. Chapter divisions are marked within the text or if a space is left for the chapter division in the scroll this is noted. The presence or non presence of articles and conjunctions will be followed as consistently as possible. If a conjunction is called for in English but does not appear in the Hebrew text it will remain left out or be in italics. Since therefore, as much as is possible, this is a word for word translation, the attempt is made to also use corresponding parts of speech. And since, a word for word translation is being used so that the lines have the corresponding words on them, this will necessarily make for a more "clumsy" translation. The translation therefore will not be smooth, but it will be accurate and the beginning Hebrew student should be able to easily find the place in the text of the word, or words, he may be interested in..

Link: http://www.ao.net/~fmoeller/qa-tran.htm#c5
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