Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Translating the Name of God

Here is what I think about word "God" and how to translate the word "elohim". It was brought to my attention that the word "God" maybe a name of a deity. Here is a quote from email that I've got:

“The original scriptures does not use the Pagan word of "God".  This was something initiated by the Jesuits.  The translation is wonderful except for... the use of the word "God".”

I considered such possibility however English language does not have a good clean synonym for the word "elohim". If I would translate it as a "creator" or "supreme/divine being" it is not going to be understood by modern reader and in the context of 10 commandments.

As far as I know, there is no evidence to suggest that the word "god" in English is the same as the Semitic word in question which means "divider".  Even so, as far as I am aware, the Semitic word which sounds similar is also a title that was used for many gods just as "god" or "elohim".  

There are lots of claims out there of words being deity names and words that are supposedly derived from deity names when the evidence is simply not there.  I don't know what it is about this issue, but for whatever reason people like to complain about using all these different words while they themselves use them.  In my opinion this poor scholarship leads many to reinterpret Ex 23:13 because they simply believe it is not possible to observe it as it is written.  This is frustrating to me, especially whenever I cite a legitimately confirmed problematic word and it is dismissed along with all of these poorly researched memes.

Obviously I do not consider the word "god" an issue.

I am thinking to translate "Yahweh Elohim" as either "Existing God" or "Yahweh God". In my idiomatic translation I used Yahweh. I also now tend to lean toward transliterating "Yahweh" instead of translating it as it is the name. 

One way to translate "elohim" is "judges" or "powers". This is somewhat reasonable but I think it gets tricky considering the plurality of it.

I am personally in favor of transliterating the Name rather than translating it.  I think the translation is effectively given in Ex 3:14-15.  However, transliterating it isn't going to really work so well considering the vowel pointing is not original and has otherwise been intended to be obscured by the Jews in history, it seems.

In my idiomatic translation I translated "elohim" as "forces". I did consider "powers" but it did not fit well in some places. It is plural and it seems to be an indication of "a power" or "a force".

I do not think one should care about pronunciation of the name because it is my understanding of Exodus 3:14 that He will be known as He will be known, meaning that as long as you referring to One True God of the Torah it would be acceptable to pronounce His name in any way. Some people know Him as Yahweh, some a Yahuah e.t.c.

One translation says "I shall become who I am becoming", so obviously Yahweh talks about His name and obviously the implication is that of irrelevance of the name just for the sake of it. This is how I see it. Ex 3:15 simply gives the whole title, Yahweh, God of your fathers..." etc.

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