Saturday, November 5, 2011

Incorrect Translation: Part 1

This post is a way of dealing with responses to a book review I wrote on Amazon concerning a book that is being passed off as a translation of the Tanakh (Hebrew Scriptures, Hebrew Bible, etc.). The book in question is called "The Book of Yahweh", which I will denote as BOY in the rest of this post. The book review I wrote can be found at the following link HERE. My review is the first review that pops up and it is called "Untrustworthy, and by no means a translation of any text" dated November 4th, 2005. The book review concerns a fake translation, the BOY, written by an christian style organization in America that calls itself the House of Yahweh, I will call them HOY for short. They are led by a man who calls himself Yisrayl Hawkins.

One of the difficulties with writing a review about a book that is falsely claimed to be a translation is trying to show people why it is a fake. Because Amazon does not allow one to insert Hebrew or pictures I am opting to use my blog as a way to post the issues. My reason for doing this is because I have met people who were misled by this group and others like it and it is often hard to show in a simple English email why said book is wrong. There is also a debate I am involved with in the comments sections with some members of the HOY so this makes it easier to present my points for reference. If you read my book review it will make it easier to follow this post.

So the question that I deal with is, Is the BOY really a translation? What is the source material the translation was produced from? For example, if someone were to tell you they have produced an accurate translation of a 3,000 year old Middle Eastern text in the midst of a number mistranslated works how do you know if their work is any better than the others that exist? Other christian groups such as the Catholics and Protestants have bible's that they claim are accurate translations how does one know that the BOY isn't any different than them? The only way one can know is by researching the issues.

A practical example is the following. If someone were to ask me how does the Hebrew text of Isaiah 8:20 translate from Hebrew to English, I would answer in the following way. (Translation) To the Torah and the testimony/tradition/witness;  if a matter doesn't speak like this, it has no dawn.

Said person may say to themselves, how do I know if Ehav translated that correctly? The obvious next step would be for said person demand that I show them what original Hebrew text I translated from. If I actually translated it based on a source then I should have no problem presenting you with the following. Further, they may also demand that I show the oldest versions of Isaiah to compare them to determine if there was ever a change in the text. My response to them would be the following. Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 8:20, in Hebrew looks like this:

Isaiah Scroll from the Dead Sea Scrolls

Note: The last word of the first line is the beginning of the statement in question.

Further, you may look at the original text and express the reality that you cannot read it for yourself to which I can take the text and word for word break it down for you in the following way.

Translation - Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 8:20
"To the Torah (לתורה) and to the testimony/witness/revelation (ולתעודה); if a matter doesn't speak like this (אם-לא יאמרו כדבר הזה), it has no dawn (אין-לו שחר)."

The following words are really important for what I am going to be presenting. It concerns the words:

The above is from the Isaiah Scroll of the Dead Sea scrolls. This particular section of it states to the testimony/witness/revelation (ולתעודה). Now what one has to notice about this is the word (ולתעודה) is derived from the root word (ע-ו-ד), which means witness, testimony, custom. It is important to note that this root is also used for witnesses that are inspected for accuracy in courts. All of this can be found on page 589 of the Analytical Hebrew an Chaldee Lexicon as well page 1048 of Jastrow's Dictionary of Targumim, Talmud Bavli, Yerushalmi, and Midrashic Literature.

Another word in question could be the following.

This is also from the same Isaiah scroll and it states, it has no dawn (אין-לו שחר). The Hebrew word (שחר) means the early dawn between the time when it is still dark and about to transition into sunrise. All of this can be found on page 709 of the Analytical Hebrew an Chaldee Lexicon as well page 1551 of Jastrow's Dictionary of Targumim, Talmud Bavli, Yerushalmi, and Midrashic Literature.

If there is a possibility that I have mistranslated for any number of reasons than your question may cause me to either ignore you or to simply pretend as if you should just take my word on it because I am right. Any rational person would consider that they may need to look at the issue on their own in order know for sure. Anyone who reads this is free to choose to either accept, reject, or argue with my translation but they do not have to rely on for the correct understanding. Further, said person may determine that instead of trusting me, or anyone else for that matter, they should learn the languages for themselves and cut out the middle men.

This is the basis for the following posts about the HOY's book and though they are a christian organization in America I feel duty bound as a Jew to bring awareness to people who may be fooled by organizations like this who are basically put out a faulty product. I also am using this forum to respond to some of the HOY members who make comments in the comments section of the review. With this introduction I will post my further comments about the BOY.


Rachel Smith said...

I have just spent the last hour or so reading the back and forth comments on Amazon regarding this book. I believe that you have the knowledge and understanding to give a solid review, and you did that. These others who are jumping down your throat have clearly misunderstood the point of a book review. They don't have to agree with it, no one is forcing them to! But in their arguments they have resorted to petty insults, which says enough about their character to make me hardly pay attention to anything they have to say. I'm exhausted from reading all of that but I learned a great deal, and I want to thank you for your honest and informed review and refusing to "stoop to their level" as they say.

Ehav Ever said...

Greetings Rachel. Thank you so much for your comment. Sometimes I have to remember to not take the negative comments seriously because it always amazes me that such people would stoop sot such insults and then claim that the Creator of all things is on their side. I really appreciate the feedback.