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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: January ::
Re: Psalm 46
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0102  Wednesday, 20 January 1999.

[1]     From:   John Savage <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 19 Jan 1999 10:45:32 -0500
        Subj:   SHK 10.0088 Re: Psalm 46

[2]     From:   Mike Jensen <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 19 Jan 1999 08:48:24 -0800
        Subj:   SHK 10.0079 Re: Psalm 46; Sh. in Love; Spin-off

[3]     From:   Carl Fortunato <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 19 Jan 1999 13:32:28 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0097 Re: Psalm 46

[4]     From:   Thomas Larque <
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        Date:   Wed, 20 Jan 1999 04:02:15 -0000
        Subj:   SHK 10.0097 Re: Psalm 46


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Savage <
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Date:           Tuesday, 19 Jan 1999 10:45:32 -0500
Subject: Re: Psalm 46
Comment:        SHK 10.0088 Re: Psalm 46

>Surely the amazing side of this story, which I have mentioned to classes
>for some thirty years, is that someone sat down at page 1 of the Bible
>with the intention of finding something about Shakespeare somewhere in
>that thick book - and stayed with it until he did.

But is that indeed what happened?

What is wrong with the theory that someone just stumbled upon the
remarkable Psalm 46 "coincidence" while reading the Bible?  Seems much
more likely to me.
>But didn't you read the rest of Thomas Larque's post, and my post on the
>subject?

I did indeed.  And I'm afraid it all left me a bit confused.  Perhaps
you can help me.

>Those who worked on the Old Testament all were Hebrew scholars
>who knew the language.

One reason for the confusion.  How do we know all were Hebrew scholars?
You quoted Butterworth: "We do not possess a complete list of the
fifty-four men thus appointed; indeed the fullest list we have includes
but forty-seven names."  From your quote it would appear that some were
indeed Hebrew scholars, some were Greek scholars, and some were-may we
say we can't be sure what the others were?

>The way you've taken the above quote out of context seems
>pretty disingenuous.

I would never accuse anyone of disingenuousness, but I take the liberty
of noting that in your post you do not even address the theory, advanced
as a strong possibility, that one of the 54 scholars may have, as an
academic jest or prank, buried the Stratford chap's name in Psalm 46.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike Jensen <
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Date:           Tuesday, 19 Jan 1999 08:48:24 -0800
Subject: Re: Psalm 46; Sh. in Love; Spin-off
Comment:        SHK 10.0079 Re: Psalm 46; Sh. in Love; Spin-off

>Those who don't like the idea that Shakespeare had a hand in the KJV
>will be happy to know that there is no proof that he did.

>On the other hand, there is no proof that those 50 odd men appointed to
>the job did the work either.

And neither did hundreds of thousands of others.  I feel confident in
believing they too did not translate the KJV.

Richard, I don't mean to be unkind, but this is a rather obvious
critical thinking error.  Shakespeare is hardly in the same category as
those who worked on the KJV in that we have most of their names and da
Bard ain't on the list.

It has been demonstrated that Ps. 46 does not work as a cipher.

It has been demonstrated that the position of those words was
established in earlier translations.

It has been demonstrated that everyone known on the translation team was
an expert in their field.  Look up the posts from last November from an
even fuller account.  Shakespeare almost certainly did not know Hebrew.
Psalm 46 was translated from Hebrew.

Another critical thinking error everyone seems to miss is all the other
lovely language in the KJV.  No one proposes Shakespeare to have done
more than Ps. 46.  If the ocular proof is the lovely language, then you
should find evidence all over the place.  I hate to give Stephanie
Hughes any encouragement, but you would have to posit that Shakespeare,
or a team of poets were at work here too unless maybe, just maybe,
several of the translators had a gift for using the English language
well.  Is that really too remarkable to contemplate?

It is time to stop whipping this poor horse and bury it.

With little cheer,
Mike Jensen

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Carl Fortunato <
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Date:           Tuesday, 19 Jan 1999 13:32:28 EST
Subject: 10.0097 Re: Psalm 46
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0097 Re: Psalm 46

>>I've been trying to find a copy of the Psalm 46 in the Geneva Bible
>>without luck.  In the samples I've seen of the Geneva Bible, it often
>>reads word for word like the King James, so I suspect that may also be
>>the case here.
>
>Here's the Geneva Psalm 46 text, downloaded from LION (a very useful
>source). I have only added hard returns at the verse divisions, and not
>done any cleanup otherwise: the format is tricky, given the sidenotes
>(which are links away, not on the page).

Where do you find this LION?

Actually, this lends a bit of credence to the conspiracy theorists.  In
the Geneva Bible, as in the KJV, the words are both "shake" and "spear,"
but they are the 47th word from the beginning and 44th word from the
end.  But from the word "spear" until the end, the Geneva and King James
read precisely the same, with 2 small exceptions:

1) in verse 9 the KJV has "chariot" for the Geneva's "chariots," and

2) also in verse 9, the KJV adds the two words "in sunder":  The Geneva
says, "[H]e breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear," whereas the KJV
says, "[H]e breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder."

This addition of two extra words makes the count equal 46.  And
according to "Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible" (Not really
scholarly, but handy, and usually accurate), "in sunder" does not appear
in the Hebrew.

However, it should also be pointed out that the KJV frequently adds the
words "in sunder," when it doesn't appear in the Hebrew.  Other
occurences are:  Ps 107:14, Ps 107:16, Isa 27:9, Nahum 1:13, and Luke
12:46.  So there may be nothing more to it than a common piece of
phraseology coincidentally popping up in the right place.

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Thomas Larque <
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Date:           Wed, 20 Jan 1999 04:02:15 -0000
Subject: Re: Psalm 46
Comment:        SHK 10.0097 Re: Psalm 46

>At Job 41: 29 we read thus:  "Darts are counted as stubble: he laugheth
>at the shaking of a spear."

If this was evidence of Shakespeare's involvement in the project, then
he must have been very busy - as well as dangerously treacherous.  The
Douay-Rheims Old Testament (originally published in 1609-1610, before
the King James Version - but too late to influence it in any serious
way) has "As stubble will he esteem the hammer, and he will laugh him to
scorn who shaketh the spear" (Job 41:20).

Since this was a Catholic Bible, produced on the Continent by English
Exiles - traitors to Shakespeare's England - it seems extremely unlikely
that Shakespeare could have been involved.  It is even harder to believe
that he was working on both Bibles at the same time, or that translators
in two violently opposed camps decided to commemorate Shakespeare in
exactly the same way.

The Douay-Rheims text can be read online at:
http://davinci.marc.gatech.edu/catholic/scriptures/douay.htm

>This was the original KJV reading.  I suppose the learned scholars might
>have known exactly what they were translating, and yet we find in the
>Oxford Univ. Press edition of the Bible a marginal correction which
>makes out the correct translation to be "Clubs are counted as stubble:
>he laugheth at the rushing of a javelin."

The similarity between the Douay-Rheims reference and the King James
neatly collapses this argument, but it may still be helpful to look at
some other English translations of the Bible to see how they relate to
the King James.

The "Bible Gateway" site ( http://bible.gospelcom.net ) and "The Bible
Search Engine" ( http://www.thechristian.org/bible/bible.htm ) together
with the Douay-Rheims Bible listed above give these English language
translations of Job 41:29 ...

NIV [New International Version - 1978]
A club seems to him but a piece of straw; he laughs at the rattling of
the lance.

RSV [Revised Standard Version - 1946]
Clubs are counted as stubble; he laughs at the rattle of javelins.

NASB [New American Standard Bible]
Clubs are regarded as stubble; He laughs at the rattling of the javelin.

KJV [King James Version]
Darts are counted as stubble: he laugheth at the shaking of a spear.

DBY [John Nelson Darby's tranlsation - 1890]
Clubs are counted as stubble; he laugheth at the shaking of a javelin.

YLT [Young's Literal Translation - 1898]
As stubble have darts been reckoned, And he laugheth at the shaking of a
javelin.

NKJV [New King James Version]
Darts are regarded as straw; He laughs at the threat of javelins.

ASV [Authorised Standard Version]
Clubs are counted as stubble: He laugheth at the rushing of the javelin.

DOU [Douay-Rheims]
As stubble will he esteem the hammer, and he will laugh him to scorn who
shaketh the spear

So in all but two of these translations the weapon is always shaken or
rattled - it is only "rushing" in the ASV, and the NKJV describes it as
threatening instead.

The NIV and DOU, like the King James, substitute another word for
"javelin" (although the NIV uses"lance" rather than "spear") and four of
the translations replace "club" with either "hammer" or "darts".

"The learned translators might have known exactly what they were
translating", but this doesn't mean that they always agreed on how best
to translate it, then or now.  There are significant variations between
most of the translations of Job 41:29 - and only the ASV matches the
translation noted by the Oxford University Press.

>It will need some Biblical scholar to tell us why this suggestion was
>put forward.  ... Is the word "rush" like "shake", and "javelin" like
>"spear?  We need someone to tell us about this.

I'm no Biblical scholar myself, and cannot comment on the accuracy of
Biblical translations - hopefully somebody else will tell us how the
original text relates to English - but a look at the choices made in
other English translations gives a good indication of the answer to
these questions.

The word "shake" was apparently close enough to the original text for
about half of the translations I've seen to use it in some form, and the
weapon is almost always either shaken or rattled.  Nobody except the ASV
uses the word "rushing", and so there seems no reason to expect the KJV
to have used it.

There seems to be a greater consensus among these translations for the
use of the word "javelin" rather than "spear" in this verse, but the
relatively recent NIV edition - like the KJV - offers an alternative
("lance") which suggests that there is enough flexibility in the text to
allow more than one interpretation.  The Douay-Rheims agrees with the
King James that the weapon is a "spear".

A quick check shows that the various translations frequently disagree on
which Bible verses actually refer to javelins.

The King James Bible, as a whole, makes very limited use of "javelin".
With one exception (Numbers 25:7) the word only appears in KJV in the
book of 1 Samuel (18:10, 18:11, 19:9, 19:10, 20:33) - all of these being
references to a "javelin" that Saul throws at David.

The only other translation to agree with the KJV about Saul's "javelin"
is "Young's Literal Translation".  The other seven have Saul attacking
David with a "spear".  Opinion is more evenly divided on the KJV's use
of "javelin" in Numbers 25:7, with four other translations opting for
"javelin" (ASV, DBY, NKJV and YLT) while three prefer "spear" (NASB, NIV
and RSV), and the Douay-Rheims translation refers to "a dagger".

The 19th & 20th Century translations (excluding the KJV and DOU) use the
word "javelin" unanimously in only three verses.  These are : Joshua
8:18, Joshua 8:26 and 1 Samuel 17:6.  The KJV and DOU disagree on all
three occasions.

The KJV translators used "spear" instead of "javelin" in Joshua, but
seem to have made a huge mistake in 1 Samuel.  All of the other
translations state that Goliath has a "bronze javelin" or "javelin of
brass" slung over his shoulders, the KJV calls it "a target of brass".
In other words the KJV translators thought that Goliath was carrying a
shield, while the more modern translators thought it was a javelin.

If this is a mistake, then the DOU translators are still more
inaccurate, calling the "javelin" in Johsua a "shield" and giving
Goliath "a buckler of brass".

The repeated conflict between translations on whether or not to use
"javelin" is well illustrated by Job 41:26.  This verse is particularly
interesting since the use of words meaning "spear", "dart" and "javelin"
(or something similar) in the same sentence makes it impossible for the
translators to use the words "spear" or "dart" in their translation of
the final word.

NIV
The sword that reaches him has no effect, nor does the spear or the dart
or the javelin.

RSV
Though the sword reaches him, it does not avail; nor the spear, the
dart, or the javelin.

NASB
The sword that reaches him cannot avail, Nor the spear, the dart or the
javelin.

KJV
The sword of him that layeth at him cannot hold: the spear, the dart,
nor the habergeon.

DBY
If any reach him with a sword, it cannot hold; neither spear, nor dart,
nor harpoon.

YLT
The sword of his overtaker standeth not, Spear -- dart -- and lance.

NKJV
[Though] the sword reaches him, it cannot avail; Nor does spear, dart,
or javelin.

ASV
If one lay at him with the sword, it cannot avail; Nor the spear, the
dart, nor the pointed shaft.

DOU
When a sword shall lay at him, it shall not be able to hold, nor a
spear, nor a breastplate.

Since this reference occurs only three verses before the proposed cypher
in Job 41:29, the disagreement between the translations is all the more
significant.  Once again, something which the other translations refer
to as a javelin is confused by the Renaissance translations who refer to
it as protective armour (a "habergeon" is a chainmail shirt).

Before reaching any firm conclusions about the use of "javelin" and its
alternatives in the various texts, it would be useful to know which
Hebrew words were being translated in each case - and whether or not it
was always the same word.

Without this information, it is still clear that the use of the word
"javelin" in other translations is no indication that the word will
appear in the KJV.  So there seems to be no intrinsic mystery about the
KJV's failure to use "javelin" in Job 41:29 - and there seems just as
little mystery about the KJV's failure to use the word "rushing" in the
same verse, since most of the Bibles listed above describe the weapon as
shaken or rattled instead.

In any case, a reference to a spear being shaken can never be considered
firm evidence of Shakespeare's involvement in a text, as similar phrases
appear in a wide variety of sources including (from a quick Web search)
:

"... shaking his murderous spear" - Bacchylides 13.120.
"... shaking a sharp spear" - Homeric Hymns 28.5.
"... the challenger shaking his spear" - Three Kingdoms (a 15th Century
Chinese text)

The likelihood of any of these texts having been written by Shakespeare
is fairly minimal.  I would suggest that the same is true of both the
King James and Douay-Rheims translations of the Bible.

Thomas.
 

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