Translation technique in Peshitta Ezekiel 8-11 and its value for the text of Ezekiel / Godwin Mushayabasa
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The Text of Peshitta Ezekiel has in the past not been appreciated for its usefulness in the textual criticism of the book of Ezekiel. The greatest influence on such a low confidence in the ancient Syriac witness to Ezekiel came from Cornill (1886). Recently however, scholars such as Mulder (1988) have begun to question this early view of the text of Peshitta Ezekiel. Such re-examination of the Peshitta text is still to be completed. The present study contributes to such a re-examination by carrying out a detailed study of the translation technique of a portion of the Ezekiel text, specifically chapters 8-11. This is consequently followed by a detailed analysis and evaluation of Peshitta Ezekiel, especially in light of the resultant translation technique studied. The translation technique of Peshitta Ezekiel can be described as containing both literal and free elements so that it cannot easily be painted by one picture or phrase. The text of Peshitta Ezekiel 8-11 is fairly literal in terms of word-for-word translation (grammatical, lexical and syntactical aspects), but quite literal in terms of conforming to the sense, meaning and general sentence structure of the Hebrew text. These literal aspects of Peshitta Ezekiel in turn mean that the text may be useful for the textual study of Ezekiel. This position is strengthened by the fact that the Peshitta translator did not so much rely on the Septuagint as may have been thought before. From the study of the four chapters of Ezekiel mentioned here, it has emerged that there are in fact, certain variants not attested in any other witness of the Ezekiel text, although these variants may be quite few in number. Furthermore, the Septuagint of Ezekiel itself is not a complete witness of the Masoretic Text so that Peshitta Ezekiel becomes important at those sections which are absent in the Septuagint. It appears that the problematic nature of the Ezekiel text requires the use of more tools for the study of that text, of which the Peshitta should be one. Additionally, considering the tentative nature of the literary history and transmission of the biblical text as a whole, one cannot afford to ignore the Peshitta text of Ezekiel as an important tool in solving the problems by which the Ezekiel text is plagued.
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