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Tuesday, 20 January 2009

The TNIV and she who dwells in Zion

In an earlier post, I stated that the TNIV translators' usual procedure is to retain all generic female references, but no generic male references.

I now stand corrected--to a point. My own research has turned up one instance in which the TNIV let stand the reading of the NIV which had turned a generic female reference into a generic neuter one.
It's in Isaiah 12:6, which both editions render:

"Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion,
for great is the Holy One of Israel among you."

The word "people" is a paraphrase, without even taking into account that it is neither in the same number or gender as the Hebrew, which reads yoshebeth (inhabitress). The KJV, it should be admitted, had relegated the literal reading to the margin, and translated yoshebeth as "inhabitant," earlier versions having read along the lines of "thou who inhabitest." So in a sense, the 1978 NIV was a return to the gender ambiguity of the 16th century; earlier 20th-century versions appear to have been the first to make the reference specifically feminine in the English text.

But why did this word escape the notice of the TNIV revisers? I'm increasingly convinced that this is just another case of "global search-and-replace" and, because no specifically male word was found by the committee's computers, no change to a neutered word eventuated.

Clearly, less thought and care went into the preparation of the TNIV than we would be led to believe.

It's not as if the Committee had any problem identifying the 'people' of Zion as female in any of these verses:

2 Kings 19:21
This is the word that the LORD has spoken against him: " 'Virgin Daughter Zion despises you and mocks you. Daughter Jerusalem tosses her head as you flee.

Psalm 9:14
that I may declare your praises in the gates of Daughter Zion, and there rejoice in your salvation.

Song of Solomon 3:11
come out, and look, you daughters of Zion. Look [ Or interior lovingly inlaid / by the daughters of Jerusalem. / 11Come out, you daughters of Zion, / and look] on King Solomon wearing a crown, the crown with which his mother crowned him on the day of his wedding, the day his heart rejoiced.

Isaiah 1:8
Daughter Zion is left like a shelter in a vineyard, like a hut in a field of melons, like a city under siege.

Isaiah 10:32
This day they will halt at Nob; they will shake their fist at the mount of Daughter Zion, at the hill of Jerusalem.

Isaiah 16:1
Send lambs as tribute to the ruler of the land, from Sela, across the desert, to the mount of Daughter Zion.

Isaiah 37:22
this is the word the LORD has spoken against him: "Virgin Daughter Zion despises and mocks you. Daughter Jerusalem tosses her head as you flee.

Isaiah 52:2
Shake off your dust; rise up, sit enthroned, Jerusalem. Free yourself from the chains on your neck, Daughter Zion, now a captive.

Isaiah 62:11
The LORD has made proclamation to the ends of the earth: "Say to Daughter Zion, 'See, your Savior comes! See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him.' "

Jeremiah 4:31
I hear a cry as of a woman in labor, a groan as of one bearing her first child— the cry of Daughter Zion gasping for breath, stretching out her hands and saying, "Alas! I am fainting; my life is given over to murderers."

Jeremiah 6:2
I will destroy Daughter Zion, so beautiful and delicate.

Jeremiah 6:23
They are armed with bow and spear; they are cruel and show no mercy. They sound like the roaring sea as they ride on their horses; they come like men in battle formation to attack you, Daughter Zion."

Lamentations 1:6
All the splendor has departed from Daughter Zion. Her princes are like deer that find no pasture; in weakness they have fled before the pursuer.

Lamentations 2:1
How the Lord has covered Daughter Zion with the cloud of his anger [ Or How the Lord in his anger / has treated Daughter Zion with contempt] ! He has hurled down the splendor of Israel from heaven to earth; he has not remembered his footstool in the day of his anger.

Lamentations 2:4
Like an enemy he has strung his bow; his right hand is ready. Like a foe he has slain all who were pleasing to the eye; he has poured out his wrath like fire on the tent of Daughter Zion.

Lamentations 2:8
The LORD determined to tear down the wall around Daughter Zion. He stretched out a measuring line and did not withhold his hand from destroying. He made ramparts and walls lament; together they wasted away.

Lamentations 2:10
The elders of Daughter Zion sit on the ground in silence; they have sprinkled dust on their heads and put on sackcloth. The young women of Jerusalem have bowed their heads to the ground.

Lamentations 2:13
What can I say for you? With what can I compare you, Daughter Jerusalem? To what can I liken you, that I may comfort you, Virgin Daughter Zion? Your wound is as deep as the sea. Who can heal you?

Lamentations 2:18
The hearts of the people cry out to the Lord. You walls of Daughter Zion, let your tears flow like a river day and night; give yourself no relief, your eyes no rest.

Lamentations 4:22
Your punishment will end, Daughter Zion; he will not prolong your exile. But he will punish your sin, Daughter Edom, and expose your wickedness.

Micah 1:13
You who live in Lachish, [ Lachish sounds like the Hebrew for team.] harness the team to the chariot. You were the beginning of sin to Daughter Zion, for the transgressions of Israel were found in you.

Micah 4:8
As for you, watchtower of the flock, stronghold [ Or hill] of Daughter Zion, the former dominion will be restored to you; kingship will come to Daughter Jerusalem."

Micah 4:10
Writhe in agony, Daughter Zion, like a woman in labor, for now you must leave the city to camp in the open field. You will go to Babylon; there you will be rescued. There the LORD will redeem you out of the hand of your enemies.

Micah 4:13
"Rise and thresh, Daughter Zion, for I will give you horns of iron; I will give you hooves of bronze, and you will break to pieces many nations." You will devote their ill-gotten gains to the LORD, their wealth to the Lord of all the earth.

Zephaniah 3:14
Sing, Daughter Zion; shout aloud, Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, Daughter Jerusalem!

Zechariah 2:7
"Come, Zion! Escape, you who live in Daughter Babylon!"

Zechariah 2:10
"Shout and be glad, Daughter Zion. For I am coming, and I will live among you," declares the LORD.

Zechariah 9:9
Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Matthew 21:5
"Say to Daughter Zion, 'See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.' " [ Zech. 9:9]

John 12:15
"Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey's colt." [ Zech. 9:9]

Not one of these references escaped the notice of the revisers: in each case, the NIV read Daughter of Zion and/or Jerusalem.

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