Interpretation and translation of complex Biblical Hebrew sentences

Interpretation and translation of complex Biblical Hebrew sentences

Interpretation of Complex Sentences

  • Be aware that interpretation of complex Biblical Hebrew sentences often requires a deep understanding of both the grammar and context.

  • Learn to identify ellipsis — an omitted word or phrase that is grammatically necessary but can be deduced from the context. This often occurs in poetic or prophetic texts.

  • Recognise and understand circumstantial clauses, which furnish background information about time, location or manner of an action.

  • Recognise the use of direct discourse (direct speech), especially in narratives, and understand its impact on sentence structure. Discourse often has a different word order from prose.

  • Be aware of parenthetic expressions, which interrupt the normal flow of a sentence for explanatory or emphatic purposes.

  • Understand the use of indefinite relative pronouns that introduce descriptive clauses to the sentence, contributing to the complexity.

  • Learn to identify the alternation of genres/styles of writing in long sentences. A sentence could switch from narrative to poetry or prophecy, each having its distinct features.

Translation of Complex Sentences

  • Remember that translating complex Biblical Hebrew sentences requires an in-depth understanding of both grammar and vocabulary along with a good grasp of idiomatic usage.

  • Be prepared to balance between literal translation and dynamic equivalence. Literal translation attempts to maintain the grammatical structure of the original text, while dynamic equivalence aims for conveying the same general sense in the target language.

  • Get familiar with the multiple meanings that polysemous words can have, and how context determines the most appropriate translation.

  • Understand that some Hebrew words do not have exact equivalents in English and might need to be translated by paraphrasing or adding explanatory notes.

  • Pay attention to the impact of complex sentence structures like parallelism, chiasmus, and inclusio on the translation process.

  • Consider the differences in word order between Biblical Hebrew and English. Hebrew commonly uses a verb-subject-object word order, while English usually uses subject-verb-object.

  • Learn to recognise and translate idiomatic expressions, keeping in mind that direct translation may not convey the intended meaning.