Wednesday, May 30, 2007

flaming arrows of death

Josh Tinley likes the wording "flaming arrows of death" in the TNIV, Prov. 26:18-19:
Like a maniac shooting flaming arrows of death is one who deceives a neighbor and says, “I was only joking!”
Josh prefers that crisp metaphor over the wordings in the NIV:
Like a madman shooting firebrands or deadly arrows is a man who deceives his neighbor and says, “I was only joking!”
and NRSV:
Like a maniac who shoots deadly firebrands and arrows, so is one who deceives a neighbor and says, “I am only joking!”
It's nice to see that the TNIV not only updated some of the language of the NIV to be more current, but also made some revisions like this which are more effective from a literary standpoint.

6 comments:

anonymous said...

I wonder why you reproduce the the poetic linebreaks from the TNIV, but not from the NIV or NRSV.

More to the point, there is assumption about combining three different items that where the Hebrew lists:

zikim -- flames
chitsim -- arrows
namavet -- death

It is perhaps most poetic to list all three separately:

KJV: As a mad man who casteth firebrands, arrows, and death

Many translations assume the last two items are hendiadys:

NET: Like a madman who shoots firebrands and deadly arrows

But the TNIV is viewing this as a double hendiadys:

TNIV: Like a maniac shooting flaming arrows of death

So, it is indeed the case that the TNIV achieves an effect of great imagery here. However, it doesn't quite make sense (where can I buy "arrows of death" and how are they different from other arrows?)

Moreover, the effect is different from that in the original Hebrew. For that original poetic effect, one can turn to the KJV.

R. Mansfield said...

where can I buy "arrows of death" and how are they different from other arrows?

You can only buy them if you carry a "poetic license."

Peter Kirk said...

Anon, "arrows of death" are perhaps to be distinguished from the "safe" ones I had as a child which had a plastic sucker on the end! But perhaps a better wording for TNIV would have been more like the NET one: Like a maniac shooting deadly flaming arrows.

Is TNIV's interpretation a hendiatris?

By the way, the word you quote for "death" is in fact wamawet or vamavet, i.e. mawet/mavet with the conjunction attached. You nearly got me looking in my BDB for a rare word for "death", but I decided to check in a Hebrew text first.

Gary Zimmerli said...

A madman who casts firebrands, arrows, and death?

Reminds me of an image from an old, old TV show: a chimp with a machine gun!

Wayne Leman said...

I wonder why you reproduce the the poetic line breaks from the TNIV, but not from the NIV or NRSV.

There was nothing intentional about it. The line breaks occurred as they did in the e-texts I copied.

To tell the truth, I'm not clear on whether or not the line breaks are intended or not by the translators. If anyone else reading this can tell whether they are intended in any of the three versions listed, I'd like to know, and I can change the formatting in the post.

anonymous said...

Touche -- sorry for the typo -- my post was written in a rush.

In my printed copies of the NIV and NRSV, additional line breaks appear. I suspect that the online resources for some of these may have left them out.

The interpretation that it is a hendiatris is an interesting one -- it is certainly consistent with the Hebrew.

The literary effect in English is not bad in this case, it is just not the same as the Hebrew effect. We must also fear gaining something in the translation.