User talk:Alephb

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Hello, Alephb, and welcome to Wikisource! Thank you for joining the project. I hope you like the place and decide to stay. Here are a few good links for newcomers:

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Again, welcome! --EncycloPetey (talk) 02:56, 18 January 2017 (UTC)

Anonymous IP Comments[edit]

An annonymous IP address has left the following on my userpage:

You INCOMPETENTLY "work" on the Wikisource Bible. I doubt you are a fluent Hebrew speaker, as your translations are tone deaf to the Hebrew connotations, and mostly follow other translators without attribution, probably running afoul of copyright laws.

To which the only possible answer is: show me where. Show me what verses I'm mistranslating. And, in particular, show me where I'm violating copyright. That's a serious charge, and should not be made without details. Alephb (talk) 21:28, 19 July 2017 (UTC)

Hey, that was me. I was responding to some edits that I thought were using other sources without attribution. I was totally wrong. Sorry. You can delete the comment. Since we have discussed at length the exact mistranslation (at the time I left this, I was peeved about the "animals" bit in Exodus ch 1), there is no reason to have this here.
But I notice that I can no longer leave comments on the Genesis talk page! I believe the range of IP's I am using is blocked.
I was going to respond to your comments about "Kawaii" and "Nechmad" as follows. I AM AWARE of the drift in meaning of Nechmad from ancient to modern times, I was aware of it as I was translating. I did NOT translate "Nechmad" as "Cute". The point of talking about this association is just that AS AN ASSOCIATION, as a cloud of meaning you need to understand, because that cloud tells you what flavor of words to use, not because it is accurate. To know that "Nechmad" has a cute association DOES NOT MEAN IT SHOULD BE TRANSLATED AS CUTE. I, in fact, did NOT translate it as cute, rather, I made a rhyming translation of nice to see. The root of the word is "Chemed", desirable, and the meaning is only "cute" because LATER HEBREW took this connotation and ran with it, and turned it into Kawaii cute. The connotation tells you what flavor to use, not what word to use. The word is "nice", the flavor is "cute", and the flavor is a minor issue, but it is an IMPORTANT minor issue, because there are other ways to be nice, e.g. "Sexy nice", which is the connotation in the part where Eve takes the fruit from the tree and it is "Te'avah La'eynayim". In that case, I wrote "Look how the fruit makes the eyes lust", because there the association is sexy nice, not kawaii nice.
These associations are 100% accurate as to the "cloud" around the words, and it is this un-spoken but important cloud of associations which one must be aware of in order to produce a reasonable translation.
Regarding your comments on Psalms, the syllable count is NOT exactly matched, but it is very close, as I was aware of the count, and of the meter. I matched the meter relatively precisely in most places, and made sure that when reading it aloud, the rhythm would be comparable in both English and Hebrew.
Can you check why I can't comment on the talk page? It will be annoying if this continues. 13:29, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
Last edit I made I saw a notice that said they've restricted the Genesis talk page to registered users due to "excessive comments by IPs." I'm guessing that's some kind of protective response due to the fact we've been writing a book today at a pretty rapid pace. If you get a login, you should be able to get in no problem. By the way, when you said you moved to Israel recently, I suddenly recognized from your writing style who you must be. Can I call you by your real name, or do you want me to keep that quiet? My lips are sealed if you want to stay anonymous. Alephb (talk) 13:34, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
Ok, that's fine. I should have gotten a login. I don't care if you use my real name, but how the heck would you know who I am? Ok, I'm totally curious: who am I? 13:51, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
Ron Maimon. You've gotta be. I've got a weird set of interests, and I've seen you write on physics and cold fusion before, and I think I saw you mention Moses' grammar somewhere once. I think it was Quora. And then there's the writing style, which is memorable. It's the CAPS that give it away. Usually only dumb people use CAPS, but you're clearly high-IQ and use CAPS all the time. I think you might be close to the only smart person that does that. Also, the extreme confidence combined with disregard for conventional opinion. I would not have pegged you for someone into Bible translation, though. Alephb (talk) 13:55, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
NOOOOO!!!!! YOU FOUND ME OUT!!!!! Dude, who are you? 13:58, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
It's not a normal interest, I never read the Bible until I did the translation! I did it after I got into Chomsky/Everett battle, you know, about recursion, so I wanted to know if ancient languages recurse. So I decided I should check out the Bible, to see if the early parts use recursion (they don't, not really). Then I remembered Marlowe did Ovid translations, and I was like "I can do that too, I speak an ancient language, nyah, nyah." By the way, I FREAKED OUT when I saw you changing stuff, because I did like a chapter a day, and translated 5 books (Gen, Exo, Lev, Lamentations, Habakkuk) and Psalms 1-65, and I was sure that you would change everything to some standard normal boring crap. But you're doing a really good job of finding all the crap I made mistakes on, which is good, because I really did a half-ass job. 14:03, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
A factory worker from Ohio. I don't typically use my name on the internet anymore, because back when I did (I used to write a lot on the Bible) I had a looot of angry people from the internet to deal with. That's why I figured I better check before guessing. I'm working on getting into an actuarial career, and I figured I didn't want employers to be able to google me ticking everyone off, so I only use pseudonyms now.
Yeah, the recursion battle centers on the Piraha people, among other things, right? I'm not super-familiar with it, but it's up my alley. If you never picked up the Bible before starting a translation, that would explain some things. But I think you're probably doing much better than most people would working just from modern Hebrew. Alephb (talk) 14:06, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
Ok, ok, so I never ran into you before, sorry for asking your name, you don't need to compromise yourself. I made a LOT of screw ups at first, but I got used to it after "Lamentations" (that was the first translation I did). Genesis is pretty straightforward. I do screw up the places where modern Heb and ancient are different, but I always checked against another translation before posting, and if it was obvious I got it wrong, I fixed it. Also, Psalms is MUCH harder than any of the Torah.
I was curious which parts of the Bible have linguistic recursion. Genesis is entirely free of recursion, and there are parts where it says stuff like "He walked to Shechem, this being the city by the sea" (Hu halach le-schem, zu ha-ir leyad hayam) which is a total giveaway that the author doesn't know recursion. But if you look at Ecclesiastes (I did that translation too), then you see it's completely recursive! So, informally, I sort of verified that Everett is right, and the recursion in Hebrew comes during Greek times. But it's informally, you know. Nice to meet you, alephb. 14:11, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
I could be wrong about this, because I probably followed the recursion battle less than you did, but I think Chomsky's definition of recursion is strict enough that he would see a lot of things in Genesis even as recursive. Like, pretty much any time asher is used with a dependent clause, I think. I think by Chomsky's way of seeing it, even Genesis has recursion, but just less than, say, a later text like Ecclesiastes. But definitely it gets more recursive as time passages. I chalk this up to the process where the act of writing gets ingrained into a language and changes how people put words together, like in Walter Ong's Literacy and Orality. Alephb (talk) 14:19, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
And no, I don't think we ever talked before this. I just like to see what the less accepted ideas in physics are once in a great while, but I definitely don't know enough to have any strong opinions on it. Alephb (talk) 14:20, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
All right, given that there's a huge amount of untranslated stuff, and given that we could probably talk our brains off about what's already been translated, I think I'd like to go a somewhat different route. I think I'll focus on stuff that hasn't been translated yet, and leave Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Lamentations, and Habakkuk alone until the rest is done. I'll reserve the right to raise issues on the talk page, but otherwise I think I'll stay away from those five books except to fix obvious typos, capitalization issues, and punctuation stuff. Alephb (talk) 14:35, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
If I screwed something up, please discuss it! It took like 5 years before there were any comments on the translations. I like the improvements to Genesis 1 2 so far, but I am not happy about the "waters intensified on the land so so much" that was taken out of the Noah story. I was going to finish Psalms someday, but they are super-duper hard. Do you know King James or another English version? It helps for originality to come at it as a tabula-rasa. 15:06, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
I'm fairly familiar with the King James. The last five years or so, though, I've mostly worked with the Hebrew text (off and on, mostly as a hobby). The King James was a good attempt for its time, but there's been a lot of advance since then. The King James was made not too long after Protestants first started reading Hebrew, and they learned it from Jews, and given that it was near the end of the middle ages, that means a lot of what you get in the King James when it hits obscure stuff is, oddly enough, based on Rashi and rabbinical exegesis. The issue of "so so much" is just a stylistic issue. I just don't think the biblical Hebrew "meod meod" lands the same way as the English "so so much" which strikes me as something someone would text. But that would take us aside into a discussion about what "formal" and "informal" mean in different cultural contexts, and whether there's evidence for diglossia in biblical Hebrew, and I suspect that we'd have pretty different impressions on that.
In general, I think you lean a little bit more toward preserving the exact grammatical structure on a word-to-word level than I do, while I lean a little bit more toward preserving (what I see as) meaning and tone. We're both a lot more inclined to literalism than a lot of modern translators. Alephb (talk) 15:16, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
What's going on is that you're an honest translator. The difference is that you are familiar with the text already, I came at it as a blank slate. I agree that "meod meod" might strike you as not so informal, but for me, it is very quaint, and beautiful, and hauntingly so, because it is so childlike. There is an image in my head of raindrops pittering down by the ark and then transforming into a torrential downpour, and the ark "walking along the surface of the water", is so beautiful in Hebrew that I felt it had to be exactly the same in English, because the image is strikingly more beautiful than the corresponding "started to float" or some such is so lacking in imagery in comparison.
There is also the "Chamesh-esreh amah milemalah" part, which I actually remember reading as a child of around age 12 or so, in Israeli school. I didn't get this from the teacher, but the moment I read that verse, I immediately imagined the ark 15 cubits from the "top", meaning 15 cubits from the top of the dome of the sky. This is automatic reading for the Hebrew, and all the standard translations are substandard. When I translated it, I wrote "15 cubits from above the waters built", and it is important, because this translation is precise and preserved the ambiguity.
Regarding Leviticus, the last part about "pawning" in chapter 27 is EXTREMELY DIFFICULT. I had a very tough time figuring out what is meant. You left a comment saying "nobody is to be killed for debts", but please examine the Hebrew. The person is not being killed for debts, of course, but the person-property (i.e. slave) who is pawned and not redeemed, is killed, along with any animal that is pawned and not redeemed. It's very difficult Hebrew, so I would REALLY appreciate a second honest opinion. It helps to look at it as if you never read it before, which for me is easy, because I never read it before, but it might be hard for you, considering you probably have a lifetime of experience with this. 15:28, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
I'd rather discuss those specific chapters on the specific talk page. I think I've put in enough Bible thought in for one day. I'll get back to you on Leviticus on Leviticus, and if you get a login I'll get back to you on milemalah. I'm a little sketchy on milemalah, because I see some of the verses using it pointing in two seemingly different directions, just like miqqedem. One day I should do a more thorough study of all the different things the Hebrew Bible does with the mem prefix. Alephb (talk) 15:43, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
Ok, no problem. But the "mem" prefix just means "from". Mekedem just means "from the past", but in Hebrew it means "since the past", meaning from the past until now. It's not hard, just translate it "from" and you'll always be right. "Milemalah" just means "from the top", it's not ambiguous. I'll get a login, and now I have to compete with you, secular translator vs. religious (I'm totally presuming, but keep me in my delusion, it's a good motivator). 16:16, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
Oh, no, I'm talking about miqqedem meaning either from the east or toward or "off in" the east. It's really messed up. Similar things occur with milemalah. No language should allow a word meaning "from" to mean "to." T'aint natural.Alephb (talk) 19:06, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
It always means "from". It doesn't mean "to". You just don't speak Hebrew. No matter how much studying you do, unless you speak modern Hebrew, you simply are not going to figure out all the nuances, sorry. Learn modern Hebrew. I recommend to watch "Salah Shabatti" and some other Israeli movies until you understand them fluently. It's not formal studying, but it will get you to stop seeing "mekedem" as strange. It isn't. It's just Hebrew. 15:14, 24 July 2017 (UTC)
I have a brand new login, but I still can't comment on genesis talk page.RonMaimon (talk) 15:28, 24 July 2017 (UTC)
And . . . once again you're trying to tell me what miqqedem means in biblical Hebrew on the basis of what it means to you in modern Hebrew. If you were the slightest bit interested in learning about ancient Hebrew, I could show you why there's difficulties with it, but I have my doubts about how productive any conversation would be when it starts with you proclaiming "X always means Y in ancient Hebrew, because I speak modern Hebrew." My goodness. Alephb (talk) 21:34, 24 July 2017 (UTC)
I don't think you understand---- I SPEAK THE LANGUAGE. I SPEAK IT. I read it, I understand it, I can produce it in indefinite quantity, and none of the stuff you bring up seems strange to me, except in the 1% of cases footnoted and noted. You're coming in and telling me all the "nuances" in my NATIVE LANGUAGE! And you aren't even fluent in it. It's galling! It's like if we were translating the Ramones, and I lectured you on the meaning of "Hey, ho! Let's go!" and told you that "Let's" is in the unusual aspect of the diminutive laxitive, where the subject is inflectionally sublimated, so you should translate it to "For heavens sake, my dearest chap, it is time for us to leave", and then whenever you fix it to "Hey ho! Let's go!" I kept on insisting that there are all sorts of subtleties.
None of these so-called nuances seem strange to me. Especially not "miqeddem". It means "from the East" in all cases, even in the case everyone translates as "to the East", and it's the ENGLISH language that is weird for using "to the East" to mean the same thing. If you spoke Hebrew you just wouldn't see that as strange. By the way "East and Past" is conflated in Hebrew because people come from the East. To avoid future problems, I will simply conduct all the conversations on the talk page in Hebrew, and ask you to respond in kind. I should point out that Rashi and the Maimonides did that too, for much the same reason, which is why we have Mishnaic and Modern Hebrew.RonMaimon (talk) 04:28, 25 July 2017 (UTC)
Since you're clearly not interested in learning the ins and outs of the biblical Hebrew uses of m-, I see no reason to discuss it further. You keep talking about how you speak the language, but you don't. Nobody natively speaks biblical Hebrew anymore. Capitalizing "I SPEAK IT" over and over again won't change that. As I've now said several times, I don't want to discuss particular passages on my talk page. We can discuss them at the appropriate talk page or not at all. If you can't get into the Genesis talk page, we'll simply have to wait until you work out whatever technical problems are keeping you locked out. Alephb (talk) 04:35, 25 July 2017 (UTC)
@Hrishikes: Since the IP user in question has an account, and since both Alephb and RonMaimon wish to continue this discussion elsewhere, you can unprotect Translation talk:Genesis now. Mahir256 (talk) 05:17, 25 July 2017 (UTC)
@Mahir256: Yes check.svg Done Hrishikes (talk) 05:41, 25 July 2017 (UTC)

There are not ins and outs of Biblical Hebrew "m". The reason "mekedem" means "in the East" is because you are imagining you are coming from there when you say where it is. Like Elvis Presley is from the South. He is from Memphis. Memphis is TO the South. Wait. So Elvis is "from" the South, he's "from" Memphis, but Memphis isn't "from" the South, it's "to" the South? What gives? Why the inconsistency? Hebrew just doesn't have that inconsistency.RonMaimon (talk) 05:28, 25 July 2017 (UTC)

Because it's pretty clear that you're going to keep claiming that you understand biblical Hebrew preposition use due to your use of modern Hebrew, I'll say it again. I do not wish to discuss the question of mem here further. I do not wish to discuss the question of mem here with you further. I do not, at this talk page, wish to discuss the question of mem with you further. I don't want to discuss it. Is that clear enough? Alephb (talk) 05:32, 25 July 2017 (UTC)
Yeah sure. I am not "claiming" it, I explained it clearly. There are no subtleties, the usage is identical in Modern Mishnaic and Ancient Hebrew. It's just different from English, because English is stupid. But I won't discuss here again.RonMaimon (talk) 05:34, 25 July 2017 (UTC)
Please don't. Alephb (talk) 05:35, 25 July 2017 (UTC)

Genesis question[edit]

וַיְהִי-עֶרֶב וַיְהִי-בֹקֶר, יוֹם שְׁלִישִׁי

How to translate this? It's also in the same tense as "wayehi or". Do you have an idea? "And it was to be evening, and it was to be morning, a third day" or "It was evening, and it was morning, a third day"?RonMaimon (talk) 16:39, 24 July 2017 (UTC)

I also notice that the sentence: יִשְׁרְצוּ הַמַּיִם, שֶׁרֶץ נֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה; וְעוֹף יְעוֹפֵף עַל-הָאָרֶץ, עַל-פְּנֵי רְקִיעַ הַשָּׁמָיִם. Does NOT have the usual tense. It just says "The waters will infest with teeming living animal spirit". Not "The waters are to infest...".
The word וּלְהַבְדִּיל means "to distinguish", not to "separate".
I incorporated your comment into the text, so that it reads according to the correction, not the Masoretic. The principle here is that you want to differentiate the new translation as much as possible, within reason, in accordance with translating the text as accurately as possible, from others. So where there is a chance to incorporate a correction that others do not take, and it is plausible, I take it. In this case, the Syriac and the parallel is good evidence for an omission, although not as good as the grammar error in the Kain and Abel story.RonMaimon (talk) 17:03, 24 July 2017 (UTC)

I believe you left this comment: (3:15) crush . . . bite. In both cases the Hebrew word means injure. For the sake of smoother reading, and because the ways humans and snakes "injure" each other are pretty clear, this translation uses "crush" and "bite."

NO NO NO NO NO NO NO! הוּא יְשׁוּפְךָ רֹאשׁ, וְאַתָּה תְּשׁוּפֶנּוּ עָקֵב That's the Hebrew. The KING JAMES has the same word in both places, but if you actually read Hebrew, you see that the first instance means "spill the head", which in context is "spill the crap out of your head", or "split your head", while the second is "rub up against your heal", or scuff your heal, as I TRANSLATED IT. What the heck???? Maybe it wasn't you, but I think it was. The absolutely correct translation is "He will split your head and you will scuff his heel. This is totally worrisome. Do you even read Hebrew, or do you pretend using King James?RonMaimon (talk) 18:11, 24 July 2017 (UTC)

I may discuss questions about Genesis on the Genesis talk page, but not here. Alephb (talk) 21:31, 24 July 2017 (UTC)
I can't discuss there. I realize now that I was wrong about the last Hebrew comment, although the SOUND of the Hebrew makes it sound exactly like what I said, the GRAMMAR is the same word in both cases. But that connotation is there, even though it isn't in the text, it comes from Shofech and Shofef, two different words, meaning "spill" and "rub", although in this case, the "caf" at the end of ishofecha is just indicating that it's "to you" while the lack of caf is just indicating "to him".
But right before that, I MADE A TERRIBLE MISTAKE! You reviewed it and didn't catch it. I wrote "a personal feud", misreading a word that means "I will send" as a word that means "personal", with different pronunciation, and completely anachronistic. I thought you were reviewing with a Hebrew text on one side, and the translation on the other, as I always do, but it seems you are just comparing to memories of King James.RonMaimon (talk) 04:28, 25 July 2017 (UTC)
I'm not aiming to catch every mistake you make, because you make them too fast, and correcting you on anything requires listening to the same angry lecture about how you speak Hebrew natively, and dageshes don't exist on yods, and how there's a word called chattaot, and how shatal is found in the naming episode for Abel, and how nechmad means Kawaii, and so on, and so on, endlessly. If you've written "personal feud" anywhere I haven't seen it yet. Given the enormous quantity of stuff you're doing in a very short, don't expect me to fix all the mistakes. I do have things I'm attempting to do in life other than watching all your edits. It should be clear to you by now that I'm not working from the King James, so the accusation is ridiculous. And as I keep saying, I'm not here to discuss particular translation choices on my home page. We can do it at the appropriate talk page, or I won't discuss at all. Alephb (talk) 04:46, 25 July 2017 (UTC)

(deindent) I wrote the whole text originally, I made all the mistakes, and all the non-mistakes. I will list the mistakes you made in chapter 3 (there were infinitely many more than I made): first, you keep saying "you may" in the part where God is commanding Adam to not eat from the tree. There is only ONE occurence of "may", the first time, the rest are simply "will" and "will not". You translated "Chaguroth" as "loin-cloths". This is not accurate in imagery, because they aren't "Cloths", they're made of leaves, and the word means "belt" as in "belted around the waist". You translated "Betoch hagan" to "in the middle of the garden". It doesn't mean that, it means "inside the garden". The "middle" is interpretation. The proper interpretation perhaps, but that's not your job.

My translation is extremely literal, because I don't want to get into religious disputes or interpretation. I make very few mistakes per word, you make them every single time you translate, and also you are slow, because you don't speak the language fluently.

אבקש ממך לענות בעברית מעתה והלאה, כי יש צורך לברר שבאמת אתה דובר, כי לא נדמה לי.RonMaimon (talk) 05:18, 25 July 2017 (UTC)

I've requested this at least three times now. I do not wish to discuss particular translation choices in Genesis on my talk page. I won't discuss particular translation choices in Genesis on my talk page. Please don't try to get me to discuss particular translation choices in Genesis on my talk page. Is there any other way I can phrase this request that will help make it clear that I do not intend to discuss particular translation choices in Genesis on my talk page? Alephb (talk) 05:21, 25 July 2017 (UTC)

בסדר, אבקש סליחתך, ונלך לאתר הפירושים בדף המתאים.RonMaimon (talk) 05:33, 25 July 2017 (UTC)

Maybe tomorrow. Alephb (talk) 05:34, 25 July 2017 (UTC)
Alephb, please, Come back! You fixed my MASSIVE SCREW UPS in Genesis, I was so embarassed when I saw that I misread the cloud business in Ch10! Please tell me if I've offended you, and please erase all the messages here. The adversarial method produces really accurate results. I think the translations of Gen 1-11 here kick so much ass, they will become standard, displacing KJV permanently. Plus, your Hebrew is really very good, if you just produce it for a while, instead of just consuming it, you will be fluent in like a month.RonMaimon (talk) 18:27, 2 August 2017 (UTC)

I appreciate the sentiments. I would much rather that messages be kept on the pages. Eventually, when the talk pages get to long, there's an organized method for sweeping old messages away where they are archived and searchable. It's not (mostly) a matter of offense -- it's that we have a meta-translation problem. I think biblical scholarship (real scholarship, the kind you see in VT and JBL, in a secular setting, is basically not broken, and that when translators disagree things like concordances and looking over the scholarly literature are invaluable. I place a much higher value on the use of academic sources. You place a much higher value on your instincts as a native speaker of Hebrew (modern Israeli Hebrew, but we both agree that there's a lot of continuity). I don't see this basic difference of approach changing. There's also a number of differences we have about what translation fundamentally is, on the relationship between translating and interpreting, on whether the Hebrew shows signs of "formalness" and on what formalness means, to what degree the grammar is "broken" in some passages, and so on.

This would be fine if we were each working on our own individual translations and commenting on each other's. We could each probably provide a lot of insight that the other is missing. It would also be fine if we were only two voices out of many on a team project. In that case, we would probably wind up on the same "side" a lot of times against certain more traditional translation methods. But if we are the only two translators on a very large project, and there is literally no one available to break ties between us, then the whole thing becomes an endless contest of wills, because we fundamentally do not accept each other's basic methods. I don't see this as a matter of one of us being a better person, or one of us being particularly dumb, or anything like that. Just major philosophical differences -- like humans on the internet always have -- plus no real mechanism for resolving them.

I have a suggestion for a way of dividing up the labor. Why don't we split the Hebrew Bible down the middle, and assign you some books and me some books? And then we'll both agree that on your books, your method is the final arbiter of correct translation choices, and I'll do nothing but make suggestions here and there while you get to decide. Then on my books, my method is the final arbiter of correct translation choices and we'll do things my way but you can add suggestions where you want. We'll agree that I won't make any edits on your turf that you disapprove of, and you won't on my turf that I disapprove of. Both of us will recognize that the other person can do things we don't approve of, with or without an explanation, in their own "territory."

We can use this as a semi-permenant truce to last as long as we are the only two people contributing and while there's still stuff left to translate. When the whole thing is translated, or when other people start contributing, then this deal is off and we go back to regular editing practices and we can argue and revert each other to whatever extent is appropriate. It wouldn't mean that the final product is split 50/50, it would just be as long as we're the two editors and there's still new passages to translate.

That's my proposal. As a preliminary divide, what if we gave you Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Habakkuk, and Psalms, since you've already done those? Give me Numbers and Deuteronomy because I've done a lot of work on those. Then we can split everything else book by book. Say, for example, I get Joshua, Samuel, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Joel, Obadiah, Micah, Zephaniah, Zechariah, Proverbs, Song, Lamentations, Esther, Ezra/Nehemiah. And you get, say, Judges, Kings, Jeremiah, Hosea, Amos, Jonah, Nahum, Zephaniah, Malachi, Job, Ruth, Ecclesiastes, Daniel, Chronicles.

I'm not suggesting that anyone "owns" this stuff in the long run. I'm suggesting that until we have at least a draft of all the books, or until we have more people to help make our disagreements less repetitive, we do it this way just as a temporary pragmatic things to make things go smoother. I'll answer any questions you have, and provide possible alternate readings, and then if you don't accept them, no problem. Of course, you're under no obligation to accept this arrangement, but unless we can reach some kind of arrangement, I don't anticipate putting too much time into this project.

You may think that the current Genesis 1-11 blows everything else out of the water, and will become standard. Time will tell. But I tend to think of this project more as just an interesting hobby that will probably never have any real reach, and so I'm contributing more as a way to entertain myself than anything else. And as someone raised in the American midwest, my own personal comfort zone for verbal confrontation is much lower than yours, more or less draining the entertainment factor out of working on this lately. Alephb (talk) 21:17, 2 August 2017 (UTC)

I already did Lamentations, but sure, I accept that you have dibs on Numbers and Deuteronomy.
I think you misunderstand--- I don't think the scholarship is so broken, I just speak the language, and I can see grammar instinctively. I screw up often, but often not! And when I don't screw up, and the whole world of commentators read it differently, I get mad.
Also, I have started to listen to audio of the Hebrew, and then comparing to the English. That's for syllable counting.
I think if you read the merger I did of your Genesis and my Genesis, that it really is great. I mean it. It's great. It's not formal, but please, when you read it, take into consideration that if there is an awkwardness, it might not be my fault, but it might really be that way in the Hebrew.
Also, please try to speak Hebrew a little, like modern Hebrew. Even speaking for a few weeks will improve your Bible Hebrew by orders of magnitude. Trust me, it will get you instincts. I KNOW we would be on the same side, I saw your fantastic later work in Genesis. But still, I like to keep the pacing and phrasing really close to the Hebrew, as close as possible without producing broken English. We just differ on where that boundary is, but we are within 10% of each other compared to the rest of the world.
I wrote commentary in Ecclesiastes talk page regarding translation philosophy. Take a look at Ecclesiastes and Lamentations, the translations there are of late-Hebrew, not the Early Hebrew of Genesis, and I didn't make so many mistakes there. I think you get that feeling of despair from Lamentations, and it's clear in my translation that Psalm 137 and Lamentations have the same author.RonMaimon (talk) 12:49, 4 August 2017 (UTC)
I have a very high threshold for adversarial stuff, please don't run away. It's time consuming, but it produces a killer end product, and it's not out of disrespect (at least not anymore, not after I see what you produce). I really think this translation is better than all the rest, I can read it fluently, and it FEELS like the Hebrew, and it is PACED like the Hebrew, and I can read a whole book in 2 hours and understand everything, while with other translations, I fall asleep or lose my place, and the feeling is completely different from the Hebrew.RonMaimon (talk) 12:49, 4 August 2017 (UTC)

Genesis figures as historical[edit]

The book you linked me to has the following passage:

It is a tolerably safe general maxim that tradition does not invent names or persons. We have on any view to account for the entrance of such figures as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph into the imagination of the Israelite; and among possible avenues of entrance we must certainly count it as one, that they were real men who lived and were remembered. What other explanations can be given? The idea that they were native creations of Hebrew mythology (Goldziher) has, for the present at least, fallen into disrepute; and there remain but two theories as alternatives to the historic reality of the patriarchs: viz., that they were originally personified tribes, or that they were originally Canaanite deities.

This shows laziness. Abraham and Sarai are Brahma and Saraiswati, Abram is obviously a version of Brahma, and the monotheistic cults emerge from Hindu monotheism where Brahma is the monotheistic overlord. So these two are clearly personified Gods, as was already known in the mid 19th century, but is not known to this author. You can tell from the sister/wife stories, because Genesis has a strong incest taboo, but Brahma and Saraiswati are brother/sister as well as husband wife. The rest are either personified tribes, personified Gods, or characters invented by the author.

It's this sort of thing that makes me avoid all divinity literature. I don't think there is much to be learned from it, they waste your time with opinion.RonMaimon (talk) 14:10, 7 August 2017 (UTC)

Also, this "mission of Israel" thing is really annoying to me, monotheism isn't originally Jewish, it's originally Hindu, Zoroastrian and Jewish. It's not the Jew's fault that Europe standardized on scriptures based on Jewish ones, if they wouldn't they would have used Hindu or Zoroastrian ones, but it would have ended up much the same. There's no "unique mission for the Jews in the world", it's this sort of stuff that leads to anti-Semitism, anti-religious people think "Oh, no Jews, no God!" Which is complete nonsense. That's Nietzschian style anti-semitism, the idea that religion somehow has a Jewish monopoly. It drives me up the wall. Monotheism is something everyone would develop if left alone, Jews just happened to bring it to Europe.RonMaimon (talk) 14:14, 7 August 2017 (UTC)

What book are we talking about now? Alephb (talk) 16:47, 7 August 2017 (UTC)
Sorry, this one: (I thought you gave me the link, I was reading it).RonMaimon (talk) 08:56, 8 August 2017 (UTC)
Oh, Skinner. When a word looks like it could go multiple ways, Skinner's commentary on Genesis is one place where I can look for ideas about possible arguments one way or the other. I only use him for philology. 1910 was a long time ago in biblical studies, and so he's not where I would go to find out what is or isn't historically true. I'm assuming the "mission of Israel" stuff is in reference to stuff Skinner said too.
But as for this Brahma / Saraswati stuff, I wouldn't condemn Skinner for not agreeing with your very fringe view on Abraham and Sarah. The parallel you're arguing for has never been widely accepted in biblical studies. There's a host of online sources that try to sell the equivalence, but they tend to distort the Hindu mythology to get it done. The biggest mistake they make is when they tell you that Brahma and Saraswati are brother and sister in Hindu mythology. They aren't. It is ironic that you would get such a basic part of your story wrong while accusing the mainstream view of laziness.Alephb (talk) 14:45, 8 August 2017 (UTC)
Fringe or not, they are correct. The names alone are significant Bayesian evidence, but the main issue is the Brahma is the father of monotheism in Hinduism, as Brahma cults replaced polytheistic ideas with a single Brahma creater God in India/Iran somewhere in the 10th century BC. These ideas spread from there, you can find that Zoroaster is in this region. The reason to identify is that Abraham is the father of monotheism, just as in Hindu sources, Brahma is.
I think this is sufficient for certainty, I don't debate the issue. The reason divinity people don't accept it is that it moots their study, they need to go learn sanskrit. The reason religious people don't accept it is because it makes Judaism derivative (it is). The people who DID accept that Abraham and Brahma are the same are 19th century Jesuit missionaries, and, in tradition, the prophet Muhammad (meaning later Muslim commentators). The identity is clear, Abraham is a euhemerized Brahma, just as Jesus is a euhemerized celestial high priest (this also was a fringe view, but it was conclusively argued by Carrier last year in "On the Historicity of Jesus").RonMaimon (talk) 15:25, 8 August 2017 (UTC)
They need to go learn Sanskrit? If you could read Sanskrit, you'd know that it's Saraswati, not Saraiswati. The only people who spell it "Saraiswati" are a group of internet fringe types who are all plagiarizing the same misinformation from each other. The fact that they all use the same typo should tell you something about the quality of the work they're doing. And if you were getting any of this from Hindu mythology itself, you'd know that Saraswati isn't Brahma's sister. This is like listening to the end of a game of telephone. I don't know who these "divinity people" you're talking about are, but mainstream biblical scholarship already knows that large portions of Judaism are derivative. And mainstream scholarship knows there are all sorts of languages worth studying. There's plenty of people in biblical studies who can read hieroglyphs, and Akkadian, and Aramaic, and Ugaritic, and Greek, and Latin, and German, and Phoenician, and so on. It's not that they're unwilling to learn Sanskrit, it's that they have much different priors than you do for cross-cultural parallels, because there are massive alleged "spooky parallels" in every direction in the world, enough to fill a season of Ancient Aliens every year for the rest of our lives. To say, "This shows laziness" about anyone who doesn't buy a fringe position is excessive, especially when your argument for the fringe position rests on the mistaken idea that Saraswati is Brahma's sister. She's not his sister. This is a really simple, really basic point of Hindu mythology that would be easy for you to look up.
This ongoing practice you have of not just stating your positions and the arguments for them, but then attacking the character of people who disagree with you, is part of what makes editing with you profoundly unentertaining sometimes. Let's take a moment to remember where you are in your study of the Bible. As you read through the Bible, you haven't gotten to Deuteronomy yet, but already you know not only that those who disagree with you about Abraham are wrong, but you already see through straight to their motives and the secret laziness that drives them. Why not wait till you've read the whole book before denouncing mainstream biblical studies? And -- just in case I haven't been clear enough about this already -- Brahma and Saraswati aren't siblings in Hinduism. Not even a little bit.Alephb (talk) 18:07, 8 August 2017 (UTC)

(deindent) The way I convinced myself of this. I was translating, and I said "Hmm.... what God is Abram?" Then I said "Oh, Brahma". Because the name is nearly identical. I did that with all the other characters in this story, and none of them fit any gods. Then I googled it.

Now, I ask, what about Sarah? Oh my, turns out Brahma has a consort named Saraswati (probably pronounced saraiswati, but it doesn't matter how close they are). That's already 1 in about 1000 Bayesian evidence for similarity, because there are ten thousand possible names that wouldn't fit at all for every one that does, but removing a factor of 10 because of "choosing which characteristic to fit" ambiguity. Remember, I already matched Brahma to Abraham before considering Sarah, so at the point I matched Brahma I was 50/50 on the issue of identity.

Then I find out that Brahma and Saraswati are related too (the exact relation is not fixed, because Brahma is creator, he created Saraswati, and therefore is "father", but he is traditionally ALSO sibling to her, as in they are of roughly equal power and age, this is ambiguous in the mythology, it's not like Zeus and his daughters). Their relatedness now explained the otherwise extremely anomalous incest story about Abraham and Sarah, and that's a factor of 10 confidence, pushing me to 1:10,000 factor, which is effectively "certain", especially considering that all the other stuff in this story I have to go with nonsense Bayesian factors of 1:10 or 1:100. Abraham is Brahma, no doubt about it.

I didn't assume that the name is Saraiswati, nor that the relationship is precisely half-siblings in this analysis. It's just simply Bayesianism, and the major evidence is the identity of the names. One name can be a coincidence, because there are 10,000 names, and you are looking through a universe with 10,000 characters. Two names, with a specific relationship, that is not a coincidence with about 1 in 10,000 confidence (which reduces according to the quality of the match in name and relationship, in this case, the match, no matter what version you use, is basically perfect).RonMaimon (talk) 10:02, 9 August 2017 (UTC)

Do you have a source, other than someone talking about Abraham and Sarah, who says that Brahma and Saraswati are siblings? You say he is "traditionally ALSO sibling to her." Is there a traditional HIndu source that agrees with you on this? Do you have a source, other than someone talking about Abraham and Sarah, who thinks the name is pronounced Saraiswati? These details matter. They tell me whether you've gone over this with any kind of care, or whether you're just repeating some stuff you heard online from one of the very many websites that are filled with alleged parallels between various biblical characters and characters from other mythologies. Alephb (talk) 03:12, 10 August 2017 (UTC)
I don't have ANY source, and I don't think I need it. I never use sources, not the official ones, not the online ones. I think I vaguely remember some of these stories from a long time ago, but I am only basing the identity on the name identity, and the relatedness. That's enough is what I'm telling you, you don't need anything else. You seem to miss that point.RonMaimon (talk) 19:55, 11 August 2017 (UTC)
Well, as long as it doesn't effect translation, I won't argue the Brahma/Saraswati thing any further. We do seem to be making good progress on the actual translation front, so I'll just leave this issue be. We are all hurtling around the sun toward our deaths in the long run, and the more time I spend on actual translation issues and the less on this, the happier I'll be. Alephb (talk) 20:12, 11 August 2017 (UTC)
Just so you don't get me wrong, it seems only the names preserve the Brahma stuff, the legends are different. Perhaps put down Genesis for a while, and read it top to bottom in English, and see that it's now flows like the Mississippi river, while other translations, even Alter's, flow like a stopped up toilet.RonMaimon (talk) 11:42, 13 August 2017 (UTC)
I've started working my way through the English translation. We have very, very different ideas about what kind of English prose flows smoothly. As for Brahma, well, I'll just leave that one be. Alephb (talk) 12:48, 13 August 2017 (UTC)
You think it doesn't flow? Seriously? I read it all in less than an hour, without my eyes getting jarred once. It might be because I'm too used to it, but I showed it to a guy elsewhere, and he said it was flowing and readily understandable. Maybe you're too used to other styles, this is really the Hebrew style, just please, give it a chance, man. I'm begging you. This is the most literal and also at the same time the most meaning-faithful tranlation in the history of Genesis translations, I really believe that. It's hands down the best translation of Genesis ever, no contest. Of course, I always think that about my own shit, so I need you to say where it stinks.RonMaimon (talk) 13:55, 13 August 2017 (UTC)
I'm also reading it aloud to my 7 year old daughter, and she doesn't complain about it being hard anymore (she wouldn't listen to my original version, but she stopped complaining after you fixed it up).RonMaimon (talk) 13:57, 13 August 2017 (UTC)

New IP Guy[edit]

(deindent) By the way, our new IP friend is that fellow I gave the link to and asked to read it if he had time. I don't know him face to face, but I chat with him on gmail sometimes. I didn't give him any comments or pointers, he's reading it cold, so there's no infection from my point of view in him, but since we're online friends, he's really not an independent vote. That's what I mean by "it's easy to stack the vote on sites like this". If we both invite friends, it's a popularity contest, and the winner has nothing to do with the Hebrew grammar or meaning. Don't look to imposition of power by parliamentary vote, look to achieving consensus. We can reach it. I have experience with Wiki writing, if everyone lets go of their ego, it all converges. It's probably harder for me, because I'm an asshole by nature, but I'm trying man, I'm trying.RonMaimon (talk) 09:39, 14 August 2017 (UTC)

Good on you for disclosing the connection. As weird as it sounds, I think it's really a good thing for us to the eyes of someone who doesn't know their way around Hebrew on the site. Because I'll start thinking like "called his name" and "went in to her" are completely normal English after spending too much time in the text. So far, I think we're doing pretty well, although my responsibilities will probably lead to a serious crunch in the amount of time I can spend on it fairly soon. I'm in a rare period of my adult life with huge amounts of free time, and that will probably be over in a few weeks, but I'll try to check in and help out at least once a week. Evangelical missionaries -- a distant relative is one in Papua New Guinea -- always make sure to recruit people who only speak the target language, and no English or original languages. They'll get a group of target language readers, read a section of translation draft out loud (half the time the missionaries invented the local alphabet, so there's no way to just hand the literature out till they teach people to read), and then they'll ask the readers questions about what they just read.
It is amazing, even when the missionaries think they're fluent, how often they wind up saying things in the target language that the native speakers don't understand, or that they misunderstand, because the translator has some English or Hebrew phrase in the back of her mind as she translates, and doesn't realize how opaque the wording she's produced is. In a perfect world, we'd have 10 IP guys, and we'd read them a paragraph or two at a time, and then we'd have them paraphrase it back to us in their own words to see if everything is getting through. (Of course, no translation into English anywhere in the world is made that way, so we shouldn't feel too bad that we aren't getting to do it ourselves. But an unfamiliar reader is a valuable asset.) Alephb (talk) 20:41, 14 August 2017 (UTC)
I agree, I know that there were naturalness problems with my English, after immersing myself in translation "What is your name called of?" sounded as natural as "let's get some pizza" to my ears. But I know this guy has zero Bible background (he read about 10% of Genesis in King James, like half the world, but no more), is relatively intelligent and completely fluent English speaker, so I was hoping he would do a review.
I can tell you what he likes so far in online chat (I told him this is not my day job, so to be brutal, although it would be better if he says it here himself). He really really liked the parenthesized etymological Hebrew, as it helps him understand. He "didn't even notice" the "Canaan's land" and "Israel's sons" that I thought would be such a deal-breaker ("Oh yeah! I didn't even notice." is the highest compliment a translator can get). He thinks that "all souls purchased in Haran" flows even though "the souls purchased in Haran" sounds poetic. It's weird. He got the "fem" thing as feminine, but not the "f".
I don't want a big bunch of random strangers, because, I get paranoid. Who knows if there's a Rashi-ite plant in there trying to push Rashi, or a Donald Trump voter translating in his head: And God said to Abraham: "Abraham? sad! Terrible. Bad patriarch! Butcher that kid, please. Butcher him!" I know this guy is reasonably smart, completely ignorant, and should be able to understand this (like my 7 year old daughter).RonMaimon (talk) 09:41, 15 August 2017 (UTC)