We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
The Masoretic text isn't really a "rendering" - it's in the original Hebrew/Aramaic, and reflects a mainstream communal scholarly effort that probably included texts now lost to us.
At some point you have to pick an "original" or "authentic" text and call the others "variants". That's based on several considerations, including consistency, provenance, and quality of a text, and the presence of other texts that corroborate any variations. On all those scores the Masoretic text does very well - including its consistency with the Dead Sea scrolls and other recent finds from ancient Israel.
I love the legend behind the Septuagint. But if we're talking accuracy, the Talmud mentions 13 deliberate mistranslations made by the translators to avoid misinterpretation by the pagan Greeks. Miraculously, they all were inspired to make the same changes.
Hebrew is a terse language. Two and three letter roots are given prefixes, suffixes, and varied vocalization to create nouns, verbs, and adjectives with the same core meaning.
A Hebrew sentence is like a handful of pebbles thrown into water - each word radiates multivalent circles of meaning. Across the Bible the prophets carefully choose words and phrases that deliberately echo other verses. Much of this is inevitably lost in translation.
Like the Eskimos with their many words for snow, Hebrew has unique words for spiritual states that do not translate exactly. The most obvious example is the mess made of "pure" and "impure" in translation. The word translated as "defiled" "impure" or "unclean" has nothing to do with cleanliness. It implies immersion in one's material experience, to the detriment of one's spiritual/moral self. A cognate of that word is used in modern Hebrew for lamination or embedding items in clear plastic - again, being immersed/absorbed in material.
Another example: the word translated as "repentence" comes from a root meaning to turn, return, or to dwell, with no implication of misery or regret as in English.
Similarly: the English word for charity comes for caritas - pity that moves one to give beyond one's obligation.
But the Hebrew word for charity (Zedaka) is simply the female form of the root Zedek meaning "justice" or "correct". (A Tzadik is a righteous man - same root.) The necessary masculine virtue of justice must be balanced by the female understanding that we really are children of One parent - and from that perspective charity is "only right" and not "extra credit because I pity you"...
How to translate that?
(BTW the singer Neil Sedaka's last name comes from the root mentioned above... perhaps an ancestor was an almsgiver.)
Many thanks for a response full of caritas. Much to chew on and cogitate over therein.
I am no scholar. Only enough of an auto-didact to be a danger to self and others. That's why I asked.
Was there a hint of wink in the "Miraculously, they all were inspired to make the same changes." comment?
I have read that 72 Hebrew scholars were divied up into smaller groups, given overlapping portions of ancient text to translate and all delivered identical results. Is that the 'legend'? This was the Septuagint, used throughout the world during the centuries before the Christian era, and quoted by various authors of early Christian writings, no? (i.e. Matthew, Mark, etc.) And hence the reason for the variance with the text of the current day Old Testament used by the KJV of the bible which is derived from the Masoretic.
Also that ancient Hebrew did not have the vowel markings supplied by later Hebrew scholars of the Masoretic tradition. You may have referred to that in your first sentence.
Much turns on the question of agenda as regards prophetic proof texts having to do with Jewish vs. Christian messianic theologies.
Again, bear in mind I have only a little candle to light my way, so can see but a little of the way.
This is a beautiful remark: "A Hebrew sentence is like a handful of pebbles thrown into water".
As the culture has declined from a sacred to a secular focus, words and their meanings have been continuosly plundered and disfigured. But those who care to dig beneath the surface readily find nuggets of the original truths such as exampled by you wrt 'repentance'. A layman's cursory study of Greek manages to turn over enough topsoil to expose a number of them.
Thank you again for your generous and thought-provoking response!
Small correction: Eskimos don't actually have an enormous number of words for snow. Both Yupik and Inupiat are agglutinative languages that attach many prefixes and suffixes to a root. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agglutinative_language
We don't count the variations snow, snows, snowed, snowing, snowy, snowlike etc as different words. So too with the Eskimos.