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A Handbook on Lamentations

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What if you were responsible for translating God's Word into a language that never had a Bible before? Can you imagine the burden you would feel to do a good job?

God takes His Word pretty seriously, and you would certainly do everything in your power to make sure that you were not putting words into God's mouth, but that you were providing a text that clearly communicated God's Word as closely to the original as possible.

This challenge to understand the heart of the original Scriptures, in order to put the original text into a new language, was the impetus for the United Bible Societies to create handbooks for Bible translators working on this very thing. The United Bible Societies' Handbook Series is a comprehensive verse-by-verse guide to understanding exactly what is being communicated by the author in the original Scriptures.

  • Exegetical, historical, cultural, and linguistic information on the original text
  • Verse-by-verse guides
  • An essential tool for Bible translators

Top Highlights

“It is not certain why a poet should begin each line with the next letter of the alphabet, a scheme which is called acrostic, or alphabetic acrostic, but it may have been a challenge to the Hebrew poet’s use of the language. Some interpreters have suggested that it served as a help for memorizing, and others think it gave a sense of completeness to the poem, something like covering every point ‘from A to Z,’ or ‘from beginning to end.’” (Page 2)

“The LORD has loved his people faithfully,’ or idiomatically, ‘The LORD has loved his people with one heart.’ This entire verse may sometimes be translated, for example, ‘The LORD has shown kindness and has loved his people faithfully, and he still does’ or ‘… and he has never stopped loving them.’” (Page 86)

“Wormwood is the same word used in verse 15. The two Hebrew words which rsv translates as wormwood and gall often occur together as a more emphatic substitute for the one word used alone in verse 15; for example, Deuteronomy 29:18 ‘a bitter and poisonous plant’ (tev). If the translator uses a term or terms equivalent to wormwood and gall, it should be made clear that these are used in a figurative sense. Therefore it is often better to shift to a simile; for example, ‘When I think of my suffering and living away from home, it is like the taste of bitter liquid.’” (Pages 84–85)

“Parallelism is the very heart of Hebrew poetry. It forms the basic structural unit throughout Lamentations” (Page 3)

“But this I call to mind is treated by some translations as pointing back to what has already been said. But it is more convincing for this to point forward to the thoughts of verses 22–25. tev and others make clear that this points forward, by saying ‘When I remember this one thing:.…’ Most translations use a colon to show that the thought of 21 is carried forward into verse 22; however, punctuation is not always sufficient for hearers, and so a clear forward linking should be made.” (Page 85)

  • Title: A Handbook on Lamentations
  • Author: William D. Reyburn
  • Series: The United Bible Societies' Handbook Series (UBSHS)
  • Publisher: United Bible Societies
  • Pages: 161


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