Lovely, Lively Lyrics: Selected Studies in Biblical Hebrew Verse

Wendland, Ernst R

This book applies a literary functional equivalence (LiFE) approach in a practical, procedure-documented manner to the text analysis and translation for various literature of the Scriptures. Eight case studies from the lyric corpus of the Hebrew Bible are considered: Job 28, Psalm 73, Proverbs 31, Psalm 137, Proverbs 26, Song of Songs, Ecclesiastes 12, and Psalm 24. The author explains and illustrates a rhetorical literary-structure method with different focus and emphasis depending on the form, content, and communication aim of the poetic book. Chapters conclude with implications and applications for Scripture translation. The biblical passages included here are not so frequently considered by scholars, teachers, and preachers, and may be neglected by translators due to their perceived difficulty.

My cravings as a linguist, translator, poet, and ethno-arts supporter were all satisfied by the buffet Wendland sets before us. He compares…structures of Hebrew with those of…[African] vernaculars…suggesting ways to translate them…using dynamic target language poetic devices and cultural forms. This is literature translating literature….

– Dr. Brenda H. Boerger, from the Foreword

About the Author

Dr. Wendland, a retired United Bible Societies Translation Consultant, teaches at the Lutheran Seminary in Lusaka, Zambia. He is a dissertation examiner for the University of Zambia and is also affiliated with the Centre for Bible Interpretation and Translation in Africa at the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa.

Table of Contents:


  1. Job’s Wisdom and its Communication in Chewa
  2. Introduction: Where can wisdom be found? (Job 28:12, 20)
    1.1 Job 28 and its compositional cotext
    1.2 Tectonic wisdom in the organization of Job 28
    1.3 Job 28: The fulcrum of the book
    1.4 A sapiential ode to spiritual wisdom
    1.5 Formatting the poetic-rhetorical structure of Job 28
    1.6 The wisdom of Job 28 in today’s Chewa setting
    1.7 Conclusion: The rhetorical function of poetic form

  3. The Lyric Heart of the Psalm at the Center of the Psalter
  4. Introduction: Introit ‘into the sanctuary of God’ (Psalm 73:17)
    2.1 Text typology
    2.2 Intertextuality
    2.3 Theological message
    2.4 Text function
    2.5 Application: Poetic analysis of Psalm 73
    2.6 Implications

  5. From Hebrew Acrostic to a Tonga Praise Poem: Proverbs 31:10–31
  6. Introduction: Praising the beauty of a ‘worthy wife’
    3.1 ‘Worthy wife’: A biblical Hebrew perspective
    3.2 Structural organization of the eulogy
    3.3 Stylistic features of the eulogy
    3.4 Rhetorical dynamics of the poem
    3.5 The eulogy in relation to Proverbs as a whole
    3.6 A ‘worthy wife’ from a Zambian perspective
    3.7 Towards a greater measure of oratorical equivalence

  7. Lyric Ideology: The Complaint of Psalm 137
  8. Introduction: Ideology
    4.1 How does ideology relate to Bible translation
    4.2 The complex communicative framework of Psalm 137
    4.3 Ideological factors in contemporary translation
    4.4 The translation brief: Balancing ideologies

  9. Lyric Wisdom and Rhetoric in Proverbs 26:1–12
  10. Introduction: Text and impact
    5.1 Answering a fool
    5.2 The rhetoric of wisdom in Proverbs
    5.3 What is a proverb?
    5.4 The sapiential rhetoric of Proverbs 26:1–12
    5.5 The rhetoric of folly versus wisdom
    5.6 Sharpening the lyric rhetoric against folly in English
    5.7 Sharpening the lyric rhetoric against folly in Chewa
    5.8 Conclusion: Wisdom of rhetoric in Bible translation

  11. Love Lyrics in the Song of Songs
  12. Introduction: Form and meaning
    6.1 Two outstanding stylistic features
    6.2 Imagery
    6.3 Recursion
    6.4 A pair of structural-stylistic peaks in the Song
    6.5 Style and structure in the Song’s message
    6.6 Evidence for significant theological import
    6.7 Translating the Song in a LiFE-like manner

  13. Preparing an Oratorical Translation of Qoheleth
  14. Introduction: Culture in an oral-aural society
    7.1 The setting
    7.2 The Song: How ‘strong’ (or sweetly sounding) is it?
    7.3 Synthesis: The pressing task of the translator
    7.4 Conclusion: Qoheleth on the cultural factor

  15. How Lovely the Lyric?
  16. Introduction: Frame of reference for testing a translation
    8.1 The text and its meaning
    8.2 Testing for artistic quality in translation
    8.3 A textual frame of reference for interpretation
    8.4 Enhancing the value of a Bible translation
    8.5 Conclusion: Cooperation, accountability, and quality

  17. Lyricizing the Poetry of Scripture
  18. 9.1 Oral Artistic Approaches

    Appendix A: Preparing a Poetic Analysis and Translation of Psalm 24: A Guided Self-study Recognizing and reproducing the glories of a psalm
    A.1 Read
    A.2 Variants
    A.3 Context
    A.4 Genre
    A.5 Linguistics
    A.6 Disjunction
    A.7 Repetition
    A.8 Po-rhetoric
    A.9 Discourse
    A.10 Outline
    A.11 Translate
    A.12 Test

    Appendix B: Preparing a LiFE Translation
    B.1 Motivation for a literary (oratorical) translation
    B.2 The oral-aural factor and an oratorical version
    B.3 Method for discovering ‘lovely lyrics’ in the vernacular
    B.4 Organizing a literary translation project
    B.5 Some implications of a literary (oratorical) approach


Retail Price:
xxiv, 437 pages
Lyric wisdom
Hebrew poetry
ISBN 13:
6 × 9 × 0.93 in
1.4 lb
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