Eastern Orthodox/Lxx or Masoretic


Which translation has it correct in Amos8:1?
A basket of summer fruit from the Masoretic text or a bird-catcher's basket from our LXX?

Translation is a tricky business, especially when translating ancient languages. There are often questions and controversy about specific words and what they mean, and it is always difficult to find the "right" word in English, because some words have no real equivalents or are used in ways that convey additional meaning that is difficult to describe in another language.

It may be that the original Hebrew word had more than one meaning and the Greek word chosen was not an exact match in meaning, which was further distorted by the translation to English, such that fruit basket in ancient Hebrew became fowler's basket in modern English. One somewhat interesting exercise is to take any simple phrase using Google Translate, translate from English to Hebrew, from Hebrew to Greek and then back to English. The results can be quite amusing.

For example, in the Hebrew of the Masoretic text, the prophetís point is far more emphatic because he uses a play on words that is difficult to communicate in English. The overt connection between the vision and Israelís fate was in the word-play based on the similar sounds [between summer and end] . . . The point of this vision, then, is the finality of judgment. The image being used here is that the end of Israel is near, like the end of the summer fruit which will soon rot away.

In the Septuagint translations, it describes the basket itself rather than what is in the basket. It specifically calls out a "fowler's basket" but the English translation does not really convey what the basket actually contains. One might assume birds but it could just as easily been a basket designed to transport captured birds that contains ripe fruit, but it is difficult to say.

Since the image of rotting fruit certainly seems to be consistent with the prophet's admonition to Israel, I suspect this is a "better" translation of the idea, while the Septuagint translation may represent a more literal translation of the original word (twice removed from ancient Hebrew to ancient Greek to modern English).  

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