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Suggestions for translating Korean based on understanding of culture in the Old Testament period

  • Korean Journal of Old Testament Studies
  • Abbr : KJOTS
  • 2018, 24(3), pp.82-106
  • DOI : 10.24333/jkots.2018.24.3.82
  • Publisher : Korean Society of Old Testament Studies
  • Research Area : Humanities > Christian Theology
  • Received : July 2, 2018
  • Accepted : July 27, 2018

MiYoung Im 1

1서울신학대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Hebrew of the Old Testament was not a spoken language for a long time, and the constant debate about exactly how to read and to understand it continues to this day. In addition, this language had grown up in the culture and history of ancient Israel, and also in the ancient Near East, so it must be quite unfamiliar to foreign countries. Bible translators who translated Hebrew to Korean in earlier time seemed to have relied on English and Chinese translations when they did not have the appropriate words in Korean, while not understanding the culture and context underlying the many terms and words of the Old Testament. However, English and Chinese also have different backgrounds from the ancient Israel culture, so they could not convey the full meaning of Hebrew. It is well known that the context of theological interpretation becomes better when we have understanding of the meaning in the ancient culture and customs. This article seeks to understand the meaning of the original language rather than our cultural background by selecting some words that have been used so far in the Old Testament and to approach the understanding more properly after considering the customs and ancient culture of Israel. First, we looked at the background of the Bible in which each word appears and examined the meaning and origin of the Hebrew word. Next we looked at the artifacts and cultural conventions of this word found in ancient Israel and the Near East. At the end, new words in Korean have been suggested to have better understanding of these words. The chosen words are Joseph 's ‘coat of many colors’, ‘the upper room’ of Elijah, and ‘High places’ destroyed by Hezekiah and Josiah. The 'כְּתֹנֶת פַּסִּים' translated into ‘coat of many colors’ has the meaning of clothes that cover the hands and feet, suggesting ‘a long robe with long or short sleeves’. Joseph’s ‘כְּתֹנֶת פַּסִּים’ would have made his brothers more jealous because such robes were worn by the upper class who did not work. ‘עֲלִיָּה’, which is translated as 'attic', was a space where people reside, meaning ‘second floor room’ in houses of ancient Israel. The fact that Elijah stayed in ‘עֲלִיָּה’at the house of widow at Sarbath means that she did not conceal Elijah in the space like the attic but gave up her place of residence. In addition, when Mark's large attic room of the New Testament is on the second floor, 120 people could gather together to pray in such room. ‘בָּמוֹת’, translated as ‘the High place of moutain gods’, is neither in the mountains nor in the place of the mountain gods. If there is a gateways and houses, and a pavilion where sacrifices can be held everywhere, it can soon become ‘בָּמוֹת’. Therefore, in order to make use of the original meaning of Hebrew, it was suggested to attach a footnote to ‘bamot’, which is a “traditional podium in which sacrifices are placed are performed in ancient Israel and the Near East”.

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