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xvi + 366 pp.

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Anatomical Idiom and Emotional Expression
A Comparison of the Hebrew Bible and the Septuagint
Angela Thomas

The Hebrew Bible abounds in imagery linking feelings and emotions with various parts of the body. These vividly painted word pictures capture the imagination, and the reader can identify physically as well as emotionally with what is being expressed. But this colourful imagery, with its forthright and earthy language, is rather less apparent in modern English translations.

Such substitutions are not just common in English translations, but are also found in the first authorized translation of the Hebrew Bible, the Septuagint. Can the changes to body imagery found in English translations be explained as part of a process that began with the Greek text, which often gave a more muted picture than the Hebrew original?

This study explores these questions by making a detailed comparative analysis of anatomical idioms (body imagery) associated with the emotions of distress, fear, anger and gladness in the Hebrew Bible and the Septuagint. Differences are identified through literal translation into English from both Hebrew and Greek and the results are categorized, discussed and analysed, and detailed statistical information is presented. The data offer a rich resource for further research, and the analysis provides fascinating insights into the minds of the Greek translators and findings that are surprisingly complex.

Angela Thomas is a researcher affiliated with Heythrop College, University of London.

Series: Hebrew Bible Monographs, 52
978-1-907534-84-3 hardback
Publication May 2014

In numerous instances the Hebrew Bible links emotions to various parts of the body. This detailed study aims at identifying all examples ‘of parts of the body used in the expressions of the emotions of distress, dear, anger and gladness in the Hebrew Bible’ (p. 12) and to compare them with the Septuagint …A chapter is devoted to each of the four emotions and every chapter ends with a table showing what body parts occur to convey an emotion as well as translations of all passages mentioned …The result is a very useful study and readers will thank her for a valuable tool for accessing passages that are using anatomical idioms. Anselm. C. Hagedorn, Society for Old Testament Study Book List.

This study is indeed a valuable resource for anyone studying a Septuagint passage that uses an anatomical idiom. Readers can quickly find everywhere a given idiom occurs and how it is rendered compared to its other occurrences in other books. Finding data on how other anatomical idioms are treated in the same book is also contained here but must be gathered with the help of the index. Thomas includes at the end of each chapter numerous helpful charts and gives the text and English translations of each passage mentioned together with some annotations … As a whole, Thomas’s study is a great contribution to Septuagint research, providing interesting content-related data to consider for this fascinating collection of translations. Benjamin M. Austin, Review of Biblical Literature.