Thursday, 31 March 2011

Sheila the Ship? A whale of a tale.

Thomas the Tank for Bible readers? Turn up the book of Jonah. Tim Bulkeley has a short but fascinating suggestion on the "whale of a tale." We all knew that Jonah is a favourite for retelling to children, but Tim wants us to think of it as a children's story from the get-go.

I'm not entirely convinced, but I love the idea anyway, being something of an aficionado of children's literature. The ship has a personality, and the word 'big' keeps on cropping up.

Tim's comments on 'big' are interesting in their own right. In verse four of Jonah 1 a literal reading gives us something like: The Lord hurled a BIG wind upon the sea, and such a BIG wind came upon the sea that the ship threatened to break up (Tim's rendition). English translators feel the need to improve upon this rather simple prose by rifling through a thick thesaurus. 'Big' and 'big' become 'great' and 'mighty', or 'powerful' and 'violent.' The Hebrew is apparently more pedestrian by far, it's been polished and taken upmarket for modern readers. Note too that the ship is the character (?) who (?) threatens to break up! It's not the violent storm that threatens to break up the ship, says Tim, but the ship herself.

Tim lays out his position in a 7-minute podcast that is definitely worth a listen.

1 comment:

  1. Reminds me of that "Oh Lord, you are so VERY BIG..." Monty Python skit.