A Case for the Traditional Translation of the Shema, Hear, O Israel: The Lord Our God, the Lord Is One

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A Case for the Traditional Translation of the Shema, Hear, O Israel: The Lord Our God, the Lord Is One

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Title: A Case for the Traditional Translation of the Shema, Hear, O Israel: The Lord Our God, the Lord Is One
Author: Simpson, Matthew
Advisor: Fuller, Russell T.
Abstract: This dissertation investigates the evidence to determine the best English

translation for the Shema (Deut 6:4), by analyzing the historical interpretation of the

verse through the last 2500 years, and the pertinent philological and contextual!

theological issues. Chapter 1 informs the reader of the importance of the Shema and the

recent controversy related to translating and interpreting the verse. The thesis is

"Although several modem scholars defend divergent English renderings of the Shema

(Deut 6:4), the predominant traditional translation: 'Hear, 0 Israel: the LORD our God,

the LORD is one,' remains the best translation and understanding of the verse."

Chapter 2 presents a survey of the historical interpretations of the Shema for

the previous 2500 years. Many early sources reveal that they interpret the third segment

of the Shema ,~~ ;-rF'T~ to be a clause, "the LORD is one." Also, the predominant

historical interpretation for the Shema is that the verse is a monotheistic declaration about

the unity and uniqueness of the LORD.

Chapter 3 evaluates the philological and contextual evidence relevant to

translating the second segment of the Shema, ')';j~~ ;-rl;-r~, since translating the first

segment L;,~lip: 11~~ is not controversial. Three main translations for ')'i.6~ i1li1~ are

evaluated: "the LORD is our God," "our God is the LORD" and "the LORD our God."

Based on the evidence, "the LORD our God" translation is the most probable.

Chapter 4 evaluates the philological and contextual evidence for translating the

third segment ir;t~ i1li1~. Four main translations for this segment are evaluated: "the

LORD alone," "one LORD," "the LORD is One" and "the LORD is one." In

consideration of the relevant evidence, "the LORD is one" is the most likely translation.

Chapter 5 shows the theological importance of "the LORD is one." The

translation "the LORD alone," for the segment ir;t~ i1li1~, was found wanting. However,

the translation "the LORD is one" not only fits the immediate and broader context of the

Shema, but it is also the most basic biblical statement that declares the unity, uniqueness

and monotheistic nature of the LORD.

Based on the historical interpretation evidence, philological evidence and

contextual/theological evidence for the Shema, this dissertation presents, "Hear 0 Israel:

the LORD our God, the LORD is one" as the best translation. This translation proclaims

the unity and uniqueness of the LORD, and is the fundamental statement of monotheism

in the Bible.

URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10392/3824
Date: 2010-05

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