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a translation note (JPS)

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Just wanted to comment on something I noticed in the JPS Tanakh, which I've been reading (am just over halfway through Leviticus now). One of the best phrases in it is something I'm almost sure is in no Protestant translation, and I have no idea why. I don't know if it's more or less literal, or idiomatic, or just quirky. (I quit first-semester Hebrew halfway through; I didn't need it for my degree, and I kept seeing Greek in the readings. This was not long before I quit for 1.8 years to work as a geek.) The key phrase, and it makes sense in the larger context, but nothing connected until I read it, is: "The priest shall turn these into smoke on the altar as food, an offering by fire to the Lord." (Lev. 3:11, JPS, my emph.) The raising of smoke from the "burnt offering", the phrase I know well, never seemed obvious to me before. For some reason, I had in my head a fire without smoke, or a furnace-y arrangement, or something. But of course rising smoke going heavensward is a major theme in any context of sacrifice, Mediterranean, Near-Eastern, and probably elsewhere.

I missed it.

I knew, in a general way, that sacrifice was a common theme with ties everywhere, but "turning it into smoke" drove the point home. Certainly, it's an old-sk00l theme of sacrifice with the Greeks; I have read the relevant texts myself. So I'd like the thank the JPS Tanakh translators for their inadverant disclosure of the connections between the pagan and ancient-Israelite thought patterns. Keep up the good work!

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