Blaz0ej S0trba, «hn#$w#$ of the Canticle», Vol. 85 (2004) 475-502
The term hn#$w#$ is revisited
primarily in the Canticle of Solomon. The most ancient translation –– "lily" ––
of this flower though questioned in recent decades is still widely used. The
LXX’s rendering kri/non is examined and found as the
best translation for the lexeme N#$w#$ –– meaning
"lotus" –– being an Egyptian loan word. This translation fits to the OT
references better than "lily". The textual employment of
hn#$w#$ in the poetry of the Canticle is a chief and commanding proof for
"lotus". The "lily" translation for both hn#$w#$
and kri/non for the majority of the OT cases is seen
as incorrect since it does not pay due attention to the literary and historical
context of the Canticle.
500 Blaâ„¦ej âˆtrba
Gerstenberger translates Âµynvwv as â€œliliesâ€, he declares that its meaning
is obscure and the use in the superscription unusual (93). F.-L. Hossfeld
â€“ E. Zenger in their second commentary on the Psalms opt for â€œlotusâ€
I presume that a compositional approach to the Psalter and the
theme of relative psalms may throw some light on the meaning of
Âµynvwv in this book. Since the headings were added later, they function
as an interpretative key for the psalms (95). Terrien suggests that
especially the lengthy titles appear to have a threefold classification:
dedications/attribution, musical designation and indication of the
melodies with which the praying community may have been well
acquainted (96). Could not therefore, the heading of Pss 60,1; 69,1 and
80,1 reflect widely (?) spread psalmody/monody, possibly about love
(cf. 45,1) or with the uplifting effect?
Even though the basic meaning of the lexeme Âµynvwv, in all these
cases, I believe, is not far away from â€œlotusâ€, I shall not go beyond the
limits of this essay by entering the Book of Psalms.
Although it is admitted that the usage of Âµynvwv/Ë†vWv remains
obscure in the superscriptions of the psalms, I consider the lexeme
hnvwv to be â€œlotusâ€ in the other passages of the MT. The origins of the
misunderstanding of the Greek krinon in the LXX as a â€œlilyâ€ is due to
a distinctive lexical understanding of this Greek lexeme â€“â€“ as the
people from the Graeco-Roman cultural background would simply
assume â€“â€“ and to the a-contextual reading, i.e. independently of the
Egyptian milieu. This is especially true in the time of NT when the
Graeco-Roman background outweighed extensively the Egyptian one.
(93) E.S. GERSTENBERGER, Psalms Part 2 and Lamentations (FOTL 15; Grand
Rapids, MI â€“ Cambridge, UK 2001) 47, 103.
(94) In Die Psalmen I. Psalm 1-50 (NEB.AT; WÃ¼rzburg 1993) 280-281 they
explain that â€œLotusâ€ is meant, but â€œLilieâ€ is kept in the â€œEinheitsÃ¼bersetzungâ€; cf.
Die Psalmen. Psalm 51-100 (NEB.AT; WÃ¼rzburg 2002) 367, 401, 453. In their
HThK commentary (the LXX is treated as the document of Hellenistic Judaism)
the translation is â€œLotusblÃ¼te(n)â€; F.-L. HOSSFELD â€“ E. ZENGER, Psalmen 51-100
(HThK.AT; Freiburg â€“ Basel â€“ Wien 2000) 152, 259, 452.
(95) K. SCHAEFER, Psalms. Studies in Hebrew Narrative & Poetry (Berit Olam;
Collegeville, MN 2001) 349-350; S. TERRIEN, The Psalms. Strophic structure and
theological commentary (Grand Rapids, MI â€“ Cambridge, UK 2003) 12.
(96) TERRIEN, The Psalms, 28-32.