Reading and Running: Notes on the History of Translating the Final Clause of Hab 2:2

In: Vetus Testamentum


The final clause of Hab 2:2 which originally may have referred to the confident proclamation of the message by those who read it was rendered in the LXX and Vulgate in ways which to interpreters in antiquity suggested quick understanding. But the Vulgate could also be read as a reference to being able to scan the text quickly or easily and this has become a prominent understanding of the clause. It is found in many modern translations across a variety of languages. Luther imagined a scenario in which the text was written in such large letters that even someone running past could read it. This novel understanding has persisted in some corners and is reflected in a number of translations. It is an indefensible variant of the view that the text refers to fluent reading, a view which is itself questionable but possible.

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