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Sunday, August 21, 2005

The coon in Proverbs 16

I've never been on a 'coon hunt, but I found one this morning... and I was in my bathrobe! I was reading Proverbs 16, and ran across a word which the ESV had repeated, contrary to the way I had seen it translated before:
Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established. -Proverbs 16:3
The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps. -Proverbs 16:9
It is an abomination to kings to do evil, for the throne is established by righteousness. -Proverbs 16:12
A quick lookup in Strong's confirms that these three verses do indeed use the same word, which is actually transliterated "koon" in Strong's (I just said "coon" 'cause I knew it would make ya look!) and rendered "established/es" in the ESV. It would appear to be another example of the ESV translator/editors trying to represent things that could be seen as textual parallels to reflect that in English; the RSV (upon which the ESV was based) uses "directs" in verse 9.

It is interesting to think of all three of these verses in the sense of something being "established" or "set up." We don't normally think in terms of our "steps" being set up and established like a monument for all time, but since we know that time doesn't really mean the same thing to God that it means to us... He sees the end, the beginning, all of it at once... every step we take does stand as kind of a memorial to God. Each one is there before we take it, and each one remains after we are gone. Now THAT's a sobering thought!

Thursday, August 11, 2005

ESV: Our fathers, their yoke, and their faith

A few interesting spots I ran across while reading my ESV as my pastor preached from the NIV.

Acts 15:10-11: KJV - ESV - NIV

I seem to remember verse 11 being a point of contention anyway, because some translations say that we "are" saved (NIV, for example) while others say we "will be" saved (KJV, ESV, others). But the thing that actually caught my eye was that my pastor said that the "even as they" referred to the "fathers", not the "disciples." Many of the translations in my e-Sword leave it ambiguous, but the ESV by saying "will" has made it less ambiguous than the KJV and even the NIV (in the ESV it pretty explicitly refers to the disciples, not the fathers), which would seem to go against their stated goal of being ambiguous where the text is ambiguous. Or maybe it's not that ambiguous in the original and all those other translations got it wrong.

Romans 1:17: KJV - ESV - NIV

Most translations say "from faith to faith" in this verse. Seems like the ESV, RSV, and NRSV are in lonely territory with their use of "for" there: ESV "from faith for faith" RSV & etc. "through faith for faith." Seems like the "to" would indicate a timing concept or a sort of travel metaphor, and the "for" indicates a reason that something is done. (Notice, however, that both the ESV and the NIV have the more traditional rendering in a footnote.)

I wish I could get inside the translators' heads and find out why they settled on what they did in these kinds of cases. They may be right, but to find out WHY they did certain things would be fascinating!

Tuesday, August 2, 2005

Between two opinions

My Bible reading today included the account of Elijah and the prophets of Baal in I Kings 18. I noticed that in the ESV, Elijah asks the people why they are "limping" between two opinions (verse 21), versus "halting" (KJV) or "wavering" (NIV). I believe I understand why this was the selected translation for the word (which, apparently, according to Strong's, can mean any of the three, and also "hopping" or "dancing")... the same word is used in verse 26 to describe what the prophets of Baal were doing around their altar. The KJV and the NIV do not bring this parallel out, and the ESV translators have followed the rendering from the RSV. But I have to wonder... is it really the best translation? Maybe "hopping" or "jumping" or "dancing"? All of those words would have been OK in verse 21 ("dancing" would have been especially vivid in English, assuming that is a fairly accurate usage of the Hebrew word).

I suppose it depends on exactly what kind of dance the prophets of Baal were doing. It could easily be, I suppose, that they were doing a limping kind of dance. Or maybe they jumped around until they sprained an ankle. :)

Monday, August 1, 2005

One Thing

There's this song that always resonates with something inside of me when I hear it on the radio:

If I traded it all,
If I gave it all away for one thing,
Just for one thing;
If I sorted it out,
If I knew all about this one thing,
Wouldn’t that be something?

full lyrics to Finger Eleven's song One Thing

I realize that the song is about a romantic relationship, but something in it always strikes a chord in me. I think part of it is that I value the level of commitment expressed in the lyric... really, almost whatever the singer is committed to. In Revelation chapter 3, Jesus tells the church at Laodicea that if they won't be hot, He prefers totally cold to lukewarm. Commitment, one way or the other. If you won't be Obi Wan, at least have the guts to be Darth Vader.

But there is another Scripture passage that comes to mind when I hear the song:

Matthew 13:34-36
"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it."

(I think the best songs, like the best stories, often have a spiritual element to them that the songwriter may not have even realized was there...)