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The WELS Translation Liaison Committee just posted their latest comments regarding the HCSB translation. (http://www.wels.net/about-wels/synod-reports/translation-liaison-committee/translation-liaison-committee) Overall, the work is solid and the committee is to be commended for its diligent work. For the most part I agree with everything they have noted. In a couple cases I will offer additional thoughts. I will not comment on the Plan of Salvation page because previously I have advocated that it not be included. If I don’t address a specific passage it means that I support the WELS Committee suggestions.

Six Translation Suggestions for Some Key “Sacramental Verses”

I am very much supportive of the points made in these texts. I came across this when I was preparing the Maundy Thursday worship service. I had intended to use the HCSB but stopped short because of the use of “established” in the words of institution. τοῦτο τὸ ποτήριον ἡ καινὴ διαθήκη ἐστὶν ἐν τῷ ⸂ἐμῷ αἵματι (1 Cor. 11:25 “This cup is the new covenant in My blood” NAS).

In Matthew 3:11 HCSB has [John said:] “I baptize you with water for repentance” which is a fine translation. However, the footnote skews the text considerably with “Baptism was the means by which repentance was expressed publicly.” The problem is that there is nothing in the text to support anything that the footnote suggests. It is a case of imported theology from one specific group. I noticed this same kind of imposition of this kind of theology in the translation the Voice Bible, but even stronger: “I ritually cleanse you through baptism*…” with the footnote: “Literally, immerse in a rite of initiation and purification.”

Although not technically a Sacramental verse (although it is in the context), Acts 8:37 needs clarification. I agree with the suggestion to put the entire verse in a footnote. Even the footnote that is used is not clear; HCSB makes it appears as if the textual evidence is equally split on the inclusion of the text. The reality is that the manuscript evidence leans far toward the side of not including the verse (see NET footnote below).

NET footnote: A few later MSS (E 36 323 453 945 1739 1891 pc) add, with minor variations, 8:37 “He said to him, ‘If you believe with your whole heart, you may.’ He replied, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.’” Verse 37 is lacking in {P45, 74 ℵ A B C 33 614 vg syp, h co}. It is clearly not a part of the original text of Acts. The variant is significant in showing how some in the early church viewed a confession of faith. The present translation follows NA27 in omitting the verse number, a procedure also followed by a number of other modern translations.

Tetragrammaton

This extended discussion relates to my own frustration with HCSB. Either go fully with Yahweh or LORD, but don’t switch back and forth. The WELS Committee makes a strong case for using LORD, based on the LXX, NT, and early church usage of those texts containing the tetragrammaton. In light of that I would opt for their solution.

Slave or Servant

I think the Committee makes some good observations and this translation of δουλος needs attention. At the same time, I don’t think a wholesale change should be made. One of my book reviews last fall was by Joseph Hellerman. Embracing Shared Ministry: Power and Status in the Early Church and Why it Matters Today. Kregel Ministry, 2013 provides additional information on this topic. One of the key insights is that the class-conscious people of Philippi would understand the nuance of titles. There were two levels of society: Elite and non-Elite. The lowest level in the non-Elite status was not household servants, but slaves.  The expectation in that culture is that Paul would be Elite, in fact, the highest level of Elite, and so the expected title would be “apostle” in the greeting. But Paul uses δουλος, the only time he uses it unadorned. That seems intentional to separate even from household servants.

My suggestion then is to follow the WELS recommendation except that the nuance of each use must be carefully considered. It’s not an absolute: either servant or slave, but context would determine the specific translation choice.

Christ/Messiah in the New Testament

I wholeheartedly support this position of the WELS Committee. See my posts here and here.

The Use of “Should” and “Must” in the Translation of the New Testament

Although I have not addressed this issue on my blog, I am right in synch with the Committee regarding the changes. At times the use of “should” and “must” almost has the sense of a ruler-entrenched teacher waiting to snap my knuckles. Not exactly what the Biblical text has in mind.

Capitalization of Pronouns for God

I have used primarily NAS and NKJV for the past 37 years. Capitalization of divine pronouns seemed like a natural. Of course as I began translating I realized that it was English editor/publisher decision and nothing more. In the last 20 years I have used many other translations that do not capitalize divine pronouns.

The WELS Committee makes an excellent case for not using capitalization for divine pronouns. Another problematic text is Genesis 32:24-32, in which the Hebrew doesn’t indicate even by specific names, but pronouns are used throughout. Compare how HCSB and NAS deal with this.

NAS 24 And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. 25 When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. 26 Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27 And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 28 Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.”

HCSB 24  Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. 25 When the man saw that He could not defeat him, He struck Jacob’s hip socket as they wrestled and dislocated his hip.  26 Then He said to Jacob, “Let Me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me.” 27 “What is your name?” the man asked. “Jacob,” he replied. 28  “Your name will no longer be Jacob,” He said. “It will be Israel because you have struggled with God and with men and have prevailed.” 29 Then Jacob asked Him, “Please tell me Your name.”

Even capitalization doesn’t help identify the players. “Jacob” isn’t in the Hebrew in v. 25 for instance.

“Man” and “Men” in Contexts where Women are Included

I was glad to see this issue addressed. Generally HCSB does better than ESV, and HCSB does okay in some places, but as the WELS Committee noted, they are inconsistent. In addition to the WELS suggestions on changes I would add Psalm 1 and Psalm 32:2 (especially 32:1 has it correct).

Psalm 4:1 How long, exalted men, will my honor be insulted?[change to: How long, people, will my honor be insulted?]

It seems odd that בְּנֵ֥י אִ֡ישׁ  (“sons of man”) would be translated as “exalted men.”

Many other examples can be cited. It appears that the WELS Translation Committee has done a fine job of highlighting changes that could make HCSB an even better translation. Well done!

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