HCSB: Liturgical Challenge

For the last 20 years I have urged that translations also consider the liturgical use of translations. Sadly, NIV did not easily fit into the liturgical setting (some hymnals used NKJV as the base for liturgical translation). And HCSB falls into the same problem. That became evident recently when reading from HCSB in our Lenten journey through Luke’s Gospel.

On February 24 our Gospel reading was from Luke 13:1-9, 31-35. The text read well. And then the last sentence not only sounded odd, but was noticeable by many in the congregation for its non-liturgical sound and cadence. This particular sentence from its original in the Old Testament at Psalm 118:26 has been a vital liturgical portion, namely the Sanctus as part of the preparation for the Word’s of Institution of the Lord’s Supper . Let’s look at HCSB and a few other translations regarding the choice, cadence, and rhythm of the text.

Luke 13:35

HCSB: [Jesus said:] “See, your house is abandoned to you. And I tell you, you will not see Me until the time comes when you say, ‘He who comes in the name of the Lord is the blessed One’!

ESV: [Jesus said:] “Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’”

NKJV: [Jesus said:] “See! Your house is left to you desolate; and assuredly, I say to you, you shall not see Me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’

NAS: [Jesus said:] “Behold, your house is left to you desolate; and I say to you, you will not see Me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’”

NIV 2011: [Jesus said:] “Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

NLT: [Jesus said:] “And now, look, your house is abandoned. And you will never see me again until you say, ‘Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord!’”

GW: [Jesus said:] “Your house will be abandoned. I can guarantee that you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!’”

Notice that all the other translations (those regarded as formal equivalence, and those regarded as functional equivalence) translate the last phrase the same. The choice of “he” or “one” is not critical for this specific point. HCSB inverts the sentence order. Let’s see why and whether it is a good translation choice.

The Greek text has: εὐλογημένος ὁ ἐρχόμενος ἐν ὀνόματι κυρίου

The first word is εὐλογημένος, perfect tense participle, middle voice, masculine singular. Without the definite article, it functions as a predicate adjective. However, when a participle is used with a definite article as the next word has, ὁ ἐρχόμενος, then it is in the attributive position and is to be translated as “he who comes” or “the one who comes.” So, following that pattern, the first part would be translated “he who comes is blessed” or “the one who comes is blessed.” That is the order that HCSB has. Now the question is: why are all other translations phrasing it this way: “blessed is the one who comes”?

Psalm 118:26 in the quote:

This sentence is a quote from Psalm 118:26. So let’s see what the translations do with:

HCSB: He who comes in the name of the LORD is the blessed One.

ESV: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD.

NKJV: Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD.

NAS: Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD.

NIV 2011: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD.

NLT: Bless the one who comes in the name of the LORD.

GW: Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.

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About exegete77

disciple of Jesus Christ, husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, teacher, and theologian
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