Beatitudes in HCSB

In the Narrative Lectionary this is the year in which the Gospel According to Matthew is highlighted. One aspect of my preparation each week is to look at several translations (NAS, NIV, GW, HCSB, NKJV are the usual ones). This Sunday the text will be Matthew 5:1-20. Here is the HCSB translation of 5:2-10.

Then He began to teach them, saying:

“The poor in spirit are blessed, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
Those who mourn are blessed, for they will be comforted.
The gentle are blessed, for they will inherit the earth.
Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are blessed, for they will be filled.
The merciful are blessed, for they will be shown mercy.
The pure in heart are blessed, for they will see God.
The peacemakers are blessed, for they will be called sons of God.
Those who are persecuted for righteousness are blessed, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.

While this may be technically accurate, I stumbled through the reading. Even orally, it seemed awkward. Perhaps that is due to my 65 years of worship and Bible reading in which the KJV/RSV/NAS/NKV heritage was the traditional rendering of this text.

From a translation perspective, there is nothing technically wrong with the HCSB here. I do have two problems with the HCSB translation. The rearrangement of “blessed” to end of the first half of the sentences diminishes the impact of the repetition in each verse. It is difficult to see any pattern here. And from an oral reading perspective, it is awkward at best to read. It is just too jarring to the ear. Hence I did not use the HCSB for this Sunday’s reading.

This reads and sounds better.

Matthew 5:3-10
Matthew 5:3-10

Author: exegete77

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

4 thoughts on “Beatitudes in HCSB”

  1. Yes, the current HCSB’s rendering of the Beatitudes leaves much to be desired. The translation oversight committee will certainly discuss this for any future revision. Thanks again for your insights!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for that comment, Dr. Carter. Of all the oral readings in the NT from HCSB, this was the most jarring. But I was hesitant to write about it. Now I am glad I did. Blessings in your work.


  2. This is a trait in the HCSB that they carried out quite consistently. The rather obvious blessing formulas are flattened out into indicative statements. Take, for example, John 12:13: “He who comes in the name of the Lord is the blessed One—the King of Israel!”” (John 12:13 HCSB) (“εὐλογημένος ὁ ἐρχόμενος ἐν ὀνόματι κυρίου,” (John 12:13 NA28-T)). And interestingly enough that consistency follows through to the OT too: “He who comes in the name of the LORD is blessed.” (Psalms 118:26 HCSB). So, at least they’re consistent (-: ; but I do prefer to retain the blessing formulas as blessings. And I’m glad to hear from you, Dr. Carter, that this issue is on the radar of your committee.


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