Comparison of translation choices

I have been reading ESV for a few weeks. I am posting just some random translation choices of ESV and comparing it to other translations. The first two examples have to do with seemingly awkward (oral) translation choices. The last example has to do with the difference between translation approaches: formal equivalent and functional equivalent (other terms have been used to express the differences in approaches)

Formal equivalent: reasonably equivalent words and phrases while following the forms of the source language [Greek in this case] as closely as possible. Sometimes called “word-for-word” translation. Examples include ESV, NAS, NKJV, and MEV.

Functional equivalent: This type of translation reflects the thought of the writer in the source language rather than the words and forms. Sometimes called “meaning based translation.” Examples include: GW, NLT.

Combination: Then there some translations that fall somewhere between these classifications, namely CSB, which leans toward Formal equivalent, and NIV, which shifts between the two approaches (without any signal that such a change is taking place).

Deuteronomy 4:39

ESV know therefore today, and lay it to your heart, that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other.

NAS Know therefore today, and take it to your heart, that the Lord, He is God in heaven above and on the earth below; there is no other.

NKJV Therefore know this day, and consider it in your heart, that the Lord Himself is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other.

CSB Today, recognize and keep in mind that the Lord is God in heaven above and on earth below; there is no other.

NIV Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other.

MEV Know therefore today, and consider it in your heart, that the Lord, He is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other.

“Lay it to your heart” just sounds odd, and I am not familiar with any other contemporary use of that phrase in English.

Deuteronomy 5:3

ESV Not with our fathers did the Lord make this covenant, but with us, who are all of us here alive today.

NAS The Lord did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us, with all those of us alive here today.

NKJV The Lord did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us, those who are here today, all of us who are alive.

CSB He did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with all of us who are alive here today

NIV  It was not with our ancestors that the Lord made this covenant, but with us, with all of us who are alive here today.

MEV The Lord did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us, we who are living now and here today.

GW He didn’t make this promise to our ancestors, but to all of us who are alive here today.

The translation “but with us, who are all of us here alive today” is awkward English and hence problematic for oral reading. Surprisingly CSB follows ESV closely, only shifting the word “all.”

Interestingly NKJV adjusts the word order to make it more comprehensible but also flowing better for oral reading. MEV goes about it differently to achieve the same result.

Ephesians 1:3-14

This is one section in which the formal equivalent and dynamic equivalent translations show marked differences even in where to put sentence stops (periods).

Ephesians 1:3-14 is one of the more difficult passages, partly because it depends on how sentences are divided in the entire section, 1:3-14. Here are the number of sentences (in parentheses) in each text:

NA28 (Greek text, 4): 1:3-6, 7-10, 11-12, 13-14

ESV (4) 1:3-6, 7-10, 11-12, 13-14

NKJV (4) 1:3-6, 7-10, 11-12, 13-14

MEV (4): 1:3-6, 7-10, 11-12, 13-14

NAS (5) 1:3-6, 7-8a, 8b-10, 11-12, 13-14

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CSB (8) 1:3, 4, 5-6, 7-8, 9-10, 11-12, 13, 14

NIV (8) 1:3, 4, 5-6, 7-8, 9-10, 11-12, 13a, 13b-14

==========

GW (14): 3, 4, 5-6, 7, 8, 8-9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 13, 14, 14, 14

NLT (15) 1:3, 4, 5, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 13, 14, 14

You can see the division of sentences relative to Formal (ESV, NAS, NKJV, MEV) and Functional (NIV, GW, NLT) translations.  Interestingly CSB and NIV sit in the middle of sentence division choices but for different reasons. CSB (and predecessor HCSB) tend toward Formal equivalence, while NIV sometimes alternates the translation decision between Formal and Functional (without noting which is being followed in a particular text).

ESV 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

NAS  7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight 9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him 10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth.

NKJV 7  In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, 9 having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, 10 that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth

CSB 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace 8 that he richly poured out on us with all wisdom and understanding. 9 He made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he purposed in Christ 10 as a plan for the right time—to bring everything together in Christ, both things in heaven and things on earth in him.

NIV 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9 he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

MEV 7 In Him we have redemption through His blood and the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of His grace, 8 which He lavished on us in all wisdom and insight, 9 making known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Himself, 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in Christ, which are in heaven and on earth.

GW 7 Through the blood of his Son, we are set free from our sins. God forgives our failures because of his overflowing kindness. 8 He poured out his kindness by giving us every kind of wisdom and insight 9 when he revealed the mystery of his plan to us. He had decided to do this through Christ. 10 He planned to bring all of history to its goal in Christ. Then Christ would be the head of everything in heaven and on earth.

The challenge in a passage like Ephesians 1:3-14 is to provide a translation that reflects the original Greek, and yet make it understandable in an English context. Very difficult to do. That is why I recommend to those who do not know the original languages to choose one from each type of translations (i.e. NAS and GW, or other combination).

PS: As an experiment, try to orally read each translation of Ephesians 1:3-14. And compare your ability to faithfully read and then understand.

Further Notes:

Keep in mind that there are many factors in translation choices. Those decisions can be much more complex than I have indicated. This only looks at one of two of those choices.

I have carefully avoided the evaluation and comparison terms (“better” “best” “worst”) in this post. I think it more appropriate to evaluate based on understandability of the English used in the translation.

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The Church, Satan, and Abuse

Sermon preached on Sep. 2, 2018

http://www.mediafire.com/file/bwg9jinbeejx7xq/Sermon_20180902_copy.m4a/file

Finally, my brothers, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, and against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.  Therefore take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.  Stand therefore, having your waist girded with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness,  having your feet fitted with the readiness of the gospel of peace,  and above all, taking the shield of faith, with which you will be able to extinguish all the fiery arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

 Pray in the Spirit always with all kinds of prayer and supplication. To that end be alert with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.  Pray for me, that the power to speak may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel,  for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may speak boldly as I ought to speak.

Ephesians 6:10-20 MEV

 

Praying the un-prayable

As Christians we cherish the Old and New Testaments for many reasons. They teach us about God’s salvation through Jesus Christ. The prophecies and promises of His coming in the OT, and the revelation of Him through the Gospels, and then expanded teachings in the NT letters. 

There are many texts in the OT that you can read that point ahead to fulfillment in Jesus Christ. Here are just a few (look up their fulfillment in the NT):

Gen. 3:15; 12:1-3; 15:1-6; Isaiah 7:14; 9:1-7; 53; Micah 5:2; Zechariah 9:9-10; 13:7-9

As part of our new relationship with God (saved, not condemned), God invites us to approach Him in prayer.

Praying

Jesus invites the hearers/readers/listeners to believe on Him and be saved. This includes forgiveness of sins, reconciliation, etc., and to approach God in prayer and to do so with confidence. In fact, we see in both testaments the encouragement to pray, the models for praying. Reading the Psalms can be great sources of praying, and learning about prayer.

For centuries Christians have grown in their prayer lives as they are influenced, guided, and directed by the Bible.

Praying can be hard

As we live in this world that is scarred by sin, it doesn’t take us long to hit the brick wall of difficult prayers. I don’t mean simple prayers, but those prayers that are so agonizing that we can’t even express ourselves. Words seem to fail us.

Having lived through decades of agony, fear, inability to change circumstances, I can’t even count how many times I was flat on the bed, floor, ground, crying out loud, “How long!?!” One Psalm captures that extreme sense of loss, abandonment, despair.

God does not leave us in that condition. And it is a good thing. Perhaps the pain of what is happening is monumental,  and we stutter, frozen in a failure to even pray. God promises that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us in that exact spot:

At the same time the Spirit also helps us in our weakness, because we don’t know how to pray for what we need. But the Spirit intercedes along with our groans that cannot be expressed in words. The one who searches our hearts knows what the Spirit has in mind. The Spirit intercedes for God’s people the way God wants him to.  (Romans 8:26-27 GW)

What a comfort that God helps form our prayers even in those difficult, trying times.

Praying the Un-prayable

But now we come to the most difficult part. Trying to pray the un-prayable. This is the extreme condition when praying even seems unspeakable. When the pain is beyond description. To even say words at that point would mean that even God would be offended!

Psalm 137 comes to mind. It begins with a lament.

So far, this seems like a normal lament. But notice how this ends:

That is startling!! A few years ago I read one commentator who wrote strongly that this is “sub-Christian” and should never be uttered by anyone! Or in the words of this subheading: Praying the un-prayable.

I would offer that this prayer is precisely a Christian prayer, a faithful prayer. For the Jew writing this, the agony of seeing Jerusalem and the temple destroyed was overwhelming. The agony of deportation to other lands (not just Babylon, but also Egypt). The death of many family members and friends boils in the backdrop of the mind. The Psalm is not written with a “peaceful, pretty, gentle” background. The raw emotions of the Jewish people comes through very clearly.

But God… and this is key… But the Psalmist who utters this prayer brings the full brunt of the desperation before God. Notice, however, that the Psalmist does not act on this violence, namely “smashing babies against the rocks.” Rather the Psalmist is praying in faith before God. And that faith is such that God can handle the anger, the frustration, the hopelessness. The worst of all imaginable words, yet the Psalmist brings those emotions, hurts, losses, and now even words before God.

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A word about justice:

The Psalmist does not take matters into his own hands. His heart is open about what he wanted to do—before God. But justice was not in his hands. God raised up others (namely, the Persians) who conquered Babylon. Was it instantaneous justice? No, but it was far better than one person trying to take on personal vengeance.

In the case of the sexual abuse scandal at MSU, USAG, and OSOC, God raised up people to address not one abuse incident—remember that many were not aware how extensive it was—but the larger scheme. Therefore, God raised up Rachael, Morgan, Makayla, and many others to become the voice that shouted “no more!”

Judge Rosemarie Aquilina in the courtroom allowed those many voices to be heard. The voice was no longer one lonely, fearful voice, but a combination of hundreds of voices, angry voices of women who were finally being heard. The Psalmist of 137 gave way to God’s greater justice. And now that same process is being played out. Justice is being served.

And the voices of others who have been abused are now catching worldwide attention: Abby Honold and the law named after her in Minnesota. Sammy Woodhouse who survived the Rotherham abuse ring is telling the story through her book and personal appearances. 

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Hope in Praying the Un-prayable

In praying this way, we are not offending God by our words. Rather we are actually trusting Him to hear, and respond in His perfect way. Not our way, not the expedient way, not the way we planned, not in the time we demand, but in His perfect way and perfect timing. We do so, knowing His promises to hear and to act.

Over the years when the ongoing turmoil was moving beyond 30 years, and part of it was our one son was missing for 18 years, life was beyond messy—it felt like the Babylonian captivity. It was what I described privately as “hell on earth.” That was the strongest way to describe it. Was God offended? No, he welcomes the prayers that are un-prayable. My heart was broken into a million pieces, my words inadequate. But, God listened.

My prayer of lament, the un-prayable prayer, was answered in a dramatic fashion two years ago. What I struggled to utter during those decades was answered in a way I didn’t think possible. But God…

Abused, broken—
prayers for them and with them

As I think about those who have been (and are being) abused, I think of Psalm 137. We can pray their un-prayable prayers for them and with them. We can open our mouths before God to say the difficult words, express the hurt, anger, rage, frustration. And we know that God can handle it.

That is one reason I began the daily prayer on Facebook and Twitter for #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors who suffered (and still do) under the abuse by Larry Nassar, MSU, and USAG, USOC, etc.

But now, we can expand that to pray for the many who have suffered abuse in so many ways. I think of Madeleine Black, Abby Honold, Lori Ann Thompson, Sandy Beach, Mary DeMuth, and so many others. And prayers for those who care for and minister to those who have been abused.

When we pray for them, we do not in any way minimize or diminish what has happened, what they are experiencing, the anguish, despair, sense of being forgotten. Rather, we pray in light of all that, we pray that God brings what we cannot.

Let’s storm God’s throne of mercy with un-prayable prayers, for the sake of our sisters and brothers.

Our prayers continue

Body and Blood—”given and shed for you”

Palm Sunday follow up

Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday caused quite a stir.  Many were involved in proclaiming the praises due to Jesus. “Hosanna. loud Hosanna!” “Come, save us!” was their declaration. But are they ready for that salvation?

In the three days since then, Jesus teaches the people in the temple area. He confronts the religious leaders with parables. Instead of making a coalition with the leaders, Jesus demonstrates how far they have drifted from God’s intention. More broadly, He shows how much the entire people of Israel have lived, not as the people of God, but as whiny spoiled children who demand that God start working for them— constant refrain from the time of Moses leading them in the wilderness 1500 years prior.

But now it is Thursday, the passover celebration. Unlike other major festivals among the Jews, the Passover was not connected to the temple and the sacrifices. Rather it was a family festival, remembering God’s deliverance from Egypt. The night is not hurried, it is not time to prepare to escape at any moment. Passover had become a time of relaxing, retelling the story of the Exodus, in a night of lavish eating, joy, rejoicing in their life as God’s people.

The New Family

Earlier in the Gospel accounts we find a realigning of family:

Then his mother and his brothers arrived. While they were standing outside, they sent word to Jesus, calling for him. A crowd was
sitting around him. They began to tell him, “Look, your mother and your brothers are outside looking for you.”

He replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” He looked at those who sat around him in a circle and he said, “Look, my mother and my brothers! (Mark 3:31-34 EHV)

That finds fulfillment tonight at the Passover meal. Jesus joins His disciples, not His family. The new identity of family is established—those who believe in Him are the family of God. That means these disciples have to relearn what relationships are like.

Servanthood in the Family

Earlier and even that night, they want to know the pecking order in this new community. “Let me sit on your right” and “Let me sit on Your left” become the questions. Instead, in John’s Gospel we read:

 He got up from the supper and laid aside his outer garment. He took a towel and tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. (John 13:4-5 EHV)

Jesus takes on the form of a servant, the lowest servant who washes the feet.

After Jesus had washed their feet and put on his outer garment, he reclined at the table again. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. (John 13:12 EHV)

It takes them a while before they put all this together. For tonight they have a lot to digest.

Lord’s Supper

But since Jesus knows that they are all sinners, He will do two things about that. Tomorrow He will die for their sins and the sins of the whole world. We will revisit tomorrow. But for now, Jesus takes the family meal of Passover and makes it a life-giving meal for sinners. Each of them will sin before the night is over. Each of them will experience the affects of sin in their lives: guilt, shame, fear, blame, etc. One will betray Him, another will deny Him, and all of them will flee in His greatest need.

So tonight Jesus changes the Passover meal with these words:

He took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, he took the cup after the supper, saying, “This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is
being poured out for you. (Lk 22:19-20 EHV)

Instead of being a remembrance of a past event (Exodus) now in the Lord’s Supper Jesus Himself be present with His body and blood—for the forgiveness of sins, cleansing of conscience, taking away guilt, shame, fear.

Tonight we celebrate not the Exodus event, but Jesus serving us in the best way possible, giving us His body and blood. Thus through that we have the greater deliverance: from sin, death, and the devil.

Now what?

We leave here not with an uncertainty like those disciples around Jesus. We know what happened, that the disciples run away afraid. But we know that Jesus fulfills all things written about Him. He dies, yes. He also rises from the dead. And His victory becomes our victory by faith in Him including what He did for us.

We leave tonight anticipating the events coming, but with faith and hope—not fear and failure. We are sisters and brothers of Christ. And we give thanks to God, family of God!

Away from the crowds

The Crowds

How do you respond to the crowd? For some (usually extroverts) crowds can be an important part of recharging themselves. For others (usually introverts, which I am), crowds are okay, but then there is a need to withdraw. For such people, recharging comes away from the crowds.

As we look at Jesus’ ministry, we discover something interesting. He would withdraw from the crowds. But something more happened.

But Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. Many followed Him, and He healed them all, (Matt. 12:15)

Now when Jesus heard about John, He withdrew from there in a boat to a secluded place by Himself; and when the people heard of this, they followed Him on foot from the cities. (Matt. 14:13)

So despite Jesus withdrawing from the people the people would not withdraw from Him. Amazingly, Jesus continues to care for them, healing, teaching, comforting them.

Palm Sunday: The crowds

Palm Sunday in one way is the peak of Jesus’ popularity. The crowds greet His arrival in Jerusalem as the new king, much in anticipation of the new David, King. Matthew noted the Old Testament prophecy related to preparation for His entry into Jerusalem.

“Tell the daughter of Zion,
 Behold, your King comes to you, Humble, and riding on a donkey, On a colt, the foal of a donkey.”  (Matt. 21:5)

The actions and words of the crowd reflect this anticipation of someone great, like a new King.

A very great multitude spread their clothes on the road. Others cut branches from the trees, and spread them on the road.  The multitudes who went before him, and who followed kept shouting, “Hosanna to the son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matt. 21:8–9)

And the crowd begins to put the pieces together.

When he had come into Jerusalem, all the city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?”  The multitudes said, “This is the prophet, Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.” (Matt. 21:10-1)

Post Entry to Jerusalem

The attention to Jesus doesn’t end there. Jesus goes into the temple area and causes quite a stir.

Jesus entered into the temple of God, and drove out all of those who sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the money-changers’ tables and the seats of those who sold the doves. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers!” (Matt. 21:12-13)

On the one hand, the Jewish leaders are very concerned about this agitation of their little kingdom. On the other hand, Jesus is very concerned about the agitation caused by changing and defiling the temple and God’s work through it. Not only that, but Jesus heals many in the crowds (Matt. 21:14-15).

Jesus continues His ministry to the crowds

In the rest of Matthew 21, we see Jesus continuing what He had been doing in previous years: teaching the people (crowds), healing them, while also confronting the Jewish leaders.

When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his illustrations, they knew that he was talking about them. They wanted to arrest him but were afraid of the crowds, who thought he was a prophet. (Matt. 21:45–46)

The crowds still follow Him, listen to His teachings, and receive His healing gifts. Jesus is doing what His Father had sent Him to do.

His crowd ministry never stops

The reality is that Jesus came into this world —for the crowds, even the enemies within the crowds. While needs time to be alone with His disciples, he never fully withdraws from the people. He knows their concerns, their hurts, they challenges, and their brokenness.

He continues to live out His ministry in fulfillment of Psalm 34:17-18:

The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears, and rescues them from all their troubles.

The LORD is near the brokenhearted; he saves those crushed in spirit.

So we see that Jesus has much to do. In the days following His entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. His crowd work will dramatically change focus on Maundy Thursday. He will begin the care for His followers of the future.

 

Places of Passion: Court of High Priest

In our midweek services we have followed the places that Jesus went on His way to the cross. This week we go to the court of the High Priest. This was the highest religious authority for the Jews. Jesus has one more stop after this: court of Pilate, Roman Governor.

In our text, the High Priest and the Sanhedrin were looking for false testimony against Jesus. Their intent was to put Jesus to death. And yet they couldn’t even find any. Even when they find two witnesses, they still can’t tell the truth about what Jesus said.

Nevertheless, when the High Priest finally addresses Jesus to tell the truth, Jesus does tell the truth, that He is the Messiah, the Son of God. He gives the same answer that Peter gave earlier in Jesus’ ministry:

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” (Matt. 16:15 CSB)

Peter got the title correct, but he didn’t want to hear what Jesus had to do in fulfillment of that title.

21 From then on Jesus began to point out to his disciples that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders, chief priests, and scribes, be killed, and be raised the third day. 22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, “Oh no, Lord! This will never happen to you!” (Matt. 16:21–22 CSB)

In our text, Peter is mentioned ironically, wanting to see the outcome:

Peter was following him at a distance right to the high priest’s courtyard. He went in and was sitting with the servants to see the outcome. (26:28 CSB)

Ironically, when Jesus publicly confesses who He is: the Messiah, the Son of the living God. By Jesus’ assertion, the Sanhedrin didn’t need a false testimony, Jesus gave a true witness… that served their purpose to kill Him, and it served Jesus’ purpose to reveal Himself in His testimony and in His death.

The truth of Jesus’s statement culminates in events that lead to His death… but even more.

Matthew 26:57–66

57 Those who had arrested Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders had convened. 58 Peter was following him at a distance right to the high priest’s courtyard. He went in and was sitting with the servants to see the outcome.

59 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false testimony against Jesus so that they could put him to death, 60 but they could not find any, even though many false witnesses came forward. Finally, two who came forward 61 stated, “This man said, ‘I can destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’”

62 The high priest stood up and said to him, “Don’t you have an answer to what these men are testifying against you?” 63 But Jesus kept silent. The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”

64 “You have said it,” Jesus told him. “But I tell you, in the future you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

65 Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has blasphemed! Why do we still need witnesses? See, now you’ve heard the blasphemy. 66 What is your decision?” They answered, “He deserves death!” (CSB)