Sunday, February 03, 2008

Seeing or not?

This morning at church, the Gospel reading was from Luke 2:22-40. Recently Dromore started using the TNIV (Today's New International Version), but I had my pocket ESV (English Standard Version) with me. Sometimes it's useful to hear one version read, while following another - you can see how the versions deal with phrases, and the two versions can aid understanding.

This is partly because of the different aims of the translators. According to the preface of the ESV, 'The ESV is an "essentially literal" translation that seeks as far as possible to capture the precise wording of the original text and the personal style of each Bible writer. As such, its emphasis is on "word-for-word" correspondence.' The TNIV, on the other hand, seems to present a balance between word for word correspondence and 'dynamic equivalence'.

Why have I been prompted to blog on this? Well, this morning's reading had such an example of seeing what can be lost by some translations.

Compare the two versions of Luke 2:26:

It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Messiah. (TNIV)

And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. (ESV)

Do you notice the double 'seeing' in the ESV text (which reflects the Greek script)? Simeon wouldn't see death until he had seen the Christ. A thought which isn't communicated just as well by the bald statement 'that he would not die.'

Praies God that God kept his promise, enabling Simeon to see the Christ before he saw death - 'a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.' May we also see the glory and light of Christ.

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