In my effort to listen to various “voices,” I embarked on reading the Bible thru in a year every year for the past four years. The “voices” to which I refer are, in fact, different translations of the Bible. Four years ago I began by reading the Common English Bible, using a guide called “The Year of the Bible” (which, by the way, I highly recommend. “T Y of the B” arranges the readings in chronological order so the stories appear in sequence, making it much more understandable).
Three years ago I took my father’s New English Bible down from the shelf and read it. Last year it was Eugene Peterson’s turn as I read The Message, and this year, I’m working my way thru The Living Bible (my Aunt Hannah’s personal copy).
In reading both The Message and, now The Living Bible, I find myself becoming aware of anachronisms: words or phrases that do not fit the time: in this case, modern words and phrases that would never have been found in either the Hebrew (Old Testament) or Greek/Aramaic (New Testament) texts and which, therefore, amount to “loose” translations at best.
I kept notes of the ones that really stood out to me both last year and this. Because there are way too many to list in one blog, let me give you some examples from my more recent Living Bible readings:
Proverbs 1.6: “I want those already wise to … become leaders by exploring the meaning in these nuggets of truth.”
Proverbs 1.10: “If young toughs tell you, ‘Come and join us …'”
Proverbs 1.18: “They lay a booby trap for their own lives.”
Proverbs 3.22: “They are a feather in your cap.”
Proverbs 7.20: “He has taken a wallet full of money with him.”
Proverbs 10.5: “A wise youth makes hay while the sun shines.”
Proverbs 10.20: “The words of fools are a dime a dozen.”
Proverbs 15.31: “You will be elected to the wise men’s hall of fame.”
Proverbs 16.5: “Pride disgusts the Lord. Take my word for it — proud men shall be punished.
Ecclesiastes 5.3: ” … being a fool makes you a blabbermouth.”
Ecclesiastes 5.8: “And so the matter is lost in red tape and bureaucracy.”
Ecclesiastes 7.10: “Don’t long for ‘the good old days, ….”
Perhaps my favorite from my current reading is found in Ecclesiastes 6.9: “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”
Now, that expression is very old, to be sure. But it can’t be traced back any farther than the 7th century, where it appeared in the Aramaic Story of Ahikar in this form: “Better is a sparrow held tight in the hand than a thousand birds flying about in the air.”
Scholars believe there may have been versions of the thought that predate the 7th century, but there is no extant record showing it. It has enjoyed a long life, following the English language as it has evolved over the centuries and remains one of the most familiar adages we have today. However, it’s a bit of a leap to “a bird in the hand” from King James’ rendering, “Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the desire.”
I continue to note such anachronisms.
I have no idea what I’ll do with them eventually.
Hope you enjoyed this sampling, though.