Friday, January 28, 2011

Spot Check: NAB(RE) or RSV

Today’s spot check comes from this coming Sunday's second reading from 1 Corinthians 1:26-31. It really shouldn't be difficult figuring out which is which, but there are some interesting differences between the NAB and RSV versions. Which one do you like best and why?

Consider your own calling, brothers. Not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. Rather, God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong, and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something, so that no human being might boast before God. It is due to him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, as well as righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Whoever boasts, should boast in the Lord.”

OR

For consider your call, brethren; not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth; but God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom, our righteousness and sanctification and redemption; therefore, as it is written, "Let him who boasts, boast of the Lord."

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

1. It's interesting that both translations are muddled concerning the gender issue. a. brothers / whoever b. brethren / him

2. The change from worldly standards to human standards (Greek: sarx)has theological and contextual implications which I think are important, so that I prefer "worldly", though flesh would be an even better translation. Or perhaps "according to fallen humanity."

3. Overall, I prefer the RSV because while it is slightly more challenging to read, it is less interpretive and therefore less restricted than the NAB passage.

4. Though I think the RSV has a slight edge, the NAB in this instance is fine.

Brad

Colleague said...

Like Brad, the deep theological implications of how the two translations interpret Gk "sarx" is very important. I can't say that I profoundly disagree with "human," but conceptually speaking, I think "worldly" still seems more apt.

This difference between "human" (NAB) versus "worldly" (RSV) carries over in the discussion of why God chooses what he does. The NAB translates and interprets the passage more personally as if referring to specific persons; the RSV is more general and conceptual, traits which any person or thing (like a cross) could have.

RSV wins this round, in my mind.

Anonymous said...

So Jesus "became for us" wisdom and righteousness (as if he were not these things already)? I don't believe this is an intentional attempt to obscure the text, but a good example of why a more literal translation is preferable.

Timothy said...

Anon,

One could argue how Christ could be "made" since in the Creed we say that he is "begotten, not made". So, I am not sure if it is necessarily an issue of literal v. dynamic. Other more literal translations that use "became" are the ESV, NKJV and NASB.

rolf said...

Like Colleague, I agree that the NAB translates the text more personally than the RSV. I think in a liturgical setting the NAB would read soother and be a little easier to understand. So I would give this round to the NAB.

Anonymous said...

Regarding "became" in vs. 30: refers to the incarnation, in which Jesus flesh and blood was made in the womb of the Virgin Mary (see CCC 476.) Properly understood, either translation is acceptable, although "made" seems more precise. Regarding "worldly": alludes more to the flesh, (humanity apart from the grace and direction of the Church) so here again the RSV is closer to what is rendered more accurately in traditional Catholic english translation.

Mark in Spokane said...

Just from the perspective of a readable text, I would give the advantage slightly to the NABRE here, although I have to confess that personally I like the "KJV-lite" tone that the RSV brings to the table. But the NABRE reads more smoothly, particularly when read aloud, I think. I can't comment on which text better translates the Greek text (since I can't read Greek), but again just speaking for myself, I think that the NABRE's rendering is easier to follow.

Anonymous said...

The phrase "even things that are not" seems awkward. Is the NABre's translation of this phrase inaccurate, or is it the correct use of the idiom?

rolf said...

I think you have your translations reversed. The second reading that has the phrase "even things that are not" is the RSV not the NAB. The first reading is the NAB not the NABRE>

Anonymous said...

I left out the words "RSV's" and "alternative". I should have written this:
The *RSV's* phrase "even things that are not" seems awkward. Is the NABre's *ALTERNATIVE* translation of this phrase inaccurate, or is it the correct use of the idiom?

In other words, are either of these inaccurate or incomplete translations of the author's intent?
NABre: "... those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something, ..."
RSVce: "even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are,"

PAX!

Fishtales said...

Nasb,nabre,nab,rsv...are asv based which is kjb (nkjv,akjv,kjv)...a protestant bible.

Francesco said...

@Fishtales:

The NAB and NABRE are not related to the NASB or ASV. Having "American" in their names does not make them similar.