Monday, February 14, 2011

NABRE Sneak Peek: Song of Songs

For Valentine's Day, the NABRE Facebook site has released two passages from Song of Songs for your viewing pleasure. You can check them out, with their full notes, right here. The two passages are: 2:8-14 & 8:6-7.


Colleague said...

In chapter 2, I question the translation of "friend" instead of the more traditional "beloved" at vv. 10 and 13. "Beloved" seems to fit the context more clearly, not to mention the theological significance. I find such a change unnecessary. The other changes in this section are pleasant, but they don't alter my previous understanding of the passage.

The pivotal changes occur in the two verses from chapter 8. In the case of verse 6, for instance, I find myself asking, "How is Death strong? In what way is Love comparable to Death?" The previous NAB translation answers this at the forefront by stating that death is "stern." Ah! Now I get it. The same goes for the fierce "longing" being compared to Sheol. Again, how is "longing" fierce? I think the revision definitely muddles this attempt at clarification. What's especially odd is that the NABRE requires a paragraph long note to explain what the original NAB managed to do within the translation itself!

Granted, these aren't deal breakers for me, and I wouldn't consider these editorial choices as epic fails, especially since I've read worse. I guess I imagined better.

Timothy said...


I haven't had a chance to look at the MT or LXX, but I was struck by the use of "friends" as well.

Colleague said...

This is one of the reasons why I find such a change unnecessary: the Hebrew noun ra'yah (definitely meaning friend, companion, neighbor, etc.) is feminine. The English word "friend" does not exhibit the type of companionship which the Song of Songs intends to express.

Andy Coan said...

I am grateful for these little 'sneak peeks,' as they have definitely saved me some money buying a NABRE when it is released.

rolf said...

In regards to Chap 8:6, the RSV translates it as; 'Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is strong as death, jealousy is as cruel as the grave.'

The NETS translation of the LXX translates as; 'Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, zeal as harsh as Hades.'

Francesco said...

"Friend" is jarring in this case indeed! Are the man and the woman in this story supposed to be... married?

As with the sneak peak from Genesis, the NABRE gives, and it takes away. Song 8:7b has been improved immeasurably in my opinion:

"Were one to offer all he owns to purchase love,
he would be roundly mocked."

"Were one to offer all the wealth of his house for love,
he would be utterly despised."

This is so much better! "Despised" captures the reaction to such actions so much better than "mocked".

Colleague said...

rolf is correct concerning 8:6. The NABRE does seem to translate the Hebrew correctly.