Recently, while I was doing an introductory talk on Scripture in front of a group of adults, in the middle of the talk I was inspired to refer and quote from Psalm 139. Of course, Psalm 139 is a fairly well-known Psalm, and I decided to quote from the middle portion of the Psalm, consisting of verses 13-18. I had my NOAB RSV with me at the time, so when I began to quote from it, I quickly had to choose whether or not to use the archaic language or translate on the fly. I decided to translate on the fly, and I must say that I fumbled through the verses. It didn't come off the way I had hoped.
Psalm 139: 13-18 (RSV):
"For thou didst form my inward parts, thou didst knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise thee, for thou art fearful and wonderful. Wonderful are thy works! Thou knowest me right well; my frame was not hidden from thee, when I was being made in secret, intricately wrought in the depths of the earth. Thy eyes beheld my unformed substance; in thy book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. How precious to me are thy thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. When I awake, I am still with thee."
Ultimately, in my attempt to make something, which I figured would be difficult for the audience to understand, more clear, I actually made it a lot worse. While this is hardly one of the more difficult passages in regards to archaic language, a few thoughts came to mind as I reflected on this incident:
1) Perhaps translating archaic language on the fly isn't the best idea. I always make sure that I am prepared when I give a talk, but I also try to be docile to the promptings of the Spirit as well.
2) Is having archaic language in my primary Bible a problem? Not sure. Certainly the RSV-2CE or NRSV are legitimate alternatives. (I should point out that this isn't an issue at my day job at the high school, since the Bibles we use with the students don't have archaic language in them.)
3) Is there any value to using a Bible that contains archaic language for the typical parish Bible study or introductory Scripture course? The audience matters, right?