Saturday, December 8, 2012

Sunday Knox: Luke 3:1-6


"It was in the fifteenth year of the emperor Tiberius’ reign, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judaea, when Herod was prince in Galilee, his brother Philip in the Ituraean and Trachonitid region, and Lysanias in Abilina, in the high priesthood of Annas and Caiphas, that the word of God came upon John, the son of Zachary, in the desert. And he went all over the country round Jordan, announcing a baptism whereby men repented, to have their sins forgiven: as it is written in the book of the sayings of the prophet Isaias, There is a voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare the way of the Lord, straighten out his paths. Every valley is to be bridged, and every mountain and hill levelled, and the windings are to be cut straight, and the rough paths made into smooth roads, and all mankind is to see the saving power of God." -Knox Bible

Luke 3:1 There is some uncertainty about the system on which the Romans computed the years of a given reign; probably the fifteenth year of Tiberius would be 28 or 29 a.d. by our reckoning.

Luke 3:2 Caiphas was the actual high priest; Annas, who had been deposed from that office, continued to exercise much influence.


"In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert. John went throughout the whole region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah: A voice of one crying out in the desert: 'Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low. The winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.'"-NAB

7 comments:

Biblical Catholic said...

It might be primarily due to my familiarity with Handel, but i don't think either of those really make a memorable visual image that compares to the KJV/RSV rendering 'every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill made low'....saying that the valleys will be 'bridged' or 'filed' just doesn't cut it....I mean...isn't the point of the passage that everything is going to be reversed? Valleys become high, mountains become low, crooked paths become straight....filling or bridging valleys just doesn't sound as memorable as 'exalting' them.

CJA Mayo said...

NAB wins this by a good margin, almost as large as Knox won last week. It may have something to do with what Biblical Catholic says (I imagine so, as the language here is mundane, parochial, pedestrian, and uninspired, even by NAB standards, which is saying a lot), and "Tiberius Caesar" has a much better ring to it than "Emperor Tiberius", even if, at that point in Roman history, the titles imperator and caesar were synonymous.

The name "Caesar", whichever of the Caesars it is attached to, conjures images in the mind of the might of the Empire, and of Biblical epics such as Ben-Hur. "Emperor" doesn't. We're not talking about the Colonies of Britain. We're talking about Rome.

CJA Mayo said...

Oh, the NAB doesn't have "exalted", but it's still better than Knox here. But I do agree most fully that this passage is better rendered by the RSV, and even more magnified in rendering by the KJV, but there are very few passages in very few translations that I wouldn't compare to the KJV in such a way.

Biblical Catholic said...

I don't know if people will understanding what I was referring to when I referred to Handel, so I figured I might post a link....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7NCO6UzZ2R8

The NAB says 'filled', as does the ESV, Knox says 'bridged'.....the KJV and RSV say 'exalted'.....

I don't know what the Greek says, which translation is best, I just know that 'exalted' sounds great....

Philothea said...

My editions of the RSV2CE, NOAB-RSV and the KJV don't say "exalted" either. I'm confused.

Colleague said...

Biblical Catholic said:

"isn't the point of the passage that everything is going to be reversed?"

Not reversed but equivalent. For this reason, I find "filled" to be adequate.

Anonymous said...


"I don't know what the Greek says, which translation is best, I just know that 'exalted' sounds great...."

For what it's worth, the NETS (New English Translation of the Septuagint) has:

A voice of one crying out in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord;
make straight the paths of our God.

Every ravine shall be filled up, and every mountain and hill be made low, and all the crooked ways shall become straight, and the rough place shall become plains.

Isaiah 40:3,4

 The imagery Isaiah is evoking comes from:

"the practice of Eastern monarchs, who whenever they entered on a journey or an expedition, especially through a barren and unfrequented or inhospitable country, sent harbingers or heralds before them to prepare the way.

To do this, it was necessary for them to provide supplies, and make bridges, or find fording places over the streams; to level hills, and construct causeways over valleys, or fill them up; and to make a way through the forest which might lie in their intended line of march. This was necessary, because these contemplated expeditions often involved the necessity of marching through countries where there were no public highways that would afford facilities for the passage of an army."

Barnes' Notes on the Bible

Be that as it may, like you, I also love "exalted."

Pax,
John