Sunday, December 21, 2014

Knox vs. The Message: 4th Week of Advent (Luke 1:26-38)

I am going to continue this series of comparing one of the Sunday readings from the lectionary, using the Knox Bible and The Message.  While done in different ways, I think both Knox and Peterson desired to make the Bible more accessible to the average reader.  Let's see if they were successful.

When the sixth month came, God sent the angel Gabriel to a city of Galilee called Nazareth,  where a virgin dwelt, betrothed to a man of David’s lineage; his name was Joseph, and the virgin’s name was Mary.  Into her presence the angel came, and said, Hail, thou who art full of grace; the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women. She was much perplexed at hearing him speak so, and cast about in her mind, what she was to make of such a greeting.  Then the angel said to her, Mary, do not be afraid; thou hast found favour in the sight of God.  And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call him Jesus.  He shall be great, and men will know him for the Son of the most High; the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he shall reign over the house of Jacob eternally;  his kingdom shall never have an end.  But Mary said to the angel, How can that be, since I have no knowledge of man? And the angel answered her, The Holy Spirit will come upon thee, and the power of the most High will overshadow thee. Thus this holy offspring of thine shall be known for the Son of God.  See, moreover, how it fares with thy cousin Elizabeth; she is old, yet she too has conceived a son; she who was reproached with barrenness is now in her sixth month,  to prove that nothing can be impossible with God.  And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; let it be unto me according to thy word. And with that the angel left her.

The Message:
In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to the Galilean village of Nazareth to a virgin engaged to be married to a man descended from David. His name was Joseph, and the virgin’s name, Mary. Upon entering, Gabriel greeted her:
Good morning!
You’re beautiful with God’s beauty,
Beautiful inside and out!
God be with you.
She was thoroughly shaken, wondering what was behind a greeting like that. But the angel assured her, “Mary, you have nothing to fear. God has a surprise for you: You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call his name Jesus.
He will be great,
be called ‘Son of the Highest.’
The Lord God will give him
the throne of his father David;
He will rule Jacob’s house forever—
no end, ever, to his kingdom.”
Mary said to the angel, “But how? I’ve never slept with a man.”
The angel answered,
The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
the power of the Highest hover over you;
Therefore, the child you bring to birth
will be called Holy, Son of God.
“And did you know that your cousin Elizabeth conceived a son, old as she is? Everyone called her barren, and here she is six months pregnant! Nothing, you see, is impossible with God.”
And Mary said,
Yes, I see it all now:
I’m the Lord’s maid, ready to serve.
Let it be with me
just as you say.
Then the angel left her.


Anonymous said...

At this point, The Message seems to be unbearable,

"You’re beautiful with God’s beauty,
Beautiful inside and out!"

It seems that Gabriel amazed with the appearance of Mary. This could be the impression for a first reader.

“But how? I’ve never slept with a man.”

Man, Mary is an innocent virgin, how does she know to "sleep" with a man? Given that it is a euphemism of copulation, but anyone who does not have knowledge of it have no idea that there is something with "sleeping" with a man.

This rendition is way too irreverent for these highly respected verses at a high liturgical season.

Maybe we now know why The Message didn't get any Imprimatur, I guess even a Nihil Obstat it will not have.

Michael Demers said...

from John Kincaid at The Sacred Page:

While it is easy to simply read Mary’s reply as motivated by the fact that she was currently a virgin, there still remains the more pressing question: why is Mary puzzled that she was about to give birth to a child since she was about to be married to Joseph? Perhaps this points to Mary’s commitment to remain a virgin, for the Greek term (ginōskō) could be taken as a timeless present (gnomic), thereby clarifying her astonishment at the Angel’s predication.

rolf said...

I agree with what Gerald said!

Ed Rio said...

The Message really was a clunker this time. Although I have to say, the Knox translation is a bit lofty for the average reader, in my opinion.

I think the Jerusalem Bible has a nice balance of being accessible and eloquent:
The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. He went in and said to her, ‘Rejoice, so highly favoured! The Lord is with you.’ She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean, but the angel said to her, ‘Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favour. Listen! You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘But how can this come about, since I am a virgin?’ ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you’ the angel answered ‘and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God. Know this too: your kinswoman Elizabeth has, in her old age, herself conceived a son, and she whom people called barren is now in her sixth month, for nothing is impossible to God’ ‘I am the handmaid of the Lord,’ said Mary ‘let what you have said be done to me.’ And the angel left her.

Russ NY said...

I'm sorry but I burst out laughing when Gabriel says, "Good morning." It's as if he just passed her on the street on the way to the corner store.

Michael Demers said...

"Good morning" and "God has a surprise for you" and "I've never slept with a man", etc. It's different but it sounds goofy like a bad soap opera.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Gerald. The Message is fine for a 13 year old Evangelical Protestant but it is a paraphrase the author wrote for his kids. It's not a translation. The Knox is a translation of the Vulgate by a scholar undertaken at the behest of Bishops and accepted for liturgical use in Great Britain. The two don't belong in the same genre'.

Peter Brennan

Scott O'Connor said...

Tim, Thanks for doing these post. I find myself looking forward to every Sunday's comparison. I find the best part is that the scriptures chosen to compare are unbiased in the sense that its the Church who chose these readings and not an advocate for ether translation. It truly gives a fair comparison.

Having said this I agree with just about everyone else. The Message flows so nicely at points but ultimately it aims to modernize things so much that it translate many of the passages to nonequivalent words and phrases; much like the old translation of the creed. "one in being" doesn't capture the true meaning of "constubstantial". Cleaning up the pro nouns and articles to match modern language is one thing, but changing the meaning of the passage is another. What the message aims to do, I feel translations like the NIV do much better.

Jonny said...

To echo Michael Demers (and myself on other posts) yes, the modern paraphrases of Luke 1:34 are pretty silly when you think about it. "How shall this be done, since I am a virgin?" ... betrothed to Joseph, just not living together yet? Why depart from the literal rendering of the Douay Bible (see CCC 484), to interpretations such as this that do not make sense? I will say the NABRE overall does a better job here than most, but you just have to read the Christmas Story in the Douay Rheims!

Erica McCrea said...

I'm so happy to see the Knox translation back up. I also agree with everyone else; the Message Bible is not only irreverent, but silly. Can you imagine the "ave" taken from Gabriel for "Good morning"? But then again, I hate the Message Bible, and it's my roommate's new favorite activity to quote from it just to bother me. Just read the massacre that is Hebrews in the Message Bible... Occasionally the Message actually does a decent job—but you didn't hear that from me. More often, I have the urge to burn every copy I find.

Eric Barczak said...

(Tim, feel free to edit or simply not post this comment)

The Message lost me at Luke 1:28. Seriously, I didn't want to read any farther (and didn't). It was that bad! The NAB seems like fine poetry and deeply reverent!

I know its a paraphrase meant to be easily accessible to a modern reader, but this just crosses the line. I'm thinking male bovine manure here. And that's the polite way to put what I'm REALLY thinking (which, if vocalized, would make a sailor blush).

In all, right there, that more or less killed any desire I had to get a copy of The Message.