Sunday, October 11, 2015

Knox vs. The Message: Wisdom 7:7-11

This week, we compare the translations from the first reading for 28th Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)

Whence, then, did the prudence spring that endowed me? Prayer brought it; to God I prayed, and the spirit of wisdom came upon me. This I valued more than kingdom or throne; I thought nothing of my riches in comparison.  There was no jewel I could match with it; all my treasures of gold were a handful of dust beside it, my silver seemed but base clay in presence of it.  I treasured wisdom more than health or beauty, preferred her to the light of day; hers is a flame which never dies down. Together with her all blessings came to me; boundless prosperity was her gift.

The Message:

For this very reason I prayed, trying to make sense of it all. I cried out for Wisdom, and she responded to my call. When she came to sit, I preferred her lap to the laps of other royals. I compared Wealth with Wisdom, and Wisdom was the clear winner. I could have compared her with the finest jewels, but why would I? Gold dust is no more precious than yellow sand; the same could be said of silver. Health and Beauty take a back seat to Wisdom. She sheds more light than the sun; they merely reflect and refract. As if the wonderfulness of wisdom weren’t enough, she didn’t come empty- handed; she brought gifts for everybody; each one wore her label or bore her mark.


rolf said...

I think the Message is so 'loose' in its paraphrase at times, you forget what passage you are reading. The Living Bible Catholic Edition, while also a paraphrase follows the translations a lot closer while remaining free enough to smoothen out some of the more formal verses and enhance understanding for its target audience.
Here is the same verses from the book of Wisdom from the Living Bible:

'Therefore I prayed and understanding was given me; I called upon God, and the spirit of wisdom came upon me. I preferred her to kingdoms and thrones, and esteemed riches as nothing in comparison to her. Neither did I compare her to any precious stone, for all gold is a little sand in comparison to her, and silver in respect to her is counted as clay. I loved her above heath and beauty, and chose to have her instead of light; for her light cannot be put out. Now all good things came to me along with her, and innumerable riches through her hands,'

Biblical Catholic said...

The problem that I have with The Living Bible, The Message, The Good News Bible and other "dynamic" translations is that too often, they seem to assume that their readers are idiots, and, therefore, they tend to excessively dumb down the text under the assumption that no one is capable of understanding it any other way, thus they tend to over-explain things or try to change common idioms whose meaning out to be apparent, out of concern that people won't understand them.

I just don't agree with the idea of making the Bible "easy" or "simple", it is not a simple book, and any attempt to make it simple necessarily requires either inserting your personal interpretation into the text, or overlooking important nuances and subtleties to the text. Based on what I've read of the Knox translation, and I've read most, but not all, of it, he seems to avoid this error most of the time.

I think that where the original text is ambiguous, the translation should be ambiguous, trying to make it "simple" means eliminating that ambiguity rather than allowing the reader to see the full range of possible interpretations of the text.

rolf said...

These paraphrases can be very useful in teaching the Bible to middle school and high school kids, to people whose first language is not English or for people who just want to read it prayerfully! I have a brother who loves to read but is mentally challenged, a Bible like the Living Bible or Good News translation are a blessing, and both are approved and used in the Church for these purposes.

Ed Rio said...

I think having something like The Message to read along with a translation like the Knox could come in handy. I'll admit that that it helped me with that reading. Something like the Knox does force those of us who aren't used to such eloquent writing to slow _way_ down though.