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More on The Bloody Sweat

I mentioned that I first got interested in the textual problem of Luke 22:43-44 (“the bloody sweat”) when I was taking a graduate seminar at Princeton Theological Seminary, my first year in the doctoral program.  The seminar was devoted (the entire semester) to the Greek exegesis of Luke.   My fellow student, Mark Plunkett, presented a seminar paper in which he dealt with the passage.  He was not at all interested in the textual question of whether vv. 43-44 were original.  He was assuming that there were not, but it had nothing to do with his presentation.  In his presentation he argued that there was a clear structure to the passage of Jesus’ prayer before being arrested (in Luke’s source this takes place in the Garden of Gethsemane, but Luke doesn’t say so) and he made a convincing argument (to my mind).  And then I realized that the structural argument was relevant to the textual problem of whether the verses were original or not.   While we moved on to other things in the seminar that afternoon, [...]

Problems with the NRSV (Part 5)

My problems with the NRSV continued - Part 5! Trust me, I eventually get back to the question of my relationship with Bruce Metzger. I keep getting sidetracked, but the tracks on the side are interesting.  At least I *think* they are!! In my last post, I pointed out that the famous passage of the so-called “bloody sweat” in Luke 22:43-44 is thought by some scholars not to have been original to the Gospel of Luke. I count myself in that number. Problems with the NRSV - The Bloody Sweat One of my very first scholarly articles was devoted to the question.  I wrote it when I was a first-year graduate student – or rather, co-wrote it, with a friend of mine who was in the Ph.D. program at Princeton Seminary with me. A fellow named Mark Plunkett did a study of the passage of Jesus’ prayer before his arrest and realized something about the structure of the passage. In turn, I realized that if he was right, the two verses about the bloody sweat [...]

Problems with the NRSV (Part 4)

My problems with the NRSV - Part 4 of a 5 Part series. I will give just one other textual disagreement that I have with the translators of the NRSV. By “textual” disagreement I mean a disagreement over what the original Greek text of a passage was that should have been translated. For this second example, I’ll stick with Luke, and again with the Passion narrative. Luke & the NRSV The full passage of Jesus’ prayer in the garden in Luke 24:39-46 reads as follows in the NRSV: FOR THE REST OF THIS POST, log in as a Member. Click here for membership options. If you don't belong yet, JOIN!! 39 He came out and went, as was his custom, to the mount of Olives; and the disciples followed him.  40 When he reached the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not come into the time of trial.”  Then he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup [...]

Problems with the NRSV (Part 3)

My analysis of the problems with the NRSV continues in Part 3! Translators of the Bible have a terrifically complicated, difficult, and usually thankless task. I knew that, of course ever since taking Greek back in college. But I did not relate to the problems emotionally until I started publishing translations of my own. It’s HARD. My first translation project was a two-volume edition of the Apostolic Fathers for the Loeb Classical Library (published by Harvard University Press). It was at that point that I realized that what translators do is not at all what the rest of us do who can teach the ancient languages and read Greek and assign Greek translation exercises to classes of graduate students. When you are with a class of students, you can sit around the table, discuss the various options about how a text can be translated, and talk about the pros and cons of various English renditions. Make a few suggestions for how to provide nuance to a rendering. Explicate the fuller meaning of the Greek by [...]

Problems with the NRSV Bible (Part 2)

My problems in the NSRV Bible are covered in this 5 part series. In my last post, I mentioned John 3:22 as a verse that is mistranslated in the NRSV, leading to problems; but the problems of interpretation are not that enormous there.  The translators simply removed an internal inconsistency by the way they mistranslated the verse. This second problem, the subject of this post, is more severe. A mistranslation has completely altered the meaning of a passage; it is the result of a very good motive – to make the translation gender-inclusive. But motive has led to a very bad result in this case. The Problems with the NSRV Bible: Gender The policy of the NRSV Bible was to render gender-neutral statements in a gender-neutral way.  If a passage refers to humans in general, then it does not make sense to translate it as referring only to “men” (or only to “women” for that matter).  So instead of “man” the translators chose to use “person” or “human” or – if the mortality of people [...]

Problems with the NRSV (Part I)

My problems with the NRSV. One of the pleasures and difficulties I am finding with this blog is that it is oh so easy to get sidetracked from my original plan and intention.  The current series of posts was originally a response to the question of how Bruce Metzger reacted to my loss of faith.  (To anticipate the final answer: I don’t think he had much of a reaction at all!)   But instead of dealing with that question directly, I decided to use it as an opportunity to talk about my long-term relationship with Metzger; this has occupied a large number of posts. The most recent of those had to do with my work for/with him on the New Revised Standard Version.  In response to those posts, several people have asked me questions about the NRSV, and now I am dealing with/ responding to these.  But I promise: I will get back to the original question eventually! Problems with the NRSV On the NRSV, several people have wanted to know if I had problems with [...]

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