I don’t have any special problem with modern-English translations of the Bible. I was brought up on the King James, but I realize a lot of people weren’t, or weren’t brought up Christian at all, so whatever provides a workable entry point for them is good with me. And the whole discussion about literal, word-by-word translation vs. sense-of-the-passage translation interests me but is not relevant to this particular post.
No, the point of this particular post is that when you attempt to modernize Scripture, sometimes, for reasons beyond your control, what your listeners hear is not what you intend. For that matter, it’s probably not what they intend, which makes it no easier. Consider this passage from yesterday’s sermon text at my church, Luke 5:1-11, in which Jesus shows off his m4d fishin skillz and, as He is wont to do, follows up with some mad parablin’. We’re looking specifically at Verse 10, and it appears we’re looking at the New Living Translation:
Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid. From now on you will catch people.”
Now, compare this version, or translation, with the essentially identical passages at Matthew 4:19 and Mark 1:17, describing the same incident, in the New International Version. That translation dates, if memory serves, to the late 1960s:
“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”
“I will make you fishers of men” vs. “From now on you will catch people.”
So, what’s my point? Modern vs. way modern translations? Sexism, actual or potential, v. gender inclusiveness in translations? Jesus being the actor vs. the disciples being the actors?
No, my point, as I said above, is that sometimes listeners bring things to what they hear that the speaker simply can’t anticipate and accommodate.
This was one of those times.
[UPDATE: And it wasn’t the first time, either.]