Friday, April 20, 2018

Comparing Translations

This morning, as I read the morning office as Phyllis Tickle presents the liturgy in The Divine Hours, I was struck by this passage:

Why should I be afraid in evil days, when the wickedness of those at my heels surrounds me,
The wickedness of those who put their trust in their goods, and boast of their good riches?

It's from Psalm 49.  I started trying to find the verse so that I wouldn't have to type it, and I was struck by the difference in translations.  For example, here's the New International Version:

Why should I fear when evil days come, when wicked deceivers surround me—
6 those who trust in their wealth and boast of their great riches?
And here's the Revised Standard Version:

Why should I fear in times of trouble,
   when the iniquity of my persecutors surrounds me,
those who trust in their wealth
   and boast of the abundance of their riches?

And since the King James version is the version of my childhood, here's that one:

Wherefore should I fear in the days of evil, when the iniquity of my heels shall compass me about?
They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches;

I am often amazed by how Eugene Peterson's The Message makes me take notice in ways that I haven't always before:

So why should I fear in bad times,
    hemmed in by enemy malice,
Shoved around by bullies,
    demeaned by the arrogant rich?

I like the second part of this version, but I prefer evil days to bad times.  I do like the idea of enemy malice.

I find the use of evil days to be much more powerful than times of trouble.  Times of trouble could be any number of random events:  a hurricane, a spell of depression, an illness.  Evil days implies a will that is behind the trouble.  If we would all behave in better ways, we might always avoid evil days.  We can't avoid times of trouble.

We are at the time of various anniversaries:  today is the 19th anniversary of the Columbine shooting, yesterday was the 23rd anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombings.  I often feel uneasy during these days in April.  It's good to be reminded that I have nothing to fear.

No comments: