On Grammatical Crimes, and the Translations that Perpetrate Them

It is no secret that, among other objectionable features, the English translations of our Orthodox liturgical services more commonly in use are tragically riddled with all sorts of linguistic infelicities. Of the many examples that could  be cited, perhaps the more distressing is the lack of grammatical agreement often inflicted on the unsuspecting worshipper. More often than not this is a result of a painfully incompetent editorial hand engaged in the task of modernizing translations that had originally used “archaic English” of the (pseudo-)Jacobean variety. So it is that, for example, “O Lord, who blessest those who bless Thee” becomes “O Lord, who blesses those who bless You”a “modernization” wrought by merely changing the pronoun and dropping the letter “t,” but which failed to take into consideration that “blessest” is second person singular while “blesses” is third person singular. To be fair, however, other errors in this vein actually predate the age of the zealous Modernizing Editor: consider, for instance, the jarring  (and ubiquitous) “O Son of God, who is risen from the dead,” which falls into the very same trap. Given that we are addressing Christ with the vocative “O Son of God,” the verb in the appositive clause ought to be in the second, not the third person singular.

Like countless others, I have learned to endure these grammatical crimes in silence, hoping against hope that one day we would be delivered from them by a Translator in Shining Armor whose good sense would triumph over the squalid attempts of his or her lessers. In my naïve optimism, I had often comforted myself by pondering the example of contemporary Bible translations, which, whatever their deficiencies, surely did not make this sort of mistake. Imagine my shock, then, when I laid my innocent eyes upon the following:

For it is You who blesses the righteous man, O LORD,
You surround him with favor as with a shield.
(Psalm 5:12, NASB [1995])

Alas, my gentle snowflakes! There is no hope.

Unfortunately, my copy of the 1977 NASB is back in Puerto Rico, and since the only NASB text that appears to be available online is that of the 1995 update, I have thus far been unable to ascertain the reading of the earlier edition. Your help in this matter would be greatly appreciated! [UPDATE: Thanks to our good friend Nick Norelli for providing the 1977 NASB translation of this verse in the comments!]

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35 responses to “On Grammatical Crimes, and the Translations that Perpetrate Them

  1. Esteban, I can’t help thinking that you have learned English grammar from textbooks which are based on Latin grammar. And it may be that Spanish follows Latin grammar more closely in this respect as in many others. But I think that you will find that in real modern English as actually spoken and written the verb in a relative clause is always in the third person, as the subject of the clause is the pronoun “who” which is a third person pronoun. I’m not sure if the second person in the relative clause in older English, in the examples you quote as well as in “Our Father, who art in heaven”, was ever natural English usage, but it certainly is not now.

    Now I agree with you that “O Son of God, who is risen from the dead” is jarring. But so is “O Son of God, who are risen from the dead”. If forced to choose I would go for the former. But I would be much more likely to say “Son of God, you are risen from the dead”. Basically using a relative clause in this kind of context is both unnatural and unnecessary. Note that I have also dropped “O” as unnatural, in current use more or less only in prayers.

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  2. Mr Kirk,

    I respectfully dissent.

    Esteban may or may not have learned English grammar from “textbooks based on Latin grammar” but he has nevertheless learned it correctly. “O Son of God who are risen from the dead …” is perfectly good and grammatical English. It may not “sound natural” but that is not the be-all and end-all of correctness. If it sounds unnatural it is not because it is not correct, but because the speech act of addressing the Almighty is different from the speech act of addressing one another. It calls for a formality of diction that is quite out of place when we address one another, but is emphatically appropriate when addressing God.

    In short, why should we expect the speech we use in addressing God to sound “natural” the way the speech we use in other contexts does?

    You adumbrate the point I am making when you question whether using the second person as the subject of a relative clause was ever “natural English usage.” Of course it probably never was “natural,” if by “natural” you mean “the way we speak in everyday discourse.” I can’t imagine a fifteenth-century farmer going to the village smithy and saying “O Joseph, who art the best blacksmith in the county, and who dost make sparks to fly from thy fiery furnace, and who bendest strong iron bands to thy will, wouldst thou vouchsafe to shoe my mare to-day?” But just because you don’t talk that way to Joe Smith doesn’t mean you don’t talk that way to God (or even to an earthly monarch in a formal setting).

    The elevated sixteenth-century diction of the Book of Common Prayer and the Authorised Version was not “natural” at the time, any more than it is “natural” today. But neither were the missals of the mediaeval and patristic-era written in Vulgar Latin, nor the service-books of the Eastern Church in common Greek. The Church has never made the “natural speech” of the common folk the measure of liturgical diction, nor should she do so now.

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  3. And yet you, O Esteban, who do indeed draw our attention to a significant solecism, should persist with this complaint, despite the animadversions of Peter Kirk. I always seek to make my verbs agree with my antecedents, yet Peter is right that the language is changing, That change tends to be away from following a vocative with a relative cause. I think however that in glossing a liturgical text or translating poetry a slightly higher register is needed.

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  4. Modern English just don’t sing!

    Maybe ‘whom are risen from the dead’? Or am I misplacing the direct object here…?

    Also, ‘O Lord who bless those that bless you’ is probably right too, but I’m convinced that modern English effectively has no evocative…

    We still use the archaisms at my parish… so I’ve no dog in this hunt, but I will say I prefer them. I don’t like the semi-archaism of ‘thee’ for God and ‘you’ for non-God that I’ve seen nor do I like the harsh sound of ‘you’ (‘ye’ is better) *plus* singing or chanting ‘thee’ / ‘thou’ is a great tradeoff for having to deal with the ‘didsts’ and ‘hadsts’ and ‘givests.’

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  5. Change is merely change, and might be for either the better or worse–as in politics, so in language. There’s no guarantee that English is improving or that contemporary usage is superior and need be catered to (quite the contrary, I’d say). In the case that Esteban highlights, the combination of vocative with relative pronominal clause, if contemporary usage is so frankly illiterate as to be incapable of processing the older usage that best reflects the original language, then the older usage is to be preferred. It depends on how faithful one wants to be to the originals. In Esteban’s examples above, prayers addressed to God are altered into simple acclamations, and aren’t quite prayers anymore. That won’t do. It’s frankly pathetic that English has lost its second person singular pronouns and conjugations, all for the vapid plural “you.” How lame. I think it’s another indication of a kind of failure at the core of Anglophonic culture, but that’s for another time….

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  6. Peter Kirk> Oh, I don’t know about that! As I recall, the selfless and dedicated American nuns who taught me English in elementary school (the only time when I had formal education in the language) used McGraw-Hill’s “Steps to English” series, which came out c. 1983. I doubt very much that these had a penchant for latinate constructions. Of course, I started studying both Latin and Greek at age 13 — but then I’ve always thought that Latin is a totally stupid language that should be learned by no one.

    Anyway, whether “O Son of God, who art/are risen from the dead” is “natural English” or the like is besides the point of my post — though I will note that I emphatically agree with Doug (and “ckewinjones”) that translating such things as Biblical and liturgical poetry and prayer requires a higher register than that usually ascribed to the mythical “man on the street.” (I will also note my disgust for the ICEL’s notorious practice of turning everything into a declarative sentence, to which Kevin refers.) My intention was to point out the shocking blunder in the NASB’s translation of Psalm 5:12. You are quite right in noting that there are smoother ways to render this, and that contemporary English chooses to dispense with the relative clause altogether. Still, my point is that there is a disconcerting grammatical error in the NASB’s translation Psalm 5:12, and that several Orthodox liturgical translations into English are guilty of the same mistake. That’s all, really!

    Peter Gardner> Indeed you could — because the implied “you” there makes “rose” a second person singular!

    “River C”> The “semi-archaism” of using “Thou” for God and “you” for creatures was a compromise stuck the RSV at a time when doing away with “Thee” and “Thou” was a hot-button issue among Protestants. The original NASB adopted the same practice. Unfortunately, because of the popularity of the RSV in Orthodox circles, this peculiarity made its way into the translations produced by the Metropolia (especially, but also others) in the ’60s. I find it impossible to stomach in liturgical contexts, but don’t mind it too much in the RSV. Oh, and I certainly agree that “you,” especially at the end of a phrase, has a harsh sound — which, as you might imagine, makes me dread having to sing something like, “True Theotokos, we magnify YOUUUUU!”

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  7. Comment by ckewinjones on December 7, 2009 12:31 pm

    The elevated sixteenth-century diction of the Book of Common Prayer and the Authorised Version was not “natural” at the time, any more than it is “natural” today. But neither were the missals of the mediaeval and patristic-era written in Vulgar Latin, nor the service-books of the Eastern Church in common Greek. The Church has never made the “natural speech” of the common folk the measure of liturgical diction, nor should she do so now.

    And all God’s people said, “amen!” :-)

    Great post Esteban. How about a little collaborative work with Kevin to produce some English language liturgical translations that sing?

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  8. No, Michael, they did not say “Amen!” to this complete nonsense. Please withdraw any suggestion that those who do not agree are not God’s people. A major reason that the church has failed in its mission to the world for nearly two millennia is that it has distanced itself from the common people in a way which was never envisaged by Jesus Christ, or by the apostles who wrote in the common or Koine Greek of their day.

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  9. a major reason that the Church has failed … for nearly two millennia

    If the Church has failed in her mission, then I wonder how it is that both you and I have come to faith in Jesus Christ. For it is only through the Church, in her ministry of Word and Sacrament, that anyone can be given the gift of faith in Jesus Christ.

    I suppose that unless every human being who ever lived has confessed Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord, the Church must be deemed a failure. But from where I sit, the fact that billions of people confess and worship Christ, and the fact that, two thousand years on, people come to faith every day, sure looks like success to me.

    The Church has not failed. She cannot fail; she is the pillar and bulwark of the truth, against which the gates of hell have not, will not, and cannot prevail.

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  10. Then it must’ve been failing since it began, Peter, because that’s some pretty elevated Greek, nothing on the level of street talk, appearing in those documents in the New Testament. As if the Faith was spread by a book, anyhow! That’s just bibliolatry. The NT is definitely in a more literary register than a common one, by all accounts. None should be fooled by the generic term “Koine”. That is exactly the kind of crap reasoning they threw around in the seventies to excuse that ICEL garbage and various other simplistic, patronizing, and demeaning paraphrases.

    It’s one thing to be well-meaning (which you certainly are, Peter!) but it’s another to be misled, misleading, and wrong all at once.

    I’d even suggest that the main reason that Christianity isn’t considered valuable in today’s world is precisely the stupid attempts to overly accomodate to today’s vapid and trite fashions, in both language and other areas. If you have nothing you’ll draw a line at, how valuable is anything you believe? Aside from providing for a perpetual industry of translation, what are the benefits of fitting one’s language to the moment and counting on that when in two years more the language of the hooker and bum will have progressed beyond the arbitrary limits of what is considered acceptable for the Bible translator? Time for another translation! Gotta keep up with the street! What does “pearls before swine” become in the latest idiom? Just that, I’d say.

    I’ll tell you something: in our Greek Orthodox Churches, we’ve got the liturgy in Koine Greek, we hear the Gospels in Koine Greek, and we pray and respond in Koine Greek. And sometimes we do it in English too. That’s where you’ll get the most authentic taste of Koine Greek, obviously. And you ask some of those people (particularly those who know Classical, Koine, and Modern Greek) about the kind of language found in the New Testament, and you’ll get the unanimous answer that it is NOT some kind of simplified street language.

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  11. If the church has not failed, then why is there no peace on earth, why are billions living without faith or hope in God, why are most things in our world going from bad to worse? Is it God’s fault? Is it Satan’s fault? Or is it the fault of God’s people for failing in 90% of their mission? Yes, you can point to some success stories, to maybe 5% or 10% of the world who have a living Christian faith, perhaps rather more who make some claim to be Christian. But is that 10% at most really a pass mark?

    Yes, Chris, ultimately the powers of evil will not prevail over the church and with God’s help she will be victorious. But that’s not what we see today.

    Kevin, I’m not trying to claim that the faith was spread primarily by a book. But if we look in that book we see primarily common language, very little exalted literary language – yes, there’s the prologue to Luke and a few other small parts. That’s why I mentioned Jesus too. We have his words preserved only in translation, but the evidence seems clear that he preached in everyday language, not in the exalted style of the Pharisees but largely in parables taken from everyday rural life.

    The NT is definitely in a more literary register than a common one, by all accounts.

    OK, name me a few those “all accounts” in reputable works by scholars of Greek. Yes, you Orthodox may have taken Koine Greek and used it as if it were a literary style, which you can get away with because it has been no one’s common language for centuries. And so of course you have misled yourselves about what kind of language it is. But compare the language of the NT with that of contemporary personal letters (papyri) and you will see how much it was the common language of the time – OK, with a somewhat Jewish flavour and biblical allusions as it was written mostly by Jews, but with very few literary pretensions.

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  12. The church succeeds when she reflects the Image of Jesus Christ on Earth unto God the Father. A numerical assessment of conversions has nothing whatsoever to do with it. So it is. So let it be.

    Note: I said “unto” and “whatsoever”. The best language is whatever gets the point across. And sorry, Peter, but I mostly agree with the consensus here. We ought to have a mixture of translations in common usage, but some readings really should sound ‘archaic’. The reader can then paraphrase for the audience. At any rate, the issue should not be formality vs. informality. The issues are accuracy and clarity. The only reason to ‘dumb it down’ is for the sake of communication. Style is mere fashion.

    On a different point, when personal prayer langague is exclusively formal, it sounds purely “put on”. I say, talk to God like you talk to your own father. And if you don’t talk to God in public the same way you do in private, then shame, shame, shame on you. Doug, of course, is excluded when he’s reading from the BoCP. ;-)

    Btw, Esteban, is it lawful for a Latino to loathe Latin? ;-)

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  13. You write as if the Church were some human organization, whose success or failure we can judge “by the numbers.” It is not. It is the body of Christ, the fullness of him who fills all in all. As long as the Church is faithfully carrying out her ministry of Word and Sacrament, proclaiming the Gospel in its fullness and bringing people into the Kingdom of God through her covenanted mysteries, then she is succeeding, no matter what the outward numbers show.

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  14. Seems Chris said my words first…God IS still and always has been in control…Our vision is limited and there are definitely (as recently demonstrated by UT) a few minutes/seconds left on the clock…*: )

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  15. Peter G, I accept your correction. For nearly two thousand years the church has not succeeded in doing the task assigned to it by God. That is not complete failure, just enough failure for billions to have already gone to eternity apart from God.

    Yes, Chris (and Nancy), God is in control, and ultimately his purpose will succeed. But your comment suggests an odd kind of theodicy, that no matter how much evil there is in the world, which human beings including Christians have caused or failed to prevent, that is God’s will and humans have no responsibility for it. Or have I misunderstood you? Or are you saying that in some mystical sense “the Church” is succeeding even while its human representatives on earth are manifestly messing so many things up?

    Actually perhaps my main point of disagreement is with your presupposition that “the Church is faithfully carrying out her ministry of Word and Sacrament, proclaiming the Gospel in its fullness and bringing people into the Kingdom of God through her covenanted mysteries”. This may be happening in some places, but in very many local congregations of people calling themselves Christians (in principle you Orthodox would agree although you might identify different congregations!) the ministry of Word and Sacrament is not being carried out properly, the Gospel is being proclaimed in part or not at all, and no people are being brought into the Kingdom of God. Surely you agree that much of the Church is apostate? So how can you claim that it is succeeding?

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  16. A congregation in which the ministry of Word and Sacrament is not being faithfully carried out, in accordance with the Scriptures and the Church’s canon of truth, is a sect and a conventicle, not the Apostolic Church. If you define the Church as the collection of anyone and everyone who call themselves Christians, irrespective of their actual confession of the faith handed down from the Apostles, then of course you can say “the Church has failed.” But such a definition of the Church is total nonsense; it is a “branch theory” run amok.

    In short, I do not agree that “much of the Church is apostate.” Those who are apostate have placed themselves outside of the Apostolic Church, and the Church, however much she desires and prays for their repentance and return, is not responsible for their failures. The fact that heretical groups are masquerading as Christian congregations does not mean that the Church has failed. The Church continues, despite such apostasies, to proclaim the Gospel she received from the Apostles. That is her success, and the cacaphony of sects which call themselves Christian cannot take it away.

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  17. Chris, I’m not sure which particular subdivision or denomination of those who consider themselves Christian is the one which you identify as the only true Apostolic Church. But, if your position is that of the leaders of that particular subdivision, then that subdivision has clearly identified itself, by its exclusiveness and failure to recognise the fullness of the body of Christ, as “a sect and a conventicle” and one of “the cacaphony of sects which call themselves Christian”. And because no one such subdivision is worldwide (the Roman Catholic Church comes closest but is not represented everywhere) that implies that on your definition the church has failed.

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  18. Baloney, Peter. The objection is absurd.

    You cannot confuse written and oral style. The two were entirely separate realms, just as they properly are today. That you persist in this farrago, and your ridiculous caricature of the history of Greek means only that you’re not as familiar with the language as you should be. The literary register of the LITERATURE of the New Testament is beyond dispute, as any commentary will show you. Or perhaps I need to say, “any commentary not put out by someone ignorant of Greek”.

    And your “social gospel” ideas are interesting, but wrong. Nowhere is it promised or enjoined that Christians will fix the broken world, and Jesus our boyfriend will return to a planet full of frolicking puppy dogs, smiling faces, and sparkly rainbows. He promises us suffering in this world, and rewards in a new world. That’s it. Everything else is a human invention.

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  19. I didn’t identify a particular denomination as the “only true Apostolic Church,” so you are arguing against a position that I did not state and do not hold. Read what I wrote and argue against that.

    I spoke only of how congregations which are not the Apostolic Church are to be identified; I made no claim that the true Church can be identified with a particular denomination. Don’t put words in my mouth.

    Since you were busy arguing against a position I did not take, you have not addressed the point that I did make: that the failures of the heterodox do not mean that orthodox congregations have failed.

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  20. Kevin, stop putting words into my mouth. I never suggested that Christians will fix the broken world. But, as the Bible tells us, God desires that all will be saved, so if billions are not saved because they do not know Christ and are outside the Church, is that God’s fault?

    Sadly I don’t have commentaries with me here in Italy, but I have read plenty which state clearly that the New Testament was written in the colloquial written style of contemporary personal letters, not in the Atticised style of the formal prose of the time. Yes, written style, and I know that is different from oral style. I mentioned oral style concerning the words of Jesus, which he spoke but did not write down.

    Chris, if you consider that there are orthodox Christian congregations which have not failed, and not just in one denomination, perhaps you would care to identify some of them, then I can show you how they also have failed, at least so far.

    Bill, we don’t really disagree that much. I don’t see the image of Jesus Christ faithfully reflected in the church or in any part of it. Numbers are only a small part of that. And I entirely agree with “talk to God like you talk to your own father”. Who addresses their own father in language like “O father, who art on earth, …”?

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  21. “Colloquial” style in letter writing varies from writer to writer, region to region, and age to age. And as letters and all writing were considered more formal than spoken word, they follow particular forms of expression that take them outside of the definition of “colloquial” and instead are expressed in “formal” language, clearly utilizing literary formulae and structures that are by no means part of colloquial oral culture. It’s a myth that there is any single generic or colloquial Greek at all. Koine began as a Panhellenic Greek stripped of regional dialectic peculiarities in favor of wider comprehension, incorporating Attic flexibility in various respects of syntax and neologism construction. The documents of the NT are formal literary documents, patently and conspicuously showing a higher register of literary art and artifice than the most basic of letters, which themselves are removed from colloquial usage in their clear demonstration of formal traits.

    The rest I will leave for someone with more stomach for it to deal with….

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  22. No, Michael, they did not say “Amen!” to this complete nonsense. Please withdraw any suggestion that those who do not agree are not God’s people.

    How strange to read someone talking about colloquial or common language, and then watch that same someone totally miss the meaning of a colloquial (religious, mostly protestant) expression. All my statement means is that I whole heartedly agree. It has nothing to do with suggesting that those who don’t agree are not God’s people unless you attempt to read my statement in some wooden literalistic sense.

    Mr. Kirk, I think you are wound a little too tight, and after reading your website (and your comments here) I don’t think this discussion is going anywhere. So I shall depart. I wish you the best.

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  23. How about, “O Son of God, You be risen from the dead.”

    I find the whole discussion about liturgical translations frustrating even when I am the only one who I am arguing with. I believe that my own translaiton of the Lord’s Prayer is probably more accurate than the Anglican version we use at my church: http://lambonthealtar.blogspot.com/2009/05/matthew-61-18.html However, I don’t even like to use my own translation in private prayer.

    Lutheran Service Book has five different settings for the Divine Service and we cycle through all five at my church. Setting 3 was the pre-Vatican II standard service for Lutherans in America but was replaced by what is now known as setting 1. Setting 3 has “And with Thy Spirit” while setting 1 has “And also with you.” There seemed to be a general consensus that “And also with you” is what the Latin phrase really meant but now it seems that people are once again arguing that the phrase really did have something to do with the Holy Spirit’s presence upon the minister. It seems that arguments like these are always going back and forth and that the liturgy should not be changing back and forth with every research paper.

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  24. It may not “sound natural” but that is not the be-all and end-all of correctness.

    Yes. It is. If it weren’t normal communication would be almost impossible. What bizarre ideas you have.

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  25. Peter, relative clauses in and of themselves, are ungrammatical in English with 1st person pronouns.

    The function of a relative clause is to further specify an unclear referent. By definition, the speaker (i.e. 1st person) *cannot* be specified anymore than he/she already is.

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  26. Wow, this is quite the debate.

    a few notes:

    1) Mark *is* colloquial.
    2) Hebrew is not.
    3) John *is* colloquial – particularly Revelation (to put it bluntly, his Greek is crap, even if his metaphor is great).
    4) Luke is not.

    There’s a lot of oversimplification.

    But to end this question, I shall quote the Great Moises Silva:

    “While the level of literary sophistication varies from book to book, the NT authors wrote in the simple, colloquial language of the people while avoiding both the near-illiteracy or vulgarity sometimes found in the papyri and, at the other extreme, the artificial and archaizing forms of the Atticists.”

    –Silva, Biblical Greek & Reformed Textual Criticism (Philadelphia: Westminster Theological Seminary, 1988), 20.

    So on that point, Peter is correct.

    Yet colloquial doesn’t exclude the literary. If it did, people never would have picked up Huckleberry Finn or Tom Sawyer. But they did and continue to do so.

    So on that point, Kevin is correct.

    And yet, Mark Twain has always been both literary and colloquial from the very beginning. Likewise, I doubt that regardless of the language of Revelation & Mark, they have always been literary.

    That is to say, both of you have made a silly distinction that wasn’t worth arguing about to begin with. Perhaps more accurately, both of you were strangely arguing two different points. Peter was talking about the language with regard to its grammar. Kevin was talking about the language with regard to its content.

    As for English. Ungrammatical English relative clauses ARE NOT a higher register no matter how many times you say they are. Perhaps they were at one point. But they’re not any more. Language changes. Low and high registers change too. Deal with it.

    As for Esteban’s post. I’m not sure that many recognized that his complaint was about the editing and updating of older and archaic English translations. Not brand new ones directly from the Greek text. That essentially means the entire KJV tradition — which includes the NASB 77 & 95 and perhaps a variety of Catholic Bibles.

    Okay, now that I’ve spoke, you can all go back to quibbling again.

    Oy Vey.

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  27. Hey, guess what, everyone: there’s a grammatical error in the NASB! No, I swear it’s true — just look at Psalm 5:12 in that translation. And you know what’s funny? The more common English translations of our Orthodox Divine Services often make the very same mistake. I think it’s all quite unfortunate, and I think that the evil, inept hand of the Modernizing Editor is at work here.

    Just thought I’d bring that up (again) because only Nick, Doug, and now Mike have made comments that were in any way related to the actual point of the post. And, while I have certainly appreciated a number of the replies, this whole thread got old really fast, to the point that I avoided my own blog for the better part of a week because I found the whole thing tiresome. Now, that’s crazy, and it certainly won’t happen again.

    Now, a few random replies:

    Kevin> Ha! I love your reworked acronyms. I’ll have to remember that one!

    Michael> Goodness, I already have my hands full with producing Spanish translations that sing!

    Bill> I assure you it’s not only lawful, but that it is indeed needful! I firmly believe that the process that eventually gave us Spanish was not the corruption of Latin, but its purification. (Sadly, the same cannot be said of the other Romance languages. ;-) )

    Fr Andrew> But what good will that knighthood be, since it will be substantive?!

    Charles> In my experience, the more frustrating discussions about liturgical translation always occur in one’s head! I too have tried to pray the Lord’s Prayer in a modern translation (namely, that of the Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain), but it’s like pulling teeth. As for “et cum spiritu tuo,” that is, as you know, a notorious test case for liturgical translation. I don’t find the argument that this particular response has to do with the ordination of the celebrant persuasive in the least, but on other theological and liturgical reasons, I believe it the traditional rendering should be preserved. The change was well intentioned but wrongheaded, and as you also note, change for the sake of academic novelty only does violence to the integrity of liturgy.

    Mike> Regarding the “quality” of the Greek in Revelation, this has been a subject of great interest to me over the years. The more I read it, and the more I read about it, the more I am persuaded that the author consciously affects a Septuagintal (i.e., “Biblical”) style as part of his rhetorical strategy. Maybe we can talk about that sometime; I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject!

    Thanks, of course, for the quote from our Infallible Hero. I think it’s also important to note that the “middle way” he describes is not only true of the New Testament, but also of many other standard literary remains from the Hellenistic period, as anyone who has read Hellenistic novels or the surviving teaching of Epictetus knows.

    And with that, I’m closing the comments.

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