How well God must like you- you don't hang out at Sin Saloon, you don't slink along Dead-End Road, you don't go to Smart-Mouth College. - Psalm 1:1 (The Message)When speaking to children, such a translation would probably be easier for them to understand (note: despite the fact that The Message is a paraphrase, and not a translation, the point of my post remains valid). But The Message was not written for children (necessarily). It is supposed to be for adults. Are we, as a culture, so deeply entrenched in the common vernacular of modern English that we are unable to understand Psalm 1:1 translated as such?:
Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scournful. - (KJV)Or, perhaps,
Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers. - (NRSV) Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. - (NIV)While one who reads the easier version may think they've understood the meaning, have they not missed the "walk, stand, sit" progression apparent in the more complex versions? Or consider, on a secular level, my paraphrase of an original English text:
Dude, the river is, like, mega-awesome. Y'know what I'm sayin'? When I check out the shore I'm all - like - yeah Dude!, let's give it up for this place. It's so tight.The paraphrase is of a letter written by Meriwether Lewis, in 1804, pertaining to his upcoming voyage with William Clark to explore the territory of the Louisiana Purchase. He wrote (spelling from the original),
This immence river so far as we have yet ascended, waters one of the farest portions of the globe, nor do I believe that there is in the universe a similar extent of country,Doesn't a version in common vernacular due a disservice to the original text? Were I introducing the text to a group of people either incapable of, or unwilling to, understand the more complex version, then perhaps I would be justified in using a simpler, easier to understand, version. However, I believe that such a version is not a valid translation of the original, but merely a simplified paraphrase, which is better suited for either the education of children (or adults), not yet capable of grasping complex issues, or as a commentary on the original text. *As a sidenote, I am well aware of the difficulties involved when one attempts to translate a text, such as the Bible, for various cultures around the world. I understand that such translations must cater to the idiosyncrasies of these various cultures. I'm reminded of hearing one Bible translator, a missionary to the south Pacific, tell how he had to translate "the Lamb of God" as "the Pig of God" in order for it to be understood by a certain culture he encountered. One would hope, though, that if such a culture becomes more educated in the Judeo-Christian tradition, they would come to a point where our expecting them to understand "the Lamb of God" would be justified. However, I do not consider sub-culture groups in the West to be equivalent to various cultures throughout the world. In other words, the Goth, or the Surfers, or the Hip-hop group, or whatever Western cliques we may have are merely groups within the overall Western culture of 21st century America. As such I have somewhat of a deaf ear to concerns that we need to make our Bible translations easier to understand (for such sub-culture groups). Although someone may use the phrase, "I'm so not planning that," they should still have the capability to understand more complex sentences. That such an understanding requires time and effort may be a better indicator of what is truly occurring here.