Today in Bible translation horrors

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Today I was preaching on the mission of God and salvation history, and decided at the last minute to throw in a good example of (a) how God always seeks to restore relationship with those estranged from him, and (b) the principle that, because God does this, we should too. It’s one of my key themes, and a great verse which highlights it is 2 Samuel 14:14. David has become estranged from his son, and Joab sent a woman in to change his mind and gain forgiveness. The climax of the woman’s argument, in every English translation I have checked, goes like this:

NET: But God does not take away life; instead he devises ways for the banished to be restored.
NIV: But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him.
NASB: Yet God does not take away life, but plans ways so that the banished one may not be cast out from him.
NKJV: Yet God does not take away a life; but He devises means, so that His banished ones are not expelled from Him.

You get the gist. The Shinkyodoyaku and Kogoyaku translations in Japanese render it similarly: God is always seeking reconciliation, and because God seeks reconciliation, we should do the same. Steeped in the concept of missio dei as I am, it’s a perfect summary of the big story of the Bible.

So surprise turned to horror when, a few minutes before I was about to get up and preach, I opened the Shinkayaku, the horribly-difficult-to-read version that for some insane reason most of the Evangelical churches in Japan use, and found this:

Shinkayaku: 神は死んだ者をよみがえらせてはくださいません。 どうか追放されている者を追放されたままにしておかないように、 ご計画をお立てください。
Gloss: God does not raise dead people back to life. Please work out a plan so that the banished ones do not remained estranged from you.

So because death is the end and we only have one life, we’re on our own and should seek reconcilation with others while we’re alive. Not quite the exact opposite, but pretty close.

If that Shinkayaku translation has people saying that God does not raise dead people back to life, it strikes me that that’s yet another good reason to ditch the Shinkayaku.

(Standard disclaimer: Yes, I know Bible translation is a long and thankless task, and I don’t claim I’d come up with a perfect translation. But there are other Japanese Bible translations out there, and so the list of reasons to continue using a broken one is vanishingly small.)