Found in Translation

I know, things usually get lost in translation.  But I ran into a verse that sent me back to my reference books and I found a thought.

Here’s Coverdale’s translation of Psalm 22:27 (that’s the numeration in most English versions; in the Hebrew texts it is verse 28),

All the ends of the world shall remember themselves and be turned unto the LORD…

I didn’t remember ever reading “remember themselves.”  And no wonder.  A quick run through major English translations shows not a one expressing humanity as the object of the recollection.  And the Hebrew verb form in the verse is not reflexive. 

But there is a tantalizing bit in the Brown-Driver-Briggs lexicon, pointing out that the verb has no object in this verse.  All the ends of the earth will simply “remember.”  Remember what?

Although Coverdale seems to have mistranslated the verb in his Psalter, praying it this morning had a good effect.  It nudged my memory of another verse, in Chapter 15 of The Gospel According to Luke, where the writer records a series of stories that Jesus told about lost things (like memories?) being found,

But when he came to himself he said, “How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger!  (Luke 15:17, NRSV)

It’s the much loved Parable of the Prodigal Son, which as Bishop Fred Borsch pointed out should be called “The Parable of the Loving Father,” because Jesus is telling us that no matter how high our schmuck factor we have a loving God waiting to welcome us home.

In coming to himself, that’s what the self-destructive dork in the story remembers.  There is a home to which he can return.

And so Coverdale’s translation is flawed, but his understanding of the Creator and creation is not.  We are creatures who’ve forgotten the love that called us to be and that sustains us in spite of ourselves.

We’re like this cat (hear it out… it’s only a minute and a half),

Blogging seems self-indulgent some days. Most days. But there’s reason to keep it up if something I write here jogs someone’s memory of who he or she really is.

…that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. (1 John 1:3-4 ESV)

We are the beloved sons and daughters of a Father so wonderful that He uses even our mistakes to bring us home.


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