Tuesday, December 11, 2007

When Reality (or a text) meets a fondly held belief, reality is the looser

Anyone read The Message's "translation" of Matthew 19:11-12 (1993)?

But Jesus said, "Not everyone is mature enough to live a married life. It requires a certain aptitude and grace. Marriage isn't for everyone. Some, from birth seemingly, never give marriage a thought. Others never get asked—or accepted. And some decide not to get married for kingdom reasons. But if you're capable of growing into the largeness of marriage, do it."

In case you didn't recognize it, this is a version of the passage rendered thus in the KJV:

But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given. For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.

It seems that the eunuchs have been disappearing for a while and that Eugene Petersen is reflecting a trend.

Here's the Worldwide English NT (1969):-

Jesus said, `Not everyone can agree to that. But God has chosen some not to be married. Some men cannot marry because they were born that way. Some were made that way by men. Others said, "I will not marry, for the sake of the kingdom of heaven." `Anyone who can do this, should do it.'

And the Contemporary English Version (1995):

Jesus told them, "Only those people who have been given the gift of staying single can accept this teaching. Some people are unable to marry because of birth defects or because of what someone has done to their bodies. Others stay single for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Anyone who can accept this teaching should do so."

And the New Century Version (2005):-

Jesus answered, "Not everyone can accept this teaching, but God has made some able to accept it. 12 There are different reasons why some men cannot marry. Some men were born without the ability to become fathers. Others were made that way later in life by other people. And some men have given up marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. But the person who can marry should accept this teaching about marriage."[a]

Footnotes:

1. Matthew 19:12 But . . . marriage. This may also mean, "The person who can accept this teaching about not marrying should accept it."

Sorry, but this passage isn't about marriage!

2 comments:

Tobias Haller said...

I was surprised a few years ago to discover the disappearance of another eunuch -- the Dios Habla Hoy version describes the Ethiopian who encountered Philip as "un hombre" who "era un alto foncionario..." The rest of the passage maintains the "foncionario" language. I assume we are to read into his having been an "alto" instead of a "bariton" to surmise other matters... ;-)

[In Isaiah 56.3, which I guess may have sparked the Ethiopian's interest in this particular text, the DHH does refer to the "eunuco" who should not think of himself as "un arbol seco". Not using this language in Acts rather breaks the connexion, no?]

Rev Dr Mom said...

Wow, you work fast!

Denial runs deep, doesn't it?

I'm definitely saving this for my Matthew group!