Translations are good in that they help us read something we wouldn’t otherwise have access to. But, unfortunately, they can sometimes be misleading.
Previously, we talked about how translators can impose their will on the text by what words they chose to use. And, as we’ve seen, this sometime obscures connections the original text was trying to make.
However, there’s another problem with translations that we haven’t dealt with yet. What happens when the translator choses the right word, but our understanding of word’s concept is different than the original author’s?
Today, James hits hard on the “rich.” But, do we understand being “rich” in the same way they did in the first-century? The answer is “no.” And, what about being “poor”? What does this mean?
The Bottom Line: understanding the biblical text is more than just learning languages—it’s also diving into the culture of the ancient world.
Come now, you rich people, weep and wail for the miseries that are coming to you. Your riches have rotted, and your clothes are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have rusted, and their rust will be evidence against you, and it will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure for the last days. Listen! The wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous one, who does not resist you. (NRSV)
Come now, you rich! Weep and cry aloud over the miseries that are coming on you. Your riches have rotted and your clothing has become moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have rusted and their rust will be a witness against you. It will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have hoarded treasure! Look, the pay you have held back from the workers who mowed your fields cries out against you, and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. You have lived indulgently and luxuriously on the earth. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous person, although he does not resist you. (NET)
Come now, you who are rich, weep, howling out at the miseries that are coming for you: Your riches have spoiled and your garments have become moth-eaten; Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will serve as testimony against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have kept treasure in the last days. Look: The wages of the workers who have reaped your lands, which have been unfairly held back by you, clamor aloud, and the outcries of those who have reaped have entered the ears of the Lord Sabaoth. You lived on the earth in dainty luxury and self-indulgence. You have gorged your hearts on a day of slaughter. You have condemned—have murdered—the upright man; he does not oppose you. (David Bentley Hart)
Now look here, you rich! Weep and wail for the horrible things that are going to happen to you! Your riches have rotted, and your clothes have become moth-eaten, your gold and your silver have rusted, and their rust will bear witness against you and will eat up your flesh like fire. You have stored up riches in the last days! Look: you cheated the workers who mowed your fields by keeping back their wages, and those wages are crying out! The cries of the farm workers have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived off the fat of the land, in the lap of luxury. You have fattened your own hearts on a day of slaughter. You have condemned the Righteous One and killed him, and he doesn’t resist you. (N.T. Wright)
Ἄγε νῦν οἱ πλούσιοι, κλαύσατε ὀλολύζοντες ἐπὶ ταῖς ταλαιπωρίαις ὑμῶν ταῖς ἐπερχομέναις⸆. ὁ πλοῦτος ὑμῶν σέσηπεν καὶ τὰ ἱμάτια ὑμῶν σητόβρωτα γέγονεν, ὁ χρυσὸς ὑμῶν ⸂καὶ ὁ ἄργυρος κατίωται⸃ καὶ ὁ ἰὸς αὐτῶν εἰς μαρτύριον ὑμῖν ἔσται καὶ φάγεται τὰς σάρκας ὑμῶν ⸆ ὡς πῦρ. ἐθησαυρίσατε ἐν ἐσχάταις ἡμέραις. ἰδοὺ ὁ μισθὸς τῶν ἐργατῶν τῶν ἀμησάντων τὰς χώρας ὑμῶν ὁ ⸀ἀπεστερημένος ἀφʼ ὑμῶν κράζει, καὶ αἱ βοαὶ τῶν θερισάντων εἰς τὰ ὦτα κυρίου σαβαὼθ ⸁εἰσεληλύθασιν. ἐτρυφήσατε ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς oκαὶ ἐσπαταλήσατε, ἐθρέψατε τὰς ⸀καρδίας ὑμῶν ⸆ ἐν ἡμέρᾳ σφαγῆς, κατεδικάσατε, ἐφονεύσατε τὸν δίκαιον·⸆ οὐκ ἀντιτάσσεται ὑμῖν.
What is The Way?
Fr. Dustin Lyon explores scripture to rediscover Christianity so that we can walk in the Way of the Lord.