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The healing of the paralytic in the NRSV

by
19 February 2016

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Your answers

 

In the NRSV translation of Matthew 9.2 it does not actually say that the paralysed man was being taken to Jesus. Is this truer to the original than other translations?

 

Well spotted. In the Greek text, it is explicit that they are bringing the paralysed man “to him”: kai idou prosepheron AUTO paralytikon, “and behold they were carrying TO HIM a paralytic”. There are no known manuscript variations to this verse.

The NRSV has rendered it “And just then some people were carrying a paralysed man,” while the Authorised Version more closely models the original with “And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy” (apart from that more interpretative “sick of the palsy”).

There is no obvious reason that “to him” was omitted from the text. The only thing I can think is that Matthew 9.1 is added to the end of the section “Jesus Heals the Gadarene Demoniacs” in chapter 8, while 9.2 opens a new section, “Jesus Heals a Paralytic”. Jesus’s name isn’t mentioned until the second half of 9.2; so perhaps it was felt to be clunky to have a hanging “to him” before Jesus is mentioned in this section: that is, it was omitted for good style and readability.

The other option would have been to translate auto as “to Jesus”, and change the Iesous in the second half of the verse to a simple “he”.

(The Revd) Gareth Hughes (Chaplain, Hertford College)
Oxford

 

THE NRSV’s translation of Matthew 9.2 is clearly misleading, and the RSV rendering is more accurate.

The Greek verb used by Matthew is prophero: a compound noun formed from the preposition pros (indicating motion towards) and the verb phero (meaning “to move an entity from one position to another”). The preposition pros intensifies this sense of movement of something or someone to a person or place. As it appears in the text of Matthew, the verb prosphero is in the imperfect tense, a form of the Greek verb which emphasises continuous or repeated action in past time.

Perhaps Matthew’s use of this particular form of the verb suggests that those who brought the paralytic to Jesus did so more than once, and that their persistence was the cause of Jesus’s acknowledging “their faith” and healing the paralytic.

The text should therefore be translated as the RSV: “they brought to him a paralytic.”

(Brother) Aelred Partridge OCist
Hastings, East Sussex

 

What is the correct order for an Act of Remembrance? . . . [Answers, 1 January]

 

Mr Derek Jay objects to the use of the Kohima Epitaph on the grounds of its pagan origins. Setting aside its importance as a memorial, does Mr Jay also object to the use of the Kyrie Eleison since this also has pagan origins? As Cardinal Newman remarks, “the ecclesiastical chant, and the Kyrie Eleison [Note 17], are all of pagan origin, and sanctified by their adoption into the Church” (Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, Section 2, “The Assimilating Power of Sacramental Grace”, paragraph 6).

(The Revd) Alan F. Jesson (Honorary Chaplain, The Royal Anglian Regiment Association, Cambridgeshire)
Sutton-in-the-Isle, Ely

 

Mr Jay states that the Kohima Epitaph is not suitable for a Christian Act of Worship because it is “sentimental”. I take issue with this. Try omitting it from the service at the Albert Hall; try omitting it from a drumhead service on a battlefield; try omitting it from a service in a church where there is a large congregation consisting of serving and retired military personnel.

Common Worship: Times and Seasons is useful, but I wouldn't begin to consider changing an act of Remembrance that omits the very sentiment of remembrance. Being ex-military, I am deeply moved by the Kohima Epitaph, and find that this emotion is stirred by words and silence that only the Holy Spirit can induce.

Further, Mr Jay continues that we shouldn’t “resort to the British Legion”. I found that rather offensive and dismissive of the fantastic work and Christian acts that the Legion carries out 365 days of every year.

(The Revd) Terry Taggart, Isle of Lewis

 

Your questions

 

The Bible condemns men dressing as women and women dressing as men. Why, however, do some Evangelical Christians accept cross-dressing by women as “just modern culture”, while strongly condemning men who wear a “man robe” or long skirt that may also be just a developing modern culture?

J. C. P.

 

Ever since the King James Version of the Bible, the name Jacob in the Greek New Testament has been rendered as James, as a way of sucking up to the king. This is exclusive to the English-speaking world: on the Continent, and, presumably, in pre-KJV English translations, the name ’Iακωβος is rendered as Jacob. Apart from sloth and reactionary conservatism, are there any reasons why we should not join the rest of the universal Church in having the Epistle of Jacob and “Jacob, the brother of the Lord”? If there are no such reasons, when can we expect the General Synod to act?

J. D.

 

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