Tossed In Translation

Richard Neuhaus wrote in 2001: Probably the best known of all psalms is Psalm 23, “The Lord is my shepherd”. In the KJV and the RSV, the psalm concludes with, “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever”. Readers of the Douay-Rheims express the confidence that they will “dwell in the house of the Lord for length of days”. That is very open-ended and may be very much like “forever”.

Even the more recent and trendy New Revised Standard Version invites me to believe that “I will dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long”. My whole life long will, please God, be life eternal. Then comes the NAB: “I will dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come”. For years to come? It inevitably prompts the question of how many. Ten? Twenty? Fifty? Whatever the answer, it would seem to be far short of forever. Note that there is nothing in the Hebrew that requires or even suggests such a change. But what’s the point of doing a new translation unless it is different from earlier translations?

Can it be that some translations of Catholic Teaching into English have suffered the same fate as Psalm 23?

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