I’m still working my way through the CEB Matthew sampler, reading it when I get a chance here at work. I’ve run across a number of renderings that I consider oddities. Sometimes they are just renderings that are different from the traditional renderings; sometimes they are things that I think are simply incorrect translations. But then, I am not an expert on Bible translation, so take whatever I say with a grain of salt.
I’ve seen quite a few of these oddities, and so today I decided to write them down for the first time. They are all from Matthew 16-25. I’ll add to the list later as I come across them.
Matthew 16:19 Jesus is speaking to Simon Peter, and tells him, “I’ll give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Anything you fasten on earth will be fastened in heaven. Anything you loosen on earth will be loosened in heaven.”
Comment: Fastened? It may be technically a correct translation, but it sure sounds funny!
Matthew 19:14 “Allow the children to come to me,” Jesus said. “Don’t forbid them, because the kingdom of heaven belongs to people like these.”
Comment: Yes, I know, children are people. But it just doesn’t sound quite right to say it this way.
Matthew 20:2 and throughout: Jesus is telling a parable: “After he agreed with the workers to pay them a denarion, he sent them into his vineyard.” footnote- A denarion was a typical day’s wage.
Comment: I can find no entry in the dictionary for the word “denarion”. I’ve only seen “denarius” (singular) and “denarii” (plural). Is this a word they made up? If not, why use it and confuse the issue even more?
Matthew 24:51 Jesus is telling a parable: “He’ll cut them in pieces and put them in a place with the play-actors and frauds.”
Comment: Huh? Play-actors?
Matthew 25:14-30 v.15: “To one he gave five valuable coins, and to another he gave two, and to another he gave one.”
Comment: This is usually called the Parable of the Talents. In the CEB it’s the Parable of the Valuable Coins. I don’t think to today’s reader “coins” comes anywhere close to giving the true meaning of the amounts of money that were entrusted to these servants. We Americans think of a coin as a quarter, a dime, a nickel, or a penny. A more valuable coin would be a fifty-cent piece, or a silver dollar/dollar coin. Some of us are aware of such things as a $5 gold piece, or a $20 gold piece, and some rare coins can be worth hundreds and even thousands of dollars.
What I’ve found is that a talent was worth 3000 shekels, or somewhere between 80 and 125 pounds of gold or silver. In today’s money, assuming approximately $1000 per ounce of gold, a talent of gold would be worth between $1,280,000 and $2,000,000. That means that the one who had been given five talents may have been entrusted with as much as ten million dollars, and the one with only one talent had still been given as much as two million dollars to invest. Even if my numbers are not accurate, (but they are) we’re still talking vast amounts of money.
No, “coins” just doesn’t do it justice.
Christ, the Christ throughout the gospel
Comment: My understanding is that Matthew was writing, not to a Greek audience, but to a Hebrew audience. It seems to me that “Messiah” might be a better choice for the “Anointed One”. As has been said elsewhere, most modern-day Christians (and others) think of “Christ” as just part of Jesus’ name. But “Messiah” may convey more meaning to many Christians. I’m just uncomfortable with the extensive use of the term “Christ” when few understand what it means.