TEV Sirach 20:21
If a person is too poor to afford sin, he can rest without a guilty conscience.Can you spot the problem?
It is the strange word combination, "afford sin." To me, anyway, in this context, these two words do not fit together, according to my understanding of the guidelines and constraints of the English lexicon. Technically, such a mismatch of words is called a collocational clash.
The TEV has some of the most natural English of any of the many English Bible versions. Yet, because translations are done by humans, translation mistakes, including poor quality English, can slip through the checks and balances of the translation of any Bible translation. I remember spotting a page heading error in the TEV in one of its first editions, many years ago. I wrote the American Bible Society, which produced the TEV, to notify them of the error. They thanked me, and the error was corrected in future editions.
It is a good thing to spot problems in English versions and graciously let translation teams know about them, so that we can have better Bibles. That is why this blog exists, to encourage more people to be alert to ways that English translations can be made better, and then to let the proper people know so that revisions can be made in future editions. Also, if we sensitize ourselves to observe translation wordings more closely we ourselves also benefit. We learn to pay better attention to what is written. In the process we can learn better what is the meaning of Bible passages and if we are willing, our lives can change when we follow the biblical teachings.
UPDATE: I have continued to think about the collocation of "afford sin" and I have eventually been able to get some meaning from it, although the collocation still strikes me as quite unusual for English. It might be possible to say of someone that they can "afford sin." By that might be meant that they have the financial (or other) means to pay for a sinful lifestyle. I do not know if that is the kind of meaning intended in the TEV wording in question here.
Categories: TEV, GNT, collocational clash