Close to his heart
I recently looked at one of my favourite verses, and one that is basically slaughtered in most modern translations, I might add, and noticed that the NRSV does, in fact, know what it is doing.
Here is John 1:18 in the King James Bible.
- No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
From wordnet.princeton.edu we get,
- the chest considered as the place where secret thoughts are kept; "his bosom was bursting with the secret"
- a person's breast or chest
- cloth that covers the chest or breasts
- embrace: a close affectionate and protective acceptance; "his willing embrace of new ideas"; "in the bosom of the family"
- heart: the locus of feelings and intuitions; "in your heart you know it is true"; "her story would melt your bosom"
- hide in one's bosom; "She bosomed his letters"
- breast: either of two soft fleshy milk-secreting glandular organs on the chest of a woman
- embrace: squeeze (someone) tightly in your arms, usually with fondness; "Hug me, please"; "They embraced"; "He hugged her close to him"
In God's Secretaries, Adam Nicolson often writes about the intensity with which the translators expressed affection and tenderness. He records a line from a letter written by one of the translator's, Sancroft, as a young man to his roommate at college who had just been sent home with TB.
- O lett me bosome thee, lett me preserve thee next to my heart and give thee so large an interest there, that nothing may supplant thee.
This word is engraved in my imagination because, as a child, I had a plaque on the wall with a picture and this text,
- He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young. Isaiah 40:11.
I note that the TNIV has translated Is 40:11 as,
- He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.
- No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, F5 who is close to the Father's heart, F6 who has made him known.
Surely one test of a good translation is that it stirs our hearts with an understanding of God's love for his Son, and engenders in us affection and tenderness for God and for others. The NRSV has my vote.