idiomatic Bible translation
As I have been checking the TNIV recently, I have come across some idiomatic wordings which deserve kudos and I flag them for the TNIV team to let them know how nicely those wordings communicate the meanings of the biblical text. I thought it would be fun to share some of these wordings with you.
Esther 9:1 in the TNIV (and NIV) reads:
On the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, the edict commanded by the king was to be carried out. On this day the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, but now the tables were turned and the Jews got the upper hand over those who hated them.There are two English idioms in this verse. Can you spot them?
The first is "the tables were turned." There is nothing in the original Hebrew text about tables, but using the English idiom conveys the original meaning accurately and impacts us better than if the idiom were not used. Other versions translate this section accurately, but lack the stylistic power of the English idiom (I have highlighted the equivalent wording):
- on the very day when the enemies of the Jews hoped to get the mastery over them, but which had been changed to a day ... (RSV)
- on the very day when the enemies of the Jews hoped to gain the mastery over them, the reverse occurred: ... (ESV; "the reverse occurred" is a stylistic improvement over the literal RSV wording)
- It was on this day that the enemies of the Jews had supposed that they would gain power over them. But contrary to expectations, ... (NET; this is also an improvement over a literal translation)
- the day when the enemies of the Jews were hoping to get them in their power. But instead, ... (GNB; also better than literal)
- This was the very day that the enemies of the Jews had hoped to do away with them. But the Jews turned things around.... (CEV; this is nice, mildly idiomatic)
- On that day, the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, but quite the opposite happened. ... (NLT; another nice translation)
- when the Jews should get the mastery over their foes (RSV)
- the Jews gained mastery over those who hated them (ESV)
- the Jews gained power over their enemies (NET)
- the Jews triumphed over them (GNB)
- It was the Jews who overpowered their enemies. (NLT)
Here are some other English idioms I have found in the TNIV (I highlight the idioms):
- When all the Israelites who had hidden in the hill country of Ephraim heard that the Philistines were on the run, they joined the battle in hot pursuit. (1 Sam. 14:22)
- Many times he delivered them, but they were bent on rebellion and they wasted away in their sin. (Psalm 106:43)
- Eloquent lips are unsuited to a godless fool—how much worse lying lips to a ruler! (Prov. 17:7)
What are some English idioms you have found in other English versions?