Part four of four parts; click here to read part three.
There are some prophetic passages that seem to point forward to Christ, and so some argue that the male language must be retained. For example, Psalm 8:4-6 is quoted in Hebrews 2:6-8, especially verse 4: "What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?" Many versions, however (including the NRSV, NLT, NIVI), believe that the psalm stresses humanity as a whole rather than an individual man. These translate the verse (with variations), "What are mere mortals that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?" Critics state this understanding ignores Hebrews 2:6, where son of man in the psalm may be fulfilled in Christ. However, many believe (and I would agree) that son of man in Hebrews 2:6 refers to mankind and not to Christ, who is not referenced until verse 9. Therefore, human beings is the more accurate translation in Psalm 8:4.
Another debated passage is Psalm 34:20, "He protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken." Grudem argues that this verse is behind John 19:36, "Not one of his bones will be broken." However, verse 17 of the psalm refers to "the righteous" as a group, so it is valid to translate it "he protects all their bones." Moreover, many Johannine scholars believe the paschal lamb passage of Exodus 12:46—"Do not break any of the bones" (also Num. 9:12)—is actually closer to the meaning of John 19:36 and so argue that Psalm 34:20 is not a prophecy looking forward to Christ, so the more accurate and more clear translation is "their bones."
PLURALS AND SECOND PERSON The CBMW guidelines for translation state, "Person and number should be retained in translation so that ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 65+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more