Mediating translation comparison #5: TNIV vs HCSB vs NAB – Matthew 10:24, 28

So once again… the comparison series between mediating translations continues with Matthew, ch. 10.

Matt. 10:24—student vs disciple; servant vs slave

TNIV:
Students
are not above their teacher, nor servants above their master. It is enough for students to be like their teacher, and servants like their master.

HCSB:
A disciple is not above his teacher, or a slave above his master. It is enough for a disciple to become like his teacher and a slave like his master.

NAB:
No disciple is above his teacher, no slave above his master. It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, for the slave that he become like his master.

NJB:
Disciple
is not superior to teacher, nor slave to master. It is enough for disciple to grow to be like teacher, and slave like master.

v.24: in TNIV’s gender-inclusive change from “his master” to “their master”, translators have changed the singular “student” to plural form. This alteration from the original is not the best. I prefer NJB rendering. From a gender-inclusive perspective, the NJB does a slick job of avoiding the use of “his” and “their” altogether. I prefer the NJB rendering because there is no change from singular to plural; moreover, it uses “slave” instead of “servant”. The NLT’s provides a fair rendering: “A student is not greater than the teacher. A servant is not greater than the master” but the NRSV provides an excellent rendering of the same verse too.

Furthermore, in today’s context, “disciple” has the connotation of discipleship and discipline, whereas, today’s use of “student” can carry the connotation of an immature high school or elementary school student. Does the average high school student strive to become like one’s teacher? I think not.

Matt. 10:28b—Gehenna vs hell

TNIV:
Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

HCSB:
rather, fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

NAB:
rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.

WEB:
Rather, fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.

v.28: The NAB provides an interesting translation of the word γεέννα (Gehenna, hell). I have wondered why our translations use the word “hell” instead of Gehenna. Young’s Literal Translation, World English Bible and Weymouth N.T. also use Gehenna. This likely comes from Ghi-Hinnom, or valley of Hinnom from Jeremiah 7:31 and 2 Chron. 28:3 was a place where people were sacrificed in a fire:

They have built the high places of Topheth in the Valley of Ben Hinnom to burn their sons and daughters in the fire–something I did not command, nor did it enter my mind. So beware, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when people will no longer call it Topheth or the Valley of Ben Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter, for they will bury the dead in Topheth until there is no more room. (Jer. 7:31, TNIV)

Gehenna, then, was a place where God’s enemies lie dead outside the walls of the New Jerusalem. Corpses, refuse and garbage were thrown in the Valley of Hinnom outside the city, where huge fires burned constantly. The imagery of Isaiah also adds to how we view hell:

And they shall go out and look at the dead bodies of the people who have rebelled against me; for their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh. (Isa. 66:24, NRSV)

If we render the word “Gehenna”, we risk not understanding that hell is an actual realm within our understanding of heaven and hell. Jesus described hell as a place of torment in Mark 9:45-48. If we use “hell”, we risk not understanding the origins of the word. I don’t have a preference. I think I’m torn between the use of both words.

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Author: Kevin S.

A follower of Jesus, a husband and a father. Hobbies include biking, keeping fish if they don't die on me, blogging when I can, theologizing and ministry, and pondering about world affairs.

6 thoughts on “Mediating translation comparison #5: TNIV vs HCSB vs NAB – Matthew 10:24, 28”

  1. Let me thank you again for preparing this. I find it to be a good exercise in studying the Word.

    Matt. 10:24
    Using “servant” rather than “slave” disqualifies TNIV for this verse.

    The NJB wording doesn’t flow well for me.

    I could go for either the NAB (which I recieved a copy yesterday) or HCSB.

    Matt. 10:28
    I prefer “hell” to “Gehenna” but would like to see “Gehenna” referenced in a footnote.

    It’s a tossup between the TNIV and HCSB. However, I’m not sure about the TNIV using “the One” rather than “him” as God is “the One” being referenced.

    I somewhat like the wording of the CEV in this verse. Don’t be afraid of people. They can kill you, but they cannot harm your soul. Instead, you should fear God who can destroy both your body and your soul in hell.

    I don’t like the phrase “They can kill you” as I wish they would have said “They can kill your body.” Still a nice read.

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  2. Stan,
    v.24: yes, the NJB’s avoidance in using gender pronouns (him,etc.) has, in turn, made the whole sentence sound even more awkward. But I have to give NJB credit because it’s a slick approach to gender-inclusivity. In the future, let me know what you think of the NAB.

    v.28: it’s interesting that even the NRSV (HCSB, ESV) used “him” instead of “the One” (TNIV, NAB). Actually, in the Greek τὸν (ton) can mean him or the one; so as long as that’s the case, either is okay for me. I think all the translations have used it interchangeably but inconsistently.

    The CEV is a nice read. Such dynamic translations tend to remove or add words that are not in the original Greek. But as long as it doesn’t lessen the accuracy by being overly interpretive, it’s fine with me. You’re correct about the CEV’s removing “your body”. “Body” is in the Greek. And “God” is not in the Greek but is used in the CEV (also GNT, NLT).

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  3. Good stuff, Kevin! I like the NAB and HCSB on Matt 10:24. Yes, I too like the NRSV: “A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master.”

    @10:28 I too will have to go with the transliteration “Gehenna,” with the Valley of Hinnom in mind.

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  4. Let me begin by saying welcome back Kevin, I’m glad to see the blog running full speed again.

    I believe that you have nailed it correctly on both verses here Stan, so for the most part I’m going to copy off of your paper this time (lol).

    Interesting point about “the One” or “him” being equally correct here Kevin. I remember the first few times I read “the One” used in Matthew 21:9, it felt really weird to me. Is this the same situation of “him/the One” as we are viewing in the passage at hand? I think I’ll go look this up in the NRSV interlinear while it’s actually on my mind.

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  5. @ TC, it seems the NRSV handles gender-inclusivity quite well. Gehenna is different from the traditional rendering, and in a way, it takes away a little of the mystery away from what hell is. Gehenna seems like it has a definite location, whereas, hell doesn’t. I’m still torn between the two. Why do you prefer Gehenna?

    @ L. Wells, I think Matt. 21:9 is pretty much the same situation as Matt.10:28. When I say that both are okay, I mean that both work, but if a person gets down to literalness, I think using “the one” may be even more literal than using “him”. The Greek for “him” is αὐτός (autos, him), but this is not present in either verses. In the Greek, the definite article “the” is in both Matt.10:28 τὸν (ton) (accusative singular), and also in Matt. 21:9 ὁ (ho) (nominative singular). As far as I know, this seems to be why it gets translated as “the One.” If I’m wrong, someone can correct me.

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  6. Kevin, I prefer Gehenna because of this: “Gehenna is a transliteration from the Aramaic form of the Hebrew ge-hinnom, ‘valley of Hinnom.'”

    Once a person learns the history of the valley of Hinnom, Gehenna becomes a vivid term.

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