Functional equivalent translations #1: 1 Samuel 3:7 Confusion about young Samuel

The comparison between functional equivalent translations begins with the First Samuel 3:7.

NCV: Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the Lord had not spoken directly to him yet.

Message: This all happened before Samuel knew GOD for himself. It was before the revelation of GOD had been given to him personally.

CEV: The LORD had not spoken to Samuel before, and Samuel did not recognize the voice.

REB: Samuel had not yet come to know the LORD, and the word of the LORD had not been disclosed to him.

NLT: Samuel did not yet know the LORD because he had never had a message from the LORD before.

NIrV: Samuel didn’t know the Lord yet. That’s because the Lord still hadn’t given him a message.

GNT: The boy did not know that it was the Lord, because the Lord had never spoken to him before.

God’s Word: Samuel had no experience with the LORD, because the word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him.

I was studying 1 Samuel 3:7 and noticed something puzzling. I asked myself: Why did young Samuel not know the Lord? Did the writer of Samuel mean that Samuel did not know the LORD because:

a/ he was still young?
b/ he had not yet spent enough time to learn of the LORD?
c/ he had not yet heard from the LORD in a personal way?

The interpretations provide by these translations are indeed numerous with each one including a slightly different connotation. Personally, this brings more confusion rather than clarification. The interpretations for this verse can vary quite a lot (see translations below).

The NLT, NIrV, GNT, and GW translations add “because”, which makes Samuel’s knowledge of the LORD conditional upon a prior revelation from the LORD. The original Hebrew does not contain the word owdowth (“because”, “on account of|). This is very different from the rendering provided by NCV, The Message, REB, and CEV, which do not contain this conditional clause. The two ideas expressed are independent upon one another but may also be taken as conditional (depending on how you wish to read it).

GW’s rendering expresses the idea of Samuel’s “inexperience” with the LORD, whereas, other translations stick with the idea of “knowing the LORD.” GNT’s rendering expresses that even though Samuel had heard, he did not know who it was. The Message ‘s rendering expresses Samuel’s knowledge of the LORD in a more personal way: “for himself” and “personally.”

There are many places in the O.T. where the original Hebrew lacked “because” but have been added by translators to add clarification. However, in this instance, I would prefer not adding “because.”

Advertisements

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.

5 thoughts on “Functional equivalent translations #1: 1 Samuel 3:7 Confusion about young Samuel”

  1. of all the modern and not so modern english translations, which would you suggest does the best job in illuminating the original text and showing the original meaning? I didn’t really word that correctly but hopefully you will see what I am getting at

    Like

  2. Hi John,

    Lately I’ve been alternating between using the TNIV and NLT. They were both created by committees of scholars who attempted to translate the original meanings into a modern English dialect. I highly recommend either one of them, and I have found it useful to compare them to each other. Blessings.

    Like

  3. Hi John, Nathan’s recommendations are right on. I really like them both too. They are two of my favorites and are very accurate and easy to understand. The NLT is easiest to understand.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s