Hosea 6:1 both NRSV and ESV unclear

This week, I came across Hosea 6:1 in my reading.  I was reading it first from the NRSV and was confused; so I checked the ESV and was still confused.  I don’t think most people would understand this verse from the NRSV and ESV either (which are currently two of my top-3 translations).  Who would?  In this case, I’m glad there’s the NLT (my #2), T/NIV (my #99 😉 ), and other translations I always refer to for clarification.

The translators of the NRSV did a great job overall but there are parts in it that are not all that clear and sounds stifled.  The ESV translation committee had a chance to improve upon the NRSV but still came up short in comparison to the NRSV’s style and readability (in my opinion).
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NRSV   “Come, let us return to the LORD; for it is he who has torn, and he will heal us; he has struck down, and he will bind us up.

ESV   “Come, let us return to the LORD; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.

T/NIV  “Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds.

NLT   “Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces; now he will heal us. He has injured us; now he will bandage our wounds.

CSB   Come, let us return to the LORD. For He has torn us, and He will heal us; He has wounded us, and He will bind up our wounds.

NET   “Come on! Let’s return to the LORD! He himself has torn us to pieces, but he will heal us! He has injured us, but he will bandage our wounds!

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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.

5 thoughts on “Hosea 6:1 both NRSV and ESV unclear”

  1. I have also been struggling with some of the grammar confusion in the NRSV and ESV. I like the rhythm when I read them both, but there are too many instances where I am scratching my head and grab another translation for clarity.

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  2. I’m not here to either defend the NRSV or the ESV, but a few things are in order. “To pieces” is not in the Hebrew text nor the LXX. It was added by the various translations above for a bit of clarity.

    To be honest, I do not find the reading of the NRSV/ESV “for he has torn us” to be that unclear. I still get the sense of it. But I do agree that adding “to pieces” appears a bit clearer.

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  3. Nathan, I like them too. I wish could just go with a formal translation but I can’t. Formal translations will never give the full sense of what the writers meant to say.

    I do not find the reading of the NRSV/ESV “for he has torn us” to be that unclear. I still get the sense of it.

    TC, the words “torn”, “bind”, “heal”, can be ambiguous to readers today. In seminary, I was taught to use psychological (and even political) approaches to theology. Therefore, I thought it could have been referring to an emotional sense of being “torn” and “healed” just because in much of our contemporary theology, we talk a lot of about being emotionally beaten and emotionally healed. This emotional sense of some of these words have become so popular that it’s almost idiomatic.

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  4. Kevin,

    I agree that “torn” may be a bit ambiguous, and the is why others have added “to pieces.” In the end, it’s really what communicate the best while remaining faithful to the original. Quite a task, as we’ve come to realize.

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