The NRSV almost unreadable without notes (or, a bizarre “feature” of the NRSV)

While reading the epistle to the Hebrews and comparing its rendering in various translations, I discovered the NRSV alone, among all translations, translated every reference to “man” and “the son of man” in Hebrews 2:6-8 to refer to mankind as a whole! To keep consistent, the NRSV continues to use “them” instead of “him” throughout the entire quotation from the Psalm, and even going beyond that into the author of Hebrews’ interpretation at the end of v. 8!

Bug or feature? Your mileage may vary. I think that though this is a plausible interpretation of the passage, it can hardly be called a translation. “Son of man” in Hebrews 2:6-8 could be plausibly referring to Jesus (as suggested by Hebrews 2:9 referencing Hebrews 2:7) or to mortal humans. The Catholic NABRE, quite contrary to the NRSV, explicitly adopts the Christological interpretation of the passage in its notes.

This is why I recommend never relying on any edition of the NRSV without the translators’ notes as one’s primary Bible. Now, the NRSV does have good notes; on this, there can be no denial. But a translation that is unreadable without the notes can hardly be called a translation.

Author: pithom

An atheist with an interest in the history of the ancient Near East. Author of the Against Jebel al-Lawz Wordpress blog.

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