Wednesday, October 07, 2009

5 Version Readability Study: Mark 10:1-9 - Verse 3

Verse 3

MSG: Jesus said, "What did Moses command?"

NLT: Jesus answered them with a question: “What did Moses say in the law about divorce?”

NIV: "What did Moses command you?" he replied.

NASB: And He answered and said to them, "What did Moses command you?"

ESV: He answered them, "What did Moses command you?"

"And He answered and said to them"(NASB) OR "He answered them"(ESV) OR "he replied"(NIV) OR "Jesus answered them with a question"(NLT) OR "Jesus said"(MSG)?
Simple is better here. The NASB is definitely too wordy. The NLT is very wordy too. As with the previous verse, the NIV comes out the champion in simplicity. The ESV is abrupt ("He answered them") and the MSG ("Jesus said") doesn't give any hint that this is an answer or reply. In the NLT's defense, its wording pairs well with the previous verse ("Some Pharisees ... tried to trap him with this question"/"Jesus answered them with a question") but the NLT could have hewed more toward the simpler NIV rendering on these two phrases without losing readability.
+1 NIV

Should the above phrase come after(NIV) or before(all others) the question?
I like the phrase coming before the question because it matches up to the previous verse and draws the contrast better. The NIV's placing of the phrase after the question gives it a more "conversational" feel though, which is nice too. Either is good!

"command"(MSG) OR "command you"(NIV, NASB, ESV) OR "say in the law about divorce"(NLT)?
The NLT is sort of obligated to the longer rendering so that the reader is informed that the Mosaic law is being referred to, since it did not use "legal" or "lawful" in the preceding verse. So for contextual clarity, the NLT does well. Nonetheless, the reference to "Moses command" is a clear reference to the law, so the extra verbiage is not strictly necessary, and the NLT ends up losing the force that the word "command" brings. I don't think the "you" is strictly necessary either, but because it might add smoothness in the eyes of some, and it has the support of formal versions, I think it is a good thing.

Verse 3 winner: NIV

A look at the Old KJV

"And he answered and said unto them, What did Moses command you?"

Except for the word "unto", the KJV reading is equal to the NASB. Like the ESV, though, the KJV gets stuck in the "and" trap, starting 6 out of the first 9 verses of Mark 10 with "and." As I understand it, the Greek sometimes requires a fair amount of "breaking up" to make it good (modern) English.
The word "unto" has fallen into relative unuse today. A simple online search turns up 9003 "unto"s in the KJV, none in the NASB, NLT, or MSG, and only 2 in the NIV and 3 in the ESV.

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