Wednesday, October 28, 2009

5 Version Readability Study: Mark 10:1-9 - Verse 4

Verse 4:
MSG: They answered, "Moses gave permission to fill out a certificate of dismissal and divorce her."

NLT: “Well, he permitted it,” they replied. “He said a man can give his wife a written notice of divorce and send her away.”

NIV: They said, "Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away."

NASB: They said, "Moses permitted a man TO WRITE A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE AND SEND her AWAY."

ESV: They said, "Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away."

"They said" (NIV/NASB/ESV) or "They answered" (MSG) or "They replied" (NLT)?
"They replied" seems repetitive at this point; it is obvious a dialogue is taking place. "They said" is not much better. "They answered" is best here. Although "answer" can be synonymous with "reply," this synonymity relies on an archaic form of "answer." Today's reader understands "answer" as a response to a specific query, and as such it provides more descriptiveness here, I think.
+1 MSG

"He"(NLT) or "Moses"(all others)?
Using the personal pronoun engages the reader to actively make an association with Moses in the preceding verse. On the other hand, "Moses" is in the text, and the difference isn't huge.

"permitted"(NLT/NIV/NASB) or "gave permission"(MSG) or "allowed"(ESV)?
"Permitted" and "gave permission" are slightly less familiar than "allowed," which seems best.
+1 ESV

"he said a man can"(NLT) or "to"(all others)?
Now is the time to deal with the elephant in the room. I'll say it up front; the NLT is excessively wordy in this verse. Instead of a simple construction like "Moses allowed a man to" the NLT goes a does "Well, he permitted it...He said a man can..." I don't like it at all. It doesn't serve increase comprehension; this particular phrase is not that difficult in the first place.
-1 NLT

"fill out"(MSG) or "give his wife"(NLT) or "write"(all others)?
The MSG has me chuckling again; "fill out" sounds like a modern day couple going down to fill out printed forms! Nonetheless, it's not a huge deal, although I don't particularly like it. "Give his wife" actually reflects what the OT text being referred to here is saying- but it interpretive, and not in the Greek at all. Besides being the literal translation, "write" is the simplest, and it avoids the association a modern reader would make with forms.
+1 NIV, NASB, ESV

"written notice"(NLT) or "certificate"(all others)?
When I think certificate, I think of a graduation certificate, or an award certificate- some honor or credential bestowed by a higher authority. As such, "written notice" works better for modern readers.
+1 NLT

"dismissal and divorce her"(MSG) or "divorce and send her away"(all others)?
The latter gets to the point quicker and in a simpler fashion- AND is more literal.
+1 NLT, NIV, NASB, ESV

Verse 4 winner: ESV



A look at the old King James

KJV: And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away.

The KJV has a case of "and-itis" here, in addition to using the archaic terms "suffered" and "bill." "Divorcement" is also an odd word to modern readers. "Put her away" is archaic as well; to modern ears it sounds like the woman is a piece of clothing!


A compilation of winners so far: Mark 10:1-4 composed of winning verses


Then Jesus left Capernaum and went down to the region of Judea and into the area east of the Jordan River. Once again crowds gathered around him, and as usual he was teaching them. Some Pharisees came and tried to trap him with this question: “Should a man be allowed to divorce his wife?”
"What did Moses command you?" he replied.
They said, "Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away."

v.1-2:NLT; v.3:NIV; v.4:ESV

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