Psalm Saturday: Psalm 1

Since I’ve never used the NRSV extensively before, I thought it would be interesting to compare the translation against my usual favorite, the RSV-2CE. I’ve decided to use the Psalms and call it “Psalm Saturday.” I will do my best to keep up with it each week. I hope you enjoy this series! So without further ado, I present to you Psalm 1, courtesy of Bible Gateway. I apologize for my badly-done table; I wanted to show them side-by-side.

Psalm 1: The Two Ways

Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
    nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree
    planted by streams of water,
that yields its fruit in its season,
    and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
The wicked are not so,
    but are like chaff which the wind drives away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
    nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
    but the way of the wicked will perish.
Happy are those
    who do not follow the advice of the wicked,
or take the path that sinners tread,
    or sit in the seat of scoffers;
but their delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and on his law they meditate day and night.
They are like trees
    planted by streams of water,
which yield their fruit in its season,
    and their leaves do not wither.
In all that they do, they prosper.
The wicked are not so,
    but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
    nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
for the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
    but the way of the wicked will perish.

The RSV is on the left, and the NRSV is on the right. As you can see, the two translations are honestly very similar, and they are from the same translation family.  The main difference is of course inclusive language. The NRSV uses “they” in place of “he,” which is perfectly acceptable—those of us more accustomed to the masculine plural easily see that in the RSV, “he” simply refers to any righteous person.

“They are like trees / planted by streams of water…”

However, the NRSV does do more than simply eliminate the masculine plural, and its sometimes odd renderings show up in verse one. I wonder why the translators chose “happy” over blessed? (Thankfully, the translators chose not to make this switch in the Beatitudes!) Overall though, I think the NRSV does a good job; I particularly like the renderings of lines two and three. While I have a soft spot for the RSV’s archaisms, I really think the NRSV makes the meaning of these verses clearer, especially to readers who might struggle with the RSV’s more difficult language.

The rest of the Psalm remains very similar, the only difference being gender neutrality. Verse six in the NRSV is a little different though, and again, I like it. I think “watches over” is much easier to understand, and better shows the meaning of the psalm—those who follow God and obey his commands are blessed, loved, and protected by him.

More importantly, Psalm 1 reminds us that “on [God’s] law [the righteous] meditate day and night,” and those who read, study, and especially pray Scripture will be blessed. So don’t be a wimpy tree— get off the computer and read your Bible!

Have a great Saturday! Don’t forget, Saturdays are traditionally a special day to honor Mary, so call your Mom and pray the rosary! Here’s a pretty neat Scriptural Rosary to try. Thank you all for reading! What do you think? Which version do you like better and why?

In His Sacred Heart,

Erica

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One thought on “Psalm Saturday: Psalm 1

  1. Pingback: A Side Note on Translations | Out of the Whirlwind

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