Welcome to the ninth in a series of posts comparing the Jerusalem Bible, the New Jerusalem Bible and the Revised New Jerusalem Bible for one of the readings at each Sunday’s Mass. At Jim’s suggestion, I’ve also included the English Standard Version (ESV) for comparison. I do not have a copy of the ESV-CE from ATC Publishers, so this is from the 2016 edition of the ESV published in the United States. For today, the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, I’ve chosen the gospel (from Luke).

Sunday, October 20th, 2019 — 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)
Gospel: Luke 18:1-8

Jerusalem Bible

Then he told them a parable about the need to pray continually and never lose heart. ‘There was a judge in a certain town’ he said ‘who had neither fear of God nor respect for man. In the same town there was a widow who kept on coming to him and saying, “I want justice from you against my enemy!” For a long time he refused, but at last he said to himself, “Maybe I have neither fear of God nor respect for man, but since she keeps pestering me I must give this widow her just rights, or she will persist in coming and worry me to death”.’

And the Lord said, ‘You notice what the unjust judge has to say? Now will not God see justice done to his chosen who cry to him day and night even when he delays to help them? I promise you, he will see justice done to them, and done speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find any faith on earth?’

New Jerusalem Bible

Then he told them a parable about the need to pray continually and never lose heart. ‘There was a judge in a certain town,’ he said, ‘who had neither fear of God nor respect for anyone. In the same town there was also a widow who kept on coming to him and saying, “I want justice from you against my enemy!” For a long time he refused, but at last he said to himself, “Even though I have neither fear of God nor respect for any human person, I must give this widow her just rights since she keeps pestering me, or she will come and slap me in the face.”‘

And the Lord said, ‘You notice what the unjust judge has to say? Now, will not God see justice done to his elect if they keep calling to him day and night even though he still delays to help them? I promise you, he will see justice done to them, and done speedily. But when the Son of man comes, will he find any faith on earth?’

Revised New Jerusalem Bible

Then he told them a parable about the need to pray continually and never lose heart. He said, ‘There was a judge in a certain town, who had neither fear of God nor respect for any human person. In the same town there was also a widow who kept on coming to him and saying, “Give me justice against my opponent!” For a long time he refused, but at last he said to himself, “Even though I have neither fear of God nor respect for any human person, I must grant this widow justice since she is such a nuisance, or in the end she will come and slap me in the face.”‘

And the Lord said, ‘Do you hear what the unjust judge has to say? Now, will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who keep calling to him day and night even though he delays? I promise you, he will grant justice to them, and speedily. But when the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?’

English Standard Version

And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

New American Bible Revised Edition

Then he told them a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary. He said, “There was a judge in a certain town who neither feared God nor respected any human being. And a widow in that town used to come to him and say, ‘Render a just decision for me against my adversary.’ For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought, ‘While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me.’” The Lord said, “Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says. Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? Will he be slow to answer them? I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

3 thoughts on “The Jerusalem Bible Family and the NABRE: Comparing Translations (29th Sunday in OT)”

  1. The content more than the context of the readings from last week should be deeply considered. They all deal with our eternal and final judgment.

    All of these translations did the same thing when it came to what would have been the Aramaic expression BAR ENOSHA, which from the Greek came to be translated as “the Son of Man.” This is found in the last verse in the reading.

    And it is not merely “son of man,” but here in the reading appears with the definite article so that it reads “the Son of Man.” Both terms occur in the New Testament, with and without the article, but here especially it suggests something outstanding.

    First the phrase, “the Son of Man.” It has puzzled translators and theologians for hundreds of years. In Aramaic (the language of Jesus–Greek is the language of the NT text), it is a play on words. It means, “human being,” and when contrasted with God’s immortal status it means “you mortal” (Ezekiel 4.1), but more often than not it just means something similar to saying “me, myself, and I,” as when Jesus was being indirectly direct with the High Priest after being charged to give a direct answer as to whether or not he was the Messiah. (Matthew 26.63-65) But to the hearer, in the original language, the term sounds like “son of Adam.” It doesn’t refer to being a “son” or offspring of anyone.

    In this reading, the term “the Son of Man” is used as an expression of the One who will sit in judgment of humanity on Judgment Day. It should be of interest that it is Jesus’ connection with humanity and not with God that is a major difference in Christian eschatology. The Bible tells us that God “has established a day on which he will ‘judge the world with justice’ through a MAN he has appointed.” (Acts 17.31) Deities separated from the experience of humanity judge humans in heathen and pagan religion. So it is quite appropriate for Jesus to use the term “the Son of Man” for eschatological discourse.

    It should also be noted that in the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) Jesus never calls himself “Son of God” or “Messiah.” The term is always “the Son of Man.” In post-Jewish biblical writings, the term is sometimes connected with political messianic hopes among fringe Hebrew religious movements. “Son of David,” a similar term, is what was connected to the Messiah by the mainstream. (Notice that this is possibly why the crowd hushes a blind man who is likely publicly addressing Jesus as “Messiah” in the narrative of Luke 18.37-39.) English readers probably notice the Semitic pattern of “son of…” being an idiomatic expression implying not an offspring but someone who is the same with the subject being spoken of.

    The parable of the need to constantly pray to get justice is a narrative meant to teach the reader about the importance of praying persistently to get justice on Judgment Day. Those who are not found praying like the widow who wants justice from the enemy (Satan the Devil and our sinful nature) will be considered without faith at the Parousia or Judgment Day. The expression rendered “the Son of Man” by all the above translations shows that it is something all are in agreement with.

    1. Thank you for the excellent explanation and reflection on this passage, Carl. You’ve given me a new perspective on the meaning of this parable. I also enjoyed your illumination of the significance (and uniqueness) of the Son of Man being the judge of the nations. It’s so easy for me, as a modern Catholic reader, to think of “the Son of Man” being a divine title. But the significance of Jesus’ humanity in the final judgment is a great point to emphasize.

  2. When calls himself “the son of man” Jesus is referring to the “one like a son of man” who is mentioned in the book of Daniel.

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