Perspectives in Translation

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Bible Gateway and The Gospel Coalition have teamed up to host a discussion of English Bible translation. We have convened a team of world-class scholars representing different versions of the English Bible who will address specific passages from the Old and New Testaments and answer questions about the translation process.

We hope that by pulling back the curtain on translation, this discussion will help readers understand their Bibles more clearly and learn to love God's Word more deeply. And we pray that careful attention to Scripture will excite readers to behold God's glory as he has revealed himself to us in our own language.

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Fourth Question: How Do We Render Such an Important Word as ‘Chesed’ with No Simple Parallel in English?

Posted in Old Testament by Collin Hansen on November 8th, 2010

Sitting in church one morning a few years ago, I heard a preacher talk about “chesed” as the most important word in the Old Testament. He insisted that every English equivalent fails to convey its full meaning, which so profoundly expresses God’s faithful, covenant love for his people. Thus, he suggested that pastors reach back in their throats to pronounce the word in Hebrew every time they see it in the text and preach about it. They should pause to teach its expansive meaning, so church members can eventually identify occurrences on their own, even if they only understand Hebrew.

Translators, however, do not have this option. They must make a decision. And nearly every translation makes a different one. So I posed this question to the Perspectives in Translation panel: “How does a translation render such an important word as chesed, which finds no simple parallel in English?”

Collin Hansen is the editorial director for The Gospel Coalition and co-author of A God-Sized Vision: Revival Stories That Stretch and Stir.

This entry was posted by Collin Hansen and is filed under Old Testament.