How Do We Render Such an Important Word as ‘Chesed’ with No Simple Parallel in English? Tremper Longman IIIPosted in Old Testament by Tremper Longman III on November 8th, 2010
Question: How do we render such an important word as ‘chesed’ with no simple parallel in English?
Many words in Hebrew find no simple parallel in English and indeed we can’t even find a phrase that will bring out all the nuances of this word in English. We make good approximations of the word, but there is no definitive translation. We can have adequate but not perfect translations of the word. Also it does not mean the same thing in every context. And besides that there are debates about such questions as to the relationship between this word and the covenant. I personally am persuaded that the word often (but not always) indicates the kind of love that is demonstrated by one covenant partner to another. Sometimes “covenant love” fits the context. Sometimes “love.” “Steadfast love” or “lovingkindness” are fine but stilted. In some contexts, “loyalty” works well.
Tremper Longman is the Robert H. Gundry professor of biblical studies at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California. He has been active in the area of Bible translation by serving on the central committee that produced and now monitors the New Living Translation.
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