Barry Newman's Blog

March 19, 2010

“The Heart” in the Old Testament (part X)

Filed under: The Heart — barrynewman @ 10:05 pm


The reader of English rather than Hebrew is dependent on the translator for the various renderings given to the two Hebrew words.  A comparison was made among: the King James Version (KJV), the New International Version (1986) (NIV) and the English Standard Version (ESV).  The % of occasions the translators used the word “heart” or a derivative was as follows: KJV: 90%; NIV: 68%; ESV: 82%.  These percentages are not surprising given the antiquity of the KJV on the one hand and the reputations of the NIV and the ESV, the former for its flexibility in expression and the latter for its more literal approach, on the other.  Where a translation did not use the word “heart” or a derivative, a single word or a set of words was often used to provide the sense of “heart” or the sense of a set of words in which “heart” was imbedded, as deemed appropriate.  The single words mentioned below were judged to be the main words, in some way or another, replacing “heart”.  The KJV avoided the word “heart” or a derivative in about 20 or so distinctly different ways.  These ways included using the words “understanding” and “mind”, each constituting about 2% of the total and “consider”, “wise/wisdom” and “midst”, each constituting about 1%. 

With both the NIV and ESV, on some occasions a translation was affected without replacing the word “heart” with any word.  These instances are referred to as ”omissions” in what follows.  Decisions to include or exclude from this category proved to be difficult to make.  The NIV avoided the word “heart” or a derivative in over 80 distinctly different ways (50 or so being single instances). These included “omissions” constituting about 3% of the total and using the words: “mind” 5%,  “my/your/him/her/self” or “themselves” totalling 3%, the personal pronouns “I/me/you/them” 1%, “think/thought” 2% and “skill/skilled/skilful, “will/willing/willingly” and “judgement” about 1% each.  The ESV avoided the word “heart” or a derivative in over 40 distinct ways (20 or so being single instances).  These included using the words: “my/your/him/self” or “themselves” about 1% of the total, “mind/minds” about 5%, “sense/senseless” about 2% and “understanding” and “consider/considered” each about 1%.


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