Last week, during my vacation, I made it over to Alleluia! Catholic Book Store in Kent and bought a little hand held Bible. As I’ve stated before I am turning into a little bit of a collector of Bibles. This one is the NAB translation. I also purchased one of those “read it in a year programs” that breaks down reading voluminous works as the Bible into small, daily pieces. I got as far as Joshua before in the OT (and through Acts in the NT) but life (if it be called) comes in, stirs it around, and three weeks later I’ve lost what I was doing. Companion to reading the Bible in a year in this thingamabob is, parallel, reading the CCC (Catechism of the Catholic Church).
So I’m reading Genesis (4:1) in the NAB translation and came across this verse:
The man had intercourse with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain,
which, in the past was more commonly, probably universally, worded thusly in the English,
And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain,
What is the next translational iteration of this verse?
Adam mounted Eve and ejaculated, and she…
Adam fucked Eve…
Adam got it on with his bitch… [this would be the hip version, for those that want a little urban mix in their Book]
Adam performed the act of coitus on Eve…
The man had intercourse with his wife…
Who did this translation? James Patterson? John Grisham? Such ugly language. I don’t mean offensive, but non-poetic, sterile. The television show The Big Bang Theory commonly has one of its characters refer to sex as “coitus” a clinical word lacking entirely in expression. The show has the character using that word as a joke because he is the type of character that would use such a word to refer to sex (a phenomena the character has not any interest in).
I brought this sort of thing up before when I saw that the expression “… the quick and the dead..” had been rendered “… the living and the dead…” That was the Douay-Rheims translation, and it is shared by most of the others.
But this is even worse. Intercourse is equally a clinical word, sterile in its physical description. It takes the subtly of the old translation away and replaces it with a compound word no poet would use unless under the greatest duress.
So why? Because people don’t understand what “knew” means? Learn. It is quite easy to infer what “knew” meant in the old translations. It is not the case the “knew” was a cover up because it is quite easy to infer as I said.
It seems only the KJV version is, so far, immune to such modern butchery of the language.
I also notice in Matthew 1, the NAB manages to not use the same language,
He had no relations with her until she bore a son,[l] and he named him Jesus.
It has a sort of “Clinton-esque” feel to it, “…I did not have sexual relations with that woman!” I suppose perhaps they thought using the word intercourse in regards to Mary would be in bad taste. I mean, I guess. Why wouldn’t they use the same ugly word as they used for Adam and Eve?
Also note that “relations” does not denote sexual relations specifically, so it is not even a good substitute. Did Joseph also not speak to her? No relations.
The KJV uses the term “knew” for both Adam and Eve and Mary and Joseph. One of affirmation of the act, the other denying the act. But it has a consistency of language that the newer translations violate.