Th HCSB Has Little Soul!

Jeff, who says he’s switching to the HCSB, asked for my take on the HCSB. Well, I hope I’m not being too hard on the HCSB in this first post.

The HCSB has decided to translate the Hebrew nephesh in many places as “life” or something similar but not as “soul.” It is correct that the Hebrew nephesh can be rendered various ways: “soul, self, life, creature, person, appetite, mind, living being, desire, emotion, and passion.”

Here’s the HCSB against the TNIV in the Psalms (the HSCB being the first line and the TNIV the second):

He renews my life (23:3)
He refreshes my soul

So I long for You, God (42:1)
So my soul pants for you, my God

I am at rest in God alone (62:1)
Truly my soul finds rest in God.

But there are a few places where the HCSB and the TNIV have taken a similar approach with nephesh:

I thirst for You (63:1)
I thirst for You

Wake up, my soul! (57:8)
Awake, my soul!

My soul, praise the LORD (103:1)
Praise the LORD, my soul

Here’s Webster on the word soul:

Etymology: Middle English soule, from Old English sāwol; akin to Old High German sēula soul

Date: before 12th century

1: the immaterial essence, animating principle, or actuating cause of an individual life 2a: the spiritual principle embodied in human beings, all rational and spiritual beings, or the universe b capitalized Christian Science : god 1b3: a person’s total self 4a: an active or essential part b: a moving spirit : leader 5a : the moral and emotional nature of human beings b: the quality that arouses emotion and sentiment c: spiritual or moral force : fervor 6: person 7: personification 8: a strong positive feeling (as of intense sensitivity and emotional fervor) conveyed especially by black American performers.

As I said the Hebrew nephesh can be rendered in a number of ways, but I just love reading the word soul in certain places.

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10 Responses to Th HCSB Has Little Soul!

  1. ScriptureZealot says:

    Thank you. I’d love to hear more if/when you have it.

  2. ElShaddai Edwards says:

    TC – did you see this link in the comments to Suzanne’s post?

  3. tc robinson says:

    Jeff, some of it would be kind and some not (smile).

    Elshaddai, thanks for the link. I checked it out. It’s good, but I couldn’t help noticing how the LXX rendered the Hebrew η ψυχη μου, “my soul.”

  4. Kevin Sam says:

    Now I see what you were talking about the HCSB lacking “soul”. It seems that HCSB tried to simplify the wordiness as much as possible.But sometimes, wordiness adds character to the text.

  5. nothingman says:

    Here is another example I ran across recently:

    “All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves.” – Matt. 11:29 HCSB

    I prefer “you will find rest for your souls” (NRSV) to “yourselves” (HCSB).

  6. tc robinson says:

    @Kevin, I completely agree with you there. There’s something to the HCSB in the Psalms. I really can’t put my hands on it right now.

    @Nothingman, thanks for that example. That’s a good one. Yes, I prefer “rest for your souls” too.

  7. Peter Kirk says:

    The problem that I see here, which is being addressed by HCSB, is that the word “soul” has little meaning, at least in any relevant senses, to most modern English speakers. It refers either to an unbiblical (well, certainly not Old Testament) dualistic concept of the person or to a style of music. Neither of these is what the Old Testament authors are writing about. In fact Hebrew nephesh very often means no more than the personal pronoun, hence the fully justified renderings as “I”.

  8. tc robinson says:

    Peter, I surely don’t want to sound too biblish but Isn’t “my soul” a synonymous parallel of “all my inmost being” in Ps 103:1?

    Even the HCSB could avoid translating nephesh “soul” in Ps 103:1?

    Nephesh in this verse seems to be pointing to something on the inside againts something on the outside.

  9. Peter Kirk says:

    Yes, TC, I accept that in contexts like Psalm 103:1 nephesh is a little more than a personal pronoun and does refer to the inner part of the person rather than the whole. But of course this is poetic rhetoric rather than teaching on anthropology.

  10. tc robinson says:

    Given the nature of the Psalms I can live with the “poetic rhetoric.”

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