I began looking into translations of the Bible comparing them in May of the year 2000, before Seminary, when I still lived in Malmö. In February that year, during school winter holidays (a tradition since the harsh winters of WW2), there had been a bit of a local scandal. Some Free churches together with an American “Impact Tour” called New Generation International, had arranged a kind of Soul-fishing with Rock music cum Body Building at the Baltic Hall (itself a survivor of the Baltic Exposition 1914).
I’m so sorry I wasn’t there – it must have been awful!
“Bloody Beef”, posing to Rock music, exclaiming at intervals: I am so gloriously saved!
During the event an American Pastor-let, 20 years of age, had put forward the idea that “homosexuality is a sin which deserves death”…
He hadn’t made this up by himself though; it’s in the NIV…
The scandal was immediate. The hapless youngsters in the audience, who had been snared by the soul-fishing event unawares, went home to tell their parents. The parents called the newspapers (there were still two of them in Malmö), which produced whole pages about it, and there were Letters to the Editors for the rest of the Semester.
In May or early June there was, yet again, a Letter to the Editor, this once more theologically savvy than the majority. Written by a Pentecostal Pastor in northern Skåne, it tried to defend the pastor-let. The author referred to 1 Cor 6:9-11 as the relevant passage.
So I grabbed my Swedish State Bible 1981/2 (new NT 1981, plus, mostly linguistic changes to the OT). The one with big letters, which I had bought due to my failing eye-sight when I arrived at Lund...
I tried to find the method in 1 Cor 6:9-11, to catch the structure behind the words, for I knew from the Exegetical lectures that there would be one – as, for instance, in Matthew – the school of Matthew, late Bishop Stendahl calls it – symmetrically built around a peak in the centre (the Mount Sion Principle, our old Professor called it, contrasting it to the end-climax of Modern detective stories ;=)
The Professor was so ancient he had known the first family in the then British Palestine Mandate, who spoke Hebrew on a daily basis - as a 2nd language, of course.
Since then Hebrew has changed a lot - even using Tempi, an Indo-European construct which does't exist in Hebrew. So in Modern Hebrew Imperfect is used to allude Western Imperfect and Hebrew Perfect (God only) to allude Western Perfect. The little extra vowel signs, well known from Bible Hebrew, are not in use any longer.
He also told us, that on his latest trip just before the course started Israelis in shops had tried to speak English with him, poor foreigner as he was, whereas 50 years ago on his first stay, people simply didn’t notice… Everyone “broke” ;=)
But in early summer 2000, it was total bewilderment. I didn’t understand a thing. I found neither method nor structure…
This lasted for several weeks, until I got hold of my old Confirmation Bible, a 1967 copy of the 1917 State Bible printed in the Netherlands. Then (after a while) I saw it!
The translations – the much vaunted State translations (the former Bible Commission had been appointed on the 18th May 1773 by Gustaf III, only ending in the early 1920ies with the publishing of the OT Deutero-Canonicals, the last one had been in the working for 15 years by several committees; exegetical; linguistic; literary and so on (but in reality put together by 2 converts to Rome, one "official" one non-official – who converted officially after the fact, ejecting high shrieks of the "Apostasy" of the Swedish Church...) the whole costing some 40 or 70 million Swedish - I never remember which - were different from one another!
There had even been some Rabbis on one of the committées (won't tell you what they thought ;=)
The number of Concepts in 1981 and 1917 – and their translations – simply didn’t correspond.
Not only did the 1917 and 1981 have many more words than the Greek (after all, translations tend to have that, a quota of 115 % seems acceptable, then it becomes an other Gospel ;=) but – counting the Concepts instead of the words, it didn’t add up!
The Greek 1 Cor 6:9-11 has 26 Words to 10 Concepts;
1917 (admittedly pseudo archaic and verbose) has 43 Words to 10 Concepts;
NT 1981 has 35 Words but only 9 Concepts. One Concept was missing, and so were three (3) of the Greek words, following the RSV... (this actually happens a lot with Dynamic Equivalence ;=)
Before I had been just bewildered, now I was dizzy!