Many versions and interpretations of the Bible provide people with an opportunity to choose the most appropriate variant of the text for them which is understandable and follows the right description and presentation of the main points.
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Nevertheless, various English versions of the Bible can differ in their translations significantly because of the specific word choice and phrase structure which can influence the meaning of the text. To understand the nature of differences and similarities in the English translations of the Bible and their role in the texts’ interpretation, it is necessary to focus on the analysis of the passages from The Harper Collins Study Bible (NRSV) and The King James Version of the Bible (KJV).
Thus, the story of Joseph’s rise to power is presented in Genesis, Chapter 41, and translations of the verses are different in relation to the word choice. Although the meaning of the texts does not differ, the translators and editors’ word choice provides the definite connotation to the words and phrases which can affect their understanding and interpretation by readers.
Chapter 41 of Genesis describes the process of Joseph’s rise to power in Egypt because of Pharaoh’s preferences. It is possible to state that the fist part of the description presented in Chapter 41 is characterized by a lot of general words and terms which do not provide any emphasis to the text.
Thus, Pharaoh’s preferences in relation to Joseph are based on the certain predictions and proposals. It is stated in The Harper Collins Study Bible that Joseph’s “proposal pleased Pharaoh” and his servants (The Harper Collins Study Bible, Gen. 41.37). The unusual role of Joseph for Pharaoh is accentuated with references to the fact that this man can propose something to Pharaoh.
However, there is the general presentation of the fact in The King James Version where it is stated that “the thing was good in the eyes of Pharaoh” (The King James Version, Gen. 41.37). Furthermore, The King James Version does not use the modern English language. The text of The Harper Collins Study Bible is more detailed and understandable in order to provide readers with an opportunity to pay attention to the logical connection between the facts presented.
Thus, the succession of circumstances in The King James Version is presented with the help of the word ‘and’ which does not state the relations and connections between the situations and facts. The language of The Harper Collins Study Bible is more diverse. Nevertheless, both the versions are similar in translating the word ‘abrek’ which is the most controversial word in this chapter. The problem is in the fact that translators have no single idea about this word’s interpretation to represent the clear meaning of the verse.
Joseph changes the clothes as the symbol of changing the role, and Pharaoh had him ride in “the chariot of his second-in-command; and they cried out if front of him, “Bow the knee!” Thus he set him over all the land of Egypt” (The Harper Collins Study Bible, Gen. 41.43). The original word ‘abrek’ is translated as ‘bow the knee’ in both versions, and this phrase is related to the command to the crowd which emphasizes the new role of Joseph.
Nevertheless, if the translations are the same, the presentation of events’ logics is different. From this point, the word ‘thus’ helps state the logics in Pharaoh’s actions when the word ‘and’ used in The King James Version has no additional meaning to accentuate the events in the verse.
The identity of translators is not reflected in the discussed texts, but the approaches to presenting the events are different and affect the readers’ vision of Joseph’s story.
It is important to pay attention to the word ‘consent’ which is used in the verse 41.44 of The Harper Collins Study Bible, “I am Pharaoh, and without your consent no one shall lift up hand or foot in all the land of Egypt” (The Harper Collins Study, Gen. 41.44). The text in The King James Version lacks the word ‘consent’ which is necessary to stress on the new role and definite authority of Joseph in Egypt, “without thee shall no man lift up his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt” (The King James Version, Gen. 41.44).
Translators of The Harper Collins Study Bible focused on the details in relation to the word choice to emphasize the particular features of the unusual situation. Nevertheless, the second part of the chapter presented in The King James Version is characterized by more expressive language when the events did not become ‘severe’, but they ‘waxed sore’, and Joseph forgot not about ‘misfortunes’, but about his ‘affliction’ (The Harper Collins Study, Gen. 41.52-56; The King James Version, Gen. 41.52-56).
The text in The Harper Collins Study Bible is more detailed in comparison with the translation presented in The King James Version. From this perspective, the first version is more understandable for readers. However, the text from The King James Version provides them with more opportunities to interpret the text and conclude about it independently.
The Harper Collins Study. Ed. Wayne Meeks. USA: HarperOne, 1993. Print.
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The King James Version. n.d. Web. <https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+41&version=KJV>.