This from my daily Bible reading, done today in the NLT, then the NET Bible, which provoked thoughts of non-literalness.

“But the prudent answered, ‘No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ via NETBible: Matthew 25:9 NASB

If the Greek were translated literally, it would look more like the KJV, NKJV, and HCSB: “to those who sell.” The RSV, ESV, NRSV, ISV, and NASB, the latter highly praised for its literal approach, translate it as “to the dealers.” NAB has “merchants.”

The NLT translators seem to know that oil was sold in a shop (any shop? NEB has “the shop”) rather than from a dealer’s home or in a market stall. Weymouth pluralizes it with “shops.” The PEB (old SEB) has “store.” Maybe they’re right. But shop/store isn’t the idea.

The NET, NIV, and TNIV do well by adding “oil” to the literal phrase, and it comes out like this: “to those who sell oil.” The NJB does fine, too, with: “to those who sell it.”

But for all its literal approach the NASB exchanges a verb for a noun. The shame!

I think it’s a legitimate swap. And the point of this post is another shot at those who claim “literal translation” is the only way to go. That critter is as rare as the evolutionary links between monkey and man.

For a pratical application, see Ron’s post over on TFR.

Final note of curiosity: Why do RSV, ESV, NRSV (the latter two following their predecessor, obviously), and NASB use “dealers” rather than “vendors.” Seems to me the latter would be preferable, considering the verb “to sell.” Any ideas?

What do you think?