08 Dr Moffatt's Old Testament

Frederic C. Spurr

[12] GN vol. 16, no. 2, February 1925





The great literary event of this year in England is the publication of Dr. Moffatt's translation of the Old| Testament in modern English. Ever since his New Testament was published, people have been clamoring tor a similar work dealing with the Old Testament.

The first thing that strikes the reader is the use of the word "Eternal," in place of the "Lord" in our accepted versions. In this, Dr. Moffatt has followed the French example, and undoubtedly he is right. At first the word will strike English ears a little strangely, but when once they are accustomed to it, the music of it will be appreciated. I have tested a number of passages, and read them out aloud to discover the effect upon myself, and I am bound to say it is quite pleasing, being rhythmical and musical as compared with the lather short and hard "Lord." Besides, it is more correct. One of the best examples of poetic translation is given in Numbers 21: 18, which Dr. Moffatt translates thus:—


Spring up, O well—

Ah! Sing to the well

That chieftains dug,

That captains delved.

Wielding their wands.

Wielding their staves.


The beauty of these lines conjures up the original picture. One can almost see the chieftains at work. Compare this exquisite bit of work with either the A.V. or R.V.

Another fine passage is that in which Moses says to his father-in-law:—

"We are starting for the country which the Eternal has promised to give us: come along with us and share in our prosperity." . . . And Moses said: "Pray do not leave us, for you know where we can camp in the desert: come and be a pair of eyes for us." (Numbers 11: 29-32.)

Here again the vividness of the appeal becomes very real.

One of the finest passages is that of Deuteronomy 8. Compare this with A.V. or R.V.:—

"The Eternal your God led you through the desert during these forty years to teach you your need of Him, to prove you, to find out if it was your purpose to obey his orders or not. . . . You must keep this in mind, that the Eternal your God disciplines you as a man disciplines his son."

Turning to the Book of Joshua, we encounter such vivid passages as these:—

"This law book you shall never cease to have in your lips, you must pore over it night and day." (18.)

"But the Israelites broke faith with regard to the doomed spoil" (7: 1.) ...

"Why have you undone us," said Joshua. "The Eternal shall undo you this day." (7: 25.)

—"Australian Christian World.'



The Rev. Edgar Ball, of Mansfield, tells the following story. Two intoxicated men were looking into a shop window in which was displayed an open Bible. Said one, "There's no truth in that Book." It was open at Proverbs 30: 33, and the other man said, "Yes, there is; it says there, 'The wringing of the nose bringeth forth blood'; let me .nake an experiment of your nose, and I will prove to you that the Bible is true!"