I’m currently in the process of working on memorizing the first 5 chapters of the book of Romans. I’ve probably read the entirety of Romans 1 twenty or thirty times over the course of my life. I’ve read the whole chapter through in one sitting numerous times and I’ve also read, studied, exegeted and interacted with different fragments of it hundreds of times. This is good because I can tell you what Romans 1 is all about and how it should be read and understood. This is bad because it makes memorizing it nearly impossible.
Before I settled on the ESV, I have used and owned the NCV [extreme teen bible!] NASB, and more recently the NKJV. This is on top of all the times I have seen parts of Romans unpacked with an NIV. I used all those translations to interact with the text, and now I’m working on memorizing with the ESV, but those translations keep jumping to my mind.
Lets use Romans 1:1a as an example. I originally memorized it in the NASB, which says “Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle. “ The ESV has it as “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle.” Now, it’s not too difficult to switch from one translation to the next, except I know that the word servant and bondservant are poor and misleading translations. The Greek word is DOULOS, and it only has one definition. Slave. And so when I quote it, I end up saying “Paul, a slave of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to [or is it unto?!] the gospel of God…” That’s one of the easier ones.
More challenging is Romans 1:26, NASB, which reads “For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural.” The NASB has degrading passions, the NKJV has vile passions, the ESV has dishonorable passions, and the NIV 1984 has shameful lusts. I’ve heard and read them so many times that whenever I try to quote the ESV, it seems like I am incapable of it. I’ll interchange any of those other ones, so that it’s anybodies guess which one I insert, or else I’ll stick with “dishonorable”, but then I’ll stop midway and get distracted because I’m so used to saying it and hearing it as “vile” that I lose focus because it doesn’t sound right. Then once I do that I lose my rhythm and flow and I have to start all over.
Not only that, but I find myself blurring various articles, determiners and participles, so that sometimes I will quote something and will get hung up on whether it should be “an” or “a”, and other such things. What this has resulted in, therefore, is an amalgamation of stitched and sewn together bible verses. More often than not it seems like I have my own translation. I can quote about half of Romans 1 from memory, but if you are following along in an ESV for any length of time, there’s definitely a few places there where you’ll be shaking your head and asking where on earth I got that particular string of phrases from. I don’t want to be the creator of the NESDV [New English Sanctified Dustin Version] but it seems that at least for certain chapters that I am overly familiar with it may be inevitable.
Which begs a few questions.
1. Do you ever have this problem- getting hung up because the verses you are trying to memorize in a new version sounds wrong due to overfamiliarity with a different translation? What do you do about it?