I’ve been waiting for a profound thought for a first blog. It’s been a few weeks, so I’m giving up and starting with a not-so-profound thought, else I’ll never get started with this whole “blogging” thing.
So here’s an entry about a persistent, bad translational decision that I find in Hebrews 10:24:
CEB: “Let’s also think about how to motivate each other to show love and to do good works.”
ESV: “and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works”
NIV: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds”
NRS “And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds”
Common to all of these translations is the idea that the author of Hebrews is calling upon the hearers to apply themselves to getting other Christians to do their job better. The purpose of our “considering” the other is to get the other to show love and to invest himself or herself in acts of kindness to a greater degree. This requires, however, importing the idea of “how to motivate” into the text between “let us consider” and “one another.”
The author’s meaning is really much more profound and simple. The only verb in the clause is κατανοῶμεν, “let us keep considering,” “let us keep observing, noticing.” “One another” is the object of this verb; “a paroxysm of love and good works” is the purpose or result of the action (taking εἰς in its purposive sense). He’s calling each Christian to notice his or her fellow disciples, to look closely at them, their struggles, their challenges, to really “see” them with a result to investing in them. Really seeing is the birth of caring, which gives birth, in turn, to purposeful action to help the other bear his or her load and share in the good that God desires for him or her.
So I would suggest we read this verse, proclaim this verse, and, in the future, translate this verse as follows:
“Let us keep thinking about one another, resulting in an outburst of love and good works,”
or, in “Message” or “Voice” mode, “Let’s continue to look — to really look — at one another, so that we will love and do good for one another all the more.”
It’s about each one of us responding to the other, not getting the other to respond to third parties.