Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Encouragement to Parents -- Train up a child?

Many parents meditate on Psalm 22:6, which most translations write as "Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it." Unfortunately this verse and translation has causes much angst and misled many parents. It's actually a mistranslation that began from the Jerome's Vulgate (the first Latin translation of the Bible). Traditions pushes this translation into newer translations.

The difference in translations makes a world of difference for parents who falsely believe a so-called “promise” only to get discouraged. Rather, the verse is an ironic warning NOT to do.

The Hebrew construction is common enough that we can easily see how it should be translated; NO WHERE is it ever translated "the way he should..." [I can't type Hebrew into blogspot]. It's consistently a possessive pronoun, "...according to his way"

The Hebrew should be rendered "according to his way". Proverbs is full of such ironic warnings. If we are not consistent and give in the the child's sinful desires and childish inclinations, they will not depart from this path their whole life. We can all agree to this wisdom.

The way one commentary puts it is:
In the book of Proverbs there are only two ways that a person can go, the way of the wise or righteousness, and the way of the fool. One takes training, and the other does not. Ralbag, in fact, offered a satirical interpretation: "Train a child according to his evil inclinations (let him have his will) and he will continue in his evil way throughout life" (J. H. Greenstone, Proverbs, 234).
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