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Musings -- A Continuing Series of Comments on Specific Translation Issues within the International Standard Version New Testament

by Dr. David Alan Black

"So great is the force of established usage that even acknowledged corruptions please the greater part, for they prefer to have their copies pretty rather than accurate."


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Dr. David Alan Black
Associate Editor

Whom Sweet Whom

English grammar often raises eyebrows. Bright, educated people who can run a computer spreadsheet with their toes are heard every day saying things like:

"It’s me."

"Come to lunch with the boss and I."

"Before the age of sixteen, a parent should do the driving."

Each of these sentences is a gross grammatical gaff. Some kinds of flubs are becoming so common that they’re beginning to sound right to our ears. And in some cases they are right. What used to be regarded as errors may now be acceptable or even preferred.

Take "whom" for example. Over the years, wordsmiths such as Noah Webster have suggested ditching it altogether and letting "who" do the job for both.

In nearly all cases today, we can use "who" instead of "whom" in conversation or in informal writing. For instance, in John 18:4 the ISV has Jesus say "Who are you looking for?" This is certainly less stuffy than the NRSV’s "Whom are you looking for?"

Of course, one could argue that both translations are incorrect, since it is "wrong" to end a sentence with a preposition. This is something English teachers still get worked up over.

In general, however, it’s no longer considered a crime to end a sentence with a preposition—unless you’re addressing the Supreme Court or the Philological Society.

So look for conversational English in the ISV—even from the lips of Jesus.

Introduction Poetry Lettuce? Press on? Good Giving Good Citizens Can Faith Save? On Poets & Liars An Ode to Love The Disciple Teachable? Sloppy Agape Mustering Mystery Alliteration Whom Sweet Whom Conclusion

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