Monday, March 20, 2017

A Peculiar Translation In John 2:1

TWH: I was reading John 2 yesterday morning when I noticed something that I hadn't noticed before––the translation of γάμος in the Reina-Valera translation. Here's the Greek, followed by the Reina-Valera 1960:
NA28: Καὶ τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τῇ τρίτῃ γάμος ἐγένετο ἐν Κανὰ τῆς Γαλιλαίας, καὶ ἦν ἡ μήτηρ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ ἐκεῖ·
R60: "Al tercer día se hicieron unas bodas en Caná de Galilea; y estaba allí la madre de Jesús."
I've underlined the Greek word in question and the translation for that particular lexeme found in the Reina-Valera. So we would translate "unas bodas" something like "some weddings." The issue is the use of the plural when γάμος is singular. What's more interesting is I can't find a single manuscript that has γάμοι here, but it makes me think there was one (at least). Or was there some other reason for this translation in John 2:1? There isn't another translation that I've seen in Spanish (or otherwise) that uses the plural in John 2:1. In any event, the translation issue was cleared up with the 2015 edition of Reina-Valera. Anyone have an idea why the plural was used in John 2:1 until 2015 when it was changed to "una boda"?


  1. I'm wondering if there might be an archaic usage. Using Google Translate for "unas bodas" I got "a wedding." In I found the singular usage, but also the idiom for one's golden wedding anniversary: "En la celebración de unas bodas de oro uno podría desear que ahora todo empiece realmente en serio." ( My Diccionario Poligloto Barsa from Brittanica (1980) defines "boda" and then provides the example "Con gran pompa se celebraron las bodas."

    1. Thanks, Henry. That makes sense to me. Idioms and archaisms are so difficult for non-native speakers. I wonder how many people today read the RV60 and think there was actually more than one wedding? I asked Lesly about it and she immediately thought Jesus went to more than one wedding during that time. I'm guessing that is the default understanding since the RV changed the translation in the past few years. The problem is the default translation in Spanish is still one of the older versions of the RV.