Thoughts on the NLT and בֶּן־אֱ֜נ֗וֹשׁ in Psalm 144.3

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Over at the blog which must not be named, a discussion as sprung up about the translation of Psalm 144.3:

O LORD, what is man, that You take knowledge of him? Or the son of man, that You think of him? – NASB

O LORD, who are we that you should notice us, mere mortals that you should care for us? – NLT

O LORD, what are human beings that you regard them, or mortals that you think of them? – NRSV

The big deal is whether or not the NRSV, and by virtue, all translations who do the same thing, are missing something. I say no. I note, briefly, that the NLT translates the Hebrew phase as ‘Son of Man’ in Ezekiel and Daniel, where the imagery of the Son of Man in the Gospels (well, sorta) comes from. Here, I think that the Psalmist is referring to humanity as a whole…

Although, there is the image in Hebrews 2 where in this passage is quoted and applied to Christ, although some would argue that Jesus is seen here coming from humanity. I might not, but some do.

So, what do you think? I think that the NLT is  right to translate it as Son of Man in Ezekiel and Daniel, but not sure that the Messianic precursor is present in the Psalms and therefore the NRSV and the NLT’s translation is allowable.

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Joel L. Watts
Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

4 thoughts on “Thoughts on the NLT and בֶּן־אֱ֜נ֗וֹשׁ in Psalm 144.3

  1. Honestly Joel,

    I will say this. From what I have read on the Son of Man literature, John J Collins, etc., they say that the Psalms is not even up for consideration in the Hebrew, for the original Hebrew generally is not messianic.

    Now, I know that some people have a problem with the Messiah being a mere mortal, but I do not. The prophets’ message is to remind humanity of our limitations, our mortality.

    Well, thats just my 2 cents.

    1. That’s sorta where I’m going, Rod. Ezekiel and Daniel, sure, but the Psalms was only later use to enthrone, hahahhaha, the Messiah

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