Helpful Catholic Educational Resource Center

by Steve Ray on July 2, 2009

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peter timbers June 5, 2015 at 6:06 AM

I’ve been pondering the different translations of Malachi 1:11. Specifically, I’m wondering why in some cases there appears to be the word incense and in other cases there appears to be the word sacrifice and the use of the word offering and the word oblation. How and why are the different words translated so many different ways? To a severely limited layman like me, it seems like it would be possibly a matter of originating in the Septuagint in Greek and then to the Vulgate in Latin and then to the English text vs Masoretic in Hebrew to the King James version in English text, right? I appreciate any time you might have.

May be helpful:

In every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering: There are some problems of detail in the Hebrew text underlying this clause, but translators can rely on the rsv rendering for the sense of the Hebrew. Incense here is the sweet-smelling smoke that comes from special substances when people burn them. To my name means “to me” and may be translated like that. A pure offering is an offering that meets all the requirements of the Law (unlike the offerings mentioned in verses 8 and 13), so it may be translated “acceptable” (tev) or “proper” (cev). The word translated offering is a very general one including both grain and animal sacrifices. In many languages it may be better style to translate by an active construction and say, “everywhere people [or, ‘they’ if ‘people’ has been used in the previous clause] burn incense to me, and offer me acceptable sacrifices” (compare tev; similarly frcl, gecl1, itcl).

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