Poetic bloodshed

Posted: 15th May 2008 by ElShaddai Edwards in Uncategorized

Over at Better Bibles Blog, Suzanne continues to post on blood, sin and color in Psalm 51. Her most recent post concludes by looking at the choice of “bloodshed” versus the more abstract (and traditional) “bloodguiltiness” in verse 14. She approves of the NRSV for its use of the former; I mentioned the REB and NJB translations in a comment to her post as other examples with this word choice.

I was particularly struck by the differing types of poetic structure each of these translation uses. The NRSV uses “deliver/deliverance” to frame the verse:

Deliver me from bloodshed, O God,
O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of your deliverance.

The NJB ends each line with a variant of “save”:

Deliver me from bloodshed, God, God of my salvation,
and my tongue will acclaim your saving justice.

Finally, the REB slips into what feels like a stream of consciousness word trail in the first part of the verse:

My God, God my deliverer, deliver me from bloodshed,
and I shall sing the praises of your saving power. (REB)

There’s a directness to this last example that is quite appealing – the words just pour out in rhythm as you read them. I can feel this one as a spoken prayer, more than poetic verse.

  1. Suzanne says:

    Thanks for this. I appreciate that you provide examples of the REB. I don’t have a copy. Maybe I will invest in one soon but at the moment I have to plug ahead with the psalm as I am writing a paper on it, giving more attention to the various Latin versions at the moment in view of Reformation theology, etc.

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Suzanne. Whether you publish it or not, I would definitely be interested in reading your paper on Psalm 51 when you’re done – I hope you’ll make it available in one format or another!

    I’m curious if you plan to cover the liturgical use of Psalm 51? Believe it or not, my introduction to it came via the Lutheran liturgy.