One of the reasons we use the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible as the primary version we read during worship is because it is really, really good. I mean that it is as accurate as a modern translation can be without bias. Scholars from a variety of traditions, disciplines and faiths worked together to translate, as accurately as possible, the original Hebrew and Greek versions. I would never suggest that we disregard this wonderful work and use any other translation. It is simply the best.
However, it is worth the effort to consider alternatives. One of today’s reading (Revelation 21:1-6) is an example of why alternatives are worthwhile (sometimes). Verse three in the NRSV seems a rather uninspired translation, “See, the home of God is among mortals.” An amazing claim, without a doubt, however, read Eugene Paterson’s translations in The Message, “Look! Look! God has moved into the neighborhood, making his home with men and women!”
To say that God lives among mortals is one thing, but to say that God has moved into the neighborhood, into my neighborhood, is quite remarkable. Paterson’s translation makes the point strongly, and I think accurately, that God lives in my neighborhood and is here now. In fact, let there be no confusion, God has moved into every neighborhood.
So, what are we going to do about it? Pretend it’s not true; call the cops; picket; complain in letters-to-the-editor; hide; or shout, “Look! Look!”
The new thing God does in every generation is marvelous in our eyes. But the new thing God did in the past or the new things God will do in the future are of little concern considering what God is doing today. In every place, in every time, God does something new; let us drink of this new thing, like water from the water-of-life well.