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2001 Translation

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    Translating ‘grace’ (caris and tayb’uwt’ah)

    It’s very difficult to know how to translate the Greek and Aramaic words usually shown as ‘grace’ in most bibles.

    The Greek word is caris – it’s where we derive the English words care and caring. Strong’s defines it as meaning (besides grace of course) is that of extending favor to someone. It also has a double-meaning of thanks or gratitude.

    The Aramaic word is tayb’uwt’ah – and is much like the Greek equivalent. It can mean devotion, extending kindness, beneficence (charitable behavior), and also has the double-meaning of thankfulness.

    Now, most English Bibles translate these words as grace. What’s the problem with that?

    Well, the most common meaning of grace today means a smooth and flowing movement, like when walking or dancing. The Christian definition of grace is only used by Christians! So the meaning is lost on non-Christians who may be trying to learn, and the word is difficult for non-native speakers of English who have to learn yet another definition.

    Someone may even misunderstand entirely, and think that the Bible is saying that God moves graciously, or talks graciously, or only acts in a gentle, smooth manner. That’s not what God’s grace is at all!

    So we do not use the word grace. Also, our translation charter forbids us from using traditional terms that may be misunderstood.

    So what do we use instead?

    Well, some bible dictionaries define the Greek word as undeserved kindness. While that may be technically correct, in modern English it sounds horrible – like the kindness is given reluctantly, which certainly does not fit the context or tone of the bible passages. Further, it’s very wordy, which distracts from the ease of reading.

    So instead we use care, loving care, caring, or kindness, depending on the context. We do not use favor because that’s something that can be earned, whereas care is not something that we typically earn. Generally, we care for people out of love – like when we care for children – and there’s no suggestion that our children have earned it, nor that we are giving such care reluctantly.