Psalm 139:14 question


#1

Hello Bible experts, I have a question about this Bible verse Psalm 139:14, which in the KJV reads

*“I will praise you; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made
*

but in the Douay-Rheims version reads

"I will praise thee, for* thou art fearfully magnified**"*

(comparative versions page here: biblehub.com/psalms/139-14.htm )

I have heard the KJV version many times my whole life and went to quote it the other week and discovered that the Catholic Douay-Rheims version has the verse actually talking about God, not about the speaker of the Psalm. How did these translations end up so different? Any background would be appreciated.


#2

Hi, good post

The DR psalm I saw on line was a different number, 138. You are right about the translation difference.

Wild guess is that DR is literal translation and KJV is transliteration.


#3

It’s the source material.

The King James, RSV, etc. translate “fearfully and wonderfully made” from the Hebrew נוֹרָאוֹת, נִפְלֵיתִי. (nr’wt nplti; “I am fearfully/terrifiyingly and wonderfully”).

The Latin, on the other hand as “terribiliter magnificatus”, and the DR translated it as “thou art fearfully magnified.”

Chalk up one more reason I don’t own a Douay-Rheims.

But generally speaking, if there’s something “different” about the Douay, it’s because it translates from the Latin, whereas most other Bibles translate from the Hebrew and Greek.


#4

Thanks, porthos11. I thought it might be something like that.

I am relieved that the RSV, which is not on that Bible Hub page, has the verse as “fearfully and wonderfully made”. I really love that phrase and like I said it gets used a lot in literature, etc. so I was sad to think it wasn’t the approved Catholic version…but it sounds like the RSV is okay with it so I can just carry on with liking it.


#5

The RSV has:
14 I praise thee, for thou art fearful and wonderful.[a]
Wonderful are thy works!
Thou knowest me right well;

footnote:
a. Psalm 139:14 Cn Compare Gk Syr Jerome: Heb fearful things I am wonderful

Based on the above, it seems the DR and RSV follow the ancient Greek Septuagint and Syriac translations and St Jerome’s Hebrew text and the KJV follows the later Masoretic Hebrew text.


#6

Interestingly the RSV-2CE translation is

I praise you, for I am wondrously made.[sup]t[/sup] Wonderful are your works! You know me right well;

[sup]t[/sup] Or you are awesome and wonderful.

That seems to follow along the lines of the Nova Vulgata

Confitebor tibi, quia mirabiliter plasmatus sum; mirabilia opera tua, et anima mea cognoscit nimis.

Anyone know the source of the Psalms in RSV-2CE or Nova Vulgata since neither use a word like “fearful”?


#7

From the Revised English Bible:

“I praise you, for you fill me with awe; wonderful you are, and wonderful your works. You know me through and through.”


#8

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