I think my kids are learning a different language at school, and I don’t mean French, Spanish or Latin.
Gen A (the generation born in or after 2010) has thrown convention to the wind and collectively decided to change the meaning of words entirely or come up with completely new words through a combination of abbreviations and slang. Here’s a sampling: “rizz” (and its’ companion “rizzler”), “no cap,” “slay” and “bet.” I would tell you what those words mean to Gen A, but I don’t have a clue! By the way, don’t tell my kids I mentioned those words- they don’t need more ammunition for the ‘dad is old’ conversation that plays out daily in our home. I mean it when I say this- I can’t keep up! I’m pretty sure I only understand about 60% of what they’re saying at this point.
While it may happen now at a faster rate than history has previously known, I suppose it’s fair to say that this is just what happens with language. No language is static- it’s dynamic and changing, which is part of what makes translating scripture difficult. It demands an understanding of both the original languages (Greek and Hebrew at a given point in history) and the contemporary language! As the contemporary language morphs over time, a translation that worked 30 or 50 years ago will feel less and less accurate. This is how the Standard Version became the Revised Standard Version and finally the New Revised Standard Version. Along with that transformation, words that were once bountiful in biblical passages fade into oblivion.
I happen to believe that most updates to biblical translations are value-added, but occasionally we say goodbye to useful words because they just aren’t part of our vernacular anymore. ‘Behold’ is a great example. Those who grew up with the King James Version of the Bible would have encountered this word 1,298 times, while those who are more familiar with the New International Version only encounter ‘behold’ on one occasion!
I miss ‘behold!’ I think we should bring ‘behold’ back! We’re missing something without ‘behold!’ Think about the shepherds: the NRSV’s translation of Luke 2:10 says “But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see- I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people…” On the other hand, the King James Version translates the same passage “And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” I’m not arguing that we should bring back the King James (too much evidence of poor translations throughout), but in this case, we ought to ‘behold’ the value of the ‘behold!’
The angel doesn’t want us to simply “see” the good news being delivered to the world, he wants us to “behold” it! The angel invites us to “note!” “Pay attention!” “Look!” It’s more than an invitation, it’s a command to stop and take notice that something incredibly important is happening!
This is a season for beholding. It’s a season for noting, paying attention and regarding the entry of our savior into the world then and now. I may not know what my kids are talking about half of the time, but I’m confident that I know what the angel is saying: DO NOT MISS WHAT IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN! Will your Advent and Christmas schedule allow space for beholding?