I was stoned, wrote the Apostle St Paul

I WAS STONED, wrote Paul.

Yes that is what he wrote in 2 Corinthians 11 vs 25 – or a literal translation is “Once I was stoned”!!! In the greek it is ἅπαξ ἐλιθάσθην,

This was used in the New International Version of the Bible in 1984 and created some amusement. The NRSV has “Once I received a stoning”, which is a convoluted translation. Most versions have “once I was stoned”, but;

God’s Word translation has “Once people tried to stone me to death”

The Message bible; “pummeled with rocks once.”

New International Reader’s Version; “Once they tried to kill me by throwing stones at me.”


Thus it was revised in the NIV as the New Testament scholar Douglas Moo pointed out;

“In the 1984 NIV when Paul says (in 2 Corinthians 11:25) ‘I was stoned,’ we changed it to ‘pelted with stones’ to avoid the laughter in the junior high row of the church.”

Well, “I was stoned” is a succinct literal translation and correct on all grounds bar one, and that is the contemporary understanding of the expression “I was stoned”

It highlights a problem of all translations. There are other instances where the original meaning can be lost in translation e.g. If your son asks for some fish , will you give him a snake?” In some countries a snake is more of a delicacy .

It reminds of two devout Christians in a university Christian Union in the 60s. They took Paul’s injunction “make love your aim” to heart and jumped into bed……………

Of course it is worse if we read the King James Version which was archaic posh English of 1611 and so much of English has changed. No wonder fundermentalists who only use the KJV get so many things wrong!!

As for myself I have only be stoned once, like Paul – by pygmies from the Congo 😁

Not kidding either.

2 thoughts on “I was stoned, wrote the Apostle St Paul

  1. Paul Braterman

    PG Wodehouse has an austere besuited executive who, suddenly enamoured of his secretary (a woman, of course), turns up to work in yellow pullover (or sme such details). To quote Wodehouse: “There was no doubt about it. He had gone gay.”

    If we have such difficuties over the way words change their connotatios, or even their denotations, over a few generations within our own language, what shall we say of the difficulties of knowing whether we have translated correctly a word like “parthenos” or “almah”?



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