Thursday, April 15, 2021

Mute donkey

Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness...but was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man’s voice forbad the madness of the prophet.

Proper decorum–and the avoidance of an unnecessary distraction–demands that we substitute “illegitimate” for “bastards” in Hebrews 12:8, and “mute donkey” for “dumb ass” in 2 Peter 2:16.
When I read this comment of Doug Kutilek, I thought “mute donkey” sounds really weird. However, I have since found that several Bibles have that rendering in 2 Peter 2:16 (including the New American Standard Bible). Intriguingly, according to a few dictionaries that I checked, both “dumb” and “mute” are now considered offensive, when referring to a person incapable of speech. (It is hard to keep up.) That may account for newer Bibles going with words like “speechless.”
  • Dumb, noun or adjective. Offensive. Of a person incapable of or lacking the faculty of speech.
  • Mute, noun or adjective. Dated, offensive. Of a person incapable of lacking the faculty of speech.
I suppose the donkeys and asses do not mind!

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