I memorized Matthew 10:29-30 to music in the ESV. (See Free Scripture Memory Songs.) The ESV is rather awkward for this passage so I thought I would look at some other translations and found there is a quite a bit of variance.
I don’t know Greek and am not trained in linguistics or translation so I can’t say which I think is the “best” translation. I can only write about (or share to use the popular lingo) my own observations.
Anyone can look up a bunch of translations and post them but I hope to add some value by posting the REB and Lattimore; literary style translations that aren’t available on the web.
Matthew 10:29-31 ESV
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
As far as the passage goes, v. 30 seems abrupt but this is what it says and v. 31 extrapolates it.
As far as the ESV goes that archaic language comes up again. I’m not sure what “apart from your father” means. But fear not, there are other translations!
Matthew 10:29-31 KJV
Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. 30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.
ESV isn’t much different than the KJV…
Matthew 10:29-31 HCSB
Aren’t two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s consent. 30 But even the hairs of your head have all been counted. 31 Don’t be afraid therefore; you are worth more than many sparrows.
Matthew 10:29-31 NET
Aren’t two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. 30 Even all the hairs on your head are numbered. 31 So do not be afraid; you are more valuable than many sparrows.
I don’t usually like the NET but like it a lot here.
Matthew 10:29-31 Lattimore
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And one of them will not fall to the ground without the knowledge of your father. Also, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Then do not fear; you are worth many sparrows.
As usual, this literary translation flows very well. I like also instead of but which the NET leaves out.
Matthew 10:29-31 REB
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet without your Father’s knowledge not one of them can fall to the ground. As for you, even the hairs of your head have all been counted. So do not be afraid; you are worth more than any number of sparrows.
I just got the REB and this is the first passage I looked up. This is a really nice rendering.
I like v. 31 in the REB much more than the Lattimore if only I would like to think I’m “worth more than any number of sparrows” instead of many.
Regarding HCSB, NET, Lattimore and REB: Where other translations just say “without/apart from [your Father]” these say apart from your Father’s will, consent or knowledge. In looking up without, Thayer’s says,
1) without one’s will or intervention”
so I like the inclusion of that part if it’s universally accepted.
Matthew 10:29-31 MSG
“What’s the price of a pet canary? Some loose change, right? And God cares what happens to it even more than you do. 30 He pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail–even numbering the hairs on your head! 31 So don’t be intimidated by all this bully talk. You’re worth more than a million canaries.
All I will say is I like v. 30 a lot.
Now I want to get away from the critical translation comparisons. I want to study the Scriptures and use translations for insight and perspective. I want to guard against spending too much time on pitting this translation vs. that translation.