Pentecost quiz

Our interim pastor gave a wonderful sermon this morning, Pentecost Sunday. One part of his Bible reading stood out to me. It caused me to wonder how most current native speakers of English would express the meaning of that phrase. It would be interesting to me if you would read the following phrases and answer the question at the beginning of the poll:

After 20 or 30 people have answered, we can discuss the quiz options if you wish. For the sake of those wishing to focus on the quiz options and which ones others choose, please do not write any comments about quizzes like this on this blog post. Instead, if you have such broader comments, please email them to me privately: wleman1949 at

2 thoughts on “Pentecost quiz

  1. Webb Mealy says:

    What about “they were devastated” [fn: lit. “stabbed to the heart”], SENT.

    Peter has just accused his fellow Israelites of conspiring to kill the Messiah; they respond by asking, in great anxiety, “What should we do?”

    The figure of speech “stabbed to the heart,” especially when encountered in context, clearly conveys the idea of a conscience facing a shock of acute pain. Saying “they were deeply troubled,” if somewhat too mild for the figure of speech, seems close, since we talk about a “troubled conscience.”
    But the words “they were very upset” lack any hint at all that a troubled conscience might in view. Semantic information has dropped out. For example, it’s easy to imagine that the listeners’ response to the fact that “they were very upset” could have been that they would begin throwing stones at Peter and the others. SENT’s rendering, “They were devastated,” suffers from being too sophisticated for a very young readership or an ESL readership–but surely it is entirely natural–especially in rendering Luke’s writing style, which is on the more polished end.

    Webb Mealy, translator, the Spoken English New Testament

  2. Dru Brooke-Taylor says:

    Webb, I agree with you. All the examples that are in ‘modern English’ are pallid, compared with the examples that might now be less fluent. ‘Stabbed to the heart’, which is not a choice, would be much better than the bland, ‘deeply troubled’ or ‘they were very upset’.

    Faced with the choice of inadequate modern English and more expressive out-of-date English, I’d choose the latter every time. I also think that concrete idiom is easier to understand than abstract. So ‘cut to the heart’ is actually easier to understand than ‘deeply troubled’ even if it might not be everyday English.

    I regret that to me, it’s a feature of the samples of the CEB that one gets to by following the links from that post, which is a reason why I’m not inspired to pursue that translation further.

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