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‘John Doe’ found in Bethlehem

I really appreciate the NET Bible as a translation and even have a printed copy with all its helpful notes on translation. But even the best translations have their faults. To my ears at least, this one is hilariously anachronistic: From the NET Bible – Ruth 4:1

Now Boaz went up to the village gate and sat there. Then along came the guardian whom Boaz had mentioned to Ruth! Boaz said, “Come here and sit down, ‘John Doe’!” So he came and sat down.

Have any Americans reading this ever addressed anyone in conversation as ‘John Doe’? For me as a Brit, John Does are almost exclusively unidentified bodies in CSI!

Apparently in an earlier NET version, the kinsman was addressed as “Mr So-and-so” but this was changed because it was felt that “John Doe” better suited the legal setting. I think “Sir” would do just great.

2 comments to ‘John Doe’ found in Bethlehem

  • Tim Tillinghast

    “John Doe” would not pass for me in American English. Not in addressing a living person who was conscious and able to tell their name.
    Occasionally you see people who have amnesia or who are in a coma and unidentified referred to as “John Doe”.

  • Gregg

    My English translations all said “friend” but the Louis Segond is interesting: “Boaz monta à la porte, et s’y arrêta. Or voici, celui qui avait droit de rachat, et dont Boaz avait parlé, vint à passer. Boaz lui dit: Approche, reste ici, toi un tel. Et il s’approcha, et s’arrêta.”

    Or for a somewhat literal translation from Google Translate: “Boaz went up to the door and stood there. Behold, the one who had the right of redemption, which Boaz had spoken, came by. Boaz said: Approach, stay here, you such. And he came and stopped.”

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