Thinking Out Loud

December 8, 2020

Words About a Word Which Doesn’t Translate

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:26 am

Book Review: Inexpressible: Hesed and the Mystery of God’s Lovingkindness by Michael Card

Having greatly appreciated Michael Card’s Biblical Imagination series — four books on each of the gospels — I was more than interested to take a look at this 2018 title which looks at one word, a Hebrew word which does not have a direct equivalent in English, requiring translators and Bible commentators to invent the compound word lovingkindness

I was in no way disappointed. Michael Card brings the gift of exposition to the matter of what students of the Bible at all levels call word study to a concept which is at the heart of our faith because it is central to the character and heart of God.

Just as his series on the Gospels was based on the text as rendered in the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB), Card uses the newer Christian Standard Bible (CSB) here, but in the appendices to the book shows not only every instance of the Hebrew word’s appearance in the text, but also a scorecard for how (and how often) each of the current major English Bible translations render the word.

Some of those include:

  • mercy
  • steadfast love
  • faithful love
  • unfailing love
  • kindness
  • covenantal love

and are revealed in the stories of David, Ethan, Moses, Jeremiah, Hosea and various interactions that Jesus had with different people. On the last example, I cannot overstate the extent to which Jesus is hesed personified.

Most of the chapters are quite short, so this is another title to add to the list of books you can give you that person who isn’t a huge reader, as they can read it devotionally over a period of three weeks.

I don’t have a book-reviewer relationship with the publisher, InterVarsity (IVP), so I’ve bought the four Michael Card books mentioned here including this one. That said however, finishing Inexpressible has left me hungry for four other backlist titles he’s written which are still available.

Takeaway: Jesus is hesed personified.


For my initial review of the series on the gospels, written in 2014 after finishing two of them, click here.

Six years later, I finished the other two books in the series. For my take on the series from May of this year, click here.

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