Just a Single Word Changed

Single word changes in a scripture text can make a big difference. As an example, one of President Monson’s favorite scripture passages has to be Jeremiah 8:22, he seems to quote it every other time he talks.

Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?

The wording is quite nice, and President Monson ALWAYS quotes it with a decrescendo, which gives it a nice musical quality. I think that is only right since of course Jeremiah 8:22 is the main theme of the African-American Spiritual “There is a Balm in Gilead:”

What if there was no balm in Gilead? I mean what if the text wasn’t “balm in Gilead” but rather something else, would it lose it’s magic? I think so. Yet, in the Bishop’s Bible (the official bible of the Church of England prior to the KJV) the verse was “Is there no treacle in Gilead?” In fact this one verse has become so infamous that the Bishop’s Bible has come to be known as the “Treacle Bible.” Can you imagine President Monson or that spiritual working their magic if it was treacle instead of balm? I can’t.

In case you are wondering treacle is a molasses-like syrup. In the 16th century it had a second meaning, “cure-all,” hence at one time the translation was appropriate. Of course now the translation would just be silly.

In fact I can’t help laughing when I think about it. This is probably amplified by the fact that I am probably in the minority of Americans who has sampled treacle, well treacle pudding any way. Here’s a link to buy treacle pudding, I recommend it:

And when I think of treacle I think of the following as well, very similar to treacle pudding, and also very tasty:

So next time you hear President Monson ask “Is there no balm in Gilead?” think of treacle, then think of spotted dick. If you are a Brit you’ll get hungry and if you are an Yank you’ll just giggle.

2 Replies to “Just a Single Word Changed”

  1. I’m a Brit, it’s breakfast time, and now I want sponge pudding and treacle instead of my cornflakes. aarrrgghhhh!!!

    love the post, thanks!

  2. Hopefully this post marks the beginning of a new and ambitious project: “The David Clark Concordance.” Strong’s is rather dry with all its “definitions” and “root words”; I want to know how my Bible relates to food!

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