August 9, 2020

Come with me, and I will make you fishers of the sun.

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I wanted to get the text of the Jesus quote right so I could transform it for the post title. Of course, there are many translations of Matthew 4:19, but the one I wanted was "Come with me, and I will make you fishers of men."

I couldn't find it. Translations that ended with "I will make you fishers of men" began with "Follow me" or "Come ye after me." Translations that began with "Come with me" had clumsy endings: "Come with me! I will teach you how to bring in people instead of fish," "Come with me. The work I will give you will be to catch people,"  and — I am not kidding — "Come with me. I’ll make a new kind of fisherman out of you. I’ll show you how to catch men and women instead of perch and bass."

The most fascinating part of this research project came at the beginning, when I started to search "Come with me...." Google guessed that I wanted "Come with me, and you'll be in a world of pure imagination...."



As long as I'm googling, I search for Willy Wonka is like Jesus. Of course, people have talked about that on the internet. One answer:
Jesus is not like Willy Wonka. Our God is not a God who delights in keeping people in the dark, only to pull the rug out from under them in the last minute and deny them the rewards he promised. He is not a miser looking to withhold blessings on a technicality.

Instead, God delights in saving his people. Jesus says that he “came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). That is why he came to earth, to save us from our sins. If he didn’t want to save us, he would not have come in the first place. Jesus is not a cheat. He is not a swindler. He is not an inhumane monster. Nothing could be further from the truth.

80 comments:

tim maguire said...

Neither was Willie Wonka. He did not try to withhold the prize on a technicality. The technicality was the real test, the rest was window dressing. And the real prize was greater than any of the children imagined.

I hadn’t thought about the comparison before just now, but reading that explanation of how Willie Wonka is not like Jesus, all I could think is, what about Job?

Quayle said...

The Book of Mormon has this:

23 For behold, my beloved brethren, I say unto you that the Lord God worketh not in darkness.
24 He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him. Wherefore, he commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation.
25 Behold, doth he cry unto any, saying: Depart from me? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; but he saith: Come unto me all ye ends of the earth, buy milk and honey, without money and without price.
26 Behold, hath he commanded any that they should depart out of the synagogues, or out of the houses of worship? Behold, I say unto you, Nay.
27 Hath he commanded any that they should not partake of his salvation? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but he hath given it free for all men; and he hath commanded his people that they should persuade all men to repentance.
28 Behold, hath the Lord commanded any that they should not partake of his goodness? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but all men are privileged the one like unto the other, and none are forbidden.
29 He commandeth that there shall be no priestcrafts; for, behold, priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion.
30 Behold, the Lord hath forbidden this thing; wherefore, the Lord God hath given a commandment that all men should have charity, which charity is love. And except they should have charity they were nothing....

Jersey Fled said...

Try "follow me".

Jamie said...

The frustrating answer to "what about Job?" is, "Where were you when I made the world?"

My daughter's at the First Age of Agnosticism; the only thing I can tell her about the equally challenging, "Why do bad things happen to good people?" is that sometimes it's not about you. I'm in about the Third Age of Agnosticism at the moment and I'm telling myself the same thing.

narciso said...

He is offering us eternal life. That is much bigger than chocolates

Ron Winkleheimer said...

I had not encountered The Message Bible (the source of the last biblical quote) before. Or if I did, I have forgotten it. But a quick search on the internet and I find that the translation is an attempt, "to express the rhythm of the voices, the flavor of the idiomatic expressions, the subtle connotations of meaning that are often lost in English translations." I'm thinking the translator has a bit of a tin ear when it comes to English composition.

Wikipedia has comparisons of The Message's Psalm 23:1-4 with other translations.

NIV

1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

The Message

1–3 God, my shepherd!
I don’t need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word,
you let me catch my breath
and send me in the right direction.
4 Even when the way goes through
Death Valley,
I’m not afraid
when you walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd’s crook
makes me feel secure.

I must admit, when I was a youngster and heard the King James version, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want," I took it to mean that the author didn't want God to be his shepherd.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

Matthew 6:9-13

NIV

9 "This, then, is how you should pray:
'Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.'"

The Message

Our Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are.
Set the world right;
Do what's best—
as above, so below.
Keep us alive with three square meals.
Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.
You’re in charge!
You can do anything you want!
You’re ablaze in beauty!
Yes. Yes. Yes.

I'm reminded of how I dislike most contemporary worship music.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oK6tXk3AZYc

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Instead, God delights in saving his people.

And in drowning the whole friggin' lot of them when they get too annoying and uppity.

pious agnostic said...

The "fishers of men" is a bit of wordplay that worked in Aramaic and Greek and English and many other languages, and it's the wordplay that makes it a memorable interaction and one that has been remembered for 2000 years.

So naturally, in it is necessary to denature it so completely to remove sexist underpinnings such that you end up with something that sounds like it was run through Google translate too many times.

David Ermer said...

Your recollection of the verse is found word for word in the The New English Bible from Oxford Press 1972 (legit). The next line reads "And at once they left their nets and followed him" Lovely

David Ermer said...

Following up my comment, I had checked my copy of the book that I bought back then but here is a link to the text you wanted:http://www.katapi.org.uk/katapiNSBunix/Versions/versionsTextByB.php?version=NEB&B=301

mikee said...

The King James version of the Bible reads most clearly, in my opinion. Attempts to make the language more accessible basically makes it sound dumb, or shifts the meaning into nonsense.
Give me fishers of men, give me straightforward Beatitudes, give me, "It is finished." Serious things require serious translations. If I want easy reading, I'll grab a Dr. Seuss.

jeremyabrams said...

Wonka makes the little kid his successor, for Christ's sake.

Sebastian said...

"Our God is not a God who delights in keeping people in the dark

Oh, really?

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...


Tim is correct.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is my son's current favorite movie. I approve of this because it's creative and zany and I love Roald Dahl's work and legacy so so much and there is that wonderful little vignette with the Oompa Loompas sternly warning against TV and evangelizing book reading. I also appreciate how well-read Wonka is with the constant literary quotations. And I'm fascinated by that weird convention of flushing a Jewish birth name in favor of a better-sounding stage name: Jerome Silberman, seen here.

Earnest Prole said...

“Come with me” is a mistranslation. Δεῦτε ὀπίσω μου] come here after me! לְכוּ אַחֲרַי (2 Kings 6:19; 1 Kings 11:5), be my pupils. Jesus was asking for disciples, not buddies.

Phil 314 said...

Secular musing about Christianity and nature. Echos of the Sunday NY Times.

RigelDog said...

Love this picture! It looks like the fisherman's line is made of golden fire--definite parallel to the power of the Word as a lure to God.

Unknown said...

This is a wonderful post for a Sunday morning.

Jokah Macpherson said...

"Our God is not a God who delights in keeping people in the dark, only to pull the rug out from under them in the last minute and deny them the rewards he promised. He is not a miser looking to withhold blessings on a technicality."

Not my lived experience. Or, to pick Biblical examples, that of Cain, Esau, or Saul.

Mattman26 said...

Finding a translation of the Bible is a challenge. Ann’s research here shows the pitfalls.

Gahrie said...

He is not a miser looking to withhold blessings on a technicality.

I can live The most Christian life possible, never harm a soul and be a force of social good. But if I do not believe in Jesus or God I am sentenced to eternal punishment. The only unforgivable sin is disbelief.

That seems like a technicality to me, and I support Christianity and Judaism.

mockturtle said...

The KJV remains the best English translation of the Bible. Low fog index and eloquent, like Shakespeare.

Fernandinande said...

Jesus is not like Willy Wonka.

Then how does one explain hollow chocolate Easter bunnies?

Kai Akker said...

Althouse, the translation in my NIV edition is: "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men."

The New International Version is the best translation overall that I was able to find when I did a lot of comparison. The translation in your post's link, credited to the NIV, is impossibly clunky. That link must be in error.

Kai Akker said...

Although the last copyright given on the NIV in your link's notes is 2011, long after the NIV translation project had ended. Don't tell me some idiots got their hands on this and PC'ed it up.

"And so in the original NIV charter, provision was made not just to issue periodic updates to the text but also to create a mechanism for constant monitoring of changes in biblical scholarship and English usage. The CBT was charged to meet every year to review, maintain, and strengthen the NIV’s ability to accurately and faithfully render God’s unchanging Word in modern English. The 2011 update to the NIV is the latest fruit of this process."

The new improved: “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” Dear God in Heaven!!

mockturtle said...

The photo is excellent.

Michael said...

Inclusive language is all well and good, but sometimes the literary power of the King James Version should be preserved. "Follow me and I will make you fishers of men" has power. Now we get "Follow me and I will make you fish for people (NRSV), which is a pale imitation. I don't know the Aramaic (or the Greek), so I can't speak to accuracy.

mockturtle said...

Recently the Babylon Bee did a satire involving The Message: Christians had been upset on hearing that Bibles were being burned but were relieved to hear that they were only editions of The Message. Ideally, of course, we would do as many of our ancestors did and learn Greek and Hebrew to study the Bible in its original form. While I prefer the KJV, my daughters favor the NIV. Both are acceptable translations as is the NAS [New American Standard]. If you have a brick wall and start replacing bricks, you eventually end up with a different wall altogether. A different wall is not what we need right now.

Roughcoat said...

KJV is one of the three most extraordinarily written books in the English language -- I'm tempted to say, in any language. I'm Catholic but I grew up in a family that was half RC and half Prot and I was raised on the KJV. I thank God for that. My loyalty to the KJV is eternal and unwavering despite the fact that I'm RC. I read in it constantly. It's the ultimate desert island book.

Tcdq1293 said...

19And he says to them, “Come follow me and I shall make you fishers of men.”

"The New Testament: A Translation" by David Bentley Hart

Ralph L said...

Why do modern translators try to make the Bible unpalatable?

I've read the KJV is often very close to Tyndale's translation of nearly a hundred years earlier. Imagine writing things you know will get you hunted down and burnt.

madAsHell said...

That's a nice photo.

It might need some cropping to highlight the composition, but that is artwork.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

I'm in about the Third Age of Agnosticism at the moment and I'm telling myself the same thing.

In my current crisis of faith I'm telling myself that those whispers of "hey dumbass, you're praying to a big nothing who's not there and none of it matters and it's every man for himself in this time of lies and bullshit" come straight from the devil and I'm a big idiot if I fall for such a simple trick.

Narr said...

Teach a man to fish, and he can catch fish to eat every day. Teach a man to fish for other men and then you're just weird.

Just for form's sake, I'll point out that Roald Dahl was a very imperfect human being.

Narr
He had an affair!


Joe Smith said...

"Come with me! I will teach you how to bring in people instead of fish,"

Jesus (see what I did there?), that has got to be one of the progressive, commie bible translations. Maybe the one where God isn't 'He' or Adam is some sort of oppressor in a wife-beater (despite the nakedness part).

Here is King James: Matthew 4:19 - And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.

I started reading the bible on and off cover-to-cover. It is astounding how many everyday phrases pop up. It really is a great work of literature describing the human condition...so much so that being religious isn't even necessary to gain a lot of wisdom that is thousands of years old. Those folks knew some things about human nature...

Tomcc said...

A really beautiful photo; inspirational even! I'm rarely up for the sunrise, but am able to enjoy our lovely PNW summer sunsets from my deck. I find it a good time for a daily devotional.

Howard said...

And some ways it's your best sunrise photo. it must be the calming effect on so much blue. Ironically it would look even better without the fisherman.

tim maguire said...

Jamie said...The frustrating answer to "what about Job?" is, "Where were you when I made the world?"

Frustrating isn’t the word I’d choose. God decided, for petty reasons, to torment Job by ruining his life. Part of that ruination involved killing his wife, his children, his servants, his animals. In the end, Job was blessed again with all sorts of cool new stuff, but his wife, children, servants, and animals were still dead. God’s answer to this is, “where were you when I created the heavens and the earth?”

That’s not an answer, it’s a dodge. The god of the old testament is a tyrant unworthy of being worshipped.

Joe Smith said...

"And in drowning the whole friggin' lot of them when they get too annoying and uppity."

First, that was the Old Testament, and Christians wanted to do things like eat lobster, etc. so they had to find a workaround with the New Testament. Jews only read the Old Testament part where God was a pretty vengeful guy if you pissed Him off.

Second, don't piss off God just in case : )

Joe Smith said...

Btw @Althouse...

Really beautiful photo.

Eleanor said...

I thought NIV stands for Nothing Is Verified.

Howard said...

It's really the Tyndale Bible and he was burned at the stake for heresy. Gotta love the Christian faithful

narciso said...

he is rather clear, kept it to 10 rules, and yet we chose to ignore his message,

Tomcc said...

"...I'll show you how to catch men and women instead of perch and bass."
That whirring sound you hear is Jesus spinning in his tomb.

rcocean said...

"And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men."

As so often the KJV is the best.

rcocean said...

Here's the French version:

"Comme il marchait le long de la mer de Galilée, il vit deux frères, Simon, appelé Pierre, et André, son frère, qui jetaient un filet dans la mer; car ils étaient pêcheurs. Il leur dit: Suivez-moi, et je vous ferai pêcheurs d`hommes."

The French translation always seem to lack the gravitas of the KJV version.

Ken B said...

Who is rioting in Portland now? Is it the feds? Is it the college republicans? Is it mormons? The Knights of Columbus?
Oh, if only we knew, if only we knew!

Joe Smith said...

"he is rather clear, kept it to 10 rules, and yet we chose to ignore his message,"

Not according to Mel Brooks : )

https://youtu.be/YyMQCj8LvZw

Sebastian said...

"he is rather clear"

Could have been clearer though, considering the apparent importance of the message and the limitations of human beings.

For starters in the OT, why communicate in Hebrew, with Jews only?

And then, why make human translations necessary, with all the inevitable confusions and uncertainties?

Fernandinande said...

Could have been clearer though, considering the apparent importance of the message and the limitations of human beings.

"Is God-Man Good?" explains the contradictory messaging.

For starters in the OT, why communicate in Hebrew, with Jews only?

Mysterious Ways™.

Ann Althouse said...

“ The New International Version is the best translation overall that I was able to find when I did a lot of comparison. The translation in your post's link, credited to the NIV, is impossibly clunky. That link must be in error.”

I’m trying to link to a page of many translations of the one line, not to a particular translation.

Known Unknown said...

I wonder what my copy of Good News for Modern Man says.

Kai Akker said...

@ AA: "The link must be in error" was a testament to my blind faith that the very good would be left free of harm by the PC meddlers and vulgarians.

Shortly after typing it and hitting "submit," a vision of the curtain rending and the meddlers meddling took shape and made unquiet my mind. I am glad I bought the NIV before that 2011 butchery. It was a very good translation when a strong team did the job.

hstad said...


Blogger tim maguire said..."...The god of the old testament is a tyrant unworthy of being worshipped...?" 8/9/20, 11:04 AM

Really? These are books written by men not God in an era where human life was cheaper than owned livestock. How can you make such a comment given to absolute cultural differences between then and now? "...tyrant..." is a mild word compared to the actions of men [and Gods] gods back then, at least in historical writings.

AA, and her infatuation with grammar, trying to compare language from thousands of years ago to now? AA, you do know that most of the World does not speak or write like an 'Academic Law Professor' today. Can you imagine some 10,000 to 20,000 years ago!

Hannio said...

"I’m trying to link to a page of many translations of the one line, not to a particular translation."

Ann, you're looking for biblehub: https://biblehub.com/matthew/4-19.htm

narciso said...

it's always been a rough neighborhood, consider those victims of hezbollah's extortion scheme, this week, the butchery of the lebanese civil war, when russian and syrian proxies countended for power, the strife in mesopotamia and assyria, and the blood price from there, and israel is the primary target in this whole fracas,

Ambrose said...

Come with me if you want to live - from terminator ii

Ambrose said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rcocean said...

Like some here, I'm not sure if God measures up to my standards. I'll keep looking for an all-powerful God, who agrees with me.

Thank You.

rcocean said...

As an atheist, I like apple pie with ice cream.

Inga said...

The clouds close to the horizon with the rays of the rising sun behind them, glorious! The fisherman Is casting for the sun that may be in the water somewhere. Lovely blue sunrise, quite different from the rest.

Earnest Prole said...

Ann, you're looking for biblehub

I provided a live link upthread.

To elaborate on my previous comment, "come with me" is no doubt an early 1970s translation by someone opposed to hierarchies. Jesus was proposing a disciple relationship, not a squad.

narciso said...

well you have the point backwards, and when we moved away from acknowledging Him in our arrogance, that's when things went pearshaped, what filled the gap, freud marx and darwin, the devil's horsemen,

BrianE said...

If you aren't conversant in Hebrew or Greek, you're relying on some other person to correctly convey God's message. The benefit of the modern translations is we know who those people are and can assess how they approached their work. I use the English Standard Version, while my wife really likes the New Living Translation. Both very good translations.
The Message, of course, isn't a translation.

A consistent theme of God's Word is "the righteous shall live by faith." From Adam onward, there are times when God will appear closer or more distant, but our journey through life should help us learn to live our life in accordance with his will, regardless of circumstances.

Heaven is like a gated community. There are covenants, but there are benefits-- such as lives of joy and peace. Our life here is to align our wills with his and prepare us for eternity.

mockturtle said...

Narciso @ 3:35, well said, sir!

Joe Smith said...

Alright...let's lighten it up...in honor of our hostess:

A Lawyer and the Pope died at the same time, both went to heaven.

They were met at the Pearly Gates by St. Peter who conducted them to their rooms.

The Pope's room was spartan with bare floor, army cot for a bed, and a single bulb for light.

They came to the Lawyer's room.

It was huge with wall to wall carpeting, king-sized water bed, indirect lighting, color TV, stereo, Jacuzzi, and fully stocked bar.

The Lawyer said, "There must be a mistake. This must be the Pope's room!"

St. Peter said, "There's no mistake. This is your room. We have lots of Popes, but you're our very first Lawyer!"


On a trivial note, I met the actual guy, Roy Jacuzzi. Our boys went to school together. Really nice guy...his wife too.

The Godfather said...

Someone upthread said, "I can live The most Christian life possible, never harm a soul and be a force of social good. But if I do not believe in Jesus or God I am sentenced to eternal punishment. The only unforgivable sin is disbelief." But that assumes a fact not in evidence. You CANNOT live the "most Christian life possible"; at best, you can live the most Christian life that is possible FOR YOU. If you are anything like me, that's a pretty low standard. And if you are honest with yourself, you know that.

I believe (many other Christians disagree) that Jesus died to pay for your sins whether you "believe in" Him or not. In due course, we'll find out. I hope to meet you over there. Meanwhile, let's try to be the best that we can.

Ann Althouse said...

My link works. For me anyway. I see a page full of different translations.

I like Bible Gateway better than Bible Hub. Looks better.

greg said...

I like visuals, and the guy casting is a well done composition. If I was the fisherman, I'd want that image whenever I needed to post a picture of myself.

Gahrie said...

For starters in the OT, why communicate in Hebrew, with Jews only?

Because they were his chosen people?

ken in tx said...

The "Message" version of the Bible was compiled by a Presbyterian minister based on his lessons and sermons trying to explain the New Testament to his congregation. He claimed to use the original Greek as his source document. He said that he did not set out to create a new translation of the Bible.

madAsHell said...

The JailBlazers are playing the Sexer's.

Black Lines Matter is painted on the floor.

The irony is killing.

PluralThumb said...



Willy Wonka disagreed with his dentist father, hense the candy factory. Initially to prove that candy does not contribute to bad teeth. A time warp through movie frames and magic. A plot that involved bits and pieces of biblical and scientific data as well as wisdom. Charlie gets a ride in an elevator.

The technicolour did get me entranced as a kid.

Jesus to me is a Norman Rockwell painting of a runaway kid in a dinner.
Jimmy Hendrix or Jim Morrison are extreme examples to me.
Santana found a neutral point, maybe the Charles Bronson mustache.

Jesus was upset that Willy Wonka hired Mexican cash employees and then was nailed to a cross. Resurrected at his mother's house, raiding her refrigerator.
Food for thought and a good book.

" Follow me and I will make you fish for people. "
Is that an employment opportunity before or after the ressurection ?

I assume that Willie Wonka and History of the World contributed to a loving Jesus organization at that time for some time. So does the dollar tree, so what.




DanZenner said...

Beautiful photo!!

tim in vermont said...

I have been watching this show on Amazon called “The Naked Archeologist,” a guy who researches the archeological facts surrounding bible stories, which has led me to read a couple of them again, and they are pretty interesting as history.

Earnest Prole said...

I should also say: A beautiful photo and a perfect Sunday post.

The Minnow Wrangler said...

I still remember a song I learned in Sunday School, probably 50+ years ago.

"I will make you fishers of men, fishers of men, fishers of men....If you follow me." Complete with live action pretending you were casting a fishing pole. Maybe that was just a Baptist thing, we have lots of Bible songs with hand actions/pantomimes to go along with the lyrics.

I appreciate the NIV (especially the versions with extensive annotation) for attemtping to clarify meanings, and if there is a dispute about the original meanings that will be outlined as well. But I also agree that the King James version has much more beautiful and poetic language even though it is old fashioned and hard to understand at times.

Also, if you become interested in reading the Bible, the book of Isaiah is wonderfully poetic and descriptive in its language and most of "The Messiah" comes from there. Like, "The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God." (A prophesy regarding John the Baptist).

Doug Sherlock said...

As the Texas lady once said, "If the King James Version was good enough for my Lord and Savior, it's good enough for me."