Biblical Archaeology Review 36:4, July/August 2010

Strata: The Bible in the News: Lost and Found

The valley of the shadow of death

By Leonard J. Greenspoon

Where has the “valley of the shadow of death” gone? In most contemporary Bible translations of Psalm 23:4, it has been replaced by more philologically correct, if also more prosaic, expressions, such as a “valley of deepest darkness” or the “darkest valley.”

Have no fear! The traditional wording is alive and well in the popular press.

It is to the worlds of sports, entertainment and politics that we first turn our attention, since writers in these areas consistently mine the Biblical text in creative ways. Thus, we read (in Africa News) of the travails of a Zimbabwean soccer team: “Monomotapa are walking through the valley of the shadow of death with their battle to conquer African football running out of oxygen, and need a victory over Congolese giants TP Mazembe at Rufaro this afternoon to remain in the race.” This immediately reminded me that the football stadium at Clemson University (South Carolina), where I taught for two decades, was aptly named Death Valley.

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