Linguistic reflections and meaning shifts in Psalm 23

  • Paulinus Ndumeiheochere Nnorom
  • Jacqueline Nwadinma Flavian- Obasi


This paper examines how language mirrors social realities and how lexical shifts in the translations of Psalm 23 affect meaning elasticity and interpretation. Three sample translations from one biblical source are textualised differently, and are assumed to yield diverse shades of meaning. Psalm 23 is arguably one of the most popular and well adopted chapters in Christian worship. Its popularity at Christian meetings is accentuated by its accepted space as the exit signature tune of most Christian gatherings. This paper therefore undertakes a linguistic investigation of three translations of Psalm 23, namely the New King James Version, the New Living Translation and the New International Version with a view to accounting for various configurations of language and nuances of refractions informed by translation. The conclusion of this paper is that Psalm 23, as a piece of religious discourse, embodies diverse imprints of ideologies, power undertones, identity signals and relationship structure. Emphasis is placed on how metaphors and metonyms are used as meaning conduits in the Psalm. The Psalm 23 discourse is examined from the perspective of Critical Discourse  Analysis (CDA) as propounded by Norman Fairclough (1989).

Journal Identifiers

print ISSN: 2346-7126