This essay by Jacqueline Rose on the Oscar Pistorius trial is powerful and provocative, and I commend it to you without reservation. What follows is not, therefore, meant to deter you from reading it.

At several points in the essay Rose refers to a tattoo Pistorius wears on his back, which she refers to as “one line of a verse from Corinthians.” Here’s her fullest discussion of the tattoo and its context:

The full citation from Corinthians tattooed on Pistorius’s upper back reads:

I do not run like a man running aimlessly;
I do not fight like a man beating the air;
I execute each stride with intent;
I beat my body and make it my slave
I bring it under my complete subjection
To keep myself from being disqualified
After having called others to the contest.

The line about making my body my slave is not in most translations from Corinthians, nor is subjection described as ‘complete’. Pistorius was raising the stakes.

A little research would have revealed to Rose, or to the editors of the LRB, that “the line about making my body my slave” is indeed in every translation of that text; it’s just that many translations are not that bluntly literal. A little attention would have suggested that the word “stride” makes no sense in the Pauline context, though it surely does in that of Pistorius. A little curiosity would have set them on the path to discovering what translation Pistorius used, and how (if) he modified it; and from there it would have been only a short step to asking what Christian groups or denominations prefer that translation; and that knowledge in turn might have led to something worth knowing about Oscar Pistorius.

But neither Rose nor the editors of the LRB were interested in any of that. They weren’t sufficiently curious about such matters even to discover that there are two books of the Bible that contain the word “Corinthians.”