Number of Visitors to site

Your 'avatar' tells me you follow my blog

Thursday, 10 February 2011

In the footsteps of St. Paul

We are going through Paul’s second letter to Corinth in my home church at the moment. I am interacting with our pastoral worker in considering the accuracy or otherwise of the New International Version (NIV) - which is our ‘pew Bible’ just now. This coming Sunday we are considering 2 Corinthians 1:8 – 2:17.

I did some spade work yesterday on this passage, to discover how the NIV translators used the modern eclectic Greek Text, as well as to see whether they took liberties with that Text when attempting to produce ‘dynamic equivalence’ for today’s reader. The dynamic equivalent approach supposedly makes the English Text more interesting and relevant to the modern reader.

Here are the results of my study, with comments:

Chapter 1: 12 - 24
v. 12 “holiness” (NIV) v. “simplicity” (KJV). The United Bible Society editors of the Greek NT agree with the AV reading here for three reasons: (a) “simplicity” is more suited to the context. (b) Paul uses the word in the Gk. Text in four other places elsewhere, in 2 Cor. Therefore he probably wrote “simplicity” here too. (c) Also, they agree with the KJV because if the Gk. word rendered “holiness” was the word Paul wrote, it would be a hapax legomenon (used nowhere else). I add to that, the NIV translator ‘bought’ into Hort’s view that Codex B supports “holiness,” so that’s good enough for him!! The later UBS editors are more sophisticated than that, maybe - they feel able to depart sometimes from Hort’s dogmatism about Codex B, should they feel the need (Nevertheless they do usually follow B).

v. 17 “according to the flesh”(KJV) v. “worldly”(NIV) The Text entirely agrees Paul used the Gk wd. Sarkikos (carnal) not kosmikos (worldly). Paul also uses sarkikos in Col 2:18 and 1 Pet 2:11. [For these uses NIV translates “unspiritual” and “sinful.”] Sarkikos cannot ever mean “worldly,” and Paul would have used kosmikos if he had intended that!! That’s carelessness.

KJV Revelation 22:19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

Chapter 2:1-17

v. 4 “not that ye should be grieved” (KJV) v. “not to grieve you” (NIV) - passive v. active. Paul used the passive voice here. So what? The only reason for ever using the passive voice in the sentence is to show what the main focus of thought is. Here the subject (main thrust) of the sentence is not Paul’s conduct, but their emotional state. So, he wants to emphasise to the reader he’s focusing on their emotional state, not the intent of his heart. Using the active voice here suggests Paul thinks the believers will feel he is deliberately “getting at” them. He’s not. The grief comes not from him, but the intransigence of erring Corinthians in the church, who twist his words and oppose his strict view of sexual morality. NIV has not respected this distinction. Therefore it has not respected what Paul actually said!

v. 6 “inflicted of many” (KJV) v. “inflicted on him by the majority” (NIV). If NIV is right here, then a majority decision is the right way to decide church matters (take a poll!). Whereas, Paul referred to “the many,” which could mean “the rest” (Kruse, Tyndale IVP), or “many” (AV). NIV did not need to make this textual decision for the reader, which may prejudice them towards deciding church matters by a show of hands.

v. 12 “a door was opened” (KJV) v “the Lord had opened a door”(NIV). Paul wanted his readers to know the main thought in his mind (in this verse) is what resulted from him living a guided life, that is, a door was opened. This is passive in the Gk., not active voice! Whereas NIV assumes Paul at that point is more interested in what the Lord is doing, than in the results of what He’s doing! (See comments on active and passive in 2:4). If we are going to carry across the meaning of what Paul said, we should honour the syntax that he uses - assuming the Holy Spirit used it for an important purpose.

[Compare post-modern deconstruction where every Text is fair game for imposing our own meaning – ‘who knows what the author meant anyway?’ the post-modernist says. We reply, the Holy Spirit is within us to interpret the Scriptures to us. But, we will not do justice to that if we rely on translators’ opinions of what it “must have meant,” rather that what the writer actually said!]

14. “causeth us to triumph in Christ” (KJV) v. “leads us in triumphal procession.”(NIV) Note both renderings have interpreted the Text, using words which are not there.

[Very difficult not to do that! How does the reader know when words have been added? The translator once-upon-a-time put the added word in italics (they don’t bother anymore, because, well, who cares?!). He did this so the English reader knew it did not represent any word in the Greek Text.]

Dean Alford pleads for “triumphs over us in Christ.” The NIV has added to Paul’s words (“procession”) assuming that’s what he meant. Whereas Kruse has an additional note (IVP, 1989) showing there are four possible ways to interpret what Paul is saying. Therefore, the translator must not blatantly add to the Text words, which may prejudice the true meaning. No doubt the KJV translators knew what Alford knew, that Cleopatra of Egypt used the very word Paul uses, when she responded to Augustus’ giving her terms of surrender, saying to him, “I will not be triumphed over!” Meyer agrees with Alford, saying v. 14 means:”who ceases not to exhibit us, His former foes, as overcome by Him.” Did the KJV men think, ‘it is more than possible Paul uses the active here for an intended passive meaning - so we will give it the sense: ‘because He triumphs over us, we will triumph.’? Thus the rendering, “who causeth us to triumph.” The NIV had no right to use the word “procession” here, as if it’s certain that’s what Paul was referring to. A scholar RP Egan is (quoted by Kruse) saying (in Novum Testamentum) that there is no association in this verse with the Roman triumphal procession. Thus, better to be cautious and give a minimal rendering, and not go holus-bolus for one interpretation, lest we add to the word of God what is not actually there.

17 “corrupt” (KJV) or “peddle” (NIV). A fellow blogger MAV (See heading "Knowledge of Greek") alludes to the KJV translator’s notes of John Bois, for insight here. There are various shades of meaning in kapelountes (corrupt). It refers to a retail dealer, or someone playing tricks, or corrupting something. For example, MAV says “It was commonplace for wine merchants to water down their wine, mixing it with new harsh wine in order to pass the product off as vintage quality which would be more expensive. . . . Bois notes the double meaning involved of both deceitful adulterating and cheating. You could peddle the word for profit without necessarily seeking to adulterate it. Thus, the most important notion is not the profit made from the adulteration, but the corruption itself. Thus the AV translation is to be preferred over against that of the NIV and NKJV . . . . The early Church Fathers understood the verse to refer to those who corrupt God's word. Athanasius wrote: 'Let them therefore be anathema to you, because they have, 'corrupted the word of truth.' (Defence Against the Arians, III:49.)” MAV gives more references in support.