New NIV “Clunk” on Psalm 32:1,2

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My friend, a copy editor, always said that it took a good copy editor to make the King James Bible sing.  So as I was looking up a verse on Bible Gateway in the New NIV, I found this.

Blessed is the one
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the one
whose sin the Lord does not count against them
and in whose spirit is no deceit.

“Clunk” is the sound I hear when it get to the “them” that I highlighted in verse 2.  The inclusive goal, which is noble, has run against something very beautiful about this Gospel psalm.  Bless is the “one” whose sins are forgiven.  but to avoid “him”, “one” becomes “them.”  Sorry, it does not work.

Here are some others.

Old NIV  (aka NIV 84)

Blessed is he
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the man
whose sin the Lord does not count against him
and in whose spirit is no deceit.

Lot’s of unnecessary uses of “he” and “man”

NRSV

Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
Happy are those to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

All plurals all the time.   “imputes” hmmm

NCV

Happy is the person
whose sins are forgiven,
whose wrongs are pardoned.
Happy is the person
whom the Lord does not consider guilty
and in whom there is nothing false.

Wordy but maintains individuality without masculine language.  Loses “count” to “consider”.

Holman (Baptist)

How joyful is the one
whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered!
How joyful is the man
the Lord does not charge with sin
and in whose spirit is no deceit!

Why did they go from “one” to “man”?  “Charge” is a strong verb here!

ESV

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

Why change from “one” to “man” in Holman and ESV?  In the Hebrew verse 2 uses “adam”.  So the literal translations want to preserve that.  I am not persuaded.

NIV – Clunk

NIV 84 – dated

NRSV  – hopeless

ESV – clunky

Holman, NCV  get an  A- for effort.  I would like the Holman best if it simply stick with “one” in both verses.

Psalm 146: An observation on three Translations.

Ps 146.3 

NIV – 84

Do not put your trust in princes,
in mortal men, who cannot save.

NIV

Do not put your trust in princes,
in human beings, who cannot save.

ESV

Put not your trust in princes,
in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.

Ps 146:5

NIV – 84

Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord his God,

NIV

Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord their God.

ESV

Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord his God,

 

I am comparing two verses from Psalm 146 in the old NIV, the New NIV and the ESV.

 

  • The term “son of man” is changed to” human beings” in the New NIV and “mortal men” in the Old NIV.  You see that both try to contemporize an expression to present English.  “son of man” is awkward, and also makes some confusion with the use of that phrase as a title for Jesus.  ESV retains the word for word translation, which is clear with some thought.
  • V. 4 says that such a person goes to the earth.  In Hebrew “man” is “adam” and “earth” is “adamah”.  The pun is lost in all English translations.  However the allusion to Genesis is clear when one remembers that Adam was made of the dust of the earth.
  • The singular “he” is changed in the New NIV to a plural pronoun.  This was also the method used with several others: NRSV, NLT,  Contemporary.  One of the interesting things in Psalm 146 is the interplay between singular and plural.  “Hallelujah” which is a plural command, “Let us praise the LORD”.  The this changes quickly to the singular in verse 2 , “I will praise the Lord.”   The Beatitude of v. 5 is individual, and seems to call for a personal response.

Overall, an argument can be made for each. I benefit by comparing either NIV to the ESV.  For study with colored pencils and observation of words, I like ESV.  For readability, the NIVs are both smoother.  As one instructor said, “every translation is also a commentary.”