Farewell Old Friend – NIV 84

yorickI remember back (way back) in High School when the NIV New Testament was coming out.  We had at the time the choice between the King James Version, the RSV and the NASB.  The King James was dated, though still loved.  The NASB was rather wooden, though good for study (think if it as a sturdy ancestor of the ESV).  The RSV was not acceptable among most Evangelicals because of some of its translation choices.  (“young girl” instead of “virgin” in Isaiah 7:14.)

I got the NIV NT and then the NIV whole bible later, when it came out in a nice single column format.  It was my bible for years – notes and highlights in the text.  Until finally it wore out.

Its value is a combination of faithfulness to the original text along with readability.  Some translations that were more “literal” were almost unreadable.  So the NIV was a solid bible for anyone.  People who had not grown up in the church could read it.

I am been reading for a year in the New NIV – it is generally like the Old NIV – there are some changes – the most controversial is the attempt at gender neutrality.  When a male pronoun is really a generic pronoun, they translate it generically.  “Brothers” become “brothers and sisters.”  Yet God is still “Father” and Jesus is still the “Son.”  I’m ok with that.  It is how English works these days.

I have noted a few clunks – when “they” is used for “he” it can change the meaning – from singular to plural.  Psalm 32 was an example of this kind of clunk.

However, overall I find the New NIV usable.

Yet, after a transition, the NIV – 84 has been removed from the list of choices on-line.  You can not buy a new old NIV because they are no longer printed. You can not find it on Bible Gateway, because it is no longer there.

“Alas, Old NIV, I knew you well.”

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On buying a Bible

scribe.2So my old NIV – 84 fell apart.  After dawdling between the ESV and the new NIV, i chose a single column format NIV for the regular use bible.  My more literal reading companion is the ESV Literary Study Bible.  In both cases I avoided lots of notes and clutter (what is a library for?) and red letters (NEVER) and double columns (do any other books come in double columns?)

In the picture from top right (Greek NT), top left (Spanish – NVI English NIV 84 NT)

Multi View of John 19

Multi View of John 19

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

bottom left (new NIV) bottom right (ESV Literary Study bible)

 

Dividing a Chapter – John 8

oldest fragment of John

oldest fragment of John

 

Here are 7 ways to divide a chapter.

John 8 is a complex “discourse” that involves an extended interaction between Jesus and both seekers and opponents.

John Talbert in Reading John (Crossroad, 1992), sees this pattern.  In each of the five sections we have the following pattern

  1. Jesus makes a provocative statement
  2. Someone in the crowd replies or argues
  3. Jesus gives an answer.
  • v. 12-20 – I am the light of the world
  • v. 21-30 – I am going away
  • v. 31-40 – The truth will set you free
  • v. 41-50 – If God were your father
  • v. 51-59 – …will not see death.

Leon MorrisThe Gospel According to John – NICNT (Eerdmans, 1971).  He notes that this seems to happen at the conclusion of the Feast of Tabernacles (ch 7) and involved Jesus and his opponents.  (however note v. 30). He offers no reason for his breakdown except at v. 20.

  • v. 12-20 – The witness of the Father
  • v. 21-24 – Dying in sins
  • v. 25-30 – The Father and the Son
  • v. 31-47 – Slaves of Sin
  • v. 48-59 – The Glory the Father gives the Son

Philip Comfort and Wendell HawleyOpening the Gospel of John, (Tyndale, 1994) put the focus on seven “I am” statements.  (This is to be distinguished from the Messianic “I AM” Statements in other chapters.)

  • v. 12 – I am the Light of the World
  • v. 16 – I am not alone
  • v. 18 – I am the one who testifies for myself…
  • v. 23 – I am from above
  • v. 23 – I am not of this world
  • v. 24, 28 – I am he (the Christ)
  • v. 58 – I am!

Translations usually provide divisions with headings, this reflects a kind of commentary on the text.

NIV  (i.e. New NIV)

  • v. 12-20 – Dispute over Jesus’ Testimony
  • v. 21-30 – Dispute over Who Jesus is.
  • v. 31-47 – Dispute over Whose Children Jesus’ Opponents Are
  • v. 48-59 – Jesus’ Claims about himself

NIV – 84   (i.e. Old NIV)

  • v. 12-30 – The Validity of Jesus’ Testimony
  • v. 31-41 – The Children of Abraham
  • v. 42-47 – The children of the Devil
  • v. 48-59 – Jesus claims about Himself

ESV – (Bible Gateway)

  • v. 12-29 –  I am the Light of the World
  • v. 31-38 – The Truth will set you Free
  • v. 39-47 – You are of your Father the Devil
  • v. 48-59 – Before Abraham was, I Am

ESV – Literary Study Bible (Leland and Philip Ryken – Crossway, 2007).  This version of the ESV does not give headings in the text.  They provide a small box with notes before each section.  Here they note that chapter 8 is a collection of stories, they divide the text into three sections

  • v. 12-20
  • v. 21-30
  • v. 31-59
  • Then they noted that one can “comb through the passage looking for the following motifs:  1. Jesus as controversialist, 2. evidence that Jesus is Divine, 3.  The story line of hostility between religious leaders and Jesus, 4. teaching on sin and forgiveness and 5 the authority of Jesus.  It is unusual that they do not attempt to discern a larger structure.

Conclusions:

The ESV seems to agree with Talbert that the passages revolves around strong statements by Jesus, however they divide the text differently   In my version of the ESV, there is a space added at v. 20.

The variety from this small sample shows how fluid this text is.  Talbert is the most interested in internal grammatical structure.  The NIV was on to the idea of  this being a dispute, but they did not label the last section that way, which is odd because it ends with opponents wanting to throw stones at Jesus.  The Old and New NIV’s did not agree on divisions or headings.

Talbert and Hawley’s seven  “I am” statements give one a handle, but I am not sure they reflect the internal structure of the passage.  It is also confusing with the more typically cited “I AM” statements that are claims to divine status.

The Rykens give little hope of finding a structure.

For a preacher this is too much to cover in one sermon – I plan to speak on verses 12-40

New NIV “Clunk” on Psalm 32:1,2

DSC00046

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.”

 

Is inclusive language “liberal”? (More on the New NIV)

In discussing the New NIV, someone called it a “liberal” translation.

First of all “liberal” has a lot of meanings.  I can mean “free” is in the Liberal Arts which are free from the constraints of censorship.  Classical Liberal political theory argued for freedom of the individual.  20th Century “Liberal” on the other hand means something like “progressive” and views government as the main agent of liberty.  Theologically Liberal comes from the early 20th Century conflict between Modernists and Fundamentalists.  Modernists went to be called Liberals and now Progressives and Fundamentalists divided between those who like that term and those who prefer Evangelical and often now simply “Jesus Follower.”

My friend meant “theologically liberal” I suppose.  There are some attempts to translate the scriptures in a totally gender neutral way.  Someone heard in a church liturgy that the Lord’s Prayer began with “Our Leader” instead of “Our Father”.  So some wish to do away with Trinitarian language of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, because of the latent “paternalism” of “Father” and “Son”.  Yet we have to say that Father does mean something different than  leader or parent.  Son is different than child and these words bear some theological weight.  These sorts of translations are a kind of re-definition or revision of the scriptures according to an external cultural value (gender egalitarianism).

Yet the New NIV (NNIV) does not go that far. It merely attempts to say generically in English what is understood to be generic in the original context.  So Romans 12:1 says “I urge you, therefore, brothers….”  Since we do not think that Romans 12 only applies to male believers, the NNIV changes “brothers” to “brothers and sisters”.    This really comes down to a preference in translation philosophy.  Should the translation stick closer to the orignal words and it is up to the reader to understand the nuances?  Or, should the translation spell out the nuances for the reader?

Also, in the 21st Century, generic usage has won out over using male gender for generic settings.  We say “humankind” not “mankind”.  We sing “Good Christians all rejoice” not “Good Christian men rejoice”.  We do not say “The sinfulness of Man”, but “the sinfulness of humanity.”  A theologically liberal “translation” might speak of the innate goodness of humanity. I once heard s speaker say “I don’t believe in original sin, but original goodness.”  That, I would agree, reflects a theologically liberal viewpoint.  but saying “humanity” instead of “man” or “mankind” does not.

So, the NNIV is not “liberal” in the sense that my friend asked.  It may not be to his taste, but let’s be careful what we mean when we speak.  It is moderately inclusive.