Mark 5:19 – Be a witness first to our family, friends, or people?

A continuation of a further look at Mark 5:19 on the man who was exercised of a legion of demons and had them cast into a heard of pigs (swine). Did Jesus tell the healed man to return and give witness of Jesus Christ to his family, friends, or to his own people?

Mark 5:19 says: “But Jesus would not let him. Instead, he told him, “Go back home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you and how kind he has been to you.” (Good News)

NLT, Amplified, Douay-Rheims:  uses “family
NIV, ESV/RSV/NRSV, N/KJV: uses “friends
CEB, CSB, NJB, NET: uses “your [own] people

Which is correct? One biblical commentary states: “Jesus refused the man permission to accompany him, but instructed him to return to the circle of family [Mark’s phrase τοὺς σούς may well include a circle wider than the man’s family, but there can be no doubt that the family was at the center of that circle.”  (William L. Lane, NICNT).

Another states: “To your people” (πρὸς τοὺς σούς), unique to the NT, has been taken narrowly by some to mean “your family” … But most take this to refer more broadly to “the people of your area” (R.A. Guelich, Word/ WBC).

In terms of biblical theology, either interpretation would not have any implications; but it would in terms of evangelism.  Do we go and bring our witness of Christ to our family first, or friends first, or our own ethnic people?  Obviously, we should evangelize everyone, but if I were this man healed of demon possession, I would want to tell my family first, then everyone else.

John 17:6-19 – Comparing dynamic translations: NLT vs CEB

CEBMost young people, including those with lower levels of reading comprehension prefer a bible translation they can read and understand.  There are more translations available today.  Earlier, I said I’d do a comparison of two dynamic-equivalent bible translations: the Common English Bible (CEB) and the New Living Translation (NLT). Here is the first post in this series on dynamic (or functional-equivalent) bible translations (which I’ll complete over a few months). First, dynamic translations are not meant to be literal and sound wooden; however, it also needs to flow well and remain true and accurate while not taking too many liberties to re-interpret the original text (biblical Greek).  Otherwise, you run the risk of interpreting according to one’s own theological bent or preference.  There isn’t any bible translation that is entire free from theological interpretation or bias; however, there may be translations that do a slightly better job. nlt-logoI’m picking these two translations to start because they seem to be two of the more popular dynamic-equivalent translations on the market right now.  My intention is not to trash any translation.  These are still both good translations and used by many Christians.

v. 6 – The NLT has inserted the word “always” into “always yours”; whereas, the CEB simply renders it “were yours”. The NLT added “always,” which may be considered a theological interpretation. This might be interpreted that we had always belonged to God.  Some Christians believe that we are made into his children after we come into his fold.  Whether or not human beings were “always” a possession of Jesus can be a theological or doctrinal position. In this case, I’d prefer leaving out “always”.

v. 7 – The NLT has reinterpreted the word “to give” (dedōkas) as a “gift,.” The Original Word: δίδωμι
does not carry the sense of a present or gift; it simply means “to give” and has the sense of “to put, to place, to give, to offer”. Didomi does not have the sense of gift or a present. The CEB is more preferable.

v. 11 NLT’s “I am departing from the world” seems to take some liberties in interpreting it in this future sense. I prefer CEB’s translation of “I’m no longer in the world”.
NLT: “you have given me your name; now protect them by the power of your name”
CEB: “watch over them in your name, the name you gave me,”
The CEB seems to make more sense because to me, the emphasis in this thought is not in the name given, but rather, in watching or protecting them. This one is subjective and might be a personal preference.

The NLT also seems to take liberties in re-interpreting “by the power of your name”. The original Greek does not even allude to any idea of “power in the name”. This is purely an insertion of the NLT translator. I think this may be inaccurate.

Both interpretations of CEB’s “watch over” and NLT’s “protect them” and “guarded them”. This re-interpretation of “keeping watch” or “keeping guard” might also be over-stretching the original word of “to keep” (tērēson). This sense of “to keep” can also have a simpler interpretation of where one “keeps” the commandments of the Lord, or even to “keep” them in a person’s possession or care. Later, however, the writer of John does use “to keep” (ephylaxa) which in this case, does have the sense of “to guard” or “to protect” in the next verse (v. 12). I have do have to say that the rendering of “to guard, or to protect“ in v. 11 is not entirely incorrect. But only because it can be justified by the intended meaning used in v. 12.

In v.17, the NLT also adds the word “teach” in “teach them your word”. This is an addition to the original text that is not there; this is an interpretative move. Perhaps our evangelical tendency is to think that in order to stay in the truth, it is one’s responsibility to learn and be taught from the word. This is an interpretation that comes from our humanistic approach learning and may have nothing to do with God’s sovereign power to keep us safe.  My question is then, “Is God powerless to keep us in His care?”  Then I would prefer to leave out the word “teach”, like what the CEB has correctly done.

Another interpretation of the NLT is in v. 19. The NLT seems to be reinterpreting Jesus’ use of “holy” in the sense that he necessarily made himself into a “holy sacrifice”. This idea of a sacrifice in v. 19 is not found in the original Greek and is an insertion and reinterpretation.  From Jesus’ point-of-view, being a “holy sacrifice” may not have been in his heart when he said this (although he ultimately did become a “sacrificial lamb”).

In this first round of dynamic-equivalent translations, the Common English Bible takes the win over the New Living Translation.

For our visual comparison, here is the biblical text below using the passage of John 17:6-19.

NLT – John 17:6-19 CEB – John 17:6-19
“I have revealed you to the ones you gave me from this world. They were always yours. You gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything I have is a gift from you, for I have passed on to them the message you gave me. They accepted it and know that I came from you, and they believe you sent me.….10 All who are mine belong to you, and you have given them to me, so they bring me glory11 Now I am departing from the world; they are staying in this world, but I am coming to you. Holy Father, you have given me your name;[b] now protect them by the power of your name so that they will be united just as we are. 12 During my time here, I protected them by the power of the name you gave me.[c]….17 Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. 18 Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. 19 And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth. “I have revealed your name to the people you gave me from this world. They were yours and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. This is because I gave them the words that you gave me, and they received them. They truly understood that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me.….10 Everything that is mine is yours and everything that is yours is mine; I have been glorified in them11 I’m no longer in the world, but they are in the world, even as I’m coming to you. Holy Father, watch over them in your name, the name you gave me, that they will be one just as we are one. 12 When I was with them, I watched over them in your name, the name you gave to me, and I kept them safe.….17 Make them holy in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 I made myself holy on their behalf so that they also would be made holy in the truth.

Dynamic equivalent bible translations

I will be comparing several bible translations.  This hasn’t been done on New Epistles blog in a long time. It’s fun and I miss doing this.  In the past, I used to do this extensively on New Epistles.  This time, we’ll probably be comparing two of my favorite dynamic translations-—the Common English Bible and New Living Translation.

I was reading from the Common English Bible recently.  I like it so much because it’s so clear and easy to read.  It was consistently on the top ten in 2014 but recently since 2015, it seems to have fallen off the top ten (and top 15) in bible unit sales. Not sure what’s going on but personally I think it’s a great functional equivalent translation (dynamic) and deserves more readership.  Most bible readers don’t know the difference and rely on word-of-mouth, but even opinions through word-of-mouth are not the most accurate.  Other dynamic translations have also fallen off the map include New Century Version, God’s Word, and the Voice.  They’re even hardly seen on the bookshelves in Christian bookstores these days.  In April 2015, only the New Living Translation, the Message, NIrV, and Amplified have remained in the top ten on CBA’s ratings.

April 2015 (unit sales, CBA)

1  New International Ver.
2  New Living Translation
3  King James Version
4  New King James Version
5  English Standard Version
6  Reina Valera 1960
7  New American Standard
8  NIrV
9  The Message
10 Holman Christian Standard
11 New American Bible
12 Amplified Bible
13 New Revised Standard Bible
14 Nuevo International

A Christian’s “Allah”?

Have Christians ever referred to God as “Allah”?  The answer is “Yes”.  In the past, bible translators have translated the Christian God as Allah (see interview with Wayne Johnson).

In Hebrew, God is rendered as El, Aloha (northern Semitic languages)
In Arabic, God is rendered as Al, Allah (southern Semitic languages)

Interesting.  Our society in the western world have been shaped by the word “God”.  But in other non-Muslim nations, they have been using “Allah” to refer to our Christian God for hundreds of years before it got banned by Muslim governments in order to root-out non-Muslim religions.

Would it be too difficult for us Christians in the west to return to using “Allah” in reference to our Christian God?

[ Hat tip to Wayne Leman at Better Bibles Blog. ]

Common English Bible #7

It seems like the Common English Bible is gaining ground and is at #7 spot in number of sales on CBA. It’s a good translation and I predict that it will rival the NLT and may eventually overtake it as the next dynamic easy-to-read translation.

Bible Translations – Based on Dollar sales

1  New international Version
2  King James Version
3  New King James Version
4  New living Translation
5  English Standard Version
6  Holman Christian Standard Bible
7  New international Readers Version
8  The Message
9  New American Standard Bible update
10  Common English Bible

Bible Translations – Based on Unit sales
1  New international Version
2  King James Version
3  New King James Version
4  New living Translation
5  English Standard Version
6  Holman Christian Standard Bible
7  Common English Bible
8  New international Readers Version
9  The Message
10  New American Standard Bible update


‘and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. And the life that I now live in my body, I live by faith, indeed, by the faithfulness of God’s Son, who loved me and gave himself for me. – The Apostle Paul (Galatians 2:20 CEB)

Mediating translations: Isaiah 63:9

Isaiah 63:9

NIV:
In all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them.
NET:
Through all that they suffered, he suffered too. The messenger sent from his very presence delivered them.
CSB:
In all their suffering, He suffered, and the Angel of His Presence saved them. 

 

NJB:
In all their troubles, it was no messenger or angel but his presence that saved them.
NAB:
in their every affliction.  It was not a messenger or an angel, but he himself who saved them.


Merry Christmas!
I’m looking at Isaiah 63:7-9 in preparation for this Sunday’s Christmas 1A message and found v.9 to be in much dispute.  The difference in interpretation is huge because the resulting differences in

In the NIV, CSB, NET (and ESV/RSV), the meaning offers a comforting message.  God declares his love for his people because it illustrates how when we are burdened, that God also bears a burden and sorrow along with us.  God feels the suffering of God’s people. However, in the NJB, NAB (and NRSV), the rendering does not show God suffering.

Another resulting consequence is that in the [NIV, ESV, CSB] the “angel of his presence” was there to save them, but in the [NJB, NAB] it is not a messenger or angel that saved them, but rather, his own presence.

Given this whole passage from vv.7-14 is actually about the crossing of the Red Sea, and that the “Angel of his Presence” alludes to the angel’s role at the time of the Red Sea crossing (see Exodus 14:19), I think NIV, CSB, NET offers the most intelligible rendering of Isaiah 63:9.

And not that it’s of any significance, but this interpretation also happens to go nicely with the theme of God’s ability to identify with humanity in the N.T. reading of Hebrews 2:10-18 (Year A, Christmas 1).  But for technical reasons, I’m compelled to go with the NIV, CSB, NET rendering on this one.

Mediating translations 2.1 – 1 Timothy 3:11

On this first comparison, I’m looking closely at a single verse: 1 Timothy 3:11.

NIV 2011:
In the same way, the women are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.
CEB:
In the same way, women who are servants in the church should be dignified and not gossip. They should be sober and faithful in everything they do.
HCSB:
Wives, too, must be worthy of respect, not slanderers, self-controlled, faithful in everything.
NET:
Likewise also their wives must be dignified, not slanderous, temperate, faithful in every respect.
NJB:
Similarly, women must be respectable, not gossips, but sober and wholly reliable.

In the original Greek, the word used for woman or wives is gune (γυνή).  This word could be used for either virgin, engaged, married, or widowed. The CSB and NET tend to be a conservative interpretation in its rendering of “wives”.  “Woman” seems less interpretive but there is a strong reason that it may be referring to the wives of deacons because the next verse begins by speaking about being a husband to one wife and who manage their children and family properly.

The CEB’s rendering of “women who are servants in the church” is very interpretive and is an attempt to give credence to the office of female deacons in church leadership.  I don’t believe this is an accurate rendering of the word gune and it is not the right place to make such an interpretation.

The NIV 2011 has made a change from the NIV 1984 from: “their wives are to be women worthy of respect…”  This is a good change and moves away from interpretation.

The word “slander” is very different from “gossip”. The word used is diabolos (διάβολος), which means the devil or the accuser in English is translated as: false accuser, devil, or slanderer.  I prefer “slanderer” over “gossip”.

The choice between the words temperate or sober, I think I prefer sober because the Greek word nēphaleos actually means sober or may be circumspectively sober.  Temperate is no longer used and has lost its contemporary meaning.  It was used by the “temperance society”.  I don’t think we need to be afraid of implying that women may use some alcohol but “temperate evangelicals” will tend to stay away from this, and therefore, prefer temperate.

Between “worthy of respect” and “dignified”, I think I prefer the former because “dignified” carries a hint of distinction and highbrowedness.  Worthy of respect or honor should come from character rather than how one carries one’s own appearance.

“pistos en pas” is directly translated as faithful in all things.  The first four translations do this.

All five translations are accurate but I will call NIV 2011 the winner on this verse of 1 Timothy 3:11.  Then follows NET, NJB, HCSB, and then CEB.

See also: The search begins | #1: 1 Tim.3:11 |

Mediating translations: the search

I haven’t done any serious blogging in a while but I hope things will change. In the near future, I will be blogging on mediating translations by doing some comparisons to see how they render some of the passages of text. Since my last series on mediating translations, several new revisions and updates have come out:

  1. Updated New International Version (NIV) 2011,
  2. Common English Bible (CEB), which is brand new
  3. Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) 2009, and
  4. New English Translation (NET), and
  5. New Jerusalem Bible (NJB).

I’ll be concentrating on the first four but the first three translations are of special interest to me because they are newly updated.  I would like to see how they stack up against one another.  The CEB, currently available only in the New Testament, is a brand new release this year so that’s a very interesting and fresh translation that I haven’t had much opportunity to explore yet. It is an ecumenical translation whose translation/editorial team is mostly led by scholars from mainline protestant denominations.

Mediating translations will not include formal translations like the ESV, NRSV, NASB, or NJKV.  Nor will it include dynamic translations like the NLT, God’s Word, The Message, NCV, NIrV, GNB.  I’ve done similar comparisons in the past but I want to explore the newest updates just to see what’s improved and what’s better.