Friday, October 24, 2008

Thoughts on 1 Corinthians 15:21 & Hebrews 2:6

Greetings Mike,

Welcome to this blog. Let me state upfront that I am a layman. I make my living in the electrical utility business. I am the formally uneducated member of this forum. I am not a scholar. I do all my study in English though I do have many foreign language tools and use them a lot. If I misstate anything about the original languages, Wayne or someone else will come to the rescue and correct me. I say all that to encourage everyone that reads this sight that you don't have to be scholar to determine if the TNIV is a trustworthy translation. I'm at a disadvantage compared to our other contributors here in these areas. However, I'm glad to be a member of this forum as a lay representative.

You stated . . .
Where it changes man to human. So instead of getting a parallel between the first man, Adam and Jesus (obviously also a man) we get something that for me seems a bit more mucked up.
The TNIV is not the first Bible to do this with 1 Corinthians 15:21 nor is it the first with Hebrews 2:6.

In 1 Corinthians 15:21, similar language is used in the:
  • New Revised Standard Version
  • New American Bible.
In Hebrews 2:6, the list is even more expansive:
  • Contemporary English Version
  • Good News Translation
  • The Message
  • New Century Version
  • New Living Translation (in the front half of the verse only)
  • New Revised Standard Version
None of these draws as much attention as the TNIV probably because the TNIV has the greatest potential to influence the Evangelical community. Also, only the NRSV has similar changes in both passages as the TNIV has.

1 Corinthians 15:21

I don't think any parallel is "mucked up" by the TNIV. The first rule I would advise anyone of in dealing with the differences in the TNIV and other translations is to never read a Bible verse. Always read at least a paragraph or more. For brevity's sake, let me just include the next verse . . .
21For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a human being. 22For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.

The Holy Bible : Today's New International Version. 2005 (1 Co 15:21-22). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Verse 21 speaks of a human being (singular) through which death comes and a human being (singular again) though which the resurrection comes. Verse 22 makes it clear who each of those humans are. Adam is the human through which death came and Jesus is the human through which the resurrection comes.

Along with the concept of never reading a single Bible verse, I'd like to recommend what can be called the paraphrase test. Many people are concerned about the choices in translating gender accuracy. Just because a word is masculine in Greek (or Hebrew) doesn't mean that it applies to males only. It sounds like you've been reading on this a bit and so you are probably aware of this. The paraphrase test is a great test particularly for people, like myself, who are not scholars. When we see man used, even the non-scholar can recognize that sometimes this references the human race, sometimes it refers to males (i.e. a gender reference). With the paraphrase test, use males in every passage in which there is a question and see how if it makes sense. Most of the time this clears up the problem. I'd encourage you to read the entire paragraph from verse 20 through verse 28. The male-ness of Adam and the male-ness of Jesus is not the issue. It's their humanity that it is the issue. This can be seen in theological issues. When he speak of Jesus as the God-man we usually define him as fully God and fully man. The point of calling him fully man is that we are pointing out that he was fully human. The theological point isn't that he is fully male. Jesus didn't come to redeem only males, but both males and females. Thus, it's better to describe him as fully God, fully human.

Hebrews 2:6

Hebrews 2:6 can be solved in similar fashion. First of all, read the context. I would encourage you to read all the way from 2:5 to the end of the chapter. Is Jesus' male-ness the issue, or is it his humanity that is the issue? I think it becomes obvious that his humanity is the issue here.

The Greek in this passage even bounces back in forth in its gender use. In verse 14,
παιδία (children in English) is in the neutral. In the very next verse it tells us he will free those who were held in slavery (look at a TNIV or even the very formal NASB). Those is the Greek word τούτους, which is masculine.

One other bit of research a person can do in this passage is look at the Old Testament passage which is being quoted. It is Psalm 8 in this case. Since the TNIV is what is in question here, let's look the Psalm from the NASB . . .
1 O Lord, our Lord,
How majestic is Your name in all the earth,
Who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens!
2 From the mouth of infants and nursing babes You have established strength
Because of Your adversaries,
To make the enemy and the revengeful cease.
3 When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained;
4 What is man that You take thought of him,
And the son of man that You care for him?
5 Yet You have made him a little lower than God,
And You crown him with glory and majesty!
6 You make him to rule over the works of Your hands;
You have put all things under his feet,
7 All sheep and oxen,
And also the beasts of the field,
8 The birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea,
Whatever passes through the paths of the seas.
9 O Lord, our Lord,
How majestic is Your name in all the earth!

New American Standard Bible : 1995 update
. 1995 (Ps 8:1-9). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
It is clear to me that in Psalm 8, man is a reference to humanity, i.e. the human race, not just the males. Thus, I have no problem with the TNIV rendering of the quote in Hebrews 2.

This is a good point to stop and let you comment or ask questions.

Grace & peace to you.

questions from a visitor

My wife and I returned home a couple nights ago from two weeks of travel. This morning I transferred my email messages received on the trip to my desktop computer. Among the messages I discovered the following questions from a visitor named Mike:
Hi everyone, I somehow stumbled on this blog from the accordance web forums, to Rick's site, to this site.

And a long story short, I had been noticing on Bill Mounce's blog how he seems to praise the TNIV for it's adept translation. I know all the hoopla over the gender issues and why I would say (IMHO) I don't agree with some of them. But I am curious about specifically:

1 Corinthians 15:21 (which also seems to have a similar oddity in Heb 2:6)

Where it changes man to human. So instead of getting a parallel between the first man, Adam and Jesus (obviously also a man) we get something that for me seems a bit more mucked up.

I have, for the life of me, tried searching the entire internet (though I probably fell a little short) and so that is where this email is coming from. The site is all about worthless unless I just want to read it - while not bad, it doesn't seem to retain the various "question verses" any more.

I'm just curious to your understanding (or any available material one why this was done that way) for these verses. I also tried searching the blog but couldn't find any instance of this being addressed - my apologies if it was.


Let's answer Mike here on this post to benefit others, as well.

Friday, October 3, 2008

NIV vs. TNIV in the Minor Prophets

You'll want to read Mike Aubrey's analysis of revisions the TNIV made to the NIV in the Minor Prophets.