Impressive flesh: swimsuit contests maybe
Note NIV Gal. 6:12
Those who want to make a good impression outwardly are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ.Now compare the TNIV revision:
Those who want to impress others by means of the flesh are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ.Now, it may just be my linguist's mind, which often finds meaning possibilities in things which ordinary people do not, but when I read the first sentence of the TNIV here, I get a picture of something like a swimsuit contest, where people are impressing others by exposing their flesh. I know that is not the meaning intended by the TNIV team, but sometimes unintended meanings are communicated by our translation wordings.
Personally, I would prefer a different revision of the NIV wording, something along the lines of
Those who want to make a good impression with external bodily symbols are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ.I know that the NIV has often been criticized for being too dynamic, and this might have been one of those passages. So I respect the decision of the TNIV team to revise to more literal English to be less dynamic. They were trying to increase the accuracy of the translation. For those who are familiar with Bible English use of the word "flesh," they may have succeeded. For those of us who often get a more standard meaning of "flesh" when we hear that word, the jury is still out. I suggest that the TNIV team would find it helpful to do field testing on their current wording to find out how many speakers of non-church dialects of English think about swimsuit contests when they read Gal. 6:12.
There are some other English versions which sound even more like there is a swimsuit contest going on in Gal. 6:12. Note these wordings:
It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh ... (RSV, NRSV, ESV)What do you think? What versions can you cite which make the meaning of the Greek of Gal. 6:12 both accurate and clear in English, without it sounding like we are showing off how nice our bodies look?
Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh ... (NASB)
As many as desire to look good in the flesh, ... (WEB)
These people who want to impress others by their flesh ... (ISV)
Categories: TNIV, field testing, language usage, literal translation, translation accuracy