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Sunday, July 17, 2005

tis a better translation

It may have been noted earlier by Greek lexicographers, but at least by 1840, the "literal" gender-inclusive meaning of the Greek indefinite pronoun tis was stated in the Englishman's Greek Concordance, (page 732):
Note.--It is frequently rendered 'a man,' any man,'--the literal in such cases is simply 'any' or 'any one.'
In spite of such statements about the meaning of tis, some English Bible versions published after 1840 sometimes rendered tis by the English word "man." They did so because some people used "a man" as a gender-inclusive indefinite noun phrase. The NIV was one of the Bible versions which sometimes translated tis by a noun phrase including the word "man":
The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. But the man who loves God is known by God. (1 Cor. 8:2,3)

What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? (James 2:14)

For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. (1 Pet. 2:19)
Increasingly, English speakers have stopped using "a man" to refer to a gender-inclusive indefinite referent. In step with this language change, a number of English versions, including the most recent revision of the NIV, have translated tis accurately with wordings which clearly have a gender-inclusive indefinite meaning:
1 Cor. 8:2,3
If any one imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if one loves God, one is known by him. (RSV)

If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God. (ESV)

Anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge; but anyone who loves God is known by him. (NRSV)

If anyone supposes that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know; but if anyone loves God, he is known by Him. (NASB)

If someone thinks he knows something, he does not yet know to the degree that he needs to know. But if someone loves God, he is known by God. (NET)

If anyone thinks he knows something, he has not yet learned it as he ought to know it. But if anyone loves God, he is known by him. (ISV)

Anyone who claims to know all the answers doesn't really know very much. But the person who loves God is the one God knows and cares for. (NLT)

If anyone thinks he knows anything, he does not yet know it as he ought to know it. But if anyone loves God, he is known by Him. (HCSB)

Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. But whoever loves God is known by God. (TNIV)
James 2:14
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? (ESV, more accurate today than what it revises, RSV 'a man')

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? (NRSV)

What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? (NASB)

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but does not have works? Can this kind of faith save him? (NET)

What good does it do, my brothers, if someone claims to have faith but does not have any works? This kind of faith cannot save him, can it? (ISV)

Dear brothers and sisters, what's the use of saying you have faith if you don't prove it by your actions? That kind of faith can't save anyone. (NLT)

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith, but does not have works? Can his faith save him? (HCSB)

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if people claim to have faith but have no deeds? Can such faith save them? (TNIV)
1 Peter 2:19
For one is approved if, mindful of God, he endures pain while suffering unjustly.(RSV)

For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. (ESV)

For it is a credit to you if, being aware of God, you endure pain while suffering unjustly. (NRSV)

For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. (NASB)

For this finds God’s favor, if because of conscience toward God someone endures hardships in suffering unjustly. (NET)

For it is a fine thing if, when moved by your conscience to please God, you suffer patiently when wronged. (ISV)

For God is pleased with you when, for the sake of your conscience, you patiently endure unfair treatment. (NLT)

For it if, because of conscience toward God, someone endures grief from suffering unjustly. (HCSB)

For God is pleased with you when, for the sake of your conscience, you patiently endure unfair treatment. (TNIV)
I am thankful for English translators who have translated more accurately for today's Bible users, including revising previous translations which they are basing their own translations upon, such as the ESV team did.

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7 Comments:

At Mon Jul 18, 03:02:00 PM, Anonymous Suz said...

Hi Wayne,

Here is a further question. Why is 1 Peter 3:7 translated with wives are the "weaker sex" or "weaker partner" I realize "vessel" is not so great either but why can't someone just say that women, on average, are physically weaker than their husbands. That would make a relevant comment. Women are physically more poorly equipped than men (on average). The weaker partner - hmm. They sometimes have less economic viability. These things are important but it shouldn't mean be used as a way to justify a disparity in power relations - "women are the weaker sex so therefore ...?"

 
At Mon Jul 18, 03:54:00 PM, Anonymous Peter Kirk said...

Wayne, I don't think you should call TNIV "the most recent revision of the NIV". The translation team has made it clear that this is an independent translation, and that (as promised in response to the Colorado Springs gathering) the NIV will continue to be published unchanged, without errors like these mistranslations of tis being corrected.

 
At Mon Jul 18, 06:36:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne E. McCarthy said...

Hi Peter,

How would you translate tis?

Suz

 
At Mon Jul 18, 07:57:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Peter, you raise an important theoretical question, which, to my mind, anyway, would have to do with how much of a document needs to be different from another document from which it is adapted before it can be called a "new document" rather than a revision. I spent quite a bit of time researching how the CBT viewed this question about its TNIV and composed a blog post about it. But before publishing the post, I opened my TNIV to its introduction ("A Word to the Reader") and found this as the first sentence: "Today's New International Version (TNIV) is a revision of the New International Version." That statement was a lot more concise than including a lot of the other quotes I found.

I think the bigger issue here is in your statement that the NIV will continue to be published as a separate Bible version. This fact has caused some debate, then, about whether the TNIV is a revision or a "new translation." For me, the first sentence of the TNIV introduction answers that question.

 
At Mon Jul 18, 07:59:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Suz, your concerns about translation to "weaker sex" or "weaker vessel" deserves a blog post of its own. I've run out of time for that tonight, but will get to it before too long. FWIW, I agree with you that neither of these wordings is appropriate or accurate enough for an English Bible version. I'll have to do some thinking and research to come up with something better.

 
At Mon Jul 18, 10:30:00 PM, Anonymous Suz said...

I look forward to it. No rush, tho, I know how hard it is to chose a post topic. My list of topics grows longer each day I blog - not shorter. I can't figure that out. :)

I am really enjoying your blog.

 
At Mon Jul 18, 10:32:00 PM, Anonymous Suz said...

Peter,

I think I misunderstood your first comment about the mistranslations of tis. Sorry. You can disregard the above question.

 

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