Better Bibles Blog has moved. Read our last post, below, and then
click here if you are not redirected to our new location within 60 seconds.
Please Bookmark our new location and update blogrolls.

Monday, April 23, 2007

1 John 2:1 - Is something missing?

One of the passages read during our church service yesterday was 1 John 2:1. Our pulpit and pew Bible is the NRSV:
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;
My ears thought I heard something missing from the end of this verse. I need another sound check to see if it's just my hearing or whether your ears hear the same thing missing. To help, here are other English versions for comparison. Each version is, like the NRSV, essentially literal:
My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: (KJV)

My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. (NKJV)

My little children, I am writing this to you so that you may not sin; but if any one does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; (RSV)

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. (ESV)

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; (NASB)

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. (NIV)

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. (TNIV)

My little children, I am writing you these things so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ the righteous One. (HCSB)

(My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.) But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous One, (NET)
Do you also hear anything missing in the NRSV, and some other versions, at the end of the verse? By "missing", I am referring to something which, to you, sounds like it should be there. And if you sense something missing, is it enough to make the wording ungrammatical?

Or am I just hearing things?!

12 Comments:

At Mon Apr 23, 09:12:00 AM, Blogger Andrew McNeill said...

I think you're referring to the addition of the word "One" at the end in some translations. It makes it sound a lot better to my ears too! I guess people who are used to reading traditional translations a lot get used to their translation so much that the lack of words like that don't really strike them, but now that you've pointed it out that's really noticeable!

 
At Mon Apr 23, 09:23:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

While I agree with Andrew that the addition of "One" helps here, the problem which I noted is with the conditional clause here. The suggestion seems to be that Jesus being our advocate is conditional on people sinning. And there is also a mismatch of person between "anyone" and "we". It seems to me that there is an implicit clause here which is the real completion (apodosis) of the conditional clause. To put this more fully, based on TNIV: "... But if anybody does sin, they are not left without hope. For we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One."

 
At Mon Apr 23, 09:36:00 AM, Blogger anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At Mon Apr 23, 09:38:00 AM, Blogger anonymous said...

If we are going to forgo titles such as "The righteous" what will all those czars do (Ivan the Terrible, Catherine the Great)? Somehow "Ivan the Terrible One" just doesn't roll off the tongue.

By the way, since when are NIV and TNIV "essentially literal"?

 
At Mon Apr 23, 10:33:00 AM, Blogger daniel reed said...

One source of trouble for my ease of understanding this passage is the way that the author switches pronouns to refer to the audience - "you", "anyone", "we".

But the biggest "problem" for me is that there is an implicit connection made here. (As you've been pointing out in this and other examples, Wayne, this was probably transparent to the original readers, and may well be transparent to some readers today, but I personally find it a challenge to make the logical leap required)

My best guess about the flow of thought is something like this:
1. I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.
[2. However, that's not realistic. People do sin. Therefore,]
3. if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father
[4. which makes up for our sinfulness.]

Is that what you had in mind?

 
At Mon Apr 23, 02:45:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

If we are going to forgo titles such as "The righteous" what will all those czars do (Ivan the Terrible, Catherine the Great)?

It's too late for them. And notice what happened to them for lacking something in their name!

:-)

The same thing, of course, happened to Jesus Christ the Righteous, but he had more going for him, and got a second chance. Now some refer to him by putting "one" after righteous and I think he will be around a lot longer now!

Somehow "Ivan the Terrible One" just doesn't roll off the tongue.

I agree. Seriously, I think that "Ivan the Terrible" and "Catherine the Great" became titles. I *suspect* that Jesus Christ the righteous is not a title, but, rather, a description. Titles often behave differently in English from descriptions. Of course, descriptions can become titles with enough widespread usage over a long enough period of time.

By the way, since when are NIV and TNIV "essentially literal"?

Oh, as soon as they were published. There is a range of literalness within which English versions have been categorized as "essentially literal." It includes all English versions which translate many biblical language forms literally.

In the studies which I have done, I have noted a significant gap on the literalness continuum for a number of different translation vectors. Above the gap are versions which use a high percentage of natural English expressions. Below the gap are versions which use a high percentage of literal translations, with English which is sometimes comprehensible but often not very natural. The NIV and TNIV are grouped below the gap.

The NLT, TEV, CEV, NCV, etc. are above the gap are significantly above the gap.

For professors who grade on the curve (I've been there, done that), such wide gaps can be a welcome way to separate A's from B's and B's from C's.

I could give hundreds of examples where the NIV and TNIV have literal rather than natural translations. The word "essentially" in "essentially literal" allows for a fair amount of room, I guess. I'd be happy to list some of these exx. in future posts.

 
At Tue Apr 24, 03:37:00 AM, Blogger Kevin said...

I don't hear anything missing in the NRSV, but I definitely hear something missing in the NIV--that is--"advocate". The NIV used "one" for "paraclete" instead of "advocate". All other translations uses "advocate" except for the NIV. Good for the TNIV translators for correcting the NIV by using "advocate" for "paraclete", which is correct.

 
At Tue Apr 24, 05:11:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Kevin, the NIV rendering of parakletos is neither "one" nor "paraclete", but "one who speaks ... in our defense". I don't see what the problem is with this rendering, except for its length. It means almost the same as "advocate" with the additional component, appropriate in the context, that Jesus is defending us rather than helping us to launch a prosecution. The worst I can say about this is that the change from "advocate" was unnecessary. But then NIV was not a revision of a previous translation, but a new translation, and so should not be criticised for merely stylistic differences from other translations.

 
At Tue Apr 24, 06:51:00 AM, Blogger R. Mansfield said...

The change to "advocate" in the TNIV is yet another example of the TNIV being slightly more formal than the NIV.

I don't have a problem with the NIV's rendering here either, but I do admit that I like the change to "advocate." Not only is it more concise, I can more easily use courtroom analogies when I teach on this passage :-)

 
At Tue Apr 24, 07:23:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Rick,

I am very glad that you did not suggest that "advocate" in place of "one who speaks in our defense", is a shift to a more literal style, but more excatly to a more formal style. Although "one who speaks in our defense" might be considered periphrastic, it is still a literal translation, one which breaks down the original Greek word into more than one English word.

Personally I prefer the periphrastic style in a Bible for a broader use, but this is not an issue of accuaracy.

 
At Tue Apr 24, 08:45:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Well, Rick, is the NIV language any less that of the courtroom? After all that is the main place where someone speaks in someone else's defence. I nearly suggested that NIV was better because it was less tied to the courtroom, but then decided there was no real difference. But the Greek parakletos was by no means only a courtroom word, and I am by no means certain that courtroom language is appropriate here. I guess this ties up with my views on the atonement - see my blog.

 
At Tue Apr 24, 09:01:00 AM, Blogger anonymous said...

"advocate" is not limited to the law court in English either.

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home