Were the tongues “distributed” or “divided” in Acts 2:3?

When I first read in Acts 2:3 about how the early Christians received the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues (or glossolalia), I learned it from the KJV’s rendering of “cloven tongues”.  However, this is not necessarily an accurate picture of what may have happened in Acts 2:3.  Different translations differ in how they portray the appearance of the flame of Pentecost. This may also impact our theology of the charismata.

How is it rendered in the original Greek?  It uses διαμερίζω (“diamerizō”, divide, part, cloven). The word diamerizō may be defined in several ways: literally in distribution or in appearance, and also, figuratively in dissension.  We can rule out the third: dissension. This leaves us with either distribution or appearance.

Greek: καὶ ὤφθησαν αὐτοῖς διαμεριζόμεναι γλῶσσαι ὡσεὶ πυρὸς καὶ ἐκάθισεν ἐφ᾽ ἕνα ἕκαστον αὐτῶν,

The NRSV, ESV, CSB and KJV all seem to portray flames (or tongues of fire) being “divided” (in the sense of being split in half), and resting over their heads. (Notice first picture below on the left with the divided flames).  The NRSV/ESV/CSB renderings interpret diamerizō in such a way that it leads the readers to view the flame as the object of the matter.  As a result, the reader will focus on the physical appearance of the flame, rather than, the action of the flame.

ESV: And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them.
CSB: And tongues, like flames of fire that were divided, appeared to them and rested on each one of them.

NRSV: Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them.

When I read the New English Translation (NET), I noticed that the flame is not “divided” (in the sense of not being split in half), but rather, it is “distributed” and “spread out” amongst the people.   Notice NET’s rendering of “spreading out”  projects an action of distribution, rather than, a static image of physical appearance. The word diamerizō may be interpreted as being distributary or dispersionary, which is also in line with the Spirit’s nature of distributing gifts or charismata. This helps the reader to perceive tongues in a more active sense (like fire in a raging forest fire).

NET:  And tongues spreading out like a fire appeared to them and came to rest on each one of them.

The Revised English Bible (REB) use of the word “distributed” also portrays an image of tongues of flames being distributed in the  dispersionary sense.  This rendering of diamerizō is dynamic too.

REB: And there appeared to them flames like tongues of fire distributed among them and coming to rest on each one.

The NLT, however, completely avoids making any interpretation regarding the appearance or distribution of the flame, all though it tends to focus on its appearance rather than action. Perhaps its translators didn’t know how to properly render diamerizō.

NLT  :  Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them.

The TNIV could be interpreted either way.

TNIV: They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.

I tend to prefer the NET bible’s rendering because it allows for γλῶσσα (“glōssa”) to be interpreted as a language that is dynamic and is actively spread out or distributed to others, rather than a tongue of flame being a static object.   The REB is my second choice.

Exodus 22:8-9 “God” or “Judges”?

I think this will really bug some people as it bugs me.  It seems that Exodus 22:8-9 is clearly referring to judges but some translations like the NLT,  ESV, NRSV rendered elohim as “God“; but TNIV and CSB rendered elohim as “judges“.  Yes, technically, “God” is correct; but it seems clear to me that elohim (in the sense of a small “g” gods) which can be translated as judges, was what the writers/scribes intended.

Should we go with what we know as technically correct? Or should we go with what we know the writer/scribe/editor intended?

_________________________  Exodus 22:8-9 _________________________

NLT But if the thief is not caught, the neighbor must appear before God, who will determine if he stole the property. 9 “Suppose there is a dispute between two people who both claim to own a particular ox, donkey, sheep, article of clothing, or any lost property. Both parties must come before God, and the person whom God declares guilty must pay double compensation to the other.

ESV If the thief is not found, the owner of the house shall come near to God to show whether or not he has put his hand to his neighbor’s property. 9 For every breach of trust, whether it is for an ox, for a donkey, for a sheep, for a cloak, or for any kind of lost thing, of which one says, ‘This is it,’ the case of both parties shall come before God. The one whom God condemns shall pay double to his neighbor.

TNIV But if the thief is not found, the owner of the house must appear before the judges, and they must determine whether the owner of the house has laid hands on the other person’s property. 9 In all cases of illegal possession of an ox, a donkey, a sheep, a garment, or any other lost property about which somebody says, ‘This is mine,’ both parties are to bring their cases before the judges. The one whom the judges declare guilty must pay back double to the other.

CSB If the thief is not caught, the owner of the house must present himself to the judges to determine whether or not he has taken his neighbor’s property. 9 In any case of wrongdoing involving an ox, a donkey, a sheep, a garment, or anything else lost, and someone claims: That’s mine, the case between the two parties is to come before the judges. The one the judges condemn must repay double to his neighbor.

Luke 18:29 – Is TNIV gender-accurate?

Matthew 19:29

And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother (NRSV)

And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother (TNIV)

Mark 10:29

there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father (NRSV)

no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father (TNIV)

Luke 18:29

there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents (NRSV)

no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents (TNIV)

everyone who has given up house or wife or brothers or parents  (NLT)

Were TNIV translators gender-accurate or too aggressive in their rendering of Luke 18:29?  This one is questionable.  The word ἀδελφοὺς can mean “brother” in the masculine plural but has been translated as “brothers or sisters” in other passages where adelphas (ἀδελφὰς, sisters: fem. pluaral) is absent.   I checked other translations and found no other translation went as far as TNIV did in Luke 18:29—not even the NRSV or NLT.  The NRSV and NLT rendered this as simply “brothers”.

The Matthew and Mark parallels rendered adelphos (ἀδελφοὺς) as “brothers” and adelphas (ἀδελφὰς) as “sisters”.  Did TNIV follow the pattern set in these parallel verses of Matthew 19:29 and Mark 10:29, in which “adelphos” and “adelphas” were rendered as “brothers or sisters”?   The Matt. 19:29 and Mark 10:29 parallels are definitely correct, but Luke 18:29 now becomes questionable when placed in a comparative context with these other parallel passages.

If TNIV is right on this one, then NRSV and NLT are wrong.  What gives me a feeling that TNIV may be right in this case is Luke’s use of guneis (γονεῖς) for parent instead of pater and mater (μητέρα ἢ πατέρα) for father and mother.  Luke may have intended to use guneis as a gender-inclusive term, so in following Luke’s use of inclusive terminology, Luke 18:29 may be more accurately translated as “brothers or sisters”.

Other places where TNIV went further in gender-inclusive language than the NRSV or the NLT are in Luke 14:12, Acts 15:1, 22:5.

Bible Manuscripts and Translations

I found a ppt presentation about the upside of the Critical Texts.  It’s fairly good and seems to be unbiased.  It doesn’t even criticize the KJV as a bad bible.  Click here:Bible Manuscripts and Translations

John 6:27-51 Bread of life – Bultmann’s new order

After the editors get through with their higher critical analysis on a piece of text, they can really restructure the text so completely that it’s almost unrecognizable.  In the passage I’m reading on this week, scholar Rudolf Bultmann has another form that he thinks could be restructured in a more natural and logical order that is suppose to make better sense.  Bultmann believes that editors/redactors of the text in John 6:27-1 moved things around.   So Bultmann also moved things around himself to restore what he thinks is a more accurate text.

Personally, I think this is all subjective, as most commentaries are, so I wouldn’t take it seriously.  When I looked at his order of placement, it still seems to make sense; actually, I think it makes better logical sense this way but I don’t know if I would feel that comfortable playing around with the text as much as he did.  Here’s Bultmann’s order of John ch. 6:  vv. 27, 34-35, 30-33, 47-51a, 41-46, 36-40.  See if it makes more logical sense to you when you read it Bultmann’s way.

Note: Bultmann left v.28 out of his re-ordered passage because he feels v.28 is a detached fragment that was added by editors due to the word “work” (ἐργαζώμεθα).  See: Rudolf Bultmann, The Gospel of John: A Commentary, translated by G.R. Beasley-Murray (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1971), 221.

Eph. 3:16-18 “I pray that…”

Ephesians 3:16 – 18:

ESV:
that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,
NLT:
I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will give you mighty inner strength through his Holy Spirit.
NRSV:
I pray that
, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit,
so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith that you, being rooted and grounded in love, And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love. and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love.
may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love really is. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth,

For public reading of this particular passage, I would prefer not to read from the ESV because the sentence is way too long.  It is five verses long: v.14-19. It takes your breath away. According to English grammar, it might qualify as a run-on sentence.  Notice the ESV does not have the phrase “I pray that” while the NRSV, NLT, and TNIV translations do. Why?  I looked into this and learned that vv. 16 and 18 (in orig. Greek) contain a subordinate or dependent clause: “that“.   For clarity’s sake, the words “I pray that” were added in by the NRSV, NLT, TNIV translators because this clause “that” actually refers to what Paul said back in v. 14 (“I bow my knees before the Father”). So by adding “I pray that“, clarity to an otherwise, lengthy sentence was increased.

Since “I pray that” is not present in the original, you would think that the ESV would be more precise.  It may be more precise but it may not be as understandable.  Precision does not equal accuracy.

Ephesians 1:4-5 – Whose love are we talking about? Our love or God’s love?

In Ephesians 1:4-5, whose love is the writer of Ephesians talking about — the love in God’s child or the love of God? Notice that εν αγαπη (en agape) in the Greek NT is located at the end of v.4; however, en agape could also be placed at the start of a new sentence in v.5, which would render a different meaning in the text. “Love” is stuck in the middle between v.4 and v.5. The various translations also take positions right down the middle. The NRSV, NASB, NKJV, NJB and REB locate love (en agape) at the end of v.4 so that love is understood as an attribute within the child of God. Love modifies holiness and blamelessness. Whereas, the ESV, RSV, TNIV, NAB, GNT and HCSB locates love (en agape) at the beginning of v.5; so then, love is understood as an attribute of God’s own character (i.e., “in love [God] predestined us”). As a result, these translations are understood as two differing ideas. It can be a major difference, not a minor one and it completely changes how the passage is understood by the reader. (Note, NLT also locates love in v.4 but love modifies the word “chosen” so it’s meaning is understood almost the same as TNIV and ESV). [This post has been edited.]
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Ephesians 1:4-5:

4 καθως εξελεξατο ημας εν αυτω προ καταβολης κοσμου ειναι ημας αγιους και αμωμους κατενωπιον αυτου εν αγαπη

5 προορισας ημας εις υιοθεσιαν δια ιησου χριστου εις αυτον κατα την ευδοκιαν του θεληματος αυτου (Greek New Testament, Nestle-Aland 27th edition)

…even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, (ESV)

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—(TNIV)

Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. (NLT)

just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, (NRSV)

Before the foundation of the world he chose us in Christ to be his people, to be without blemish in his sight, to be full of love; and he predestined us to be adopted as his children through Jesus Christ. This was his will and pleasure (REB)