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.

NRSV and NLT are now my two gender-inclusive translations of choice

Hopefully, this will be my last post on the TNIV for a little while. There are better things to blog about.

As for a gender-accurate (gender-inclusive) translation, I will be going with the NRSV as my main translation of choice; second will be the NLT.  I may be in the minority camp here but I am not alone.  I believe this camp will grow in the future.  There are also a few others who will be leaving the TNIV as their mediating translation of choice.  Sue at Suzanne’s Bookshelf mentioned there are a few who will be going with the NRSV as their main translation, “now that the NIV/TNIV is in limbo”.  [added: Rick at This Lamp will also no longer be recommending the TNIV as a primary bible.]  I’ve been reading a lot of other blogs lately about this issue of the death of the TNIV in the past few days.  I know most of my biblioblogger friends out there are going to stick with reading the TNIV, but I will not, based on Zondervan’s business ethics (i.e., $$$$).

If the new NIV in 2011 tones down its gender-inclusive language (either by 5%, 10% or 15%), then it’ll not be much different from the inconsistent ESV.  Even if 95% of the TNIV will be preserved, you can bet that some of the gender-inclusive language will be reversed to a masculine language.  So why would TNIV supporters (who support gender-inclusive language) want to be a fan of an inconsistent translation in the future?  I predict that some current TNIV-supporters may come to see it this way a few years down the road when they see the light.  They will realize that Zondervan has betrayed the pro-TNIV supporters.

If the new NIV of 2011 tones down the gender language, the likes of Grudem and the anti-TNIV and ESV-only crowds have won.  Personally, I still refer to the ESV in my study.  I’m one of those funny ones who support the TNIV and the ESV even though I have nothing to do with the ESV-only crowd.  Though I think the ESV is inconsistent in its use of gender-inclusive language, I still have more respect for the ESV and Crossway than for Zondervan.  Crossway has backed up its translation and has done an amazing marketing job on the ESV.  Zondervan has not.  It has treated it disgracefully.  Dan Philips calls the TNIV a misbegotten version (but he takes an anti-TNIV position).  I call it a product of ‘Hagar’ but I take a pro-TNIV position).

Furthermore, I will not be stocking up on more TNIVs (like Rick advised TNIV-over at This Lamp) because, as I’ve said before, if it’s not good enough for CBT, Biblica and Zondervan, then it’s not good enough for me.  Why should I read from a translation they do not intend to support?  A dying translation is as good as a dead translation.  I will not invest my time and effort to read, teach or preach from a dead translation, which is why I don’t read the NEB, REB (or maybe even the NASB…sorry ElShaddai and Gary Z.).

Even though I have lost some respect for the three parties who are involved with TNIV’s death, my love for the TNIV translation is still alive.  Ironically, I still encourage TNIV-supporters to read the TNIV.   Until I see what happens in 2011, I don’t think I’ll even touch the TNIV for a while, at least for a while until my head cools down a little and my ill-feelings toward Zondervan, Biblica and CBT subsides.  If there truly is a resurrection of the TNIV and its gender-inclusive language is preserved, I may return to the new NIV, but for the time being, I will hold off from it because I have my doubts about CBT, and Zondervan’s intentions (which I believe are not good, of which I may express more in a future post).

Zondervan and TNIV: like a father who has thrown out its child after birth

Biblica has lauched a new website at www.nivbible2011.com to receive inquiries about the new NIV .  Watch the video.  They need to apologize to those who supported the TNIV but I haven’t heard a word.  What they said is really to please its critics.

Due to this recent move by Zondervan, I think I will be boycotting TNIV for a while.  I’m going to lay it aside and not even refer to it. Why?  If people at Zondervan do not think it is good enough for public use, then fine, it’s not good enough for me either.  Some may think this is being petty but this is how I see it.  Betrayal of the public’s trust is important for me.  For me, it’s like fathering a child and dumping him out after it has been born.  Zondervan has done this same thing with TNIV.  It did not have enough compassion to love its own child and defend it from harm.  If not, then why should I bother to defend Zondervan?  If Zondervan had integrity, they would have stuck up and defended it from its critics but they didn’t.  They bowed to peer pressure and the almighty dollar $$$$.  So for me, Zondervan has betrayed the people who have supported it.  To continue supporting the TNIV is like condoning the actions of a father who dumps his own child. As a reader of bibles and a follower of translations, integrity of the publisher is important for me.  Even if Zondervan puts out the new NIV in 2011 (with some likeness of the TNIV), I’m don’t feel I will be very excited to see it.

Am I still upset about this whole coverup fiasco?  I am and will be for a while.

What translations will I be referring to now?  I will be referring mostly to the NRSV, ESV and NLT.  These will be my top translations for a while now.

My eulogy and final blessings go with the TNIV. 2001 – 2009. RIP

Amongst my most popular tags were “TNIV”.  The life support it received from some of us blogger fans of the TNIV just wasn’t enough to keep it going.  I know there are many of us blogging about this issue.  I’ve just previous blogged about it here earlier today but I think the TNIV needs a little eulogy–hence this post.  After the CBT had just finished revising the TNIV in 2007, it was a real shame to see Zondervan pull the plug on the already-dying TNIV.  After having come to appreciate and cherish the TNIV, I now have to let go of the past and sadness.  The old bones of the TNIV will rest on my bookshelf. Perhaps in 30 years, this 2007 edition of the TNIV will become something of value.  Perhaps I can say to my grandchildren some day that this was the predecessor to the old “new NIV”.

Here is my final blessings to the TNIV:
Into your hands, O merciful Savior, we commend your translation TNIV.  Acknowledge, we humbly beseech you, a translation of your own making, a bible of your flock, a revised bible of your redeeming.  Receive TNIV into the arms of your mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of past bible translations.  Amen.

May TNIV and all the faithful departed bibles, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.  Amen.

The TNIV is now officially a dead translation

Thanks to a commenter here I’ve just learned that the people at Zondervan have officially killed the Today’s New International Version (TNIV translation).  Christianity Today blog has just released news of this decision which had been brewing in the headquarters at Zondervan within the last ten days.  Zondervan’s past and present supporters of the TNIV have been sorely let down.  I am currently reeling from my deep disappointment with this decision.  At this point, I don’t really know what to think.  My emotions are going up and down as I am writing this blog post.

I suspect that Zondervan may have a strategic plan on the drawing board to rally support from the Christian community before they launch the new edition of the NIV in 2011.  Zondervan feels that how the TNIV was handled was a mistake.  Christianity Today’s blog post writes:

“Whatever its strengths were, the TNIV divided the evangelical Christian community,” said Zondervan president Moe Girkins. “So as we launch this new NIV, we will discontinue putting out new products with the TNIV….

We are correcting the mistakes in the past,” Girkins said. “Being as transparent as possible is part of that. This decision was made by the board in the last 10 days.” She said the transparency is part of an effort to overhaul the NIV “in a way that unifies Christian evangelicalism.

The first mistake was the NIVi,” Danby said. “The second was freezing the NIV. The third was the process of handling the TNIV.”

Well, was the TNIV a victim of division or a cause of division in the evangelical community?  I believe the TNIV was a victim of division rather than a cause of division.  The cause of division came from its critics who railed against gender-inclusive language but these are the same people who did not say a thing against the New Living Translation.  That was hypocritical.

Is Zondervan caving into the pressure of the bias against gender-inclusive language?  In my opinion, they are.  Perhaps there might be several spots in the TNIV where gender-inclusive language could be curbed, but on the whole, it is a very good translation.  People like me and many others who supported the TNIV will be disappointed upon hearing this sad news that came to my attention yesterday.

Douglas Moo, chair of the Committee on Bible Translation stated:

“I can predict that this is going to look 90 percent or more what the 1984 NIV looks like and 95 percent what the TNIV looks like,” he said. “The changes are going to be a very small portion of the whole Scripture package.”

Okay, so how much of the new NIV will actually contain gender-inclusive language?  95 percent?…75 percent?…50 percent?…25 percent?  Or God-forbid 10 percent?  I think the decision-makers at Zondervan are probably so dizzy trying to make sense of what happened that they have no idea what to do about the new NIV.

Will I trust Zondervan to make decisions on their future editions?  My trust has been betrayed.  What seems to be determining Zondervan’s business decisions is profit.  So the TNIV had not been selling well… so is it the almighty dollar that’s going to determine their publishing decisions in the future?

As far as I’m concerned, the only gender-inclusive translations I am going to read regularly at this point will be the NLT and NRSV.  My feelings toward Zondervan and the TNIV has turned from positive to negative.  For now, I am going to lay down my TNIV aside for now.  How ironic that I was just reading Deut. 31:12 from the TNIV earlier today in front of a group of thirteen parents and students.

Eph. 3:16-18 “I pray that…”

Ephesians 3:16 – 18:

that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,
I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will give you mighty inner strength through his Holy Spirit.
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.

John 1:13, TNIV – It’s man, not husband

As I was reading John 1:1-18, a Christmas reading related to Christ birth into this world, I came across a word that stuck out for me in John 1:13:

12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. (John 1:12-13, TNIV).

T/NIV’s rendering of ἀνήρ (anēr) as “husband” is very peculiar. Other translations render this quite differently. They all render it as “man.” Aner (ἀνήρ) can be rendered as “husband”, or “man”, or even as “man” in the context of “sir”. However, in this context, it seems to make more sense as “man” or even “human”. If someone could enlighten me on why the T/NIV rendered this as “husband”, I would appreciate it. If I am correct on this, I hope TNIV will make a correction in v. 13 in its next edition.

But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.  They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God. (NLT)

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (ESV)

But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. (NRSV)
But to all who did receive Him, He gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God. (HCSB)

TNIV Reference Bible, Renaissance Fine Leather

I want to thank Zondervan for the wonderful promotional copy of the TNIV Reference Bible in the Renaissance fine leather edition. And I also must say thanks to TC Robinson at New Leaven for his correspondence with Zondervan to get some of us pastors signed up for this outstanding gift.

When I opened the box, and looked at the fine black leather, I blushed and thought that this was even better than I expected…and it truly was. When I lifted the leather bible out of the box, I felt the soft and supple leather almost melded into my hand, and right away, I knew that this was a very fine bible indeed. The hand-crafted leather bible is not just any old leather, but it’s thick and soft leather, and it feels just fabulous. Everything about the bible is classy…not just the box and design but also the silver gilded edge. It is something I would cherish and be proud to carry around church. It is also a great bible to preach from the pulpit with because the soft leather is so comfortable that it droops and curves to the shape of my hands. Ah…a wonderful feeling. Okay, this is all beginning to sound like idolatry, and idolatry is a sin, so I will just say that it’s a great bible indeed.

One thing that bugs me is when I see nice leather bibles that have a glued binding. Doing that doesn’t make sense. The binding in the TNIV Reference Bible Renaissance edition looks like it’s Smyth-sewn rather than glued. How I can tell is when I open up the bible, the pages lays flat. Not many bibles are Smyth-sewn today and I have to give kudos to Zondervan for this quality feature which cannot be overlooked. Smyth-sewn binding allows the bible to last longer. And there are two ribbon markers.

The cross reference is also an important feature in this bible. I’m a cross reference user and prefer this in my bible because I do study and research and find it very useful. I would say that it’s a must-have for me. Another important reference feature in this bible are the Topical Ties. It’ a topical reference system. You can think of it as something like the Thompson-Chain Reference system, but basically, it does the same thing. There are 700+ Topical Ties and they are located at the bottom of the page. Together with the cross-reference system and the Topical Ties, this TNIV Reference Bible is one of the best reference bibles out today.

The text is in single column which is perfect. I used to prefer double columns but now I find the single column easier to read. I don’t know why but it just works better for me. The text is in black, no red lettering.

The TNIV is a great translation and is my favourite mediating translation. (FYI, mediating sits in between formal and dynamic). It is easy to read and it is accurate. It is now more accurate than the NIV because the editorial committee has made many improvements. It is also gender-inclusive, just like the NLT and the NRSV. I’m one of these people who can accept gender-inclusive language but I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea so I don’t push it.

Thanks again to Zondervan for producing an excellent translation in the TNIV, and a bible of superb quality and craftsmanship.

What are the most authoritative translations?

ElShaddai Edwards and I have been conversing about the REB/NEB over at his blog at He is Sufficient. Our conversation has become an interesting conversation regarding the authority of bible translations.

ElShaddai said to me: “Thank you for using “authoritative” instead of “accurate”. It’s an interesting distinction and one that I’ve been thinking of exploring rather than needlessly continuing the translation philosophy wars.”

Then I responded by saying: “Yes, I do like the use of “authoritative” when I’m not talking about the formal-dynamic equivalency issues. This is a totally different issue when it comes to translations.”

I think the most authoritative translation today is still the NIV. Here’s my order of ranking:

1. NIV authority based on popular usage in all genres of publications, and usage in evangelical churches today
2. NKJV (authority based on popular usage in evangelical churches today)
3. KJV (authority based on popular usage in evangelical churches today)
4. NLT (authority based on huge growth in general popularity)
5. NRSV (authority based on usage in academic journals, reference books, and usage in mainline churches)
6. NAB(authority based on usage in Roman Catholic churches in the USA)
7. NASB (authority based on usage in Christian magazines and by pastors)
8. ESV (authority based on usage by pastors)
9. TNIV (authority based on usage in books)
10. Message (authority based on usage by pastors)

How often a translation is quoted by teachers, pastors and Christian publications of any sort (books, news magazines, ministry publications, academic journals, websites, etc.) are very important factors when we are considering whether a translation is authoritative, or not authoritative.

The authority of a translation is also dependent upon how accurate it is, and it is also less dependent upon whether it is a formal or dynamic translation. However, these factors are less important and are not the primary reasons for authority. In my opinion, the most important factor to what determines the authority of a translation is how often it is quoted.

You may disagree with my order of rankings and my reasons for them. Note that this ranking has nothing to do with which translation I think should be authoritative; rather, they are what I think are authoritative at this current moment in time.

Why did I pick the NIV as the most authoritative? Because it is still the most widely read and quoted translation today. Being the most read and quoted translation gives the NIV that authority.
Note that my rankings are unrelated to the CBA sales ranking because sales is only an indication of how popular a translation is at the current moment in time; however, it does not indicate how often it is quoted by authoritative figures and publications.

Which translations do you think are the most authoritative today? Share you order of translation ranking and state your reasons.

Update: ElShaddai at He is Sufficient has also posted on this topic of authority of bible translations.

Romans 6:17 – TNIV vs HCSB vs ESV vs NRSV

Here’s a comparison of Romans 6:17 between four major translations. I was studying this for my sermon preparation and found this interesting difference.

Romans 6:17

But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance.

But thank God that, although you used to be slaves of sin, you obeyed from the heart that pattern of teaching you were entrusted to,

But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed,

But thanks be to God that you, having once been slaves of sin, have become obedient from the heart to the form of teaching to which you were entrusted,

v. 17: the rendering in the HCSB and NRSV seems to most accurately render the definition of παρεδοθητε (paredothēte, entrusted). The word paredothēte conveys the idea that this teaching has been entrusted to the receiver, or given over or delivered to someone else’s hands. Both HCSB and NRSV rendering of “entrusted” accurately expresses this idea that something is handed over or delivered to another’s hands. The idea expressed in the ESV is still accurate but might be misinterpreted as to whom, and from whom, this pattern of teaching has been committed to. TNIV’s rendering of “claimed your allegiance” can also be misinterpreted to mean that the receiver of this teaching is the one who has actively committed oneself over to Paul’s teaching. This may be true but it is not what the text is necessarily saying. I prefer the NIV’s rendering of “entrusted.”

Also, ESV’s rendering of “standard of teaching” is a little different from the others. The Greek word τυπον (tupon, pattern or model) expresses the idea of the use of an example or a model that has a mark or impression and can be used as an exemplar. I prefer HCSB and TNIV’s use of “pattern”, and NRSV’s use of “form” is also good.

Search for a mediating translation: TNIV vs HCSB vs NAB – a conclusion

This series was meant to search out a favorite mediating translation and was not for the purpose of coming to a conclusion to a “best translation”. A “favorite translation” can be very subjective because one person’s criteria as to why one is their favorite translation might be different than another person’s criteria. However, I can conclude that I think both the TNIV and HCSB are very trustworthy translations.

In terms of literalness, the TNIV is slightly more literal than the NAB. The HCSB is most literal of the three translations, but in some places, it can also be more dynamic than the TNIV. For those who prefer more literal renderings from the original language, the HCSB might be the way to go. However, being literal does not mean that it is less readable. Both the TNIV and HCSB do an equally good job in readability, but in the area of comprehension, the HCSB is sometimes better than the TNIV. I will say more about this later. Furthermore, the less wordy HCSB seems to say the same thing in fewer words than the TNIV or NAB.

The TNIV is also definitely the most gender-inclusive translation. Some may equate gender-inclusivity with gender-accuracy; however, the term “gender-accurate” might be seen as presumptuous because it implies that it is more gender accurate. The TNIV has chosen to use this term in its marketing. HCSB is not nearly as gender-inclusive as the TNIV. Gender-inclusive pronouns are used sparingly, as in the ESV, which makes it rather inconsistent; and the NAB is somewhere in between the TNIV and HCSB. Here are the conclusions to each of the three mediating translations.


The TNIV is probably only slightly more colloquial than the HCSB. Colloquialisms are not necessarily a bad thing because it helps the reader of the English language more quickly and easily understand what the writer is trying to express. However, the downside of colloquialisms is that it can become outdated when it’s no longer in popular usage. This forces the translation to continually update its linguistic style. Therefore, I would prefer as little colloquialisms as possible.

It is one of my favorite translations. I regularly use the TNIV in my personal study. The TNIV is the first mediating translation I grab off the shelf when I do exegesis of the text at hand. The biblical scholarship behind the TNIV is excellent. Due to its changes from updated biblical scholarship, it is now more accurate than the NIV. Many passages unrelated to gender-inclusive changes bring greater accuracy. As a result, I preach and teach from the TNIV as much as, or if not more than, any other translation today. In some places in the O.T., the TNIV still has some inverted negatives. The TNIV’s use of “anyone” causes me to feel more impersonal than “one who” or “whoever.” I hope this can change in future revisions. I believe the TNIV’s move toward greater gender-inclusivity is one of the main factors that will enable the scriptures to speak to today’s generation more directly. Since the NIV is still the translation of choice for most evangelicals, the TNIV has a huge potential for growth within evangelical circles. When more evangelicals begin to recognize and accept gender-inclusiveness as being gender-accurate, evangelicals will begin to shift over to the TNIV in droves. However, it is sad to say that this may not happen right away. It may take a few more years so patience will pay off. I guess this is where TNIV will need defenders of gender-inclusivity to help increase knowledge and understanding of the writers’ original intent.


The HCSB has done an amazing job in making it less wordy. It expresses the idea effectively and efficiently while using fewer words. In many places, it is just as literal as the NASB or ESV. At the same time, in some passages it is as dynamic, if not more dynamic, than the TNIV. This simultaneous use of both word-for-word (formal equivalence) and thought-for-thought (dynamic equivalence) makes it somewhere in between a literal translation and a dynamic (functional) translation. This is what they call optimal equivalence. In my opinion, I think the translators of the HCSB have taken the best approach or philosophy when it comes to bible translation. It stays with the word-for-word approach when the meaning is already clear and understandable; but when the literal approach does not work, it will optimize the meaning by using the thought-for-thought approach. As a result, the HCSB is consistently easy to read and understand—even more so than the TNIV. It has done such a good job that I might even venture to say that it renders a functional or dynamic translation unnecessary.

The biblical scholarship behind the HCSB is very up-to-date. It uses some unique ways of rendering certain passages and terms that I have not seen in other translations. One that stands out in my mind is the rendering of “temple complex” instead of “temple”. The HCSB is not as colloquial as the TNIV but it does have a few colloquial terms (e.g., slacker instead of TNIV’s sluggard). I also like the HCSB’s use of bold print in the New Testament where it quotes Old Testament passages. This helps me to understand the N.T. text in its proper context. I also prefer its contemporary use of digits, weights and measures (e.g., 9,000 instead of nine thousand; feet instead of cubits; gallons instead of baths, etc.). I also like its use of square brackets to denote words not in the original Greek. This adds an element of transparency and clarity for the reader. Even though these extra tools in the HCSB are unnecessary niceties, they are, nevertheless, helpful to the reader. There are some renderings in the HCSB that may also be more accurate than the TNIV; however, vice versa is also true because there are places where either one of the two translations may have the better rendering.

Since it is being continually revised each year, it can only get better. I predict that the HCSB will eventually make inroads to establish itself as one of two premier mediating translations in the evangelical world. I also use the HCSB in my preaching. I have confidence that it accurately speaks the word of God into the lives of its listeners and readers.


Roman Catholics who read the NAB will be much more familiar with it than me. The NAB is a translation that I was not very familiar with when I started this series. It was a third option that I wanted to throw in to make the comparison more interesting. After doing this series, I still have to say that I am still not as familiar with it as I would like to be. The NAB is also an accurate translation but not as accurate as the TNIV or HCSB. I cannot make any conclusive statements about its Old Testament because both Old and New Testaments seem to have two different approaches to translation philosophy. The first edition of the NAB was later revised and was known as the Revised NAB, and then later it was amended again so it was known as the Amended Revised NAB. The latest revision of the NAB’s N.T. is now more gender-inclusive. It is slightly less literal than the TNIV; but in terms of gender-inclusivity, it stands in between the TNIV and HCSB. The NAB’s unique renderings also bring a fresh perspective to viewing certain passages. It lends itself better to Roman Catholic theology. I guess this is why it is used by Roman Catholics, particularly Roman Catholics in the United States. In the U.S., some parishes prefer the use of the RSV over the NAB in their lectionary readings due to occasionally awkward and inaccurate renderings.

The next series will likely be on dynamic or functional translations. It will likely come in the Fall of 2008.

Mediating translation comparison #5: TNIV vs HCSB vs NAB – Matthew 10:24, 28

So once again… the comparison series between mediating translations continues with Matthew, ch. 10.

Matt. 10:24—student vs disciple; servant vs slave

are not above their teacher, nor servants above their master. It is enough for students to be like their teacher, and servants like their master.

A disciple is not above his teacher, or a slave above his master. It is enough for a disciple to become like his teacher and a slave like his master.

No disciple is above his teacher, no slave above his master. It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, for the slave that he become like his master.

is not superior to teacher, nor slave to master. It is enough for disciple to grow to be like teacher, and slave like master.

v.24: in TNIV’s gender-inclusive change from “his master” to “their master”, translators have changed the singular “student” to plural form. This alteration from the original is not the best. I prefer NJB rendering. From a gender-inclusive perspective, the NJB does a slick job of avoiding the use of “his” and “their” altogether. I prefer the NJB rendering because there is no change from singular to plural; moreover, it uses “slave” instead of “servant”. The NLT’s provides a fair rendering: “A student is not greater than the teacher. A servant is not greater than the master” but the NRSV provides an excellent rendering of the same verse too.

Furthermore, in today’s context, “disciple” has the connotation of discipleship and discipline, whereas, today’s use of “student” can carry the connotation of an immature high school or elementary school student. Does the average high school student strive to become like one’s teacher? I think not.

Matt. 10:28b—Gehenna vs hell

Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

rather, fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.

Rather, fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.

v.28: The NAB provides an interesting translation of the word γεέννα (Gehenna, hell). I have wondered why our translations use the word “hell” instead of Gehenna. Young’s Literal Translation, World English Bible and Weymouth N.T. also use Gehenna. This likely comes from Ghi-Hinnom, or valley of Hinnom from Jeremiah 7:31 and 2 Chron. 28:3 was a place where people were sacrificed in a fire:

They have built the high places of Topheth in the Valley of Ben Hinnom to burn their sons and daughters in the fire–something I did not command, nor did it enter my mind. So beware, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when people will no longer call it Topheth or the Valley of Ben Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter, for they will bury the dead in Topheth until there is no more room. (Jer. 7:31, TNIV)

Gehenna, then, was a place where God’s enemies lie dead outside the walls of the New Jerusalem. Corpses, refuse and garbage were thrown in the Valley of Hinnom outside the city, where huge fires burned constantly. The imagery of Isaiah also adds to how we view hell:

And they shall go out and look at the dead bodies of the people who have rebelled against me; for their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh. (Isa. 66:24, NRSV)

If we render the word “Gehenna”, we risk not understanding that hell is an actual realm within our understanding of heaven and hell. Jesus described hell as a place of torment in Mark 9:45-48. If we use “hell”, we risk not understanding the origins of the word. I don’t have a preference. I think I’m torn between the use of both words.

Mediating translation comparison #4: TNIV vs HCSB vs NAB – Acts 2:11, 17-18

The comparison series between mediating translations continues with the rest of Acts, ch.2

Acts 2:11

(both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs–we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!”

both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs–we hear them speaking in our own languages the magnificent acts of God.”

both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs, yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues of the mighty acts of God.”

Jews and proselytes alike-Cretans and Arabs, we hear them preaching in our own language about the marvels of God.’

v.11a: The HCSB directly renders προσηλυτοι (prosēlutoi) as proselytes. The TNIV and NAB chose to render it as converts.” “Converts” is easier to understand than “proselytes.” It then tags on “to Judaism” to add clarity. Not everyone understands the meaning of the word “proselytes” because it is an insider’s term; moreover, it may also be a little outdated. I prefer the TNIV and NAB rendering of “converts to Judaism.

v.11b: μεγαλεος (megaleios) is defined as magnificent, excellent, splendid, wonderful, or mighty works. Where the Greek says: ta megaleia tou theou, the HCSB and NAB renders this as “acts of God.” The Greek includes the“magnificence of God and his works. Traditionally translations have rendered megaleios to include only the deeds, works or acts of God but not the magnificence of God himself. Current renderings like “wonders of God” (TNIV) or “marvels of God”(NJB), “might works” (ESV) is still missing the expression of God’s own magnificence. This shows the limits of the English language to include a multiplicity of meanings in a word. For megaleios, I would even suggest some alternate renderings of: “magnificence of God and God’s wonderful works,” or “greatness of God and God’s marvelous doings”. Perhaps someone others can suggest alternate renderings.

Acts 2:17

‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.

And it will be in the last days, says God, that I will pour out My Spirit on all humanity; then your sons and your daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams.

‘It will come to pass in the last days,’ God says, ‘that I will pour out a portion of my spirit upon all flesh. Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams.

In the last days-the Lord declares-I shall pour out my Spirit on all humanity. Your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your young people shall see visions, your old people dream dreams.

v.17: it is interesting the NAB would render this as “pour out as a portion.” The word for “portion” is not in the original Greek. This implies that God only pours out some of his Spirit, rather than all, upon human flesh. It also connotes the idea that God’s Spirit given to humanity is only part of the experience in God. Perhaps this rendering lends itself better to Roman Catholic theology of the Eucharist or Holy Communion, in which a portion of God’s Spirit is present in the bread and wine. For this verse, I prefer the HCSB and NJB’s rendering because it implies that all of God’s Spirit is poured out upon human flesh in the last days at Pentecost.

v.17: the Greek also uses σρξ (sarx, flesh) but only the NAB renders sarx literally as flesh. However, for a mediating translation philosophy, I prefer to go with “humanity” (HCSB) because this connotes the inclusion of human flesh. This is more accurate but just as easy to understand as “people” (TNIV) and “everyone” (ISV).

Acts 2:18

Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.

I will even pour out My Spirit on My male and female slaves in those days, and they will prophesy.

Indeed, upon my servants and my handmaids I will pour out a portion of my spirit in those days, and they shall prophesy.

Even on the slaves, men and women, shall I pour out my Spirit.

v.18: In the original Greek, the literal rendering is “upon the male slaves of mine upon the female slaves of mine.” The word δολος (doulos) means bondslave. A bondslave is bound to one’s master or owner. A servant is different from a bondslave because one is not bound to serve one’s master. The word δικονος (diakonos) is the proper word for servant. The proper translation for doulos is rendered in the HCSB, NJB and ISV. 

Mediating translation comparison #3: TNIV vs HCSB vs NAB – Acts 2:3-4

The comparison series between mediating translations continues with the Acts of the Apostles, ch.2, the passage that deals with the birth of the church, and is in the spirit of Pentecost Sunday. It is also an admired passage for pentecostals and charismatics. (Note, the season of Pentecost, May 11 – July 27, is a part of the liturgical calendar of many mainline church denominations, including Presbyterian, Methodist, Anglican, Lutheran, Roman Catholic, Orthodox).

Acts 2:3

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

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

Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them.

and there appeared to them tongues as of fire; these separated and came to rest on the head of each of them.

v.3: διαμερζω (diamerizō) means: to distribute, divide up, separate. It means that something is split, or separated into parts, or divided out to each person from a common source. I do not think that what they saw was a physical formation of cloven flames of fire (KJV). “Flames of fire” (HCSB, ISV) seems to make little sense; but rather, “tongues of fire” makes better sense (as I will explain later).

The rendering of “tongues of fire” leads me to draw a hypothesis. If tongues also means language, I leads me to wonder how a language could be physically divided up. I’m beginning to suspect that what they saw was a distribution of the gift of languages to each person there. It would make better sense that it was the Holy Spirit’s charism of ecstatic utterance being distributed or divided out to each of the recipients. Therefore, what they heard on the Day of Pentecost might have sounded like “languages of fire”. This rendering would be a better description of ecstatic utterances of what we know to be “speaking in tongues.” The charism of language (or glossalia), might have sounded like “languages of fire” to the writer of Acts. If so, perhaps this was what the writer was trying to express when he heard ecstatic utterances or ecstatic proclamation being spoken in so many languages or tongues. An alternate translation I provide is:

They saw languages, as of fire, being distributed and resting on each of them.”

Acts 2:4

All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

Then they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different languages, as the Spirit gave them ability for speech.

And they were all filled with the holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.

They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak different languages as the Spirit gave them power to express themselves.

v.4a: The HCSB, NJB and ISV’s use of “different languages” is the contemporary definition of tongues. It was the various languages that were spoken when the Spirit filled the believers in Jerusalem. Tongue is also an organ of speech but when used in the context of Acts 2, “language(s)” is much easier to understand.

v.4b: At the end of this verse, the original Greek has αποφθεγγεσθαι (apophthengomai , utterance), which can mean: to speak out, speak forth, pronounce, or even to utter one’s opinion. The TNIV does not translate apophthengomai, perhaps to reduce a seemingly redundant idea (however, I do not think it is redundant). The HCSB renders this: “as the Spirit gave them ability for speech.” The NJB rendering of to express themselves” assumes that Holy Spirits utterance is of ones opinion. The NRSV and NLT also renders it as an ability. I disagree with these renderings because glossalia is a charism or gift of the Holy Spirit. It is not a natural ability, or an utterance of one’s personal opinion, but rather, it is suppose to be the utterance of what the Holy Spirit proclaims, speaks or utters through the believer. The RSV/ESV uses “utterance”. I feel the NAB’s rendering of: “as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim may be more accurate. I prefer the NAB’s rendering of to proclaim” because glossalia is the Spirits charism of proclaiming or speaking Gods word.

Also see related posts on mediating translation comparison—TNIV vs HCSB vs NAB: The search begins || #1: Romans 4 || #2: John 20 || #3: Acts 2 || #4: Acts 2b || #5: Matt. 10 || A Conclusion