Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Careful: a New NIV

As I prepare to teach our Sunday School class, I copy three or four translations of the subject scripture and, for the sake of ready reference, paste them in my notes. Usually I go to and for this purpose.

The scripture last Sunday was Romans 8:5-11. In that passage, the translation of the Greek word sarka is a central issue. Wright comments on how difficult a word this is to translate. He writes that the word "is so problematic that it would be nice . . . to avoid it altogether, but I have found that doing so produces even worse tangles." The KJV translation of sarka is "flesh."

My NIV Study Bible (Zondervan 10th Anniversary Edition 1995) translates sarka as "sinful nature" (which, after reading both Stott and Wright's discussion of the passage, I didn't think was all that helpful either.) I went to BibleGateway to pull over that passage in the NIV for my notes. Lo and behold, "flesh" is back in the NIV again. What happened?

We now have a 2010 edition of the NIV, so be careful. (BibleGateway actually calls it the "2011 update.") Here's a general discussion of the NIV and its update philosophy at BibleGateway. But I must say there was not much warning when I looked up the passage on that site. I did, finally, notice that at the top of the BibleGateway page with my scripture there was the legend "New International Version Copyright 2010." That was the giveaway. Except I didn't immediately get it.

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