Sunday, 7 August 2011

Some thoughts on Bible versions. Pt 4 NIV

Disappearing truths in the NIV?

Some time ago I was asked to be the speaker at a church house party weekend. I was 'commissioned' to do 4 sessions and after having prayed felt I should do a mini-series on the Christian's walk. I had in mind the way we begin and the way we must continue and had a series of verses in mind, particularly from Paul's letters.

I was interested in the word 'peripateO' which means to walk about (or around). Paul uses this key picture of the Christian life 32 times in his letters. Rom 6:4; 8:1, 4; 13:13; 14:15; 1 Cor 3:3; 7:17; 2 Cor 4:2; 5:7; 10:2–3; 12:18; Gal 5:16; Eph 2:2, 10; 4:1, 17; 5:2, 8, 15; Phil 3:17–18; Col 1:10; 2:6; 3:7; 4:5; 1 Th 2:12; 4:1, 12; 2 Th 3:6, 11. It speaks of the steady 'one step at a time' pattern of Christian living.

I had some key verses in mind:
Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. Rom 6:4

(For we walk by faith, not by sight:) 2 Cor 5:7

This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. Gal 5:16

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, Col 2:6

I prepared my outline thoughts using my New King James Version and then I hit a snag. I asked what version of the Bible the people at the house party would be using; answer: The New International Version. Why would that be a 'snag'? Well, the NIV has systematically eliminated the picture of the Christian life as a 'step by step obedience' by refusing to translate 'peripateO' as 'walk'. It opts instead for 'living', 'acting', 'behaving', 'use', among others. The favoured choice is 'living'. In fact, it has chosen not to translate it but rather to explain what Paul means by his use of the word.

There are times when short-cuts look very much like vandalism. If the NIV is prepared to take this kind of short-cut how do I know what other short-cuts it may take? And that is the problem; it undermines my confidence in what I am reading. I may 'understand' much more easily what I am reading but how do I know if I am now reading what Paul really meant?

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