Christianity 201

November 21, 2010

Second Guessing The Bible Translators

Last week on my book industry blog, I noted a study that examined the large number of changes in Galatians and also III John in the online edition of the NIV-2011, which won’t be available in print until March.  (I’ll post the statistics later in the comments section, or you can read them here.)

III John is a particularly finite specimen for study, so I went to a free online text comparison site,, and input the new version from Bible Gateway, and then the old version, designated as NIV-1984.   However, I later decided the format was more useful if you input the older version first, and then the newer.

The red text indicates 1984 text that was deleted, and the green text indicates the 2011 replacement version.   It’s not just whimsical to play Bible translator and ask yourself what might be behind the revisions you see here.   Do you agree with the changes?   Can you see the reasons for the differences in the updated texts?

III John:

1 The elder,

To my dear friend Gaius, whom I love in the truth.

2 Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well. 3 It gave me great joy to havewhen some brothers comebelievers came and telltestified about your faithfulness to the truth andtruth, telling how you continue to walk in the 4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

5 Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers,brothers and sisters,[a] even though they are strangers to you. 6 They have told the church about your love. You will do well toPlease send them on their way in a manner worthy ofthat honors God. 7 It was for the sake of the Name that they went out, receiving no help from the pagans. 8 We ought therefore to show hospitality to such menpeople so that we may work together for the truth.

9 I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will have nothing to do withnot welcome us. 10 So ifwhen I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, gossiping maliciouslyspreading malicious nonsense about us. Not satisfied with that, he even refuses to welcome the brothers.other believers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church.

11 Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God. 12 Demetrius is well spoken of by everyone—and even by the truth itself. We also speak well of him, and you know that our testimony is true.

13 I have much to write you, but I do not want to do so with pen and ink. 14 I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face.

Peace to you. The friends here send their greetings. Greet the friends there by name.

1 Comment »

  1. And here I thought the Lutherans had cornered the market on politically correct speech. Some of the changes are innocuous, but my antenna really goes up when I see translations that actually pretend that the original word should be neutral. I am getting tired of this sort of change. I always liked the hymn “Good Christian Men Rejoice,” but we can’t sing such sexist texts any more. They must be repaired and made either inclusive or neutral.
    What a lot of balderdash.
    I believe that the Holy Spirit has preserved the text the way we ought to read it. There is nothing insulting or oppressive about the text as it has been received. Let’s quit straining out gnats and swallowing camels.

    Comment by Katherine Harms — November 21, 2010 @ 8:30 pm | Reply

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