Tuesday, November 23, 2010

New NIV 2010 Online

Just discovered something. Apparently, the 2010 edition of the NIV is now on www.biblegateway.com. (As far as I know, it’s currently not in print, but it is available online.)
If you have time, here are the translators’ notes (where they describe what changes they made): http://www.biblegateway.com/niv/Translators-Notes.pdf.
Compare the older (1984) edition of the NIV’s translation of Romans 3:27 to see a sample of one of the changes:
  • · 1984 NIV translation of Romans 3:27: “Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith.”
  • · 2010 NIV translation of Romans 3:27: “Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith.”
I highlighted the biggest difference between the earlier NIV and the later one. The 1984 NIV committee translated the Greek word νόμος (nomos, literally, “law”) as “principle” in the phrase “On what principle?” But the 2010 NIV committee translated νόμος as “law” and used “because of” for the Greek διὰ (dia, which literally means “through” in this case—they’re interpreting what “through” means with the phrase “because of”).
This is significant because Protestant scholars have long had anxiety about the word “law,” and they felt that Paul’s theology discarded the law and embraced the new “law-free gospel.” There are still many scholars today who do not hesitate to describe Paul’s theology as “law-free.” In one sense, it is “law-free” in that we cannot be saved by the works of the law, but if you read on to Romans 3:31, it is clear that Paul is not interested in disposing of the law.
Perhaps the 1984 NIV translators were worried that if they translated it as “law,” then readers would conclude, “Oh, the law of faith must still somehow be ‘works-based’—because it’s a law.” But I don’t think there’s any reason to introduce the word “principle” into the text. That’s a reflection of someone’s theological editing of the text, in my opinion. But I think the new 2010 NIV brings out what Paul means well and therefore fends off any such potential confusion when they rearranged the 1984 rendering to say, Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith” (emphasis in bold mine).
By νόμος or “law,” Paul is referring to the תּוֹרָה (Torah, or the Mosaic Law, the first five books of the Bible— תּוֹרָה can be translated as “instruction”). It is not in our ability to keep the instruction or תּוֹרָה, but it is in the faithfulness of God and our faith in him that justifies us (this is the thrust of the argument of Romans 3:21-31). That is, in the תּוֹרָה, works are required, but first and foremost is faith. (Works are evidence of our faith or trust in the One who is faithful.) As Paul later argues in Romans 4, Abraham was justified by faith and not by works (circumcision came after God declared Abraham righteous, not before!). In the book of Exodus, God was faithful to Israel by delivering them from Egypt even before he gave them the תּוֹרָה! Grace preceded commandments.
So I think that תּוֹרָה was never intended to justify the ungodly. In fact, the whole point of the argument Paul gives in Romans 23 is that all are under sin and that no one is righteous. Furthermore, no one can sin against the law of God and then claim to be able to use the law of God to redeem herself (or himself). If you are truly guilty of murdering someone, you cannot say to the judge, “But Your Honor, I paid my taxes and obeyed the law tons of other timessurely, that will save me, right?” So the law is not the problem. We are.
Thankfully, God sent his Son to redeem us, so that we might believe in the One who justifies the ungodly” (Romans 4:5 NIV). That is the beauty and power of the gospel.

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