Friday, 24 June 2016

NIV evolutions

A couple of times on the blog I have zoomed in on what appears to be an important shift in the NIV in its more recent edition (2011). There have actually be three main "incarnations" to this translation:
1. 1984
2. 2005 (TNIV)
3. 2011

In the process of compiling my Psalms reading plan (Psalms: God's keys to our presence), I have discovered many of these discrepancies that, for me, lean in favour of the older translation. Before I mention my difficulties there, let's look at how wide-reaching those changes have been:

(taken from

So far I have discovered two main (great) sources for tracking the changes:

You won't believe how in-depth they are! One important thing to note is that it is actually no longer so easy to find electronic versions of the 1984 NIV now. The reason for this is that most sites just updated their version with the 2011 version. It is not called "NIV 2011". It is simply called "NIV", so it is not always straight forward to know unless you are aware of a key change. But for the most-part, 1984 has gone.

One place I still go, especially for the Psalms study, is Just select NIV on the drop-down menu, and (although you would have no way of knowing this), you are provided the 1984 version. However, if you go to the main site, and make the same selection, then you are provided the 2011 version! Crazy, huh? I think it's useful to know.

A while back while looking into Christ's role in creation, I noted a rather subtle but essential recognition of an inaccuracy in Colossians 1:16. Perhaps under the influence of a renewed Jesus movement in the evangelical churches (I speculate), the Father was even eclipsed here:

For by in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were have been created bythrough him and for him.

Note how essential "Father-space" (see 1 Cor 8:6) had been filled by a Trinity-subsuming Christ who was simply understood to be Creator. So these little tweaks are, in my view, very significant. So why am I unhappy about the Psalms direction? Rather than bore any readers here with more examples, let me just grant that the word "soul" is grossly misunderstood. I acknowledge that this word in a worn-out evangelism of soul-saving has become unhelpfully unclear. The 2011 NIV has opted for a rather novel way out. Where it feels like it can get away with it, it scraps the "soul" and replaces it with the person as a whole (or a pronoun). 

I'm not satisfied with that solution, because it is precisely the wholeness of a person that is at stake and that is lacking when the person is not entirely present. To be present requires strong intra-connecting aspects of hands, face, eyes, bones, thoughts, emotions, words, tongues, heart and soul. There is a spectrum of parts comprising the whole that goes from visible to invisible, tangible to intangible, emitter to receptor, and even teacher to student. This is why I recommend reading the Psalms in the 1984 version: in my view, you will be less confused by the pronoun play.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Confusion over a *case* in the NT: anarthrous Moses vs arthrous Peter

I am a bit confused, I must admit, to discover some quite curious statistics around the Greek in the New Testament. Some will know I am quite interested in the case of the presence or absence of articles in this fascinating language. It occurred to me that in order to better understand the practice of including articles with proper names, e.g. the John writing this blog post, it would make sense to look at other examples in the New Testament, and see how case  comes into it. If we include the vocative, there are actually five Greek cases: vocative, nominative, genitive, accusative and dative.

It had already become clear to me when I did the series of posts on arche that Greek case had a role to play, and other readings have confirmed that (BTW I remain a total novice to Koine Greek, but that does not prevent me from asking what I think should be a legitimate question, which I will get to in a second).

So I decided to take Moses, Peter and Jesus as three prominent proper names to look at. I haven't done Jesus yet - and I wish to re-count Moses and Peter before proceeding. What did I find?

I'll publish some stats when I have gone through it more thoroughly, but there was a surprising difference between Moses and Peter in the Nominative case. Moses occurs in the New Testament 80 times. Of those 80, slightly over half are in the nominative case. For example:

“Teacher,” they said, “Moses told us that if a man dies without having children...” (Matt 22:24). This Moses is in the nominative: Μωϋσῆς. And there is hardly ever an article with the nominative in the instance of Moses (my first count was 3 out of 43). However, in the case of Peter, it is quite different. Peter is mentioned 156 times in the New Testament, of which 100 are in the nominative case, Πέτρος. So my question is: why do we get so many articles with Πέτρος? Approximately half of these have the article appended. OR, why do we get so few articles with Μωϋσῆς? I hope the same enquiry into Jesus will highlight which of these two questions is the most pertinent.

UPDATE: While this discrepancy remains a little unclear to me, John (Ἰωάννης  OR Ἰωάννου) is more in line with what we might expect: anarthrous in the genitive and nominative cases to the tune of 18%, and especially in the genitive (only 8%).

Friday, 10 June 2016

Inherited Name

The more I think about Christology - which has been quite a bit in the last couple of years - and the divine name, translated by LORD (Kyrios) in Greek, the more I am convinced that Hebrews 1:4 has a vital role to play. Here it is again in the NIV:
So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.
And check out the Aramaic Bible in Plain English version:
And This One is altogether greater than the Angels, according to how much more excellent than theirs is The Name which he possesses.

Weymouth also capitalizes Name.

One thing that had escaped my notice until recently is the angels' name. We know that the angels were at times identified by various names. But here we are talking about some sort of collective "name". The name constitutes some sort of comparable "excellence" or rank. Here is another insightful translation, Holman Christian Standard Bible:

So He became higher in rank than the angels, just as the name He inherited is superior to theirs. 

And then in verse 5 we flow straight into Christ's begetting, or at least the most apt OT picture of such a begetting, and reason for such superior greatness.

But the point is the angels haven't had that experience. They have not inherited a name like that. But if any had done so, then the angel Gabriel, for instance, would hardly have stopped being called "Gabriel", etc. In Jesus' affiliated name is a rank of excellence and required reverence, inherited from his Father.

He is the Son of Yahweh himself, and he rightly bears the Greek translated name of His Father, Kyrios.

THIS is the name (and rank) that is referred to when it says "at THE NAME of Jesus every knee shall bow".

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Psalms: God's keys for oneness/presence

Some of you might know by now that since I had the amazing opportunity to do a spiritual retreat in April (please consider doing this!), that I have become ever increasingly infatuated with the Psalms. My basic pattern is to read through the Psalms, and when I come across passages that speak to what it means to be an integrated human, capable of being truly present within themselves, their relationship to God and others, I write it down. That’s right, with a good ol’ fashioned pen. As I do this, strange things go on within me. I find myself engaging in similar wrestling to what I sense the Psalmists went through. Sometimes, huge, vaulted “atria” of self-space well up, and I sense the intra-connectivity within me develop. I then sense crushing disappointment when it becomes me-centred again, suddenly lacking in power. Then I realise that the perfect and outside “other” that is God himself is to be worshipped and honoured with all that is within me, and gives my self shape. Quite a roller-coaster I can assure you.

I’m up to Psalm 119 at the moment. The plan is to release here on the blog, and maybe elsewhere too, a Psalms reading plan. 

Firstly will come the easy part, entitled: PSALMS: GOD’S KEYS FOR PRESENCE. This will include an introduction and the suggested readings for each day.

Secondly will come the longer part, entitled: PSALMS: MEDITATING GOD’S KEYS FOR PRESENCE. This will include the simpler version as well as some meditative thoughts.

I’m pretty excited about it. Of course it would be tempting just to get going on it quickly and ditch the physical pen, but I also enjoy the discipline and the sense of positive mounting tension.

It is such a great place to meditate. Here’s something that literally just jumped into my brain while pondering Psalm 119: This morning I thought of a friend and his (sometimes) inauthentic and slightly-nervous laugh. My soul, unprepared, is not blessed or well equipped to handle such multiplicity of signals, which don’t fit in with the one-mindedness drive of the Psalms. Things to remember:
  • The good intentions and desire to connect
  • I’m equally if not more capable of such symptoms
  • The path to depth is sometimes through the shallow.

But what response? Do I partake? Do I isolate my friend in his nervous inauthentic moment? Or can I even take quick responsibility for causing an inauthentic moment in the bridging process, with a gracious smile for instance? I like the third option.

Please also check out my post on responsibility, humility and Jesus here, which I think is relevant to this discussion.