Bible Translation

"Faith in Jesus" or "Faithfulness of Jesus"?

Reprinted with permission from Doug Kutilek’s As I See It, (May, 2010) with some editing. AISI is sent free to all who request it dkutilek@juno.com.

The question

I have come across an interesting translation of the Bible that Dallas Seminary produced. It is online, and it is called NET Bible. I was wondering if you would agree with how they translated Galatians 2:16: “… by the faithfulness of Jesus Christ” (other verses translated the same way are Galatians 2:20; Romans 3:22, 26; Galatians 3:22; Ephesians 3:12; Philippians 3:9). I … think this is extremely thought provoking, if their translation is correct. If you have time I would love to know your thoughts on this!

Response

I own a print copy of the First Beta edition of the NET Bible. The interpretative notes in the NET Bible at this point are undoubtedly the work of NT Professor Daniel Wallace. His Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics takes precisely the same view, and indeed with precisely the same wording much of the time.

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Preservation: How and What? Part 3

Read Part 1 and Part 2.

Does the Bible teach that God’s people will always be able to point to a particular text1 of the Bible and know that it is the word-perfect, preserved text? Those who believe a particular choice of translations is “the biblically right” option, tend to answer (passionately) in the affirmative. But many who use other translations or simply prefer the KJV are not so sure. Who is right?

Points of agreement

Nearly all involved in the controversy are agreed that God has preserved His Word for us in some sense. Nearly all are agreed as well that Scripture teaches God will preserve forever, somewhere and in some form, every one of the words He inspired and that some believers will always have access to Scripture in some form. God’s ability to use imperfect sinners to perfectly preserve His Word is also not in dispute, nor is the fact that we should accept what the Bible reveals to be true regardless of the claims of the “science of textual criticism” or any “high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God” (2 Cor. 10:5, KJV).

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The Perspicuity of Scripture as Applied to Bible Translation, Part 2

Read Part 1.

The doctrine of perspicuity or clarity of Scripture can be stated this way: All things being accounted for, the Scriptures are understandable. The question is, however, what should be accounted for?

Luther grappled with the idea and admitted in The Bondage of the Will that the Scriptures were both clear and unclear. He, like many other reformers, attempted to balance the statements in the Scriptures themselves that tended to support the understandability of the Scriptures on the one hand and their difficulty on the other. Most significant among the passages that state the difficulty of the Scriptures is Peter’s declaration that in Paul’s epistles there “are some things hard to be understood” (2 Peter 3:16). The experience of reading and studying the Scriptures also proves that not all things in the Scriptures are readily understandable.

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The Perspicuity of Scripture as Applied to Bible Translation, Part 1

The essential characteristics of the Scriptures may be summed up in these tenets: revelation because God has communicated His mind to men; inspiration because God has superintended the recording of what He communicated; canonicity because what is inspired is recognized; infallibility because what God intended to be written was recorded without error; authority because what is recorded is binding upon all men; necessity because man cannot do without what God says; sufficiency because what God has communicated needs no supplement; preservation because God has pledged for His Word to exist to all generations; and understandability because God communicated in order to be understood.

While all these characteristics of the Scriptures are essential and significant, two of them relate directly to the routine task of the Bible translator: preservation and understandability. The other characteristics may impress the translator with the sacredness and value of the biblical texts and shape his philosophy of Bible translation, but they do not directly affect the routine, technical work of translating. They are inherent qualities that are set and permanent but are not active, so to speak.

By contrast, whenever the Scriptures are translated into a new language, preservation is newly active. And whenever the Scriptures are studied, preached, or translated, understandability is also in operation. Both preservation and understandability of the Bible are acts of “fairness” from God. It would not be equitable that God would reveal His Word, render it binding upon all men, and then not make it available; or that He would make it available and not make it understandable.

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