A Study of Translations: The New International Version

By Bobby L. Graham

This recent version seems at first examination to be a commendable effort, having several advantages to commend it. The belief of the translators in the authority and , trustworthiness of the Bible, the techniques of translation detailed in the “Introduction,” and the dubious distinction of having a member of the church of Christ on the committee, albeit the church was represented as a denomination in the same paragraph. These considerations have made some enthusiastic concerning this work.

Upon closer examination, however, the work itself fails to fulfill our hopes. Its failings are numerous. The first inadequacy, we think, is the omission of italics from the text, thus, leaving the reader without any indication of words thought necessary by the translators. Furthermore, in spite of the Introduction’s admission that the precise meaning of some passages could not be ascertained, this version fails to translate the exact words of the original text. If there is ever a need for such translation, it is especially needed in those passages. We surely do not need the theological ideas of the translating committee. The value of truth and our need for it demand that we have the words of the original writers to make a determination of what they meant, in correspondence with other passages. What the translators thought they meant is without value in a translation. Witness 1 Cor. 15:29 (“Why are people baptized for them’!”) as an example. Here the mistranslation points in the wrong direction of thought. A correct rendering of the words of Paul, on the other hand, lets the reader draw his own conclusion in keeping with truth.

The content of the version manifests that the cloak of Calvinism has been wrapped around the effort, particularly the pernicious poison of inherent total depravity, with which the epistles reek. Ten times in Romans (7:5, 18, 25; 8:3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 12, 13), once in 1 Corinthians (5:50), six times in Galatians (13, 16, 17, 19, and 24 in chapter 5, and 6:8), once in Ephesians (2:3), twice in Colossians (2:11 and 13), and twice in 2 Peter (2:10 and 2:18) the word flesh is rendered sinful nature.

This version has Jesus disavowing any intent to abolish the law and prophets in Matt. 5:17, but Paul said that was the very thing he accomplished in Eph. 2:15. The word abolish does not convey the idea of Jesus in this passage: he meant he did not come to be destructive toward. Abolishment was necessary after his fulfillment of the law.

Mark 16:9-20 is classified as second rate scripture when completely adequate evidence for it exists. Romans 4:3 mistranslates “as” instead of “for” or unto, as it should be a word looking toward Abraham’s justification. The “man without the Spirit” in 1 Cor. 2:14 is not what Paul said, nor is “perfection” in 1 Cor. 13:10 (“the perfect thing” or “that which is perfect” in the text). Such instances make learning the truth without the poison of error almost impossible with the sole use of some of the newer versions. Those of us who know the truth need to consider those who do not and point them to a correct version.

The inadequacy of the word stands out in 1 Thess. 1:5 (“not simply in words”), and “with deep conviction” is not the assurance Paul provided by means of the miraculous powers he worked in Thessalonica. Nor is “become” the same either in idea or in doctrine as “begotten” in Hebrews 1:5.

Can we not see the inferiority of this version?

Truth Magazine XXII: 32, p. 519
August 17, 1978