Christopher Heard: More TNIV woes

Christopher has a very good (and humorous) breakdown of the problems with the TNIV

In the last week and a half I’ve been teaching from the Latter Prophets in class, so here are some prime examples.

(1) Jeremiah 7:22-23

In Hebrew:

כי לא־דברתי את־אבותיכם ולא צויתים ביום הוציא אותם מארץ מצרים על־דברי עולה וזבח כי אם־את־הדבר הזה צויתי אותם לאמר שמעו בקולי

A fairly literal translation of this long complex sentence would read:

For I did not speak to your ancestors and I did not command them in the day when I brought them from the land of Egypt concerning matters of burnt offering or sacrifice, but rather this word I commanded them, saying, “Listen to my voice …”

For those of you unfamiliar with Hebrew syntax, the word pair כי אם (ki ’im), which I have translated above as “but rather,” introduces the positive alternative to a negative statement that was itself previously introduced by לא (lo’), translated above as “not.” In other words, a sentence with the structure לא … כי אם has a “not this … but that” logic. Jeremiah 7:22–23 flatly makes the claim that God did not give commands about burnt offerings and sacrifices, but rather about obedience. Of course, this does not quite square with Leviticus, and whether Leviticus is historically inaccurate or whether Jeremiah is spinning history to make a point is something that has to be determined through exegesis and interpretation. The syntax, however, is not at all equivocal: not about sacrifices, but about obedience, did God issue commands at the time of the exodus.

The TNIV translators, however, apparently can’t stand the idea of Jeremiah disagreeing with Leviticus, so without any warrant in the Hebrew text or in Hebrew syntax they add one small English word that completely changes the sense of the entire passage:

For when I brought your ancestors out of Egypt and spoke to them, I did not just give them commands about burnt offerings and sacrifices, but I gave them this command: Obey me …

By just adding just one little word, the TNIV translators have just completely reversed the claim that Jeremiah is making. I just really wish they hadn’t done that

(Via Higgaion.)

 

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