Help with Hebrews 2:6-8 and Psalm 8:4-6

Discussion in 'Bible Versions/Translations' started by ElainaMor, Jan 22, 2015.

  1. ElainaMor

    ElainaMor
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    I am sorry if this has been discussed here before, I searched and couldn't find anything so I decided to post. I am reading through Hebrews using the NLT and Hebrews 2:6-8 is translated:

    6 For in one place the Scriptures say,
    “What are mere mortals that you should think about them,
    or a son of man that you should care for him?
    7 Yet you made them only a little lower than the angels
    and crowned them with glory and honor.
    8 You gave them authority over all things.”
    Now when it says “all things,” it means nothing is left out. But we have not yet seen all things put under their authority.

    This is different from how I remember this verse being worded in my NKJV, specifically saying "them" instead of "he." I looked it up in a couple different translations and it seems like the NIV 2011 and NLT are the only ones that translate Hebrews 2:6-8 and Psalm 8:4-6 this way. Is it an inaccurate translation of this passage? or just a word choice that had to be made by the translation team?

    Thanks for any help.
     
  2. Van

    Van
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    "Inaccurate translation" is somewhat in the eye of the beholder. I happen to think all these thought for thought leaning translations inaccurately translate the inspired words of the text, but others, far more educated in these matters, think a more liberal, loose translation better presents the actual message God intended.

    Here is how the NASB renders the OT part of Hebrews 2:6-8:
    Note in this rendering, the first phrase asks why would God "remember" mankind? But then follows this thought with a discussion of the Messiah, i. e. the Son of Man. Thus verse 7 continues, in this rendering, to discuss Christ and not mankind.

    However, in the view of the scholars of the NIV and NLT, verse 7 returns to speaking about mankind. Therefore, they change "him" to "them."
    The word in the actual Greek text is G846, auton, is singular and male in gender. Most frequently, it is translated "him." in the KJV.
     
  3. Deacon

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    The answer is quite simple, the author of Hebrews frequently quotes from a version of the bible that was different from the translations of the Masoretic text of the Hebrew bible that we are familiar with.

    Often the quotes are similar to variations of the Septuagint (Greek translations of the Hebrew text) that were used at that time.

    Rob
     
    #3 Deacon, Jan 22, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 22, 2015
  4. Getting it Right

    Getting it Right
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    "While Ps 8:4–6 in Hebrews 2:5–9 certainly is grounded in, and takes up into itself, its anthropological background, its use is at the same time Christological from v. 5 onward. For this, as much as any passage of the NT, is a 'God-man' passage, appropriated by the writer to communicate both the exaltation and the incarnation of Christ."

    ---Erich Gräßer, An die Hebräer: 1. Teilband Hebr 1–6 (EKKNT; Zürich: Benziger, 1990) 116–18. (Concerning Hebrews, Volume 1, Hebrews 1-6).


    Complete Jewish Bible:

    “What is mere man, that you concern yourself with him? or the son of man, that you watch over him with such care? You made him a little lower than the angels, you crowned him with glory and honor, you put everything in subjection under his feet.”

    Therefore:

    What is mere man, that You concern Yourself with him? OR the Son of Man, that You watch over Him with such care? You made Him a little lower than the angels (at the Cross), You then (at the Cross) Crowned Him with Glory and Honor, You put everything in subjection under His Feet.

    ~ ~ ~

    In the Book of Hebrews Paul is ministering to a Jewish audience, those who had approached salvation by Grace through Faith, but then backed away. He has them pause to consider passages from the Hebrew text. This is similar to his lament in Romans 9-11, his "heart's cry" for the Hebrew folk.

    :godisgood:
     
    #4 Getting it Right, Jan 22, 2015
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  5. rsr

    rsr
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    Van is on the right track here. Traditionally translators have rendered anthrōpou as man, which is singular. The NIV and NLT translators have chosen to render it as mere mortals — presumably to include all people, not just men — and thus used them instead of him to make the pronoun and antecedent agree in number.

    The GNT and NRSV follow a similar path. The CEV does as well, and spins it a bit farther by changing the pronoun to we. The new Common English Bible has the worst of both worlds, rendering anthrōpou as humanity and then using plural pronouns.

    The ESV and NET, with which I am more familiar, often render the Greek as people in other places, and the ESV has a running footnote that anthrōpou means people.
     
    #5 rsr, Jan 22, 2015
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  6. HankD

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    Perhaps the passage is pointing at the time when Adam and Eve were yet innocent in the Garden?

    HankD
     
  7. ElainaMor

    ElainaMor
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    Hank,
    I was thinking something like that as well because God told Adam in Genesis:

    Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

    And then in Hebrews 2:8 (at the end of the verse)

    For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him.

    I was assuming at first that the him in the above verse was referring to mankind. I could be totally off base here but that's where my thinking went to.
     
  8. Getting it Right

    Getting it Right
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  9. preachinjesus

    preachinjesus
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    The use of the OT by the NT is a sticky issue for biblical studies.

    This text, in Hebrews, isn't the only issue in this area but one or many. Mostly the discrepancies are related to several issues:
    1. Lack of physical texts. The NT writers were unlikely to have had access to scrolls and codices like we have to books today. They would, therefore, pull most quotations from memory first and check later.
    2. There is never a direct quote from the LXX (Septugint) though many NT references appear aware of its existence.
    3. Many references appear to be personal translations of the author from Hebrew to Greek "on the fly."
    4. The use of the OT in the NT is often hermeneutically difficult but is often in line with ancient rules of interpretation. This also means that some authors will quote an OT verse with a slightly modified interpretation that better fits their point.

    Here, in Hebrews, it might just be an issue of the author placing a variant where it doesn't exist in the OT Hebrew. I'll check later, but I think the Hebrew in Psalm 8 isn't specific.
     
  10. Deacon

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    Sorry, I'm just getting around to looking into this passage now.



    A quick look at the Hebrew shows two different words are used for 'man' in this passage.
    • Both Hebrew words, enos, and adam can be used collectively or individually.
    • Both references are singular in form but refer to humans [humankind, mankind, 'man' etc.] generically or as a collective singular.
    • In verse 5 when the word 'man' is used it is clearly referring to collective humanity or 'mankind'.
    The translators of the most recent revision of the NIV provided a booklet explaining the reasoning behind some of their decisions.
    It just so happens that the passage in Hebrews on Psalm 8 is extensively mentioned.

    Here the 'old NIV' (84) [above] is compared with the 'new NIV' (2011) [below].
    It clearly brings out the translational change ElainaMor mentions and provides and explanation of why there are differences.


    Rob
     
    #10 Deacon, Jan 23, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 23, 2015
  11. The Biblicist

    The Biblicist
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    The Greek text NEVER uses the plural but always and consistently the singular "anthropou" and "autou" throughout. Translating them into plural is a matter of uninspired interpretation rather than a matter of proper exegetical based translation. The KJV translates the text properly in keeping with the actual inspired grammar.
     
  12. Deacon

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    I'm working through a great new book by John Walton, The Lost World of Scripture, Ancient Literary Culture an Biblical Authority [LINK]
    Pardon my thoughts as I work this out in response to the Biblicist's post.

    The locutions are inspired, (grammar included), "we are not free to take the communicator's locutions...and use them to formulate our own fresh illocutions and associated meanings".

    If a translation of the locution leads us to a fresh, new illocution, the original meaning is misunderstood leading to a corrupted perlocution (response).

    Comment: I understand the difficult position translators are placed in making this decision between "him" and "they".
    I personally like translations that use the singular "him",
    But would prefer to use translations that use "they" when teaching in a group because (I believe) the meaning is more widely understood.

    Rob
     
    #12 Deacon, Jan 25, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 25, 2015
  13. Van

    Van
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    To boil this thread down, is the Hebrews 2:7 "him" pronoun referring to Jesus or mankind.
    Was mankind made a little lower than angels for a little while, or for the entire age? Was Jesus made a little lower than angels for a little while or forever? Verse 9 answers that question, Jesus was made a little lower than angels for a little while! Now look at Hebrews 2:7. The "him" singular and male, was made a lower than angels for a little while.

    Thus, many scholars agree that the author of Hebrews got it right and Psalm 8:4-6 includes a veiled reference to the Messiah. Translations that remove that possibility from the text translating him as them are questionable.

    As has been pointed out before, translating son of man as "a son of man" allows a person to see the reference to mankind, yet including the man Jesus.
     
    #13 Van, Jan 27, 2015
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