Question about an NIV reading

Discussion in 'Bible Versions/Translations' started by Thermodynamics, Oct 24, 2009.

  1. Thermodynamics

    Thermodynamics
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    I can't seem to find any basis in Greek for the following reading in the NIV:

    "By faith Abraham, even though he was past age-and Sarah herself was barren-was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise." Hebrews 11:11

    The Bishops Bible reads:

    "Through fayth also Sara her selfe receaued strength to conceaue seede, and was delyuered of a chylde whe she was past age, because she iudged hym faythfull which had promised."

    The Geneva Bible reads:

    "Through faith Sara also receiued strength to conceiue seede, and was deliuered of a childe when she was past age, because she iudged him faithfull which had promised."

    The AV reads:

    "Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised."

    The ASV reads:

    "By faith even Sarah herself received power to conceive seed when she was past age, since she counted him faithful who had promised:"

    The ESV reads:

    "By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised."

    Also no Greek that I have access to has anything like the reading found in the NIV. What were the NIV translators using as a basis for this verse?
     
  2. annsni

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    From one of the translators:

    "As the footnote indicates, the meaning of the Greek text of this verse is uncertain and may indicate that Sarah was enabled rather than Abraham. In the main text, the words "and Sarah herself was barren" are to be understood parenthetically (as indicated by the dashes). Bruce points out that the major problem is the Greek phrase "to conceive seed" (KJV) does not mean that. Instead, it refers to the father's role in the generative process. A literal translation would be "for depositing sperm" thus more likely referring to Abraham."

    (Referring to F.F. Bruce's commentary on Hebrews)

    from http://www.biblica.com/niv/accuracy/NIV_AccuracyDefined.pdf
     
  3. Jerome

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  4. robycop3

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    A man can still become a father at an advanced age, while a woman's fertility shuts down at a relatively young age. Remember, after Sarah's death, Abe married Keturah & had six sons by her.
     
  5. Thermodynamics

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    The Greek appears to have been uncertain to the NIV translators, but as the quotes in the OP show every other group of translators knew what to do with it.
     
  6. annsni

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    Did they? Do you have proof that they did not struggle with this passage?
     
  7. Thermodynamics

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    Well, from the Bishop's and Geneva Bibles of the 1500s to the ESV of 2001 that verse reads pretty much the same EXCEPT in the NIV.
     
  8. jonathan.borland

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    Greek allows for the possibility of the reading of the NIV. Since early Greek did not distinguish between the nominative and dative of AUTH SARRA, the Greek may read something like, "By faith also through well-known Sarah he became able to beget . . . ." I personally think such a rendering is a stretch, and rather think it more likely that the AUTH SARRA is nominative following the pattern of the rest of the constructions in the chapter, and Sarah indeed is meant to be included as a primary person in the hall of faith. Most translations and commentators throughout history have also seen it this way.
     
  9. Amy.G

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    What about the part about Abraham? Was it in the Greek? Where did they come up with that part?
     
  10. rsr

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    No, it's not in the Greek; it's an interpolation on the assumption that the entire passage (vv. 9-12) is about Abraham's faith, not Sarah's faith.

    The NET, BTW, takes a similar tack:

    By faith, even though Sarah herself was barren and he was too old, he received the ability to procreate, because he regarded the one who had given the promise to be trustworthy.
     
  11. Thermodynamics

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    This line of thought does not seem to fit with Biblical context. Abraham had proven (by his relationship with Hagar) that he could still "cut the mustard."
     
  12. rsr

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    I would assume, since the TNIV has reverted to the traditional rendering, that it is a translational curiosity that has fallen by the wayside and probably won't be seen again in the NIV series.

    And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise. (TNIV)
     
  13. Deacon

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    Apparently Abraham didn't think he could "cut the mustard".

    He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb.
    Romans 4:19 ESV

    There are many times when in the process of translation a bit of interpretation needs to be done.

    The verse is a bit confusing because it refers both to Sarah and to a masculine function, literally the “power for the laying down of seed” [NASB95 note]
    (translated as “received strength to conceive seed” in the AV

    Anyway, who is the subject of the passage, Abraham or Sarah?

    Verse 8: “by faith Abraham … obeyed…
    Verse 9: “by faith he … lived as an alien…
    Verse 11: “by faith… Sarah was [given power for the laying down of seed] able to conceive…
    Verse 12: Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants …

    Some versions will occasionally add who is speaking into a verse when the referent mentions is ambiguous in the English translation.
    Example: Mark 1:43, “and Jesus said…” ESV rather than the Greek text, “and He said” NASB

    I think in this instance the mention of Abraham was a clarification of a difficult verse.
    I don't think it was necessary, as most other versions don't add it either., including the TNIV
    The NIV does note an alternative translation: ”Or By faith even Sarah, who was past age, was enabled to bear children because she

    Rob
     
    #13 Deacon, Oct 25, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 25, 2009
  14. Jerome

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    The seed is Isaac, not Abraham's "masculine function" contribution toward Isaac (what a weird euphemism).
     

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