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Friday, 21 April 2006

The TNIV in Malachi 4:6

CounterMalachi 4: 6 "He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction."

Let it not be said that I am on a mission to totally discredit the TNIV. In fact, having researched the revision 4 years ago and found it wanting, I had pretty much put it out of my mind as "not for me," until along came this Symposium earnestly trying to convince me otherwise. So I returned to the subject, and this time found wanting not only the revision itself, but all the more so its proponents and their futile arguments favouring it above all its predecessors.

But here I find the TNIV to be a most excellent translation, and fault the KJV, like as the NIV, for gender-neutralizing 'sons' without completing the parallelism by doing the same for 'fathers'. Nor can I find fault with the translation of erets as 'land' instead of the potentially misleading 'earth'. And I trust that the erudite minds of the CBT were correct in changing the 'curse' of the KJV/NIV to 'total destruction'--not because they have earned that trust, but because in fact the typical connotation of cherem in the OT is that of the results of a curse, not of the curse itself. While I find 'or else' rather jarring to the ear, at least in this case the damage had already been done in the NIV, so I can fault the CBT here only for not revising enough, rather than too much.

Had the CBT confined themselves to repairing only those places in which the KJV and the NIV shared a deficiency of translation--places in which the former translations were themselves inconsistent or misleading--then I could indeed concur that its good points outweigh the bad. But instances of the one are few and far between, and totally overshadowed by the other. Thus I will continue to study the TNIV as I do the LXX--with both eyes open, pen in hand, and a shelf of reference books within easy reach. But I cannot view the translations in the same vien (although the claims of both versions' proponents are perhaps equally exaggerated), for while the LXX represents but the rudimentary first step in of the art of Bible translation, the TNIV is now set before us as its pinnacle.

I failed to notice at first that the TNIV NT had preceded the Malachi translation with the same wording in Luke 1:17--where, interestingly enough, the Greek word is the one for 'children', rather than 'sons'.

Update June 2012:
 Neither the KJV nor the NIV follow the Masoretic text at the end of Malachi, where it repeats v. 5 following v. 6, due to a Masoretic custom not to end any book of the Bible on a negative note. The Complete Jewish Bible follows the MT here and the three other places, with the repeated verse in smaller type.

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