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Wednesday, 12 October 2011

On Beyond Zebra: The NIV "spins" Acts 7:43

In Acts 7:43, Stephen seems to misquote a verse of Amos which mentions Israel being exiled "beyond Damascus:"

You have taken up the tabernacle of Molek 
   and the star of your god Rephan, 
   the idols you made to worship. 
Therefore I will send you into exile’[a] beyond Babylon.
  1. Acts 7:43 Amos 5:25-27 (see Septuagint)
Thus the NNIV. The only change made in this most recent update was to add the reference to the Septuagint--as if this would solve the problem. But notice that they haven't changed the quote: they end it right before "beyond Babylon" when in fact the word 'beyond' most certainly is in the Amos passage. The problem is, the word 'Babylon' isn't--not even in the standard edition of the Septuagint.

We may ask how the NIV read before the TNIV. Well, actually, the ONIV had no changes going all the way back to the original 1973 edition, but it did read "Shrine of Moloch" instead of the TNIV's "Tabernacle of Moloch." But in every case, the quote stops at the end of "exile," implying that Stephen wasn't misquoting the Amos passage, just tacking on his own historical interpretation to the end of it.

This is ludicrous. Even in a worse case scenario, the quotation doesn't stop at 'exile,' but at 'beyond.'  And if the CBT did find an ancient Greek manuscript with 'Babylon' in it, they should have moved the quotation mark all the way over to the end of the sentence.

But, in the interests of artificially maintaining biblical inerrancy, they kept it where it was.

There's another place that modern translators, with their pedantic concern for inerrancy, could have avoided a theological scuffle with a little creative use of quotation marks:

"The virgin 'will be with child'" --Matthew 1:23, quoting from Isaiah 7:14, where the NIV does use the word 'virgin' but other modern translations don't.

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