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Thursday, 29 March 2012

Wives or women? The NNIV in Acts 17:4

In a previous post I addressed the question of gender-specific translation in Acts 17:11-12. Inasmuch as this verse is very similar to 17:4, I'll address the same question there.

Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and quite a few prominent women.

This is one of the few verses in the NNIV in which the previous ONIV text, unchanged in the TNIV, received a touch-up, from "not a few" to "quite a few."  Apparently just the fact that it had 'women' in it brought it under the special review of the CBT, who were generally too busy to fix anything in the TNIV other than what had been brought up on gender-related grounds.

Interestingly enough, while the Thessalonians were explicitly mentioned in v. 11-12, they aren't mentioned here--even though the city in which people believed isn't mentioned in either verse, and their racial identity isn't explicit in either verse. Were the NIV to have followed the same scheme as it did in v. 11-12, v. 4 would read "Some of the Thessalonian Jews."

Now, what we have here in the NNIV are three subsets of Thessalonians:
1) Members of the Jewish synagogue;
2) Greek Proselytes;
3) Prominent women (the reading of D-05 & p127 is explicitly "wives of prominent men).

In this, the NNIV is only making explicit what is already implicit in the context. But in separating the first two subsets, the text implies that these Greek proselytes didn't attend the Jewish synagogue. But let's look closer at this last subset, because the NNIV is the first major bible version edited after p127 was published in 2009.

p127, like most papyri, exhibits a rather erratic text, but unlike most papyri of the first five centuries (its fifth-century date making it approximately contemporaneous with D-05), it doesn't contain an Alexandrian text. Furthermore, although it reads with 05 in several places where D-05 had a singular reading (this being one of them), it actually seems to chart a third course of its own overall.

Most places, the CBT more or less ignored readings of D, especially if they were singular. But not in Mark 1:41, where only in the 2001 TNIV did they make the switch to "indignant" from "filled with compassion" in describing Jesus as he healed the leper. And in fact this reading is found in only two Greek manuscripts, D being one of them (actually, as it turns out--not that the CBT would have known that--the other manuscript doesn't even follow D at all). Following such paucity of evidence, they were obliged to put in the footnote, "Many manuscripts, Jesus was filled with compassion.

But here in Acts, it suited their purposes to ignore the reading of D+1, as it would interfere with their agenda of always bringing women to the fore whenever possible.

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