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Is It Permissible to Remove an Emphasis? (2 Thess 2:8) Mondays with Mounce 204
My pastor preaches out of the NIV 1984, and I tend to follow along in the 2011. Every once in a while I come across a significant change, and at first glance the passage Sunday looked like the NIV 2011 dropped out an entire phrase.
1 Thess 2:6-8 (NIV 1984) reads, “As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. We loved you so much (οὕτως ὁμειρόμενοι ὑμῶν) that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us (διότι ἀγαπητοὶ ἡμῖν ἐγενήθητε).”
1 Thess 2:7b-8 (NIV 2011) reads, “Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.”
What happened to the final, “because you had become so dear to us”?
The basic thrust of the verse is clear. Paul was delighted to share the gospel with the Thessalonians, and not only the gospel but his very own life. The motivation for doing so was Paul’s love for the Thessalonians, a point (according to the NIV 1984) he makes twice: “We loved you so much”; “because you had become so dear to us.”
So what happened? Apparently the committee felt that Paul would not have given the same reason twice, and οὕτως ὁμειρόμενοι ὑμῶν should be attached to the preceding v 7 and translated, “so we cared for you.” Then they moved the final phrase διότι ἀγαπητοὶ ἡμῖν ἐγενήθητε from the end of the verse to the beginning and changed “because you had become so dear to us” to “because we loved you so much.”
All other translations understand Paul giving the same basic reason twice and keep the οὕτως phrase with v 8 (NASB, ESV, HCSB, NRSV, NET).
The NIV’s interpretation is certainly possible. What is troublesome is the NLT, which does drop the double reference: “We loved you so much that we shared with you not only God’s Good News but our own lives, too.” In my mind, that goes far beyond the role of the translator. Paul saw a need to make this point emphatically, and it is not within our purview as translators to remove the emphasis -- unless it can be argued that the double reference is totally redundant, which I don’t think it is.
The point Paul is making is interesting, isn’t it. Paul understood that the gospel is most persuasive when it is incarnate. He didn’t just blow into town and preach, but his preaching was an expression of his true love for the Thessalonians.
It is a good reminder to all of us to ask why we teach and preach the way we do. While the words of the gospel are inherently powerful, they are even more so when they are an expression of true love for the people for whom we preach and teach (and blog).
William D. [Bill] Mounce posts about the Greek language, exegesis, and related topics at Koinonia. He is the author of numerous works including the recent Basics of Biblical Greek Video Lectures and the bestselling Basics of Biblical Greek. He is the general editor of Mounce's Complete Expository Dictionary of the Old and New Testament Words. He served as the New Testament chair of the English Standard Version Bible translation, and is currently on the Committee for Bible Translation for the NIV.
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