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My Continuing War on Study Bibles

My Continuing War on Study Bibles

Well, maybe not a war. I don’t really hate Bibles with study notes, and even recommend their use for appropriate purposes. They’re great for giving you background information, pointing out connections, and so forth. When they tell you what the text says, they are not so great. At a minimum, use more than one, and use Bibles from different perspectives.

I’ve written a number of posts including one comparing introductions to the book of Luke. To get more, just put “study bible” (including the quotes) in the search box at the upper right.

In any case, my particular annoyance today is with the NLT Study Bible, and particular it’s coverage of the Proverbs 31 woman. The lectionary this week includes Proverbs 31:10-31. Now there are many ways of looking at this passage. On my lectionary notes blog, which I rarely update, I Proverbs 31 woman" href="">made a few comments on the passage.

The problem I have here is that the notes are simply flat. They make no mention of how anyone could have any other view of how the passage should be read. It begins: “Proverbs ends with a powerful poem celebrating the virtuous wife.”

It then mentions that this is an acrostic, a fine thing to note, but the question is just why did Hebrew poetry use acrostics. Was it to make the poem easier to remember? As someone who memorizes scripture from time to time, even in the original languages, I’m not certain that’s an adequate explanation. Perhaps we should start with the way in which thought structure is a core part of Hebrew poetry.

I know that a study Bible has limited space. The problem is that a reader goes from text to notes and decides that the notes must contain the true meaning of the text. They bypass the hard work of interpretation and they miss out on all the possibilities.

What would I want to see in such a note?

1) The note on the structure, with some additional options as to why this might be an acrostic

2) Some comment on why the editor chose to end his collection of proverbs with this particular passage

3) Explanation of some of the background, such as what went on at the city gate, and so forth.

I find this particular note lacking in all of this.

I do want to add that this shouldn’t be taken as a criticism of just the NLT Study Bible. Many others have similar problems. This is just the one I was reading this morning. Nonetheless, in contrast, I read the notes in the New Interpreter’s Study Bible, which covers points 1 & 2 that I list above, resulting in what I would regard as a much more useful note. The Jewish Study Bible manages to cover all three.

Subjectively Evaluating, Well, Stuff

Subjectively Evaluating, Well, Stuff

J. K. Gayle links to me in a post regarding the notion of “canon.” There’s a good discussion going in the comments as well. Let me note in passing that the label “personal canon” grates on me a bit. Let me be clear that I’m not saying it’s bad; I’m referring to my reaction to it. I observe that it is often quite descriptive.

In the same post, he refers also to a canon of essays, and to the biblical canon(s), besides my sort of personal canon of Bible translations. I have dabbled in both of those areas myself, though I’m much less qualified (by virtue of reading) to comment on a canon of essays for educational reading than I am on the canon of scripture.

In fact, I have made a bit of a personal journey regarding the biblical (and extra-biblical) canon. I grew up Seventh-day Adventist, and the SDA church affirms 66 books of the Old and New Testaments as do most protestant organizations. But SDAs, in addition, grant authority to the writings of Ellen G. White.

Many SDAs will likely object to this characterization and make the claim that they base all their beliefs on the Bible, but in my own experience, I encountered many people who placed Ellen White’s writings above the Bible. If there was a dispute about the interpretation of a Bible passage, Ellen White’s interpretation settled it for them. In cases where Ellen White was clearly wrong, they would insist that what Ellen White said was, in fact, what the Bible meant.

In addition, in areas on which the Bible is silent, they would accept Ellen White’s word as final in many areas, just as much as if they had read it in the Bible. So in practice, Ellen White’s writings became part of the canon of scripture.

So why don’t Seventh-day Adventists want to admit just how they use the writings of Ellen White? It’s this matter of canon. People in other organizations who make lists don’t include Ellen White, and if you want to be included by those people, you can’t violate the list. Other groups depart from Christian orthodoxy more than do SDAs, but they also claim to adhere to the lists.

When I returned to a Christian denomination some years after I left Adventism, it was  United Methodist congregation. Now Methodists affirm the same 66 books that SDAs affirm, but in general their theology is much more friendly to the extra-canonical books, and I personally tend to use a canon that includes the apocrypha. For what it’s worth, this is much easier to do if you are not too much of a literalist.

So whether I like the sound of “personal canon” all that much, it applies to me in some ways.

Similarly, while not dealing with essays, I have previously argued (here and here) that lists of great literature may not be as great as their advocates suggest. So I’m on this subjectivity bandwagon in all three of those areas. All of which leads people to trot out phrases like “post-modern morass of subjectivity.” So do I see any standards at all?

Let me go back to Bible translations. I maintain that different translation approaches convey different information from the source to the receptor language, or my help to communicate different things between the author of the source and the reader of the receptor. So there are aspects of the source texts of the Bible I can get from a formal translation such as the NRSV, but at the same time there are things that this misses. There are other things I can get from the CEV or even from The Message.

Enter the term “paraphrase.” Now to translation theorists, “paraphrase” has a rather precise meaning, but in common discussions it has become a pejorative for translations that are considered too loose to even be considered real translations. Thus someone might say: “The Message is not a translation, it’s a paraphrase.” I’ve heard this sentence or its equivalent regarding any of the dynamic or functional equivalence translations, in which case the speaker defines “translation” as something like a formal equivalence translation.

In practice, again, what takes a translation across the line, or puts it beyond the pale, may be quite variable. For example, is converting measures to modern units translation, paraphrase, or commentary? If you think that’s an easy issue, consider the measurements for Ezekiel’s temple (start in Ezekiel 40) and consider how that passage would read with precisely converted measurements. In that case one would substitute conveying an accurate idea of the distances involved for potentially conveying the symbolic meaning of the numbers (if any), or the fact that the numbers are round numbers.

What I’m trying to illustrate here is that there is a range of different translation options, and while we might what to define what is and what is not translation, there is a range of activities that may be called translation, and what we’re doing is setting boundaries. There are things we can definitely say are not translation. For example, I am not now translating any text. I’ve seen efforts by Greek students that could not be regarded as translations.

It’s not that just anything is a translation. Rather, there are many different methods that fall into the loose category “translation” and many different needs that might be fulfilled by those various approaches.

I think we have way to great a tendency to make the claim, inadequately supported, that a certain translation is wrong and should be something else. I hear it from the pulpit quite often, and generally my opinion is that the claim is incorrect. Sometimes the translation is disputed, and there is good evidence, and good names, on both sides. In many cases, the preacher is just plain wrong. (If I might say what I have said many times before: If you don’t actually know Greek or Hebrew don’t base your sermon on making claims about how verses should be translated.)

But having used the phrase “just plain wrong” regarding a translation, you now know that I think a translation can be wrong. Frequently, however, the just plain wrong translation is actually an alternative with substantial support.

Being subjective about that which is subjective, such as people’s preferences or how people understand something, is just realistic. Trying to pretend objectivity when the topic is subjective just results in silliness. Or it could result in domination of others, as in the claim that everyone “ought” to use a particular Bible version, be that the KJV, ESV, or any other personal choice.

Literature is even more subjective. I loathe lists of books that I really must read in order to be truly literate or truly educated. In general, I’ve read quite a lot of the names on them, but that doesn’t make me like them any better. The most interesting thing about those lists is the good books that aren’t on them. That’s sort of like the things that aren’t conveyed by the favorite translation of the folks who like to advocate just one style.

Want my subjective advice? Read stuff from different lists. Use different lists. Read Bible books that aren’t in your personal or your church’s canon. Use the literature lists to find more stuff that interests you. And if you’re like me, and can’t stand certain pieces of “great” literature read something else.

It’s fun.


Psalm 50:3 in The Message

Psalm 50:3 in The Message

One of my criticisms of The Message is that it tends to blunt the force of many scriptures, making them more palatable than they are.  Now don’t get the idea that I’m a critic of The Message in general.  In fact, I think it makes a great contribution to the literature available for rapid reading and overview.  Many of its expressions are quite beautiful.

As one might expect, some of those are beautiful–and inaccurate.

Psalm 50:3 is one such case.  Here it is from The Message:

Our God makes his entrance, he’s not shy in his coming. Starbursts of fireworks precede him.

That’s nice, cool, and contemporary.  But is it accurate?  In this case, I think, far from it.  I could debate whether “not being shy” adequatey expresses what the Psalmist means when he says God will not be silent.  But that would be a longer post.

Let’s just compare to the NRSV:

Our God comes and does not keep silence, before him is a devouring fire, and a mighty tempest all around him.

My question is whether “starbursts of fireworks” adequately conveys the “devouring fire” thing.  I don’t think it does.  The idea of fireworks today conveys celebration, joy, excitement, and beauty.  In this case, I think the fire says something both about God’s power and about what he is going to do with it.

I think this one could be translated in contemporary language but more accurately.  Perhaps it would be less beautiful, but more accurate.

Take the CEV for example:

Our God approaches, but not silently; a flaming fire comes first, and a storm surrounds him.

It lacks some of the zing, but it’s clear and natural contemporary English.  And it’s fairly accurate.

Using the NLTSB, NISB and NOAB: Exodus 15:1-21

Using the NLTSB, NISB and NOAB: Exodus 15:1-21

I’m continuing looking at the NLT Study Bible (NLTSB) in comparison with the New Interpreter’s Study Bible (NISB), which I have also acquired recently. Today I’m going to add a comparison to the New Oxford Annotated Bible (NOAB). Note that I am still working from the second edition.

I think many Methodist ministers or ministerial candidates may be looking into the NISB as an alternative to the NOAB, and thus far my impression is that this is a good direction to go in terms of having a Bible that lays out useful sermon material for you efficiently.

This time I’m covering Exodus 15:1-21, also a lectionary passage this week. I will try to complete this comparison on this week’s lectionary passages by looking at Matthew 18:21-35. The actual lectionary passage is only Exodus 15:1b-12, 20-21, but I am making my comparison for the entire block of text.

Quantity of discussion. The NLTSB continues to surprise me by having the most words, over 800 this time in notes on this passage. (I am using an average line length for each edition and multiplying lines to get these approximations.) That compares to the NISB at just over 400 and the NOAB at just over 320. I don’t think any of them are wasting words, so there is more discussion in the NLTSB.

In addition, the NLTSB has an excursus titled The Exodus as History which presents an essentially conservative view of the historicity of the passage. This discussion is not part of the 800 words, and it is not matched in either of the other works. Each of those does discuss historicy in general in various essays, they simply don’t do it as part of this passage.

Themes. The NLTSB focuses on the power of God, his care for the Israelites, and the faith and trust that would result from these action. This theme goes well with the excursus on historicity. Both the NISB and the NOAB emphasize the literary relationship between this song and ancient near eastern literature about the battle of various gods against the sea, and to the idea of gods dwelling on mountains.

The NOAB is more specific, but provides less explanation than does the NISB. The NLTSB avoids this mythological connection altogether and emphasizes the uniqueness of Israel’s religion in the ancient near east. The excursus (The Exodus as History) includes this: “The most reasonable explanation for the distinctiveness of Israel’s understanding is that, as the Bible describes, God broke into their experience and showed himself to them in events that have been recorded as history.”

General Impression. The NOAB is extremely abbreviated and data oriented, a kind of “just the facts” approach, though along with much of secular Bible scholarship it focuses on the similarities between Israel’s religion and literature rather than the distinctive points. The NISB lessens this focus and looks a bit more at the implications. The NLTSB provides a moderately evangelical explanation of the data.

Obviously none of these will replace a good commentary, but they do each present some unique value for someone preparing a sermon or Sunday School lesson.

Using the NLTSB and NISB: Exodus 14:19-31

Using the NLTSB and NISB: Exodus 14:19-31

Yesterday I looked at Romans 14:1-12 in these two versions. Today I’m looking at another of this week’s lectionary passages, Exodus 14:19-31. Those who aren’t seriously interested in these two study Bibles should probably skip this whole series. Watch for the first part of the title (Using the NLTSB [NLT] and NISB [NRSV]) and flee when you see it! Each of my notes will be short, however, so don’t panic.

There is a greater difference in emphasis in this passage than there was on Romans 14:1-12. In that passage the theological themes emphasized in the notes were only slightly different. In this passage, we see more substantial emphases.

Miracles: The NLTSB makes particular note of the miraculous aspect and comments that “. . . [a]s with the plagues, naturalistic explanations for this event are beside the point.” The NISB simply narrates the passage and looks at meaning without comment.

Sources: The NISB notes differing interpretations of the rescue from Egypt according to sources. NLTSB does not mention this aspect. (This information involves reading beyond the limits of the notes on the specified verses, but such reading is necessary to place the notes in context for either edition.)

Choosing Excurses: In the NLTSB we find an excursus title “A Hardened Heart” which deals with issues raised by the statement that “God hardened Pharaoh’s heart.” The discussion is really quite good, especially for the limited space provided and references a number of texts where one can look at the interplay between God’s sovereignty and human choice or human responsibility. In the NISB, there is also an excursus, but it is titled “Salvation and the Sea” and deals with the relationship between this passage and other ancient near eastern liturgy and symbols.

I have a certain bias toward the emphasis of the NISB in this case, because I’m very conscious of comparative ancient near eastern materials, and I really like their introduction to the ideas involved. Apart from that bias, however, I would be hard pressed to call one of these better than the other. They choose different things to emphasize, but either choice is a good one and might be what a pastor or teacher would find most useful.

Using these two study Bibles for a period of time is increasing my respect for both editions. I may have to add them to my reading more often!

Using the NLTSB and NISB: Romans 14:1-12

Using the NLTSB and NISB: Romans 14:1-12

I thought it might be useful to look at the information available in each of these study guides for a few passages. Since I regularly read the lectionary passages during my personal devotions, I will compare the information available in each Bible for some selected passages from the current lectionary.

I’m choosing to compare only the NISB and the NLTSB, because these two Bibles are the my most recent acquisitions, and also because they are the ones that interest me the most out of the numerous ones I consult.

I chose Romans 14:1-12 today, and my post can be quite short, because there is remarkably little difference. The one surprise for me is that comments in the NLTSB use a few more words (around 600) than the ones in the NISB (a bit over 400). The layout makes the NISB look more dense, but the word count doesn’t bear out appearances.

In terms of themes, both sets of notes are remarkably similar, even though one is largely from a mainline protestant perspective, and one evangelical.

There are two divergences, though these are minor, and not contradictory. First, the NISB is at pains to point out that the adjectives “strong” and “weak” refer to faith, not character, which is, of course, part of the point. Second, in discussing the judgment based on days, the NISB says that “perhaps” this might refer to moving the Lord’s day from Saturday to Sunday, while the NLTSB makes the explicit statement “With Christ’s provision of salvation, observance of the Sabbath in its original form is not required of Christians.”

Otherwise, had I chosen this text on which to base a sermon, I would glean pretty much the same outline points from it. Neither is comprehensive, but that is not expected in a study Bible. Both are solid in what they do say. I confess that in most areas I prefer the NLTse as a translation to the NRSV.

Comparing Study Bible Introductions to Luke

Comparing Study Bible Introductions to Luke

A few weeks ago I began looking at the new NLT Study Bible, and indicated that I would use it and then comment as I went along rather than writing a review as such.

Introductory Comments

Since I’m looking at the manuscript for a new study guide to Luke that that I intend to publish, I decided to compare this study Bible with a few others that I consult regularly to see which was best suited for certain purposes. In this case, my primary purpose is making a recommendation to readers of the study guide who are generally expected to be serious lay Bible students, but not Biblical scholars.

Some of the things I look for include coverage of the critical data, particularly the traditional critical methodologies of form, source, and redaction criticism. In Luke, we would look for some discussion of the synoptic problem. Of course we’re looking for the history behind the book, the date it was written, authorship, historical background, and some chronology. I would generally expect to find most of this in a mainstream scholarly study Bibles such as the New Oxford Annotated Bible.

All of that can be interesting information, but lay readers are likely to want to get to the meat of the matter–for them, at least–and look at some applications. Here we look for discussion of overall themes and application of the material to a particular community. In this area also we’ll find the greatest variety of material. An edition may include devotional thoughts on the text, going beyond direct application to reflection.

Finally there are the “extras,” maps, illustrations, charts, and cross-references. I list “cross-references” as an extra simply because almost all study Bibles have some, and there is quite a bit of variation in how these are done. I’m not going to get into much detail on that in this post.

I’m going to leave the NLT Study Bible until last, since it is the focus here, and first write a little bit about each of the other Bibles to which I compared it.

The Learning Bible (CEV)

I frequently recommend this study Bible to new students, because it provides an introduction to some of the serious themes of Bible study with a minimum of pain. Some people might call both the CEV, on which this study Bible is based, and the style of the notes “dumbed down.” I would disagree. “Dumbing down” is a pejorative phrase that gets applied to a variety of materials, including material that is clarified for non-specialists. Writing for non-specialists always appears a bit weak to those more specialized in the field.

The Learning Bible introduction to Luke includes material on authorship and date. It discusses sources in a very general way, but does not go into detail on critical issues. (There is some additional information in the introduction to the gospels as a group.) It spends the greatest amount of time on themes in the book. While it doesn’t get generally devotional, it does provide notes on application both in the introduction and in the early text of the book. There is very little chronological information.

In terms of extras, there are extensive illustrations, carefully selected cross-references and a variety of notes with icons indicating the general category. The editors clearly made a serious effort to make this Bible user friendly. The one downside to that effort is that all of the material and its layout result in substantial volume, not likely one you’ll carry to church with you. It’s easily the largest of the study Bibles I’m comparing here.

The Oxford Study Bible (REB)

This is one of my personal favorites, both because I like the REB translation style, and because I find the notes helpful for the type of study I do quite frequently. You will find substantially more discussion of critical and textual issues in introductions and in the notes here, while you will find less application. Themes that are discussed are more purely exegetical and less in terms of application to the community. I find almost nothing in the notes that is devotional.

In the case of Luke, there is little in the introduction to Luke on critical issues, but this is again covered more in the introduction to the four gospels together. There is less discussion of themes, the outline is less thorough than the one in the Learning Bible, but the notes are more detailed, and there is no effort to limit vocabulary. Illustrations are generally nonexistent, except for a few maps in the back, and there is very little on chronology in the gospels.

I should note here that one would not expect any study Bible to be strong in all areas that I have laid out in my introductory remarks. Such a Bible would require multiple volumes. Different study Bibles are suitable for different purposes.

New Oxford Annotated Bible

I include the New Oxford Annotated Bible, not because it is one I use that regularly. (Note that I link to the more current third edition, but I’m commenting based on the 2nd edition that I have on my shelf.) I generally prefer my Oxford Study Bible. Rather, it is the required Bible for those studying for the United Methodist ministry, at least in our conference. (I’m not really well enough acquainted with the system to comment more generally, though I’ve gotten the impression this is pretty widespread.)

In some ways it is more comprehensive than the Oxford Study Bible. It’s joint introduction to the four gospels is more extensive, and it discusses themes in more detail in the introduction to Luke. It discusses critical issues in some detail for the lay reader. It also includes more information on chronology. In general, however, I would make the same comment on the notes that I make on the Oxford Study Bible–they don’t get too much involved in application to the community as such. I personally like it that way. I’ll make my own applications, thank you very much! But for those who are looking for a shorter path to sermon outlines, it will not be as helpful as a couple of others.

Holy Spirit Encounter Bible

You may think this one is out of place in this list, and you’re right. I wanted to include a Bible that displayed the kind of devotional material that none of these other Bibles do. If you lead study groups or teach Sunday School classes, you will likely encounter students who use such Bibles. They are not bad in themselves, but I do believe there is a danger of imbalance in the themes of scripture.

The Holy Spirit Encounter Bible approaches everything with the question of how this relates to the Holy Spirit. If you used this for a single study, looking for the Holy Spirit in scripture, that could be useful. Just avoid using such a Bible as your regular reading Bible.

It should be no surprise that the introduction to Luke in this Bible includes no outline, no discussion of when the book was written, the character of the author, communities to whom it was addressed, or any critical issue. In fact, the introduction is titled “the HOLY SPIRIT in Luke” which follows a pattern used for all the books.

Rather than notes in a variety of categories or reflecting backgrounds, you find in the first few chapters of Luke several “Holy Spirit Encounter Moments,” two “Anointed by the Holy Spirit” inset boxes, one on John the Baptist and one on Elizabeth, and finally a “Holy Spirit Encounters” page that is not even related to the passages in which it is situated, but rather refers one to 1 Corinthians 12.

Now these things are not bad in themselves, but it reflects the directed, devotional approach of the Bible. A study Bible that emphasizes one theme should not be used as a regular study Bible, nor should it be used alone, because it points to the theme chosen by the editorial board, and not to the themes emphasized by the authors of scripture.

(Note that while this sounds a bit hostile, I have actually enjoyed studying a number of things in this particular Bible. I’m cautioning, not warning away.)

New Interpreter’s Study Bible

I purchases this Bible only a couple of months before I received my copy of the NLT study Bible. I was hopeful that it would have some of the theological notes that I’m used to finding in the Interpreter’s Bible or the New Interpreter’s Bible, both of which I value in their own way.

I expected essentially a New Oxford Annotated Bible with a little more theological reflection. I was wrong. This is not like either of the two “Oxford” Bibles I mentioned. It focuses on serious theological reflection. Of course, consider the word “serious” in the context of the space they have available. Nonetheless I think that for the available space, this is the best theologically oriented study Bible I have encountered.

There is much more discussion of themes. Such references are there are to critical issues come in that context, but they are really few and far between. Outlines are more detailed than any of the editions I have discussed previously. There is some material on chronology and on these broader themes in the material in the back, but if you go straight to the book of Luke (or another book), you’ll dive straight into theological themes and some application.

Despite, or more likely because of the reduced emphasis on some of the more traditional critical methodologies, literary issues receive more discussion. If I were trying to prepare a sermon and didn’t have time to dig through mountains of history in order to make up my mind, this would provide me with the shortest path from scripture to major points in my sermon outline, while still being faithful to good scholarship and theological reflection.

It is based on the NRSV, which is not my favorite, but it is not a bad version, especially for those accustomed to the KJV tradition. It is also not designed for the casual student. One should not assume that the vocabulary is light, or the treatment superficial just because it is less technical in the historical and critical sense. It is shifted from critical and historical issues to more serious theology.

NLT Study Bible (Finally!)

I finally arrive at the study Bible that got me started writing this. All in all, the NLT Study Bible is in many ways a pleasant surprise. It’s not another “light” study Bible. It’s not a devotional Bible. Ignore the hype on the cover–it’s not a revolutionary breakthrough. At the same time, it is good.

The layout is better, but note that you will get less information packed onto a page. My New Interpreter’s Study Bible manages to get much more packed into its pages, but it does so at the expense of readability. Nonetheless, for me, the NISB would win.

When I turn to the introduction to Luke, I see a map of the region in which the story takes place, a short bullet point style outline of the book. The introduction is divided up into friendly headings that lets you find what you want quickly, and there is room to add notes in the margin. The contents are a blend of the historical, literary, and theological, along with a bit of devotional here and there.

Rather than having chronology separated in an article in the back (NISB, for example), there is a brief timeline on the right hand side of the page. The theological approach is evangelical, but not extreme. The date cited for Luke’s writing is 65-80 AD (they use AD, not CE). The description of authorship references both written and oral sources, but also eyewitness accounts.

The notes are also a mix of background, theology, and application, and again the layout of the Biblical text, cross-references, and notes is quite user friendly.


Overall, while my personal study habits will not be altered by much, I will find time to consult this Bible, and I also expect to recommend it to quite a number of Bible students who are perhaps beyond the Learning Bible, but don’t really want to get into something like the Oxford Study Bible or the New Interpreter’s Bible. I will also recommend it to evangelicals who might find constant disagreement with their study Bible to be distracting. The NLT study Bible is a good addition to the Bible edition market.

I will continue my discussion of this Bible after I have used it some more in my personal study.

Comparing 1 Peter 3:13

Comparing 1 Peter 3:13

Yesterday I commended the HCSB translation of this verse. Today let me give a couple of other options:

  • HCSB: “And who will harm you if you are passionate for what is good?”
  • REB: “Who is going to do your harm if you are devoted to what is good?” [Doesn’t read well, in my view, even though I love the REB]
  • TNIV: “Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good?” [Excellent, though I like “passionate” for this context]

Not of these are horrible, nor are a number of others I read. I still like the HCSB best on this one.

Revisiting Acts 17:26

Revisiting Acts 17:26

Yesterday I blogged about the HCSB of Acts 17:26, and in particular the portion that reads something like “made of one ______”. The KJV reads “blood” which is one of the textual variants, while the HCSB says “man” which apparently does not occur in any of the ancient manuscripts.

Since I read these lectionary texts daily for two weeks, today I encountered it in a different version, this time the TNIV, surely not one that could be accused of supporting anything like “male representation”, and it also read “man” in this case.

I’m not at home right now, so just looking at the immediately available Bible versions, I see the following:

  • REB reads “from one stock”
  • NRSV reads “from one ancestor”
  • CEV reads “from one person”
  • ESV reads “from one man”
  • TEV reads “from one human being”
  • God’s Word (GW) reads “from one man”
  • ISV reads “from one man”

I think that’s enough to see that most of the versions break where I would expect, with the exception of the TNIV. I wonder what their justification is here. It seems to me that since a number of ancient scribes appear to have provided options, but none thought of “man” here, it is unlikely that ancient readers would have understood this to refer specifically to the one man as human ancestor.

I’d be interested in comments on the reasoning behind the use of “man” in this verse.