I remember Fee saying “Human wisdom, this is about human wisdom, and that’s how we translated it.” So the word human was added into the English text.
Here are a few examples of where a word has been inserted into the English text of Bibles. Only the KJV doesn’t do this. That is one thing you can be comfortable with in the KJV. And if words are added they now appear in italics. I can’t show you that in the electronic versions. In the original printed KJ Bible, the main text was in Gothic typeface and the added words were in modest Roman type. Look at chapter 2 verse 3 for an example.
However, here is where the TNIV has added the word “human”. Actually all versions appear equally mangled to me with the exception of the NASB and NIV. The clearest I can get would be “loftiness of speech or of wisdom.” Each version creates minor problems. Maybe prolixity would be even more accurate – “prolixity of speech or of wisdom.” Since so many of the translations are simply not accurate, the TNIV doesn’t come off too poorly. The HCSB obviously dropped the ball on this one. Uncharacteristic.
- 1 Cor. 2:1
κἀγὼ ἐλθὼν πρὸς ὑμᾶς ἀδελφοί ἦλθον οὐ καθ’ ὑπεροχὴν λόγου ἢ σοφίας καταγγέλλων ὑμῖν τὸ μυστήριον τοῦ θεοῦ
And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. KJV
And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. NASB
And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. ESV, NRSV, RSV
1 When I came to you, brothers, announcing the testimony of God to you, I did not come with brilliance of speech or wisdom. HCSB
When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God NIV
And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. TNIV
Here is another example of how versions add a word, this time the word “spiritual”. Here the KJV and NASB are the most literal as you would expect.
- 1 Cor. 1:7
ὥστε ὑμᾶς μὴ ὑστερεῖσθαι ἐν μηδενὶ χαρίσματι ἀπεκδεχομένους τὴν ἀποκάλυψιν τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ
So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: KJV
Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. (T)NIV
so that you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. HCSB
so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, RSV, ESV, NRSV
But here even the NASB caves in and adds the words “of God.”
- Romans 12:19
μὴ ἑαυτοὺς ἐκδικοῦντες ἀγαπητοί ἀλλὰ δότε τόπον τῇ ὀργῇ
Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath KJV
Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for His [a] wrath HCSB
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God RSV, NRSV, ESV
Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath (T)NIV
Overall, the KJV is the best translation for not inserting words into the text. Otherwise they are all pretty much of a muchness.
I am almost at the end of my notes from the course with Gordon Fee. It was not a course on translation so these notes were tangential to the course content.
Update: This calls for clarification. I didn’t mean that I think translations should not insert words, Far from it. They usually have to and commenter J.K. Gayle has some excellent examples of where it is done from Hebrew to Greek.
What I mean is “If you want a translation that doesn’t insert words, for whatever reason, but mostly to learn Greek, I suppose, then you should chose the KJV.” It is all a little silly really. I learned Greek by reading only texts that I had never seen in English, and still haven’t – Third Maccabees and all that. I studied in the same programme as John Hobbins in the year before him.
I was just responding here to something I had heard about translations that insert words. It is normally done by all the translations. Even the KJV, for example, on the page I linked to above, inserts words once in a while. It’s normal.