The Baptist is in. But should he be?
OK, this is not another blog post reflecting on the win of Mike the Baptist in the Republican caucases in Iowa last night. Instead, I’d like us to reflect on the wording of John 1:6 in the NLT:
God sent a man, John the Baptist
There is a footnote on “the Baptist” noting that the underlying Greek “a man named John.” What is gained in the NLT by adding “the Baptist”. Clarity is gained. I remember as a child reading John 1 and feeling some confusion about which John was being introduced. There is no birth narrative to introduce this John, son of Zechariah, as there is at the beginning of Luke. The Greek of John’s gospel does not introduce John as John the Baptist, as Mark does (1:6) or Matthew (3:1).
Recently I have been thinking that instead of debates over Bible translations being framed with claims such as “this translation is better …”, it would better to discuss the pros and cons of specific translation decisions and approaches. Let’s do that here.
Clarity is gained in the NLT inclusion of “the Baptist” in John 1:16. But what are the downsides of adding “the Baptist” when it is not in the Greek text?