Bible translation and importing N.T. meanings to O.T. passages

We have had a few blog posts in the past which discuss the issue of whether we should only translate the original human author’s meaning intended for a Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) passage, or whether we should allow New Testament exegesis (typically messianic) of that quote to determine how we translate the O.T. passage. The issue has particular relevance for whether or not we capitalize names of individuals in the O.T. who are considered references to the Messiah (Christ) in the N.T. For instance, should the word “son” in Psalm 2:12 be capitalized, since it is quoted in the N.T. as a reference to Christ the Messiah, or not capitalized since the original author likely was referring to a non-messianic figure. The difference here can be seen in the contrast between the NIV, which tends to “christologize” the O.T.:

Kiss the Son, lest he be angry
and you be destroyed in your way

and the NIV’s revision, the TNIV:

Kiss his son, or he will be angry

Now, for some fun. You can take a short quiz to determine which of the main positions you take with regard to importing N.T. meanings to O.T. passages. This quiz has been showing up on several blogs. I’ll link to the original on the Koinonia blog:

Feel free to share your quiz results here or on the Koinonia blog. I will share mine.

5 thoughts on “Bible translation and importing N.T. meanings to O.T. passages

  1. Wayne Leman says:

    I answered #3 on each question, which I’m sure will be different from how some of you answer. And that’s just fine.

  2. ElShaddai Edwards says:

    I came out with the same results as your answers, Wayne. Though I do admit that I’ve been struggling to separate translation issues from faith practice issues. That is, can I hold that translation should primarily focus on the original intent and context, while at the same time believing Christ to be the complete fulfillment of some of those OT passages and understanding that to read the OT and NT scriptures together as a Christian means often reading Christ back into the OT?

  3. Wayne Leman says:

    ElShaddai, you’re asking a good question. My own position, after many years of thinking about this issue, is that we can separate *application*, even theological application in the N.T. of O.T. passages, from original meaning.

    But it’s still a complicated issue, and there are many who take a different position from me, believing that the N.T. is a fuller, later revelation, and so we should use that to determine how we interpret and translate O.T. passages.

    You’re OK to be struggling with this! 🙂

  4. Dan Sindlinger says:

    Wayne, I had the same results as you, but I didn’t fully agree with the third option for questions #3 and #7. I would need a fourth option for those.

  5. solarblogger says:

    I got the “Single Meaning, Multiple Contexts and Referents” View.

    In some the possible answers forced me to choose more conservative views than I hold, and in some more liberal. While I probably hold to the “single meaning” view somewhat, I do not have strong opinions on what the original authors thought since I think “meaning” (with regard to Inspiration) resides in the text, not the author.

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