2 Corinthians 5:17

Today I noticed a comment by Craig Blomberg about the reasons for the change in NIV2010 in 2 Cor. 5:17. It can be read here.

I was very surprised by the arguments Craig brought out to support the new rendering which is similar to and inspired by NRSV and HCSB. The change is from: ”Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation” (NIV84) to ”Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come.” (NIV10).

It is an interesting change, because it tells me how the endeavour to avoid gender exclusive language in English can unfortunately lead well-meaning translators astray. I am in favour of getting rid of gender exclusiveness where it is not in the Greek text at all as is the case in this verse. Translations need to accommodate to a significant change in the English language that has taken place gradually in the last 50-100 years.

The main problem behind the NRSV, NIV10 etc in this verse as I see it is that the translators have ignored the context and the translations are in my view inaccurate in terms of the meaning of the Greek text.  The text is: ὥστε εἴ τις ἐν Χριστῷ, καινὴ κτίσις· τὰ ἀρχαῖα παρῆλθεν, ἰδοὺ γέγονεν καινά. A literal translation could be: As a result of that (or: consequently), if/when anyone is in Christ, (that person is) a new creation. The old (things) have passed away, look, new (things) have come into being.

I recently talked about “in Christ.” If anyone is “in Christ,” it means that this person has been united with Christ through what Christ did and through believing in what Christ did. In this verse it is basically the same as being a believer in Christ or having come to believe in Christ. NLT04 is clearer and more accurate when it says: “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ…”

Translators should not be so absorbed in a single verse that they forget to take the previous verses into consideration. In the NIV2010 v. 16 reads: “So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.”  The Greek text says: Ὥστε ἡμεῖς ἀπὸ τοῦ νῦν οὐδένα οἴδαμεν κατὰ σάρκα· εἰ καὶ ἐγνώκαμεν κατὰ σάρκα Χριστόν, ἀλλὰ νῦν οὐκέτι γινώσκομεν. A literal translation is: “Consequently, we (Christians) from now on know/look at no one according to flesh. Even though we did know Christ according to flesh, now we no longer know (him in this way).” It is clear that Paul is talking about the fundamental change a person has gone through by becoming a believer in Christ. The “flesh” in Paul’s language refers to the non-Christian attitude and life without enlightenment from the Holy Spirit. There is a complete change in the outlook of a Christian, and Christians obviously look at Christ and know him in a very different way from how they looked at him before they became Christians.  In fact, they have a completely new outlook on life. Since v. 16 starts with the same connecting word Ὥστε which is a result connector, we really need to go back one more verse to get more of the context.

NIV2010 has this translation of v. 15: “And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” Here I don’t need to quote the Greek text, since the NIV adequately covers the meaning. Again, we see the fundamental change in a person from living for themselves to living for Christ. It is a completely new life after one has become a Christian.

The NLT04 has done very well for v. 17: “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” It has successfully avoided any gender exclusiveness. It has expressed the basic meaning of the non-English phrase “in Christ” in good English. It avoids the strange “creation” and says correctly “person.” It clarifies that the things that have passed away is the old life as a non-Christian, and the new things that have come into being is the new life as a Christian.

Craig says in his comment: “Paul regularly looks forward not just to individuals becoming new creatures but to the arrival of a new creation (see esp. Rom. 8:19-23).”  Yes, Paul does look forward to a new world at the end of times, but that does not fit the context of 2 Cor 5:17. In 2 Cor 5:15-17 he is not looking forward to the arrival of a new creation/world. He is looking back to what happens when a person has become a new “creature/creation”.  Furthermore, the expression “new creation” does not occur in Rom 8:19-23, but it does occur in Gal 6:15 with the same meaning as here in 2 Cor 5:17. Craig continues: “It is more likely that he is getting his readers’ attention by a staccato-like construction that makes them realize that he is talking about more than just the expected results of conversion—personal transformation—but about the arrival, even if only in part, of a whole new creation.” But this is not a staccato-like construction in Greek as it would be in English.  It is a common Greek ellipsis where the verb “to be” is very often to be understood, and the subject is carried over from the previous clause. The text is not talking about a future “creation,”  but about what has already taken place in Paul himself and in others who have become believers. NIV2010 has added the words “the…has come” where the Greek only has “new creation.” This is problematic, partly because the Greek text has no definite article here, but mainly because one is not allowed to add “has come” to the text when there is nothing like it in the Greek. It is permissible to add a form of “to be,” because that is how Greek ellipsis works. NIV2010 has in my view destroyed a very important and well-known verse in the Bible.

Craig had a comment on Phil 2:6 – also rather poorly translated  in the NIV2010 – which I found interesting. He admits that he likes the NLT translation of this verse, but then adds: “But it probably starts to move one just a little bit closer in the direction of functional equivalence than would be appropriate for a translation like the updated NIV.” It is nice to hear one of the NIV translators say that the NIV is not a functional equivalent translation nor is it intended to be so. That is OK with me, but it is not OK with me to misconstrue a verse like 2 Cor 5:17 (and Phil 2:6) in the way they have done.

 

94 thoughts on “2 Corinthians 5:17

  1. Jonathan Morgan says:

    Sorry, I don’t understand the connection between 2 Cor 5:17 and Phil 2:6. Could you please explain that further? Thanks!

  2. iverlarsen says:

    Hi, Jonathan,

    The connection is that Craig Blomberg wrote another blog about the change in NIV2010 for Phil 2:6. I had read that blog comment just before the other one on 2 Cor 5:17. If you follow the link I gave, you should be able to see both comments. Maybe I’ll write a separate comment about this verse, too, later. What they have in common is that NIV2010 in my view did poorly on both verses.

  3. Craig Blomberg says:

    It’s unfortunate that some people believe that translators of any major version of the Bible ever ignore the context of verses. We may differ on our translations but they are done in best faith efforts to get at the meaning of the original text in all of its contexts. Nothing in our translation of 2 Cor. 5:17 denies the individual application of this verse in its context to the new believer. It simply stresses Paul’s conviction that the reason we are new creations is because the new creation more broadly has begun to arrive. Nor was the translation motivated by the gender-inclusivity issue but by our understanding of Paul’s eschatology. The problem with translating it solely as applying to the individual is that people miss the larger realities that Paul wants to affirm as well.

    It is true that a form of “to be” is what is most often elliptically omitted in Greek but it is scarcely the only such verb to be so treated. Still, it probably is what was omitted here. What is gratuitously inserted is “that person” in the suggested translation above. If we want to be “literal” we will write, “. . .if anyone is in Christ, new creation.” The interpretive debate lies in what to supply to make it a complete and coherent thought. It is just as possible to understand the third person singular estin, supplied before kaine ktisis, to mean “if anyone is in Christ, there is new creation,” as it is to mean “if anyone is in Christ, he or she is a new creation.” The rendering, “the new creation has come” is just an attempt to explicate “there is new creation” more clearly.

    As for stacato-like structure and abruptness, the form is indeed that. There are very, very few examples of conditional sentences in the New Testament (“if. . .then. . .” form), in which the verb is missing from the apodosis (“then” clause). The Greek listener/reader would have been caught up short by this abrupt construction, which was unnecessary if all Paul wanted to say was that the individual was a new creation.

    I would also invite readers to check a majority of the major commentaries on 2 Corinthians produced in the last generation, including among evangelicals, and they will see that our translation is by far the most commonly held interpretation, and more detailed defenses are available in print. The majority isn’t always right, but at least in this case our view is hardly idiosyncratic.

    I am grateful for the guidelines in this blog that are posted, including the one about not questioning people’s motives. Perhaps another closely related one should be added, not to assume that you know people’s motives for certain parts of certain translations if you weren’t there to hear the discussion in committee. That kind of guideline would have prevented this blog from misrepresenting the reasons why the CBT opted for the translation that it did, claiming that we ignored the context and claiming that it was gender motivated. Perhaps we didn’t do the best with the translation we could have, though I don’t think that is the case in this instance. But let’s confine the discussion to that level.

  4. Michael Marlowe says:

    Craig Blomberg wrote: “Nor was the translation motivated by the gender-inclusivity issue”

    Yet on the page at biblegateway.com that Iver comments on, Blomberg clearly does express an interest in the “gender-inclusivity” aspect of this translation. He begins his discussion of the verse with a whole paragraph that frames the translation issue in those terms. So I think his criticism of Iver here is unjustified.

  5. Dannii says:

    Perhaps another closely related one should be added, not to assume that you know people’s motives for certain parts of certain translations if you weren’t there to hear the discussion in committee.

    Are the minutes from these discussions published anywhere? It would be great if more translations did publish the justifications for how they translated individual verses. The NET puts it right there in the text, but it doesn’t need to be that way.

    Of course even better would be something like a Git repository where every change was dated, justified and had someone sign off on it 😉

  6. Craig Blomberg says:

    Sorry if I wasn’t clear. Had the individual interpretation only been that of the committee, then naturally it would have sought to express it in a gender inclusive way, perhaps exactly as Mr. Larsen proposes. But once it was decided that kaine ktisis most likely meant “new creation” in a broader sense, then it no longer became an issue of gender inclusivity, since “creation” in English is neither a “he” nor a “she” but an “it.”

  7. Suzanne McCarthy says:

    I hope that nobody is going to claim that John Nelson Darby was promoting gender inclusivity in translating this verse,

    “So if any one [be] in Christ, [there is] a new creation; the old things have passed away; behold all things have become new:”

    I am sure that someone like Mr. Marlowe, with his extensive background in the different translations, would be able to recognize that the translation offered by the NIV2010 is quite common. Perhaps he could even provide a list of all those major translations which do make the same choice as the NIV2010.

    I also deeply regret that this sentence is found in the post,

    “NIV2010 has in my view destroyed a very important and well-known verse in the Bible.”

    Raised in the Plymouth Brethren, I recognize a familiar turn of phrase in the NIV2010.

    I would be very interested in knowing why this post was published without any reference to older translations and a qualifying statement that the NIV2010 has chosen one possible and completely acceptable translation out of a range of choices.

    Where the NIV2010 chooses gender inclusivity, it frequently brings the translation back in line with the gender inclusivity of the KJV and Luther’s translation.

    My apologies to Craig Blomberg. I had hoped that in leaving the BBB there would be less and not more polarization in the discussion of gender.

  8. Iver Larsen says:

    Craig,

    Thank you very much for responding. I feel honoured that you would do so. Maybe I should have started out by saying that there are many places where I consider the updated NIV an improvement. I was trying to be brief and address one particular verse. Maybe I should not have mentioned the gender issue, because that is not the problem with the NIV2010 translation. It is a problem with the previous NIV as it is read today, and the NIV2010 has addressed this issue in many places as did the TNIV.

    I am not at all suggesting that the translation was not done “in best faith efforts,” only that it does not adequately represent the meaning of the Greek text or what Paul wanted to say in this context. So, I am actually trying to help you to see the need for reconsidering your translation of this particular verse.

    I was hoping that you would supply evidence based on the context or the Greek text in support of your claims, but I don’t see any.

    You say: “Nothing in our translation of 2 Cor. 5:17 denies the individual application of this verse in its context to the new believer.” Have you tested this claim with ordinary readers of the text? At best, the new rendering is rather obscure.

    You say: “It simply stresses Paul’s conviction that the reason we are new creations is because the new creation more broadly has begun to arrive.” Why do you assume that this is Paul’s conviction? Where did Paul ever say anything like this? The Kingdom of God is already present in a certain sense, but that is a different topic. As I mentioned earlier, the Greek connector in v. 16 and 17 is a result connector, so you find the reason for a person becoming a “new creation” in v. 14-15 (Christ died for us to redeem us and thereby make us a “new creation” who is in Christ). You are introducing another reason which is not supported by the context. I don’t have access to a lot of commentaries, so I often quote from Exegetical Summaries, not in order to get to the meaning, because I get that from the Greek text itself and its context, but as a way of argumentation and support. Addressing the question about the meaning of the connector in v. 17, I find the following: It introduces a second conclusion to be drawn from 5:14–15 [EBC, HNTC, Ho, ICC2, Lns, NIC1, NIC2, NTC, SP, TH], 5:16–17 being parallel and analogous [HNTC, ICC2, NTC, TH]. The conclusion being drawn is that in Christ’s death the old way of life ended so that a newly created person could come into being [ICC2, NIC1].
    Concerning the phrase in question, that is, a “new creation” the Exegetical Summaries say: 1. It is subjective: the person in Christ is a new creation [Aber NOT2, He, Ho, ICC1, ICC2, Lns, My, NCBC, NIC1, SP, TG; CEV, KJV, NAB, NIV, NLT, TEV]. 2. It is objective: for the person in Christ there exists a new creation [AB, EBC, EGT, HNTC, NAC, NIC2, NTC, TNTC; REB].

    Here, interpretation 1 is the majority in terms of commentaries and more so in terms of translations. The majority may or may not be right, but what is the majority depends on the commentaries you select and the translations you look at.

    You say: “Nor was the translation motivated by the gender-inclusivity issue but by our understanding of Paul’s eschatology.” What makes you think that Paul is talking about eschatology here? Where is the evidence?

    You say: “The problem with translating it solely as applying to the individual is that people miss the larger realities that Paul wants to affirm as well.” Why do you think that this is what Paul wants to affirm? I see no evidence for such a claim.

    You say: “It is just as possible to understand the third person singular estin, supplied before kaine ktisis, to mean “if anyone is in Christ, there is new creation,” as it is to mean “if anyone is in Christ, he or she is a new creation.”

    When ESTIN means “exist” rather than “is” it is almost always explicit and usually has a prominent position in the clause.

    Let me give a few examples out of many:
    Heb 4:13 καὶ οὐκ ἔστιν κτίσις ἀφανὴς ἐνώπιον αὐτοῦ – And there is/exists not a person/creature/creation hidden before him.

    1Cor 15:44 εἰ ἔστιν σῶμα ψυχικόν, ἔστιν καὶ πνευματικόν. Since there is/exists a physical body, there is/exists also a spiritual (one).

    Gal 5:23 κατὰ τῶν τοιούτων οὐκ ἔστιν νόμος. Against such (things) there is/exists not a law.

    1 Jn 5:16 ἔστιν ἁμαρτία πρὸς θάνατον There is/exists a sin to death.

    John 18:39 ἔστιν δὲ συνήθεια ὑμῖν But/now there is/exists a custom for you. (You have a custom).

    If Paul had wanted to say “there is/exists a new creation”, he would most likely have said: εἴ δέ τις ἐν Χριστῷ, ἐστιν καινὴ κτίσις – But if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation. But this does not make much sense, because the topic is the person who is now in Christ, i.e. a believer, so the second part has to describe that believer. He or she is now a new creation. And as Paul says in Gal 6:15 being or becoming a new creation is what is important, not whether a person is circumcised physically or not. It is matter of “circumcision of the heart”. When that is done, the person becomes a new creation.

    You say: “The rendering, “the new creation has come” is just an attempt to explicate “there is new creation” more clearly.” I am afraid such a jump is not linguistically justified. Had Paul wanted to talk about something having come, he would have used a Greek word meaning “come.”

    Your translation can be rendered into Greek as εἴ δέ τις ἐν Χριστῷ, ἡ καινὴ κτίσις ἐλήλυθεν (or: γέγονεν). But Paul did not write either of these. And that is the main problem.

  9. Suzanne McCarthy says:

    Iver,

    “When ESTIN means “exist” rather than “is” it is almost always explicit and usually has a prominent position in the clause.”

    Clearly estin is explicit when it does occur in Greek, but there are likewise just as many times that it does not occur in Greek and “there is” is supplied in English.

    “If Paul had wanted to say “there is/exists a new creation”, he would most likely have said: εἴ δέ τις ἐν Χριστῷ, ἐστιν καινὴ κτίσις – But if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation.”

    Not necessarily. There are many places where English translations have supplied “there is” meaning “it exists” and ἐστιν does not occur in the Greek. Here are a few examples.

    Gal. 3:28
    2 Cor. 3:17
    Eph. 4:4
    Phil. 2:1
    1 Tim. 2:5
    Heb. 10:18

    I am not aware that is is possible to take an Enlish translation and make a back translation into Greek with any kind of certainty.

    I hardly feel that this is an appropriate verse to use if one wants to discuss gender issues. I note that the HCSB also has this translation,

    “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; (A) old things have passed away, and look, (B) new things [a] have come.”

    This translation bides by the very rigid Colorado Springs Gender Guidelines.

    In addition to Darby, the REB, Emphasized Bible, and the HCSB are all in agreement with the NIV2010.

  10. Iver Larsen says:

    Suzanne,

    First, I do not want to discuss gender issues.

    Second, whether one can do a back translation into Greek depends on one’s knowledge of Greek. I gave two possibilities to indicate a certain uncertainty, but I am quite sure that what Paul wrote is not a possible back translation of the NIV2010.

    You mention a few places, so let me look at them:

    Gal 3:28 οὐκ ἔνι Ἰουδαῖος “there is no Jew” The word ἔνι is a short form of ἔνεστιν and no one would dispute that this means “there is”, but here we do have a form of (ἔν)εστιν, so strike off that example. On the other hand, it does not mean that Jews no longer exist. Context will clarify the meaning. For the Christians the difference in ethnic background is not important.

    2 Cor 3:17 ὁ δὲ κύριος τὸ πνεῦμά ἐστιν· οὗ δὲ τὸ πνεῦμα κυρίου, ἐλευθερία. “But the Lord is spirit. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” This is a good example of how Greek ellipsis works. The ἐστιν is in the first part and it is naturally carried over into the next two clauses. However, here we also have the word “where” which I’ll address later.

    Eph 4:4 ἓν σῶμα καὶ ἓν πνεῦμα (There is) one body and one Spirit. Here ἐστιν is implicit, but it is not used existentially, but descriptively. The body of Christ is one. NLT96 has caught the meaning nicely: “We are all one body, we have the same Spirit.”

    Phil 2:1 Εἴ τις οὖν παράκλησις ἐν Χριστῷ If (there is) any encouragement in Christ. It is not a matter of encouragement existing in a vacuum. Does your state of belonging to Christ bring you encouragment? As the CEV say: “Christ encourages you.” I have no objection to adding “there is” if you want a literal translation, but I am not really arguing from the way that English operates, but (I am arguing) from (the way that) Greek (operates). Ellipsis is also used in English, but not necessarily in the same was as in Greek.

    1 Tim 2:5 εἷς γὰρ θεός, εἷς καὶ μεσίτης θεοῦ καὶ ἀνθρώπων, ἄνθρωπος Χριστὸς Ἰησοῦς God is one, and the mediator between God and people is also one, namely the person of Jesus Christ. The point is not the existence of God, but the uniqueness of God. That is why ἐστιν is naturally kept implicit in Greek.

    Heb 10:18 ὅπου δὲ ἄφεσις τούτων, οὐκέτι προσφορὰ περὶ ἁμαρτίας. Where (there is) forgiveness of these things, (there is) no longer a bringing forth (of sacrifices) for sin. Whenever you have a locative word like ὅπου we are not dealing with a verb of existence, but with a locative connector, that is, A is or is not at location B. You will find a number of such constructions, where no ἐστιν is needed in Greek, e.g. Luk 17:37, 1 Cor 3:3; James 34:16, Rev 2:13, 20:10. These are different constructions from what we find in 2 Cor 5:17. It is not enough to look at English translations. We really need to look at Greek in its own right.

  11. Suzanne McCarthy says:

    Iver,

    You wrote,

    “It is an interesting change, because it tells me how the endeavour to avoid gender exclusive language in English can unfortunately lead well-meaning translators astray.”

    However, we know that the HCSB, Emph, Darby and REB all have the same interpretation as the NIV2010, but this is unrelated to gender issues. Therefore, I have to ask you why you have introduced gender into the discussion, especially since you now state that you do not want to discuss gender.

    Next, I have been unable to find any occurences of “he is” in English where there is no verb in the original Greek except for a couple of cases where there is clear apposition.

    There seems to be much less support for “he is” than for “there is.”

    We need to look at all the examples of “he is” in English and find a few where there is no estin or other verb in Greek.

    Once again, I would ask you to look at the Greek in its own right, and review parallel examples of Greek to support your thesis that this verse can only mean “he is a new creation.”

    So far, you have supplied no examples.

  12. Suzanne McCarthy says:

    I would also like to look at studies of back translations which demonstrate that there is only one possible way to back translate.

    If I give a novel in English translated from the French to two experienced translators, will they produce identical back translations? Are there studies to prove that they will each arrive at the identical results in a back translation? I have not seen these studies.

    In fact, this would be very difficult to do for the Greek New Testament since there are often times cases where we use the identical English to translate two different phrases in the original Greek.

    If I provide for you these two phrases in English

    Matt. 23:11 the greatest among you

    Luke 22:26 the greatest among you

    Can you tell me from the English which one is translated from which original phrase in Greek.

    ὁ μείζων ἐν ὑμῖν
    ὁ δὲ μείζων ὑμῶν

    Are you implying that if a person knew Greek well enough they could produce a perfect back translation?

  13. Suzanne McCarthy says:

    iver,

    Here is an excerpt from JND’s synopsis.

    “As to how far our own relations with God enter into the service which we have to render to others, the apostle adds another thing that characterised his walk, and that was the result of the death and resurrection of Christ. He lived in an entirely new sphere, in a new creation, which had left behind, as in another world, all that belonged to a natural existence in the flesh here below. The proof that Christ had died for all proved that all were dead; and that He died for all in order that those who live should live no longer to themselves but to Him who died for them and rose again. They are in connection with this new order of things in which Christ exists as risen. Death is on everything else. Everything is shut up under death. If I live, I live in a new order of things, in a new creation, of which Christ is the type and the head. Christ, so far as in connection with this world below, is dead. He might have been known as the Messiah, living on the earth, and in connection with promises made to men living on the earth in the flesh. The apostle no longer knew Him thus. In fact Christ, as bearing that character, was dead; and now, being risen, He has taken a new and a heavenly character.

    Therefore if any one is in Christ, he belongs to this new creation, he is of the new creation. He belongs no more at all to the former; the old things have passed away; all things are become new.”

    My main point is that respected Greek scholars have translated tis as “there is a new creation” without being lead astray by gender issues.

    I honestly believe that you owe Craig Blomberg an apology.

  14. Iver Larsen says:

    Suzanne,

    I accept that the remark you quote was unfortunate. I should not have made the assumption that the NIV2010 translation of this verse came about as a result of getting rid of the “he” in the NIV. Craig has already clarified that there are other reasons for the chosen interpretation. I still believe that it does not fit the context and it does not represent the intended meaning, but I am happy that there is a footnote in the NIV2010.

  15. Michael Marlowe says:

    It’s implausible to claim that in this conditional sentence the apodosis might not refer to an individal, when the protasis clearly does (εἴ τις).

  16. Peter Kirk says:

    Iver, you wrote:

    Eph 4:4 ἓν σῶμα καὶ ἓν πνεῦμα (There is) one body and one Spirit. Here ἐστιν is implicit, but it is not used existentially, but descriptively.

    I don’t see what you are getting at by “used existentially, but descriptively”. Do you mean that a better translation would be “the body is one and the spirit is one”, as in your rendering of 1 Timothy 2:5? If so, should we perhaps render the phrase in question as “the creation is new”?

    Another argument against your interpretation is that ktisis does not usually refer to an individual created being – like many nouns in -sis it is more abstract whereas the concrete noun ends in -ma. Thus in this sense you would probably prefer to back-translate ktisma as in 1 Timothy 4:4, Revelation 5:13, 8:9. Is ktisis ever used in this sense? Well, perhaps Romans 8:39 (usually translated as an ellipsis for “thing in all creation”) or Hebrews 4:13. Galatians 6:13 is hardly an example as the comparison is with the abstract “circumcision”, not with a concrete “circumcised person”, but it suggests to me that kaine ktisis was some kind of slogan or catchphrase intended to be understood apart from its context.

    Michael, I see some strength in your argument, but my counter-argument would be my last point above.

  17. JKG says:

    it [i.e., Gal. 6:15 in light of 2 Cor 5:17] suggests to me that kaine ktisis was some kind of slogan or catchphrase intended to be understood apart from its context.

    Peter,
    That’s a very interesting understanding. NIV2010, with the definite article in English (i.e., “the new creation”), seems to suggest – or at least to allow for – this “some kind of slogan or catchphrase” intention in both of Paul’s uses of kaine ktisis:

    Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

    Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation.

  18. Iver Larsen says:

    Peter,

    For Eph 4:4, what I mean by existential is a construction where you can say “exist” in English rather than “is” and the meaning is not changed. In this verse it is the oneness rather than the existence of the body and the Spirit that is in focus, and therefore there ought to be no divisions. I am not suggesting the translations you suggest.

    I don’t think καινὴ κτίσις can be translated as “the creation is new” either in 2 Cor 5:17 or in Gal 6:15.

    Concerning κτίσις you will find if you check out the 19 occurrences in the NT, as well as the dictionaries, that the prototypical usage is to a created being, either as an individual or collectively (all/the whole creation). It does in a few cases refer to the event of creation of the world at the beginning of time, but only when other words in the context point to that sense. The word normally refers to human beings, but it may be wider. That would be a contextual inference. One of the best known verses is probably Mark 16:15: “Preach the good news to all creation.” I don’t think many are preaching to the trees and animals.

    So, I would not back translate “creation” in either 2 Cor 5:17 or Gal 6:15 with κτίσμα. It depends on the context. κτίσμα refers specifically to created things, and is not normally used of human beings as κτίσις is.

    Gal 6:15 is the only other place where the phrase καινὴ κτίσις (new creation) is found in the NT apart from 2 Cor 5:17. Furthermore, these two verses are quite parallel in their theme and context. To become a new creation is the same meaning as being born again, which is based on faith in the redemptive work of Christ. A new spiritual life has come into being, and this new life is a creation of God through the work of the Spirit.

    Gal 6:15 is interesting for other reasons. In the case of Galatians, the better manuscripts are A and C, not p47 and B. As James Royse (p. 747) and others have pointed out, NA is biased in favour of p47 and B, and they are also biased towards accepting the shorter readings rather than the longer ones in spite of the fact that the tendency of these early scribes was to omit rather than add. I therefore disagree with the decision made by NA to remove several words that are in the better manuscripts (and in the majority text) just because the same words are found earlier in Gal 5:6. It would be very natural for Paul in his final appeal to repeat these crucial words. The most likely text is:
    ἐν γὰρ Χριστῳ Ἰησοῦ οὔτε περιτομή τί ἐστιν οὔτε ἀκροβυστία ἀλλὰ καινὴ κτίσις.
    For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircimcision is important, but instead being a new creation.

    The verse must be understood in the context of Galatians, since it is a summary towards the end. The question was whether a Gentile needed to be circumcized in order to be considered a member of the people of God. That scenario is already open in the minds of the hearers, so they will have no problem understanding that Paul is saying: For people who belong to Christ, it does not matter whether a person is circumcised or not. What matters is that he (and by extension she, even though circumcision was not gender inclusive) is or has become a new creation. It has nothing to do with eschatology, except that once you have been born again or become a new creation/person, then you are heir to everything God has for his children, including a future world.

    For this verse NIV2010 has: “Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation.” The old NIV had: “Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation.” The change from “a” to “the” has somewhat obscured the meaning, and the change is not warranted from the Greek text. Neither NIV nor NIV2010 are easy to understand, but they are not intended to be meaning-based translations. To get the meaning more clearly one would have to consult God’s Word, New Living Translation, CEV or other meaning-based versions, except the GNB in this particular verse.

    The condition that must be fulfilled in Gal 6:15 is the same as in 2 Cor 5:17: To be in Christ. I have not mentioned that even the first clause in 2 Cor 5:17 requires an implicit ἐστιν, but no one disputes that: ὥστε εἴ τις ἐν Χριστῷ [ἐστιν], καινὴ κτίσις [ἐστιν]. KJV correctly marked this as [be] and [he is].

  19. Suzanne McCarthy says:

    So, I would not back translate “creation” in either 2 Cor 5:17 or Gal 6:15 with κτίσμα. It depends on the context. κτίσμα refers specifically to created things, and is not normally used of human beings as κτίσις is.

    In James 1:18, Christians are the first fruits of all created beings. This certainly suggests that humans are created beings.

    The lexicons indicate that both ktisis and ktisma can refer to either “creation” or “creatures.” They both refer to created beings, and I do not find any suggestion that one refers to humans and the other refers to objects.

  20. Peter Kirk says:

    Iver, surely if Ephesians 4:4 doesn’t mean “the body is one and the spirit is one”, it means “one body exists and one spirit exists”. I don’t see what intermediate position exists, although “there is one body and one spirit” is better English for the second interpretation. And I would suggest (to adapt your words) that in 2 Corinthians 5:17 it is the newness rather than the existence of creation that is in focus. “Creation is new” would highlight that focus. “There is new creation” and “new creation exists” are essentially synonymous, but neither is good English; “new creation has come” is also almost synonymous and better English. Anyway the last part of the verse makes clear the focus on newness.

    I accept that ktisis is sometimes used primarily of human beings. Mark 16:15 would be a good example of this if it wasn’t so textually doubtful, but even here ktisis parallels kosmos suggesting a similar metaphorical extension. Colossians 1:23 is similar, perhaps also Hebrews 4:13. But I would caution against restricting these verses to humanity to the extent of excluding angelic and demonic beings, compare 1 Peter 3:19.

    Would you argue that in Romans 8:19-22, Colossians 1:15 and 2 Peter 3:4 ktisis refers only to human beings? That would have some unfortunate theological consequences.

    My main point is that in every case I have found, leaving aside for the moment 2 Corinthians 5:17, ktisis is used as a collective non-count noun. I cannot find anywhere in the NT, except possibly the verse in question, where it is used of an individual, or as a count noun. It is never plural, and I think the plural would refer to separate acts of creation not to separate individuals. Indeed that is true of “creation” in normal English – if a preacher said to a congregation “you are all new creations” that would sound very strange, linguistically rather than theologically.

    Galatians 6:15 is not a counter-example, despite the gratuitous “a” in many English translations. The consistent NT picture is that there was one act of creation at the beginning of time and one new act of creation in Christ, into which Christians are included – two creations, not billions of creations. A rendering “a new creation” misleadingly suggests that each Christian comes into being by a new act of creation, which I don’t think is supported by the evidence in Greek.

    Suzanne, I missed James 1:18 as an example of ktisma, which is a count noun used in the plural, and of humans.

  21. Peter Kirk says:

    I should add that 1 Peter 2:13 is a counter-example where ktisis is probably used as a count noun. But this is unique in the NT as referring to human rather than divine creations. And even here we have the singular with pan and so we could translate “the whole of human creation” (non-count) or “every human creation” (count). But whereas God has created just twice, humans exercise their limited powers of creation repeatedly.

    The “new creation” idea is presumably based on Isaiah 65:17-25, although I guess it is arguable how far Paul considered this to have been fulfilled in the church age rather than being something still to come. Again here we are talking about a collective new creation, not an individual one.

  22. Iver Larsen says:

    Peter,

    You said: “The consistent NT picture is that there was one act of creation at the beginning of time and one new act of creation in Christ, into which Christians are included.” Where do you you find this new act of creation in the NT? It sounds very theological and philosophical, and very English. Can you express it in ordinary English so that I have a chance to understand it? Or maybe give one or two Scripture references?

    Isaiah 65 is about the future end of times, expressed in profetic imagery. It bears no relationship to any of the verses under discussion, except Romans 8 (which I have not commented on since it is irrelevant for the other two verses.)

    I agree that in both 2 Cor 5:17 and Gal 6:15 there is relative focus on the newness rather than the “creature”. It is shown by fronting the adjective before the noun it modifies. If a person has come to faith in Christ, that person has become a NEW kind of creature, a spiritual person as opposed to a fleshly person. Paul uses many different ways to describe this change from old to new.

    I am positive that our different perspectives has to do with how the word “creation” is used in current English. If I were to translate your suggestions or the NIV2010 into Danish, I could do that, but they would make no sense. On the other hand, I have no problem translating the traditional rendering and understanding of these verses. We don’t have a distinction between “creation” and “creature”. Our word for “creation/creature” (skabning) covers both, just as the Greek word does. We have a different word for an act of creation, though. This means that we have a specific word for the act of creation (skabelse), but it makes no sense to say that Christians are included in it. In this respect Danish is very much like English used to be as reflected in the many “creatures” of the KJV. What used to be a creature in English is now a creation. With the exception of Rom 8:22, KJV consistently use the word “creation” only for the act of creation, and “creature” for created beings, human or otherwise. Rom 8:22 is different because it was apparently not possibly to qualify “creature” with “whole”. Why they did not say “every creature” as in Mark 16:15 I don’t know. You are putting the Greek word into the semantic grid of current English “creation”, and that is understandable.

  23. JKG says:

    Is it helpful to see how the Greek word is used in translation of Isaiah (perhaps something Paul read, attending to lexicon as much as, and maybe more than, to theology or philosophy)? The LXX translators used the following verb forms. I’ve shown Brenton’s English renderings of the Greek. The direct objects of the verb, in these sentences respectively, are a bird, a human, water, evil, and a human (as the wider context shows). Couldn’t these be understood as new creatures/ new creations? And isn’t the interesting contrast – and parallel – between κτίζω and ποιέω, two verbs for “to create, to establish, to make, etc.”?

    ἐλάλησα καὶ ἤγαγον,
    ἔκτισα καὶ ἐποίησα,
    ἤγαγον αὐτὸν καὶ εὐόδωσα τὴν ὁδὸν αὐτοῦ.
    -46:11b

    I have spoken, and brought [him];
    I have created and made [him];
    I have brought him, and prospered his way.

    ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ κτίζω σε
    οὐχ ὡς χαλκεὺς φυσῶν ἄνθρακας
    καὶ ἐκφέρων σκεῦος εἰς ἔργον
    ἐγὼ δὲ ἔκτισά σε
    οὐκ εἰς ἀπώλειαν φθεῖραι
    -54:16

    Behold, I have created thee,
    not as the coppersmith blowing coals,
    and bringing out a vessel [fit] for work;
    but I have created thee, not for ruin,
    that [I] should destroy [thee].

    καὶ οὐκ ἐνεβλέψατε εἰς τὸν ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς ποιήσαντα αὐτὴν
    καὶ τὸν κτίσαντα αὐτὴν οὐκ εἴδετε
    -22:11

    but ye looked not to him that made it from the beginning,
    and regarded not him that created it.

    ἐγὼ ὁ κατασκευάσας φῶς
    καὶ ποιήσας σκότος
    ὁ ποιῶν εἰρήνην
    καὶ κτίζων κακά
    ἐγὼ κύριος ὁ θεὸς
    ὁ ποιῶν ταῦτα πάντα
    -45:7

    I am he that prepared light,
    and formed darkness;
    who make peace,
    and create evil;
    I am the Lord God,
    that does all these things.

    ἐγώ εἰμι κύριος
    κτίσας σε.
    -45:8

    I am the Lord
    that created thee.

  24. Peter Kirk says:

    Iver, I was perhaps indeed being over-theological in referring to “one new act of creation in Christ”. But you are making the same mistake in rejecting out of hand any application of Isaiah 65 to the church age, or that Paul might have had that idea. There are clear allusions to verse 23 in 1 Corinthians 15:58 and Philippians 2:16, referring to Christians’ present activity. Yes, Paul had to warn the Corinthians against over-realised eschatology, but his own was not so under-realised as to deny at least the partial fulfilment in his own time of passages like Isaiah 65. More specifically, I see the last part of 2 Corinthians 5:17 as clearly echoing Isaiah 65:17, and even more clearly 45:18-19 whose theme is taken up in 65:17ff.

    I now realise more clearly that much of the issue here is a linguistic one. I was aware of the danger of forcing ktisis into the grid of English usage, and that is why I was carefully looking for evidence of the Greek word being used as a count noun for created beings – and found none, in the NT.

    But I’m not sure that the English usage is as different from the Danish one as you think. In modern English, “creature” is a count noun essentially synonymous with “animal”, and so modern translations have rightly discarded the KJV use of the word for humans. But the substitution of “creation” has more to do with concordant rendering of ktisis than it has with English usage. “Creation” can be a count noun referring to works of art (“Here are my latest creations”), but not, for linguistic rather than theological reasons, referring to anything God has made. Rather the word means either the act of creation or is a collective non-count noun meaning everything that has been created. Does Danish “skabelse” have the latter sense?

    That is the fundamental reason why the old NIV rendering had to be changed. Compare English “bread” for Greek artos. In English “breads” means “types of bread”, not “loaves of bread”, and “a bread” means “a type of bread”, not “a loaf”. Thus in John 6:11 etc “the breads” would be a translation error. Similarly, “a creation” in a theological context means “an act of creation”, not “a created thing”, and so “a new creation” is a translation error if the referent is human and not a new act of creation.

    So perhaps we should render 2 Corinthians 5:17 along the lines of “he/she is a newly created being”. Or perhaps the meaning is “a new act of creation has taken place”. These two both make sense, whereas “he/she is a new creation” does not. The choice between these two is the exegetical issue. Rather than reopen that debate, I will simply note what Dr Blomberg wrote before, that among modern commentators the latter is “by far the most commonly held interpretation”.

  25. Peter Kirk says:

    Kurk, thank you for bringing in LXX here. Sadly I don’t have easily available tools for Greek usage outside the NT. I am not denying that “create”, Greek ktizo, is used of God creating individual people, objects etc. What I am questioning is whether the noun ktisis is used, as a count noun, for any such individual beings or things.

    After some googling I found a searchable unaccented LXX at The Unbound Bible and found ktisis in the plural in Tobit 8:5,15. The word is common but always singular in Wisdom of Solomon, and is also found in the singular in Judith, Sirach, 3 Maccabees and Psalms of Solomon. The Tobit references seem to show that ktisis can be a count noun – but they are textually doubtful: in both places BA (Vaticanus and Alexandrinus) have pasai ha ktiseis sou, but S (Sinaiticus) has pasa he ktisis sou in the first and omits the second.

    LSJ recognises a sense “created thing, creature”, but gives only biblical references: Judith 9:12, Mark 16:15, Romans 8:19 and “in pl.” Tobit 8:5. But the first two are surely better understood as “all creation” rather than “every created thing”, and the third certainly requires a collective sense. Are we left with the textually doubtful Tobit as the only evidence for the word as a count noun for an individual being or thing? It looks like it to me.

  26. Michael Marlowe says:

    “However, we know that the HCSB, Emph, Darby and REB all have the same interpretation as the NIV2010, but this is unrelated to gender issues. Therefore, I have to ask you why you have introduced gender into the discussion ..”

    Again, it was Blomberg who introduced the gender-neutralizing goal, as a motivating factor, in his discussion of this particular revision of the NIV at the “Perpectives” blog. If it was really so irrelevant to the revision here, why did Blomberg begin his post with a whole paragraph that emphasizes the importance of that goal? Iver can hardly be blamed for associating the rendering with the gender-neutralizing goal of the version, after Blomberg does it himself.

  27. Iver Larsen says:

    Thanks, Peter,

    I, of course, have a disadvantage in trying to understand intricate differences in English words, especially if these differences are not explained in common dictionaries.

    You said: “Rather the word means either the act of creation or is a collective non-count noun meaning everything that has been created. Does Danish “skabelse” have the latter sense?”

    The answer is no. Whether count or non-count, we would need to use the other word “skabning” for both. It can occur both in singular and plural, count or non-count, but it does not normally refer to inanimate things. If that sense is intended we would say “everything created” as we did in Rom 8:19-22. “skabelse” can only be used for the act of creation, and it is rarely used apart from the creation of the world by God. It may refer to the creation of a piece of art, but it would be unusual. The common usage is in the contrast between creation and evolution.

    You also said: “Similarly, “a creation” in a theological context means “an act of creation”, not “a created thing”, and so “a new creation” is a translation error if the referent is human and not a new act of creation.”

    Does that mean that “a creation” in English can never refer to a human? In that case I can see you have a problem with all the literal versions that use the word in 2 Cor 6:17 and Gal 6:15. If that is correct also for American English, then I am surprised that NLT04 uses it in Gal 6:15: “What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation.” Then the NLT96 would be somewhat better: “What counts is whether we really have been changed into new and different people.”

    How you can see a connection between 2 Cor 5:17 and Isa 65:17 or Isa 45:18-19 or the other allusions you suggest is beyond my comprehension.

  28. Peter Kirk says:

    Iver, I think “a new creation” has become a fixed idiom as a rendering of these two verses and translators find it hard to change. That may be why it was chosen for NLT04, a generally more literal revision of NLT96. As I noted before the phrase cannot be pluralised, even in a sermon, without sounding strange, confirming that it is a fixed idiom. Indeed NLT04 avoided “we have been transformed into new creations”, perhaps simply to sound right or perhaps because it wanted to avoid the idea of multiple new acts of creation.

    As for the connection between 2 Corinthians 5:17 and Isaiah 45:18-19, that is not my invention but is noted in Nestle-Aland 27th edition. I accept that the link to 65:17 is not that clear, and is obscured in LXX by the omission of a rendering of Hebrew hinneni bore, but Paul was not working from the LXX as we know it today. The verses are linked by “create/creation” and the contrast between “new” and “old/former”.

  29. Dannii says:

    if a preacher said to a congregation “you are all new creations” that would sound very strange, linguistically rather than theologically.

    I thought I’d just say that it would sound perfectly fine to me, though I can’t explain why. It just doesn’t sound strange.

  30. Suzanne McCarthy says:

    Michael,

    I hardly think that we can talk of “gender neutralizing,” as you do, for this phrase. Blomberg does not use this term, but merely relates an anecdote about the difficulty of “gender exclusiveness”.

    But surely, changing the original Greek, which is clearly feminine, and inserting a masculine “he” is not providing a literal translation and does not do justice to the use of gender in the Greek.

    We must assume either, that ktisis, is for some theological reason, feminine, or we must abandon completely the notion that gender is relevant to the translation of this passage. I think that is what Craig Blomberg is pointing out.

    It is significant to realize that there are few enough translations which stand outside the King James tradition, and all the great classicists have opted for the alternate translation. I cannot simply ignore a translation chosen by Rotherham, whose translation I have much respect for, and Darby, and the NEB/REB, as well as the NRSV, and HCSB. Surely a translation chosen by all of these versions, must be considered seriously. The NIV2010, must be considered as having chosen the preferred and majority position in this case. It would be a marked oddity if they did not go with “there is a new creation” in some form or other.

  31. JKG says:

    Peter, In looking for evidence of “whether the noun ktisis is used, as a count noun, for any such individual beings or things,” how would you consider this bit from Clement of Alexandria (Protrepticos Pros Hellenas, aka “Exhortation to the Greeks,” ch XI)?

    Τοῦτο ἡ κτίσις ἡ καινὴ βεβούληται·

    This could be translated literally as

    “This – the creation, the new – has (itself so) wished.”

    Schaff translated it as

    “For this was the end of the new creation.”

    http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf02.vi.ii.xi.html

    Earlier, in ch 1, Clement has referred to Jesus Christ, talking about much newness:

    ὁ Χριστός, καινὸν ᾆσμά

    Τοῦτό ἐστι τὸ ᾆσμα τὸ καινόν

    Somewhat literally,

    “The Anointed, a new song”

    “This is the song, the new.”

    And Schaff has rendered that last bit this way:

    This is the New Song, the manifestation of the Word that was in the beginning, and before the beginning. The Saviour, who existed before, has in recent days appeared. He, who is in Him that truly is, has appeared; for the Word, who ‘was with God,’ and by whom all things were created, has appeared as our Teacher. The Word, who in the beginning bestowed on us life as Creator when He formed us, taught us to live well when He appeared as our Teacher; that as God He might afterwards conduct us to the life which never ends.”

    Doesn’t even the parallel syntax suggest a countability for the noun in question?

    Τοῦτο ἡ κτίσις ἡ καινὴ

    Τοῦτό … τὸ ᾆσμα τὸ καινόν

    (I agree with you that the LXX doesn’t offer much evidence on this particular point. But then Paul wasn’t necessarily looking at what we have as the Septuagint. And Clement, of course, writes later than Paul.)

  32. Peter Kirk says:

    Kurk, I think Clement was referring to the new act of creation in Christ, and personifying it as having a will or purpose which was in fact the will and purpose of the Creator. I doubt if Clement was (formally heretically) calling Christ the new created being.

  33. Michael Marlowe says:

    “But surely, changing the original Greek, which is clearly feminine, and inserting a masculine “he” is not providing a literal translation …”

    Yes, but unlike Darby and others, the NIV revisers do not aim to provide literal renderings. And in fact their new rendering “the new creation has come” is not a literal one, it is interpretive. You keep mentioning Darby in connection with this rendering, but that’s not how he translates the verse. His rendering “[there is] a new creation” refrains from interpretation, and could be understood as a reference to the regeneration of the hypothetical individual mentioned in the protasis. As I pointed out earlier, that is the natural way of understanding the Greek sentence. You quote an interpretation found in Darby’s Synopsis (“Therefore if any one is in Christ, he belongs to this new creation, he is of the new creation”) that resembles Blomberg’s, but that interpretation is not found in Darby’s version itself. I have no big problem with “[there is] a new creation,” with the brackets, if it is understood correctly.

  34. Peter Kirk says:

    Michael, all English renderings that I have seen of the verse are “interpretive” in that they add words like “there is a”. Or are you claiming that the brackets around “there is” make the rendering non-interpretive? But there is no bracket round the equally controversial “a”, implying that there are many new creations, which actually contradicts Darby’s own interpretation referring to “the new creation” i.e. only one.

    So if NIV2010 were amended to add brackets, i.e. “… [the] new creation [has come]”, would you drop your charge that it is “interpretive”? Or do you mean by “interpretive” “suggests an interpretation different from the one I prefer”?

  35. Michael Marlowe says:

    “Or do you mean by ‘interpretive’ ‘suggests an interpretation different from the one I prefer'”?

    Oh really, Mr. Kirk. Was that sarcastic question necessary? If you had been more civil, I would have answered your other question.

  36. JKG says:

    Peter, Yes, “Clement was referring to the new act of creation in Christ, and personifying it.” It is a countable thing in Greek, in this case, isn’t it? A referent to a person (metaphorically)?

    I think I’m with Dannii on this. If someone (be she a preacher or he a teacher) were to read Clement, then it wouldn’t sound entirely strange for that one to say:

    “This new act of creation in Christ has willed and has purposed as any person might.” And, likewise, in Christ, all are “new acts of creation.”

    Here’s how Australian classicist Ann Nyland translates Paul:

    And so, if someone is a follower of the Anointed One, they are a fresh creation: old things have passed away! Indeed, they have become new!

    She’s obviously letting “they” stand as the to-some-still-strange generic singular, but is her interpretation of the Greek so strange?

  37. Peter Kirk says:

    Michael, I have seen other people use “interpretive” in that kind of pejorative way, rather like “paraphrase” is used of “a translation I don’t like”. I expect better things from you. But if you want to rescue the term for use in proper discussions like the one here, then please answer the question or provide a proper definition of your terminology.

  38. Peter Kirk says:

    Kurk, as I said before I take no strong position on which interpretation is correct beyond noting that the one taken by NIV2010 is widely held. On the linguistic issue, perhaps Australian English is more flexible than British on treating “creation” as countable. But in Greek, I don’t think so, not even in Clement. Just because a word is personified it doesn’t become countable: in English I can write “the water wanted to force its way into my house”, but the personified “water” is still a non-count noun.

  39. Sue says:

    I think that the discussion of count vs non-count noun is very useful in this discussion, but not definitive. It does not seem that we can ascertain that one interpretation is more likely to be correct than the other.

    Michael,

    Thank you for recognizing that Darby does indeed interpret this in the same way, generally speaking, as tne NIV2010. I come back to this translation because according to my research his is the first translation I can find which departs from the tradition of the KJV. I don’t have any preference for his translation, but just happen to be familiar with it, and with his Synopsis.

    This post should not be about why the NIV2010 chose this translation but what inspired Darby to depart from the previous tradition. If gender is involved at all, it is only in that my blog is named after Lady Powerscourt, who was a relatively uninteresting author herself but nonetheless provided a venue for Darby’s bible prophecy meetings.

  40. Michael Marlowe says:

    “I expect better things from you”

    Well, I hope you’re not too disappointed in my explanation, then. But I maintain that some versions are more interpretive than others.

    An εστιν is so often elided from our biblical texts, it is practically a rule of grammar that it should be supplied in eliptical clauses where it makes sense. To add “he is” in a translation of the second clause of 2 Cor. 5:17 involves very little interpretation. An implicit εστιν is the first thing anyone who reads much Greek would think of, just we supply it in the previous clause–and in fact we tend to supply it without even thinking about it. The NIV interpretation, on the other hand, requires some explanation and defense like Blomberg’s precisely because “it has come” does not immediately spring to mind as a way of completing the sentence when we are reading this. There is some extra baggage of interpretation involved here, that goes beyond the ordinary linguistic processing. That’s why I say it is “interpretive.” Frankly, I think the committee must have thought about this too much.

  41. Sue says:

    Michael,

    I am quite surprised that you are implying that εστιν means “he is” rather than “it is” or “there is” or even “she is.” To chose one of the above is in itself interpretation.

    I don’t see quite what the fuss is about. We should simply start with the Rotherham translation and work from there.

    You seem to persist in suggesting that Rotherham, Darby and the translators of the NRSV, and HCSB are second class scholars and not really familiar with Greek. Is this your claim, or have I misunderstood you?

  42. Michael Marlowe says:

    “You seem to persist in suggesting that … the translators of the NRSV, and HCSB are second class scholars and not really familiar with Greek.”

    Why do you make it so personal? I’m not saying anything at all about them as people. I don’t know what sort of scholars they are, and I won’t venture to say anything about that, because it’s irrelevant.

  43. Michael Marlowe says:

    Because the HCSB rendering has been mentioned several times in this thread, as being simiar to the revised NIV’s, I thought I would mention that the online texts of the HCSB do not agree with one another in this respect. The one at beta.mystudybible.com seems to be the latest revision, and it has “he is a new creation.”

  44. Suzanne McCarthy says:

    Really, Michael, I am asking you because you are actually familiar with all these translations and might have an informed comment on this. I actually doubt that you think this issue is related in any way to gender.

  45. Suzanne McCarthy says:

    The problem with a revision of the HCSB is that we don’t really know if this is a legitimate shift in academic opinion, or if somebody threatended to boycott their translation if they didn’t belly up. SInce Bible translation acceptance is still a bloodsport, we will never know.

  46. Iver Larsen says:

    Let us keep the gender issue and competing scholarship completely out of this interesting and important discussion.

    Peter, you said:

    “I now realise more clearly that much of the issue here is a linguistic one.”

    You hit the nail on the head there, and this, I believe, is the key to the whole issue. You have also enlightened me about the usage of “creation” in modern (British?) English.

    What has happened is a semantic shift in the 18th or 19th century in English for the word “creature” which of course goes back to the Latin creatura. The Vulgate translates Gal 5:16 as “in Christo enim Iesu neque circumcisio aliquid valet neque praeputium sed nova creatura.”

    Luther said: “Denn in Christus Jesus gilt weder Beschneidung noch Unbeschnittensein etwas, sondern eine neue Kreatur.” (Then in Christ Jesus neither circumcision or being-uncut matters anything, but a new creature/creation.)

    I wonder if the Danish translation of Luther from 1550 also said “Kreatur”. That word in Danish has shifted and been narrowed so that today it can only be used of cattle.

    Sue suggested that Darby (1884) was the first to implement the semantic shift away from creature and therefore said: “For in Christ Jesus neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision; but new creation.” Notice the lack of any article. Creation is an event noun here like circumcision.

    This semantic shift has also helped me to see why a number of modern English commentators have opted for an interpretation that to my non-English mind makes no sense at all.

    2 Cor 5:17 naturally has behaved like Gal 6:15 in its semantic shift and interpretative development. The Vulgate again says “nova creatura” here, Luther has “eine neue Kreatur”, Young (1862) has “a new creature” and Darby has “So if any one be in Christ, there is a new creation.”
    My guess is that at this point in time, English would still allow “creation” to refer to a created being, including a person.

    To explain where I am coming from, I need to give you some more Danish words. Like German and unlike English, Danish has a very productive process of forming compound nouns. I have already mentioned “skabelse” which refers to an act of creation and “skabning” which refers to the result of creation, a created thing or being. It is a count noun with a plural form. However, we also have compound nouns. One is “genskabelse”. This is still an action, but the prefix “gen-” which means “again” has created a word that in English would be “re-creation.” We also have the verb “genskabe” meaning to “re-create.” There are two other interesting and relevant compounds, namely “nyskabning” and “nyskabelse”. The prefix here is ny- which means “new” (The letter y is a vowel like French u). The first word refers to a new thing that has been created for the first time, while the second refers to the action of creating something new for the first time. In English that would be something like an “innovation.” The word can also refer to the thing freshly or newly created. This is apparently the line of thinking that Ann Nyland has taken with “they are a fresh creation.”

    If I were to think in terms of this Danish word “nyskabelse” as an accurate translation of the Greek phrase καινὴ κτίσις, I could work equally well with supplying “they are” and “there is”. It doesn’t make much difference. An innovation has taken place in and for that person.

    Now, the verb “to be” in Greek does not have a perfect form. If the focus is on the current state, a present tense is used. If the author would like to remind us that there is a process that has caused this state to come into being, Greek would use the perfect tense of γίνομαι (ginomai) “to happen, to come into being”.

    So, if we want to use the modern English word “creation” which primarily if not exclusively refers to an act of creation, we might say: “If anyone is in Christ, there is a new-creation/innovation (that has taken place in this person)” or “If anyone is in Christ, a new-creation has come about (has happened to that person). I don’t know if that is good enough English. If not, it can be expressed in different ways, like “something entirely new has happened to that person.” NLT says it nicely: “What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons.”

    Because the Greek text does not have the perfect tense of γίνομαι (which would be γέγονεν here), the focus is on the new state rather than the process. The process was covered by “in Christ”. So, this person is now a new kind of person.

    This also highlights two problems with the NIV2010. One is the questionable insertion of a definite article. The other is the introduction of “has come” rather than “is” or “has come about”.

  47. Suzanne McCarthy says:

    2Co 5:17 En sorte que si quelqu’un est en Christ, c’est une nouvelle création : les choses vieilles sont passées ; voici, toutes choses sont faites nouvelles ;

    Darby published first in French, in 1859.

    So if any one [be] in Christ, [there is] a new creation; the old things have passed away; behold all things have become new: 1872

    I don’t think that “creation” in either French or English would normally refer to an individual.

  48. Suzanne McCarthy says:

    Here is Wesley’s commentary.

    “Therefore if any one be in Christ – A true believer in him. There is a new creation – Only the power that makes a world can make a Christian. And when he is so created, the old things are passed away – Of their own accord, even as snow in spring. Behold – The present, visible, undeniable change! All things are become new – He has new life, new senses, new faculties, new affections, new appetites, new ideas and conceptions. His whole tenor of action and conversation is new, and he lives, as it were, in a new world. God, men, the whole creation, heaven, earth, and all therein, appear in a new light, and stand related to him in a new manner, since he was created anew in Christ Jesus.”

    Even though Wesley refers to the individual as newly created, he only uses the word “creation” for “the whole creation, heaven, earth, and all therein.”

  49. JKG says:

    William Tyndale –
    Therfor if ony newe creature is in Crist, the elde thingis ben passid.

    Julia E. Smith –
    So that if any in Christ, a new creation : old things have passed away; behold, all have become new.

    Richmond Lattimore –
    So that one who is in Christ is a new creature; the old is gone, behold, the new is here;

    Ann Nyland –
    And so, if someone is a follower of the Anointed One, they are a fresh creation: old things have passed away! Indeed, they have become new!

    Willis Barnstone –
    From now on we know no one in the flesh.
    And even if we did know the Mashiah
    In the flesh, now no longer do we know
    Him so. And if one is in the Mashiah,
    He is a new creation. The old is gone,
    And everything is new. All is of God,
    And he has reconciled us with himself
    Through the Mashiah, and he gave to us
    The ministry of reconciliation,

    Interesting the variation between “creature” and “creation” among these individual translators (even if somewhat constantly “ony,” “any,” “one,” “anyone,” and “one” seems required for τις). Barnstone’s own creation of the existential clause (“He is”), for Paul’s καινὴ κτίσις, suggests (ambiguously) that Paul might be implying that “he, the Mashiah” is a new creation of God’s. Barnstone calls “him,” (i.e., “the Mashiah”) the “he,” at points, and, thus, he might be the “new creation”? Of course, the (male) readers in English might identify themselves with the “He is a new creation”; or all individual readers might easily (mis)understand the text’s “He” as referring to (male) humans in general. And then, of course, the “he” later in the context is a referent to “God… himself Through the Mashiah.” Is Barnstone muddying the waters? Or is he letting Paul’s Greek speak for itself with ambiguities and semantic richness?

  50. JKG says:

    Checking the context for Smith’s rendering, there is a similar ambiguity that is there for Barnstone’s (except Smith’s is without the masculine pronoun “he”):

    So that we from now know none according to the flesh: and if we have known Christ according to the flesh, but now we know no more. So that if any in Christ, a new creation: old things have passed away; behold, all have become new.

    Don’t English readers see “a new creation” either as referring to “any” or as making an appositive with “Christ”?

  51. Peter Kirk says:

    Michael, thank you for your clarification. I can accept that estin should be understood. But the problem remains that it then has two different interpretations, “he/she is” and “there is”. A translation which chooses between these two is making an interpretive decision and so is interpretive, and the only sense in which one is less interpretive than the other is that “he” is a shorter word than “there”. The only non-interpretive translation of the verse that I have seen is Julia Smith’s, quoted by JKG a couple of comments ago, but this is unclear and unnatural, not to mention ungrammatical.

    Now the NIV 2011 rendering with “has come” has been described as a restructuring of the “there is” rendering with the same meaning intended. I would thus claim that it is no more “interpretive” than the “there is” rendering. It is arguably less literal. But restructuring of a text without changing its meaning, for clarity or naturalness, is something quite distinct from choosing an interpretation.

  52. Iver Larsen says:

    Peter,

    You said: “The NIV 2011 rendering with “has come” has been described as a restructuring of the “there is” rendering with the same meaning intended.”

    Yes, Craig made this claim, but I would say it is incorrect. By changing to “has come” they have drastically changed the meaning.

  53. Peter Kirk says:

    Iver, I wonder if you properly understand “the new creation has come” in English. In such a context “has come” is not a verb of motion but is the same as “has come about”. The only real difference, except in style, from “the new creation exists” is an implication that there was a past time when it did not exist – which is not I think a matter of dispute.

    To go back to your previous comment, English “has come” corresponds well with “the perfect tense of γίνομαι (ginomai)” in Greek, which you mentioned. But in English, and at least to some extent in Greek, when the perfect tense is used “the focus is on the new state rather than the process”. I dispute your implication that gegonen focuses more on the process – I would expect egeneto for that. But the text has neither, in this part of the verse, although the event noun ktisis implies a process. So we need a wording focusing on the resulting state without denying a process, like “has come”.

    I accept that the definite article is a more arguable point. But the indefinite article is more problematic because it forces “creation” to be understood as a count noun, which is potentially unnatural. I would prefer a rendering without either article. I wouldn’t object to “a new creation has come about” as that makes it clear that the person is not being described as a creation, and in this context creation is countable only as one old one and one new one. But the difference in meaning from the NIV 2010 rendering is extremely subtle.

  54. Iver Larsen says:

    Peter,

    Ok, I understood “has come” as equivalent to “has arrived”, not the same as “has come about” or “has come into existence.” I wonder how others understand it. At best, “the new creation has come” is very obscure to me, and I am unable to understand what “creation” in this sentence refers to.

  55. Peter Kirk says:

    Sorry to keep switching between “NIV 2010” and “NIV 2011”. Does anyone know which is preferred? The copyright date is 2010 but the print release is in 2011 (has anyone seen it yet?) deliberately for the KJV 400th anniversary.

  56. Mike Sangrey says:

    For what it might be worth, I’m with Craig Bloomberg on this one. I think Craig’s statement here expresses the sense quite well:
    It is more likely that he is getting his readers’ attention by a staccato-like construction that makes them realize that he is talking about more than just the expected results of conversion—personal transformation—but about the arrival, even if only in part, of a whole new creation.

    I might be (probably am) pushing this further than Craig, but I think the issues here are complex–no surprise here, words within a text play off of each other and mold each other, so there are a lot of semantic connections. Not only the observation of the staccato-like construction needs to be raised, but also:
    1. One’s understanding of σάρξ comes into play.
    2. One’s predilection to a highly individualistic perspective (as is common in our modern context)
    3. The referent of τις (TIS, “someone”)

    For σάρξ (SARC. “flesh”), does it refer to a distinction between a human perspective on one side distinguished from a non-physical, spiritual perspective on the other? For me, I can’t get my mind around what is meant by “knowing someone spiritually.” For example, what would it mean for me to know my wife spiritually in the sense that is expressed here in 2 Cor. (via the negative–“we do not know someone according to the flesh.”)? What does that look like? How do I live that on a day-to-day basis? If I stop knowing someone physically (or in a worldly way), then what have I stopped doing? Is it just referring to my not sinning against them (or at least sinning less, or now with remorse), not being so selfish, not being so self-centered? Is Paul simply expressing an attitude change? Here, in this text, it doesn’t seem to me to be referring to having a bad attitude toward people and now having a good attitude. σάρξ is more specific than that.

    I’ve continued to assess the value of thinking of κατὰ σάρκα (KATA SARC, “according to flesh”) as referring to an ethnic value. In other words, Paul here expresses he no longer views people along ethnic lines (κατὰ expresses “along the lines of” rather well). Ethnicity is not the demarcator determining who is “inside” and who is “outside” the family of God. After all, the context is about reconciliation, so this statement, especially within Paul’s obvious God given ministry to the Gentiles (especially to the Corinthians!!), seems quite coherently framed. If we’re talking about reconciliation within a Jew-Gentile, 1st century context, then dealing with the whole ethnic issue is pretty much job one.

    The second and third issues, I think, can be taken together. Our modern world view is very, very highly individualistic. So much of Bible interpretation slides down an “individualistic” slant. “Individualism” seems to be woven into the very fabric of our cognitive processes. It’s not so much what we look at, as it is what we look through. So, individualism colors are every thought, and many of our interpretations. Given this, I think it valuable to often raise the question of, “am I being individualistic here in my interpretation?”

    To make this concrete, does τις refer to someone specifically, or someone generally? To state it more clearly, is Paul saying, “If we consider a specific individual and that person is in Christ…”. Or, is he saying something more generally and non-individualistically, as in, “If there is even one person in Christ…”.

    I’m leaning toward the later. “If there is someone in Christ, the new creation has come.” And that brings me back to the beginning. Paul “is talking about more than just the expected results of conversion—personal transformation—but about the arrival, even if only in part, of a whole new creation.” And, I might add, a whole new creation with reconciliation as part of its very nature. How would one describe to the Jewish-Gentile, 1st century world the fact that God is reconciling the whole world to himself? That’s startling! It’s staccato. It’s a new creation.

  57. Peter Kirk says:

    Iver, “has come” can be equivalent either to “has arrived” or to “has come into existence.” The former is clearly meaningless in this context, and so by the principle of relevance the latter is understood here.

  58. JKG says:

    ὥστε ἡμεῖς ἀπὸ τοῦ νῦν
    οὐδένα οἴδαμεν κατὰ σάρκα·
    εἰ δὲ καὶ ἐγνώκαμεν κατὰ σάρκα χριστόν,
    ἀλλὰ νῦν οὐκέτι γινώσκομεν.

    ὥστε εἴ τις ἐν Χριστῷ,
    καινὴ κτίσις [ἦλθεν]·
    τὰ ἀρχαῖα παρῆλθεν,
    ἰδοὺ γέγονεν καινά

    “So from now on we
    regard no one from a worldly point of view.
    Though we once regarded Christ in this way,
    we do so [regard him] no longer.

    Therefore, if anyone is in Christ,
    the new creation has come:
    The old has gone,
    the new is here!”

    Iver,
    You say: “I wonder how others understand it. At best, “the new creation has come” is very obscure to me, and I am unable to understand what “creation” in this sentence refers to.

    In a nod to what Mike is looking at (including “one’s understanding of σάρξ”), I have to understand what Peter’s talking about best from the context. But, however, and nevertheless, let me confess this, reading the Greek alone:

    At best, “καινὴ κτίσις [with an implied ἦλθεν]” is very obscure to me, and I am unable to understand what “κτίσις” in this sentence refers to.

  59. Peter Kirk says:

    Kurk, I agree with you. If the Greek is obscure to us, then the translation will be.

    But I don’t agree about “an implied ἦλθεν”. Is erchomai used in this non-motion sense? Also a perfect is probably more to the point than an aorist, as “the focus is on the new state rather than the process”. I see the implied verb as gegonen, in anticipation of its used later in the verse.

  60. JKG says:

    I see the implied verb as gegonen, in anticipation of its used later in the verse.

    Peter, Thank you. That helps me tremendously. Yes, the repeated kain* strongly implies gegonen with ktisis.

    The NIV2010/11 might better show this with:

    “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ,
    the new creation is here:
    The old has gone,
    the new really is here!”

    What do you think?

  61. Peter Kirk says:

    Yes, I agree that “is here” is a good alternative to “has come”. But it is more open to the charge of “interpretive” as there is nothing in the Greek corresponding to “here”.

  62. Wayne Leman says:

    Peter asked:

    Sorry to keep switching between “NIV 2010″ and “NIV 2011″. Does anyone know which is preferred? The copyright date is 2010 but the print release is in 2011 (has anyone seen it yet?) deliberately for the KJV 400th anniversary

    I believe they prefer NIV 2011. I think I’ve read that a few times. The online release in 2010 allowed people to access the revision ahead of the “actual release”.

  63. Michael Marlowe says:

    “But the problem remains that it then has two different interpretations, ‘he/she is’ and ‘there is’. A translation which chooses between these two is making an interpretive decision and so is interpretive, and the only sense in which one is less interpretive than the other is that ‘he’ is a shorter word than ‘there’.”

    I don’t see much semantic difference between these. I prefer “he is,” for reasons I’ve explained (we naturally expect the subject of the apodosis to be the subject of the protasis), and I’ve also said that “there is” is acceptable to me because that rendering can be understood as being more or less equivalent to “he is.” The meanings are close and blend into one another. But when the meaning of the elided εστιν here is said to be “… has come,” that is taking an additional and very questionable interpretive step. Clearly the NIV is being more interpretive here.

  64. Michael Marlowe says:

    “I believe they prefer NIV 2011”

    I’ve been calling it the revised NIV, and in my last post I simply called it the NIV, with the understanding that we’re talking about the recent revision.

  65. Iver Larsen says:

    Well, the discussion has helped me to understand where the problem lies. It has to do with the current usage of the English word “creation” which has been substituted for the older English “creature” without checking whether it corresponds to the meaning of the Greek word it is supposed to translate. Apparently, modern English is lacking a word corresponding to KJV “creature”. The BDAG is still using the word “creature” as can be seen below.

    If I understand Peter correctly, he is saying that “creation” in English is an event noun and refers to an act of creation. It might also cover 2b below in the sense of the sum total of everything created. However, I admit that the exact senses of the word in English are still not clear to me. That is why I prefer to look at the Greek word. We don’t have the same problem in Danish that English has, and that is one of the reasons why I cannot get my head around the strange interpretation suggested for 2 Cor 5:17.

    The Greek word κτίσις can refer to an act of creation, but does so rarely.

    The word occurs 19 times in the NT, and BDAG discusses all of them. Only one of these is put under sense 1: “act of creation”, one is a special usage (sense 3 below), while all the rest are put under sense 2: “the result of a creative act, that which is created.” The dictionary divides them as follows where I have kept only the NT references:

    ① act of creation, creation… ἀπὸ κτίσεως κόσμου since the creation of the world Ro 1:20

    ② the result of a creative act, that which is created

    ⓐ of individual things or beings created, creature, created thing τὶς κ. ἑτέρα any other creature Ro 8:39. οὐκ ἔστιν κ. ἀφανὴς ἐνώπιον αὐτοῦ no creature is hidden from (God’s) sight Hb 4:13… Of Christ πρωτότοκος πάσης κ. Col 1:15. τὸ εὐαγγέλιον … τὸ κηρυχθὲν ἐν πάσῃ κτίσει the gospel … which has been preached to every creature (here limited to human beings) Col 1:23…The Christian is described by Paul as καινὴ κ. a new creature 2 Cor 5:17, and the state of being in the new faith by the same words as a new creation Gal 6:15 (cp. Jos., Ant. 18, 373 καιναὶ κτίσεις).

    ⓑ the sum total of everything created, creation, world … ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς κ. from the beginning of the world Mk 13:19; 2 Pt 3:4. Likew. Mk 10:6; … πᾶσα ἡ κ. limited to humankind Mk 16:15;…αὕτη ἡ κ. this world (earthly in contrast to heavenly) Hb 9:11.—κ. the creation, what was created in contrast to the Creator Ro 1:25 … Of Christ ἡ ἀρχὴ τῆς κτίσεως τοῦ θεοῦ Rv 3:14 (s. ἀρχή 3).—The mng. of κτ. is in dispute in Ro 8:19–22, though the pass. is usu. taken to mean the waiting of the whole creation below the human level (animate and inanimate…

    ③ system of established authority that is the result of some founding action, governance system, authority system. Corresponding to 1, κτίσις is also the act by which an authoritative or governmental body is created … But then, in accordance with 2, it is prob. also the result of the act, the institution or authority itself 1 Pt 2:13 (Diod S 11, 60, 2 has κτίστης as the title of a high official. Cp. νομοθεσία in both meanings: 1. lawgiving, legislation; 2. the result of an action, i.e. law.)

  66. Michael Marlowe says:

    “If I understand Peter correctly, he is saying that ‘creation’ in English is an event noun and refers to an act of creation.”

    That’s too restrictive. In current English usage “creation” can refer to an event or to “something created.” I can talk about something I made as “my creation.” Probably its most common use is in reference to the sum total of all created things, as a unit (i.e. the world, the universe). So the word is ambiguous.

    Your point still holds good, though, if you can establish that the word κτίσις did not have the same kind or degree of ambiguity.

  67. Peter Kirk says:

    Michael, I don’t know whether this is a dialect thing. I don’t think so. But to me there is a world of difference between “he is a X” and “there is a X”. The former identifies a person with a X. The latter simply says that a X exists without identifying it with anything – or possibly, with stress on the first word, states that a X is in a particular place “there”.

    In the context of this verse, there is a huge difference, theologically as well as linguistically, between stating that a new creation exists in general terms, and more specifically identifying an individual with that new creation. Indeed given that the latter is more specific one might argue that a translation supporting it is the more interpretive one.

  68. Peter Kirk says:

    Michael and Iver, I did note in a previous comment that in English “creation” can refer to an individual object created by a human, but (at least in my dialect) not to one created by God. I noted that to me “You are all new creations” is linguistically anomalous.

    Iver, thank you for quoting BDAG. The problem with that work is that it tends to list or describe traditional understandings rather than give proper linguistic understanding. But I am surprised at where they list Colossians 1:15, considering that this is regularly rendered “all creation” rather than “every creation”. I would be interested to see a bit more of the quoted Josephus use of καιναὶ κτίσεις.

  69. Michael Marlowe says:

    “to me there is a world of difference between ‘he is a X’ and ‘there is a X’.”

    A world of difference? You’re exaggerating.

    The point is, when I read “if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation,” I can understand that to be roughly equivalent to “… he is a new creation,” and I can explain it in that way to a class, without having to just reject the translation and start talking Greek to them. But the revised NIV’s “the new creation has come” definitely speaks of the new creation as being something other than the regenerated person himself, something else that comes along. So it just doesn’t preserve the exegetical options of the original. That’s my main complaint about the NIV, not just here, but all over the version. Too many exegetical options are foreclosed by questionable interpretive renderings. This is a very common complaint about the NIV, Peter, and it’s the main reason that so many teachers prefer to use more literal versions. I don’t understand why you don’t get it.

  70. Peter Kirk says:

    Michael, I agree that overall NIV, the old or the new version, is far from perfect. But, on the basis of my experience as a translator, I can assure that it is impossible to translate without foreclosing quite a lot of exegetical options – even if one only considers ones which are taken seriously by scholarly exegetes, let alone when one also tries to take into account misinterpretations which have come about from misunderstandings of old translations. To put it simply, translation always involves making choices. That is, in your language, every translation is necessarily interpretive – if not in every place, at least in very many.

    In this particular case, I agree that the NIV 2011 rendering makes less likely some exegetical options. But I don’t accept that it “definitely speaks of the new creation as being something other than the regenerated person himself[/herself]”. It certainly closes off less options than a rendering like NIV 1984 which definitely identifies the new creation with the regenerated person.

  71. Mike Sangrey says:

    I think it should also be mentioned that the NIV2011 provides a footnote.

    2 Corinthians 5:17 Or Christ, that person is a new creation.

  72. Mike Sangrey says:

    Regarding the confusion over whether the NIV revision should be called NIV2010 or NIV2011, I can honestly say my confusion (I’ve called it NIV2010) comes from biblegateway.com.

    For example, the drop down, as well as the subtitle, to a passage I looked up, has this string of text:
    2 Corinthians 5 (New International Version, ©2010)

    When one seeks to abbreviate that, one quickly settles on NIV2010. If I were the copyright holders, or CBT, or Zondervan (perhaps there is someone from the NIV world reading this) I would send a request to biblegateway.com asking them to use the preferred abbreviation. They’d be effectively branding the abbreviation, and it seems to me that would be a good thing.

    The other alternative is to allow the linguistic process to happen and let the masses decide. 🙂

  73. Richie says:

    This is certainly an interesting discussion on a much beloved verse. As with many others I grew up with this verse being very meaningful to my life. While growing up I memorized it first in the KJV, then in the RSV and then later in the NIV 1984. I did not take any of the differences of these versions to change the meaning that was being expressed and which I took to mean that the individual Christian believer, who was now “in Christ” was a new creation (creature, person). This seemed to also agree with Paul’s usage in other places as noted by others above.

    I first seriously considered the interpretation offered by Dr. Blomberg and which is contained in the NIV 2011 (and possibly in various other versions) when I read Richard Hays’ book The Moral Vision of the New Testament. Hays discusses this verse in great depth and it becomes one of three pillars for his book: the cross, new creation, and community. Although I agreed in principle with what Hays was saying as being in accord with the new covenant perspective, I remained unconvinced that Paul was speaking of anything other than the individual himself becoming a new creation in Christ and thus having a new Christian perspective on all of life – as the context indicates. In other words, the individual believer – whether Jew or Gentile – is a new creation in Christ through faith in Christ and reception of the gift of God’s Spirit. However, it is certainly not true that the promised new creation itself (Isaiah, II Peter, Rev. 21-22, etc.) has already “come”.

    Far from it in Paul’s perspective since he stated that the whole present creation is still groaning in travail and that this “hope” of a new creation is not yet seen; thus we wait patiently for it (Rom. 8:22-25). The ONLY sense in which the new creation has come is in the believer’s reception of the Spirit which Paul declares to be the “firstfruits” or “downpayment” of the life of the age to come and thus enables the individual believer – together with all other believers – to become God’s new creation of the one new man (humanity) “in Christ” – and, ONLY in Christ (Eph. 2:10-15).

    I must agree with the perspective offered above by Iver and Michael. I also think the vast majority of believers who are familiar with this verse take it in this way. It is thus meaningful to them because they understand it in a very simple and direct sense.

    When I read the NIV 2011,”If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come” I am at a loss as to the meaning intended. My response – without an explanation being previously provided – would be:

    1. What does that mean?
    2. From where has the new creation come?
    3. No, it has not! That is, if the intended meaning is the promised new creation.

    In fact, I do not believe that anyone would understand the NIV 2011 version’s intended meaning without FIRST understanding the explanation that Dr. Blomberg offers. On the other hand, the alternate rendering offered in the footnote is clear, true, and in accord with the NT and most past versions (including the NIV 1984). It is also in line with the meaning that is dear to millions of people world-wide who are familiar with the KJV, the NIV 1984, the NLT, etc. Why not reverse what is in the footnote with what is in the 2011 text? Surely, that which is clearer, familiar, and more immediately meaningful is preferable when doubt exists as to the exact meaning.

  74. Michael Marlowe says:

    “on the basis of my experience as a translator, I can assure that it is impossible to translate without foreclosing quite a lot of exegetical options.”

    As a student of exegetical commentaries, I know that the options foreclosed in the NIV are much more numerous than in the NASB.

    “every translation is necessarily interpretive”

    In fact no communication of any kind can happen without interpretation. But there are different degrees of interpretation. Even in daily conversation some people do more interpreting than others. Some people tend to go too far, and overanalyze things that are said. We all know people like that. Some people can’t be trusted to convey our words accurately to others, because they get our words all mixed up with their own ideas and assumptions, and they don’t even realize how much interpretation they are adding. Likewise, some translations are unduly interpretive, with the same result. We learn to distrust them.

    I’ll return to one of your earlier questions now, about the brackets. You asked if I am claiming that the brackets used in some versions make their bracketed renderings non-interpretive. The same question might be asked about the italics in the KJV, ASV, and NASB. To answer the question: No. But it’s a strange question, because we know that the whole point of the brackets is to call attention to the fact that the supplied words represent interpretations, which may or may not be correct. And that is what I love to see in a version–some exegetical scruples, some interpretive modesty.

    “It certainly closes off less options than a rendering like NIV 1984 which definitely identifies the new creation with the regenerated person.”

    I do think the new rendering is less amenable to the traditional interpretation than “there is a new creation” would be, and they should have gone with that if they wanted to make room for their new interpretation. Because the traditional interpretation is much more likely to be right. I do not see this as an exegetical toss-up. The revised NIV leans in the wrong direction.

    In my opinion the best solution is in the NASB, which reads, “therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature;” with “he is” italicized, and a marginal note: “Or, there is a new creation.” I think that is more adequate than either edition of the NIV as a representation of the Greek.

  75. Sue says:

    The point is, when I read “if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation,” I can understand that to be roughly equivalent to “… he is a new creation,”

    I don’t see that as a possibility, unless you were to preface this with telling the students that it does not mean what it says. I do think one has to make a choice, that an interpretation, unless one wants to sound like Julia Smith.

  76. Sue says:

    Because the traditional interpretation is much more likely to be right.

    That is a fascinating statement in and of itself. I can just see Luther’s face on hearing this. Why not just translate from the Vulgate?

  77. Iver Larsen says:

    Richie,

    Thank you very much for your wise comment. I hope others will read it carefully, and read it more than once. Hopefully the CBT will listen.

  78. Peter Kirk says:

    I know that the options foreclosed in the NIV are much more numerous than in the NASB.

    Maybe, Michael. NASB does that at the expense of highly unnatural language which can only be understood properly by people who have learned to understand Greek and Hebrew syntax – albeit they may have learned it through the pseudo-English of NASB etc.

    the traditional interpretation is much more likely to be right.

    That is where you differ from the majority of exegetical scholars. NIV has chosen to give priority to the majority interpretation, and footnote the alternative. That is hardly an unreasonable policy. Of course that doesn’t mean that the majority is right.

    Richie, I think you have clarified what is happening here. You have been brought up to believe and value this verse as traditionally understood. That makes it hard for you to accept the alternative, as propounded for example by Hays. I can understand that. But exegesis needs to depend on scholarly analysis rather than emotional attachment. And here the scholarly majority is against you.

    To be fair, Richie, you do put forward theological arguments as well as emotional attachment. But I think you are too restrictive with “The ONLY sense in which the new creation has come is in the believer’s reception of the Spirit”. There is other clear evidence of the new creation in action in the NT. There is of course the whole earthly ministry of Jesus, his miracles, and his resurrection. Then in the church age we have miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit, and we have the real change brought about in people’s lives as they live as Christians – sanctification as well as justification, in traditional terminology. In these things we can see the new creation breaking into the old. I accept that it is a theological interpretation to link these things with the new creation, but on a theological level I see it as good evidence for the NIV 2011 rendering.

  79. Iver Larsen says:

    Peter,

    You said: “That is where you differ from the majority of exegetical scholars. NIV has chosen to give priority to the majority interpretation, and footnote the alternative.”

    Can you support this claim with evidence? You would have to look at all who have commented on this passage through time. It would be important not to limite yourself to English commentators in the last 100 years, since the reason for your preferred interpretation is to be found in the English language and the semantic shift that has taken place in terms of “creature”.

    You would also have to evaluate whether a commentator is evangelical, a rather daunting task.

    You would need to define what a scholar is. Is it a person who knows Greek very well? (I am asking because your interpretation is not supported by any of the standard Greek, scholarly dictionaries, nor is it supported by people who are generally recognized as good Greek scholars/translators, such as Ann Nyland, Barnstone and Lattimore. Arthur S. Way translated as follows: “Whoso hath passed into that New Life of Messiah, he is created anew: The old life has passed away; lo, it has become new.)

    Is a scholar someone with a ph.d. in theology? Do they have to be on a university faculty? Must they have demonstrated their ability to do careful exegesis?

    Based on the few commentaries listed in Exegetical Summaries, your preferred interpretation is a minority opinion, and many who hold to it want to sit on the face saying both options are possible.

    Not suprisingly, it is very difficult to find any support in non-English translations or scholarship.

  80. Peter Kirk says:

    To clarify my last point, I am in effect identifying the new creation with the kingdom of God breaking into the present age. See for example what I wrote a few years ago here and here. This is basically Moltmann’s eschatology, which can be summarised as (quoting from here)

    all Christian activity should be orientated towards God’s plan of the new creation of all things, which began with the raising of Christ from the dead.

  81. Peter Kirk says:

    Iver, I was merely reiterating what Dr Blomberg wrote in his comment above:

    I would also invite readers to check a majority of the major commentaries on 2 Corinthians produced in the last generation, including among evangelicals, and they will see that our translation is by far the most commonly held interpretation, and more detailed defenses are available in print. The majority isn’t always right, but at least in this case our view is hardly idiosyncratic.

    I omitted the point “in the last generation”, but the use of the present tense in what I wrote implies that I was referring to current rather than historical interpretation. I accept that the views of past generations should also be given proper weight, but I would hope that the majority of recent exegetes have done that and still found that the evidence is against the traditional interpretation. As for whether Blomberg’s sample is weighted too far towards English language scholarship, you need to ask him, not me.

  82. Iver Larsen says:

    Peter,

    Yes, I remember Dr. Blomberg’s claim and I was wondering whether you were paraphrasing it.

    I also wonder what he meant by “major” commentaries. And I can understand why he limits himself to the last generation, because it would be hard to find support before that. I believe it is there, but very rare. He includes some (a few?) commentaries written by evangelicals, but when I look at those listed in Exegetical Summaries, most of those who have taken this interpretation are by people who are generally thought not to be evangelical. I don’t consider that very important, and I don’t know these people well enough to judge whether they would be evangelical or not, but I suppose he was trying to ward off the criticism that this interpretation is mainly found in non-evangelical theological tradition. I am more familiar with Paul’s writings than with modern theology, and I prefer to let Paul speak for himself.

  83. JKG says:

    I can just see Luther’s face on hearing this. Why not just translate from the Vulgate? [in response to Michael’s assertion, “the traditional interpretation is much more likely to be right”]

    Suzanne,
    I know your point is that the tradition is not right always; but you just got me curious about how much of a departure Luther’s translation here was. He seems to have been a protestant, a reformer, 🙂 with his independent interpretation:

    si qua ergo in Christo
    nova creatura
    vetera transierunt
    ecce facta sunt nova
    –Vulgate

    Darum, ist jemand in Christo,
    so ist er eine neue Kreatur;
    das Alte ist vergangen,
    siehe, es ist alles neu geworden!
    –Luther

  84. JKG says:

    Suzanne,
    You’ve pointed us to the online Vamva Bible at your blog; and one of your BBB readers (at your BBB post “The Struggle for a Bible in Modern Greek”) has pointed us not just to the “Katharevusa” Greek of the Vamva but also to the “a Bible translation in Demothiki [δημοτική], published by the Bible Society of Greece [Ελληνικής Βιβλικής Εταιρίας].” Here’s a comparison of how they’ve taken Paul’s Greek to the Korinthians into more contemporary Greek:

    ὥστε εἴ τις ἐν Χριστῷ, καινὴ κτίσις· τὰ ἀρχαῖα παρῆλθεν, ἰδοὺ γέγονεν καινά.
    –Paul

    Όθεν εάν τις ήναι εν Χριστώ είναι νέον κτίσμα· τα αρχαία παρήλθον, ιδού, τα πάντα έγειναν νέα.
    –Vamva

    Ώστε, αν κάποιος είναι στο Χριστό, είναι καινούργιο κτίσμα. Τα αρχαία παρήλθαν, ιδού, έχουν γίνει καινούργια.
    –Σπύρο Κίμ

  85. Iver Larsen says:

    Arthur Way has this translation of Gal 6:15:

    “Circumcision is nothing; uncircumcision is nothing: the creation of a new nature in us is everything.”

  86. Peter Kirk says:

    Odd that Way went for “he is created anew” in 2 Corinthians 5:17 and “the creation of a new nature in us is everything” in Galatians 6:15, for the same underlying Greek. For the former, why not something more like “the creation of a new nature is in him/her”?

  87. Michael Marlowe says:

    “I accept that the views of past generations should also be given proper weight, but I would hope that the majority of recent exegetes have done that and still found that the evidence is against the traditional interpretation.”

    In my own reading of exegetical literature I’ve often noticed how strong the generational “echo chamber” effect is, and what little attention is paid to authors of former generations, even if their names are still held in honor. It’s as if there were some unwritten law of modern hermeneutics that anything written before 1930 should be ignored. Often in recently-published books you’ll see citations of journal articles written by unimportant contemporaries who will soon be forgotten, but no citations of the great commentators of the nineteenth century. I’m thinking of Meyer, Olshausen, Lightfoot, Westcott, Ellicott … not to mention worthies of the eighteenth century, like Bengel. It’s as if they never existed.

  88. Peter Kirk says:

    Michael, my point was more that current exegetes would surely have considered carefully the interpretation preferred by most translations, as well as by older exegetes, before rejecting it. I think they are right to give more weight to current journal articles based on modern scholarship, even if the authors do not have famous names, than to feel the need to quote great names from the past who have nothing significant and up to date to say on the particular point. In other words, don’t look at reputations but at what people have to say.

  89. Michael Marlowe says:

    “my point was more that current exegetes would surely have considered carefully the interpretation preferred by … by older exegetes”

    My point was that most commentary-writers of our generation tend to ignore the older exegetes. It’s an impression I’ve gained over many years of poring over exegetical commentaries, old and new. And this seems to be peculiar to our generation. Of course scholars in all ages like to interact with their contemporaries, but up until about 1920, you’ll often see citations of much older works in commentaries. The commentators of the nineteenth century often mentioned the interpretations of Calvin and Luther. You’ll even see them mentioning and interacting with ancient commentators (e.g. Chrysostom). But that is now a thing of the past. Now the attitude seems to be that nothing more than two generations old is worth mentioning. I really think most professional scholars today have never read J.B. Lightfoot, and would rather spend their time reading the latest issue of JBL.

    “don’t look at reputations but at what people have to say”

    That is what I do. Have you ever studied one of the older commentaries … Meyer’s, for instance? It’s astonishing how much erudition and care he put into it. He is consistently more careful, more detailed, and more helpful than the common run of commentators in our generation. The same is true of the others I mentioned. It seems to me that standards of biblical scholarship were higher in the nineteenth century.

  90. Gary Simmons says:

    Does anyone else find it ironic that we’re considering a verse in which the old passes away with the new taking its place, yet we are reminded to draw upon the wisdom of the ages instead of myopically poring only over more recent exegetical works?

    Richie’s comment is right on. I don’t think anyone would grasp the NIV2011’s intended meaning without Dr. Blomberg’s accompanying explanation. What’s the point of reproducing staccato if staccato doesn’t have the same function, and cannot be easily explained?

    [Side note: I agree about Hays’ book. It is excellent, and New Creation makes an excellent focal lens, but the verse he camps on, 1 Cor 5:17, is one I take in the same way as Iver.]

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