I just finished filling out a survey through SBL regarding the need for a revision of the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible. I am glad to hear that the publishers of the NRSV are apparently considering a revision. The most recent translation is from 1989 and, while I agree with the translation philosophy and am generally pleased with the translation, it does have its shortcomings. I don’t necessarily want to see a complete overhaul, but some minor revisions are in order. Here are a few that come immediately to mind:
- Some of the language in the NRSV is becoming outdated. The phrase “fullers’ soap” is a good example from Malachi 3:2. Most people don’t refer to launderers as “fullers” any more. In fact, I find it hard to believe that this language was current in 1989.
- I’ve yet to find an adequate translation of 1 Cor 15:44, and the NRSV is no exception. The translation of sōma psychikon as physical body and sōma pneumatikon as spiritual body is very misleading. When most people hear the phrase “spiritual body”, they don’t think of something material, which is exactly what Paul has in mind. These are very difficult phrases to translate without getting bulky.
- I’d really like to see them drop the translation “sacrifice of atonement” for hilastērion in Rom 3:25. The word clearly refers to the propitiation of divine wrath. To paraphrase Leon Morris in his Romans commentary: In Romans 1, we are under the wrath of God. In Romans 5, we have peace with God. The difference is the wrath propitiating work of Christ explained in 3:21-26.
These are just a few weakness in the NRSV that come to mind. I’m sure there are others. Perhaps the process will result in a better NRSV. I’ve been thinking about switching from the NRSV some time in the future. If they produce a good revision, perhaps I won’t have to. Feel free to comment on your own translation concerns.
There have been a number of interesting posts, as of late, by Evangelical bloggers on the a Christian response to the recent passage of healthcare legislation and its effect on government funding for abortions and whether or not Christians ought to pay taxes which are excessive, oppressive, and used to fund government programs antagonistic to biblical teaching.
- Doug Wilson not only argues that a tax revolt is the Christian thing to do, he outlines 10 principles underlying such action.
- Al Mohler argues, to the contrary, that Christians are commanded in scripture to pay taxes regardless of the unholy nature of government spending.
- And related, Russell Moore outlines a Christian biblical approach to taxation while responding to the question as to whether it is right for Christian ministers to opt out of Social Security.
The above links are not explicitly written in response to one another. Each makes some interesting points. What do you think?
1 Peter 3:18-22 is one of the most obscure and difficult texts in all of scripture. When did Christ preach to the spirits in prison? What was the content of his preaching? Where did he go to do this preaching? There seems no end to the possible interpretive spins suggested by commentators with regard to this text, and the debate will certainly not be settled in a single blog post.
The difficulty should not distract us from what is clear about the passage, though. Three features of this text give it shape and movement. The passage begins with the suffering of Christ in his death by crucifixion (18). It then moves quickly to the victory of Christ in the resurrction when he was “made alive in the spirit” (18). Peter then brings the text to a resounding climax by declaring the supremacy of Christ over every power as manifest through his exaltation to the right hand of power (22). 1 Peter 3:18-22, then, is a powerful declaration of the comprehensive victory of Christ through his death and resurrection and of his unmatched supremacy in all things through his exaltation to the right hand of God the Father. As a part of that glorious good news, Peter highlights the saving benefit of Christ’s resurrection for those who belong to him.
Peter clearly understands the cross as functioning in a substitutionary manner. Christ, the righteous one, died for the unrighteous (18). As one undeserving of suffering, he submitted to suffering in the place of those who rightfully deserved it, namely everyone else. The goal of this suffering was to reconcile estranged humanity to God.
The work of Christ does not end in suffering, though. Peter is happy to celebrate that Jesus was made alive through the agency of the Spirit. Note the trinitarian framework of Peter’s soteriology here. Christ died for sins. He was raised by the Spirit. He was exalted to the right hand of God. The fullness of the trinitarian energy is here directed at the saving work accomplished in the death, resurrection, and exaltation of Christ and the movement from suffering to glory.
Despite the interpretive difficulties that come with this brief passage, one thing is clear: the supremacy of Christ in all things. The one who suffered for us now lives and reigns over all things. Salvation comes to us through this one, through his substitutionary death and his all-victorious resurrection (22).
As a result, Peter indicates that we ought to be deeply thankful for our baptism, which marks us out as those who have received the benefit of salvation through Christ’s resurrection. Our consciences are clear because Christ suffered the penalty for our transgressions. The saving work is complete because God vindicated Christ by raising him from the dead. Our resurrection hope is certain because the suffering Lord has conquered and reigns supreme over all.
The chain-link interlock is an ancient rhetorical transition device which, though long neglected in scholarship, has recently been identified by Bruce Longenecker. The chain-link transition involves two distinct textual units with overlapping material across the textual boundary which aims to effect a smooth rhetorical transition. This device is present in numerous New Testament texts and often effects how these texts should be interpreted and understood theologically. This paper will demonstrate that the transition in 2 Peter 3 from the argument of vv. 3:8-13 to the peroratio of vv. 14-18 is rhetorically structured by a chain-link interlock, and that this transition has been structured to link the author’s theology of the parousia with the ethical and moral development of the recipients’ character of life. The argument will progress by first presenting primary source evidence for the chain-link interlock from the ancient rhetorical handbooks. It will then be demonstrated that 2 Peter 3 fits the chain-link model and that the author intends this rhetorical feature to govern the way the peroratio is understood by the recipients of the letter. The paper will conclude by offering an interpretation of the peroratio in light of chain-link structure of the text.