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New NIV Translation – Do we care more about 1 Timothy 2 than Psalm 2?

There's a bit of a bloggy hubbub over the new NIV translation of 1 Timothy 2 (eg).

But here's what Psalm 2 says in the new translation:

7 I will proclaim the LORD’s decree:

He said to me, “You are my son;
today I have become your father.
8 Ask me,
and I will make the nations your inheritance,
the ends of the earth your possession.
9 You will break them with a rod of iron;
you will dash them to pieces like pottery.”


12 Kiss his son, or he will be angry
and your way will lead to your destruction,
for his wrath can flare up in a moment.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

Notice, "Son" is no longer capitalized (as it was in the old NIV - and in the great majority of translations today and historically!!).

And here's why the translators have gone this way:

...The problem with capitalizing son in Psalm 2:7 is that it cuts straight from from 2 Samuel 7 to Jesus. It’s great to get to Jesus, but the short cut keeps readers from seeing the typological development that grows and deepens through the accounts of the sons of David. This can keep us from understanding what Jesus meant when he declared that one greater than Solomon had arrived (cf. Matt 12:42).

So capitalizing son in Psalm 2:7 gets the termination point right, but it can keep us from feeling the buildup of the development that swells and plunges between David and Jesus.

I've just left a little comment:

But what if the 'progression' is pre-emptively and explicitly taught within the OT?  Genesis 49:10 sets up the kings as mere throne-warmers for the universal Christ.  Before there was kingship at all there was Messianic expectation for the Universal King.  When David writes Psalm 2 and speaks in such universal terms of the Anointed do we really imagine that he was so unfaithful as to intend a mere earthly successor?

And if you really think that, then why not translate 'eretz' as 'land' in v8??  If you are so concerned to maintain some kind of 'original' local meaning then the following verses make a nonsense of the whole enterprise.

Is that unfair?  Well, have your own say...

But whatever you think about it, I'll be interested to see whether there's more brouhaha over women preaching than Christ.




11 thoughts on “New NIV Translation – Do we care more about 1 Timothy 2 than Psalm 2?

  1. Pingback: Christ’s government no longer increasing « Christ the Truth

  2. Matthew Weston

    What about Psalm 1 as well? "Blessed is the man" (NIV) - who is the man? It's now gender neutral, which surely removes the link with Psalm 2 at a cursory reading, showing the man as Christ. Probably not as big an issue as the one you mention. Or am I jumping to Christ too quickly in Psalm 1?

  3. Glen

    Thanks Martin and Matthew - Paul B has commented on biblegateway too. When the comments eventually pass through moderation there might be some kerfuffle. Stay tuned.

    Good point Martin about the wicked kings. And well spotted Matthew about Psalm 1 (gender issues *are* linked after all!).

    And no - it's never about jumping to Christ. Much as a Darwinian view of progress has saturated the church, we must insist that revelation comes from the top down. It is not a gradual ascent from more basic truths to Christ! (Even though pop-biblical-theology is founded on such a myth). David is already a believer in Messiah even as he points to the Messiah in his own office. The Man who is a bible-loving king is already a Messianic concept and to imagine that David was murky about 'the man' is just chronological (Darwinian) snobbery.

  4. Si

    Glen, have you read the other post on Bible Gateway on this? It reads to me like it's making a bigger, much more fundamental mistake (that of scripture not even being about Christ, rather than the Christ meaning not being known by the authors):

    Tremper Longman III's argument is "Psalm 2 is not a messianic prophecy, which would be the only reason to capitalize son in this psalm." and "if you capitalize son in Psalm 2 it shows you don’t understand the psalm."

    While the gender-stuff is problematic, this going back and removing Jesus from the psalms, and declaring that he was never there originally, is far far worse.

    RE: Ps 1 - "Blessed is the one" isn't bad - it's a far cry from 'Blessed are those', 'God loves those' or similar as the thought-for-thought translations have (failing to express David's thought here, entirely missing it). The singular elements are still clear, because how often do people use "the one" to mean multiple individuals? Of course, capitalising makes it much clearer what David meant (isn't that the aim of thought-for-thought translations? To translate meaning?), and "the One" and "the Man" both work just as well. Plus there's not an annoying footnote like the ESV's "The singular Hebrew word for man (ish) is used here to portray a representative example of a godly person". I don't think replacing 'man' with 'one' is a problem - or at least not a very big one - sure there's a bit more extra work to realise that the man in Ps 1 is the King and Son in Ps 2 if you don't know the gender of 'the one', but it's really not that much.

    And finally, here's the opening of Ps 110: "The LORD says to my lord" (the capital has Lord footnoted, but still). Who can be David's lord but God? How can David's son be his lord if it's not Jesus, the God-Man: fully God, yet fully David's Son? How can it be about Hezekiah (the common non-messianic interpretation), when he gets told off for doing priestly stuff in a big way?

  5. Si

    Paul Blackham's comments in the thread on biblegateway are well worth a read (and Glen's are also up).

    I like Glen's comment on the Tremper Longman argument: "Extraordinary! "Psalm 2 is not a messianic prophecy"! And from a Calvinist! What a very disturbing break from the history of interpretation. Very disturbing indeed"

  6. Bobby Grow

    Wow, Glen . . . and to think that I was excited about the New NIV. I was excited because they finally fixed the "sarx" problem. But the stuff you are highlighting here is amazing! Rubbish!!

  7. Pingback: Christ no longer sinful or condemning, but men are still the problem « Christ the Truth

  8. Pingback: Further Antwologies | Christ the Truth

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