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Bible Translations and 2 Peter 1:9

As I continue to study 2 Peter and am preaching through the book, I came across another interesting difference in the translations.

For whoever lacks these things is blind and shortsighted and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. (RSV)

For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. (NASB)

The person who lacks these things is blind and shortsighted, and has forgotten the cleansing from his past sins. (HCSB)

For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. (NKJV)

For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. (ESV)

Many commentators note the difficult with the Greek construction of this sentence. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary says, “The problem at this point is that in the Greek text ‘nearsighted’ (myopazon ) follows ‘blind.’ NIV solves it by reversing the order–viz., ‘nearsighted and blind.’ Perhaps the Greek construction can be taken as a causal participle–i. e., a person is blind because he is so nearsighted.”

Peter H. Davids in the Pillar New Testament Commentary says, “Most translations take it as a parallel term to ‘blind,’ but that ignores the grammar. The text reads, ‘They are blind, being nearsighted,’ or, more colloquially, ‘so short-sighted that they cannot see’ (GNB). (pg. 186)

Of the “major” translations, only the ESV renders the text the way many commentators believe the text ought to be translated, instead of making “blind” and “nearsighted” parallel terms. The NKJV is close, but the sentence is not as clear. I was surprised to see that even the more dynamic translations were unwilling to go this direction.

But if any of you do not have them, you are nearsighted and blind, and you have forgotten that you have been cleansed from your past sins. (TNIV)

But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins. (NLT)

So, there you go. It seems that the ESV made a good revision of the RSV on this verse.

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