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NLT and 1 Corinthians 2:13

As I studied 1 Corinthians 2, I noticed the NLT’s rendering of verse 13 –

When we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom. Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths. (1 Corinthians 2:13; NLT)

There are places where I believe the NLT really hits a “home run” in its translation. This is one of those places. I think the NLT perfectly reflects Paul’s point and also clarifies the difficult phrasing. The other mainstream translations reflect this difficulty.

…which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. (NASB)

We also speak these things, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual things to spiritual people. (NRSV)

And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. (ESV)

This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit—taught words. (TNIV)

Scholars admit the difficulty of translating this verse. It is one reason why there are so many different renderings of 1 Corinthians 2:13. But the NLT maintains the integrity of the Greek while revealing Paul’s argument that he did not preach worldly wisdom, but God’s wisdom in spiritual truths through the Holy Spirit’s words. The TNIV gets pretty close to the NLT, but “spiritual realities” is not very clear.

I like giving kudos to a translation when it is able to take a difficult text, maintain the integrity and meaning of the verse and make it easy to read and understand. Nice job, NLT!

By the way, I am examining the Common English Bible (CEB) and its release of the gospel of  Matthew. I am also examining The Bible As Poetry, which has been emailed to me. I plan to give my thoughts on these translations in progress. As soon as I have some time for a more lengthy post, my review of The Expanded Bible will come.

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