Tuesday, October 05, 2010

The NLT and the 10 Virgins

In chapel the other day, Dr. Carrick preached on the parable of the Ten Virgins (Matt 25:1-13). I happened to have grabbed a copy of the New Living Translation to take with me to chapel. What struck me as I heard Dr. Carrick read the passage (from the KJV) was how different the NLT sounded. Some of these differences are due to the fact that the KJV is based on the Textus Receptus, while the NLT is based on the 27th edition of the Nestle-Aland Greek text. So, for example, 25:2 in the KJV reads, "And five of them were wise, and five were foolish." The NLT reads, "Five of them were foolish, and five were wise." The differing order of wise and foolish represents the different texts.

However, some of the differences are not as easy to explain. So verses 3-4 in the KJV read, "They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them; But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps." In the NLT, those verses read, "The five who were foolish didn't take enough olive oil for their lamps, but the other five were wise enough to take along extra oil." The differences in text cannot account for the differences in the translation. The 27th N-A reads, "For the foolish, taking their lamps, did not take with them oil, but the wise took oil in the vessels with their lamps." Why does the NLT import "five" into verse 4 (not in the text) and eliminate the clear foolish-wise distinction (in the text). I fail to see how the NLT is any clearer than the KJV, and it introduces unnecessary changes.

See also vss 8-9, where the KJV reads, "and the foolish said to the wise ... but the wise answered." The NLT reads, "Then the five foolish ones asked the others ... But the others replied." The NLT uses "others" twice in place of the Greek phronimoi (wise). Why? What clarity is gained by failing to keep pressing on the reader the wise-foolish contrast that Jesus was pressing on his hearers? How is it any easier to understand than the KJV?