Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Malachi 3:8 - "Will earthling man [adam] rob God?"

A book which examines most twentieth century English versions of the Bible: So Many Versions? (SMV), by trinitarian Bible scholars Dr. S. Kubo and Dr. W. Albrecht provides a page and a half of what it calls "peculiar translations" (pp. 108-109) by the NWT. Many of these "peculiar translations" are comparable to translations found in more popular Bibles of Christendom. But these comparable renderings are not criticized at all in SMV's critique of them.

One of these "peculiar translations" is of Mal. 3:8:

Malachi 3:8 - "Will earthling man [adam] rob God?" vs. "Will man rob God?"

The Hebrew word here, adam, in contrast with other Hebrew words which may be translated "man" (e.g., ish), is often "a collective, referring to mankind" - The New Oxford Annotated Bible (1977 ed.) footnote for Gen. 1:27. Since this noun can stand for mankind in general, it would be appropriate to translate it in such a way as to make that understanding clear when so required. But why did the NWT use "earthling man" for such a designation? Because of the further inherent meaning of the word adam.

Yes, SMV itself tells us in its glowing review of the NIV:

"`The Hebrew for man (adam) sounds like and may be derived from the Hebrew for ground (Adamah); it is also the name Adam (see Gen. 2:20).'" - p. 271.

The Universal Standard Encyclopedia also states:

"The name Adam is taken from the Hebrew adam, `man', from adamah, `ground' or `earth'; the word is used in the Bible both as a proper name, to designate a person [Adam], and as a common noun, to designate man in general, or all mankind." - Vol. 1, p. 40, 1955.

Therefore, the NWT, in order to bring out the distinction between this word and others like ish, included "earthling" which brought out the probable meaning actually inherent in the Hebrew word adam (`earth' or `ground'). Is this a "peculiar" translation, then, because it is not the "traditional" one? Or because it is too accurate?

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