Sacrificing Smoothness for Structure

Recently I preached Luke 7:36-50.  In my studies with the updated NIV.  But once I consulted the Greek text, I noticed καὶ ἰδού, which is totally untranslated.

Given the tone of this narrative and how the characters develop, I concluded that καὶ ἰδού should be translated in some way.  I checked out Darrell Bock, who agrees: “Luke notes the unusual character of the woman by ἰδού (idou, behold)” (Luke 1:1-9:50, BECNT, p. 695).

So I turned to the ESV:

And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment (bold added).

I ended preaching from the ESV that Sunday, for it had the structure that I wanted to see in the text, to make a key point from.

Sometimes you have to sacrifice smoothness for structure.

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33 Responses to Sacrificing Smoothness for Structure

  1. Craig Benno says:

    That’s why its good to check multiple copies when preparing to preach. Well spotted.

  2. dutchanglican ~ Hans says:


    I love your eclectic approach to bible versions. The best one can do is to choose the right version for the occasion at hand it seems!

  3. Lance Ponder says:

    No translation is perfect, but I’ll take the ESV over the NIV any day of the week. ~_*

  4. Ronnie Daly says:

    Interestingly, editions of the NASB have gravitated away from “form
    accuracy” with regard to Luke 7:37 and other texts. The first edition
    says, “And behold, there was…” The 95 Update says, “And there was…”
    The ASV says, “And behold…” The NIV 2011 is not designed to be one
    hundred per cent form accurate. Comparing translations helps, but
    consulting the Greek or Hebrew texts is the only way to know the
    details that are necessary for exegesis and exposition.

  5. Todd Beal says:


    | Sometimes you have to sacrifice smoothness for structure. |

    What a true statement.

  6. T.C. R says:

    However, because I see the value in memorizing Scripture, I’ll encourage a person to choose a Bible that they can memorize from. Why? Well, it’s hard to memorize from multiple Bibles.

    Regarding Luke 7:37, I know of preachers who would have gone ahead with the NIV and make the same point. It happens all the time. I love to see the point right in front of me, or I might just forget. 😉

    • Todd Beal says:


      I recently made the switch from the ESV to the NASB as my primary Bible. I grew up memorizing the KJV; now it will be the NASB.

      • T.C. R says:


        I would have gone the other direction, NASB to the ESV, simply because I think the ESV reads better overall and is more accurate overall.

        But to each his own. 😉

      • Todd Beal says:


        I am interested to hear why you consider the ESV more accurate than the NASB.

  7. T.C. R says:


    One disclaimer: literal is not the same as accurate. This is often a mistake made by many. There are a few more outdated terms in the NASB than in the ESV. The ESV has been better gender decisions. “Immorality” for the Greek porneia in the NASB is too weak. Something like “sexual immorality” is better. Of course we can go case by case. But if the NASB is your choice, then enjoy it.

  8. Bobby Grow says:

    Go with the NASB, Todd, you’ll won’t be sorry! 😉

    • T.C. R says:


      Reason being…?

    • Todd Beal says:


      What main reasons would you give for choosing the NASB over the ESV.

      • Bobby Grow says:


        I just like it better. To me translation choice comes down, really, to personal preference. I don’t really have an elaborate philosophy of why I choose a particular translation. So if you want to be like me, you’ll read the NASB 🙂 😉 . Sorry I don’t have anything more substantial to offer.

        Btw, at the moment I’m reading the NKJV (which I read for years and memorize from — and I don’t really care so much about the manuscript text critical stuff [Majority text] behind it . . . I just like the way it reads). The only reason I’m reading it, though, is because my NASBu is being rebound in calf-skin at As soon as that’s done, back to the NASBu (TMI, eh 😉 ).

      • Todd Beal says:

        Thanks Bobby. I appreciate the feedback, including the “you’ll”. I certainly am not abandoning my ESV, but in many cases, the NASB gives me a better understanding of what I am reading, and also, overall, reads very similar to how I naturally write.

  9. Bobby Grow says:

    Excuse the “you’ll” above, I haven’t taken my “Redneck mitigating pills” for the day yet 😉 .

  10. Jon Hughes says:


    I personally find the ESV more archaic (or “outdated”, as you put it) than the NASB. The irony is that the NRSV, which was completed over a decade before the ESV, is a far more modern revision of the RSV than the ESV.

    Very strange indeed!

  11. Luke Geraty says:

    I just found something in the ESV that was left out of the text too (in Matt. 5:37) but I think the translators were correct in doing so. Actually, I blogged about it today here.

    Basically, many English translations render Jesus’ words as “yes, yes” or “let your “yes” be “yes”” or something similar. The ESV (and the NLT) both seem to overlook the “formal” and go with the “dynamic,” so to speak.

    I found that very interesting.

    • T.C. R says:


      Here’s the HCSB: “But let your word ‘yes’ be ‘yes,’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no.’ Anything more than this is from the evil one.”

      I see repetition here for the sake of emphasis. Let me see what you argue on your blog, however. 😉

      • Luke Geraty says:

        Yeah, the repetition certainly adds some weight, though Morris’ point also makes a lot of sense (which is why I’m cool with the ESV and NLT here). At first, after I had worked through the Greek, I was thinking, “What the heck?!?!” and then I realized that there is some difficulty because what I came up with was about as ambiguous as one could be. Ha ha!

        I have to think more about this verse though… since I’m preaching on it this Sunday. And lots of prayer! How to make this applicable (aka, where’s my illustrations!).

  12. T.C. R says:

    |I certainly am not abandoning my ESV, but in many cases, the NASB gives me a better understanding of what I am reading, and also, overall, reads very similar to how I naturally write.|


    Seriously, Do you write the way the NASB reads? 😀

    • Todd Beal says:

      I know it sounds somewhat odd TC, but yes I do. Not so much in laid back conversation, but I do tend to write very structured and formal-sounding sentences (very much like the NASB) when constructing an essay or serious article. It feels very natural to me.

      • T.C. R says:

        I see what you mean. I respect that. Well, either the NRSV, ESV, NASB would be a good fit. 😉

      • Todd Beal says:

        Thanks, TC. I still very much enjoy my ESV. Sometimes I joke that there is more black in my ESV from personal notes than there is from the text itself, but I really do wish I had discovered the NASB years ago. Though I must say, I am glad you mentioned the “immoral” translation issue. I ran across another web article that said the same thing.

        Anyway, my original comment was to voice agreement with your Post statement, “Sometimes you have to sacrifice smoothness for structure”. I really enjoy these informative posts. I have learned a lot from you and your guests.

      • exegete77 says:

        NAS tends to render Greek verbs with less nuance, specifically with tenses and participles [leaving them with ending in =ing]. That may be a good thing or a bad thing depending on what you are looking for in a translation.

        I prefer the NAS over the ESV.

      • Todd Beal says:

        Thanks for that information exegete77.

  13. Ronnie Daly says:

    Just a few remarks about the NASB. The NASB is somewhat more
    “form accurate” than both the ESV and the NRSV. By this I mean,
    if you look at the Hebrew and Greek texts and the NASB, the NASB
    will often “reflect” in English what is said in the original. But, the
    ASV-1901 is more “form accurate” than the NASB. The ASV is dubbed
    the “rock of biblical honesty,” and for good reason; it is often so literal
    that a person can work back from the English to the Hebrew abd Greek.
    The ASV is simply a better exegetical tool than the NASB. The main
    difficulty with the ASV is the difficulty of wading through its archaic

    The NASB is also a very wordy translation. Its publishers claim that it
    is the most literal translation, but this is sometimes not the case. The
    NASB is notorious for adding unnecessary word to the text “for
    clarification,” when clarification is not the issue— interpretation is.
    Actually, when a person notes all the instances of the unnecessarily
    added “italicized” words in the NASB, you find a relatively substantial
    body of material that becomes interpretative.

    The vocabulary of the NASB is sometimes lacking exegetically. Not only
    were wrong textual choices made in the initial editions, but they are retained
    in the update of 1995. There are also words and verses retained in the
    NASB that are admittedly (according to the footnotes of the NASB)
    NOT in the earliest and “best” manuscripts, but that do follow the
    Textus Receptus/Majority Text base.

    The NASB is useful but it is by no means the last word in bible translation.
    On the whole, both the NRSV and the ESV are better choices, if one is
    looking for mediating translations that try to combine the best of both
    the modified-literal and idiomatic philosophies.

    Finally, the NIV 2011 has moved ever so slightly toward the modified-
    literal translation philosophy, though it is not designed to be a “literal”
    version. It does not have as many “connectives” as the NASB, and the
    NASB does not have as many “connectives” as the ASV, nor does the
    NASB have the translation consistency that one sees in the ASV. The
    ASV tries to render the same Hebrew and Greek word the same way
    when possible. The NIV-2011 uses more variety in the way it translates
    than modified-literal versions because it strives for greater readability;
    hence its greatest gain is in part, the fluidity of its language and the
    exegetical choices within its text.

    • T.C. R says:


      This is a neat overview. Yes, I couldn’t stand those italicized portions in the NASB, just talking from experience.

      While the NIV11 is an improvement in many ways, I’m beginning to understand why people are sticking with the NIV84.

  14. Ronnie Daly says:

    Thanks T.C. I have never seen the accuracy in the text of the NASB
    that many of my peers assert. It is not a bad translation, it’s just not
    the best. Not only that, but “literal is not always a synonym for
    accurate.” In my judgment, the success of the NIV 2011 will depend
    on the willingness of people to accept gender accuracy, particularly
    the expression “brothers and sisters” for ADELPHOI, and the use
    of “their” and “them” instead of “he” and “him” for singular referents.
    I doubt that its success will turn on the use or non use of “connectors”
    or inferential particles in narrative portions. The reason is, it appears
    the original NIV used fewer “connectors” than the NIV 2011. My
    research so far is showing that the NIV 2011 uses more than the original

  15. T.C. R says:

    |Yeah, the repetition certainly adds some weight, though Morris’ point also makes a lot of sense (which is why I’m cool with the ESV and NLT here). At first, after I had worked through the Greek, I was thinking, “What the heck?!?!” and then I realized that there is some difficulty because what I came up with was about as ambiguous as one could be. Ha ha!|


    Have you checked out Carson on the matter? Carson is usually insightful.

    Well, you do have enough time to dig around before Sunday. 😉


    Yes, the NIV11 will have to take some getting use to. Interesting to see how this transition goes. To be honest, I’m struggling with some of the gender decisions. 😦

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