What does Love do about Unjust Suffering?

One of the two most popular translations today is the New International Version. I continue to use the 1984 edition, despite the publication of a “new and improved” translation in 2011. The reasoning behind the 2011 translation could be another blog, but I prefer the scholarship of the 1984 edition. That version translated 1 Corinthians 13:5 this way: “[Love] keeps no record of wrongs.”

Many people use the Amplified Bible as a bridge between more readable translations and actual commentaries. This translation has the goal of helping people see various facets of the denotative options without burdening them with Greek and Hebrew words. It is a good version to include in the mix of translations you might use for study. The Amplified Bible translates the final clause of 1 Corinthians 13:5 this way: “[Love] is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong].” Notice how this version provides synonyms for the word translated as resentful in many other versions, and then it expands on that word’s meanings by rephrasing the whole sentence two different ways.

Prayerful study of this variety of translations might lead a Bible student to a better understanding of Paul’s teaching, or it might leave him asking, “Why don’t they all agree?” Issues such as this lead to frightful, verbally violent, disagreements among Christians at times. It certainly leads to heated discussions about which is the “best” translation, or the most “godly” translation. There is even a school of thought that holds the view that the King James Version is the only correct English translation. My experience leads me to believe that when we use the different translations of 1 Corinthians 13:5 under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we learn more about the teaching, and we learn not to be too dogmatic about the “best” translation.

It all comes back to the cloud of meanings that surrounds every word we use in every language. A good way to start appreciating the various translations is to use additional study helps such as the Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Books like this grow out of tedious scholarly research few of us are able to do for ourselves. Using a book like this enables us to learn a great deal about the words Paul actually used without ourselves needing to earn advanced degrees in language study.

Strong’s Lexicon  delves deep into the way the words of 1 Corinthians 13:5 are used in the Bible and in the process of translation across a broad spectrum of works. The word resentful is used to express a phrase in the Greek language that hinges on the meaning of two Greek words. Right away we must recognize that a word for word translation simply will not work, because when we speak English, we are using words and concepts that came into being in combinations that are different from the way koine’ Greek was shaped. The two Greek words used here are logizomai and kakos.