Monday 5 February 2024

Christ was indignant? The NIV mistranslation of Mark 1:41

And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean.

(Mar. 1:41, KJV)

        During an evangelical outreach when we invited unbelievers to the church to study the Bible together with us, we read from the first chapter of St. Mark’s Gospel, the account of Christ healing a leper. Unfortunately, the Bible version used was the NIV and the NIV had the following reading for Mark 1:41:

Jesus was indignant.[a] He reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!”

with the following footnote:

  1. Mark 1:41 Many manuscripts Jesus was filled with compassion

        The man leading the Bible study was endeavouring to get the visitor understand why Christ was indignant. He asked a few times (I cannot remember the exact words): 'Why do you think Jesus was angry?' The visitor seemed distracted and did not answer him directly. At that point of time, I felt I had enough so I explained that in the Authorised Version (KJV) instead of 'indignant', the reading was 'moved with compassion'. Therefore, we could understand that Christ was having compassion towards the leper. Following my explanation, the visitor agreed with me.

        The point of this article is not to boast about myself but to explain where the mistranslation of the NIV originated. In the Textus Receptus (TR), the word used is σπλαγχνισθεις (translated as 'moved with compassion' in the KJV). However, the NIV chose the reading οργισθεις (translated as 'was indignant' in NIV) that appears in just one single manuscript. The NIV translators had very clearly chosen the difficult reading based on the 'difficult readings are preferred' principle of the questionable and illogical method of modern unbelieving textual criticism.

        In comparison, the reading in the ESV is 'Moved with pity' and in NASB is 'Moved with compassion'. This shows that even the other false bibles do not agree with the NIV in this reading. 

        In conclusion, the NIV has mistranslated. It is also little wonder why the visitor was distracted and not answering the question directly.

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