The New Living Translation
The NLT Through the Years: Galatians 3:26-28

It’s been a while since I introduced this series, and the complete chart of the 2007 NLT changes has since been released. I still plan to continue this series as long as people seem interested, so if you have any ideas for passages that you would like to see covered, let me know in the comments.

The first text we will look at in this series, as promised, is Galatians 3:26-28. I specifically chose this passage for my first comparison because I think there are substantive changes at each stage of the NLT’s history. As I mentioned in the introductory post, this is not typical. Don’t assume that every passage has undergone so much revision.

I will present the original language first, then give the various ways the passage has been rendered across the NLT’s history (and pre-history, with the Living Bible).

Galatians 3:26-28
Πάντες γὰρ υἱοὶ θεοῦ ἐστε διὰ τῆς πίστεως ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ. ὅσοι γὰρ εἰς Χριστὸν ἐβαπτίσθητε, Χριστὸν ἐνεδύσασθε· οὐκ ἔνι Ἰουδαῖος οὐδὲ Ἕλλην, οὐκ ἔνι δοῦλος οὐδὲ ἐλεύθερος, οὐκ ἔνι ἄρσεν καὶ θῆλυ· πάντες γὰρ ὑμεῖς εἷς ἐστε ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ.

The Living Bible
For now we are all children of God through faith in Jesus Christ, and we who have been baptized into union with Christ are enveloped by him. We are no longer Jews or Greeks or slaves or free men or even merely men or women, but we are all the same–we are Christians; we are one in Christ Jesus.

NLT 1996
So you are all children* of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have been made like him. There is no longer Jew or Gentile,* slave or free, male or female. For you are all Christians–you are one in Christ Jesus.
*3:26 Greek sons. *3:28 Greek Jew or Greek.

NLT 2004
For you are all children* of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on the character of Christ, like putting on new clothes.* There is no longer Jew or Gentile,* slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.
*3:26 Greek sons. *3:27 Greek have put on Christ. *3:28 Greek Jew or Greek.

NLT 2007
For you are all children* of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes.* There is no longer Jew or Gentile,* slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.
*3:26 Greek sons. *3:27 Greek have put on Christ. *3:28 Greek Jew or Greek.

Analyzing the Changes
From the Living Bible to the NLT
Among the three stages, this is clearly the one with the most change. Two footnotes were added, offering more formal equivalent translations for “children” and “Jew or Gentile.” One other change that immediately jumps out is the shift from a first-person plural (“we”) to a second-person plural (“you”). This follows the Greek, which has a shift from “we” language in 3:23-25 to “you” language in 3:26-29.

Galatians 3:27 begins a new sentence here, whereas in the Living Bible 3:26-27 was one compound sentence. A more significant change, however, is that the Greek relative pronoun ὅσοι is now translated as “all who” rather than “we who.” The more inclusive rendering is definitely an improvement. The change from “baptized into union with Christ” to “united with Christ in baptism” is actually a shift away from the Greek syntax for the sake of clear English (not a meaningful difference). Additionally, the second half of this sentence was significantly changed from the unique rendering of the Living Bible (“enveloped by him”) to the somewhat more pedestrian “made like him.” The rendering of this Greek metaphor (Χριστὸν ἐνεδύσασθε) will change at each stage of the NLT’s history.

Galatians 3:28 was significantly improved, removing the first person plural (“we are”) and the “even merely” in the third pair, which aren’t present in the Greek. Additionally, the third pair was also improved from “men or women” to the more precise “male or female.” The final sentence was pruned from three different ways of representing the one Greek phrase to two.

Other minor changes took place as well, but they don’t seem to be significant except that they bring minor aspects of syntax closer to the original without sacrificing clarity (e.g., “Jesus Christ” to “Christ Jesus” in 3:26).

From the NLT (1996) to the NLTse (2004)
Although the changes are not as drastic as the first stage, several items are of note. The initial “So” was changed (back) to “For.” Either is a possible understanding of the Greek, but I think “for” is the better choice contextually.

The second half of 3:27 underwent significant change, expanding “been made like him” to represent the clothing metaphor of the Greek and explain it, rather than simply explaining it. A footnote gives a more formal equivalent translation of the Greek. I like the change to include the Greek metaphor here, as I think it adds something for the English reader (especially when it is remembered that this is a baptismal metaphor).

Galatians 3:28 was tightened, with the third pair changing from “male or female” to “male and female,” giving English readers the same shift in conjunctions that is present in the Greek. This is a level of precision that is not present in very many English translations, and it is potentially significant as an allusion to Genesis 1:27. Also, the final sentence was pared down to simple, clear translation of the Greek without elaboration.

One item that doesn’t show up in my comparison is that the paragraphing changed in Galatians 3 as well. In the Living Bible and the first edition of the NLT, Gal. 3:24-29 was all one paragraph. In the NLTse, this was broken into two paragraphs, so that 3:24-25 and 3:26-29 are separate paragraphs. The significance of paragraphing shouldn’t be overlooked, as it signals to the reader to a stronger transition than a simple sentence break. Translation comparisons rarely discuss the differences in paragraphing, but perhaps they should. Paragraphing is an interpretive decision of the translators.

From the NLTse (2004) to the NLTse (2007)
Only one change was made at this stage, but it was a significant change to my mind. The phrase “the character of” was dropped from 3:27. I like this change, as I think the primary idea in this passage is identity, not character (3:29; 4:7).

Conclusion
Galatians 3:26-28 has undergone significant revision by our team of scholars over the years. At each stage, the passage was refined and improved. The Bible Translation Committee is committed to seeing the NLT be as clear and accurate as possible, and their work on this passage shows the extent of their commitment.

What are your thoughts on the changes? Are there any other passages that you would like to see a post on? Let me know in the comments.

Leave A Reply
Name
Mail (will not be published)
Website
Reply Text


Word Verification (enter the sequence below, case sensitive)