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Musings -- A Continuing Series of Comments on Specific Translation Issues within the International Standard Version New Testament

by Dr. David Alan Black

"So great is the force of established usage that even acknowledged corruptions please the greater part, for they prefer to have their copies pretty rather than accurate."


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Dr. David Alan Black
Associate Editor

Good Giving?

"Every good and perfect gift is from above…"

So reads the NIV in James 1:17. Only one small problem. James uses two different words for "gift," and he apparently does so for a reason. (Translations that consider James’ words for "gift" to be synonymous should at least give the alternative understanding in a footnote, but this is generally not done—to the disadvantage of the reader.)

The first word, dosis, refers to the act of giving; the second word, dorema, refers to what is given. In other words, James is saying that God is the source of both the desire to give a gift and the gift itself. The NASB seems to miss this point when it renders "Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above…." Again, remember that the first term refers to the act of generosity, the second term to the result of generosity:

Every generous act of giving and every perfect gift is from above..."

The above is the ISV rendering—and, we believe, precisely what God intended to say through James. True, "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35), but both are equally from God!


Introduction Poetry Lettuce? Press on? Good Giving Good Citizens Can Faith Save? On Poets & Liars An Ode to Love The Disciple Teachable? Sloppy Agape Mustering Mystery Alliteration Whom Sweet Whom Conclusion

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