RE: NIV translation of Romans 12:1

Dale M. Wheeler (
Tue, 24 Sep 1996 09:56:53 -0700

Andrew S. Kulikovsky wrote:

>I am currently studying Romans 12 and I noted the NIV's unusual
>rendering of the word LOGIKA as 'spiritual'.
>I don't understand why the committee decided on this rendering.
>The footnote gives the more traditional rendering 'reasonable'.
>The NIV is usually very good in its choices of renderings (and is
>my first choice for a translation) but I think this maybe one of those
>instances of (dare I say) not so good judgement.
>Can anybody share any light on the 'spiritual' rendering?
>Is there a good reason for it?

The rendering "spiritual" comes directly from BAGD; if you
check BAGD's article you'll see several examples of the word used
in "religious" contexts with words like QUSIA, etc. It can also,
as BAGD points out, be used to mean "metaphorical" as opposed to
literal, as it may be used in 1Pet 2:2 "pure 'spiritual' milk".

If you look in Colin Brown's New Inter Dict of NTTheo, you'll see the
conflict in the interpretation of this word; as they point out there
TDNT (Kittel) and others want to compare the word to the later Gnostic
writings, in which it takes on the meaning of "spiritual" as opposed
to material sacrifices, as in the passage quoted in Moulton&Milligan
(p. 378):" receive 'spiritual', holy sacrifices from a soul and
heart lifted up to you". Brown, who wrote this article, seems
unconvinced, as suggests that we stick with the meaning "rational",
or at least understand the Hellenistic ambiguity in the term of
both "rational" and "spiritual" (this comes from the Greek philosophical
idea that the mind, NOUS, is in some sense the "divine" part of man,
with "spiritual" characteristics, as it "reasons"; as opposed to the
"material" impulses of the body and, sometimes, the soul--I caution
that this is a VERY simplistic representation of the situation !!).

You can compare the treatment of TDNT4:142 with NIDNTT 3:1118;
personally I would agree with Brown here, since the TDNT connection
is a bit tenuous (being from later texts) and is, in my view, another
example of their approach to Christianity as just another one of the
various religions, from the mysteries to the gnostics (this, again, is
my view; I realize that there are others on this list who will disagree;
I mention it only so that those new to these tools understand the
foundational assumptions of these tools...). This should get you
started if you want to chase this word further...

Dale M. Wheeler, Th.D.
Research Professor in Biblical Languages Multnomah Bible College
8435 NE Glisan Street Portland, OR 97220
Voice: 503-251-6416 FAX:503-254-1268 E-Mail: