I looked at James 2:1 in the Common English Bible and found it to be interesting because the phrase “deny the faithfulness of our Lord Jesus Christ” was not in the NIV or ESV. Is the connotation there? If we are showing favoritism, are we denying the faithfulness of Christ?

My brothers and sisters, when you show favoritism you deny the faithfulness of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has been resurrected in glory. (CEB)

The NRSV puts the verse into a question and comes closer to what the CEB did:

My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favoritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? 

What IS clear in this verse is a believer can not hold faith in Christ AND favoritism at the same time. It is much like Jesus saying, “You can’t serve two masters.”

When that is the underlying statement, the CEB does make sense… while putting in a phrase that isn’t really there…

I will admit this is a place where I struggle with the dynamic equivalence idea of translation. However, I can see the point in drawing something out to make the underlying statement more clear. That is still part of the translation process.


4 thoughts on “James 2:1 in the CEB and the NRSV

  1. I guess for me the issue is two-fold:

    1) What do we do with “deny?” It doesn’t appear to be a part of the Greek text (literally); but both the NRSV and the NLT seem to hint at some sense of what the CEB is trying to communicate (NLT: “…how can you claim to have faith in our Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others?”)

    2) Even the translations that grab at the sense of “deny” do so with the faith of the believer in view; that is, it is the sincerity of the believer’s faith in Jesus that is brought into question if that believer shows favoritism. The CEB, though, seems to assert that the believer who shows favoritism denies the faithfulness of Jesus, so my question would be: how does that fit into the context of the rest of the passage, which seems (to me, at least) to be focused toward helping believers to understand the moral imperative of seeing and treating everyone–rich and poor–as equals. That teaching, then, dovetails nicely into a teaching on authentic faith that is demonstrated through works, but in this case (even in the CEB) the faith of the believer is clearly in view. I guess I’m not sure that “faithfulness of Jesus” works James 2; “faith of” (in the sense of “the same faith Jesus preached” or “the faith belonging to Jesus and those who follow Him”) would be better, in my opinion.

    Also of note: Some other translations issue this as a command (Do not show favoritism), the NRSV and NLT captures it as a question (do you with your acts of favoritism…believe in…Jesus Christ?), and the CEB makes it a simple statement (when you show favoritism, you deny the faithfulness of our Lord Jesus Christ). This is a small issue, and probably not one that can be resolved, since the Greek manuscripts included no punctuation, but I find it interesting that it is rendered in so many different ways.

    Just a few thoughts… 🙂

    1. Thanks for those thoughts. Translation is just fun… and aggravating… But seeing the NLT and the NRSV handle it makes it more interesting. What seems to be clear when I read a couple of other sources is there is the idea that holding to favoritism is just not compatible with holding faith. One or the other gets dropped.

  2. That one has to stop and try to figure out WHAT the CEB is saying in this verse just shows how much clearer the NIV and ESV are.

    I should have put my comment on the previous thread here [and I now see that you noted the same thing]:

    The ESV and NIV are much clearer to me and the CEB muddies the waters.
    As the NIGTC points out, James address to the ‘brethren’ is in the imperative.

    The CEB turns a command into a declarative description.

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