genitives study

Wayne Leman wayne_leman at
Sat May 4 00:15:35 EDT 2002

The following notice is simply informational for the b-greek discussion
list where translation of Biblical Greek forms is not part of the list
mandate (I would  welcome off-list feedback from b-greek members).
However, discussion of all Bible translation issues are welcome on the
Bible Translation discussion list (address at the bottom of this message).

I am posting an updated study of the translation of Greek datives to my
Bible translation website. The study is accessible from URL:

Following are results of the study, so far, of 28 examples from 16 English
versions. I am continuing to add more examples but the number of
examples so far has brought us into the range of statistical reliability for
relative rankings among the versions. The percentage value for any
version indicates the percentage of translation examples which accurately
and adequately communicate in English the original meaning of the genitive

      TOTAL VERSES     28


      14.3%     KJV

      17.9%     NKJV

      21.4%     RSV

      35.7%     NRSV

      21.4%     ESV

      25.0%     NASB

      42.9%     NIV

      50.0%     TNIV

      78.6%     NLT

      96.4%     TEV

      96.4%     CEV

      92.9%     NCV

      92.9%     GW

      50.0%     NET

      60.7%     ISV

      39.3%     HCSB

Some observations so far:

The HCSB is earning significantly higher rating for translation of its
genitives than it did for a relatively large study (21.7% of 83 examples
so far) of datives in English versions, accessible at the same URL

The TNIV is rating significantly higher than the NIV for its translation of
genitives, whereas it ranked 5% lower for its translation of datives.

The NIV is rating slightly lower for its translation of genitives than it
does for datives (44.6%). This differential is statistically insignificant
and will quite possibly change as the number of examples of genitives
studied increases.

NET is rating significantly higher for its translation of genitives compared
to its translation of datives (34.9%).

The ISV is ranking significantly higher for its translation of genitives in
contrast to its translation of datives (51.8%).

I cannot explain why the HCSB, TNIV, NET, and ISV, which all have a similar
moderately formal equivalence approach to translation, have significantly
higher ratings for translation of genitives than for datives. Perhaps more
focus has been placed on translation of genitives in Biblical Greek courses.
Perhaps genitives are somehow more transparent with regard to their intended
meaning than are datives.

Perhaps some of you would have some other ideas that would account for these
statistical differences. I would be interested in your comments on this.

Stay tuned: I prefer to get the number of examples closer to 100 before I
feel confident that a truly statistically significant study has been done.
And, of course, there is always the human error factor which can be involved
on my part, the evaluator. But this error factor reduces statistically with
greater number of examples.

As always, I welcome feeback from others on this latest study of translation
examples in English Bible versions. I particularly welcome comments on
specific examples, with empirical support that would indicate
counter-evidence to the evaluations I have made in the study.

There is some material at the beginning of the files which explains what
the study involves and what factors were considered in evaluations.

This study focuses on non-exegetical factors in translation such as English
grammaticality, clarity, and naturalness of translation wordings,
ultimately, whether or not translation wordings make sense in English and
whether the translation wordings themselves accurately communicate the
original meaning of the biblical text to English readers.

Wayne Leman
Bible Translation discussion list:

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