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KJV has for Revelation 13:10

He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.

The passage has a justice/retribution moral similar to that of Mt 26:52.

In NIV the moral is instead about suffering patiently and accepting one's fate.

If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity they will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword they will be killed.

Two other translations (Vulgate and NEG1979) have a "mixed" meaning: capturing has the patience reading, and killing has the retributive reading.

Qui in captivitatem in captivitatem vadit qui in gladio occiderit oportet eum gladio occidi hic est patientia et fidessanctorum

Si quelqu’un est destiné à la captivité, il ira en captivité; si quelqu’un tue par l’épée, il faut qu’il soit tué par l’épée. C’est ici la persévérance et la foi des saints.

Is the original Greek ambiguous about the proper meaning, or are the translators just taking liberties?

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The New Vulgate (Nova Vulgata) has something different than your post: Si quis in captivitatem, in captivitatem vadit; si quis in gladio debet occidi, oportet eum in gladio occidi, which is much more similar to the NIV translation (and incidentally to the NABRE translation). –  Matt Gutting Jul 25 '14 at 14:08
This is at least in part (I think mostly) a textual issue rather than a translational one. I'm adding that tag. –  Susan Jul 25 '14 at 16:41
Yeah, it's a textual variant: web.ovc.edu/terry/tc/lay30rev.htm –  Noah Jul 25 '14 at 18:16
@jlovegren This is why I like the KJV-yes, it uses the TR rather than the Alexandrinus, but take a step back and look at what it's saying; is God helpless in the face of adversity-essentially Buddhist? Or does one "reap what one sows" a truth illustrated throughout the Scripture? Modern thought has crept into modern interpretations. –  Tau Jul 26 '14 at 3:21

1 Answer 1

up vote 3 down vote accepted

The issue here isn't one of translation, but rather that it's uncertain what the original Greek text said in this verse (called a "reading"). The committee making the translation has to decide which reading they think is the original, and different committees can make different decisions.

This is a particularly fascinating example, as explained here.

Let me begin with the summary of the manuscript evidence. There are 9 important different readings here. Roughly transcripted into English one of them says "if anyone [is] to be killed with the sword, he [is] to be killed with the sword" while the other 8 are different variants all meaning roughly "if anyone shall kill with the sword, he has to be killed with the sword." The former occurs in exactly one manuscript Codex Alexandrinus, which is one of our oldest and best texts (5th century), while one of the other 8 occurs in nearly all other manuscripts.

At first glance, it seems that the argument for some version of the latter reading is overwhelming given that only one text preserves the former reading. However, if the latter reading is the original then why are there such an unusually large number of variations on it? The alternative explanation, is that Alexandrinus retains the original, but that scribes were unable to understand the original (because it's based on a Hebrew idiom that was unfamilar to non-Hebrew speakers) and so thought there must have been a typo and changed it to the latter meaning which made more sense. This explains why many scribes would have done so in slightly different ways all with the same meaning.

All in all, it seems that the evidence is slightly in favor of "if anyone [is] to be killed with the sword, he [is] to be killed with the sword," but it's a particularly thorny example on which people could easily disagree.

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