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Jeremiah 23:6b in the NIV (2011 edition) reads:

"This is the name by which he will be called: The LORD Our Righteous Savior."

The root form (the masculine noun 'tsedeq') is customarily translated 'righteousness' and 'tsidqenu' as 'our Righteousness'. Is that an inadequate translation? What are the grounds for the change to ‘Our Righteous Savior?' where does 'Savior' come from?

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Most English translations use "our righteousness" as you pointed out. The NIV's rendering is a motivated translation. Since they see this verse as a prediction of Christ, they are trying to make that clear to the casual reader.

In other words, "Savior" comes from their theology, not the text.

Edit per response: The context does lend itself to a Christological interpretation (if that is your chosen hermeneutic).

In general, I wouldn't say this interpretation is unsustainable.
It just it isn't my preference (or evidently the preference of nearly every other English translation). There may be nothing wrong with reading Christ into the Old Testament, but there are other interpretations worth exploring if for no other reason than to complement our understanding of the text.

Specifically, we already miss a lot by translating this text into English.
"The LORD our Righteousness" is an ironic wordplay on the name of King Zedekiah ("the LORD is Righteousness"). Jeremiah seems to be saying that this future king will be true to his given name, unlike Zedekiah who was weak. Adding "Savior" to this passage completely obscures an already-esoteric word play.

  • That seems so, but could the context have influenced their translation? It says, "In his days Judah will be saved..." (Jer 23:6a). Is that kind of overtranslation sustainable, since v. 6b as traditionally rendered is clearly understood as an instance of personification of righteousness? Or were they trying to do something similar to the traditional 'evil' vs the modern translation 'evil one' in Matt 6:13? – Manoj Ebenezer Nov 6 '15 at 15:24
  • I edited my answer to hopefully address your full question concerning Jeremiah. I think the issue with "evil vs evil one" in Matthew 6:13 is a little different, which is why I'll address it here. While the word alone does mean "evil," it is preceded in this instance (and some others) with a definite article (the). This word is not always preceded by that article, nor is it always translated to "evil one" even with that article. But I think there is a legitimate textual case to be made for using "evil one," even if it is theologically motivated. That's why I see these as two different issues. – Daniel Pape Nov 6 '15 at 20:09
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    The question about “(the) evil (one)" in Matthew (Daniel, I would welcome your response). Thank you for pointing out the wordplay with Zedekiah; in fairness, I think it’s going to be completely opaque in English regardless of “Our Righteousness” vs “Our Righteous Savior”. (On that: ṣidqı̂yāhû = my righteousness is YHWH; yhwh ṣidqēnû = YHWH is our righteousness. Both have an understood copula; the difference is that it’s turned around and my-->our.) – Susan Nov 6 '15 at 22:38
  • @Susan I was going to comment about the point that "The LORD" mentioned here is not Adonai, but is actually YHVH, which I see you caught already. The NIV to me is a terrible translation and uses every opportunity to use word play to make the Hebrew scriptures speak of Jesus' coming. However I would like to point out that the savior Jeremiah was speaking about would have been the one that released them from their dispersal which happened with the Assyrian conquest of Israel and then Babylon . This is visible when we read the entire context. You can see it by looking at the NOG version. – seedy3 Nov 6 '15 at 23:27
  • @ Daniel, thanks for the clarification. Particularly the wordplay aspect. – Manoj Ebenezer Nov 7 '15 at 14:59
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The NIV seems to be a denomination specific translation, they use word play quite often to make it a point to make the Hebrew writings appear to be speaking of Jesus' coming to save mankind and Israel as their saviour. However in this case they seem to have gone well out of their way.

Most of the time when read in the NT the usage of the title Lord is in reference to Jesus, but in the Hebrew whenever you see LORD (all caps) it is actually covering the name of the Hebrew God YHVH. A few translations add it back to the writings such as the NOG and the NWT (NWT with a twist, they use Jehovah).

When read in the way it is originally written, it is quite different, I'm including verse 5 as well to give context. (On a side note, I seldom use either of these versions, except to point out the names used and covered) NOG

5 “The days are coming,” declares Yahweh, “when I will grow a righteous Tsemach for David. He will be a king who will rule wisely. He will do what is fair and right in the land. 6 In his lifetime, Judah will be saved, and Israel will live in safety. This is the name that he will be given: Yahweh Tsidqenu.

NWT

5 “Look! There are days coming,” is the utterance of Jehovah, “and I will raise up to David a righteous sprout.+ And a king will certainly reign+ and act with discretion and execute justice and righteousness in the land.+ 6 In his days Judah will be saved,+ and Israel itself will reside in security.+ And this is his name with which he will be called, Jehovah Is Our Righteousness.”

NRSV (mine)

5 The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 6 In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. And this is the name by which he will be called: “The LORD (YHVH) is our righteousness.”

Now can this be applied to Jesus, yes, but the translators of the NIV wanted it to be indicative that it IS assuredly speaking of Jesus, but if read in the original language it says "YHVH is our righteousness". Is this Jesus? That is up to the reader to determine. So in reality the translation is ok, but being the name YHVH is hidden, they interpreted/translated this verse to speak of Jesus alone, by saying "The LORD Our Righteous Savior" when "Savior" is not anywhere in the text.

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