“Sacred” texts Pt 1: Challenge of Translating

By “sacred” I mean those texts that are the most familiar to Christians. For some people, it doesn’t matter which translation you use, “as long as you don’t mess with____.” This can be challenging for any new translation or even a revision. The text is not only familiar but is so much part of a person’s Christian fabric that to change the text is to affect the deepest emotions, “my sacred text” overrides anything else. Our first “sacred” text is John 3:16.

John 3:16

NIV 2011

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

ESV

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

HCSB

“For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”

GW

God loved the world this way: He gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not die but will have eternal life.

Context

As a starting point, let’s see how this verse sets within the context of John 3. Is Jesus saying this or is this John’s comment? As you look at the above translations, we see those two options:

1) ESV and HCSB affirm that the words are spoken by Jesus (also KJV, NKJV, NRSV, NAS 95, NLT, CEV, CEB, NIV 1984, NJB)

2) For NIV 2011 and GW, Jesus stops speaking at the end of v. 15 and this begins a commentary by John (also, NAB, NABRE, ERV, NET)

So, there is considerable discussion among translators on whether it belongs to Jesus’ speech or John’s comments. For the purposes of this overview, this isn’t a huge issue—after all, it is all God’s Word, whether spoken by Jesus directly or commented on by John.

The infamous “so”

How do we translate οὕτως (“so“ in KJ tradition or “in this manner” in HCSB/GW)? The word can be translated in several ways. According to BDAG:

“1. referring to what precedes, in this manner, thus, so… (ex: Matt. 6:30 and John 3:8)

2. pert. to what follows in discourse material, in this way, as follows… (ex: Luke 24:24 and James 2:12)

3. marker of a relatively high degree, so, before adj. and adv.… (ex: Gal. 3:3 and Rev. 16:18)

4. to the exclusion of other considerations, without further ado, just, simply” (ex: John 4:6)

BDAG places John 3:16 into the second category. While in the KJV style, “so” can be understood in that same way, in contemporary English “so” fits more with #3, “relatively high degree.” The footnote in the NET study edition contains the following that combines #2-3:

With this in mind, then, it is likely (3) that John is emphasizing both the degree to which God loved the world as well as the manner in which He chose to express that love. This is in keeping with John’s style of using double entendre or double meaning. Thus, the focus of the Greek construction here is on the nature of God’s love, addressing its mode, intensity, and extent.

Given this cross-over of meanings, it might be best to consider “in this way, so much.” But that doesn’t really help because no translation takes the double meaning.

But we might consider where else it is used in John’s Gospel. (Here is PDF of John3,16)

Use of houtos in John’s Gospel

As can be seen, there is no consistency even within the same translation. Of course, it would be helpful to look at 1 John at least. But this at least gives a sense of what is going. I see advantages with both translations, but given the parallel with 3:14 where “in this way” makes more sense, I tend to favor “in this way” in 3:16.

This is only scratching the surface of one “sacred” text, perhaps next to Psalm 23, the most sacred of all.

Negative sequences continued

Last post focused on NIV 2011. Now I will look at the same texts with ESV, HCSB, and GW.

ESV

John 1:13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

John 1:25 They asked him, “Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”

John 5:37-38 And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, this form you have never seen, and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent.

John 12:40 “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them.

Rom 8:38-39 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

1 Cor 6:9-10  Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

Gal 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

HCSB

John 1:13 who were born, not of blood, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God.

John 1:25 So they asked him, “Why then do you baptize if you aren’t the Messiah, or Elijah, or the Prophet?”

John 5:37-38 The Father who sent Me has Himself testified about Me. You have not heard His voice at any time, and you haven’t seen His form. You don’t have His word living in you, because you don’t believe the One He sent.

John 12:40  He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, so that they would not see with their eyes or understand with their hearts, and be converted, and I would heal them.

Rom 8:38-39 I am persuaded that not even death or life, angels or rulers, things present or things to come, hostile powers, height or depth, or any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!

1 Cor 6:9-10 Don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be deceived: No sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, or anyone practicing homosexuality, no thieves, greedy people, drunkards, verbally abusive people, or swindlers will inherit God’s kingdom.

Gal 3:28 There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

GW

John 1:13 These people didn’t become God’s children in a physical way—from a human impulse or from a husband’s desire ‹to have a child›. They were born from God.
(GW reduces this to two items, not three)

John 1:25 They asked John, “Why do you baptize if you’re not the Messiah or Elijah or the prophet?”

John 5:37-38 The Father who sent me testifies on my behalf. You have never heard his voice, and you have never seen his form. So you don’t have the Father’s message within you, because you don’t believe in the person he has sent.

John 12:40 God blinded them and made them close-minded so that their eyes don’t see and their minds don’t understand. And they never turn to me for healing!

Rom 8:38-39 I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love which Christ Jesus our Lord shows us. We can’t be separated by death or life, by angels or rulers, by anything in the present or anything in the future, by forces or powers in the world above or in the world below, or by anything else in creation.

1 Cor 6:9-10 Don’t you know that wicked people won’t inherit the kingdom of God? Stop deceiving yourselves! People who continue to commit sexual sins, who worship false gods, those who commit adultery, homosexuals, or thieves, those who are greedy or drunk, who use abusive language, or who rob people will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Gal 3:28 There are neither Jews nor Greeks, slaves nor free people, males nor females. You are all the same in Christ Jesus.

As I read these passages, the ESV seems more consistent in the use of “neither/nor,” the one exception in these vereses is the use of “lest” which changes the follow on sequence. The surprise for me was HCSB which parallels NIV 2011 and GW, which generally use “neither/or” rather than “neither/nor.” Maybe I am older than I thought! I learned “neither/nor” and “either/or.”

So, does the use of “neither/or” sound natural to you? Does “neither/or” sound odd to you?

Sequence of negatives NIV 2011

In our devotional readings yesterday we read John 1:1-18. When I came to 1:13, I read it wrong according to NIV 2011 (and NIV 1984). Here is the text:

John 1:13

children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God

But here is how I read it:

children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision nor a husband’s will, but born of God

I realized after the fact, that “not of” and “nor of” form a sequence with the genitive (in English), and then a slight change with “or a,” so not quite as clear as a normal sequence. However, the Greek does not have that distinction; all three portions are joined identically:

 ⸂οἳ οὐκ⸃ ἐξ αἱμάτων οὐδὲ ἐκ θελήματος σαρκὸς ⸋οὐδὲ ἐκ θελήματος ἀνδρὸς⸌ ἀλλ᾿ ἐκ θεοῦ ⸀ἐγεννήθησαν.

But then I checked other places in the NT in NIV 2011 to see how negative sequences were handled.

John 1:25 questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”

John 5:37-38 And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent.

John 12:40     “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn—and I would heal them.

Rom 8:38-39 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of Goda that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

1 Cor 6:9-10 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

Gal 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Note: This is a little different construction, but same principle)

So, it seems odd to find the sequence in John 1:13. My guess is that some people who read this orally will unconsciously read it as I did above, and not as it is written in NIV 2011. How often we we “read into” the text what we think it should say?

2 Peter- translating anthropos

This set of posts on the four translation is not scientific, not even methodical. Rather, they are observations gained when reading each of the four translations, then comparing them. Last night in our devotional reading, my wife and I read 2 Peter 3, using HCSB. I noticed in 3:7 that it used “men,” which triggered me to look at the Greek (ἀνθρώπων, anthropwn, accusative plural).  So I looked at all the occurrences of ἄνθρωπος (anthropos) in 2 Peter, and found only three.

NIV 2011

1:21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

2:16 But he was rebuked for his wrongdoing by a donkey—an animal without speech—who spoke with a human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness.

3:7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

ESV

1:21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

2:16 but was rebuked for his own transgression; a speechless donkey spoke with human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness.

3:7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

HCSB

1:21 because no prophecy ever came by the will of man; instead, men spoke from God as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

2:16 but received a rebuke for his transgression: A donkey that could not talk spoke with a human voice and restrained the prophet’s irrationality.

2 Pet 3:7 But by the same word, the present heavens and earth are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.

GW

1:21 No prophecy ever originated from humans. Instead, it was given by the Holy Spirit as humans spoke under God’s direction.

2:16 But he was convicted for his evil. A donkey, which normally can’t talk, spoke with a human voice and wouldn’t allow the prophet to continue his insanity.

3:7 By God’s word, the present heaven and earth are designated to be burned. They are being kept until the day ungodly people will be judged and destroyed.

In 1:21 all four translations offer the same translation “human.” For 1:21 ESV and HCSB translate the word in the traditional way “man” and “men.” NIV 2011 keeps the singular plural distinction, but uses “human” and “humans.” GW uses the plural “humans” in both places.

3:7 raises an interesting perspective. Given the stance of the ESV translation team regarding this topic, it would have been consistent for ESV to translate the last phrase as “ungodly men.” And yet, the translators leave off the translation of ἄνθρωπος (anthropos), so that the adjective “ungodly” assumes the noun function. NIV 2011 follows the ESV in this. GW retains the noun, but translates ἄνθρωπος (anthropos) as “people.” HCSB, on the other hand, translates the last phrase: “ungodly men,” which seems a little unexpected.

NIV 2011 and GW seem consistent within these three verses. ESV moves from one position to the other, whereas, HCSB holds to the more traditional rendering throughout.

Are there no more saints?

One of the notable changes in NIV 2011 is to no longer use “saints” as the English translation of αγιοι. The most often used translation is “holy people.” But not always. Consider two verses: Acts 9:13 and 9:32

NIV 2011

9:13 “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem.”

9:32 As Peter traveled about the country, he went to visit the Lord’s people who lived in Lydda.

ESV

9:13 But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem.”

9:32 Now has Peter went here and there among them all, he came down also to the saints who lived at Lydda.

HCSB

9:13  “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard from many people about this man, how much harm he has done to Your •saints in Jerusalem.”

9:32 As Peter was traveling from place to place, he also came down to the saints who lived in Lydda.

•saints is explained in the appendix

GW

9:13 Ananias replied, “Lord, I’ve heard a lot of people tell about the many evil things this man has done to your people in Jerusalem.”

9:32 When Peter was going around to all of God’s people, he came to those who lived in the city of Lydda.

Both NIV 2011 and GW offer alternatives to “saints.” But within the same chapter, each renders it differently. At least in GW, the change is from second person reference addressing God (“your people”) to third person narrative about God (“God’s people”) so they can be connected.

With the change in NIV 2011, though, does this affect what Luke is attempting to do with his account in Acts, namely, that there is no distinction between believers in Jesus Christ, so that the people in Jerusalem (9:13) and the people in Lydda (9:32)? For a lay person studying this chapter, how would someone connect the two referents using only NIV 2011? If “saint” is misunderstood in today’s culture and English use, then the logical step would be to translate both cases as “holy people.”

Four Translations: Key NT Text

Romans 3:22-26 offers a glimpse into handling difficult Greek, difficult syntax, and how to express it meaningfully in English.

Romans 3:21–26

NIV 2011

But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

ESV

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for fall have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

HCSB

But now, apart from the law, God’s righteousness has been revealed—attested by the Law and the Prophets—that is, God’s righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ, to all who believe, since there is no distinction. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. God presented Him as a •propitiation through faith in His blood, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His restraint God passed over the sins previously committed. God presented Him to demonstrate His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be righteous and declare righteous the one who has faith in Jesus.

•HCSB includes a bullet to note that this term is explained in an Appendix.

GW

Now, the way to receive God’s approval has been made plain in a way other than Moses’ Teachings. Moses’ Teachings and the Prophets tell us this. Everyone who believes has God’s approval through faith in Jesus Christ.

There is no difference between people. Because all people have sinned, they have fallen short of God’s glory. They receive God’s approval freely by an act of his kindness through the price Christ Jesus paid to set us free ‹from sin›. God showed that Christ is the throne of mercy where God’s approval is given through faith in Christ’s blood. In his patience God waited to deal with sins committed in the past. He waited so that he could display his approval at the present time. This shows that he is a God of justice, a God who approves of people who believe in Jesus.

Comments

While there are many issues in the text, I want to focus on three: 1. translating ἱλαστήριον (the means by which sins are forgiven), 2. translating δικαιοσύνη (often “righteousness”) and its cognates, 3. readability.

1. translating ἱλαστήριον (the means by which sins are forgiven)

NIV2011: sacrifice of atonement
ESV: propitiation
HCSB: propitiation
GW: throne of mercy

The first three identify the means by which the sins are forgiven. GW focuses on the place where that takes place. It might be easy to dismiss GW based on comparison to most other translations, but as Cranfield (Romans, II, ICC, pp. 214ff.) points out the strongest case of this understanding is that 22 of 23 uses of the word in the LXX refer to the “mercy seat.” On the other hand, except in Exodus 25:17, it always has the definite article. Here in Romans there is no definite article. Leon Morris concludes that it is the purpose or character of what is happening, not the place. The discussion shows that the GW could be appropriate.

If we follow Morris (and hence NIV 2011, ESV, HCSB), then NIV 2011 is the more understandable translation. “Propitiation”—not exactly part of our vocabulary, and ESV leaves it that way. No footnote, no help in understanding the word. For study purposes perhaps, but not as an oral reading Bible or personal devotional Bible.

HCSB helps in two ways: 1) The footnote has: “as a propitiatory sacrifice, or as an offering of atonement, or as a mercy seat.” Note that HCSB allows either of the translations, purpose or place. 2) the appendix has: “The removal of divine wrath; Jesus’ death is the means that turns God’s wrath from the sinner.” At least there is a recognition that the word is unusual and the reader needs help to understand.

2. translating δικαιοσύνη (often “righteousness”) and its cognates

Almost all translations offer “righteousness” as the translation for δικαιοσύνη. The assumption is that “everyone knows what it means.” But is that true? And how is that reflected in this section of Romans.

GW renders it “God’s approval.” I remember during the 1992-1995 time period when testing was done (the congregation I served was a test congregation) and the new translation team at God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society challenged whether “righteousness” was understandable. Because I had been teaching extensively in the congregation at the time, most of our people had a grasp of “righteousness,” even better than “God’s approval.” When GW was finally published in 1995 I was disappointed in this choice. While in some contexts it seems to work, I think something was lost in the process, especially considering that GW inconsistently retained “righteousness” (צְדָקָ֔ה) in many places in the Old Testament. Compare Genesis 15:6 with 1 Samuel 26:23, 2 Samuel 22:21, 25, Job 37:25, Psalm 4:1, 5:8, 23:3, 89:14, etc. Whatever gains the translators made in using “God’s approval” seem lost now with “righteousness” in the Old Testament. And yet, at one level “God’s approval” can be understood correctly within this context.

Of the other three, HCSB offers a better approach, especially in v. 26 (so that He would be righteous and declare righteous). Sometimes the adjective is translated “just” and sometimes the verb is translated ”justifiy.” In English it is hard to make the connection between “declare righteous” and “justify.” The only improvement for HCSB would have been to follow this same process in v. 24 “They are declared righteous” rather than “They are justified.”

3. Readability

Of the three more traditional translations, each has its strengths, although the ESV is the hardest to read, based on vocabulary and sentence strength and length. It uses the word “forbearance” (as does NIV 2011), which combined with “propitiation” adds complexity. NIV 2011 does a reasonably good job of breaking the longer sentence into manageable reading bits.

HCSB offers a mixed bag in terms of readability. The use of “propitiation” can be seen as a negative, but the footnote and appendix note do help. Likewise, the change in v. 26 to connect with “righteous” makes this a more connected reading throughout. One interesting change is the link of the phrase “there is no distinction” with the preceding section, whereas almost all other translations link it with the following thought: “for fall have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” This suggests that it is the no distinction with regard to justification, not with regard to sinning and falling short of God’s glory.

One of the hallmarks of GW translation has been its readability. In this case as well, it still the easiest to read—for many people. My guess is that this would be a harder read for those who have grown up with traditional translations. In that case, GW would almost be jarring to the senses. For those who have little or no church background, GW would not seem odd or different.

Conclusion

Based on this text, I think HCSB offers the best translation, with its footnote/appendix regarding propitiation. Its sentence structure offers acceptable readability. Also, the link of the adjective and verb in v. 26 to “righteous” makes the section hold together better. NIV is also acceptable, following closely the NIV 1984. ESV is the least acceptable of the four. While technically a good translation, word choices, and sentence structure do not make it as readable as the others.

GW is very different and may not appeal to many. For the unchurched who have no Biblical background, GW makes the most sense. Since our mission field is 95% in that category, this is a significant factor.

Four Translations—Gender in translation

Want to start an interesting and heated discussion on Bible translation? Try to discuss how to deal with gender in translation. The recent past had been governed by the thought that the singular pronoun “he” (and “him”) could be used for referring to males only or to a human in general. That is the way I grew up, never giving it much thought.

But times have changed. Now, when a speaker or writer (translator) uses “he” many hear/read only male specific referent. Some may not like it; some may even demand: “that isn’t right.” Realistically in the present context, we would be foolish to ignore the need to address this issue. I cannot rehash the entire debate, but wanted to give a couple references that do address the issue of gender in translation:

Dr. Rod Decker Evaluation of NIV 2011

Gender-inclusive pronouns and contemporary usage

Gender-neutral language, with special reference to NIV 2011

There are two main issues involved in this discussion:

1) Does the original language text (Hebrew or Greek) give us enough information to distinguish between male specific and human in general?

2) How can that be expressed in English without contorting the English language?

Genesis 1:26-27

In Hebrew, the main nouns are אָדָ֛ם (adam) and אֱנ֥וֹשׁ (enosh). Should they always be translated “man” or is it legitimate to translate in some contexts “human” (or even “person”)? For the male specific word, Hebrew has זָכָ֥ר (zahar) and for female/woman נְקֵבָ֖ה (neqēbah). In Genesis 1:26-27 (NAS) we see three of these words used:

Then God said, “Let Us make man אָדָ֛ם (adam)  in Our image, according to Our likeness; … God created man אָדָ֛ם (adam) in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male זָכָ֥ר (zahar) and female  נְקֵבָ֖ה (neqēbah) He created them.

Let’s see how the four translations handle this:

NIV 2011

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, …
So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.

ESV

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

HCSB

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.”…
So God created man in His own image;
He created him in the image of God;
He created them male and female.

GW

Then God said, “Let us make humans in our image, in our likeness.”…
So God created humans in his image.
In the image of God he created them.
He created them male and female.

ESV and HCSB follow the more traditional approach, namely using “man” as generic, as well as the corresponding “he/him” pronoun, except in the last line.

NIV 2011 and GW opt for the change to the gender neutral “humankind” as a collective or “humans” as a plural. Then both use the plural to translate a singular. To me, this is not helpful, but I do not dismiss either translation, they are usable and communicate approrpiately. However, in some texts, this change from singular to plural may change the dynamics of the specific passage (i.e. see how NLT handles Psalm 1:-2).

Psalm 8:4 and Hebrews 2:6

Another passage has significant messianic/christological implications: Psalm 8:4, using two different nouns, comparing it to how it is quoted and translated in Hebrews 2:6, which is applied to Jesus Christ:

What is man (אֱנ֥וֹשׁ  enosh) that You take thought of him,
And the son of man (בֶן־אָ֝דָ֗ם ben-adam “son of man”) that You care for him?

NIV 2011

what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?

What is mankind that you are mindful of them,
a son of man that you care for him?

ESV

what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?

What is man, that you are mindful of him,
or the son of man, that you care for him?

HCSB

what is man that You remember him,
the son of man that You look after him?

What is man that You remember him,
or the son of man that You care for him?

GW

what is a mortal that you remember him
or the Son of Man that you take care of him?

What is a mortal that you should remember him,
or the Son of Man that you take care of him?

In this case, NIV 2011 seems the most awkard and least effective, although it is consistent in using the same method in both pasages. Notice that the traditional English following the Hebrew number has “son of man” (singular). NIV 2011 changes that to plural “human beings,” but then in Hebrews 2 translates it as singular, but indefinite singular “a son of man.”

ESV and HCSB follow the traditional translations, “man”… “son of man.”

GW offers a glimpse into being a cross between the two approaches, and seems to be effective, even though “a mortal” is a little unexpected by traditional mind set. “A mortal” reflects generic singular quite well, and “the Son of Man” as specific; GW does the same in both verses.

Unless one is absolutely committed to the traditional wording, in these two cases, GW seems to be the best translation of the two verses. NIV 2011 is clearly inconsistent and the least desirable of the four. Interestingly, NLT se is similar to NIV 2011 and less than satisfactory for a translation.