The Bible is Getting More Loving

The bible is getting more loving as time goes on.

Here is the number of times the word “love” appears in different English translations of the bible along with their publication dates:

1611 Authorised Version (KJV) 310
1963 New American Standard Bible 348
1978 New International Version 551
1989 New Revised Standard Version 538
2002 The Message 585

It seems we are getting more loving as time goes on!

The above appeared as a post on the blog Ecalpemos, and it seems like the sort of thing that readers of this blog – whether academics in biblical studies, or just people interested in that topic – would appreciate. It illustrates the way translations reflect linguistic, cultural, and theological changes.

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  • John MacDonald

    Love seems to be a central theme of early Christianity.
    Paul wrote

    – 8 Owe no one anything, except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not give false testimony, You shall not covet,” and if there are any other commandments, are summed up in this saying, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love works no evil to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. (Romans 13:8-10)

    Paul seems to be aware of the teaching of the commandment of love of the historical Jesus, as we find in Mark:

    – The Great Commandment: 28 One of the scribes came and heard them reasoning together. Perceiving that Jesus had answered them well, he asked Him, “Which is the first commandment of all?” 29 Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is, ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord. 30 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:28-31)

    The other possibility is that Mark had Paul as a source, in which case the “Love” commandment may not go back to the historical Jesus.

    In any case, these people clearly had as a cause the idea to make the world a better place.

    • John MacDonald

      The rationale for attributing sayings/teachings to Jesus sometimes seems to be: Jesus was a “super guy,” so if he is portrayed as having said something “super ethical,” the historical Jesus must have said it. I noticed this paralogism in Crossan’s “The Power of Parable” a few years ago, where the most ethically commendable parables (if I remember correctly, they were the challenge parables) were also the ones that just happened to be attributed to the historical Jesus lol.

  • Phil Ledgerwood

    There seems to be a connection with the amount of dynamic equivalence and the presence of love.

  • Raymond

    it would be interesting to see what phrases were used in the early translations that recent translations present as “love”

  • 1 Corinthians13:13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

  • Pseudonym

    I notice the CSB isn’t in that list…