We just completed another week of work on the NIV in Cambridge, and I was again reminded that there is always a reason. No matter how unusual a translation of a certain verse may appear, there is always a reason. Like Jason Bourne, nothing is random.
A good example is John 2:1 in the NLT. “The next day (τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τῇ τρίτῃ) there was a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee.” Someone might respond, how would you ever get “next” from τρίτῃ? But before you pronounce the NLT translators as incompetent — which they are not — repeat after me: “There is always a reason; nothing is random.”
The problem, of course, is that when John says “third,” the reader looks in vain for the “first” and the “second,” which don't exist. So since the NLT is committed to communicating meaning in the most natural way possible, they had to find some way to help the reader understand.
Check out their footnote. “Greek On the third day; see 1:35, 43.”
1. The sequencing starts at 1:19-28 with the testimony of John to the Jewish leaders.
2. “The next day” (Τῇ ἐπαύριον) begins the account of John attesting that Jesus is the Lamb of God (1:29-34).
3. “The following day” (Τῇ ἐπαύριον) is when several of John’s disciples begin to follow Jesus (1:35-42). (Morris, page 159, believes that v 41 actually is another day.)
4. “The next day” (Τῇ ἐπαύριον) introduces the story of Philip and Nathaniel (1:43-51). According to Morris, this would be the fifth day.
So when we come to John 2:1, when John begins the story of the wedding at Cana and he begins τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τῇ τρίτῃ, you can see the problem. Where are the first and second? And frankly, if we start at the beginning, it looks like this is actually the fourth day or even the fifth.
Morris’ explanation is that nothing happened on day 6 (our day 5), and so “the third day” (2:1) starts with 1:43-51, includes the unmentioned day, and includes the day of the miracle of the water to wine, hence “the third day” after (and including) the last mentioned day.