I have been sensitive lately to finding passages in which a word-for-word translation is not clear but is ambiguous and perhaps even misleading. I am finding lots of examples.
The one that jumped out to me this morning is John 9:7. Jesus tells the man born blind, “‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam [τὴν κολυμβήθραν τοῦ Σιλωάμ]’ (which means Sent [ὃ ἑρμηνεύεται ἀπεσταλμένος]).” The ESV here is traditional and is reflected in the CBS (the new edition of the HCSB), NET, NRSV, and KJV.
So why then does the NIV have “(this word means ‘Sent’)”? The NLT is even more explicit. “(Siloam means ‘sent’).” The answer is clear. To the English reader, “which” does not clarify if “Sent” is a translation of Σιλωάμ or τὴν κολυμβήθραν τοῦ Σιλωάμ. But those who know Hebrew or have access to a biblical dictionary know that the term “Siloam” all by itself means “Sent.” So word-for-word creates a problem that the NIV and NLT don’t.