The Exclamation Point
A recent writing assignment led me to this scripture.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” II Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)
I noticed something about this well-known verse that I had never noticed before. It ends with an exclamation point.
Knowing that the original scripture was written without punctuation, I decided to check some different versions of the Bible. The New International Version (1984), New Living Translation and the International Standard Version all include the exclamation point.
Why does it matter?
The exclamation mark, exclamation point, or bang, is a punctuation mark usually used after an interjection, exclamation or command to indicate strong feelings or high volume (shouting), and often marks the end of a sentence. Example: “Watch out!” This punctuation mark is called, in the newspaper world, “a screamer, a gasper, [or] a startler”. Writers are encouraged to use the exclamation point sparingly.
What is it about II Corinthians 5:17 that would cause the translator to use an exclamation point? II Corinthians is a letter written by Paul to the church in Corinth. This particular verse is a concluding statement to his previous thoughts regarding the life of a Christian. The sentence is not a command or an interjection. It is doubtful that the translator thought that Paul intended to ‘shout’ in his letter.
I don’t believe that Bible translators are prone to over use of extreme grammar symbols. I think that perhaps they felt the joy of salvation and the earnestness of Paul’s pleading and tried to convey—with strong emotion—the hope of new life in Christ.
While not all Bible translators placed an exclamation point in this particular verse, I would hope that they all would agree with the emotion that is expressed by its use.
Let your life shout—place an exclamation point at the end of each day!