Normally, of course, I work in the Greek text of 1 Corinthians. But if I’m going to give a public talk to non-academics, then I’ll use a standard Bible translation – often the NIV. So I opened up the NIV just now and was immediately thrown by 15:29 – I had to go check the Greek and then check for manuscript variants, to see why I had never noticed the words “if there is no resurrection” in this verse. And as it turned out, it was because they are not there. The NIV adds these words in an attempt to show the way in which the Greek word Ἐπεὶ seems to function to resume Paul’s response to the Corinthian position.
Okay, I have no problem with that in theory – but I do have a problem with the specific way the NIV has put this resumptive function into words: “Now, if there is no resurrection, what will those do…”
What’s wrong with wording it this way? It expresses an exegetical judgement (incorrect, in my view) that the Corinthian problem had to do with the feasibility of resurrection in the abstract, rather than its application to the dead. Notice that throughout the chapter up to this point, Paul has never been content to phrase the issue in terms of “resurrection” alone – but always in terms of “the resurrection of the dead.”
So what would make for a better translation? I prefer the NRSV’s simple, “Otherwise, what will those people do…” But if one must draw more explicit attention to the resumptive function of Ἐπεὶ, it would be better to say: “Now, if there is no resurrection of the dead, what will those do…”