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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Context and Intent

I would like to clarify that the conversation between myself and Dr. Packer was primarily with regard to the Statement of Concern and authors and signatories to this document. We did not at any time discuss anyone other than those involved with the statement of concern and the authors of The TNIV and the Gender Neutral Bible Controversy. Dr. Packer's remarks were in this context and I did not clarify with him whether this applied to any other individuals on the ESV team. I do not believe that it did. Other names simply did not come up. This was neither the context nor the intent.

It is my sincere belief that the Statement of Concern about the TNIV Bible should be retracted since it reflects poorly on the scholarship of the signatories, many of whom may now regret their involvement. Some of these same people are translators of the ESV. Those people are in a conflict of interest.

Update: Here is the question and answer.

Suzanne: I have been reading Aristotle’s Politics in Greek . I noticed the use of aner for people, that is man in the generic sense. I wondered if there were people on the ESV translation team who would be familiar with that kind of classical Greek language and that aner was used as a generic in Greek. Did you have people on the team who particularly specialized in that?

Dr. Packer: We had two people on the team, of whom I confess I was one, who had had a classical education and knew their way around Greek literature. We didn’t make, what I think would have been a mistake, of supposing that the gospels and epistles represent Greek on the model of any particular Greek author that I can remember. The two of us did occasionally have to talk to the people who had only learned Greek in order to do the NT, study the new Testament, you know, who didn’t know it as a dialect, as a language.
...
I interrrupted Dr. Packer to ask him who the other person was and he told me a bit about Bruce Winter. I inferred that by "the people who only learned Greek in order to do, to study, the NT" this meant the rest of the ESV Translation Oversight Committee other than Packer himself and Bruce Winter. However, it is certainly by no means clear that he intended this as a description of each one of these 12 men.

He later commented with regard to the authors of The TNIV and the Gender Neutral Bible Controversy, "Well, I am very surprised" [at their stating in their book that they had not known the classical Greek lexical meaning of adelphoi in 1997] "but then I had a classical education as you did." No names were mentioned other than the authors of this book. I had not heard of, or read any books by, the other members of the ESV translation committee, so I did not question Dr. Packer on this.

The truth is that his comment took me by surprise. I had simply not expected this. However, on reflection, after reading the TNIV and the Gender Neutral Bible Controversy, I would concur with reference to its authors. Dr. Packer's assessment seems accurate.

I think that I should describe a little of what I understood from Dr. Packer's reference to a classical education. For myself, and I believe Dr. Packer, a classical education means that we had studied many other books in Greek literature, before reading the NT in Greek. For both of us expectations had been put on us in high school that we would be able to read literature in Greek that we were not necessarily familiar with in English. This is what I think he meant, that we knew how to read a passage in Greek that we had not previously known in English. This is what I inferred.

For myself I started studying Greek in grade 10 and we read Homer, some history, the Apology of Socrates, etc. Vocabulary is studied apart from theological constructs. We used a Liddell Scott Lexicon. However, later I studied Hellenistic Greek and it was a very rigourous course, requiring a knowledge of Hebrew. Hellenistic Greek was studied apart from theology as a language and body of literature.

Ocassionally we did study a text from the NT but only as a stylistic exercize or commentary. It was assumed that we could read the NT books easily by then.

I do not know how Greek is taught or studied in a seminary.

7 Comments:

At Wed Feb 22, 01:58:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

It is my sincere belief that the Statement of Concern about the TNIV Bible should be retracted since it reflects poorly on the scholarship of the signatories, many of whom may now regret their involvement.

Suzanne, I know for a fact that they word "may" in your sentence could simply be deleted. At least one signatory, after careful reflection, asked CBMW to delete his name.

I know that some others now regret having signed that statement.

I also know that after a scholarly presentation on the TNIV at the ETS, several biblical scholars, with tears in their eyes, approached TNIV translators and told them that they now understood better and apologized for the part they had played in the anti-TNIV campaign. I believe that some have asked for forgiveness. Such actions take courage. But real men can act with such courage when they believe they have erred.

 
At Wed Feb 22, 02:17:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Yes, I also erred in implicating people that I do not know who were translators of the ESV. I apologize. Their names simply never came up.

I did not misquote Dr. Packer, but I did not remind him of names that might have caused him to revise his response. They must not think that he had them in mind.

 
At Wed Feb 22, 03:14:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Suzanne, I am confused. In your posting J I Packer and the ESV Team you state that you "decided to specifically ask Dr. Packer about the other members of the ESV translation team". I presume that the team in question was the fourteen man ESV Translation Oversight Committee. You give Packer's answers to those specific questions. In one of those answers Packer mentions "the people who had only learned Greek in order to do the New Testament, you know, who didn’t know it as a language." While he is not entirely explicit on this point, his words as you report them certainly seem to imply that these people are the ESV translation team members, apart from Packer and one other "who had had a classical education and knew their way around Greek literature."

There is nothing in the context as you have given it to suggest that the people Packer was referring to are actually the signatories of the Statement of Concern. Indeed the one other who is named here, Bruce Winter, is not a signatory. Now I understand that you want to distance yourself from the inference which some have made that specific named members of the translation team don't know Greek - although at least one is well known as an author on biblical Greek. Nevertheless, it seems clear that this is what Packer did imply. Maybe he did not really intend to imply this at least of all of the team members, but that is a matter for him, not for you. And it is certainly wrong for you to suggest that Packer's comments referred to the much larger group of signatories to the Statement of Concern, some of whom may well have classical educations as thorough as Packer's.

 
At Wed Feb 22, 03:34:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

I simply don't want to implicate anyone whose name was not mentioned. I had told Dr, Packer before I met with him that I wanted to discuss the book by Poythress and Grudem. This is the larger context. It seems better to bring the topic back to that context.

 
At Wed Feb 22, 06:58:00 PM, Blogger Ted Gossard said...

This is heartening (poor word selection? ha) to hear. We need more good will among each other, especially when we disagree. And it is a blessing to see good people and scholars acknowledge their mistakes.

 
At Thu Feb 23, 04:11:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Suzanne, I feel for your grief although I would not claim to understand it completely. I understand that you are emotionally involved in this and it is hurtful. It is to me too.

But on this matter I think it would be better to write something like this:

Dr Packer spoke of "the people who had only learned Greek in order to do the New Testament, you know, who didn’t know it as a language." But it is unclear to me [Suzanne] exactly who he was referring to at the time. I inferred that he was referring to the 12 members of the ESV Translation Oversight Committee, other than Packer himself and Bruce Winter. But I may have been wrong to do so. It is certainly by no means clear that he intended this as a description of each one of these 12 men.

Would you be able to write something like this? It might help to clear the air, and avoid the unjustified implication that Packer was in fact referring to all 50 or so of the signatories of the Statement of Concern.

 
At Thu Feb 23, 07:29:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Thank you Peter, I will try to edit this post tonight.

 

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