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Friday, July 07, 2006

Bible Bias: a double standard

Rick Mansfield has blogged about a double standard of Bible bias which he has observed in Christian bookstores. The stores will carry the New Living Translation and The Message, both of which are gender-inclusive (or gender-accurate, depending on your point of view), but not the TNIV, which, according to my studies, is 2% less gender-inclusive than the NLT. Since the campaign to discredit the TNIV began a number of years ago, I have personally experienced a range of emotions about that campaign conducted by some Christian leaders in the U.S. I have felt anger about the tactics used and the (probably unknown to the authors) high degree of misinformation contained in attacks on the TNIV. I have felt frustration not knowing what, if anything, significant can be done to try to correct the injustice. I still don't know what to do, other than occasionally expressing my feelings in public, and sometimes pointing out some of the errors in claims against the TNIV. Here is what I commented to Rick on his post:
Rick, I have had the same experience in Christian bookstores. Lately when I have asked the reason for not stocking the TNIV, I have been given the answer, "It's a corporate decision." That chain of Christian bookstores has decided not to carry the TNIV. And what caused them to make that decision. The negative publicity about the TNIV, of course. The campaign has been very effective in convincing millions, most of whom do not know how to evaluate the claims, including the corporate management, that the TNIV is a dangerous Bible. It baffles me to figure how how, if at all, it is possible, to correct so much misinformation about the TNIV. A number of Biblical scholars who have attended ETS or other scholarly conferences where the TNIV has been discussed now often know enough to evaluate the claims about the TNIV. But the Christian public does not, unless people have made the effort to find a copy for themselves, read it, and discover that it really does have the same wonderful message of truth that God has revealed through all other accurately translated English Bible versions.

I'm old enough to remember the same kind of campaign against the RSV after it was published. That campaign sealed the fate of the RSV so that it was not to be used in conservative churches for many years. Ironically, a number of those currently opposing the TNIV have regularly used the RSV. And, as you know, because of their respect for the RSV, they got permission to revise it to become the ESV which is a version acceptable to those opposing the TNIV.

So, do we fight fire with fire? Is that how God wants us to proceed? Somehow I don't think so. I don't know what the answer to this great injustice is. Perhaps the answer is that it is one way that God can bring beauty out of ashes, and replace the NIV/TNIV tradition with an even more [communicatively] effective translation such as the NLT. I don't know. It's only an idea. It will be interesting to see what happens in the next 10-20 years.
Whether or not you agree with me that inaccurate claims have been made about the TNIV, what do you think are appropriate ways of righting what we honestly believe are wrongs?

45 Comments:

At Sat Jul 08, 12:46:00 AM, Blogger M. J. Mansini said...

One thing to remember is that it is not necessarily our duty to "correct" the woes that have been pronounced against the TNIV, or any other translation for that matter. Some people will never change their mind, and in these instances, it is probably best to find a middle ground on Bible translations. If, of course, that is possible.

As far as it being a "great injustice", I suppose that is only half true. While I do agree that the TNIV is treated unfairly (especially seeing as how numerous translations employ the same tactics, to a greater or lesser degree in relation to gender), it seems to me that no translation has figured out how to perfectly do it yet. English just isn't to the point where it can be done seamlessly, and until then, flack will fly (and this goes for Gender renderings, formal vs. functional, etc).

Another thing to keep in mind, people feel that you are tampering with their tradition when you change the text of something as popular as the NIV. I believe it was the KJV translators who mentioned that if you change a "man's" (this was a long time ago folks) tradition he becomes outraged, even if he doesn't follow his tradition so to speak. This is a paraphrase and loose in all respects, but I believe it was something along those lines. The irony is obvious. So, people feel they have the right to object. They feel that a wild boar has entered God's vineyard (Pope Leo, I believe).

One problem that many people face is placing too much importance on the opinions of those "scholars". Often people are swept along by a herd syndrome that starts either near the top (scholars) or near the bottom (laymen), and continues on until all sorts of tragedies have occurred. If there is one thing we can know, it is that learning does not necessitate a sound or well reasoned opinion. There have been to many "scholarly" crazies in history (and right now!) and to put anything more in their opinions than you would in your next door neighbors is best done with extreme care.

Now, another thing is this. If a book store, whether it be a mom and pop or a "large" corporation of some sort (with chains and what not) decides to stock particular translations it is most certainly up to them to carry only what they feel meets their needs, or the needs of their consumers. I don't expect to find many of the overtly evengelical translations in our local Catholic book shop. I don't expect McDonald's to start serving Dominoes Pizza anytime soon. And, the TNIV is by no means the only victim here. Under used or non-popular translations have a hard time finding any shelf space themselves. For example, the God's Word translation has a grand total of 5 Bibles on the shelf last time I was at a particular store (just this week), but right across the street, at another Christian book store, there was literally an entire shelf full with numberous editions. I haven't seen any cry "wolf" about this God's Word translation situation (which is a shame, I love the God's Word Translation). It seems that popularity can create a situation similar to the TNIV injustice, only we don't call it an injustice in this case.

I don't know about you, but fixing the "TNIV" and "tons of other Bibles" injustices is tantamount to fixing what many deem to be the problems with modern politics. What a vast and insurmountable mountain that shall be. Honestly, to get rid of the TNIV injustice you need do but one thing, get rid of people and their diverse opinions. (Good Luck).

 
At Sat Jul 08, 06:15:00 AM, Blogger Ted Gossard said...

Wayne,
Good post and thoughts.
I think it will take a combination grass roots and leadership over time. The TNIV is really Today's NIV. It should have been accepted as a good update of the NIV, but because of the cultural war here in U.S.A., and because of the NIV's popularity as the evangelical Bible, leaders on a popular (mostly nonscholarly level) fight.
As for me, the NLT would be fine, though I find it a bit free and a bit more of a departure from the tradition of renderings than I like. I think tradition does carry some weight, and the combination of keeping something of that along with good English I believe sets the NIV/TNIV apart from the rest.

I've heard that the TNIV is coming out with a study Bible in the Fall. Will be interesting to see if it might help.

I wish all bookstores were like Bakers here in Grand Rapids, who do not seem to bend to this kind of pressure.

thanks again. I'd better end, as I get carried away on this subject.

 
At Sat Jul 08, 07:02:00 AM, Blogger R. Mansfield said...

I believe it's important to correct the misinformation about the TNIV (or anything else, for that matter) when I'm directly confronted with it as I was in the bookstore. The best question to ask when someone says he or she doesn't like the TNIV is to ask why. I've found that most of the time, a real answer cannot be articulated; rather, the person is responding to negative criticism heard elsewhere. If the issue of inclusive language does come up, it's easy enough to point to these other Bible versions such as the NLT or the Message which have gained quite a bit of acceptance. This demonstrates the double-standard that I was referring to and helps to take some steam out of the uninformed person's bias.

Ultimately, such counter-measures will have to be not only from the grass roots, but also from the publishers themselves. I hope that IBS and Zondervan have not given up. However, I find it disheartening that the TNIV blog has remained silent for more than half a year, and nothing new from a promotional perspective has come from either company promoting the TNIV. I hope they haven't simply given up. Perhaps the introduction of the TNIV Study Bible this fall will renew interest.

And you're also right that all this is good for the NLT, but Tyndale can't assume they're safe. If the detractors of the TNIV are successful in burying it, they will set their sites on a new target afterwards.

 
At Sat Jul 08, 07:56:00 AM, Blogger Ted Gossard said...

I for one am not going to be detracted from using the TNIV or the like in private or in public.

No one really cares what translation of Scripture one used or uses. What they are saying and doing in their service and calling for God, is what counts. So I'd use the TNIV in any church, without advertising what translation it is, for it is, after all, the Bible! That's what counts, and if others can't accept that, than hopefully this could be a learning point for them and at that time.

 
At Sat Jul 08, 09:09:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Rick,

I notice too that the TNIV blog has remained silent. I don't know exactly why but I feel that they hardly know how to respond appropriately. The language of the other side is so inappropriate, full of expressions like "neutering and taking the manhood out of the Bible," Really, what do you say?

I spoke to Gordon Fee recently and he simply said something to the effect that they cannot respond 'in kind'. That is, the discourse is not one they can enter. He said that "It is very painful." And then he said about the TNIV, that he was holding in his hands "It is gold. It is being tried and it will endure." Bruce Waltke is another translator of the TNIV. He too feels the same. This campaign has hurt them deeply, but they feel restraint at responding.

As you know, I was given the TNIV and the Gender Neutral Bible Controversy (Poythress & Grudem) by a friend of Fee's around Christmas. His hands shook as he gave me "this terrible book" and now that I have finished reading it, he doesn't want the book back - he gave me his copy so I wouldn't have to buy one.

The emotions are very deep here - there is hardly any way for me to express what I feel as I write this.

I considered Matthew's (Sorry, are you usually addressed as Matthew or James?) position about a middle ground very carefully but I am not convinced. I truly feel that an injustice has been done, and I must act as I would in the case of any other injustice, continue to speak out. Misinformation has been disseminated, the CSG were put together under false pretenses, etc.

One thing that moves me more than anything is that I see Fee quoted extensively by others, he must be respected, but for him, he doesn't care about that, but he only knows that his life work has been mistreated.

Fee is unaware of this blog, he has simply given the matter up to God. He didn't want to talk about a response to the misinformation.

Naturally there is a lot about this that I don't understand. However, I am encouraged today, that Adrian has invited me to speak out on his blog. Adrian told me personally that he has been unaware of the issues surrounding the TNIV. He then invited Peter and myself to continue posting in the comment section, since we were able to help him change his blog over to posting Greek and Hebrew.

 
At Sat Jul 08, 11:20:00 AM, Blogger M. J. Mansini said...

I notice too that the TNIV blog has remained silent. I don't know exactly why but I feel that they hardly know how to respond appropriately.

Yah, this has been strange. For a new translation, despite the gender issues, there should be plenty to talk about. Of course, the TNIV is barely different than the NIV (if you don't flip out over gender, and other little things), so that certainly puts a slight damper on what you can talk about. They should use their blog to inform people about the goings on of the TNIV translation, like the ESV Blog. I do not believe they should use their blog as a forum to push any type propoganda. Their blog is a good place to speak about things that really matter. Besides, there is already a TON of information about gender issues straight from Zondervan. Also, we must keep in mind that not all companies/people blog very much. The TNIV sales appear to be doing just fine (according to Mardel's Christian Supply Stores numbers).

I considered Matthew's (Sorry, are you usually addressed as Matthew or James?) position about a middle ground very carefully but I am not convinced.

Well, my middle ground is quite tricky. I wrote an entry about it HERE on my Blog that you can take a look at. My blog is kinda crappy, because it is new, but I like to give my opinions so I am sure that it will stick around for a little while. My middle ground is to pronounce most Bibles as "God's Word", and not to freak out about the differences. It is somewhat difficult to articulate.

Also, I typically go by Matthew, although James is possible from some people. Pick which one you like better and I'll go by that on the Better Bibles Blog.

 
At Sat Jul 08, 11:31:00 AM, Blogger Glennsp said...

I have to say that I have seen disinformation, character attacks and misrepresentation from proponents of the TNIV (not all)

Whereas from Dr W Grudem, Dr V Poythress, Dr J Piper and others I have found nothing but grace & compassion in the various books and articles that I have personally read.
Suzanne, if your friends hand was shaking it had nothing to do with the book in question.
It so happens that I am reading the updated version at this very time and I have so far found nothing but graceful attitudes towards those they disagree with.
The authors have taken great care to acknowledge the excellent contributions of Dr Carson And others to NT theology before giving details of their disagreements.
I have found the handling of this issue to have been exemplary at all times by the Dr's Grudem & Poythress.
When I have followed up the references they supply to their 'opponenents' books or articles I have always found it to have been accurately reported and given in the correct context.
It pains me deeply to have to say that I have not found this to always be the case when checking some things in the opposite direction.
Wayne, as to your parting question,
if, as I believe, the claims against the TNIV are accurate then there is nothing to 'right' no matter how honestly you hold your differing opinion.
I would be interested in your opinion on Revelation 22:18-19.
The change in the TNIV has raised the possibility of a group being punished for the wrong actions of an individual in that group.

 
At Sat Jul 08, 12:37:00 PM, Blogger Mike Sangrey said...

Issues, especially ones this large, exist on several planes. One plane in these large issues is true, non-emotive information, rationally presented. That is one part of the whole issue. However, another plane involves emotion-generating words. As Suzanne mentioned, ("full of expressions like 'neutering and taking the manhood out of the Bible,' Really, what do you say?" ). Motivating words are good things; however, if they are used before a sound rationale has been developed, based on solid critical thinking skills, then they can very well establish a wrong-headed, critical mass of followers. (The motivation behind the mass media commercials comes to mind here.)

Has the anti-TNIV camp established a sound rationale? I certainly don't think so. Their 910 alleged inaccuracies need to be culled to about 10 or 12 or so (see http://www.genderneutralbibles.com/category.php). I did a random check of about 10 and found none that don't have strong support for accuracy. Very obviously, something is amiss. At the very best the long list should be presented as a exhaustive list for further reflection; but, it certainly is not a list of inaccuracies.

What to do?

The battle won't be won by fighting head-to-head and toe-to-toe. People don't have the information they need yet to make sound choices. But, there is something much worse and I believe this is the real problem. And this is where the battle needs to be fought. If this battle is won, then it is a guarenteed win.

The American Church functions primarily at the sound-bite, Power Point presentation, memorize a single verse, canned response level. Most Christians have a great difficulty understanding and comprehending an entire paragraph of Scripture. In fact, when some one asks, "Do you have a scripture for that?" what are they referring to? A paragraph? An entire letter? No, not at all. It's barely a verse. The Bible has become a billboard of graffiti we hang on a wall in our homes, the comprehensive text has been sprinkled with verse confetti. The main argument against the TNIV has to do with gender case endings--gender being a language, not a biological, construct.

I taught at a secular, associate degree school and many students there had an attention span of about 8 to 10 minutes (and I can be quite entertaining). The lack of what should be a common skill is astounding. The propaganda electricians have rewired our brains using the thousands, even tens of thousands, of hours of constant, camera angle changes we absorb while watching TV. Power Point presentations direct us to take in data as bullet level interruptions to our hazy inability to focus. We lack the ability to comprehend a sustained argument.

The best response to the anti-TNIV propaganda is to foster the following skills in our young people:
"1. Recognizing and remembering key ideas
2. Identifying the main idea;
3. Recognizing similarities;
4. Identifying sequences;
5. The abilty to cite evidence to suppport a position or point of view
6. Recognizing differences between fact, probability, and opinion
7. The ability to judge the adequacy of information for specific purposes
8. Selecting criteria to use for making judgments
9. Drawing valid conclusions from the data studied."
"This list was the result of a survey of English teachers when asked to identify the skills which are most important to student success in English."
(See the book: "Critical Thinking: Readings in Nonfiction" http://www.rainbowresource.com/proddtl.php?sid=1152384740-240844&id=008009; there's also a teacher's edition with an id=008011.)

If I were teaching exegesis, I would start with the above book, and I would start with the daily newspaper. When people can understand how they read and understand the newspaper, then they've started on their way toward the Holy Spirit communicating to them through His wonderful Word.

 
At Sat Jul 08, 12:41:00 PM, Blogger Mike Sangrey said...

Also, FWIW, every time I see the "but the original doesn't use a plural" I think of Phil. 1:6 and 2:12 where the referent is plural and yet nearly everyone understands it as singular because of the translation.

 
At Sat Jul 08, 02:10:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Glenn said:

I have to say that I have seen disinformation, character attacks and misrepresentation from proponents of the TNIV (not all)

Glenn, I do not like misrepresentation from any quarter. Would you cite some of these that you are referring to for us please. Especially give exact quotes and where they are taken from, Internet website, etc. Thanks.

Whereas from Dr W Grudem, Dr V Poythress, Dr J Piper and others I have found nothing but grace & compassion in the various books and articles that I have personally read.

I agree that the books and articles from these particular men have not been mean-spirited. But I was referring in my post to the vicious attacks on the TNIV carried out usually by others who have believed what Dr. Grudem, Dr. Piper, and these other godly men has written. For instance, the TNIV has been referred to in a major Christian magazine as "the stealth Bible". It is referred to on some websites as a feminist Bible. Some blogs refer to it with very un-Christian language. None of these people would be speaking as they have if the men like Dr. Grudem and Dr. Piper had not begun a campaign against the TNIV, even if they truly believed they were being accurate (they actually have not been and I hope to find the time to demonstrate that in futures posts) and even though they write and speak lovingly, as these particular men typically do.

When I have followed up the references they supply to their 'opponenents' books or articles I have always found it to have been accurately reported and given in the correct context.

The problem is with the content of their claims for inaccuracy in the TNIV. Their claims do not stand up under examination. There are by no means the list of 910 inaccuracies in the TNIV New Testament nor 3600 in the entire TNIV, as Dr. Grudem claims. He may state that with "grace", as you say, but it is completely false. I don't think he realizes it although he has been corrected on several of the matters by other conservative Bible scholars, but he keeps repeating the same things, even after being corrected.

It pains me deeply to have to say that I have not found this to always be the case when checking some things in the opposite direction.

Please give specific examples. I hope to do the same with a future post.

Wayne, as to your parting question,
if, as I believe, the claims against the TNIV are accurate then there is nothing to 'right' no matter how honestly you hold your differing opinion.


I understand your opinion on this Glenn. But my question was a different one from the one you answered. Here is the actual question:

"what do you think are appropriate ways of righting what we honestly believe are wrongs?"

This is a question that can apply to anything and I intended it so. I specifically did not word it to refer to the TNIV. Please note the introduction to my question on that matter.

I would be interested in your opinion on Revelation 22:18-19.
The change in the TNIV has raised the possibility of a group being punished for the wrong actions of an individual in that group.


NIV: I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book.

TNIV: I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If any one of you adds anything to them, God will add to you the plagues described in this scroll.

Yes, Glenn, there is an unfortunate ambiguity with the use of the last word "you" in the TNIV. It could have as its antecedent either the singular "you" who added something to the words or the plural "you" of "any one of you". We will have to ask the TNIV team which meaning they intended. I will do that now.

The TNIV, like every other English translation, is not perfect. I will say again what I have said many times: Neither the NIV nor TNIV are versions that I use. I personally prefer a different kind of Englis Bible translation.

But the claims by Dr. Grudem and his friends about so many "inaccuracies" in the TNIV are simply not true. It takes not much effort to demonstrate that if we just look at their claims for specific verses and the meanings of the words and syntax of those verses.

It is a tragedy that a good translation like the TNIV has been characterized as it has been by Dr. Grudem. Had he and those who believe him not waged their campaign against the TNIV there surely would be millions more people using the TNIV today than there are now. And they would be right to do so. The TNIV is an accurate translation. It is not the translation that Dr. Grudem says it is.

 
At Sat Jul 08, 02:30:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Glenn, the charges against TNIV are unfounded, as has been proved many times on this blog, see Wayne's posting last month on alleged Bible translation inaccuracies. The basic problem is that what the TNIV opponents are calling "inaccuracies" are in fact cases where there is genuine scholarly disagreement over what is the best translation, and TNIV has made a valid choice which is different from the one which some people prefer - and in some cases different from the choice of the NIV translators (although in at least one case, Matthew 5:9, the same as the KJV translators' choice!)

And if it is true that "from Dr W Grudem, Dr V Poythress, Dr J Piper and others [you] have found nothing but grace & compassion in the various books and articles that I have personally read", all I can say is that you have obviously not read very widely on this matter. In particular you must have avoided reading such sites as the World Magazine Stealth Bible: TNIV blog. I note the following quotes from this blog:

Once again, in their desire to remove potential offense, the scholars behind the TNIV "correct" the Holy Spirit's words...

Vern Poythress has identified an egregious error in the TNIV. Not only is it a distortion of the Word of God, but its inclusion in the TNIV reveals the enslavement of her translators to the spirit of the age.

This blog quotes the following words from Poythress: Mainstream prestige culture finds certain patterns of thought politically incorrect. It is at war with the word of God. And so the integrity of the word of God is at stake. The TNIV fails at crucial points to maintain that integrity. The rejection of the TNIV is important for the spiritual health of the people of God.

Compare the product descriptions from the back covers of Zondervan's sex-specific neutered Bibles and you'll understand that even their marketing strategies reveal their dislike for all things masculine.

The TNIV, which follows the same re-gendering program as the NRSV, will fill the pews of those churches which have capitulated to the spirit of the age...

Don't Give Your Money to Zondervan (this is the title of a post which has no content at all!)

The endorsers of the TNIV delight that modern scholarship has found a way to include women in more than God intended.

Beyond the sinful manipulation of God's Word, sin has been a part of the business practices of IBS and Zondervan. ... If you're intentionally changing the text of the Word of God...

Zondervan has been sneaky from the very beginning--sneakiness has been the modus operandi of those producing and selling this Bible.

All of this from the first quarter of one web page - I can't bring myself to read any more. Glenn, do you honestly think that such words demonstrate "grace & compassion"?

 
At Sat Jul 08, 03:20:00 PM, Blogger M. J. Mansini said...

Savagery has always been part of promoting one translation of the Bible over another. I don't see this changing any time soon. It is just part of human nature.

It is like a political party. It is like a nationality. It is like loyalty. It is so many things.

Like I said earlier, the easiest way to quelch the misinformation is to A) destroy those disseminating the misinformation and B) take away peoples right to independant thinking. Your mileage with these in real life will vary :D

Look at the KJV "Onlism" that is still prevalent. If uber scholars and informed laymen have not been able to curb this movement, then I don't see why many of us should get emotional over the TNIV. This is the same ol' same ol' for modern English translations.

Grace and Compassion very rarely go hand in hand with peoples opinions. Especially when those opinions are firm.

 
At Sat Jul 08, 03:46:00 PM, Blogger Glennsp said...

First, lets just make it clear (as it is not from the way you haved formed your comment) that only the paragraph
"Mainstream prestige culture finds certain patterns of thought politically incorrect. It is at war with the word of God. And so the integrity of the word of God is at stake. The TNIV fails at crucial points to maintain that integrity. The rejection of the TNIV is important for the spiritual health of the people of God."
is actually a quote from Poythress.

The rest of your list is quotes from others on that particular blog and therefore nothing to do with Poythress.

Next, I specifically said 'Books & Articles', I made no reference to Blogs (for good reason on both sides)

Now, as to what Poythress wrote, what specifically is ungracious?

The first half of the paragraph is a plain fact and is unrelated to the TNIV. The second half may not be to your liking, but I fail to see what is ungracious in it.

You also say that the BBB site has proven that the TNIV is accurate as regards the points of dispute, well that may be your opinion, but I do not find it convincing.
I look at the same evidence as you and I do not find 'case proven' as regards the TNIV and the changes in question do not make it more accurate, far from it, ambiguity is introduced where there was none, intrinic meanings have been changed etc, etc.
As always this just goes round and round and it will continue to do so.

 
At Sat Jul 08, 04:43:00 PM, Blogger anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At Sat Jul 08, 05:00:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Glenn said:

I look at the same evidence as you and I do not find 'case proven' as regards the TNIV and the changes in question do not make it more accurate, far from it, ambiguity is introduced where there was none, intrinic meanings have been changed etc, etc.

Glenn, could you give us 2 or 3 specific examples and include support from the biblical languages that you regard as convincing that demonstrates any translation error in the TNIV.

 
At Sat Jul 08, 05:07:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Anon. wondered:

I just have trouble understanding why Fundamentalists must engage in such fierce internecine battle.

From what I can tell of this battle, it has to do with an issue which some conservatives consider goes to the core of their belief system, namely, whether or not there is some divinely appointed spiritual leadership role for men that must not be given to women.

Those who believe that there is such divine appointment view any changes in a Bible translation that might dilute any sense of masculine priority in roles to be part of the "slippery slope" (that term is used in the debate) toward the destruction of biblical values for the home and society. So the Bible translation debate is viewed as part of the larger cultural war which has polarized the U.S. into red and blue states.

Because the TNIV changes "brothers" to "brothers and sisters" (only when the TNIV translators believe that both sexes are included), it is viewed that the TNIV is part of a feminist, unisex movement that will result in the demise of the traditional family and marriage structures.

 
At Sat Jul 08, 05:10:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Glenn,

This is my comment and response to you on Adrian's blog.

Anthropos means 'human' and can refer to a non-specified human or a man (occasionally a woman), aner means 'man' but can also refer to a group of people in the plural.

There is only one verse that I know of where Christ is called aner in the Bible, and here is how it is translated in the TNIV,

And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, 'The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.'John 1:30

Reading the Greek NT, I cannot see where there was the semantic meaning of 'manhood', and it is not there in the English of the TNIV. If you want an example of one of the translation disagreements over the word aner I can give you one,

For I say unto you, That none of those men(aner) which were bidden shall taste of my supper Luke 14:24 ESV

I tell you, not one of those(aner) who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.' Luke 14:24 TNIV


The TNIV translators decided that in this social situation the word aner should be translated as a generic, which is one of the established uses of this word in Greek.

On page 437, Dr. Grudem quotes the meaning of aner from the LSJ, I - man opposed to woman; II - man opposed to god; ...

Then he writes that the lexicon does not indicate that the word "loses its male marking in any of its usages." Dr. Grudem does not seem to understand that the generic use of 'man' in English never had a male marking, that the Greek word aner had lost its male marking in some contexts by the time of classical Greek, and that the idiom quoted in the LSJ, which Dr. Grudem omits, is so well-known to those who have studied classical Greek, from Aristotle's Politics, that I knew immediately that Dr. Grudem had not himself studied classical Greek.

He writes on page 445 about the new possibilities for computer searches of Greek lit. There is absolutely no need for new data. Man in English meant 'man' (male) or 'people', this is what the LSJ authors meant by 'man opposed to god', they meant 'people', every classicist knows this.

This should not detract from Dr. Grudem's theology, but it certainly detracts from his qualification to write an entire book critiquing the TNIV, as well as the numerous journal articles, websites, magazine articles and radio programmes that he has participated in which label the TNIV "not trustworthy". He is not qualified to make this statement.

I was asked to write a review of Dr. Grudem's book, and I simply never found the time. He spends 100 pages on the English pronoun 'he' - I am not the best person to critique pronoun theology, because I never figured out what it was about in the first place.

If there is a gracious introduction to this book, maybe so, but Dr. Grudem states that there are 'inaccuracies' that the TNIV is 'not trustworthy'and 'unacceptable'. Well, right now I am only reading the chapter headings. I can't go on.

Quotes are from The TNIV and the Gender Neutral Bible Controversy by Wayne Grudem and Vern Poythress. Broadman & Holman. 2004

Anon,

This is about freedom of expression, honesty, and what to do about inappropriate control over Bible translations.

Glenn,

You may be referring to the switch from the singular to the plural in English for a pronoun. How many people today complain about the loss of 'thou' - I might because it sounds good in French and German, but that is a small group of polyglots. I don't go around talking about how the English Bibles today have introduced ambiguities and changed meaning because 'thou' has been removed.

 
At Sat Jul 08, 05:12:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Anon., click here for some Google hits that support the view of the debate that I mentioned in my last comment.click here for some Google hits that support the view of the debate that I mentioned in my last comment.

 
At Sat Jul 08, 05:16:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Anon,

I wrote earlier about NETS here. I was very excited about it. I used this translation for my series on ορθοτομεω. It was fun for me and had nothing whatsoever to do with the gender divide in any way shpae or form. I admit we are showing some lack of range here. But RIch is trying his best to expand our horizons at the moment.

 
At Sat Jul 08, 06:58:00 PM, Blogger Trierr said...

I recently ran across this article and thought it made an interesting point toward the end.

Today's New International Version: The Untold Story Of A Good Translation - by Dr. Craig L. Blomberg, Distinguished Professor of New Testament.

I hadn't seen this before and it does seem to contribute to the discussion here. I would be interested in your (pl) thoughts.

 
At Sat Jul 08, 08:23:00 PM, Blogger Michael Sly said...

The link to the article above does not seem to work. I did find the article at the following url: http://www.tniv.info/pdf/Blomberg.pdf

 
At Sun Jul 09, 12:04:00 AM, Blogger R. Mansfield said...

Well, I spent the day traveling from Louisiana back to Kentucky, but it looks like I missed out on a lot of great conversation.

Suzanne, since you responded to me specifically, I'll just say that I agree with Matthew's response below yours that I believe there are lots of positive blogs that could be written on the TNIV blog that wouldn't have to be defensive in nature at all. There's lots of room for translator profiles, features of new editions, changes from the NIV, etc. I've made such suggestions more than once on the contacts page, but maybe they need to hear from more than just me.

And I'll compliment the ESV blog as really setting the standard for what a Bible publisher's blog is capable of.

 
At Sun Jul 09, 06:36:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Rick,

YOu are right about that. I have been looking at it from the standpoint of the translators and scholars themselves, not the publishers. I admit - a different perspective. I am too close to some of it.

 
At Sun Jul 09, 03:29:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Glenn, if people write gracious books and articles, but are repeatedly ungracious in blog postings and radio interviews, are they doing the right thing? Zidane was a great footballer but has shamed himself by an incident off the ball. Grudem and others may in their books and serious articles be good theologians, but they have shamed themselves by what they have said on the radio and on blogs, also in fact for what they have been quoted as saying in articles in World Magazine itself (from memory, I don't have the links to hand). They can of course be forgiven if they repent. But some of the things which they have apparently said have led me to suggest that they are acting more like rabble rousers than as serious theologians.

 
At Sun Jul 09, 03:53:00 PM, Blogger Glennsp said...

After much prayer I have decided to cease from commenting on this (and others) blog.
The central reason being that it is an exercise in utter futility.
This side of 'hell freezing over' (as the saying goes) you will never convince me of your position, likewise you will never concede mine. Therefore this exchange is a fruitless waste of time and achieves nothing.
You consider your position to be utterly right, I consider it to be utterly wrong.
I have yet to see Wayne Grudems work presented accurately and no one on this site has properly engaged many points that he has made.
Oh yes, I am not ceasing to comment because I do not have answers to your questions, far from it. There is nothing new to add that has not been said, and in much greater detail, by Dr Grudem and others, so read his books from cover to cover and open yourselves to the possibiblity that he just might be right. (not that I think for one moment that you will actually do it)

 
At Sun Jul 09, 06:04:00 PM, Blogger Trierr said...

Sorry about the link above. It should read:

Today's New International Version: The Untold Story Of A Good Translation - by Dr. Craig L. Blomberg, Distinguished Professor of New Testament.

 
At Sun Jul 09, 08:14:00 PM, Blogger son of abraham said...

Wayne wrote: "I'm old enough to remember the same kind of campaign against the RSV after it was published. That campaign sealed the fate of the RSV so that it was not to be used in conservative churches for many years."

Hello Wayne. Here you are making a good comparison, I think, but in the context it seems to imply that you think the opposition to the RSV was unjustified. Do I understand this correctly?

 
At Sun Jul 09, 08:51:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Thanks Trierr,

That is an excellent article and shows especially the constant switching back and forth from singular to plural forms in Greek. The imperative in Greek shows sing. and pl. unlike English, so there is no way to demonstrate this in English.

 
At Sun Jul 09, 08:57:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

I wrote:

Wayne wrote: "I'm old enough to remember the same kind of campaign against the RSV after it was published. That campaign sealed the fate of the RSV so that it was not to be used in conservative churches for many years."

Michael asked:

Hello Wayne. Here you are making a good comparison, I think, but in the context it seems to imply that you think the opposition to the RSV was unjustified. Do I understand this correctly?

No, I intended no meaning about whether or not the opposition was justified. I only intended to mean that the opposition was strong enough to seal the fate among conservatives not to use the RSV. I might add a personal note that the opposition was so intense that I still find it difficult today, 50 years later, to open a RSV to read it. Yes, I know, that is probably a legalistic over-reaction on my part but it shows how deeply things which are taught us intensely from well-meaning spiritual teachers become a part of us.

 
At Sun Jul 09, 09:03:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Glenn, I hope it does not surprise you to hear that I and others who contribute to this blog have carefully read what Dr. Grudem has written. I happen to appreciate Dr. Grudem. I appreciate his spirit. I appreciate the way he has put his wife's health before his own career and was willing to move to a smaller seminary for the sake of his wife's health. I appreciate his devotion to Christ. I appreciate his devotion to Scripture and to maintaining its purity. I have examined his list of "inaccuracies" in the TNIV and based on the facts of the biblical languages and good translation principles, I have found that almost all of them are not inaccuraceis at all, but, rather, differences of opinion about exegesis, language usage, or what is the best translation approach to use for translating the Bible. I have studied what he has written and preached about the TNIV and there is much that he has claimed about the TNIV that is not true.

Best wishes to you whichever blogs you decide to visit in the future. I appreciate your spirit and your own devotion to Christ and His Written Word. We share that same commitment here on this blog. I honor you for that, as well as honor Dr. Grudem for that.

 
At Sun Jul 09, 09:55:00 PM, Blogger anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At Sun Jul 09, 10:42:00 PM, Blogger son of abraham said...

Wayne wrote: I only intended to mean that the opposition was strong enough to seal the fate among conservatives not to use the RSV.

You may want to revise your post, then. I think nearly everyone who reads it will get the idea that you equate the reaction to the TNIV with the reaction to the RSV because you think both reactions were unjust.

Anonymous wrote: I for one think that the vast majority of the attacks on the RSV were unjustified.

Many of the attacks from fundamentalists were unjustified, and ignorant. But these unintelligent attacks do not cancel out the reasonable and legitimate objections that were raised against the RSV by evangelical scholars.

 
At Sun Jul 09, 11:50:00 PM, Blogger anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At Mon Jul 10, 04:15:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

For what it's worth, to quote Michael's words, I do tend to "equate the reaction to the TNIV with the reaction to the RSV because you think both reactions were unjust", or largely so. There were indeed some legitimate scholarly concerns with RSV, and there are with TNIV, and with any other translation, for no translation is perfect, and every translation team needs to make some hard choices in places where there is no English rendering which is entirely satisfactory. But RSV was in general a much better translation than anything else available at the time of publication. I would not go so far with TNIV, for there are so many more alternatives available now, but I see it as a good translation, and it is the one which I now choose to use for most general purposes.

Concerning the RSV controversy, Michael went on to write "Many of the attacks from fundamentalists were unjustified, and ignorant. But these unintelligent attacks do not cancel out the reasonable and legitimate objections that were raised against the RSV by evangelical scholars." And I would say that the same is true (although I would not use the word "fundamentalists" in this case) of the attacks on TNIV. Unjustified and ignorant arguments against TNIV include linking it to radical feminism and the gay rights movement as well as to theological liberalism, although the translators are evangelicals and mostly complementarians. Unfortunately, while unintelligent attacks do not cancel out scholarly ones in terms of strict logic, they do tend to cancel them out in the general public's perception, and lead to a polarisation of opinions based on all kinds of invalid and ad hominem arguments. There is of course not too much that the scholars can do about others who are rabble rousers, but they can avoid any association with them, and especially dissociate themselves from using their ad hominem arguments. Unfortunately this is not the approach I have seen from most of the scholarly opponents of TNIV.

Dr Jim Packer has come closest to dissociating himself in this way, but unfortunately as long as his signature is listed together with those of some of the rabble rousers on the Statement of Concern about the TNIV Bible I cannot consider him to be handling this issue properly.

 
At Mon Jul 10, 07:55:00 AM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Glenn asked:

I would be interested in your opinion on Revelation 22:18-19.
The change in the TNIV has raised the possibility of a group being punished for the wrong actions of an individual in that group.


I answered, in part:

NIV: I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book.

TNIV: I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If any one of you adds anything to them, God will add to you the plagues described in this scroll.

Yes, Glenn, there is an unfortunate ambiguity with the use of the last word "you" in the TNIV. It could have as its antecedent either the singular "you" who added something to the words or the plural "you" of "any one of you". We will have to ask the TNIV team which meaning they intended. I will do that now.


This morning I received a response from the TNIV CBT which is unambiguously clear (!) that they intended the last "you" to be singular. I have looked again at the TNIV wording and I understand more clearly now what they intended. Note that they first refer to "any one of you". That refers to any single individual out of all possible individuals ("you" plural) being addressed in that verse. The last "you" refers back to that single individual, not to the plural group being addressed. It is possible to find the ambiguity there which I believe Dr. Grudem or one of his helpers did, quoted by Glenn, but a plain reading of the text is more likely to produce the understanding that the CBT intended.

 
At Mon Jul 10, 09:40:00 AM, Blogger son of abraham said...

Peter wrote: Dr Jim Packer has come closest to dissociating himself in this way, but unfortunately as long as his signature is listed together with those of some of the rabble rousers on the Statement of Concern about the TNIV Bible I cannot consider him to be handling this issue properly.

You think Packer should distance himself from the "Statement of Concern" because some other people who have criticized the TNIV are "rabble rousers"? This seems to be the same kind of ad hominem and guilt-by-association approach that Wayne is always complaining about in the opposition to the TNIV. We should make a distinction between reasonable and unreasonable criticism. And who are you calling a "rabble rouser," anyway?

 
At Mon Jul 10, 01:41:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

I think Dr. Packer should distance himself from the statement because he could not defend any one detail in the statement. Not one.

Whoever wrote the statement has caused a lot of trouble. Dr. Packer expressed a lot of ambivalence here, that he had not written the statement, that he would not have expressed himself in that way, that he had not read the book and would not make it a priority. He certainly knew what I was talking about and he did not want to read the book, The TNIV and the Gender Neutral bible Controversy. (which he has endorsed, BTW!)

I can only say that after looking at these comments, yes, rabble rouser seems very apt as a way to describe the person or persons who wrote the Statement against the TNIV. I would be surprised if they would themselves distance themseves from this definition of rabble rouser. Isn't that exactly what they want to do?

A leader or speaker who stirs up the passions of the masses; a demagogue.

Michael, you do us a service by maintaining the full text of this document online. The CBMW has the audacity to post an abbreviated statement which does not show exactly what the signatories signed. You are at least consistent.

 
At Mon Jul 10, 03:33:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

I think Dr Packer should distance himself from the "Statement of Concern", for the reasons which Suzanne outlines, and also because some other people signatories of the same statement are "rabble rousers", or at least have acted as such in this matter, according to the definition quoted by Suzanne if we want to be specific. I don't want to be too specific, but for example a search of BaylyBlog will reveal interesting statements by one of Packer's co-signatories. Also, from what I remember, last year's radio interview between two more co-signatories, Dr Dobson and Dr Grudem, might be of interest in this regard.

Paul wrote "What do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?" (2 Corinthians 6:14 TNIV). While I am not suggesting that the rabble rousers are not true Christians, and so am not taking this verse entirely according to context, I consider that if Dr Packer and others want to be a light and righteous in this matter, they should not allow their names to be associated on the same document as the rabble rousers.

 
At Mon Jul 10, 04:58:00 PM, Blogger son of abraham said...

Peter wrote: I think Dr Packer should distance himself from the "Statement of Concern", for the reasons which Suzanne outlines.

Suzanne is a rather hostile witness, I think. The Statement is quite defensible, Packer signed it, and he has made some statements even more emphatic than the Statement. For example, "Adjustments made by what I call the feminist edition are not made in the interests of legitimate translation procedure. These changes have been made to pander to a cultural prejudice that I hope will be short-lived."

Obviously this man has a strong opinion. Why not just include him in your list of "rabble rousers"?

 
At Mon Jul 10, 05:47:00 PM, Blogger son of abraham said...

Peter wrote: Also, from what I remember, last year's radio interview between two more co-signatories, Dr Dobson and Dr Grudem, might be of interest in this regard.

Do you really think it is right for you to call Wayne Grudem and James Dobson "rabble rousers"?

 
At Mon Jul 10, 06:23:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Michael,

I am asking Wayne to post my entire interview with Dr. Packer this week. I just need to proof read it once more. There is not much new but it may help to see it all together.

I feel very ambivalent about all of this and I can see that Peter demonstrates the same ambivalence. We want the truth known, that Dr. Packer does not think that the TNIV is untrustworthy, that he respects the scholars of the TNIV. That is certain. He does not disagree on matters of Greek and scholarship with the TNIV.

However, he has a deep-seated distrust of certain cultural trends. He has been committed to CBMW since the beginning, possibly 1987. He has certain beliefs about women that are not altogether Bible based.

PACKER: God made the two sexes different. God made males for leadership and women for support; males for the maintenance of standards and women for the nurturing to their fellows.

David Virtue

Most complementarians would distance themselves from saying that women are not for the maintenance of standards, and they would also respect women in leadership in the secular community. Most do not believe that women are intrinsically 'not made for' leadership.

It is one thing to say, men are constituted in such a way that they are incapable of following the leadership of women, and another to say that women cannot lead a country, or an institution, undertake administration of an organization - they simply do. So how are women 'made different'?

This, I believe, is the core argument. However, once again, Dr. Packer said about CBMW, that he would not express himself that way, that he is not for role-playing between the sexes, that it is about 'fulfillment' - the two sexes are 'fulfilled' in different ways.

But, beyond the child-bearing years, let us be realistic here, what exactly is the difference? How is a woman to be fulfilled by being cut off from whatever a man does? I mean all the things, I am not talking specifically about ordination. And let me add, we are absolutely NOT talking about physical strength. That I concede on my part, but neither is it Dr. Packer's forte.

Dr. Packer has not been for many years a priest, but has been for the most part a professor of theology, Bible and Greek.

In what way is a woman not to be fulfilled by being a professor? Does she experience sudden unfulfillment, if she transgresses from teaching Greek into exegesis, from exegesis into theology, from theology into Bible. Where is that line, which if crossed, unfulfills a woman?

This, I believe, is the reason Dr. Packer signed the statement. He believes in the axiom "Vive la difference."

I should mention that a great many of the translators of the TNIV are complementarian, but they have chosen not to let this interfere with their reading of Greek.

You may label Bruce Waltke one who concedes to culture, I certainly do not.

 
At Mon Jul 10, 09:07:00 PM, Blogger son of abraham said...

Suzanne wrote: You may label Bruce Waltke one who concedes to culture, I certainly do not.

To be realistic about this, Suzanne, you should acknowledge that we are all shaped by the culture in which we live and work. Call it "concession," or whatever you like, the tendency to conform ourselves to cultural norms is only human. Even the members of the TNIV committee who were not egalitarians (may God bless them) were much under the influence of the gender-neutral style which has been enforced throughout institutions of higher learning for the past 20 years. I've been there, done that. I know what it's like to be in a place where some self-apppointed enforcer will correct you for using the word "fireman." If you wish to be accepted, you must conform. After a period of years you will have internalize the rules, and become an enforcer yourself. I feel sorry for them. It's disappointing, and a little ominous (ala Orwell) to see this happening, but it's understandable.

 
At Mon Jul 10, 09:34:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

If you wish to be accepted, you must conform. After a period of years you will have internalize the rules, and become an enforcer yourself. I feel sorry for them. It's disappointing, and a little ominous (ala Orwell) to see this happening, but it's understandable.

I agree with your sentiment, Michael. I don't like language policing of any kind, regardless of where it comes from. I happen to feel the same as you have felt, when it comes to changing language by artificial rules, including made up (epicene) pronouns to avoid use, for instance, of generic "he".

I also have felt as you have from language policing (or whatever other label might be more appropriate) by those who imply that the way I speak and/or write is not correct or should be changed for Bible versions, when I know from observation that it is used by a majority of speakers of my dialect of English. You will not be surprised when I mention that one such issue has to do with singular "they". I freely use it in my speech and often in my writing. Although some speakers of my dialect of English continue to use generic "he" in their speech and more so in their writing, it is my belief that a majority now use singular "they" at least in their speech. That doesn't make it "right" but, if the observation is accurate, it is a fact of language shift.

I still follow the rules of English that a majority of speakers of my dialect of English follow. For instance, I use objective case pronouns after prepositions. I maintain traditional subject-verb agreement. I don't use double negatives. That's my preference and I happen to believe that it is best for a Bible version to be worded so that they follow these same rules which are still followed by a majority (although, admittedly a decline majority) of speakers of my dialect.

None of this means, however, that I'm anti-nomian when it comes to language--I'm just making that clear, not suggesting that you or anyone else has said that. I care a great deal about maintaining standards of language which are agreed upon by majorities of language speakers. My point is that I don't like language policing regardless of where it comes from. I don't think Bible translators should tell people how to speak or write. I think we should translate into language that is considered good quality language by a *majority* of speakers of any dialect of a language into which we are translation.

 
At Tue Jul 11, 03:21:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Michael, calling TNIV "the feminist edition" (although it was translated mostly by complementarians and carefully avoids any kind of feminist teaching) is the kind of wording which I would expect from a rabble rouser. If Packer indeed said this, then shame on him. But at least he has shown some signs of contrition on this matter. I understand we will shortly see the evidence for this, from the interview text which Suzanne is promising.

Packer very likely holds the views which he does as a child of his time. He celebrates his 80th birthday this month, according to Wikipedia. His generation, here in England as a whole (I'm not talking about the church here), were still brought up to believe in the inherent superiority of women, although this idea became increasingly difficult after the two World Wars, during which women had to keep so much running at home, and was more or less abandoned, at least here, by the post-war generation.

As for Dobson and Grudem, I didn't say that they were rabble rousers, but I referred people to the radio interview from which they can judge for themselves whether this would be an appropriate label.

And then you wrote:

Even the members of the TNIV committee who were not egalitarians (may God bless them) were much under the influence of the gender-neutral style which has been enforced throughout institutions of higher learning for the past 20 years.

The members of the TNIV committee were "much under the influence" of the style of English which is spoken by most people today, at least here in the UK and apparently among the target age range in the USA. And that is of course as it should be, for any translation should be in the style used and accepted by its target audience. The influences on the language which have promoted a particular style are irrelevant, what matters to translators is what style is actually acceptable.

 
At Tue Jul 11, 08:31:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

On the subject of Packer, Justin Taylor has been blogging some interesting information about him, here (including confirmation about his forthcoming 80th birthday), here (tips for writers, with some good advice for bloggers including myself: Don't write until you have something to say) and here (a headache for Packer which is nothing to do with ESV!)

 

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