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Sunday, October 29, 2006

Junia, the Apostle:Part 3

From Was Junia Really an Apostle? A Reexamination of Romans 16:7

    The name ᾽Ιουνιαν can be accented in one of two ways: ᾽Ιουνίαν with an acute accent on the penult, which is feminine, or ᾽Ιουνιᾶν with a circumflex accent on the ultima, which is masculine. The majority of patristic commentators regard this as a feminine name.

    Origen seems to cite the name once as masculine and once as feminine, though the masculine is most likely a later corruption of his text. Although most commentators believe that the patristic evidence through the first twelve hundred years or so universally supports the feminine name, one patristic writer is inexplicably overlooked. Epiphanius (c. 315-403 CE), bishop of Salamis in Cyprus, mentions Junias in his Index discipulorum 125: (‘Junias, whom Paul also mentions, became bishop of Apameia of Syria’). That Junias is masculine here is evident from the masculine relative pronoun (ou-) following the name. Epiphanius’ reference is unusual in that he only indirectly alludes to Rom. 16:7, but adds additional information about Junias, perhaps preserving an independent tradition. However, Epiphanius’ testimony here ought not to be weighed too heavily, for he calls Prisca in the previous sentence a man, too!
So Wallace and Burer accept that the name is Junia, a woman, but they redraw the 'battle lines'. Instead they propose another strategy for disproving the apostleship of Junia, a grammatical one.

Please understand that I come from a non-hierarchical PB background and I will not be making a major case over the word 'apostle'. I will make a 'minor' case over the word 'apostle' instead. Just letting you know 'apostleship' is not the punchline in this series.

Saturday, October 28, 2006


Chris Heard at Higgaion has a good post on some difficulties he has found in the TNIV Old Testament. Although I have presented myself as a proponent of the TNIV, what actually motivates me is removing the statement of concern against the TNIV in order to clear the air and create dialogue around what a good translation really would be.

Here are Chris Heard's comments,
    You know what I really want? A translation that has the readability of the TNIV without the theological baggage that distorts the text—but not one that does as far as, say, the CEV in simplifying its vocabulary. Does anyone know of such a translation? Does it exist? Have I just missed it? Or is it time for a new translation project (maybe without the word “Standard” in the name—you don’t actually become a “standard” by claiming to be such)?
I have a lot of sympathy with this although my Hebrew isn't good enough that I am going to notice any discrepanies in the OT without having them pointed out.

I remember last spring feeling discouraged when I realized that some translations have considerable problem issues but all translations have some problem issues.

Junia, the Apostle: Part 2

There are a dozen major questions about Junia. I will not be presenting any original material but am using secondary internet resources and Richard Bauckham's book. I hope to get Epp's recent book as well. I intended to write only about the grammatical issue of 'among' versus 'to' the apostles. However, I soon realized that it is better to follow as much of this story as possible.

This is from Lampe in the Anchor Bible Dictionary
    JUNIAS (PERSON) [Gk Iounia]. The only woman who is called an “apostle” in the NT (Rom 16:7). She was born a Jew, and is closely associated to Andronicus. Her name was the Lat name of the gens Junia. Women were often called by the name of their gens without cognomen (similar examples are Mary [Rom 16:6] and Julia [Rom 16:15]). Two groups carried the name of the gens Junia: the noble members of the famous gens, and the freed(wo)men of the gens with their descendants. The second group outnumbered the first.

    The chances therefore are that the Christian Junia was a freed slave of the gens. Either way, she probably had Roman citizenship: slave masters with famous gens names like “Junius/ia” possessed Roman citizenship and in most cases passed it on to their slaves on the occasion of their emancipation; the freed slaves bequeathed the gens name and the citizenship to their freeborn children.

    Without exception, the Church Fathers in late antiquity identified Andronicus’ partner in Rom 16:7 as a woman, as did minuscule 33 in the 9th century which records iounia with an acute accent. Only later medieval copyists of Rom 16:7 could not imagine a woman being an apostle and wrote the masculine name “Junias.” This latter name did not exist in antiquity; its explanation as a Greek abbreviation of the Latin name “Junianus” is unlikely.
And this is from Brooten,

    John Chrysostom was not alone in the ancient church in taking the name to be feminine. The earliest commentator on Romans 16:7, Origen of Alexandria (e. 185-253/54), took the name to be feminine (Junta or Julia, which is a textual variant), as did Jerome (340/50-419/20), Hatto of Vercelli (924-961), Theophylact (c.1050-c.1108), and Peter Abelard (1079-1142). In fact, to the best of my knowledge, no commentator on the text until Aegidius of Rome (1245-1316) took the name to be masculine.
If you read further information given in the pages which I have linked to, the evidence is overwhleming that early church fathers invariably believed that Junia was a woman.

I was able to read Wallace and Burer's article "Was Junia really an Apostle" on the internet some time ago. Unfortunately I cannot find it now. If anyone has a copy and can confirm or correct anything reference I make to their article that would be much appreciated. My understanding is that these authors made a considerable effort to prove that the Greek translates into English as 'known to the apostles' for the simple reason that modern scholarship has reached a consenus that Junia was indeed a woman.

More later.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Junia, the Apostle: Part 1

This story is so long it will have to be blogged in parts and I hope that commenters will contribute further detail. There is absolutely no way this is going to be exhaustive but with help I hope it will be instructive.

This post covers some historic translations of Romans 16:7 and a bit of history about how Junia's name became Junias.

    salutate Andronicum et Iuniam cognatos et concaptivos meos qui sunt nobiles in apostolis qui et ante me fuerunt in Christo Vulgate

    Grete wel Andronyk and Julian, my cosyns, and myn euen prisouneris, which ben noble among the apostlis, and whiche weren bifor me in Crist. Wycliffe

    Grüßet den Andronikus und den Junias, meine Gefreundeten und meine Mitgefangenen, welche sind berühmte Apostel und vor mir gewesen in Christo. Luther

    Salute Andronicus and Iunia my cosyns which were presoners with me also which are wele taken amoge the Apostles and were in Christ before me. Tyndale

    Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellow-prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me. KJV

    salute Andronicus and Junias my relations, and fellow-prisoners, who are distinguish'd among the apostles, Mace 1729

    Salute Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen and fellow-captives, who are of note among the apostles; who were also in Christ before me. Darby

    Salute An-dro-ni'cus and Junia, my kinsmen, who were prisoners with me, and wellknown among the apostles, and who were believers in Christ before me. Lamsa translation - Peshitta

    Greetings also to Andronicus and Junia, fellow Jews who were in prison with me; they are well known among the apostles, and they became Christians before I did. Good News Bible

    Greet Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners, who are outstanding among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me. (Note Junia fem.) New American Standard

    Greet Andronicus and Junias, my relatives who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was. NIV

    Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was. TNIV

    Greet my relatives Andronicus and Junias, who were in jail with me. They are highly respected by the apostles and were followers of Christ before I was. (Note: or Junias fem.) CEV

    Greet Andronicus and Junia, my compatriots and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles, and they were in Christ before me. NET
    Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles, and they were in Christ before me. ESV
The name under discussion appeared in the earliest manuscripts without accents and was in the accusative case, hence Iounian. It could be read as the accusative of either Junia, fem. or Junias, masc. Because Junia was a common name for a woman and Junias is not attested to as a male name, early translations reflect the understanding that the text refers to Junia, a woman. Today, it is all but unanimous, the name is Junia, a woman.

Evidence from the early church fathers indicates that Junia was considered both a woman and an apostle.

    Greet Andronicus and Junia . . . who are outstanding among the apostles” (Romans 16:7): To be an apostle is something great. But to be outstanding among the apostles—just think what a wonderful song of praise that is! They were outstanding on the basis of their works and virtuous actions. Indeed, how great the wisdom of this woman must have been that she was even deemed worthy of the title of apostle.
    John Chrysostom (344/54-407)(2)

An article by Bernadette Brooten records that the first time that the name was considered masculine was in the 13th century by Aegidius. Luther made this understanding popular.

    If Aegidius started the ball rolling, it really picked up momentum in the Reformation period. The commentary which Martin Luther heavily relied upon, that by Father Stapulensis (Paris, 1512, p.99b), took the accusative ’IOUNIAN to be Junias (m.). Luther’s lecture on Romans (1515/1516: Weimarer Ausgabe 56, p. 150) followed Faber Stapulensis on this and other points. Through Luther the Junias interpretation was assured of a broad exposure for centuries to come.

    Precisely because the Church Fathers took the name to be feminine, Catholic exegetes of the past were generally slower to accept the innovation of Junias.

From a review of Epp's book.

    Epp shows that earlier editions of the UBS actually gave the unattested name Junias an A rating, claiming majuscule support for that ruling (when majuscules are unaccented!). Epp reveals (on p. 54) that, by Bruce Metzger’s own admission in his Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (2nd ed), the UBS committee made their ruling based on the gender assumptions imposed by some members of the committee (Textual Commentary, p. 475). Also notable is the persistence of lexicons and other reference works in locating the name under the nominative masculine.
    An indictment is made: “In broad terms, it is fair to say that to a large extent our modern lexica, grammars, and many commentaries, especially during the past century, have carried forward—indeed, have aided and abetted—the tradition of ‘Junias,’ masculine” (p. 58). Chapters 9 and 10 provide helpful charts (pp. 62, 63, 66) which offer appalling visual confirmation that an arbitrary shift away from seeing Junia as a woman took place in the histories of Greek texts and English translations. (Regrettably, Epp does not mention the TNIV's correction of the NIV's masculine mistake.)
    In brief, the early church fathers considered Iounia a female apostle, later commentaries suggested that the name was Iounias, a male, and an apostle. Recently there has been consensus that the name is Iounia, female.

    Now the discussion centres around whether she was 'among the apostles', rather than 'known to the apostles'. This is a very recent attempt in the last few years at reading the Greek grammatical construction in a new way.

    Generic use of "son"

    As I was revising my translation of Luke’s gospel, I noticed the Greek term son (huios) in Luke 20:34, where the Revised Standard Version translates it literally:

    … the sons of this age marry and are given in marriage. RSV

    The context indicates that Jesus is referring to marriage in general, so other versions clarify this by translating sons generically as children, people, or men and women:

    … the children of this world marry and are given in marriage. KJV
    … the people of this age marry and are given in marriage. NIV
    … the men and women of this age marry. TEV
    … the people in this world get married. CEV

    This verse presents a problem for Bible scholars who insist that masculine Greek terms refer only to males. If we applied their view to this text, we would conclude that Jesus meant it was customary for men to marry other men at that time. People who tend to pull verses out of context might consider using this verse to support homosexual marriage, at least between men. But I don’t think the scholars I referred to would be very pleased about that, so I hope they realize that masculine Greek terms don't only refer to men, and I hope they reconsider how they interpret other texts in the Bible where masculine Greek terms are used.

    Categories: , ,

    Wednesday, October 25, 2006

    No nane better nor dunnerin bress

      Gin I speak wi the tungs o men an angels, but hae nae luve i my hairt, I am no nane better nor dunnerin bress or a ringing cymbal. Gin I hae the gift of prophesie, an am acquent wi the saicret mind o God, an ken aathing ither at man may ken, an gin I hae seccan faith as can flit the hills frae their larachs - gin I hae aa that, but hae nae luve i my hairt, I am nocht. Gin I skail aa my guids an graith in awmous, an gin I gie up my bodie tae be brunt in aiss - gin I een dae that, but hae nae luve i my hairt, I am nane the better o it.

      Live is patientfu; luve is couthie an kind; luve is nane jailous; nane sprosie; nane bowdent wi pride; nane mislaired; nane hame-drauchtit; nane toustie. Luve keeps nae nickstick o the wrangs it drees; finds nae pleisur i the ill wark o ithers; is ey liftit up whan truith dings lies, kens ey tae keep a caum souch; is ey swiered tae misdout; ey howps the best; ey bides the warst.

      Luve will ne'er fail. Prophesies, they s' een be by wi; tungs, they s' een devaul; knawledge, it s' een be by wi. Aa our knawledge is hauflin; aa our prophesiein is hauflin: but whan the perfyte is comed, the onperfyte will be by wi. In my bairn days, I hed the speech o a bairn, the mind o a bairn, the thocts o a bairn, but nou at I am grown manmuckle, I am throu wi aathing bairnlie. Nou we ar like luikin in a mirror an seein aathing athraw, but than we s' luik aathing braid i the face. Nou I ken aathing hauflinsweys, but than I will ken aathing as weill as God kens me.

      In smaa: there is three things bides for ey: faith, howp, luve. But the grytest o the three is luve.

    1 Corinthians 13. The New Testament in Scots translated by William Laughton Lorimer, published posthumously in 1983.

    TNIV audio and Study Bible, not well promoted

    In his comment on Should we abandon our Bible?, Rick Mansfield laments that Zondervan and IBS are not promoting TNIV more strongly, and in my comment there today I agree with him. But in fact there does seem to be some activity on the TNIV front. For example, the TNIV Bible Blog has recently had its first post for nearly a year, announcing TNIV Bible Audio Now Online. I hope this and the new TNIV Study Bible are signs that TNIV is being promoted strongly.

    But if so, zero marks for how it is being promoted. On the main TNIV info site I can't find anything about the TNIV Study Bible, nor about the online audio Bible. And when I go to Zondervan's site to try to find the former, I am met with a message:
    This website is designed to be best viewed with Windows Internet Explorer 6.0. Full support for other major browsers is planned for future editions.
    And indeed the search facility does not work at all with my Firefox browser. I'm sorry, Zondervan, but I am not going to downgrade my web browsing to use a five year old browser which has now been replaced in order to buy your products, not am I going to wait for "future editions", I am going to go elsewhere and so are many of your other customers.

    Tuesday, October 24, 2006

    "his" leads to a bad judicial decision

    A non-inclusive interpretation of the word "his" has led to a bad judicial decision. Click here to read about it and some implications for translation of the Bible.

    Parableman first posted on the legal ruling.

    Monday, October 23, 2006

    Grace for grace

    Sylvanus has a very interesting post on John 1:16.

      οτι εκ του πληρωματος αυτου ημεις παντες ελαβομεν και χαριν αντι χαριτος
    The last few words have been variously translated,

      'grace upon grace'
      'grace after grace' or
      'grace for grace'
    But Sylvanus translates this literally as 'grace replaced grace'

    Sylvanus' post reviews a myriad of translations but I can't find the TNIV listed. Here is the TNIV for this verse. What do you think?

      Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given.
    Thanks to Sylvanus for these thoughts.

    Prov. 21:31

    Our daily Bible reading today included Prov. 21:31:
    Do your best, prepare for the worst-- then trust GOD to bring victory. (The Message)
    That spoke powerfully to me.

    But then I compared that wording to translations of other versions, from literal to the idiomatic GNB (TEV) and CEV and discovered that Eugene Peterson very much paraphrased this verse:
    The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the LORD. (ESV)

    The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the LORD. (NIV)

    The horses are prepared for battle, but the victory belongs to the LORD. (NLT)

    You can get horses ready for battle, but it is the LORD who gives victory. (GNB)

    Even if your army has horses ready for battle, the LORD will always win. (CEV)
    I like Bibles to speak clearly in English, but I think the original message in Hebrew comes through clearly enough if we leave the horses in the translation.

    What do you think? (Let's try to have any comments follow our blog guidelines in the right margin so we don't simply dismiss The Message with a broad sweep of a brush, but, rather, that we actually deal with specifics of translation issues at stake here.)

    Sunday, October 22, 2006

    Give ear: Revisited

    I regret my post of last Sunday. It was the wrong way and the wrong place to take on the topic of women in the church. Fortunately, this week someone asked me how much shorthand Arrian could be expected to have known. Drifting through a book written in German on Roman shorthand calmed the spirit.

    Then I realized that what I was reading in shorthand was part of the beautiful poem in Deuteronomy 32 in Latin. Here is how it opens.

      audite caeli quae loquor audiat terra verba oris mei Vulgate
    My curiosity was peaked. Where was that famous phrase "Give ear." Did Paula and Jerome flatten out the Hebrew idiom? Clearly they dropped the parataxis. There was only one thing to do - line up the history and see how and when the phrase 'give ear' entered the English Bible. Wayne has written about this before.

    Deut. 32:1
      הַאֲזִינוּ הַשָּׁמַיִם, וַאֲדַבֵּרָה; וְתִשְׁמַע הָאָרֶץ, אִמְרֵי-פִי

      πρόσεχε οὐρανέ καὶ λαλήσω καὶ ἀκουέτω γῆ ῥήματα ἐκ στόματός μου

      Ye heuenes, here what thingis Y schal speke; the erthe here the wordis of my mouth. Wycliffe

      Merkt auf, ihr Himmel, ich will reden, und die Erde höre die Rede meines Mundes Luther

      Herken (O ye heauens) I wyll speake: and let the earth heare the wordes of my mouth. Coverdale

      Heare O ye heauens, and I shal speake, and let the earth heare the wordes of my mouth. Bishops

      Hearken, ye heauens, and I will speake: and let the earth heare the words of my mouth. Geneva

      Giue eare, O yee heauens, and I will speake; And heare, O earth, the words of my mouth. KJV

      Listen, O heavens, and I will speak; hear, O earth, the words of my mouth NIV

      Listen, you heavens, and I will speak; hear, you earth, the words of my mouth. TNIV

      Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak, and let the earth hear the words of my mouth. ESV

      Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak; let the earth hear the words of my mouth NRSV
    Of course, 'give ear' is an English idiom that was used outside the Bible. Here is a little rundown of it use. So I have no complaints about the use of 'give ear'. But it should not be taken as a more literal or historic translation of the Hebrew. It is simply one option among many. It is a case of deciding on English style, not Hebrew idiom. The Hebrew word for 'give ear', is related to the word 'ear', but is simply a word for 'listen', or 'pay attention'. I think.

    κόσμος revisited

    A couple days back Wayne raised a question about how to translate the Greek word κόσμος. This is dangerous ground (as some of the comments showed) precisely because it touches on a well-known and beloved verse, John 3:16. Anytime you propose to translate away from a wording which is so well-known and widely used, you will get a reaction.

    It’s worth stopping to talk about that reaction.

    As you know, if you’ve been reading this blog, I’m the first in line to argue for dynamic equivalence. So it may come as a surprise that I have some sympathy for those who have trouble with the concept. You see I was raised in church — Episcopal granted, but in a parish that wasn’t theologically liberal and one that gave me the solid grounding which made a full, conscious commitment to Jesus as a young adult easy. Growing up I learned both liturgy and Bible in wordings that may not speak to others but nonetheless still resonate deeply with me.
    It is very meet right and our bounden duty that we should at all times and in all places give thanks to Thee, O holy Lord, almighty Father
    Our Father, which art in heaven
    hallowed be Thy name.
    Thy kingdom come.
    Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
    Give us this day our daily bread
    And forgive us our trespasses
    as we forgive those who trespass against us.

    Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

    For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory
    for ever and ever. Amen.
    It’s this emotional resonance that we feel for passages we learned from the KJV that makes it hardest for us to accept dynamic equivalence translations. If I translate:
    God loves people so much that he sent his one and only son to make it possible for everyone to live forever simply by putting their trust in him.
    We will all still hear:
    For God so loved the world that gave his only begotten son so that whosoever believeth on him should not perish but have everlasting life.
    And we experience cognitive dissonance.

    Wikipedia has a nice informal definition.
    In laymen's terms, [cognitive dissonance] is the uncomfortable tension that comes from holding two conflicting thoughts at the same time.
    For us the conflict is between the wording we are emotionally attached to and one that speaks clearly.

    The concept of cognitive dissonance was originally developed in the 1950’s to explain people’s refusal to accept facts plainly in evidence because of deeply held beliefs. Further research has shown that it is a much more general phenomenon. J. S. Atherton, a British expert on teaching, observes something based on cognitive dissonance research that is of further relevance to the Bible translation debate, beyond just the emotional connection.
    Ordeal is an effective — if spurious — way of conferring value on an experience. … The more obscure and convoluted the subject, the more profound it must be.[1]
    This should cause us to pause and reflect seriously.

    Many wordings in the most popular literal translations are obscure and convoluted. Learning what they mean takes some work; it is an ordeal of sorts. Are we reacting to new wordings because they don’t measure up as translations, or are we rationalizing that the familiar, emotionally satisfying wordings are more profound because of cognitive dissonance?

    [1] ATHERTON J S (2005) Learning and Teaching: Cognitive Dissonance and learning.

    Saturday, October 21, 2006

    Should we abandon our Bible?

    The food4thought blogger catches our attention with the provocative question "Should we abandon our Bible?" But the post really is about whether or not his church should replace the NIV with the ESV. The blogger finds many things he likes about the ESV and believes that it should replace the NIV.

    The blogger does note some problems with the ESV. Here is one of the most serious:
    The ESV has not lived up to its promise in the area of clarity of expression and the quality of English usage. AT CCB we have had occasion to reach for the dictionary when words like, ‘sojourn’, ‘portent’, ‘confute’ and ‘adjure’ came up. It is supposed to be pitched at Year 8 but there must be some very clever 12 year olds in America! And this is its most frustrating feature. At times the English is almost inaccessible. We need a revision and someone without a degree needs to check it out!
    My own study of the ESV causes me to agree. The poor quality of English in the ESV is surprising given the claims that the ESV's producers have made that its English is so good. I find the awkward, strange English in the ESV to be its most serious deficit. I hope that there will be sufficient revisions made to the ESV so that in the future it will truly read as good quality English, not English which, as the blogger notes, is sometimes "almost inaccessible."

    Friday, October 20, 2006

    translating kosmos

    English Bibles translate the Greek word kosmos as "world." But is the English word "world" the most accurate translation of kosmos in all biblical contexts for most English speakers? I suspect it is not.

    Here are the definitions of "world" in the American Heritage Dictionary:
    1. The earth. 2. The universe. 3. The earth with its inhabitants. 4. The inhabitants of the earth; the human race. 5.a. Humankind considered as social beings; human society: turned her back on the world. b. People as a whole; the public: The event amazed the world. 6. Often World. A specified part of the earth: the Western World. 7. A part of the earth and its inhabitants as known at a given period in history: the ancient world. 8. A realm or domain: the animal world; the world of imagination. 9.a. A sphere of human activity or interest: the world of sports. b. A class or group of people with common characteristics or pursuits: the scientific world. 10. A particular way of life: the world of the homeless. 11. All that relates to or affects the life of a person: He saw his world collapse about him. 12. Secular life and its concerns: a man of the world. 13.a. Human existence; life: brought a child into the world. b. A state of existence: the next world. 14. Often worlds. A large amount; much: did her a world of good; candidates that are worlds apart on foreign policy. 15. A celestial body such as a planet: the possibility of life on other worlds.
    When we consider different meaning senses of a word in a dictionary, we also need to consider which of those senses are most common to most people. In other words, in typical literary or speech contexts today, which of the AHED meaning senses do most English speakers have active in their minds?

    I suggest that the most common meaning sense for most English speakers today is AHED #1. A number of the other meaning senses, including 2, 3, 4, and 12 are not so commonly known today.

    One of the most common meanings of kosmos in the Bible refers to a realm that is opposed to God, a sphere of unspirituality, as in Rom 12:2
    Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (RSV)
    I don't think that the meaning intended in translations of Rom. 12:2 is commonly known to English speakers, except to those who are familiar with the dialect of "church English."

    What would be an English wording that would accurately translate the meaning of kosmos in Rom. 12:1 for most English speakers today? I suggest one possibility would be: "the way that ungodly people live."

    John 3:16 is probably the most commonly known verse in the Bible. It begins in most English versions as:
    For God so loved the world
    I suggest that if we field test this translation wording, even within its larger context of John 3, with a significant number of native speakers today, we will discover that they do not share the meaning of kosmos which is most likely for this verse, which is probably AHED meaning sense 4. I suspect that the first meaning of "world" that most English speakers would have if they heard John 3:16 in English would be AHED meaning sense 1, namely, 'the earth.' They might have some sense that that meaning may not fit, since they may not think it too likely that God would love the earth, but I'm not sure whether they would come up with the meaning intended by the biblical author. I'd like, of course, to be proven wrong by adequate field testing.

    What would be a more accurate translation of kosmos in John 3:16 for most English speakers?

    I suggest "everyone." But I have not found a single English Bible version which agrees with me, not even the most idiomatic translations, TEV, CEV, and The Message.

    What do you think?

    Wednesday, October 18, 2006

    A pit bull with a pit bull

    I thought that there was a little book written just for preachers that gave the instruction not to ever say "This is what the Greek actually says," especially if every single Bible translation that has ever existed in English does not mention that option for translating a verse. However, last Sunday I heard a preacher say, "The Hebrew actually says 'opposite' - woman is opposite to man."

    This was an overtly complementarian sermon, based on the text Gen. 2:18, that God made woman as a helper who was opposite to man. Now it is true that if one looks in the Koehler-Baumgartner lexicon, then the entry reads,

    neged - original noun 'opposite', 'counterpart.'

    However, if one looks back at the preceding entry it reads,

    ngd - put something up conspicuously in front of someone.

    So, opposite, in the sense that a man and a woman may sit opposite each other at a table. Not, opposite, in the sense of different, that men are teachers and women are learners, men are leaders and women are followers. Obviously some men are not very good leaders and some women are not very good followers, and some of us aren't good at either.

    The pastor preached an entire sermon on how women were 'complementary' to men, 'opposite' to men, from Gen. 2:18. He did not mention the lexicon entry which suggests that woman was simply, among all other creatures, conspicuously put in front of man and chosen as what man wanted. No, the preacher did not think of that.

    When in doubt, I think a preacher should go for the most common translation, a woman is 'suitable' for a man, how can one go wrong with that; and not attempt to make a position paper out of an alternate lexicon entry.

    1. what is conspicuous, what is in front of adv
    2. in front of, straight forward, before, in sight of
    3. in front of oneself, straightforward
    4. before your face, in your view or purpose with prep
    5. what is in front of, corresponding to
    6. in front of, before
    7. in the sight or presence of
    8. parallel to
    9. over, for
    10. in front, opposite
    11. at a distance prep
    12. from the front of, away from
    13. from before the eyes of, opposite to, at a distance from
    14. from before, in front of
    15. as far as the front of

    My imagination suggests that, if we were talking about breeding dogs, a complementarian would breed a German Shepherd sire to a poodle bitch, and an egalitarian would breed a pit bull with a pit bull and a cocker spaniel with a cocker spaniel. That is what Adam was looking for, after all, a female of the same species or variety as himself, a female who corresponded to himself.

    PS. Puttering around the book store this afternoon I ran into an older woman friend who is also member of our congregation. And I said,

    "Well, what did you think of that sermon?"

    She answered,

    "The gospel chapel down the road invited me to preach last Sunday so I missed it."

    Postscript: I apologize to anyone who misunderstood my comment on dog breeds. I own and walk a dog and associate with other dog owners. I have papers that use the language of parentage which I used above.

    I did not intend to use the breeds of German Shepherd and Poodle, Standard Poodle, with any pejorative intent. I did not realize that it was not a well known fact that poodles are probably the most intelligent breed of dog. Try it out - google this! I truly meant to name a breed associated with loyalty and dedication, and a breed associated with intelligence and good humour. As for the pit bull, oh well, just for a laugh. If you can't laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at?

    mixed motives

    When I have been honest with myself, I have often had to admit that I have mixed motives, even when I'm doing good things. Today in our Bible reading at breakfast, my wife and I were struck by Prov. 21:8:
    Mixed motives twist life into tangles; pure motives take you straight down the road. (The Message)
    There's a good word for today! And have a good day.

    Tuesday, October 17, 2006

    Low-Tech Bible Study

    Lingamish has returned to Africa to continue helping a Bible translation project there. But he continues to blog wisely. I like what he blogged on Monday about Low-Tech Bible Study.

    Lingamish gets right down to the basics and says one of the best ways to do Bible study is to read the Bible itself. Well, like, duh! My wife says commonsense things like that often, also. Sometimes they just need to be said.

    Lingamish recommends reading an idiomatic Bible translation:
    Anyone can produce a word-for-word translation. Grab an interlinear and get to work! But producing an idiomatic translation requires an understanding of the Biblical languages and an ability to communicate those ideas in understandable English. An idiomatic translation will show you the meaning of words in their context where a literal translation won’t. Why is that? Because there is not a one-to-one correspondence between words in different languages. Words have multiple senses and a word-for-word translation conceals that fact making you think that you understand a word in every situation when you actually don’t.

    Need suggestions for an idiomatic translation in English? Try the Contemporary English Version, or the Good News Bible, or the New Living Translation. These are all excellent translations.

    He goes on to recommend comparing different versions but notes:
    You’re not looking for differences so that you can find out which translations are wrong. The truth is most translations are pretty much the same. There are small differences in wording but by and large they all express pretty much the same information. When you look at two different translations and they sound quite different there are a couple possible reasons:

    1. One is literal and the other is idiomatic.

    In this case, the literal translation can give you a hint as to what the Greek or Hebrew looks like. But the idiomatic translation can tell you what it means.

    2. They are saying basically the same thing but using a different expression.

    Language is complex. There are many ways to say the same thing. If the translations differ it doesn’t mean one of them is wrong. Every major translation on the market was produced by a team of experts. Despite what the conspiracy theorists think, the translators weren’t trying to put across some hidden agenda. Instead, they wanted to communicate God’s word as accurately and clearly as possible. Dare I say that in most cases the translators are a lot smarter than we are! So don’t be quick to criticize their work. Try to make your own translation. That’s a quick way to realize the difficulty of the task.

    I like Lingamish's style. He doesn't mince words. He gets right to the point. I recommend that you read the rest of his post.

    Monday, October 16, 2006

    husband of one wife

    Not to steal from the popularity of yesterday's post, here is a more mundane example which I found in Rodney Decker's review of the ESV.

      "the husband of one wife" KJV, ESV with note 'a man of one woman' 1 Tim. 3:2
      "having been the wife of one man" KJV, ESV with note 'woman of one man' 1 Tim. 5:9
    The ESV does give notes to indicate a literal translation of the Greek, but if read in the pulpit, the KJV and the ESV will give the impression that those qualified to serve as widows could not have been married more than once in their life, whereas an overseer only had, at the time, to be the husband of one wife.

    However, the rest of the 1 Tim. 5 certainly indicates that younger widows ought to remarry. So the KJV and ESV create a moral contradiction for women. A younger widow should remarry therefore disqualifying herself from later recognition as a widow in church service.

    The TNIV, however, translates these as,

      faithful to his wife
      faithful to her husband
    and supplies a parallel English translation for these two parallel Greek expressions.
      μιᾶς γυναικὸς ἄνδρα
      ἑνὸς ἀνδρὸς γυνή
    While notes might be helpful in the TNIV, there is a scholarly consensus that this is the correct translation of the Greek construction.

    Here is Peter's conclusion on this text,

      As I have previously concluded, Paul's teaching at this point is not about the gender of church leaders but about their sexual activity. Titus 1:6 did not mean to Paul or Titus that women must not be elders, so it cannot mean the same to us today. What it does mean today is what it meant to Titus, that married male elders must be faithful to their wives - and by extension to genuinely comparable situations, it may also mean that married female elders must be faithful to their husbands, and that single and widowed elders must be celibate. At least, this is the conclusion to which I am led by the scholarly approach to the Bible.

    Note: This post has been edited.

    Sunday, October 15, 2006

    What's the joke?

    One of the things about living in an environment where you regularly hear (and see) languages that you understand other than your native language is that you are constantly noticing things about what it really means to translate.

    For example, being on sabbatical here in Austria I take the bus to the university every day, about a half an hour ride from my apartment. At every bus stop they have free newspapers, OK and Heute, which have sudokus. OK, I’ll fess up. I’m a sudoku addict. I grab a copy of each and see how much I can get done on the lurching and bumpy ride to campus. I also skim through the papers, which are pretty much worth what they cost, and I read the cartoons. Cartoons are great fodder for the translation theorist. Heute carries Perscheid, Germany's answer to Gary Larson. Monday last, they ran this cartoon:

    Since most of you don’t speak German, you’d like to know what the joke is. Well, let’s apply the kinds of principles that most Bible translations use. If we translate word by word, we get an understandable English sentence. (We wouldn’t want to change the meaning by changing the structure.)
    “Oh my God! I can see no oil!”
    Not a joke.

    Well, you say, the object of a German sentence attracts the negative, so the negative should be associated with the verb in English.
    “Oh my God! I can’t see any oil!”
    Still not a joke.

    By now all the German speakers reading this blog are squirming. But, but, but …

    You see the German word sehen can also be used in contexts where English requires us to say look at rather than see, so a better translation would be:
    “Oh my God! I can’t look at oil!”
    Close, but no cigar.

    If you really want to know what Perscheid meant, you have to know that this wording is the way squeamish German speakers talk about blood, so to have a translation that passes muster you need to say about oil what squeamish English speakers say about blood.
    “Oh my God! I can’t stand the sight of oil!”
    Now you have a joke.

    And in case you haven’t realized it, translating Ich kann kein Öl sehen. with I can’t stand the sight of oil. demonstrates exactly what is meant by dynamic equivalence. Here the fact that it is a joke is what keeps us honest. If we get the translation right, we have a joke. If we don’t, it’s not a joke.

    Our long use of translations that only approximate the meaning of the Greek (or Hebrew) has dulled our senses. It’s only in live cross-linguistic situations that we are confronted with the fact that language is regularly used with a precision we fail to appreciate from the inside. And it’s that precision that gets washed away in most Bible translations by our preference for literalness. Ironically, that preference all but guarantees that we will get it wrong.

    Not a joke.

    Saturday, October 14, 2006

    Bible Gateway and Zhubert

    I have added the Bible Gateway search form in the margin of this blog. It is now even more useful since it has the HCSB and TNIV, as well as other popular English versions.

    I have also added a search form to access the Bible study resources on Zack Hubert's website. Zack continues to upgrade his resources and tools for accessing them.

    Thursday, October 12, 2006

    Beautiful feet

    A popular scripture song is "Our God Reigns," by Lenny Smith. Some of you have probably sung it, as have my wife and I:
    How lovely on the mountain are the feet of him
    Who brings good news, good news;
    Announcing peace, proclaiming news of happiness.
    Our God reigns. Our God reigns.


    Our God reigns! Our God reigns!
    Our God reigns! Our God reigns!
    Our God reigns! Our God reigns!
    The words of this song are from Isaiah 52:7. Smith's lyrics appear to be based on the NASB wording:
    How lovely on the mountains
    Are the feet of him who brings good news,
    Who announces peace
    And brings good news of happiness,
    Who announces salvation,
    And says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”
    I wonder how many people who sing this song understand what it is talking about when it refers to "lovely ... feet". How many English speakers who read Isaiah 52:7 for the first time understand what is lovely about the feet of a person who brings good news?

    The Hebrew of Is. 52:7 uses a figure of speech where part of something represents refers its whole. In this case, feet represent the entire person who is bringing good news. This figure of speech, part for the whole, is called a synecdoche.

    The same Hebraic synecdoche of feet representing the entire person is also used in Acts 5:9:
    Then Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” (NRSV)
    Literally, it wasn't just the feet of those people that were at the door. And we all know that feet cannot literally carry anyone. It was people at the door who were about to carry out Sapphira, dead, just as they had carried out her dead husband, Ananias.

    How should synecdoche be translated to another language? How should any figure of speech be translated to another language, for that matter? The answer to these questions depends on what we understand the purpose of translation to be. If the purpose of translation is to enable a speaker of one language to understand something in another language then the answer seems clear to me: We need to translate anything said or written in one language, including figures of speech, in a way that the original meaning will be understood by those who use that translation.

    English speakers do not refer to feet as synecdoche for the entire person to whom those feet belong. Field testing will demonstrate that most English speakers do not understand a literal translation of Is. 52:7. If we want most English speakers to understand the meaning of the figure of speech in Is. 52:7, we need to translate the figurative meaning of that figure of speech. I find that only the TEV (GNT) and CEV do so:
    How wonderful it is to see
    a messenger coming across the mountains,
    bringing good news, the news of peace!
    He announces victory and says to Zion,
    “Your God is king!” (TEV)

    What a beautiful sight!
    On the mountains a messenger
    announces to Jerusalem,
    “Good news! You're saved.
    There will be peace.
    Your God is now King.” (CEV)
    The NET Bible tries to do so and might succeed, although I suspect that many readers of the NET would wonder why it is delightful to see feet of a messenger approaching:
    How delightful it is to see approaching over the mountains the feet of a messenger who announces peace, a messenger who brings good news, who announces deliverance, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!” (NET)
    Most English versions do not translate the figurative meaning of the synecdoche in Is. 52:7. I believe that better Bibles translate the meanings of the biblical texts so that most people--in a translation's intended audience--will understand those meanings in their own language.

    Can we teach people the figurative meanings of literal translations which they do not understand? Of course we can, just as we can teach people the meanings of biblical language words such as shalom, hesed, logos, and sarks. But if we have to teach the meanings of thousands of words in a translation, we have defeated the purpose of translation which is to enable someone to understand something in another language. A better solution is to translate what a source language text means, and then, if we wish, we can footnote literal translations of figures of speech.

    Wednesday, October 11, 2006

    TNIV in The Bible Experience

    For me, The Bible Experience is probably the best audio production of the Bible that has ever been made. Today Brandilyn Collins posted on The Bible Experience in her blog:
    It's here! Zondervan's ground-breaking audio version of the New Testament (using the TNIV--Today's New International Version) is now on sale. The entire New Testament is dramatically acted, complete with sound effects and musical score. Want to hear the story of Jesus calming the stormy sea? Click here.
    I previwed some portions of The Bible Experience a couple of months ago and was very impressed with its quality. The version used for The Bible Experience is the TNIV. Unfortunately, critics of the TNIV have received so much media, Internet, blog, and church exposure that the public does not often get an opportunity to hear good things about the TNIV. The Bible Experience is a good thing. I hope that it will help many to experience the message of the Bible in a new and vibrant way. And I hope that it will cause those who have believed the critics of the TNIV to pause and wonder whether the TNIV is inaccurate as the critics claim. From my own careful study of the evidence, I find that the evidence for inaccuracy in the TNIV is very weak, indeed. Would I prefer some further revisions in the TNIV? Yes. But every Bible version can benefit from further revisions. That's why this blog exists, to help those who care about the Bible think of ways that English versions can be improved.

    The TNIV is an accurate translation. It accurately communicates God's written Word to people today who speak the language found in the TNIV.

    Categories: , ,

    Monday, October 09, 2006

    Rereading Isaiah 62:4: Beulah Land

    Today Dr. Mariottini posted on Beulah Land. His interesting post touches on the question of whether we should transliterate words from the biblical language texts or translate their meaning. It probably will not surprise most of you that I'm on the side of those who translate Hebrew beulah in Is. 62:4 (NASB, NRSV, ESV, NWT, JPS, NJPS, NAB, NJB, TEV, CEV, NLT, GW, HCSB, NET) rather than transliterating it (KJV, ASV, RSV, NKJV, NIV, TNIV, REB).

    I think, though, that the old hymn just wouldn't sound the same if it were sung as "Married Land" rather than "Beulah Land." I must be getting older if I have nostalgic feelings like that!

    Sunday, October 08, 2006

    Thy fellow human being

    It is a day of rest so I thought that I would translate an interesting paragraph from German instead of Greek. As they say, a change is as good as a rest!

    This is from Hoffnung für Alle, Galatians 5:13-15.

      Durch Christus wurde euch die Freiheit geschenkt, liebe Brüder und Schwestern! Das bedeutet aber nicht, dass ihr jetzt tun und lassen könnt, was ihr wollt. Dient vielmehr einander in Liebe. 14 Denn wer dieses eine Gebot befolgt: »Liebe deinen Mitmenschen wie dich selbst!«, der hat das ganze Gesetz erfüllt. 15 Wenn ihr aber wie die Wölfe übereinander herfallt, dann passt nur auf, dass ihr euch dabei nicht gegenseitig fresst! HFA
        Through Christ freedom has been given to you, dear brothers and sisters. That doesn't mean that you can now do, and not do, whatever you want. Rather serve each other in love. Then whoever follows this one command "Love thy fellow human being as thyself!" they have the whole law fulfilled. But when you pounce on each other like wolves, then watch out that you are not thereby devoured in return. (free tr. from the German)
            13My friends, you were chosen to be free. So don't use your freedom as an excuse to do anything you want. Use it as an opportunity to serve each other with love. 14All that the Law says can be summed up in the command to love others as much as you love yourself. 15But if you keep attacking each other like wild animals, you had better watch out or you will destroy yourselves. CEV
              ὑμεῖς γὰρ ἐπ' ἐλευθερίᾳ ἐκλήθητε ἀδελφοί μόνον μὴ τὴν ἐλευθερίαν εἰς ἀφορμὴν τῇ σαρκί ἀλλὰ διὰ τῆς ἀγάπης δουλεύετε ἀλλήλοις 14 ὁ γὰρ πᾶς νόμος ἐν ἑνὶ λόγῳ πεπλήρωται ἐν τῷ ἀγαπήσεις τὸν πλησίον σου ὡς σεαυτόν 15 εἰ δὲ ἀλλήλους δάκνετε καὶ κατεσθίετε βλέπετε μὴ ὑπ' ἀλλήλων ἀναλωθῆτε
            The German phrase Mitmensch, which I have translated as 'fellow human being' best reflects what is taught in Gal. 3:28.

              3:28 Faith in Christ Jesus is what makes each of you equal with each other, whether you are a Jew or a Greek, a slave or a free person, a man or a woman. CEV
            'Neighbour' leaves open the interpretation that this command applies to the relationship between one citizen and another, that is, a person should love someone else belonging to the same category as oneself, a freeman so behaves towards another freeman, and a woman to another woman, and so on.

            But the radical expression 'fellow human being' calls for an end to slavery, an end to racism, and an end to declaring that men and women have different fulfillments in this life.

            I have actually heard people talking about how those of a different race may not have the same need for freedom as we do. 'Others', supposedly, can tolerate oppressive conditions because they do not 'feel it' as we do. Imputing such notions to others, differentiating between the peoples of the east and west, or between the rich and the poor, between husbands and wives, all denies the equal and radical call to freedom that is the theme of the epistle to the Galatians.

            Friday, October 06, 2006

            joyful noise or joyful shouting

            I memorized Psalm 100 long ago and my wife and I sang it many times in a psalm-singing church we attended. Sometimes I think about verse 1, as I memorized it:
            Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. (KJV)
            I enjoy the humor when someone comments on a musical performance in church that lacks musical finesse, "Well, at least it was a joyful noise."

            The last few days I've been wondering if "noise" is the best word to use for translation of the Hebrew word רוּע in this verse. From the evidence I have seen so far, I conclude that it is not.

            Brown-Driver-Briggs gives this:
            BDB Definition:
            1) to shout, raise a sound, cry out, give a blast
            1a) (Hiphil)
            1a1) to shout a war-cry or alarm of battle
            1a2) to sound a signal for war or march
            1a3) to shout in triumph (over enemies)
            1a4) to shout in applause
            1a5) to shout (with religious impulse)
            1a6) to cry out in distress
            1b) (Polal) to utter a shout
            1c) (Hithpolel)
            1c1) to shout in triumph
            1c2) to shout for joy
            2) (Niphal) destroyed
            Can you see what semantic elements are common to each of these meaning senses? It's the idea of making a loud sound with your voice. In the context of Psalm 100, the meaning is surely one of shouting joyfully to God, praising him with a loud voice, whooping it up for him, if we can state it so colloquially.

            The English word "noise" seems to me to be too broad as a translation of Hebrew רוּע. We could make a "joyful noise" with a drum, trumpets, a tamborine, or clapping. But the Hebrew word seems to call for the joyful sound to come from one's voice.

            English versions which maintain the traditional wording of "joyful noise" include the KJV, ERV, ASV, RSV, NRSV, and ESV. As you can see, these are versions in the KJV literary tradition. (The NKJV, also in that tradition, however, has "joyful shout.")

            Versions which more accurately translate the Hebrew include some older than the KJV as well as most recent ones which stand outside the KJV tradition:
            Al erthe, singe ye hertli to God; serue ye the Lord in gladnesse. (Wycliffe, 1395)

            Sing ye loude vnto the Lord, all the earth. (Geneva, 1587)

            Sing joyfully to God, all the earth: (Douay-Rheims)

            Shout to Jehovah, all the earth. (Young's)

            Shout aloud unto Jehovah, all the earth! (Darby)

            Shout unto the LORD, all the earth. (JPS, 1917)

            Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth. (NASB)

            Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. (NIV, TNIV)

            Shout in triumph to Jehovah, all [YOU people of] the earth. (NWT)

            Raise a shout for the LORD, all the earth. (NJPS, 1985)

            Shout joyfully to the LORD, all you lands (NAB)

            Acclaim Yahweh, all the earth (NJB)

            LET all the earth acclaim the LORD! (REB)

            Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands! (NKJV)

            Shout praises to the LORD, everyone on this earth. (CEV)

            Shout to the LORD, all the earth. (NCV)

            Shout happily to the LORD, all the earth. (GW)

            Shout with joy to the LORD, O earth! (NLT)

            Shout out praises to the LORD, all the earth! (NET)

            Shout triumphantly to the Lord, all the earth. (HCSB)
            Better Bibles are ones which are willing to break out of a literary tradition, if doing so brings greater accuracy. I think the versions just listed do that.

            Categories: ,

            Wednesday, October 04, 2006

            Charis and shalom

            I have often thought about the absolute impossibility of translating the typical greeting in the epistles into English.

              χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν
            I am not sure it is worth translating at all. Why not simply write,

              charis and shalom
            and let people do their own work to find out what it means. I have been struggling with how to translate χαριζόμενοι in Colossians 3:13 ever since I wrote this post, and then I read an email this morning from the president of the seminary nearest me; he closed with 'Shalom'. So charis and shalom have been on my mind all day. Not to mention that today is niched between this Monday and next Monday, Yom Kippur and Canadian Thanksgiving!

            Here is a definition of each. (Excuse the sources of these definitions, I won't argue that they are authoritative, but this is at least a place to start. Other definitions are welcome.)


              1. grace
              a - that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness: grace of speech

              2. good will, loving-kindness, favour
              a - of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues

              3. what is due to grace
              a - the spiritual condition of one governed by the power of divine grace
              b - the token or proof of grace, benefit
              i. a gift of grace
              ii. benefit, bounty

              4. thanks, (for benefits, services, favours), recompense, reward The NT Greek Lexicon


              Shalom gives us the core biblical meaning of peace. It means being intact or whole and evokes the entirety of a person or thing. Considered as a quality of the personal, shalom implies the wholeness, integrity and well-being of a person. Considered socially, shalom implies social well-being and relational health, as in a whole community and the wholeness of humanity. The wholeness of shalom can also be considered as the process of being alive and healthy individually and together. In its biblical senses, shalom includes meanings of welfare, shared prosperity, salvation, reconciliation, satisfaction, contentment and a state of being safe and unharmed. Shalom therefore implies the absence of war but is not defined as this or limited to it.

              A 'whole' person or community is one that flourishes, as opposed to an oppressed or fragmented one. A state of shalom is with us now insofar as we flourish as persons, communities, humanity and the ecosphere; it is absent insofar as we do not so flourish and are oppressed. Unlike pax, which is defined in the negative and as a static state, shalom's peace is positive and dynamic, suggesting a state of flourishing in relation to one another. The term 'peace' is used in this sense throughout this series of articles; that is, quite differently from how it is often used to mean the absence of war alone.

              As well as thinking of shalom as a state of relational health, we can also think of it as a process, by which we come to flourish and become 'whole'. As a process, peace implies personal and social growth and, where there has been suffering, the particular type of growth that is healing, often facilitated by forgiveness. Quakers in Britain

            Charis and shalom. Two good reasons why a Bible translator might just give up in despair.

              χάρις & שָׁלוֹם
            Note: I am sadly aware that this does not do justice to either word. The entry for χάρις in the Liddell Scott Lexicon is about 2000 words long!

            Complementarian TNIV

            Complementarians believe that men and women are of equal value, but complement each other with different God-appointed roles in the home and church. Are you a complementarian? Did you know that you can teach complementarianism from the TNIV, just as you can from another Bible version such as the ESV? This may surprise some complementarians who have attacked the TNIV, calling it a feminist Bible, a Bible for "feminazis", a Bible "soft" on biblical manhood and womanhood, a Bible that "neuters" masculinity, and boycotting it in Christian bookstores.

            Let's examine what the TNIV actually says to see if it can be used to teach complementarianism. We'll compare what the TNIV says to the ESV. Some complementarians claim that the ESV promotes a biblical view of manhood and womanhood while the TNIV does not. Following are some key tenets of complementarianism, with Bible passages typically used to support them:

            1. A husband is the head of his wife (Eph. 5:23):
            For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. (TNIV)

            For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. (ESV)
            The TNIV and ESV teach headship of the husband identically in Eph. 5:23.

            In 1 Cor. 11:3 the TNIV actually translates about headship of a woman more strongly than does the ESV:
            But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. (TNIV)

            But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. (ESV)
            The TNIV translates the Greek words gunaikos and aner of this verse as "woman" and "man," respectively. This is more literal and a broader (stronger) translation than the ESV which translates these Greek words as "wife" and "husband," respectively. The more restrictive translation of "[the head] of the wife is her husband" is footnoted in the TNIV but not found in the translated text itself.

            2. A wife is to submit to her husband as to the Lord (Eph. 5:22):
            Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. (TNIV)

            Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. (ESV)
            The TNIV and ESV teach the same thing about submission.

            3. Woman is the glory of man (1 Cor. 11:7):
            A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. (TNIV)
            For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. (ESV)
            The TNIV and ESV not only have identical teaching in this verse, but identical wordings of "but woman is the glory of man."

            4. Women are to be silent in church (1 Cor. 14:34-35):
            Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church. (TNIV)

            the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church. (ESV)
            Again, the teaching is identical between the TNIV and ESV, and the wordings are nearly so. Neither is stronger than the other in what it states.

            5. Women are not to exercise ecclesiastical authority over men or to teach men (1 Tim. 2:12):
            I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. (TNIV)

            I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. (ESV)
            Again, the meaning of the translation wordings from these two versions is identical, as far as I can tell. I don't think a case can be made for any significant difference in meaning between the two wordings "assume authority" or "exercise authority."

            The TNIV and ESV both make it clear that Jesus was a male, not some androgynous human. Both versions refer to God with masculine pronouns. Both versions retain the biblical language text wording of God the Father, rather than as generic God the Parent.

            As far as I know, those who accuse the TNIV of being a feminist translation or being influenced by feminism cannot support that claim from how passages traditionally used to teach complementarianism are worded. The TNIV is an accurate translation and does not deserve the criticism it has received from its opponents. It does not deserve to be boycotted by Christian booksellers who seem to believe its critics rather than being Bereans (Acts 17:11) who study the Bible (or any translation of it) carefully for themselves to find out if what people claim about it are true or not.

            Categories: ,

            Tuesday, October 03, 2006

            Fee, Packer. Waltke, Peterson, MP3

            I am experiencing another blogging slowdown. Work beckons - children will not be put off to another day.

            Sadly, I have bowed out of two successful blogs in the past. The reason is NOT that I don't have enough to write about - the reason is that I have too much to write about.

            However, tonight sorting through some old posts on my bookshelf blog, inspired by reading Scott McKnight's recent post on Women in Ministry: A Letter Now Open I came across this link. At the bottom of this page is the link to an MP3 Women in Ministry: Fee, Packer, Waltke, Peterson. I had previously been asked for this link and had lost it. Listen to the cultural underpinnings of the personal theological position of these men on women in ministry.

            I always find it fascinating to listen to where people are starting from when they describe their beliefs about women. I notice Peter wrote about this yesterday. McKnight references this letter by F. F. Bruce on the ministry of women and I would like to post here a selection of F.F. Bruce's remarks on learning Greek.
              I have met students who claimed to ‘know Greek’ on the basis of their acquaintance with the Greek New Testament; even if that latter acquaintance were exhaustive, it would no more amount to a knowledge of Greek than acquaintance with the English New Testament would amount to a knowledge of English. Read more here. (thanks to our commenter D. Reimer for this excerpt.