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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

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: ,

9 Comments:

At Wed Oct 04, 11:06:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Wayne, I hate to disagree with your eirenical note, but to me there is a significant difference between "assume authority" or "exercise authority" in this context. "Assume authority" has the connotations of taking something which is not rightly one's own, which to me is the correct connotation of the Greek word here, authentein. "Exercise authority" does not have this connotation but implies also that the person is not to exercise properly assigned authority, a translation which misses the probable nuance of the Greek. Thus I would take the ESV wording as prohibiting women leaders, but the TNIV wording as allowing them if properly authorised. And the balance of exegetical evidence is towards the latter meaning.

 
At Wed Oct 04, 11:41:00 AM, Blogger Sungkhum said...

Thanks for this great post - very interesting.

Just thought I would make a note of a possible typo:

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. (TNIV)


Should the bottom one read "(ESV)"


Also, re: Peter's comment...if the phrase "assume authority" has the connotations of taking something which is not rightly one's own wouldn't that mean that women have no right of authority at all? Where as if "exercise authority" implies also that the person is not to exercise properly assigned authority wouldn't that mean that although women have the right to be in authority over men, they are not to "exercise" it?

Beyond that, (and I realize this is going off topic, but I am interested in why you believe what you believe for my own studies in regards to this issue) where is the Biblical evidence (chapter, verse) that women can ever be properly "given" authority to be in authority over men?

Thanks again for the great post Wayne :)

 
At Wed Oct 04, 12:35:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Peter said:

Thus I would take the ESV wording as prohibiting women leaders, but the TNIV wording as allowing them if properly authorised.

Thanks, Peter. I wondered about that when I was editing my post. But I wasn't sure. I always appreciate the help others give me.

 
At Wed Oct 04, 12:36:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Sungkhum asked:

Should the bottom one read "(ESV)"

Yes. Thank you for spotting it and tell me. Someone else found another one like that. I have fixed both.

 
At Thu Oct 05, 08:45:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

"where is the Biblical evidence (chapter, verse) that women can ever be properly "given" authority to be in authority over men?"

Sungkhum, where is the Biblical evidence (chapter, verse) that women canNOT be properly "given" authority to be in authority over men? Where is the Biblical evidence (chapter, verse) that Americans can ever be properly "given" authority to be in authority over anyone? Where is the biblical evidence that it is OK to drive a car or eat a hamburger? Seriously, if you are not going to allow things that are not specifically allowed in the Bible, you couldn't do anything at all. There are plenty of general biblical principles that say that men and women are equal (OK, and some which can be understood as saying the opposite), and so if this verse is not understood as forbidding anything the implication must be that it is allowed.

A woman rightly has authority if personally given that authority by others who have authority in the church. Who those others are depends on your model of church government. A woman who has not been personally given such authority but nevertheless leads and teaches a group of other believers is "assuming authority", and that is what the TNIV rendering and, on my understanding, the original Greek means.

 
At Fri Oct 06, 07:29:00 PM, Blogger Ted Gossard said...

Great point. Thanks Wayne.

 
At Sat Oct 07, 11:15:00 PM, Blogger Sungkhum said...

Interesting. Thanks Peter.

-Nathan

 
At Sun Oct 08, 12:20:00 PM, Blogger Kenny said...

I actually think we may be able to give authenteo an even stronger translation as "to tyrannically dominate" or something to this effect. BDAG includes the translation "domineer" and LSJ has "to have full power or authority over," i.e. to have totally unrestrained power, to be an autocrat. There's even a usage in Aeschylus (realizing we are now several centuries before the NT) where it means "to commit murder" (Eumenides 42)! So the reason why we can assume that Paul would not allow anyone to authentein anyone else, regardless of gender, is not because of the implication that the person is unauthorized, but because the authority weilded is totally unlimited, and only God has that kind of authority.

 
At Sat Apr 21, 06:09:00 PM, Blogger Mike said...

Thanks Wayne, that was a good point and you're completely right. One of the strengths of the TNIV is that its translators come from both sides of the issue so that there is much more balance regarding male/female relationships and authority.

By the way, after reading Suzanne McCarthy's comment, I updated my post with some thoughts...about translating metaphors into other languages.

 

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