Dr Wayne Grudem's latest errors
I am grateful to Adrian Warnock for the excellent material in his blog, including most recently his fascinating interview series with Dr Wayne Grudem. Dr Grudem is an important scholar who has written significant books on theology and on the issue of women's roles in the church; although I disagree with much of the material in these books, I cannot deny their importance. He has also worked hard on the ESV Bible translation, and, despite my well-known criticisms of this version, I respect him as my fellow Bible translator.
But it is in this interview series that I have found two errors which Dr Grudem has made.
The first of these is in fact not originally Grudem's error but that of Wallace and Burer, whose misunderstanding of the Greek grammar of Psalms of Solomon 2:6 has already been discussed in some detail on this blog. Grudem's error here is that he continues to accept what Wallace and Burer wrote, and indeed wrote on Adrian's blog in defence of his position, even when there is clear evidence that at least this one statement of Wallace and Burer's is factually incorrect:
This construction comes as close to Rom. 16:7 as any we have yet seen. The parallels include (a) people as the referent of the adjective ἐπίσημος, (b) followed by ἐν plus the dative plural, (c) the dative plural referring to people as well. All the key elements are here.The error here, as explained in more detail in the comment thread on Adrian's blog, is that, as a matter of elementary Greek grammar, ἐπίσημος episēmos, whether a noun or an adjective (another matter of dispute) cannot refer to people as Wallace and Burer claim. It is amazing that a top level Greek expert like Wallace has not spotted such an elementary mistake. But this error in their analysis of what they claim as the best example supporting their thesis - in fact the only unambiguous example except for one from Euripides five centuries before Paul - invalidates their whole argument. Dr Grudem should accept this and abandon this line of argument, perhaps in favour of another argument which he accepts as possible, that "apostle" is used in a wider sense in Romans 16:7.
Grudem's second error is in part five of Adrian's interview series, and is apparently his own personal error rather than his uncritical acceptance of someone else's. It is this error which both Suzanne and I independently noticed and commented on (I drafted my comment before reading hers, although I saw hers before I published mine). And Adrian deleted both of our comments on this point, apparently because he considers it disrespectful to Dr Grudem to correct his factual error.
Here is the issue, slightly adapted from my comment, originally on Adrian's blog and saved in a posting on my blog: In part five of Adrian's interview,
Grudem writes: "in 1 Timothy 2:12 the TNIV adopts a highly suspect and novel translation ... It reads, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man”". But this is not a novel translation at all, for as with Matthew 5:9 Grudem seems to have ignored KJV. Look at the KJV rendering of 1 Timothy 2:12: “I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man”. Of course "usurp authority" is not precisely the same wording as "assume authority", but the meaning in the context must be the same. Grudem continued: "If churches adopt this translation, the debate over women's roles in the church will be over, because women pastors and elders can just say, “I’m not assuming authority on my own initiative; it was given to me by the other pastors and elders.” Therefore any woman could be a pastor or elder so long as she does not take it upon herself to “assume authority.”" Well, for over 300 years most English speaking churches adopted KJV, but despite Grudem's argument here this did not stop the debate over women's roles in the church. So what is the real difference between TNIV and KJV here?I did not use the language of "errors" on Adrian's blog out of deference to his request that commenters show respect to his guest. But it is in fact an error for Grudem to claim that the TNIV translation is novel when in fact it is almost identical to the KJV rendering of the same verse. This is similar to the misleading claim made on the list of "translation inaccuracies" in the TNIV New Testament, for which I believe Grudem is responsible, in which Matthew 5:9, Romans 9:26 and Galatians 3:26 are listed as a examples of
“sons” (huios, plural) changed to “children”,although in these verses the TNIV reading "children" is the same as the KJV rendering. At least this is not technically an error of fact (so the author of this list has not made a fool of himself or herself as R.C. Sproul has done over Matthew 5:9), as the basis for comparison in this list is explicitly the NIV rather than the KJV, but it seems that all of these differences between NIV and TNIV were labelled "translation inaccuracies" without consideration of the KJV readings, or for that matter whether the change was in fact exegetically justified in the particular case.
In the same comment I raised another significant issue which I noted in the same interview part. This may allow for an alternative understanding of 1 Timothy 2:12 as not binding on the church today, but certainly needs careful consideration. I am not saying that this is an error by Grudem, but am mentioning it here simply because this is an important point which, having been deleted for no good reason from Adrian's blog might otherwise get lost:
Grudem also writes: "I don’t think a pastor can give a woman “permission” to do Bible teaching before the church, because the Bible says not to do that." But actually what the Bible passage in question says is that Paul himself does not give women this kind of permission, in the churches over which he had authority. So this seems to leave open the possibility that other church leaders could and did give this permission. There is a long and complex hermeneutical procedure which needs to be followed, including such issues as how far our churches today are under Paul's apostolic authority and whether individual examples should ever be taken to be normative, before we can translate Paul's example into a command for churches today. This process seems to have been ignored in this whole discussion, at least on the blogs I have been reading. I hope Grudem has addressed this issue in his book.Indeed, I hope that Dr Grudem will be able to read these points and answer them, despite Adrian's over-zealous exercise of "respect" for him by deleting these comments from his blog. I will attempt to bring this post to Dr Grudem's attention.