A Woman's Bible
But sometimes I experience the epistles as a series of proof texts. There are enough sermons and studies and papers which take one verse and through a series of supposed syllogisms decide the boundaries which shall restrict woman, and the role she shall play, always responder, never leader.
Therefore, the handful of verses which enable some to come to these conclusions must be separately plucked off the vine and tasted. Each Bible version must be able to defend its decision. Why stray from tradition, why provide an interpretation and not a literal rendering, and why choose this sense and not that one from an array provided in the lexicon?
So I simply decided to do it - to evaluate the different Bibles according to how they translate 5 verses concerning women. Rom. 16: 1 and 2 are rated as one verse, then Rom. 16:7, 1 Cor. 11:10, and 1 Tim. 2:12.
But aren't I simply driving in a wedge, opening the chasm further with this kind rhetoric? I think not. The chasm was there and widening. The preaching against the TNIV continues. The distrust is embedded.
In fact, I don't and haven't advocated any particular style or version. My major concern has always been that of intense regret that there seems to be no Bible that the evangelical Christian community can share. No Bible has replaced the King James Version in that respect. I find this incredible, but I believe it is so.
Dr. Grudem will not use the TNIV, not because of its gender language, but because of its translation of 1 Tim. 2:12; and others won't use the ESV for its undefended use of the Junia hypothesis.
I long for some kind of openness. I dream that there is some way that those on the opposing sides of this debate can resolve their differences and come together and agree on at least one common Bible.
I had always believed that it would have to be a literal Bible, close to formal equivalence, but I am not sure. It should either represent the traditional understanding, or have a note to explain why it departs from tradition. It should accord with the current accepted lexicons and grammars, and critical text. It should duly represent those things about which we have scholarly consensus. It should have nothing too controversial.
I am convinced that this is something that we can come together on.
Gender language itself no longer seems to me to be the critical factor in this debate. I note that Dr. Grudem allows his name to be associated with the NET Bible, and Dr. Packer warmly recommends the NLT2. Bibles with inclusive gender language include the NRSV, TNIV, NLT2, NET, CEV.
But Dr. Grudem raised the issue of 1 Tim. 2:12 and I think that shifts the focus. Dr. Grudem writes,
- The TNIV in particular has changed the translation of many of the key passages regarding women in the church, and I would find it almost impossible to teach a Biblical “complementarian” view of the role of women in the church from the TNIV. It has gone further in supporting an evangelical feminist position than any other translation . . .
To take one example: in 1 Timothy 2:12 the TNIV adopts a highly suspect and novel translation that gives the egalitarian side everything they have wanted for years in a Bible translation. It reads, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man” (italics added). If churches adopt this translation, the debate over women's roles in the church will be over . .
This series is also a response to frequent commenter, Glenn, who has asked me many times to interact more with Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth, 2004. I'll try but I won't go into any long detail - unless asked, of course.
So, I shall blog about how each translation handles a few key verses. I hope we can then develop criteria on which we can agree, and establish what we think would be best translation of each verse, to bring about greater fellowship between Christians of different stripes.
Update: Metacatholic has a post on a related post here. Naming the books we have in common Different topic but same concept. How can we hold something in common?