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Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Gundry responds to Grudem and Focus on the Family

We blogged last week about the two broadcasts of Focus on the Family in which Wayne Grudem was the guest and continued his attacks on the TNIV. (You can download the broadcasts for free in MP3 format or order a CD from FOTF.) There was no opportunity given on either FOTF broadcast for anyone to response to the accusations against the TNIV made by Dr. Grudem. In this post Dr. Stan Gundry, who was one of my professors in Bible school, responds. Feel free to link to this blog post so that as many people as possible can have the opportunity to hear a response to Dr. Grudem. It is only proper in debates like this that each side can fairly be heard. Dr. Gundry posted his response to the Bible Translation discussion list last night. He has given permission for his response to be posted here, as well. Here it is:
Normally I am a lurker on this list but every 2 or 3 years I emerge from my hole to issue a challenge, and I am doing so now.

I have found the list discussion of the FOTF Q&A between Grudem and Dobson concerning the TNIV to be fascinating and informative, and I commend both sides for the high level of discussion.

But I am troubled by a larger issue that all sides on this list are largely ignoring. As scholars on any side of this issue, don't you find it difficult to take seriously a discussion allegedly intended to inform the Christian public that represented only one side of the discussion? To make matters worse, how can you not be offended by a discussion that was not only tendentious, but also inflammatory in its rhetoric, even to the point of being misleading and bordering on being libelous? And many statements were at best simplistic to the nth degree? These are strong words. But lest I be accused of violating the list rules, I must point out I am not attributing motives to or commenting on personalities; I am simply identifying what was said and rendering a judgment on that. Allow me to give the evidence from the streaming audio that I istened to last night and took notes on. These are not always exact quotes, but they give the sense accurately. I will cite the places from the first and then the second broadcast by minute: second. If you have not heard these broadcasts for yourself, I encourage you to do so. I think you will find I have been guilty of only one thing--understatement.

First Broadcast, 10/26/05--

3:50 Dobson accuses the translators of changing the words of scripture, of tampering, and Grudem agrees,

12:37 Grudem says that the TNIV translators took out words to satisfy modern readers--words that are offensive to them.

25:00 Throughout Grudem repeatedly refers to over 3600 translation inaccuracies, but at this point he goes further and says that in over 3600 places the TNIV is not trustworthy, and you don't know where these 3600 places are [so by implication the whole version is untrustworthy].

Second Broadcast, 10/27/05--

0:40 They have tampered with Scripture.

2:25 The TNIV translators gave way to political correctness.

7:50 Grudem says the TNIV doesn't like "him" in Rev. 22:18, so they changed the very words of the verse that says don't change the words of the Bible.

9:30 Grudem asks if Greek and Hebrew word meanings have changed between the NIV and the TNIV [when the real questions is has English changed, or do we have a better understanding of the Hebrew and Greek?].

11:00 Dobson--culture is influencing how the Bible is being translated, followed by the claim that the 3600+ changes are not justified, followed by a slippery slope prediction.

13:00 Grudem predicts that translating pater as parent is setting the stage to translate references to God as Father to God as Parent. His logic is that the TNIV eliminated English masculine generics because they found them offensive, so what is to prevent future revisions from eliminating other things that might be regarded as offensive, such as God as Father and the exclusivity of Jesus.

15:56 The TNIV makes a tragic mistake in thinking they have to tone down some of what the Bible says.

16:15 A Bible that takes 3600+ masculine oriented terms out of the Bible takes a lot of manhood out of the Bible--it's not as much a man's Bible anymore [I did not know whether to laugh or cry when I heard this one].

23:50 Grudem's concluding advice: Don't buy or support gender neutral Bibles. Buy an "essentially" [a nice waffle word] literal translation, then you can have one you can trust as the very words of God.

This kind of attribution of negative motives, implied attack on the integrity and scholarship of the TNIV translators, and simplistic claims/argumentation is inexcusable, in my view. And I will be disappointed if scholars on both sides of this debate, including those on this list, do not rise up with one voice and identify it for what it is and condemn it. Your silence will be understood as agreement and approval.

Stan Gundry
In the interests of full disclosure--Senior Vice President and
Editor-in-Chief, Zondervan
Categories: , , , ,


At Tue Nov 01, 04:28:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Wayne, thank you for posting this. But it would be much more legible if you deleted the unnecessary new lines in the middle of paragraphs - an artefact of the plain text e-mail process by which you received it.

At Tue Nov 01, 06:07:00 PM, Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

Wayne, thanks.

I guess what surprised me more than anything else (and "surprise" is too strong a word here) was what I perceived to be the weaknesses in Grudem's argument in the segment of the second program I caught on my way to work.

When you have James Dobson, the SBC and the PCA against the TNIV, you do have the deck stacked against you- as compared to the circumstances surrounding the publishing of the NIV some 30-35 years ago.

I'm glad you cover these matters openly here.

I much prefer the TNIV myself, and plan to simply use it in public (which I already do) while avoiding the heat that is out there as much as possible.

I did get a KJV user to become interested in the ESV. He bought himself a copy he now uses.

At Tue Nov 01, 09:10:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Ted, thank you for your gracious comments. I am glad to cover all Bible translation concerns on this blog as long as we can do so with integrity and grace.

It's good that your KJV friend is now using the ESV. It is an improvement on the KJV for today's speakers of English.

At Wed Nov 02, 04:17:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

The primary reason for using gender neutral expressions is because they are accurate, accurately expressing the meaning intended by the biblical authors - in the judgment of the translators, who in the case of TNIV are respected scholars with various opinions on the complementarian or egalitarian issue.

Grudem repeatedly charged the TNIV translation team with something which they, and Gundry, have clearly denied. It is not just "unkind" but reprehensible, even sinful, to make such charges impugning the integrity of one's Christian brothers and sisters, at least without providing any evidence to back up his charges.

There is actually a long tradition of avoiding offensive language within the Bible. The consonantal Hebrew text of 2 Kings 6:25 has a word which would probably best be translated "doves' shit", but in the Masoretic pointed text the vowel points for a different word, "doves' dung", have been supplied to avoid offence. And most translations are full of euphemisms for sexual behaviour etc, sometimes rendering euphemisms in the original language and sometimes rendering very direct words. Are you really saying that it is wrong and invalid to avoid using offensive language in a Bible translation?

At Wed Nov 02, 05:35:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Some TNIV people have themselves openly stated that "avoiding offense" is one of the main reasons for adopting gender-neutral expressions.

Would you have any references that can be cited for this, Michael? I have only heard TNIV people state that they are using the gender-inclusive language for the sake of accuracy, namely, when the referents in the biblical language text are a group of both males and females, or there is an indefinite referent who can be either a male or female. Obviously, having language which does not sound masculine to refer to gender-inclusive referents is less offensive to many people. And some TNIV advocates have pointed this out. But can you cite any quotations from any TNIV advocates where the motivation for the use of gender-inclusive language is directly stated as being to have the Bible be less "offensive", as opposed to a motivation for translation accuracy?

Thanks for your comments, Michael. It's always good to hear things from different points of view. It's good to hear how different versions of the Bible are perceived by different theological and ideological groups.

At Wed Nov 02, 07:53:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

That is not true. The TNIV committee itself wrote this in a policy statement:

"Authors of Biblical books, even while writing Scripture inspired by the Holy Spirit, unconsciously reflected in many ways, the particular cultures in which they wrote. Hence in the manner in which they articulate the Word of God, they sometimes offend modern sensibilities. At such times, translators can and may use non-offending renderings so as not to hinder the message of the Spirit."

Is this statement on the public record? What is your bibliographic reference for it? I personally find it disturbing and not in line with what has been communicated to me by CBT members. Please cite the reference so I can check it out with TNIV people to see if it was ever an official policy statement, and, if so, from which entity, the CBT, IBS, or Zondervan, for instance.

At Wed Nov 02, 08:21:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Wayne, you must have posted your comment while I was posting my previous one, in which I quoted the paragraph from the CBT's Policy Statement of 1992.

Yes, we must have been posting at the same time. Thank you for posting the explicit quote from the 1992 statement. I am now following up on it with men connected with the TNIV. Again, I find it disturbing. I don't believe we should practice any accommodation during Bible translation. I sincerely believe we should only translate accurately. You and I might disagree on how a few verses that potentially have gender-inclusive referents should be translated, but I'm sure that we would agree that all gendered references (which may be different from grammatical gender) need to remain gendered in translation.

I hope to get back to you on this matter, if I can get a response from TNIV personnel.

At Thu Nov 03, 06:14:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Son of Abraham, thank you for the statement you quoted, which I found online at I note from the heading of this page that these guidelines "were adopted by the NIV Committee on Bible Translation in 1992, (1) in preparation for the Inclusive Language Edition of the NIV published in Great Britain in 1996. ... The Today's New International Version published in 2002 goes well beyond these 1992 guidelines."

But I think you misled us when you wrote "The TNIV committee itself wrote this in a policy statement...", but then dated the words to 1992. TNIV had not even been dreamed up in 1992. Yes, this was perhaps from the same Committee on Bible Translation which later produced the TNIV. But it is unfair to suggest that these words define the translation principles for a translation which at that time had not even been started - as is made explicit by Michael Marlowe who put this text on his website. It is surely more appropriate to give precedence to the considerable number of published statements made in relation to the publication of TNIV, including those on the TNIV website, as well as Gundry's comments in this posting.

I also wonder if you have taken this statement out of context. I am quite sure that the point "translators can and may use non-offending renderings" was intended to be secondary to Basic Principle A in these guidelines, "Biblical translations must be faithful to the original language texts", and so to apply only on condition that those non-offending renderings are also accurate. For accuracy has always been primary for the CBT. The point is made even more clear in Basic Principle relating to patriarchalism, which states that "alternative modes of expression can and may be used, though care must be taken not to distort the intent of the original text."

Are you really claiming that in cases where there is a choice between two accurate renderings, one which is offensive and the other which is not, it is wrong to choose the one which is not offensive?

You quoted Basic Principle C as referring to "forms of expression that appear, in the modern context, to deny the common human dignity of all hearers and readers." The point here is clearly that certain forms of expression were not originally intended to deny common human dignity, but can in the modern context be misunderstood as doing so if translated inappropriately. So the team wished to substitute alternative non-traditional accurate renderings, which by avoiding this misunderstanding are actually more accurate than the traditional renderings. This is for accuracy, not as accommodationism (which has three m's, by the way).

At Thu Nov 03, 07:16:00 AM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Michael, it is too early in the day to expect any answer back yet from the TNIV team. However, I noted that the policy statement you quoted was from 1992. Notice this timeline of "Gender-Neutral Translations" from your chart at url:

1983. An Inclusive Language Lectionary
1985. New Jerusalem Bible
1986. New American Bible, revised New Testament
1987. New Century Version
1989. Revised English Bible
1990. New Revised Standard Version
1992. Good News Bible, 2nd ed.
1993. The Message
1993. The Five Gospels (Jesus Seminar).
1994. The Inclusive New Testament
1995. Contemporary English Version
1995. God's Word
1995. New International Reader's Version
1995. New International Version, Inclusive Language Edition
1995. New Testament and Psalms, An Inclusive Version
1996. New Living Translation
2002. Today's New International Version
2004. Good As New: A Radical Retelling of the Scriptures

I don't think the statement you quoted in an earlier comment on this post would be a policy statement about the TNIV, since you cited a 1992 date. It's possible that it could have been some kind of policy statement as a precursor to the NIVI which, as you know, was never published in the U.S. There are differences between the NIVI and the TNIV.

Again, it would be helpful to get the full bibliographic entry for the policy statement from 1992 which you cited.

And I'll bring back info here as soon as I can get it, if I get a response from the TNIV team.

At Thu Nov 03, 07:18:00 AM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Peter, it looks like my latest comment once again crossed with that of someone else, this time you. Is this a case of great minds thinking alike?!! :-)

At Thu Nov 03, 10:51:00 AM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

As for the CBT members, they have been strangely quiet, and have given no answer to Grudem and Poythress. Several times I have looked for any responses written by them, and I have found nothing. Actually there is no need for them to say anything further, because their 1992 policy statement speaks for itself.

Mark Strauss is now a member of the CBT. He has responded to P&G and Grudem by himself several times and continues to do so.

At Thu Nov 03, 10:58:00 AM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

From what I can gather, the 1992 policy statement is not a statement about policy or motivation for the TNIV. The CBT membership has changed over the years. We need to carefully examine who was on the CBT in 1992 and who was on the CBT when the TNIV was produced. We also need to carefully examine changing policies of the CBT over the years.

I still have been unable to locate a document from which your quotation for a "1992" statement was taken. It is a serious matter to locate such a document, determine its status, and cite its bibliographic reference.

At Thu Nov 03, 10:58:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Michael, thank you for your comments, and for revealing your identity. I would also like to thank you for the notes on the NT text on your website, which I have found very helpful.

The CBT members have not been silent, for they have written "A Word to the Reader" which is the preface to TNIV. In this they explained the goals of their work of revising NIV to produce TNIV. They wrote "The chief goal of this review has always been to bring the text of the NIV abreast of contemporary biblical scholarship and of shifts in English idiom and usage." - and then explicitly that "The first concern of the translators has continued to be the accuracy of the translation and its faithfulness to the intended meaning of the biblical writers." There is no mention in this preface of avoiding giving offence.

I really think that you ought to judge the CBT's principles by what they say about it now, and by the fruits of the work, rather than holding against them a paper written many years ago about a different translation in a different context.

I do not fault Grudem for responding to the 1992 statement, I do fault you for using it against Gundry in 2005.

There is a lot more which I could say about this, but no time at the moment.

At Thu Nov 03, 11:13:00 AM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

It looks my last comment once again crossed with one by you, Michael, and one or two by Peter.

I just googled for the 1992 policy quote from you, Michael. Here is the Google results page:

I find no entry from the CBT, IBS, or Zondervan. The only references are to your own writings, Michael, and a reference to a World Magazine article about a 1992 statement.

What we need, at this point, is the primary source, not secondary sources, although secondary sources are often better than no sources. We need to see the actual 1992 policy, know who it was issued by, know what its status was, whether it was a document subscribed to by the entire CBT, etc. So many unanswered questions.

I am still hoping for a response from the chairman of the CBT as well as its former chairman.]

Michael, from what document did you excerpt your 1992 CBT policy statement quote? Where did you read that policy statement? Was it a primary source or a secondary source?

At Thu Nov 03, 11:29:00 AM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Michael, I have now just googled on other key words and find that something like the 1992 quote from you is found in the preface to the NIVI, a different translation from the TNIV:

The preface of the British published INIV seemed to confirm the complementarians worst fears. It states, "At the same time, it was recognized that it was often appropriate to mute the patriarchalism of the culture of the biblical writers through gender-inclusive language when this could be done without compromising the message of the Spirit."

This is from url:

From my own interactions with the CBT members who worked on the TNIV, I don't think they would consider it appropriate to follow any policy which accommodates to muting the patriarchy of the Bible if that also meant reducing the accuracy of the translation. Of course, I can't speak for the current CBT or its current policies, but I have followed the debates between Grudem and Strauss (now on the CBT) and various responses to P&G's book, as well as official statements about the TNIV and the translation policies behind it. Nowhere in any of all this have I found the CBT members willing to sacrifice accuracy for accommodation to any social agenda.

Therefore, as I have repeatedly stated in a variety of forums, I think it would be more appropriate of Dr. Grudem not to try to discern the motives of the CBT in its TNIV wordings, but, rather, simply to state where he disagrees with TNIV wordings, and why.

12:27 PM

At Thu Nov 03, 06:12:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

TNIV is a different translation from NIVI, quite deliberately produced on rather different principles. If I remember rightly, NIVI was strongly condemned at the Colorado Springs meeting in 1997, and this was partly justifiable. The meeting then produced the Colorado Springs Guidelines (on your site, Michael, at, and among those who endorsed them was Ken Barker, then Secretary of the Committee on Bible Translation.

Now it is clear that the TNIV produced in 2002 and 2005 conforms fully neither to the 1992 principles which Michael has quoted nor to the 1997 Colorado Springs Guidelines. For the CBT has clearly not felt itself bound by its previous statements, for "The first concern of the translators has continued to be the accuracy of the translation", and consistency with past statements has not been allowed to compromise accuracy. So, let me appeal for this again, don't rely on out of date policy statements but let the TNIV text speak for itself.

At Thu Nov 03, 08:43:00 PM, Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

Wayne and Peter, good work. And I don't fault Carson, myself, for wanting a good translation of Scripture that accurately speaks to his target university audience. To question Carson's motives in wanting such a Bible, is a mistake.

At Fri Nov 04, 08:23:00 AM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Michael, you said to Peter:

Essentially you are asking me to abstract the TNIV from its historical context, and analyze it as if the NIVI and the CBT's policy statement did not exist. In particular, you want me to forget about the accommodationist principle (avoid offending modern sensibilities) set forth in the policy statement. But at this point I don't think that's a reasonable request. Even if this statement did not exist, I think we have good reasons to conclude that the principle is at work in the TNIV.

This is to let you know that I have now received a clear statement from the current chairman of the CBT of the history behind various policy statements re: gender-inclusive language and accommodation. I am not yet at liberty to quote from that private email, but I have asked for such permission. Let me just say that the CBT chairman made it clear that the NIVI statements were made in haste, under publication pressure deadlines. The CBT regrets how those statements were worded. They do not reflect the more studied policy of the CBT. And the TNIV was not translated according to an accommodationist policy. Instead, the TNIV was translated according to what the CBT concluded was the most accurate way to render passages which they (and many other exegetes) understood to be gender-inclusive references in the biblical language texts. In that process of translating "accurately", if an "offense" which was not there in the original texts, but is in some English translations of that text, is removed, the TNIV team rejoices, as do many other conservative Christians.

These are my own words, attempting to explain the history of CBT policy which has evolved over the years. I hope to gain permission to directly quote the CBT chairman.

I recognize that perhaps little, if any, of what I have just written will be of any help to you. But it's the best I can do at this point.

I suspect that you will continue to believe that the CBT translates from motives of accommodationism. The CBT would deny that. Their denial will likely not convince you otherwise. So there is little need for further dialogue when opposing views continue to be held after each side explains its position.

You and I have been through similar exchanges before and, as you know, I finally had to end the dialogue.

If you can think of anything else which might break the dialogic logjam, please do mention it. Otherwise, I don't think it does very much good to keep stating opposing opinions.

For myself, the only thing I can think of at this point which would help in dialogue would be to move comments more toward as objective as possible evaluation of empirical data, examining specific translation wordings to determine what the range of biblical scholarship would consider accurate translation.

At Fri Nov 04, 09:16:00 AM, Blogger Adam Omelianchuk said...

Thanks for the facinating discussion.

At Fri Nov 04, 12:21:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

I wrote: "TNIV is a different translation from NIVI, quite deliberately produced on rather different principles."

Michael replied: "Peter, If this is true, then you should be able to demonstrate it, but as an unsupported assertion it lacks plausibility."

The most obvious proof that TNIV is a different translation from NIVI is to examine the many differences between the texts. There are many places (but I can't list them because I don't have NIVI) where NIVI readings which were strongly criticised by the anti-gender-generic camp are not found in TNIV. For the CBT was clearly partially convinced by the arguments and fuss in 1997 which led to the Colorado Springs guidelines, and concluded that some of NIVI readings were wrong - perhaps too extreme or "accommodationist". So they responded to the good parts of the arguments against NIVI by adjusting their translation principles, moving them a long way towards the Colorado Springs guidelines while not following them in their entirety. As a result TNIV is a much better translation than NIVI - except that I would say that it has moved back a bit too far, e.g. in accepting "sonship" in Romans 8:12.

You guys really need to learn a little bit of the art of compromise and diplomacy. You launched into a huge and violent criticism of NIVI. As a result you got more than half of what you wanted, with the CBT making major changes in TNIV, which can perhaps be seen as a compromise version. But not only do you not accept it as a reasonable compromise, you don't even accept it as any improvement or anything different at all from NIVI. This makes it quite clear that you have no interest in rational discussion or in reaching an acceptable solution, but only in stirring up controversy and hindering the work of the gospel among the target audience of TNIV.

Don't forget what happened when Paul found someone opposing the gospel, Acts 13:8-11. My own response to you will be more like 13:46, I won't waste any more time with you but will turn to something worthwhile.

At Sat Nov 05, 08:10:00 AM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

If you the TNIV is all for accuracy then they missed it in Psalm 34:20. "He protects all their bones, not one of them will be broken." It should rightly state "his bones", since this is a reference to Christ, which is totally lost in the TNIV. So much for accuracy!

No, the TNIV did not miss it here. Check the Hebrew (not English translations of it) and you can see that "their bones" is accurate within its context of referring to how God protects righteous people. The New Testament quote adapts Ps. 34:20 to have application to a single person, Christ. Dr. Grudem misleads millions of people who heard his broadcast when he called this a TNIV inaccuracy.

At Sat Nov 05, 04:07:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Michael, I agree with you that "the righteous man" in the Psalm may stand for all the righteous. Indeed I would say that the word sometimes translated "the righteous man" truly does "stand for" all the righteous, male and female, and does not refer only to Jesus. In the specific version of English spoken most widely by the explicitly stated target audience for TNIV, 18-35-year-olds, there is no gender generic singular personal pronoun except for the singular "they". It would be a mistranslation to use "his" here because in this dialect that would give the wrong teaching that the promises in this psalm are for males only. So, in accordance with its general practice in both NT and OT, TNIV renders with "they".

I am very glad that this psalm refers to all the righteous, and so that its wonderful promises apply to me, righteous in Christ. John the apostle is by no means denying this when he applies the general promise to one particular righteous man, Jesus. The verse continues to have a general applicability as well as referring to Jesus. The OT certainly should not be translated in a different way just because of this individual application of it.

By the way, I came across an example where ESV does exactly what TNIV is here criticised for, by using the plural where the original is singular: Deuteronomy 29:10 "all the men of Israel" rendering כֹּ֖ל אִ֥ישׁ יִשְׂרָאֵֽל K.OL )IY$ YI&:RF)"L, literally "every man of Israel". Those who promote the ESV should look more carefully in their own eyes rather than searching for every speck in the TNIV eyes.

At Sun Nov 06, 01:14:00 PM, Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

Doesn't the LXX translation change singulars to plurals in certain passages? And there are other instances where it is clearly a departure from the Hebrew. Unfortunately I don't have a copy of the LXX.

And the LXX is quoted from at times in the New Testament.

Good work you guys- Wayne and Peter, are doing. I'm glad to go on avoiding such controversies as much as possible. Bible translations will forever be a red hot issue until Jesus comes back. And men and ministries have gotten way off track by making what translation one is to use central in their work. (Wasn't the AV/KJV accepted around 50 years after 1611?)

We need guys like you who really study and work in these areas for the rest of us. I enjoy looking at such studies and then coming to a conclusion- usually just helping us see what is there. Thanks.

At Sun Nov 06, 05:46:00 PM, Blogger Adam Omelianchuk said...

From the TNIV website on Psalm 34:20:
Note, for example, how NT writers occasionally change OT singular references to plurals (compare Isa. 52:7 with Rom. 10:15; Ps. 36:1 with Rom. 3:10,18; Ps. 32:1 with Rom. 4:6-7). Do such changes "obscure" the connections between the OT and NT passages? Of course not. Moreover, entirely apart from the gender issue, the shift from singular to plural in this verse is actually a gain in that it makes clearer to the reader that the reference in Ps. 34:20 is generic rather than particular, and that in John 19:36 the author of the Gospel was applying this generic statement about "the righteous" to Jesus as the supreme Righteous One.

At Mon Nov 07, 09:55:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Michael wrote: "John gives us a Christological interpretation of the Psalm..."

Fair enough, Michael. I agree with you that "It really ought to be represented in a translation", if you mean in the NT. But I don't accept that Christological or any other interpretations of the OT should be written back into the OT text.

Adam, thank you for your helpful quote from the website, which summarises the issue more clearly and concisely than I was able to.

Michael also wrote "I don't think it's true ... In fact I am quite sure ..." Michael, have you done any field testing of this? Have you asked any people aged under 34, who have not been brought up among Christians? I will accept that "The TNIV revisers... wanted to bring the version in line with the stylistic rules of "non-sexist" language that are enforced in their academic world." But this form of the English language is not just a result of enforcement, but (whether you like it or not) it is the natural language of a large proportion of English speakers especially in TNIV's target age range.

At Mon Nov 07, 05:25:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Michael wrote: "I think you are really going overboard when you claim that young adults do not understand that "train up a child in the way he should go" applies to girls as well as boys. I don't understand why you are making such a claim."

One reason why I am making this claim is because I remember that evidence of just such a misunderstanding was presented on the bible translation list. I think those who misunderstood a passage like this were teenage girls rather than young adults - but will they understand any better when they grow up? See also my entry in this blog, also relating to the language of teenage girls.

You also suggest that I "have some theory of translation that says we should use only the most common and current forms of colloquial speech when translating the Bible, because this would give the text the greatest possible clarity and ease". Well, that is not far from the truth. I do believe that a translation, especially one like TNIV which is explicitly targeted at a particular group, should use the most common and current forms of language among that target group, "because this would give the text the greatest possible clarity and ease" to that target group. But you say "I see some major problems with that idea". What problems? I don't see any, although of course the translation does have to be accurate as well as clear and natural.

At Mon Nov 07, 05:32:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Michael, you asked Wayne to post his evidence of the CBT's current thinking, if he has received permission. But when I posted to you clear evidence of the CBT's thinking in 2003 as printed in the TNIV preface, you repeatedly rejected this evidence and insisted that the CBT's true thinking at that time was not what they wrote at that time, but what they had written more than ten years earlier about a different translation. In effect you called them liars. If you were not prepared to accept the truth of what CBT said about their own thinking in 2003, what reason do Wayne and I have to think that you will pay any attention to what they say about it in 2005?

At Tue Nov 08, 02:49:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Michael wrote "I have seen over and over again how the "colloquial style" preference of some versions works against accuracy in translation."

Michael, I take your point, but please note that I deliberately avoided the word "colloquial" in my restatement of the position you attributed to me.

You continued: "The closest English equivalent for some Greek or Hebrew expression is often a word not commonly heard in daily speech, and the translator who is trying to keep within the limits of colloquial speech must settle for a less satisfactory equivalent."

Maybe, but very often the "closest English equivalent" is not a single word, common or obscure, but a phrase which can easily be understood by almost everyone. I also have doubts about the implication of your statement that translation consists of stringing together closest English equivalents rather than putting the meaning into English, but that is a different issue.

Then you wrote: "I believe that such constraints are not necessary for the common reader of the Bible."

Sadly, there is a lot of truth in this. There are very many people in the English-speaking world who do not understand many of the words which you would like as "closest English equivalents". But most of these people have abandoned Bible reading, or never taken it up, because they don't understand what they read and are alienated by it. Do you want people like this to read the Bible? The TNIV team, and many other translation teams, certainly do. And so they aim to translate in a way that these people understand and accept. Or would you prefer that they do not read and understand, and suffer the eternal consequences?

At Tue Nov 08, 09:01:00 AM, Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

I would guess that the aim of Zondervan was to get a younger public that was not unduly influenced by either the idea that the NIV should not be revised or the idea that what James Dobson (with my respect to him) says goes.

I really don't see much difference otherwise, and have a hard time seeing that group as factored in as a low common denominator.

In comparing the TNIV with the NIV or even with the ESV this "dispute" with this particular blogger (with my respect to him) to me is much adieu about nothing.

At Tue Nov 08, 10:03:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Well, Michael, I accept that TNIV very likely is aimed at the "middle third" level of competence, at least among the 18-34 age range, and not at the lowest levels. And so it is able to use wordings which would not be suitable for the lowest levels. Nevertheless, the translators of TNIV have seen fit to avoid using certain words which are found in RSV, ESV etc, because they recognise that these words are not clearly understood even by the "middle third", but only by those with unusually high levels of literacy, and by those brought up on KJV, RSV or similar. But actually the great majority of these differences from RSV, except for the specifically gender related ones, are already found in NIV. As such, TNIV is surely a good replacement for NIV for that "middle third", with the advantage of certain general improvements (which don't materially affect its general positioning on the scale of translations) and its improved acceptability especially to the 18-34 age group because of its gender related language.

So, while I understand (but do not agree with) your objections to the TNIV concerning gender related language, I fail to understand why you are attacking TNIV for its general level of language while apparently endorsing NIV.

As for NRSV, one very good reason for its relative failure is that there is only a small market for "essentially literal" translations outside conservative evangelical churches, and those churches did not endorse NRSV because of its gender related language, and because the translators were not evangelical. But NRSV has sold well in traditional denominations and in the academic world, for which it is very suited. The reasons why these traditional denominations continue to decline is not because of the Bible version they use but because they fail to preach the true Word of God in the power of the Holy Spirit. Of course if they had promoted a readable Bible version rather than an essentially literal one, more people might have read it and found truth and salvation through it - but such individuals would not bring revival to churches led by those who lack true biblical faith.

At Tue Nov 08, 10:47:00 AM, Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

sorry, I was not a good reader (or was it my memory?), on my previous comment.

Maybe I need to go to the CEV or something like that. :}

At Tue Nov 08, 12:51:00 PM, Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

I want to apologize to son of abraham and Peter and Wayne for my words "much adieu about nothing".

Though I grow wary of the controversies about Bible translation, I think there are certainly valid issues of debate on this subject.

I am glad that you "son of Abraham" are interacting with Wayne and Peter on these issues. And thanks again, Wayne and Peter for interacting with all of us, and for providing this blog.

Ted Gossard

At Thu Nov 10, 07:39:00 AM, Blogger R. Mansfield said...

I just now got around to trying to download the mp3 of the conversation with Grudem. I don't think it's there anymore. The link take me to a place where I can order it on CD for $9.

If anyone originally downloaded the free broadcast on MP3 and has a way that I could download it from you, please let me know at

At Mon Jun 12, 11:02:00 AM, Blogger LoieJ said...

I just came across this discussion. I was amazed that the guidelines state the following, "Posting guidelines: Blog posts and comments should focus on Bible translation issues, not personalities. Try to support claims with evidence. Please do not question the spirituality or motives of anyone, including Bible translation teams." yet one of the contributors writes the following, "
As for NRSV, one very good reason for its relative failure is that there is only a small market for "essentially literal" translations outside conservative evangelical churches, and those churches did not endorse NRSV because of its gender related language, and because the translators were not evangelical. But NRSV has sold well in traditional denominations and in the academic world, for which it is very suited. The reasons why these traditional denominations continue to decline is not because of the Bible version they use but because they fail to preach the true Word of God in the power of the Holy Spirit. Of course if they had promoted a readable Bible version rather than an essentially literal one, more people might have read it and found truth and salvation through it - but such individuals would not bring revival to churches led by those who lack true biblical faith."

I will not question the spirituality of someone who would make this statement, but I would question the logic and scholarship of someone who would make that statement. Surely it is a statement of gross overgeneralization. Or maybe I'm wrong; maybe this person has met all these individuals and can make this statement in truth.

Such judgments belong to God not to man. (Singular, masculine.)

At Sat Dec 30, 09:56:00 PM, Blogger Tim said...

Why don't we just continue to teach that sometimes words in English, like "mankind," mean "all humanity?" Traditionally, words like "man" have not always meant "males only." For example, Neil Armstrong's statement "That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind" is ridiculously simple in meaning. If we just educate like we should, there's no need to change the words to be all-inclusive, because the words used in previous versions were generally all-inclusive. I am not opposed to clearing up misinterpretations in past translations. The translators of the TNIV seem to go too far in taking out “offensive” terminology wherever they find the opportunity. I fear that we are just another step closer to "trading the truth for a lie."

At Thu Nov 01, 09:08:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I'm done with James "Drive by Media" Dobson and his side kick Wayne Grudem. The complete and total distortion of the facts by these people is disgusting.


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