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Thursday, May 31, 2007

A Woman's Bible

I am not going to pretend that I am able to give a dispassionate review of a contemporary evangelical Bible. I can only present my point of view. I may sink myself in oblivion when reading the Lindisfarne Gospels, the Pagnini Psalter and Alter's David Story. I can allow myself to be lost in those texts and reflect on how God is revealed and humankind responds. I can become Mary and Martha and Michael and the psalmist.

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 . .
I would like to examine this thesis and see if the TNIV has indeed changed the translation of many of the key passages regarding women in the church. Dr. Grudem writes "many" - and I can only think of 4 or 5. If I have missed any, I would appreciate a little prodding.

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?

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Did David come back to life?

In Jer. 30:9 God told Jeremiah that the time will come when the exiled people of Judah
will serve the LORD their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them (NIV/TNIV)

shall serve the LORD their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them (ESV)

will serve the Lord their God and I will raise up David their king for them (HCSB)
But David had been dead for a long time when Jeremiah was a prophet. How could David be raised up for the people to serve him as king? Would David come back to life?

No. When the Hebrew text and these literal translations refer to David being raised up, "David" is serving as a kind of figure of speech. The name "David" in Jer. 30:9 represents something larger than the man David himself. This figure of speech is called a synecdoche, where the part (David) represents the whole (the Davidic throne or dynasty).

How many English Bible readers will take these literal translations literally and understand from them that God will raise up David himself? I don't know, but I would guess that at least some, perhaps many, would, unless they are taught that "David" doesn't really mean 'David' here. So teaching is one solution to the translation problem.

Another solution is found in versions which translate the non-literal meaning of the word "David":
But they will be subject to the LORD their God and to the Davidic ruler whom I will raise up as king over them. (NET)

Instead, they will serve me, the LORD their God, and a descendant of David, whom I will enthrone as king. (GNT)

For my people will serve the LORD their God and their king descended from David—the king I will raise up for them. (NLT)
In Jer. 30:9, which translation approach do you consider more "accurate"?

As you answer, take into consideration faithfulness to what the Hebrew text said, what it meant, and readers' understandings of a translation wording. And by all means, let's avoid put downs of any answers which people give. Rather, let's try to understand what each person means by their answer. We can learn from each other. There is no single right answer or solution here, so there is no need to act like there is.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Spinning Globes

Remember those spinning globes that everyone had to have on their website. I still love them, especially now that they have often become spinnable globes, controlled by the mouse. I have my favourite sites for school kids where they can rotate a globe or a 3-D shape at a whim - have the whole world in their hands. is another such luscious site. Here you can find statistics on evangelisation around the world. This site indexes churches, languages, and the status of Bible translation, Jesus Film translation, Radio broadcasts, along with population, transport and geographical information. One could spend all day with this stuff.

Take a look. I chose Bangladesh from the drop-down menu and found a map of Bible translation, with red representing "needs translation" while an interactive map also portrays Bible translation status. It is loaded in frames so I can't link to a specific map. Try the drop-down menu, choose a country, look at the Bible translation map and then select the interactive map for another look at similar data. Select topics from the right hand menu and the legend from the top toolbar.

I am not quite sure whether the data on one map match the data on the other map, but I haven't finished exploring and comparing. I have also found the Ethnologue page for Bengladesh but I don't see where or if it records on going Bible translation status by region. Is there somewhere to find this data? What else do you see at this site?

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Lunchroom chat and a Woman's Bible

Last year I mentioned a few conversations I have had at work over lunch. When the chat dies down, I will sometimes just turn to a colleague and ask her what Bible(s) she has used. Since I work in a public school with a staff from a mixed background, Catholic, Jewish, atheist, Buddhist, this can be interesting. So far, I have had some in depth conversations about the Good News Bible, and the King James Version, the only two which seem to be widely recognized.

Today I asked a colleague whom I knew to be an evangelical,

"What Bible do you use in your house church?"

"Oh, we all use something different - I don't know, well, you know, NRV and The Word."

I nodded sympathetically and waited.

"By Eugene Peterson."

"Oh yeah, the Message."

"Yeah, that's it. I have a Woman's Bible, maybe NRV, hmmm, NIV? It has all these little boxes, devotions, for women and all that. Oh, I love it."

"Not the TNIV?"

"How would I recognize that?"

"Well, if it had brothers and sisters in it."

"Oh, no, I don't mind something not being gender inclusive. You know the best Bible for the sheer poetry is the King James Bible. Yes, that is the best."

And I would have to agree. The King James version offers not only poetry but in places a more literal translation. I still stubbornly hold to the idea that the literal and non-interpretive style of the KJV serves women well. Other literal Bibles are also good for women. I was also familiar with the Young's literal translation. Maybe it is my familiarity with these translations that makes me so uneasy at some of the Bibles I start out to review here. I am simply taken by surprise!

Here is the question - which modern Bibles are closest to a traditional and literal interpretation for the following verses? I have provided the KJV, Young's literal version, the Emphasized Bible, Luther Bible, and Latin Vulgate for comparison. Is it just me, or are Bibles in this century more selectively interpretive in these verses.

Rom. 16:1


servant KJV
ministrant YLT
minister EB
im Dienste Luther
in ministerio Latin

Rom. 16:2


succourer KJV
leader YLT
defender EB
Beistand Luther
astitit Latin

Rom. 16:7

ἐπίσημοι ἐν τοῖς ἀποστόλοις

of note among the apostles KJV
Junias - of note among the apostles YLT
Junias - of note among the Apostle EB
Junias - berühmte Apostel Luther
nobiles in Apostolis Latin

1 Cor. 11:10

ἐξουσίαν ἔχειν ἐπὶ τῆς κεφαλῆς

have power on her head KJV
[a token of] authority upon the head YLT
to have permission EB
eine Macht auf dem Haupt haben Luther
potestatem habere supra caput Latin

1 Tim. 2:12


to usurp authority KJV
rule YLT
have authority over a man EB
daß sie des Mannes Herr sei Luther
dominari Latin

I don't think readers realize that when I noticed that the NET notes didn't mention "leader" for προστάτις, I was genuinely surprised because we used the Young's Literal Translation as a reference Bible when I was young. Some may talk about my having a "preferred" interpretation but I am displaying legitimate concern when a traditional and literal understanding is not even referenced in notes.

But I want to ask which modern Bible would be a candidate for the most traditional and literal translation with regards to these verses? Which ones are the farthest removed from tradition? I have only checked a handful so far. Believe it or not!


I'm going to score these Bibles out of 4, counting Rom. 16: 1 and 2 together. If we look at the accepted text base and lexicons which are contemporary with these Bibles, they would all score 3 out of 4 for being literal.

Young's Literal Translation - 2 1/2 out of 4,
Emphasized Bible - 2 out of 4,
King James Version - 3 out 4,
Luther - 2 out of 4,
Vulgate - 3 out of 4

ESV 2001 - 1 out of 4

Rom. 16:1 - servant
Rom. 16:2 - patron
Rom.16:7 - well known to
1 Cor. 11:10 - a symbol of authority on her head
1 Tim. 2:12 - exercise authority

TNIV 2001 - 4 out of 4

Rom. 16:1 - deacon
Rom. 16:2 - benefactor
Rom.16:7 - outstanding among
1 Cor. 11:10 - have authority over her own head
1 Tim. 2:12 - assume authority

HCSB 1999 - 2 out of 4

Rom. 16:1 - servant
Rom. 16:2 - benefactor
Rom.16:7 - outstanding among
1 Cor. 11:10 - [a symbol of] authority on her head
1 Tim. 2:12 - have authority

NET - 1996 - 2005, 0 out of 4

Rom. 16:1 - servant
Rom. 16:2 - great help
Rom.16:7 - well known to
1 Cor. 11:10 - symbol of authority on her head
1 Tim. 2:12 - exercise authority

NLT 1996 - 2 out of 4

Rom. 16:1 - deacon
Rom. 16:2 - helpful
Rom.16:7 - respected among
1 Cor. 11:10 - wear a covering on her head to show she is under authority
1 Tim. 2:12 - have authority

CEV 1995 - 3 out of 4

Rom. 16:1 - leader
Rom. 16:2 - respected leader
Rom.16:7 - Junias (male) highly respected by
1 Cor. 11:10 - sign of her authority
1 Tim. 2:12 - tell men what to do

NRSV - 1989, 2 out of 4

Rom. 16:1 - deacon
Rom. 16:2 - benefactor
Rom. 16:7 - prominent among
1 Cor. 11:10 - symbol of authority on her head
1 Tim. 2:12 - have authority over a man

NIV - 1978 - 1984, 0 out of 4

Rom. 16:1 - servant
Rom. 16:2 - great help
Rom. 16:7 - Junias among the apostles
1 Cor. 11:10 - symbol of authority on her head
1 Tim. 2:12 - have authority over a man

NASB - 1960 - 1995, 0 out of 4

Rom. 16:1 - servant
Rom. 16:2 - helper
Rom. 16:7 - Junias among the apostles
1 Cor. 11:10 - symbol of authority on her head
1 Tim. 2:12 - exercise authority over a man

RSV 1 out of 4

Rom. 16:1 - deaconess
Rom. 16:2 - helper
Rom. 16:7 - Junias among the apostles
1 Cor. 11:10 - veil on her head
1 Tim. 2:12 - have authority

ISV - 2003 - 1 out of 4

Rom. 16:1 - servant
Rom. 16:2 - has assisted
Rom. 16:7 - Junias among the apostles
1 Cor. 11:10 - authority over her own head
1 Tim. 2:12 - have authority


Rom. 16:1 - in the ministry
Rom. 16:2 - has assisted
Rom. 16:7 - Junias among the apostles
1 Cor. 11:10 - a power over her head
1 Tim. 2:12 - use authority over the man

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translating Greek pisteuw

Rick Mansfield of This Lamp has just blogged on one of the most important words in the entire New Testament, pisteuw. Rick wrestles with how this Greek word should be translated to English. Is it better to translate pisteuw as "having faith in," "believing in," "relying on", "having confidence in," "depending on," "trusting"?

I recommend that you read Rick's post and the comments on it.

Believe me, you'll be glad you did!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Junia: A Response to Michael Burer

I guess you could call this "Not Junia Again!" I have written about Junia before but the issue is complex and difficult to cover well. Here is a little of the history. I read Romans 16:7 in the NET Bible,

    Greet Andronicus and Junia,6 my compatriots7 and my fellow prisoners. They are well known8 to the apostles,9 and they were in Christ before me.
    In the King James version,

      Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellow-prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.
    I then read the NET Bible note, along with the article Was Junia Really an Apostle (see page 4) by Burer and Wallace, which it cites.

      Or “prominent, outstanding, famous.” The term ἐπίσημος (epishmo") is used either in an implied comparative sense (“prominent, outstanding”) or in an elative sense (“famous, well known”).

      The key to determining the meaning of the term in any given passage is both the general context and the specific collocation of this word with its adjuncts. When a comparative notion is seen, that to which ἐπίσημος is compared is frequently, if not usually, put in the genitive case (cf., e.g., 3 Macc 6:1 [Ελεαζαρος δέ τις ἀνὴρ ἐπίσημος τῶν ἀπὸ τής χώρας ἱερέων “Eleazar, a man prominent among the priests of the country”]; cf. also Pss. Sol. 17:30).

      When, however, an elative notion is found, ἐν (en) plus a personal plural dative is not uncommon (cf. Pss. Sol. 2:6). Although ἐν plus a personal dative does not indicate agency, in collocation with words of perception, (ἐν plus) dative personal nouns are often used to show the recipients.

      In this instance, the idea would then be “well known to the apostles.” See M. H. Burer and D. B. Wallace, “Was Junia Really an Apostle? A Re-examination of Rom 16.7,” NTS 47 (2001): 76-91, who argue for the elative notion here.
    I blogged about this issue here and then commented on Adrian's blog and Michael Burer responded. I am taking this occasion to continue the dialogue. Since the NET Bible note itself has not been altered, I will comment on this first, and then on Burer's response.

    Here are the issues.

    First, by "comparative" the annotator also means that the noun modifed is "one of the group" - this use of the adjective is inclusive. By "elative" the annotator means that the noun modified is not "one of the group"- this use can be called exclusive.

    Wallace and Burer set out to estabish a new rule, that when the adjective ἐπίσημος is followed by a genitive, it is comparative and therefore inclusive. Conversely, when the adjective is followed by ἐν plus the dative, it is elative and therefore, exclusive. The noun modified, in this case Junia, is no longer one of the group. According to the authors, if ἐπίσημος is followed by ἐν plus the dative, Junia is not among the apostles.

    Here is a summary of my remarks in response.

    1. In the lexicons, ἐπίσημος is an adjective which means "marked on" or "distinguished" as in "having a mark placed on it." Only in the Louw-Nida lexicon does it take on the additional sense of "well known." Here is the Louw-Nida entry.

      28.31 Know (28) Well Known, Clearly Shown, Revealed (28.28-28.56) pertaining to being well known or outstanding, either because of positive or negative characteristics - outstanding, famous, notorious, infamous. εἰσιν ἐπίσημοι ἐν τοῖς ἀποστόλοις they are outstanding among the apostles ROM.16:7
    At no point does this lexicon collocate "well known" with "to" for ἐπίσημος, since this does not match the Greek sense of the word.

    2. I would also suggest that it is not reliable to base an hypothesis on whether a genitive or ἐν plus dative is used. Consider these instances.

      ὁ δὲ μείζων ὑμῶν Matt. 23:11 (genitive)
      the greatest among you

      ὁ μείζων ἐν ὑμῖν Luke 22:26 (en plus dative)
      the greatest among you

    In view of these examples I cannot give credit to an argument which proposes a difference based on the fact that the adjective is followed by ἐν plus dative rather than the genitive. These two constructions can be used synonymously.

    However, here Wallace asks,

      would we not expect ἐπίσημοι τῶν ἀποστόλων if the meaning were “outstanding among the apostles”?
    The answer must be "not necessarily". Here are a few examples of the comparative form of an adjective followed by ἐν plus dative, but there are more in the Greek NT.

      καὶ σύ Βηθλέεμ γῆ Ἰούδα οὐδαμῶς
      ἐλαχίστη εἶ ἐν τοῖς ἡγεμόσιν Ἰούδα Matt. 2:6

      'And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
      are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; ESV

      ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν οὐκ ἐγήγερται ἐν γεννητοῖς γυναικῶν μείζων Ἰωάννου τοῦ βαπτιστοῦ ὁ δὲ μικρότερος ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ τῶν οὐρανῶν μείζων αὐτοῦ ἐστιν Matt. 11:11

      Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. ESV

      Ἰούδαν τὸν καλούμενον Βαρσαββᾶν καὶ Σιλᾶν
      ἄνδρας ἡγουμένους ἐν τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς Acts 15:22

      Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas,
      leading men among the brothers ESV
    The Greek of the New Testament does not support the thesis that ἐν plus dative renders ἐπίσημος elative rather than comparative, and consequently, that Junia is not one of the apostles.

    3. The references provided in the note are also problematic. The different versions of the Septuagint render Pss. Sol. 2:6 and 17:30 in a variety of ways. What is certain is that in neither of these cases does ἐπίσημος modify a personal noun. In fact, it is in doubt whether the word is ἐπίσημος instead of its cognate noun ἐπίσημον.

    However, if it is the adjective ἐπίσημος, then the modified noun is elided and the entire construction still may not have any bearing on Rom. 16:7. While there is evidence that ἐπίσημος with an elided noun can be used with a partitive genitive, and an inclusive meaning; there is little evidence of the converse, that it has an exclusive or elative sense with ἐν plus the dative.

    In fact, it would be quite extraordinary for an adjective modifying an elided noun to have an exclusive sense.

    For example,

      She is the best known of the teachers.
      He is the best known to the teachers.
    The first, inclusive, is grammatical without an antecedent - it is implied that she is a teacher; the second, exclusive, is not grammatical without an antecedent - for obvious reasons. What is "he"? The elided noun in an inclusive or partitive expression is implied by the surrounding context, but the elision of the noun in an exclusive phrase does not render a grammatically acceptable result. Although Wallace and Burer have proven that the first exists, they do not provide convincing evidence for the second. For this reason I question their categorization of Pss. Sol. 2:6.

    Someone also needs to bring into this discussion the fact that the Psalms of Solomon is considered to be a translation of a Hebrew poetic Vorlage.

    4. I have read both studies by Wallace and Burer, listed below, and I understand that the much disputed Pss. Sol. 2:6 and 17:30 are considered to be their best evidence. The other citations, except for one from 5 centuries earlier, are all either somewhat ambiguous or not comparable. This evidence simply does not warrant the terms "not uncommon" and "frequently". Pss. Sol. 2:6, supposedly an example of an exclusive use, which they call "a very close parallel," is in dispute. If there is better evidence then the NET Bible note should be altered to reflect that.

    5. There is no verb of perception involved in this Greek expression. Therefore, it is misleading to note that "in collocation with words of perception, (ἐν plus) dative personal nouns are often used to show the recipients." The verb of perception occurs only in the English translation supplied by Wallace and Burer. In Greek, ἐπίσημος is an adjective derived either from a noun best translated as "mark" or from a verb translated as "to place a mark on."

    6. Wallace and Burer are aware that there is no scholarly consensus concerning their hypothesis. Wallace in all honesty states this here. They also admit that others have expressed concern regarding their original citation of Pss. Sol. 2:6, in which they simply wrote ἐπισήμῳ ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν, thus giving the impression that it matched the structure of Rom. 16:7, rather than ἐν ἐπισήμῳ ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν. They had originally stated that ἐπισήμῳ was an adjective modifyng a personal noun, which it is not.

    On Adrian's blog, Burer writes,

      We appreciate that several writers have pointed out that our translation and citation of the passage in the original piece were not the best. (In reflecting on this, neither Dr. Wallace nor I could remember who was responsible for this part of the article.) We should have included more of the Greek text, including the preposition ἐν so that readers could see that there was another way of understanding the construction.
    If Pss. Sol. 2:6 found its way into the NET Bible notes as a significant citation, then they should both have been familiar with this example.

    Burer continues,

      The English translation we gave, “a spectacle among the gentiles,” was exactly the wording given in a recent, standard English translation of Psalms of Solomon, in James Charlesworth’s The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (1985), vol. 2, p. 652.
    Once again the impression is that they felt confident of the English translation they were using. At no time does Burer quote from the recent and scholarly New English Translation of the Septuagint, not yet published in hard copy but available on the internet at the time that Burer wrote this piece. This is a singular omission.

    For Pss. Sol. 2:6, this translation offers, "their neck in a seal, with a mark among the nations," NETS, rather than "a spectacle among the gentiles." This translation fits well with the preceding expression in the line, "in a seal," since in Greek, σφραγῖς, "seal", and ἐπίσημον, "mark", can be synonymous. Therefore, I believe it is more likely a case of poetic parallelism. "Among the nations" would then refer to the location of their "harsh captivity,"

      οἱ υἱοὶ καὶ αἱ θυγατέρες ἐν αἰχμαλωσίᾳ πονηρᾷ,
      ἐν σφραγῖδι ὁ τράχηλος αὐτῶν, ἐν ἐπισήμῳ ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν

    Psalms of Solomon needs to be approached as a translation of Hebrew poetry, not originally composed in Greek.

    Burer continues,

      In retrospect, we now think it would be better to include the preposition ἐν before the word ἐπισήμῳ in our citation, and change the statement to “The parallels include (a) people as the referent of the adjective ἐπίσημος” to reflect that here most likely the referent of the adjective ἐπίσημος is a place, not people.
      We would not be willing to change, however, the basic conclusion that this passage confirms our hypothesis that ἐπίσημος plus (ἐν plus) dative personal adjunct should be best understood as meaning “well known to . . .” This is especially so for two reasons.
      First, the other use of ἐπίσημος in Ps. Sol. 17:30 uses the genitive case (different from the dative case in 2:6) to show that the prominent place was part of the earth in keeping with our hypothesis about the inclusive use of ἐπίσημος, but this instance in 2:6 uses the dative in keeping with our hypothesis about the exclusive use of ἐπίσημος. Second, point (c) in our initial assessment of Ps. Sol. 2:6 would stand, as it is very reasonable to see ἔθνεσιν here as referring to people.
    I would reiterate that the translation of Psalms of Solomon 2:6 is unresolved. It has, therefore, not yet been established that using ἐν plus the dative instead of the genitive is indicative of an exclusive sense. Nor have they demonstrated that the noun can be elided in an exclusive phrase, and so the case falls apart. Wallace and Burer are clear that the hypothesis rests on pitting the dative against the genitive. However, they do not provide data strong enough to support their hypothesis.

    On the contrary, early church fathers, themselves native speakers of Greek, recognized Junia as one of the apostles.

      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)
    And here is the Greek Vamva version, 1850, which has unequivocally "among the apostles." Please note that the native Greek translator here considered ἐν plus the dative to be equivalent to μεταξὺ (among) plus the genitive.

      ᾽Απάσθητε τὸν ᾽Ανδρόνικον καὶ ᾽Ιουνίαν τοὺς συγγενεῖς μου καὶ συναιχμαλώτους μου, οἵτνες εἴναι ἐπίσημοι μεταξὺ τῶν ἀποστόλων οἵτνες καὶ πρὸ ἐμοῦ ἦσαν εις τὸν Χριστόν
    There is no mention throughout church history of an alternate understanding of this expression. Overall, I believe too many problems still remain with Wallace and Burer's hypothesis and it is far too early for this innovation to be encorporated into a Bible translation. The research is still in the preliminary stages and has not been recognized by a wider body of scholars.

    To use Wallace's own words,

      Did God suddenly permit “more light to break forth from his holy Word,” as the old Congregationalist put it? Or is there reason to suspect that the many modern interpretations . . . are primarily the result of certain conscious or unconscious presuppositions?3
    Please note that I have not included either Burer's full argument nor all of my counter arguments. I have provided the links and hope that people will bring up questions or point out any weaknesses in this presentation.

    On a closing note, I would like to explain that I have recreated Linda Belleville's original research using databases now online. Belleville, Epp and Bauckham have all rebutted Wallace and Burer's articles in a definitive manner. I have yet to see a response to their work by Wallace and Burer. Until further has been written, Junia must remain an apostle.


    Internet Resources

    Was Junia Really an Apostle (see page 4) Wallace and Burer
    Eldon Jay Epp, Junia: The First Woman Apostle A Review
    Junia Among the Apostles: The Double Identification Problem in Romans 16:7 Wallace
    Junia, the Apostle: Index McCarthy
    Burer enters the Junia Debate Burer
    New English Translation of the Septuagint
    NET Bible

    Books and articles which assess and discount Wallace and Burer's Junia hypothesis.

    Eldon Jay Epp
    R. Bauckham
    Linda Belleville. Ἰουνιᾶν . . . ἐπίσημοι ἐν τοῖς ἀποστόλοις:A Re-Examination of Romans 16:7 in Light of Primary Source Materials. New Test. Stud. 51, pp. 231-249. Printed in the United Kingdom. 2005. Cambridge University Press.

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    periphrastic Bible translation

    Periphrase is not a very familiar term to most people. It is not the same as paraphrase. To remember the difference between them, remember that the Greek prefix peri- means 'around' as in the English word "perimeter." Here is a helpful, humorous, way to remember what periphrase is: you can think of it as "Beating around the bush." Periphrase is using more words than is necessary. Sometimes periphrase is a necessary or useful verbal tool in communication.

    Periphrase occurs in both literal as well as idiomatic translations. It even occurs in the biblical language texts themselves.

    In Phil. 4.5 the Greek text says gnwsqhtw pasin anqrwpoiV, literally "let it (your gentleness) be known to all people." This is not referring to a verbal telling so that others will know how kind we are, but, rather, to demonstrating our kindness by our actions. The Greek uses a periphrastic construction with the verb "know" to simply tell us to be kind to others. Paul could have used a more concise wording in the Greek of Phil. 4:5 but one some reason he did not.

    Some English versions translate the meaning of this periphrastic phrase of Phil. 4:5 using a more concise wording:

    TEV: Show a gentle attitude toward everyone.

    CEV: Always be gentle with others.

    Most English versions retain the periphrastic form of the Greek:

    KJV: Let your moderation be known unto all men.

    RSV: Let all men know your forbearance.

    NRSV: Let your gentleness be known to everyone.

    ESV: Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.

    NKJV: Let your gentleness be known to all men.

    NET: Let everyone see your gentleness.

    NASB: Let your forbearing spirit be known to all men.

    REB: Be known to everyone for your consideration of others.

    NIV/TNIV: Let your gentleness be evident to all.

    NCV: Let everyone see that you are gentle and kind.

    LB: Let everyone see that you are unselfish and considerate in all you do.

    NLT: Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do.

    An unfortunate periphrastic translation is that of God's Word:
    GW: Let everyone know how considerate you are.
    Field testing has shown that this can be understood this to mean "Tell everyone how considerate you are." (Note that what I have just put in double quotes is a paraphrase, not a periphrase!)

    Jer. 9:20 is translated periphrastically in the ISV:
    let your ears receive the word of his mouth
    If you were revising the ISV wording to more natural, concise English, what might that be?

    What are advantages and disadvantages of translating periphrastically?

    Sunday, May 27, 2007

    The Struggle for a Bible in Modern Greek

    I often use the Vamva version of the Christian scriptures as a form of commentary for difficult verses. I like to see what a 19th century native Greek speaker and Bible scholar thinks the text means. Here is some information from a Jehovah's Witness site on the Vamva Bible. I don't know much else about it.

      Against this backdrop of fierce opposition and earnest yearning for Bible knowledge, there emerged a prominent figure who would play a key role in the translation of the Bible into modern Greek. This courageous person was Neofitos Vamvas, a distinguished linguist and noted Bible scholar, generally regarded as one of the "Teachers of the Nation."

      Vamvas clearly saw that the Orthodox Church was to blame for the spiritual illiteracy of the people. He strongly believed that in order to awaken the people spiritually, the Bible needed to be translated into the spoken Greek of the day. In 1831, with the help of other scholars, he began translating the Bible into literary Greek. His complete translation was published in 1850. Since the Greek Orthodox Church would not support him, he collaborated with the British and Foreign Bible Society (BFBS) on the publication and circulation of his translation. The church labeled him "a Protestant," and soon he found himself an outcast.

      Vamvas' rendering adhered closely to the King James Version and inherited the deficiencies of that version because of the limited Bible scholarship and linguistic knowledge of the time. Yet, for many years it was the closest thing to a Bible in modern Greek that people had access to. Interestingly, it includes the personal name of God four times, in the form "Ieová."—Genesis 22:14; Exodus 6:3; 17:15; Judges 6:24.

      What was the general reaction of the people to this and other easy-to-understand versions of the Bible? Simply overwhelming! In a boat off one of the Greek islands, a colporteur of the BFBS was "so beset with boats full of children who came for [Bibles], that he was obliged . . . to order the captain to get under way" lest he should part with his whole stock in one place! But the opposition did not stand idly by.

      Orthodox priests warned the people against such translations. In the city of Athens, for instance, Bibles were confiscated. In 1833, the Orthodox bishop of Crete committed to the flames the "New Testaments" he discovered at a monastery. One copy was hidden by a priest, and the people in the nearby villages hid their copies until the prelate left the island.Some years later on the island of Corfu, Vamvas' translation of the Bible was prohibited by the Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church. Its sale was forbidden, and the existing copies were destroyed. On the islands of Chios, Síros, and Mykonos, the hostility of the local clergy led to Bible burning. But further suppression of Bible translation was yet ahead.

    Saturday, May 26, 2007

    Traduttore tradittore

    It is commonly assumed that translation is always a weighing of different compromises--a "pick your poison" exercise in hopeful futility.

    Really? How come?

    Jesus very likely spoke Aramaic as a matter of daily practice. He also likely spoke Hebrew when the need arose, in a synagogue, for example. Given his upbringing in Galilee, he also very likely spoke Greek. So, when Jesus is quoted in the Gospels, what language do the original authors quote? Is it Greek? Or, as is very likely the case, was it Aramaic. In other words, Jesus spoke in Aramaic and they recorded (several years later) in Greek.

    Well, then, what are the original autographs of the Gospels? Setting aside the arguments that the very first originals (whatever that might actually mean) were in something other than Greek, we nevertheless have today, as our guiding and authoritative documents, ones that are translations.

    But, Traduttore tradittore ("translator [is a] traitor").


    Was the Holy Spirit a traitor to the Christ? I'm not saying translation is easy. But, why is it axiomatic that a translation must be inaccurate in some way--by definition. Is that really the case? In all cases? Without exception? Are the actual words of Jesus and the recording of those words in the original autographs the only occurrence of interlingual communication where the source and destination grammars and associated lexis just so happen to provide for perfectly accurate transfer of all the information?

    I believe the original authors were inspired by the Holy Spirit to accurately write the original autographs of the Bible. But if Jesus spoke in something other than Greek, than what we have in the original autographs is, in fact, a translation. And, a wholly accurate one at that! Also, the multiple, simultaneous translations occurring during the event recorded in Acts 2:5-12 add complexity to this observation. We have one speaker and hearers from, quite literally, all over the place. In all these cases the translations are accurate--by the definition of inspiration.

    Perhaps all that a translation must accomplish (I certainly don't mean to set the bar low) is to be perfectly sufficient in conveying the originally intended meaning (note the singular). And, may I say, that's hard enough. But, perhaps the problem is somewhere else. Perhaps we create an inaccurate measurement (that is, our measuring device itself is wrong to some degree) when we insist that accurate translations must perfectly render all that can be analyzed in the original. Maybe it's inaccurate to expect that a deep analysis of a text somehow exposes more precise truth.

    Let me state what I honestly think is obvious--once you see it: the accuracy of a text can't be measured by capturing every nuance of the original. The original authors did not do that. The Holy Spirit doesn't do that. And, translations can't do that. Texts don't function that way. Every nuance is never intended. Many of the interpersonal misunderstandings I've encountered function within the boundaries of that expectation of analytical precision. And that generates the misunderstanding. How often have you said, "But, I didn't say that!" You didn't expect the hearer to analyze your words to that detail. Or, you didn't expect the hearer to understand you to imply something you never intended to say, an implication arrived at by detailed (though possibly quick) analysis.

    I wonder how often God says, "But, I didn't say that!"

    So, why, today, do we measure accuracy in terms of detailed analysis? What would be the characteristics of an accurate metric--a metric that accurately measures the fidelity of a translation?

    Friday, May 25, 2007

    NET Bible Review 2

    In the comments to my first post on the NET Bible, it became clear that this Bible is not valued for its English style but for its notes. In this discussion on the NET bible site, there is no mention of an in-house English stylist; however, on this page Wayne Leman is recognized as a translation consultant and W. Hall Harris III is mentioned as an English stylist. I will let Wayne jump in to comment or post on this as he sees fit. Dr. Wallace concludes his Open Letter with this invitation.

      We continue to ask for your assistance because the mutual cooperation benefits us all. And with nearly three quarters of a million words in the text and notes, the NET team needs all the editorial and proofreading help we can get!
    I must mention that, in spite of this generous expression of openness, Dr. Wallace did not respond directly to my 17 posts on Junia but designated Michael Burer to rebut them. I will analyse Burer's response to me in a subsequent post. But first, I would like to discuss the notes in general and a few in particular pertaining to women.

    The notes are of three types, the study notes - "sn", the translators notes - "tn", and the 'text critical notes - "tc". When I read through the notes, I have a decidedly different reaction to each distinct type of note. I read through the study notes with non-critical interest, I enjoy tremendously the text critical notes, and I interact in a very critical and discriminating manner with the translator notes, assessing them one by one.

    Here are some examples of text critical notes.

    1. In John's gospel, there are some extremely interesting issues in chapter 1, verses 18 and 34. Throughout the text critical notes, there is extensive reference to the visual aspects of the manuscripts, for example, evaluating whether the difference was one of one letter or several depending on whether a nomen sacrum was used.

    2. There is an lengthly response to Fee's article on 1 Cor. 14:34-35.

    3. In 1 Thess. 2:7, the NET Bible has "we became little children among you" rather than "gentle" agreeing here with the TNIV.

    4. In Eph. 5:22, the discussion about the ellipsis brings up the issue of page breaks in the lectionaries as a reason for an interpolated verb. It does not impact in any way on the translation or section break but is interesting nonetheless.

    5. In Romans 16:7 the note indicates that it is highly unlikely that "Junia" was actually the male name "Junias". However, it does mention the citation of "Junias" in Epiphanius, without including the critical information that Epiphanius also thought that Priscilla was a man. I don't see why space could not have been spared for this tidbit? Why not close the loophole?

    In general I find the text critical notes to the point and interesting. However, I am of the opinion that in several places the translation notes are somewhat unfavourable towards women.

    For example, there is the question of Phoebe in Romans 16:1-2,
      Now I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a servant1 of the church in Cenchrea, so that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints and provide her with whatever help she may need from you, for she has been a great help to many, including me.
    And here is the only note for this verse.

      Or “deaconess.” It is debated whether διάκονος (diakonos) here refers to a specific office within the church. . . . In any case, the evidence is not compelling either way. The view accepted in the translation above is that Phoebe was a servant of the church, not a deaconess, although this conclusion should be regarded as tentative.
    The main difficulty that leaps to the eye is that there was no office for "deaconess", nor was there a word for "deaconess" in the New Testament church. The term diakonissa occurs a couple of centuries later. Therefore, to suggest the word "deaconess" for diakonos is a simple anachronism. The rest of the argument seems sound, and it is buttressed by Wallace's study May Women be Deacons, in which he says,
      As I read the NT, I do see deacons functioning in an authoritative capacity. If my understanding is correct, then the only way for one to see women deacons in 1 Tim 3:11 is either to (a) divorce this verse from the overarching principle stated in 1 Tim 2:12 or (b) reinterpret 2:12 to mean something other than an abiding principle for church life.

      On the other hand, if deacons were not in roles of leadership, then what is to prevent women from filling such a role? To be sure, there are some who believe that women can be deacons, but who also believe that a female deacon functioned on a different level than a male deacon2 If such a qualification is made, then I have no problem with the category.

    It is clear that 1 Tim. 2:12 is taken as the rule against which to measure other verses in the scriptures regarding women. What is to prevent others from taking a contrasting verse as their rule? There is a certain amount of casuistry involved in this discussion, in my view. Wallace states that in the case where a female deacon functions on a different level, a woman could be a deacon. I don't have a strong disagreement with the NET Bible on this word "deacon", but I want to show the kind of subtle slant and background justification that is behind the notes.

    The more puzzling term in Rom. 16:2 is the translation of prostatis as "great help". The ESV has "patron" here. There is no note on this word. It is passed over in silence and yet a significant decision has been made. There is no mention of the fact that the word prostatis is a cognate of the verb in 1 Tim. 5:17 which is translated as "leadership" in this verse - "Elders who provide effective leadership". No mention of that!

    Once again, I am not proposing that this word should necessarily have been translated as "leader" but I do want to point out that the NET Bible does not provide the full story on women. If translation tradition had favoured women over the centuries, this verse could have been translated,

      Now I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a deacon of the church in Cenchrea, so that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints and provide her with whatever help she may need from you, for she has been a leader/provider for many, including me.

    These options are not discussed. This is really a very minor issue, but I have found several other times when the NET Bible made a decision in the translation, section headings or notes, which diminishes the status of women.

    In Eph. 5:22 the note comments on, but does not provide adequate support for putting the break between verses 21 and 22. In 1 Cor. 11:10, the notes do not mention that translating exousia as "a symbol of authority" refering to a symbol of someone else's authority over one's person, is absolutely without precedent in Greek literature and therefore needs a stronger defense. The notes simply don't provide strong support for the translation decision.

    In 1 Tim. 2:12, the note for authentein says "to assume a stance of independent authority, give orders to, dictate to" and does not in any way support the translation "exercise authority". I am of the opinion that on occasion these notes serve a decorative function only. They do not put one in touch with the actual translation issues.

    In 1 Tim. 2:15, the notewriter waxes eloquent on childbearing and posits that it represents submission to male leadership.

      The idea of childbearing, then, is a metonymy of part for the whole that encompasses the woman’s submission again to the leadership of the man

    This runs counter to the narrative of scripture, in which Hannah, Rachel, Ruth, Tamar and others take the initiative in order to bear children. This runs counter to the example of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and this runs counter to the injunction of Jesus,

      As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, "Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you." He replied, "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it."

    This runs counter to Paul's teaching in 1 Cor. 7 that

      An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord's affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit.

    and this runs counter to the teaching that sexual intercourse is supposed to be a mutual arrangement as taught in 1 Cor. 7:4 (and Song of Solomon, so they say.)

      The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife.

    I'd hate to see the NET Bible and its notes being used in a marriage prep seminar. The teaching in these notes seem so far from the Biblical narrative that I looked up an article by Wallace to ascertain if he actually approved of this teaching. I was unpleasantly surprised.

    I find that Wallace explicitly states his views on women in an article called Biblical Gynecology. Although Wallace intends this to refer only to the "study of women", he cannot be oblivious to the fact that gynecology has exactly one meaning in English,

      The study of the reproductive system of women.

    So, once Wallace has women metaphorically under examination, "on the table", so to speak, the question is, does he envision women only in submission to male initiative? Apparently so - women are for Wallace "responders" - that is their function, both in the home and in the church. Wallace does not mean that women respond to God, Wallace means that women respond to men - in the home and in the church. (Funny thing, I was always under the distinct impression that men respond to women.) Women, best discussed metaphorically by "childbearing" and "gynecology", or the study of their reproductive organs, experience the redemptive work of God in their life inasmuch as they submit to man.

    Not happy to leave it at that, Wallace goes on to share with the public his views on "egalitarian women" - those who defy being defined by their reproductive organs. On anecdotal evidence, Wallace remarks that egalitarian women are rude, "arrogant" and "disrespectful." Wallace characterizes egalitarian women as "despising women" and "treating women as second-class citizens." In fact, according to Wallace, it is almost without exception egalitarian women who behave this way; complementarian women have never been known to do this.

    I just don't think that providing evidence to the contrary would be useful at this point. My experience is that in the public school system and at secular universities, this kind of discourse is not allowed. I have certainly never run into this kind of officially sanctioned sexism in the non-Christian workplace. This does Grudem one better - he merely states, in Ev. Fem. and Biblical Truth, that egalitarian women are "unattractive to the opposite sex".

    Probably 500 years from now this isn't going to matter - but now, this matters. My sense is that Christians are so desensitized to sexism that they simply let it go by without comment. What kind of witness is this to the world?

    Next, I am going to review Wallace and Burer's work on Junia. Stay tuned.

    Update: This line "it is almost without exception egalitarian women who behave this way" has been edited in response to a commenter, to better conform to Wallace's argument in the paper Biblical Gynecology. Wallace also writes, "" I am not saying that egalitarian women always treat other women disrespectfully".

    Nonetheless, Wallace pits egalitarian women against complementarian women and makes some unpleasant accusations. It is evident that egalitarian women could easily recount anecdotes which demonstrate the converse, but I don't think it is appropriate for me to try and counter Wallace's arguments, although I could easily do so. The simple fact remains that he should not have sunk to this level of discourse.


    Raise it or rase it? Psalm 137:7 KJV

    In some circles it seems to be popular to claim that KJV is much more suitable for public reading than most modern Bible versions. Indeed there are many places where modern versions are not at all suitable for this, because they can be understood properly only in written form and not when read aloud. But it is not only modern versions which have this kind of defect.

    I came across a seriously misleading place of this kind in KJV when I recently heard Psalm 137 read out from this version. As I listened to verse 7, I heard
    Remember, O Lord, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem, who said, Raise it, raise it ...
    Hold on, I thought, that can't be right! I know the verse as more like
    Remember, LORD, what the Edomites did on the day Jerusalem fell. "Tear it down," they cried, "tear it down ..." (TNIV)
    So why is KJV saying the exact opposite of TNIV? Is there some obscure textual issue here? Well, I began to wonder when I heard the end of the verse in KJV, "even to the foundations thereof" (TNIV "to its foundations"). How can something be raised to its foundations? I was quite distracted from the rest of the reading, and the preacher's exposition of it, until I realised that perhaps the word in KJV was not "raise" but "rase" - as indeed was confirmed when I found a printed KJV.

    So here is an example of KJV doing exactly what should never be done in a text intended for public reading: using a rare homophone of a common word in a context in which the common word makes some sense. In such circumstances listeners are certain to understand the common word rather than the rare one, or at the very best to become confused as I did.

    I suppose some might wonder whether "raise" and "rase" were homophones, pronounced the same, at the time that KJV was translated. It is my understanding that the great vowel shift which made these words into homophones was essentially complete by 1600, and so the KJV translators should have realised the ambiguity of their wording. They can't even claim the defence that they were copying the wording from older translations predating the great vowel shift: Coverdale has "Down with it, down with it". Nor can KJV be defended on the ground that "rase" relatively less rare in KJV: this is the only place this verb is used in KJV, but "raise" is used well over 100 times.

    So I think we all have to accept that KJV just like many modern translations has places which are quite unsuitable for public reading. I don't suppose any translation is perfect in this respect. But things are likely to be much better with translations which have been read through carefully by stylists sensitive to this particular issue. I wonder which translations have been checked in this way.

    Thursday, May 24, 2007

    NET Bible Review 1

    I am not sure whether to dignify my discussion of the NET Bible with the label "review". However, this will not be a unidimensional perspective - the NET Bible defies any simplistic categorization. I will, nonetheless, out of modesty and awareness of my own limitations, restrict myself to the New Testament and hope that the NET Bible Old Testament and "Apocrypha" will be reviewed elsewhere or by someone else on this blog.

    Here is an example of the kind of language one can expect in the NET Bible.

      The purpose of this enlightenment is that25 through the church the multifaceted wisdom26 of God should now be disclosed to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly realms. 3:11 This was according to27 the eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, 3:12 in whom we have boldness and confident access28 to God29 because of30 Christ’s31 faithfulness.32 Ephesians 3:10-12
    The language is up to date and the exegesis reflects recent scholarship. "Manifold" becomes "multifaceted" as in the HCSB and "faith in Christ" becomes "Christ's faithfulness". "Propitiation" is replaced by "atoning sacrifice" and the Jews have become the "Jewish leaders".

    The NET Bible reflects gender accurate language with "fishers of people" - Mark 1:17, "children of God" - Matt. 5:9, "brothers and sisters" - Hebrews 2:17, a "human" Christ - 1 Tim. 2:5 and "someone" instead of a "man" in James 2:2.

    So far, I have only noticed a handful of differences between the way that the NET Bible and the TNIV handle gender language. The NET Bible uses the generic "he" pronoun. However, it is well worth noting that this does not represent an ideological difference between the NET Bible editors and the TNIV editors. The following explanation is given in the preface to the NET Bible,

      Finally, with regard to the issue of translational gender inclusivity it is important to note the flexibility shown by the New Testament authors themselves when citing Old Testament texts. A few examples will suffice: in Isaiah 52:7 the prophet states “how beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news”; this was incorporated by Paul in Romans 10:15 as “the feet of those who proclaim the good news.” In Psalm 36:1 the psalmist writes, “There is no fear of God before his eyes,” while Paul quotes this in Romans 3:18 as “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

      Again, the psalmist writes in Psalm 32:1, “Blessed is he whose lawless deeds are forgiven, whose sins are covered,” while Paul in Romans 4:7 has “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.” Even more striking is the citation by Paul in 2 Corinthians 6:18 of 2 Samuel 7:14, where God states, “I will be a father to him and he will be a son to me.” Paul renders this as “I will be a father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters.”

      Furthermore, it cannot be claimed that Paul is simply following the common version of the Greek Old Testament (the LXX) here, since the LXX follows the Hebrew text closely at this point, literally, “I will be to him for a father, and he will be to me for a son.” Although considerable flexibility is shown in Paul’s handling of this text, hardly anyone would charge him with capitulating to a feminist agenda!

    I did notice a couple of times where I found the translation a bit odd in gender terms and I would like to know more about these decisions. For exmple, Eph. 4:8 is "When he ascended on high he captured6 captives; he gave gifts to men." There is no explanation and I don't know if this is significant.

    In Hebrews 2:6 the traditional phrase "man" and "son of man" is retained without footnotes. This is particularly odd since Psalm 8:4 reads

      Of what importance is the human race,10 that you should notice11 them?
      Of what importance is mankind,12 that you should pay attention to them.

    I would be very interested in hearing from others what the reasoning for this might be and why it is not footnoted.

    The one other instance I noted was in Galatians 4, where once again God has "sons". I find it somewhat strange that no one remarks on the fact that Luther's Bible had exclusively "children" in this passage, and I have yet to hear how that this damaged the Reformation.

    In spite of these few isolated examples, I cannot find any significant difference in translation philosphy between the NET Bible and the TNIV. In fact, I find the TNIV to be much more reminiscent of the the King James tradition. I am therefore puzzled as to why Wayne Grudem's endorsement is on the NET Bible site. Although he restricts his endorsement to the notes, he does allow his name to stand, and he has not mounted a campaign against the NET Bible. I have to ask if Grudem's campaign against the TNIV has a basis other than the one stated.

    Here is one last observation to the effect that I have found some wording in the NET Bible awkward.

      Do not neglect the spiritual gift you have,17 given to you and confirmed by prophetic words18 when the elders laid hands on you1 TIm. 4:14
          Therefore I exhort you, brothers and sisters,1 by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a sacrifice – alive, holy, and pleasing to God. Rom. 12:1

          For from you the message of the Lord16 has echoed forth not just in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place reports of your faith in God have spread, 1 Thess. 1:8
            Is it just me or is there something odd about the language of these verses? I shall continue this review another day.


            A Bible-shaped Hole

            Gary Zimmerli has a A Bible-shaped Hole. I recommend reading his post to find out what Gary feels he is missing.

            Wednesday, May 23, 2007

            Genealogy of ideas

            I am trying to be more reflective about my posts and the direction they are taking. It seems to me that if we are going to discuss a topic together on which we know beforehand we will disagree, then we would do well to set a reasonable goal. This goal should not be to convince those with a differing opinion to change their mind. Neither will we be able, in many cases, to arbitrate on which is the most accurate translation . We cannot usually - by quoting a lexicon, a commentary or an article - prove that one translation is correct and another is wrong.

            What we can do is understand better how certain translations come about. We can become more aware of the origin and history of certain translation decisions and see how they are positioned within an interpretive tradition.

            The following may be a gross oversimplification, but in looking back, I see that our posts break down into three main categories.

            First, there is the examination of the textual, grammatical and lexical infomation. This is extended to exploring the relationship between the language of origin, the source language; and the target language, in our case English. The lexical studies on aner and anthropos fall into this category. Wayne's analysis of the stylistic elements of the English language are also part of this.

            Another area which I always love to research is the history of traditions. Where did a certain translation tradition come from? What is its origin and subsequent use? I could write about this kind of thing forever. (Oh! That reminds me! I never did finish my Lindisfarne series. Oh well.)

            But we should also look at the communities in which certain translations originated, and become aware of their interpretive traditions. We can become better informed with regard to the beliefs of the community which created a translation, as well as the community for which the translation is intended.

            While I mention the translators and their translation choices, in the domain of hermeneutics, one would refer rather to the 'readers' of the text and their 'understanding' of the Bible. This is how Larry, who blogs at This Lamp, explains it,
              There are many ways to read the Bible. One way is to attempt to understand the “original authorial intent” of the Bible – often called a historical-critical reading. A related, but distinct approach is to attempt to chart the way that various readers have understood the Bible. Both of these methods have value, but in the complex portions of Scripture, we may never have a clear consensus of the meaning of Scripture, so the most we can hope for is to understand how different groups have read it.
            In the wake of the recent discussion about how to translate Psalm 2:12, Doug at Metacatholic, reflects on a similar note,

              It is inevitable that the way the Bible is translated will be affected by the traditions of the translator. There’s recently been a lively exchange of views relating to the translation of Psalm 2:12 on e.g. Kethuvim, Higgaion and Codex among others. In this particular instance, however, the difficulty of the Hebrew, and the obvious potential of the text for either christological or non-christological interpretation, means that the translator tends to be fully aware of the amount of interpretation that goes into the translation. As a corollary, translators are willing to argue for, and defend, their choices.

              Generally in contemporary translations, both the individual translators and the translation committees are well aware of a whole host of such disputed cruces, and often take particular care with their quite self-aware biases. More interesting are the instances where the tradition is so strong that the translators may not be aware of their own particular bias, and are unaware of the extent to which their translation conforms to their interpretative tradition.
            Chris Heard at Higgaion succintly expresses a related thought. The focus here as well is on understanding the tradition, not on arriving at one correct answer,

              Citations in an academic paper should not be used to try to establish the correctness of ideas. Rather, citations in an academic paper trace the genealogy of the ideas considered in the paper.
            So ... I am giving notice ... we don't actually believe that we are parceling out hitherto undisclosed and now guaranteed "from the very mouth of God" translations. The best we can do is comment on the all too human histories, the all too variable traditions, and the all too fallible communities which play a part in the major translations which serve as our canon and rule of faith today.

            Update: This was written before Anonymous posted his recent contribution on Alter's literary approach to the Bible. These indepth insights into the poetic and narrative structure of the Hebrew scriptures add an entirely new aesthetic dimension to my understanding of the Bible, although perhaps orthogonal to the interests of some faith communities.

            However, we should respond not only in an intellectual way but also in an affective way to the scriptures. I enjoy this opportunity to become more informed on an approach to the Bible that is outside of my own tradition and look forward to reviews of other works by Alter.

            Update #2 Metacatholic continues the discussion here.

              Tuesday, May 22, 2007

              Torah Translations: The Golden Collar

              by guest blogger, Anonymous

              This evening, May 22, begins Shavuos, the anniversary of the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai — the 6th of Sivan on the 2448th year since creation according to the the Biblical calendar. Happy 3319th birthday! In Hebrew, Torah (“teachings”) derives from the root y-r-h: “to shoot” (an arrow). The term Torah thus has an etymological link with that which “hits the mark.”

              Which of these two approaches to Bible translation do you feel hits the mark (Genesis 41:42)?

              And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand and had him clothed in fine linen clothes and placed the golden collar round his neck.

              Removing his signet ring from his hand, Pharaoh put it on Joseph’s hand; he arrayed him in garments of fine linen, and put a gold chain around his neck.

              The second is from the NRSV — but where is the first from? It is different in a number of ways the word order is slightly odd, all those “ands” create a slightly hypnotic effect (in fact, the whole verse is in rhythm — read it aloud!) and where did that golden collar come from?

              The first translation is from Robert Alter’s translation of the Torah (Pentateuch), and this post is the second in a mini-series of three guest posts from “Anonymous” looking at three unconventional Jewish translations. In case you missed the first post in the series, I’m looking at three Jewish translations that raise interesting questions about translation:

            • Everett Fox, Five Books of Moses (Schocken 1995)

            • Robert Alter, Five Books of Moses (Norton 2004)

            • Michael Carasik, Commentator’s Bible: Exodus (JPS 2005)
            • Now before I start to explore Alter’s translation, I want to disclose that I know Robert Alter, and thus this review may not be as objective as it could be — please take that into consideration when reading this review. Also, I have borrowed extensively from Alter’s introduction and commentary in crafting this review.

              This is the first time that this verse has been translated with “golden collar” to the best of my knowledge — I checked and the ASV, Darby, ESV, Fox, GNT, HCSB, KJV, The Message, NET, NAB, NCV, NIV, NJB, NJPS, NKJV, NLT, NRSV, RSV, and TNIV translate it as “gold chain.” (The NASB translates it as “gold necklace,” YLT translates it as “chain of gold.”) The problem, of course, is that Egyptian bas reliefs (like this one) don’t show gold chains — as probably most of you have seen in museums or books, they show gold collars. And the Hebrew word here is not the normal one for “chain”; its root means “to plait,” “to cushion,” “to pad.” So one wonders, how could all of the previous translators have gotten this so wrong? Some of them must have seen those Egyptian pictures (or at least Egyptian-costumed trick-or-treaters at Halloween.) But they all got it wrong. Why? I think it is safe to say that as much as translators have engaged in fresh thinking, they have also stolen from each other a great deal.

              But what’s going on with the rhythm and all those “and”s? Perhaps it is useful to first introduce the translator to you. Robert Alter is a Professor of Comparative Literature (and also of Hebrew Literature) at UC Berkeley. He has written two books that have influenced me deeply and I regard as fundamental in learning to read the Bible as literature: The Art of Biblical Narrative and The Art of Biblical Poetry. (Perhaps sometime I will be invited to review these books for this blog — but for now, let me simply say that these are the best introductory books I know on how to read the Bible.) And together with Cambridge University Professor Frank Kermode, Robert Alter edited the standard textbook for university Bible as Literature classes, The Literary Guide to the Bible — which for those who wish to read the Bible as a literary document (as opposed to a historical-critical reading) is a must read. Robert Alter, I would propose, is well suited to read the Hebrew.

              Alter’s critique

              The final essay in Alter and Kermode’s anthology is by Gerald Hammond, and it surveys literary features of English Bible translations to source material. (Hammond presents his analysis in much greater detail in his excellent The Making of the English Bible — a book which also merits review in this blog.) This work has obviously colored Alter’s views. Alter puts the case directly:

              Broadly speaking, one may say that in the case of modern versions, the problem is a shaky sense of English and in the case of the King James Version, a shaky sense of Hebrew. . . . It is an old and in some ways unfair cliche to say that translation is always a betrayal, but modern English versions of the Bible provide unfortunately persuasive evidence for that uncompromising generalization. At first thought, it is rather puzzling that this should be the case. In purely quantitative terms, we live in a great age of Bible translation. . . . One might have expected that this recent flurry of translation activity, informed by the newly focused awareness of the meanings of biblical Hebrew, would have produced at least some English versions that would be both vividly precise and closer to the feel of the original than any of the older translations. Instead, the modern English version — especially in their treatment of Hebrew narrative prose — have placed readers at a grotesque distance from the distinctive experience of the Bible in the original language. . . . Some observers have sought to explain the inadequacy of modern Bible translations in terms of the general decline of the English language. It is certainly true that there are far fewer people these days with a cultivated sensitivity to the expressive resources of the language, the nuances of lexical values, the force of metaphor and rhythm; and one is certainly much less likely to find such people on a committee of ecclesiastical or scholarly experts than one would have in the first decade of the seventeenth century.

              But, Alter asks, what about the brilliant stylists we have seen recently of Homer, Sophocles, and Dante? Alter suggests that the problem lies with the focus on philological studies:

              I intend no churlish disrespect to philology. On the contrary, without it, our reading of the Bible, or indeed of any older text, is no better than walking through a great museum on a very gloomy day with all the lights turned out. To read the Bible over the shoulder of a great philological critic, like Abraham Ibn Ezra (1092–1167), one of the earliest and still eminently worth studying is to see many important things in fine focus for the first time. There is, however, a crucial difference between philology as a tool for understanding literary texts and philology as an end in itself, for literature and philology work with extremely different conceptions of what constitutes knowledge . . . .

              For the philologist, the great goal is the achievement of clarity. It is scarcely necessary to say that in all sorts of important, but also delimited, ways clarity is indispensable in a translators wrestling with the original text . . . . It is truly helpful, for example, to know that the biblical nahal most commonly indicates not any sort of brook, creek, or stream but the kind of freshet, called a wadi in both Arabic and modern Hebrew, that floods a dry desert gulch during the rainy months and vanishes in the heat of the summer. Suddenly, Job’s “my brothers have betrayed like nahal” (Job 6:14) becomes a striking poetic image, where before it might have been a minor puzzlement.

              But Alter then says that philologists go too far. They attempt to “disambiguate” the text. The problem is that the Hebrew bible is truly literature — and it “cultivates certain profound and haunting enigmas, delights in leaving its audiences guessing about motives and connections, and, above all, loves to set ambiguities of word choice and image against one another in an endless interplay that resists neat resolution.”

              The unacknowledged heresy underlying most modern English versions of the Bible is the use of translation as a vehicle for explaining the Bible . . . [because of ] a feeling that the Bible, because of its canonical status, has to be made accessible — indeed, transparent — to all. . . . [losing] sight of how the text intimates its meanings — the distinctive, artfully deployed features of ancient Hebrew prose and poetry that are the instruments for the articulation of all meaning, message, insight, and vision.

              The one counterexample identified by Alter is Fox’s translation, but Alter says “his English has the great virtue of reminding us verse after verse of the strangeness of the Hebrew original, but it does so at the cost of often being not quite English and consequently of becoming a text for study rather than a fluently readable version that conveys the stylistic poise and power of the Hebrew.”

              Body parts

              The Hebrew Bible delights in metaphor, and especially in metaphor with Bible parts. We have a few in English too (“a discerning eye”) but Biblical Hebrew has more. And these are used in strategic ways.

              Consider the Hebrew zera “seed.” This can mean a seed in the agricultural sense, but it can also refer (metaphorically) to children, descendants, or even semen. Thus we see the power of Genesis 22:17

              TNIV: I will surely bless you and make your descendants [zera] as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore.

              Alter: I will greatly bless you and will greatly multiply your seed [zera], as the stars in the heavens and as the sand on the shore of the sea.

              What does a great amount of seed look like? One would think of sand on the shore of the sea (here Alter tries to imitate the alliteration of the Hebrew asher al shafat) stars scattered densely in the heavens (think of a clear night in the country, far from the city lights). The metaphor makes sense in the Hebrew and Alter’s version, but something is lost in the TNIV.

              Continuing to a highly biological example, from the story of Onan and Tamar (Genesis 38:9)

              TNIV: But Onan knew that the child [zera] would not be his; so whenever he slept with his brother’s wife, he spilled his semen [zera] on the ground to keep from providing offspring [zera] for his brother.

              Alter: And Onan knew that the seed [zera] would not be his and so when he would come to bed with his brother’s wife, he would waste his seed [zera] on the ground, so to give no seed [zera] to his brother.

              The TNIV’s version doesn’t actually make sense. It seems to say that Onan’s child would not be his offspring — whatever that means. The problem is that in Hebrew we have a nexus of ideas: biological, social, legal, cultural captured in zera. Although Tamar’s son would be of Onan’s zera (semen), the child would not be raised as Onan’s zera (child) and Onan decides to deny his dead brother zera (descendants). Thus, the horror of the event becomes clear to all — this is a denial of his brother’s descendants and thus works actively against the pledge to Abraham.

              This passage illustrates other factors as well — it includes all the Hebrew vav’s “and” and has a clear complex rhythm, similar to that in the original. And while the TNIV suggests that perhaps Onan engaged in (pleasurable) self-abuse (“onanism”) to drain him and keep him from intercourse; Alter’s translation clearly indicate that this is a case of coitus interruptus — as Rashi vividly put it “threshing within, winnowing without.”

              The most metaphorically extended body part in biblical Hebrew is the hand (although the head and foot also appear often). Now, in English “hand” can play a role in figurative expressions such as power, control, responsibility, trust — and Hebrew adds an additional meaning: commemorative monument. Consider the story of Joseph — he is cast away twice — first in a dry cistern, next in an Egyptian prison (but both are linked throughout the Hebrew bor). Reuben hearing his brothers’ murderous intentions, seeks to rescue Joseph “from their hands.” He implores his brothers, “Lay not a hand upon him”, just as in the other strand of the story, Judah says “Let not our hand be against him.”

              The image of hands holding a garment recurs in Genesis 39 — when Joseph flees Potiphar's wife, “he left his garment in her hand” — and when she falsely accuses him of rape, we look at the two words waya`azov beyad, “he left in the hand of”. The summary of Joseph’s stewardship (Genesis 39:6): “And he left all that he had in Joseph's hands.”

              When we translate “hand” as “trust” or “care” we lose the immediacy of the language.


              Here is Genesis 7:13–14 in Hebrew — say it out loud:

              Be`ETsem haYOM haZEH ba' NOach weSHEM-weCHAM waYEfet benei-NOach weESHet NOach ushLOshet neSHEi-vaNAW ‘iTAM ‘el hateVAH. HEmah wekhol-hachaYAH lemiNAH wekhol-labeheMAH lemiNAH wekhol-haREmes haroMES `al-ha’Aret lemiNEhu wekhol-ha`OF leimNEhu KOL tsiPOR kol kaNAF.

              Alter writes

              The Hebrew rhythm unfolds in groupings of three or four words marked by three or four stresses, usually with no more than one or two unstressed syllable between the stressed ones, and the sense of the words invites a slight pause between one grouping and the next. The overall effect is that of a grand solemn sweep, a sort of epic march, and the effect is reinforced by the use of of hemah instead of hem for “they” at the beginning of the second verse.

              In the KJV

              In the selfsame day entered Noah, and Shem, and Ham, and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah’s wife, and the three wives of his sons with them, into the ark; They, and every beast after its kind, all the cattle after their kind, and every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind, and every fowl after his kind, every bird of every sort.

              The rhythm of the first verse (up to “into the ark”) is nearly perfect — the KJV translators had the freedom to follow the Hebrew syntax and write “entered Noah” which would seem odd today. But the second verse is problematic — by repeating “after its kind” with a trochee and an iamb and its two stresses becomes inelegant compared with the Hebrew lemiNAH “every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth” is a long way of saying something that is compact in the Hebrew, and “every bird of every sort” falls flat as a final cadence (and is inaccurate to boot.) Here is Alter’s attempt to capture the Hebrew rhythm

              That very day, Noah and Shem and Ham and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah’s wife, and the three wives of his sons together with them, came into the ark, they as well as beasts of each kind and cattle of each kind and each kind of crawling thing that crawls on the earth and kind of bird, each winged thing.

              A literary approach to the Bible

              Alter’s translation is, after all, a literary approach to the Bible — his copious notes (this translation has longer annotations than most study Bibles) bring out many literary features which even experienced readers will have missed. This is an approach to the Bible that is simultaneously readable and also far more faithful to the original (both in terms of language and stylistic features) than most contemporary translations. It repays careful reading.

              Childbearing and male headship

              I was surprised last week by the discussion about section heading in Ephesians 5 . I didn't realize to what extent the decision as to where to put the section heading was determined by the interpretive tradition of the translators. So I got to wondering exactly how thoroughly the belief in the unilateral submission of women has influenced the translation and interpretation of other passages - passages where submission does not appear on the surface. Maybe it is worth exploring the "submission of women" as an interpretive tradition.

              So here is my question for today. Which Bible translation is closely associated with the teaching that childbearing is a figure of speech for the submission of women to male leadership? That should take about three point five seconds. And can you supply the quote?

              TNIV Reference Bible: Thick or Thin?

              Please help Rick Mansfield gather information which might help produce a better TNIV Reference Bible.

              I don't understand

              The older I get, and the more I pay attention to what I'm reading in the Bible, the more I realize how much there is in the Bible that I don't understand. Now, I'm not referring here to difficult concepts, such as what is symbolized by a gray horse in the book of Revelation, or what Paul meant by praying for the dead. Instead, I'm talking about wordings in Bibles which I don't understand. I've read these words all my life. I'm very familiar with them. But I don't really know what they mean. Here are some of them:
              • "poor in spirit" (Matt. 5:5).
              • "pure in heart" (Matt. 5:8)
              • love God with all my soul (Deut. 6:5; Matt. 22:37)
              • "lift up my soul" to God (Ps. 25:1)
              • Christ eats with me and I with him (Rev. 3:20)
              • beseech someone "by the mercies of God" (Rom. 12:1)
              • "grace to you" (Rom. 1:7)
              • "out of his belly/heart will flow rivers of living water (John 7:38)
              What are some Bible wordings which you do not understand?

              Monday, May 21, 2007

              to shepherd - revisited

              I don't often revise a blogpost - not because I don't see my errors - I do - but sometimes I feel that if I started in that direction I would end up removing the entire post - many posts, in fact. But that should only be done in the most extreme cases!

              However, I have gone back and revised this post, removing a quote which I used to demonstrate a position I disagreed with. It wasn't really necessary to do that. It doesn't mean that I will not, in future, quote things with which I disagree - I will - but I hope with more relevancy.

              Instead, I would like to provide a positive example, an example of what it means for a woman to figuratively fulfill the functions of a "shepherd" - to care for, nurture, protect and provide, and to use the leadership skills of running an organization.

              Clara Barton, 1821 - 1912, began her working career as a school teacher. A few years later she established a free school. When it grew in size and required a full-time administrator, she was not chosen by the school board for the position. She changed careers and later became one of the first women to have a clerkship with the federal government in Washington. During the Civil War she became the first woman to work on the battlefields organizing medical supplies and care.

                Officially, she became the superintendent of Union nurses in 1864 and began obtaining camp and hospital supplies, assistants and military trains for her work on the front. She practiced nursing exclusively on battlefields, experiencing first-hand the horrors of war on sixteen different battlefields.
              She founded the American National Red Cross on May 21, 1881 and was the President for 22 years. She was a single Christian woman who crossed many gender boundaries in order to nurture, care for, provide and protect. She was a leader and an organizer. She was the kind of person I had in mind when I said that both men and women demonstrate the wide range of characteristics belonging to a "shepherd". I wrote,

                The metaphor of the shepherd unites in one whole person the gift and service of guiding, governing, protecting, nurturing, and providing care. Jesus, as the good shepherd, models all of these and demonstrates that each of us, either male or female, is a complete human being without need of "completion" by another [human being].
              I know some will say - oh, but that is not in the church. And I would say - don't we want people like her using their full range of gifts in the church? Her story touched me.

              For a story that presents the other side, men as caregivers, click here.

              Yes, this is a special May 21 post. American too! Here in Canada we are having a holiday -Victoria Day. What's up down your way? You could always petition for a Clara Barton Day.

              Saturday, May 19, 2007

              The heading in Eph.5

              Last week Anonymous pointed out an article by Diana Butler Bass about choosing a Bible translation. At the time I didn't accord it the attention it deserved. However, it raises some intriguing questions about how interpretive formatting can influence the reader.

              Butler Bass recounts her reaction to the difference in formatting between the NIV and the NRSV in Eph. 5.

                When reading Ephesians, my friends thought it would be funny to have me -- the only woman with a theological degree -- lead the study on chapter 5: "Wives, submit to your husbands." Preparing for that night, I looked up Ephesians 5:21-33, a text that had long riled me, in my new Bible. What I saw stunned me: The version in the NIV was different from the NRSV!

                The editors of the NIV had separated Ephesians 5:21, "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ," from the rest of the passage, disconnecting the call for mutual submission from the rest of the instructions. To further distance verses 21 and 22, the NIV inserted a heading, "Wives and Husbands," that breaks the flow of the text. Thus, the NIV makes it appear that the teaching begins with the line, "Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord."

                The NRSV surprised me because no division existed. The text moves smoothly from verse 21 to 22, reframing wifely submission as part of a whole teaching on servanthood as discipleship.
              Wayne blogged about the paragraphing in Eph. 5 last year and remarked in conclusion,

                So, where then do we insert the paragraph break in this debated section of Eph. 5? I suggest, based on the Greek syntax which we have just examined, that there is no paragraph break between Eph. 5:15-33.
              Given the verb constructions in the Greek, it is indeed difficult to put in a paragraph break either before or after verse 21. The participle in verse 21, upotassomenoi, appears to fit well with the preceding participles. More perplexing, however, is verse 22, which lacks a verb altogether, although the verb from verse 21 is almost always reiterated in English translations. In spite of this complex and interconnected discourse structure, most Bibles do have a break and heading placed either before or after verse 21.

              In defense of placing a break before verse 21 rather than after, I quote The Anchor Bible *,

                In Pauline teaching mutual subordination is neither self-contradictory nor a call to chaos, but a challenge to the conservative and patriarchal concepts of social order which have often been attributed to Paul or derived from his teaching. The unique message of Ephesians is silenced whenever the dominant position of vs. 21 over the Haustafeln and the peculiarly startling content of this verse are neglected. page 610
                How is marital love related to love of the neighbour? It is obvious that both are called for and held together (a) by the command of the same Lord, (b) by the employment of the same word "love"; and (c) by the specification "as yourself". page 718
              Barth places the individual instructions for the wife and the husband within both the context of mutual subordination and the injunction on the people of Israel to love others as themselves, in this way reinforcing his assertion that verse 22 should be read within the context of verse 21.

              Bibles today fall within one of two groups - those that place a heading before verse 21 and those that place the heading after verse 21. This is one of those many times when the difference between Bible versions cannot be measured on a spectrum of more to less literal. I am happy to blog about this because I often feel that discussing the degree to which a translation is, or is not, literal, can be a smoke screen for other issues.

              With no further ado, here is how the more popular translations place the heading in Eph 5.

              Heading before verse 21 - NRSV, NLT, TNIV, Message, CEV, GNB
              Heading after verse 21 - NIV, ESV, NASB, HCSB, NKJV, NET, UBS 1968

              Frankly I am surprised at such a clear cut distinction between the two groups of translations in terms of how they treat gender issues. Each of these versions clearly influences the reader in favour of one interpretation or another, based on something that is not in the manuscripts. (I checked out P46 just to make sure of this. No paragraph breaks!)

              There are a few questions which one can profitably ask about the translation of verses 21 and 22 in Eph. 5. First, is it legitimate for a literal translation to supply the verb in verse 22? Next, how do headings fit into a literal translation - aren't they interpretation? And doesn't this bring us to the understanding that every Bible translation is in some way shaped by the preconceptions of the translators, by the beliefs that the translators bring to the text, not the ones they gain from the text. How one interprets this passage can have a tremendous impact on one's life, and yet this may hang on a decision made by a team of translators.

              One last note with regard to the King James Version - this is a situation where the lack of paragraphs and headings in the King James Version renders it a translation that offers less interpretation to the reader. It is simply more literal. The Geneva Bible, by contrast, marks the beginning of a new paragraph at verse 22 with a pilcrow, and the headings at the beginning of the chapter mark verse 22 as a new section.

              Once again the value and durability of the King James version seems to me to be based not only on its literary excellence but also on its relative lack of an interpretive stance. It holds an unique place in Bible translation history and could still be the version most suited to studying the scripture as literature.

              Thank you to Anonymous for suggesting I revisit this.

              * Barth, Markus. The Anchor Bible: Ephesians 4 - 6. 1974. Doubleday. NY.


              Update: There is an excellent follow-up post on εν εφέσω: Thoughts and Meditations which concludes with these thoughts.
                Simply put, Paul exhorts the husbands and wives of Ephesus to live humbly with equity in their culture, while continuing in the systems already set up. This is key to an accurate application for the twenty-first century. The question of application for Ephesians 5.21-33 for husbands and wives is not how to structure their relationship, but how to live in a Godly manner within their own culture, each submitting and loving the other.
              The entire post is well worth reading and responds to comments brought up here. I think it can be argued that this post proposes a mediating position, as does the Barth commentary from which I quoted here.

              Update #2 More comments and another good post by Mike here.