Better Bibles Blog has moved. Read our last post, below, and then
click here if you are not redirected to our new location within 60 seconds.
Please Bookmark our new location and update blogrolls.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Psalm 68, Pt 12: invitation to dance

I have to write this post to music! First, Lingamish and then John. I had already decided that I would write about verse 26, the remaining verse which mentions women, next.

קִדְּמוּ שָׁרִים
אַחַר נֹגְנִים
בְּתוֹךְ עֲלָמוֹת

kiddemu sharim,
achar nogenim;
betoch alamot,

The singers go before,
the minstrels follow after,
in the midst of damsels
playing upon timbrels.

It doesn't actually say that they were dancing but we all know they were. This verse calls to mind other scenes in the Hebrew scriptures.

    And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances. Ex. 15:20

    And Jephthah came to Mizpeh unto his house, and, behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances: and she was his only child; beside her he had neither son nor daughter. Judges 11:34

    Now it had happened as they were coming home, when David was returning from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women had come out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with joy, and with musical instruments. 1 Sam. 18:6
For each verse in this psalm so far, I have tried to choose a new dance partner, and tonight it is Luther. I have not read his commentary of the psalms, but I do have his preface to the New Testament in front of me. I would argue that, while Luther may read the old testament in the light of the new, he also reads the new testament in the light of the old.(in Luther's Works page 358)

I am not suggesting a Christological interpretation of this psalm, but simply saying that Luther, like most of the reformers, was not capable of writing about the gospel without framing his thoughts in the language and poetry of the Hebrew scriptures. I see both the evangelists of verse 11 and the girls playing tambourines of verse 26 in this preface.
Update: Iyov has added Luther's commentary on Ps. 68:26,
    This verse must be taken allegorically. Otherwise the image of a dance would appear incongruous in this sublime and serious context. The prophet wanted to intimate that no joy, no music, no maidens afford as much pleasure as this recognition of Christ, of His grace, and of His work grants the conscience.

    Therefore spiritual musical instruments, spiritual maidens, and spiritual dancing are indicated here. The princes are the apostles, as may be inferred from what is to follow. The minstrels are those who glorify God with song and sermon, those who spread God’s glory by means of the Gospel, as well as those who mortify their bodies. The maidens are the souls of Christians regenerated by faith, especially the martyrs. Their timbrels are their own bodies, which they mortify and bring into subjection to the spirit and thereby produce a clear and loud sound of a good life as an example to others, with which God alone is honored and proclaimed.

    In all this, the princes must take the lead, as the apostles truly did, inducing the others to follow willingly and gladly with their song and music. Gospel, faith, and all else would be useless and in vain if the mortification and crucifixion of the old Adam did not follow. God and the angels delight in these minstrels, and it sounds lovely to spiritual ears.

    From Luther's works, vol. 13: Selected Psalms II, J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.. Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1956.
Please scroll down and participate in Wayne's wordiness.

a word on Bible versions

I can be verbose, as some of you know from reading my posts. But today I tried an exercise in conciseness which was good for me. I tried to come up with a single word which would capture, for me, an important essence of each of the main English Bible versions I am familiar with. Here are the results:
CEV: clarity
ESV: protector
GNB/TEV: common
GW: careful
HCSB: independent
JB/NJB: literary
KJV: lasting
NAB: Catholic
NASB: wooden
NET: footnotes
NKJV: updated
NIV: moderation
NLT: readable
NRSV: scholarly
REB: sophisticated
The Message: impact
TNIV: maligned
I found it difficult to characterize the ESV in a single word, but finally the word "protector" came to mind. Its translators are protecting a way of presenting the Bible in English that they believe is very important. Some of its translators have decried how other Bible versions are not translated as they believe a proper English Bible should be.

For the GNB/TEV, the word "common" refers to the fact that it was the first English Bible to be translated as a "common language" version. This is a technical term for language which is used in "common" by the majority of speakers and writers of a language. It is different from colloquial language.

I labeled the HCSB as "independent" because it was created outside the Tyndale-KJV tradition. It is a new translation.

When I label the NRSV as "scholarly" I am referring to the fact that many Bible scholars respect and use the NRSV. It lacks interpretive biases affecting translations made by a denomination or subgroup of Christians such as evangelicals.

Feel free to interact with my one-word categorizations, as well as adding your own.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Psalm 68: Commentary

It's not going to happen anytime soon, but if and when I ever retire, I would love to write a book à la Wolters' Song of a Valiant Woman. It would be on Psalm 68 and include excerpts or reprints of translations and commentary ever since it was written.

It would be filled with many languages and richly obscure and exotic prose in a form of English usually consigned to the past. It would include Julia Greswell, Neale, Mary Sidney and Erasmus, Luther,and Bucer, Marot and Beza, Pagnini and Vatable, and Kimhi, and Aquinas and everybody else that I haven't met yet. I have just begun and will collect commentary on this psalm until it fills a book 6 inches thick.

It would include selections in several different writing systems. The psalm would be presented as prose, a poem, a song and a dance. There would even be a wordless version. A better bible is not always every word of the "canon" accumulated in one place. I would take a vertical slice and follow one piece through time.

All contributions are welcome. More on Ps. 68 soon. I am like a pig in mud.

Waltke's O.T. Theology

A commenter has mentioned that Bruce Waltke's Old Testament Theology has been published.

My notes on the interview with Dr. Watlke are still shelved somewhere awaiting the end of the bathroom reno. I will come back to them at some point.

As I mentioned Waltke's next commentary is a joint effort with James Housston on the Psalms.

ESV and Grudem article critique

This is a critique written by Kermit Titrud, a Bible translation consultant. Kermit has asked me to make his critique accessible to others. Kermit has done the right thing and already shared his critique with his former professor, Wayne Grudem. Kermit's article follows:

Critique of the English Standard Version and “Are Only Some Words of Scripture Breathed Out By God” by Wayne Grudem in Translating Truth: The Case for Essentially Literal Bible Translation. Wheaton, Il.: Crossway Books, 2005

By Kermit Titrud

[Wayne is a member of the Translation Oversight Committee for the English Standard Version.]

First I would like to state that I appreciated Wayne Grudem as one of my professors at TEDS and as a brother in the Lord. Due to my closeness to him, I would rather address him for now on by his first name. I could only wish Wayne had done translation work for another language other than English. It is very obvious to those of us who have done translation work in a language other than our own that Wayne is extremely naïve when it comes to languages and translation work.

In his article Wayne argues for “essentially literal” translations over “dynamic equivalence” translations stating that “all the words of Scripture are the words of God.” (p. 56). In the logic of Wayne, if all the words of Scripture are the words of God, therefore all the words of Scripture should be explicitly expressed in the translation process, that is basically each word in the original should show up somehow in the translation.

What are “essentially literal translations”? According to Wayne, “The main point is that essentially literal translations attempt to represent the meaning of every word in the original in some way or other in the resulting translation.” Actually this is also the attempt of dynamic equivalence translations (also known as meaning based or thought-for-thought translations). The difference would be in that the dynamic equivalence translations recognize that one often needs to change the form of the words in the original, whereas the literal translations try to keep the form, even though it would result in something less than natural.

Wayne goes on to give examples where he feels that the dynamic-equivalence translations failed. His first example is 1 Kings 2:10 which reads in the KJV and ESV as “David slept with his fathers” whereas in the NLT it reads as “David died.” He argues that “defenders of essentially literal translations will reply that even modern readers who have never heard this idiom before will understand it because the rest of the sentence says that David was buried” (p. 21). I wonder if Wayne and the other defenders have actually checked this out. I immediately checked it with the three American teenagers I was staying with who are missionary kids and have read much of the Bible. I read this verse to them and asked how they understood it. One said that David was buried in the same tomb as his fathers. One said that David stayed in his father’s house. The other one said David stayed in the same town as they did. I remember that I myself for many years was somewhat confused by this and kind of thought like one of the kids I interviewed that it meant David was buried in the same burial place as his fathers. Or it could mean that since David has more than one father, he slept with his father and fathers-in-law. This was actually expressed as one possibility by one of the teenagers.

Wayne gives a number of examples where “DYNAMIC EQUIVALENCE TRANSLATIONS OFTEN LEAVE OUT THE MEANING OF SOME WORDS THAT ARE IN THE ORIGINAL TEXT” (p. 30). Wayne fails to understand that if meaning was left out from a particular “dynamic equivalence” translation, it is not the fault of the philosophy behind dynamic equivalence, but the fault in that particular translation. A component was just missed by the translators, missing the mark. For dynamic equivalence translations try to portray all the meaning and inferences found in the original. Unfortunately a number of Wayne’s examples are taken from The Message. However The Message would not be classified as a dynamic equivalence translation. The Message is much too free, adding adverbs and adjectives and concepts and inferences that are not in the original. True The Message is “dynamic”, but it would not be classified as a dynamic equivalence translation. A number of other examples Wayne gives from translations that would be indeed considered dynamic equivalence translations are instances when these translations just missed the mark, that is inaccurately translated the passage for a dynamic equivalence.

I could give many examples where the ESV (English Standard Version) also failed LEAVING OUT THE MEANING OF SOME WORDS THAT ARE IN THE ORIGINAL TEXT. But only a few will be sufficient.

Example: 2 Cor. 5:6
The ESV reads: “So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord.”

However the ESV left out a critical Greek word. The Greek word kai is found between these two clauses. It is obvious contextually and grammatically that this kai is an adverb which was not translated in the ESV. As such the ESV makes no sense whatsoever. How does our being of good courage relate to our knowing that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord? The NLT hit it right on: “So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord.” Here the ESV failed to translate the meaning of the kai. By the way so did a number of “dynamic equivalent” translations such as the TEV, NCV, and God’s Word. On the other hand the more literal translation NRSV got it right with a translation similar to the NLT. The NIV and NET did translate the kai, but unfortunately interpreted it as a conjunction with “and”, which does not make logical sense, nor would the grammar allow it. Note that the first participle “being of good courage” is present tense, whereas the second participle is aorist, hence more than likely the second participle is dependent upon the first. Since they are not of like grammatical units, the kai more than likely should not be viewed as a conjunction. If the individual words are so important according to Wayne, why then did the ESV not translate the kai, and why did they translate these participles as indicatives and with the same tense?

The ESV also added “we” in the translation, not found in the original. I do not fault the ESV here in doing so, just making a point that it too “ADD[S] MEANING THAT IS NOT IN THE ORIGINAL TEXT.” (p. 45)

Wayne bemoans the fact that dynamic equivalence translations again and again leave out the meaning of words that are there in the original Hebrew and Greek texts. Sure I could find tons of examples where this is done in dynamic equivalence translations. But I could find many more examples of distortions of the meaning found in the “essentially literal” translations. These are essentially word for word translation. Wayne does not like to call them “formal equivalence” since he says the “word ‘form’ places too much emphasis on reproducing the exact word order of the original language, something that just makes for awkward translation” (p. 20). However for the most part this is exactly what the ESV is, a very awkward translation.

A good example of this is found in Mark 1:11 which reads in the ESV: “with you I am well pleased.” I have asked a number of English speakers (from the U.S., England, Australia, and New Zealand) if they would ever say this to their children. None of them would. It is very awkward English. I could give thousands of such examples of this found in the ESV. The words are English, but the construction is Greek or Hebrew and is not natural for English speakers.

Below I give a couple of examples of distorting the word of God when it is translated literally, or “essentially” literal. I’ll call it formal equivalence, for this is indeed what the ESV is.
Genesis 4:1 reads: “Now Adam knew Eve his wife.” I asked the three teenagers I was staying with what this meant. I read the whole verse to them. One said that since Adam was married to Eve, he of course knew her. The second one said that since Eve was taken from Adam’s rib, Adam of course knew himself. The third one said that it took him a while to really get to know her and accept her – to understand her. He had to learn about the animals so it took him awhile to learn about her. [I (being a male myself) might add that since Eve was a woman, it took some time to figure her out. Of course a female might comment that being a man, Adam was somewhat dense, resulting in him taking some time to understand how she ticked.] Doing a Bible study being dependent upon the ESV could result in all kinds of distorted opinions.

Psalms 1:1 reads: “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners.”

The problem is that this teaches we are not to stand in the way of sinners. We are to allow sinners to rape, steal, kill or whatever they want to do. For in English to “stand in the way of someone” means to block them, to hinder them, to prevent them from doing something. Of course the Hebrew idiom for “stand in the way” means to associate with someone.

I could give thousands of such examples. Suffice it to say that Wayne and those who are believers in (essentially) literal translations fail to realize that although “every word” in the Scriptures is inspired, these individual words are found in context. We find meaning in the words when we look at the context. We know what the words “it”, “is”, “up”, “to”, and “you” normally means, but what they normally mean is light years away from what they mean in the context of “it is up to you.” We know what “dog” and “cat” normally means. But again the animal component of “dog” and “cat” is lost with the expression, “It’s raining cats and dogs”. Wayne and those who push essential literal translations fail to understand the basic principles of translating accurately. One needs to translate the words according to their context. Wayne argues from verses such as Matt. 4:4 that “the expression ‘every word’ coupled with the fact that the words proceed from the ‘mouth of God’ places further emphasis on the very words themselves.” If that is the case then David did not die, because the Hebrew word reads “sleeps”, and David is indeed side by side with his fathers, and David has more than one father (maybe referring to his fathers-in-law). Wayne fails to recognize that the words coming out from the mouth of God are found in context. They are not in isolation. I find it strange that my professor for advanced Greek Exegesis, who taught the importance of interpreting Scripture by looking at the context, would suggest that there is some intrinsic value to these words in isolation. And if there is so much value in the individual words, then why does one find so many words in the Greek and Hebrew that were not translated by Wayne and company? Why compromise translating literally with “essentially” literal? They realize that it would not make any sense to the reader if they translated literally. However they fail to realize that the reader is also to a great degree either confused or mislead as well by an “essentially” literal translation. They fear that the more dynamic equivalent type translations distort the Word of God, not realizing that it is these “essentially” literal translations that produce the cults and sects. The Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses and other cults and sects do not read the dynamic equivalent translations. They prefer the “essentially” literal ones.

Wayne criticizes the “thought-for-thought” translations with their rendering of going generic with “discipline” and “punishment”. He argues, “Is the word shebet (“rod”) not breathed out by God? Is it not a word God wants his people to have?” I wonder if Wayne as a church planter in other cultures would then enforce upon the people that they must punish their kids with a rod – that it should not be with a spanking or with a strap or with some other form of discipline. It must be with a rod, because this form of punishment is what God “breathed out”. Also would Wayne suggest that only the sons should be punished with a rod, for what God breathed was the masculine singular son (ben)?

A rod (shebet) denotes a part of a tree from which a staff or weapon could be made (so Bruce K. Waltke - The Book of PROVERBS Chapters 1-15 of The New International Commentary on the Old Testament). However often the first thing that comes to mind with young people today is a metal object or at least some kind of very hard object – giving the connotation of severe punishment, something that could easily break bones.

I found it interesting that the ESV translated Proverbs 13:24 with “son”. The “thought for thought” versions translated it with the generic “child”, probably with the understanding that when God breathed out this verse, He probably was not meaning that only sons be punished and that daughters are not to be punished. Apparently the ESV translators believe otherwise, only that sons are to be punished and we should not discipline daughters (of course I’m speaking tongue in cheek here).

On the other hand the ESV seems to be inconsistent with how they translated the singular masculine noun, for in Proverbs 22:15 the ESV reads: “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child….” However the Hebrew word here (na’ar) is masculine singular as reflected in the NRSV with “boy”. If God breathed a masculine singular here (as in 13:24), then why did the ESV translate this with a generic “child”?

In refuting the dynamic equivalence translations for their rendering of Rom. 16:16 with something other than “Greet one another with a holy kiss,” Wayne comments “should we not first translate the words accurately so that readers can know exactly what Paul was saying at that time?” (p. 44). If this is the case then why did the ESV translate 1 Kings 21:21 as:

“Behold, I will bring disaster upon you. I will utterly burn you up, and will cut off from Ahab every male, bond or free, in Israel.” This is not what the Hebrew reads. The KJV more correctly reflects the “words accurately” stating “exactly what” Elijah “was saying at that time":

“Behold, I will bring evil upon thee, and will take away thy posterity, and will cut off from Ahab him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel.”

The Hebrew reads “[one-who]-urinates on/against-a-wall.” These are the exact words of Elijah, not “every male.” In the logic of Wayne, God or Elijah could have used the Hebrew word “male” - ish, but he did not, he used “piss”. A Wayne Grudem could argue that by not translating the Hebrew words as they stand, one does not see the possible coarseness being expressed by Elijah.
In all honesty, I have no problem with the rendering of the ESV here changing the Hebrew of “pissing/urinating on the wall” to “male” and adding “every” which is not in the Hebrew and not “breathed by God”. Wayne though needs to recognize that by doing so the ESV becomes one of those dynamic equivalence translations.

See also an excellent article by Allan Chapple: ‘The English Standard Version: A Review Article’, Reformed Theological Review, August 2003, 62/2

Further notes:

James 2:3
ESV: “sit down at my footstool”
NASB: “sit down by my footstool”
NRSV footnote: “sit under my footstool”
Greek: upo – which normally means “under”
So ESV is indeed “interpreting”.

James 2:18
Greek does not have quotation marks
ESV puts only 18a in quotation marks, contrary to NASB.
Thus again ESV is involved in “interpreting”.

James 4:5 “He yearns jealously over the spirit…”
Again ESV is interpreting. It could be “Spirit”
See the many options of interpreting this passage.

Wayne's article is available as a free download from his current seminary website.

The Voice of Stefan: All Translators Are Traitors, and Should Be Tried as Such

Here is an interesting post that compares translations of Col. 1:18: The Voice of Stefan: All Translators Are Traitors, and Should Be Tried as Such. Stefan discusses whether there is an anti-ascetic agenda in translations of this verse.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Psalm 68: part 11

Tyler has posted an excerpt from an interview with Alter on his Psalms.

I am taking a course in something called Spiritual Traditions. A rather vague title, but it involves reading something from Erasmus, Luther, Calvin, Bucer, etc. each week and is supplemented every week with singing psalms from the Presbyterian hymnbook and looking at rare books like an original Geneva Psalter or Vatable's commentary on the Pagnini Psalter, etc. Right up my alley, in any case.

In exploring the Geneva Psalter, translated into French by Clément Marot and Théodore Beza, I have also discovered the Psalms of Mary Sidney, an English translation of the Geneva Psalter. Here is Katherine Larsons's commentary on Sidney's Psalm 68.
    Sidney further bolsters this claim to poetic authority by placing herself in the midst of a godly community authorized and commanded by God to sing. In Psalm 68, this community is explicitly female. The women in the Psalm appear in Sidney’s translation as part of an army of virgins who, taught and inspired by God, exercise their poetic voices after the kings have abandoned the battle.

    Drawing on de Bèze’s commentary and paraphrase, Sidney structures this portion of the Psalm as the women’s song:

      Ther taught by thee in this tryumphant song
      a virgin army did their voices try:
      fledd are these kings,
      fledd are these armyes strong:
      we share the spoiles
      that weake in howse did ly.
      though late the Chymney
      made your beauties loathed,
      now shine you shall,
      and shine more gracefully,
      then lovely dove in
      cleare gold-silver cloathed,
      that glides with feathered Oare
      through wavy sky. (25-32)

    Sidney explicitly extends the experience of individual poetic maturation to all women. In a 1994 article, Margaret Hannay compares this later version of the translation with an earlier manuscript variant.

    In the earlier version, Sidney audaciously uses the first person “we” throughout the section, uniting herself with the community of militant maidens. Moreover, in the variant Sidney actually transforms the women into birds flying above their oppressors, dazzling gazes below and preventing (male) observers from accurately describing, defining, or confining them. Sidney writes, “Since now as late enlarged doves wee freer skyes do try” (Variant, MSS B, I, 36).

    Sidney’s decision to push beyond her sources’ emphasis on the beauty of the dove’s plumage to highlight the freedom of bird’s flight in both versions of Psalm 68 becomes especially significant given her insistence throughout her translations on the physical freedom she enjoys through relationship with God.
I was able to get a brief glance at Beza's psalm 68, long enough to notice that the virgin army is his translation - une armée de pucelles. I hope to take a photograph of it soon.

If you notice where Sidney inserts "we", that is where Alter has put the "mistress of the house" John Hobbins put "the housewife" and the NET Bible "the lovely lady". It is an obscure word in Hebrew and, in my opinion, Sidney does not violate the translation to simply insert "we". It is adjacent to a phrase cited from Deborah's Song and seems to represent the solidarity of women through the centuries.

Katherine Larson writes about Mary Sidney,
    Mary Sidney Herbert, Countess of Pembroke (1561-1621), was educated within the literary Sidney circle and became one of the leading patrons of the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods. Her home at Wilton was a favorite gathering place for writers like Samuel Daniel an Michael Drayton. She was also an accomplished writer, producing translations, a pastoral, dedicatory poems, and an elegy for her brother, Sir Philip Sidney. The Psalm translations that are the focus of this paper and which her brother began were completed in the years after Sir Philip Sidney’s death in 1586. She contributed 107 of the 150 psalms. Widely circulated in manuscript, the Sidney Psalms influenced the writings of poets like John Donne and George Herbert. In this paper, I build on a range of recent scholarship examining the strategies whereby Pembroke builds a distinctly female voice into her translations. In particular, I focus on images of pleasure and intimacy, arguing that the Psalms become a protected space within which Pembroke can assert her agency as a writer sanctioned by God.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Browse the ESV Literary Study Bible

Those who wish can now browse the almost published ESV Literary Study Bible for free. You will need to sign up for a free pass. I think it's always a help to be able to browse a book before I purchase it. I have appreciated that feature for many books now on

Refocusing the Better Bibles Blog

Blame it on the flu I've just had. Or blame it on my "J" personality type. But I have felt the need for quite some time to refocus this blog on its primary mission. And this morning I want to do something about it. As a F-eeler, I do not enjoy making unilateral decisions, but I have decided to create a "spillover" sister blog to this one. It is titled Complegalitarian. It will be the place to take discussions from BBB that no longer focus on making better Bibles. The most common topic on BBB which is not directly about bettering Bibles has to do with various aspects of the complementarian-egalitarian debate. I happen to be very interested in this debate, as well, but I have felt for some time that either we need to change the name of the BBB so that its name will better fit all topics discussed on, or else ... And I have not known what the "or else" should be. I woke up early this morning with this concern still on my heart. Several ideas rambled ("rattled" sounds more pejorative than I would like right now!) around in my head and I came up with the idea of a sister blog.

So what I am asking is that we all refocus our writing on BBB so that it stays as close to the promise of the BBB masthead as possible. When discussions move away from that focus to issues of how complementarianism and egalitarianism works or is worked out, I request that they be moved to the sister blog. (Discussion of how to translate biblical passages which are of concern to egalitarians and complementarians are still welcome on the BBB, just not non-translation aspects of the discussion.)

During my early morning ramblings I remembered that Blogger has service by which comments for individual posts can be disabled. I have checked, and comments already on a post will not be deleted or hidden when I disable comments on a post. I will use this service as one way to keep BBB more focused on its primary topic. To try out that Blogger service I will disable comments to this post. If any of you feel that you really want to comment about this post, please do so privately to me: wayne-leman at

OK, now I'll go create the sister blog. Volunteers to be co-bloggers and administrators there would be most welcome. I will probably comment there sometimes but because I have to refocus my own life periodically so I keep my own life's mission on track, the majority of my blogging time will be spent here.

Oh, besides the fun I have of playing with words, the blended neologism of the title Complegalitarian is intended to convey the idea that all points of view on the complementarian and egalitarian issues are welcome at the new blog. My hope is that everyone from all sides of this issue will feel like they are equal partners there and that there is no hierarchy. Hmm! :-)

There are complementarian discussion lists and blogs where egalitarians are in the minority. Similarly, there are egalitarian blogs where complementarians are in the minority. Sometimes various forms of censorship take place on forums devoted to one side of the debate or the other. Those in the minority often are treated as minority voices. It is part of human nature and part of believing so strongly in something that we often come across to those with whom we disagree in ways that they may not wish to keep discussing. I hope that even though discussions will be intense on Complegalitarian, no one will feel like they are being rejected as a person for believing as they do.

And to try to promote more of that same atmosphere of better partnership in discussion on the BBB, I would invite you, our blog visitors, to volunteer to guest blog when you have something you wish to say which you feel is important and believe you can say it in a way that can educate and help others. Just privately email me with a topic you wish to blog about. We can discuss what you wish to say and the tone you will take. And then you can compose the post and email it to me for posting.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Bible translation and personality types #2

Thank you very much to each of you who responded to my preceding post. I have had the flu the past two days. Most of the time I was not well enough to walk the stairs down to our office to check my email and blog comments. But when I could check the comments, I have enjoyed them all. Tonight I am feeling well enough to write a followup to the first post on a connection (if there is one) between Bible translation preferences and personality types.

I mentioned in my preceding post that I had started out with a hypothesis about a connection between Bible translation preferences and personality types. The responses to my post showed how weak my hypothesis was. But since I want to be honest with you, I'll tell you my starting hypothesis anyway, and then maybe we (all of us, I hope) can pull something of value out of all this fun.

Over the years I have been bothered whenever I have had heard someone insist that a literal (or essentially literal) translation was the best kind of translation, the most accurate, whatever. That really grated on me, because I simply knew it was not true. After all, I have seen so many specific examples (!) of literal translation wordings which do not accurately convey the meaning of the biblical text, and I was willing to try to convince people with long lists of such examples. (OK, for those who don't know my humor or communication style yet, I'm having some fun at my own expense here, as well as stating what I have believed.)

Those with whom I disagreed with about Bible translation were so set (whoops, sorry, deeply principled!) in their ways. And those with whom I have had some of the most difficult interactions in the past often have scored with a "T" (Thinking) on the Myers-Briggs profile. So I assumed that those who believed so strongly in the value of literal Bible translations and lack of value of idiomatic Bible versions must also be a Myers-Briggs "T".

Well, I was wrong and I hope I have even been humbled enough to grow a little more on that necessary characteristic (which isn't on the Myers-Briggs profile).

As I read some of the first comments on my preceding post, I began to realize that those who hold so strongly to the value of literal translations (BTW, I do see some value in them, as I have tried to point out in previous posts) as well as those, like myself, who believe so strongly that translations should be worded in natural patterns of the translation language, do so because we value something so strongly. And furthermore, if we are stubborn (whoops, deeply principled), like myself, and believe that the kind of Bible version we prefer is the kind that we should continue to use, that we should recognize its value and stick to it, then we finally get to some connection with personality type (I think). This personality type, of course, which desires predictability, consistency, is the "J" on the Myers-Briggs profile. I have had some of my most difficult encounters in life with TJs. Well, I'm a "J" also--it's the T-F difference that is difficult for me. And sometimes I just cannot understand why Ts don't see things my way. It should be obvious, eh?!! :-)

So, rather than there being some overall connection between personality type and translation preference, I suspect that any real connection is of a less over-arching kind. Some of you who are naturally wired to be flexible and enjoy flexibility and spontaneity appreciate and use Bible versions which are literal as well as ones which are idiomatic. I recall Suzanne making that statement about her own translation preferences in a comment and probably there were others of you, as well.

I like I-ntuitives. They inspire me. I am stimulated by their ideas. Then I like to go into quiet, "practical" mode to try to implement their ideas. I suggest that every Bible translation project should have one or more Intuitives to help the rest of us nuts-and-bolts detail people think outside the box. Surely, Eugene Peterson is an Intuitive. I don't see how he be anything other than an intuitive to have produced The Message. That translation thinks outside the box, as did J.B. Phillips wonderful translation produced during World War II.

I don't know what translation preferences Intuitives might have. I haven't tried to chart any correspondences between translation preferences and personality types from the comments to my post. (Although I would love to do such detailed charting, if I had more data! Data, data, data!! Empirical data!) Perhaps some of you can think of what Intuitives might prefer as Bible translation styles.

I am not an Intuitive. I am a S-ensor. I trust what I see, hear, touch, taste, and feel (with my hands, not my intuition). I want things to be clear and explicit, including the Bible versions I read. For me, I can understand a Bible version more clearly if it is written in some natural, standard dialect of English. There are many more ambiguities (at least ones I, as a language man, can spot) in literal Bible versions. If a translation has "the love of God" (e.g. 1 John 2:5; 5:3; Jude 21), unless the context gives me enough clues, I can't tell if it is referring to our love for God, or his love for us. If a translation has "the obedience of faith" (Rom. 16:26), I get twisted out of shape because I know that faith can't obey anything; only people can.

Well, I hope there is enough here to stimulate some more interesting comments. Perhaps you can carry the ideas on and find other connections between personality type and Bible translation preferences. I liked what someone said in the previous comments about artsy people preferring translations like the REB. I suspect there is a lot of truth in that. The REB is a classy translation. But some artsy type folks would also appreciate certain very literal translations, such as those being done by Hebrew scholar Robert Alter, who deliberately focuses on Hebrew idioms and other Hebrew language patterns which are important to understanding the Hebrew Bible (and translations of it).

It's only fair that I tell you my translation preferences. Overall, I think my favorite translation is the CEV. It has the clearest, most natural English of any Bible version I have ever evaluated, at least of versions that include both the Old and New Testaments. Our children grew up on the TEV/GNB which was the pew Bible in the church where we lived when we were translating for the Cheyennes. So we all have a fondness for its clarity and language naturalness, as well. The CEV came later. Both translations were produced by ABS (American Bible Society). Both translation teams included biblical scholars as well as language scholars, which is something that I crusade for. It is not enough (now I'm crusading!) to know the biblical languages well. It is also important to know English well enough (and be disciplined enough to follow that knowledge) to be able to express the meaning of the biblical texts accurately, clearly, and naturally (at least as clear and natural as were the original biblical texts). If we make such translations, those who use them will understand the Bible more accurately than they can translations which are not written in their own language (or dialect).

The artsy part of me (I don't know where that is on my ISFJ personality profile) is moved by The Message and J.B. Phillips translation. I love Peterson's and Phillips' use of natural English idioms and phrasings. I do think that Peterson gets carried away using some idioms which are not very well know to a majority of people. And sometimes accuracy suffers a bit, although far less, I think, than many people think who may not have looked at accuracy above the clause or sentence level, such as the rhetorical levels of language.

Oh, I've wondered if some Bible versions themselves fit on a personality profile. So, for fun (only that, I don't know if there is any value here) I'd suggest that The Message is an Extraverted translation. Most other translations are Introverted. Could I suggest that the NET Bible with its thousands of footnotes suggesting translation variants is an Intuitive translation, perhaps even an NP translation?! The NET translation team did not try as hard for concordance among the translation efforts of the various members of teams, so maybe that shows the flexibility of P.

Finally, I agree with those of you who have noted that personality types, as indicated by instruments such as the Myers-Briggers test, are simply indicators of tendencies. No test can tell us everything about someone, and there are dangers in stereotyping people when we learn their personality type. Our test results are not set in stone. We can change. Some have noted changes in their personalities over the years as reflected in test results. Often such changes are an indication that God has been working in our lives to help us better fit the kinds of work he has for us to do at each stage of our lives. We can also make deliberate choices not to operate with our default pattern in some contexts. That is not easy for me, but sometimes it has been helpful in my relationships with others.

Again, thanks for having fun with me on this topic.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Hen Scratches 24-09-07

Ruth Gledhill has an excellent post on religion at Oxford.

Chris Heard provides commentary on Sarah's laughter.

Here is an interesting post on whether Christian Bibles should be placed in hospitals. The argument is that the Psalms and NT is a Christian Bible. If the full Bible cannot be placed in the hospital, maybe a psalter could be offered. Along with this post, it provokes many thoughts about the overall presentation of the scriptures.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Bible translation and personality types

I have wondered for quite a few years if there is a connection between personality types and Bible translation philosophies and preferences. Now we might be able to find some connection, maybe, ... :-)

I have visited the Parchment and Pen blog a few times recently. They had a post today encouraging people to discover and share their personality types. The test results align with those of the Myers-Briggs Temperament Indicator (MBTI) test, which is a much longer test than the one linked to the P&P blog post.

I won't tell you my hypotheses about the connection between personality profiles and Bible translation preferences now. But if enough of you take the test and post your results in comments to this post, I will probably follow up telling whether the results align with my hypotheses or if they are all wet.

You are welcome to view my personality profile at this Internet address:

Here's my results chart:

I have been an ISFJ every time I have taken the Myers-Briggs test or one of these shorter tests that emulate it. I probably first took the MBTI test 20 or more years ago.

When I tried to post the entire html code to the P&P blog for the chart of my results, they would not display. Perhaps you all will have more success posting that code with our Blogger system comments. If not, you can still add plain text comments telling what your test results are. And you can include a link to your results on the web service, as I did, if you wish. Don't worry about trying to make a clickable link to your personal results if you don't know the html code for that. We can copy and paste your profile Internet address to our browsers without a clickable link.

UPDATE: If you post your test profile, please also include what Bible version(s) you prefer or what kind of Bible translation, such as literal, essentially literal, idiomatic. My hypothesis has to do with correlation of personality type to the kind of Bible translation preferred.

UPDATE2: I've just discovered (or re-discovered) that ElShaddai, who regularly visits this blog, posted on the relationship between his personality profile and the question "Why is it so hard to choose a Bible translation?" several months ago. Sorry, ElShaddai, for not remembering your post. I recommend ElShaddai's post for those of you who are enjoying this BBB post and its comments. (I'm enjoying all the comments.)

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Reflections on Eternal Subordination and Unity

Suzanne had said in Reflections on September in reference to her team teaching with another teacher: We both lead, we both follow. We are doubly productive.

May I change this a little?

Doubly would mean that each person brings their part and the result is the sum. That's not actually true in reality. There's something between. This thing between also is productive. It's that thing in reality that generates what we call synergy. We both lead, we both follow. We are more than doubly productive.

I was somewhat taken off guard by Suzanne's posting on team-teaching. Her statements are so very applicable to the eternal subordination discussion. The problem with the whole subordination discussion is the presumption of sole authority and sole submission (more commonly called subordination). That presumption is false. There are multiple areas of authority and submission. And it's the seamless ebb and flow between the two, over time, that is characteristic of what we call unity. There's got to be a mutuality in order for their to be unity.

I'm not sufficient to propose passages from the Word of God to support or effectively contradict this. It seems to me that eternal subordination (when coupled with sole authority and sole submission) introduces a temporariety into the Godhead such that the Father was eternally authoritative, and the eternal Son had, at one point in time, no authority whatsoever. The effect is that the Father delegated authority to the Son over time. What does this mean? Does it mean that the eternal Son was at one time an eternal infant and grew into accepting more and more authority? That's strange, to say the least--dare I say incoherent.

I think the key lies in John 17 with its use of ἐξουσία (authority/power [I prefer to understand this as authoritative responsibility]), ἀποστέλλω (sent [I prefer to understand as, delegated commissioning]), the use of δόξα (glory, [I prefer the visible display of a person's inherent characteristics which thereby shows excellent virtue]), λόγος (word [message]) and ῥῆμα (word [content of message]) and the topic of unity. There's a coherency here in John 17 that tightly ties these words together. The warp and woof of these words forms a weave, a textile--a text. The warp and woof of a text speaks far more clearly than an "exposition" of an article modifying an infinitive.

The persons in the Godhead must be different, or unity evaporates. However, rather than try to find the explanation in their differences by saying one is the authority and the others are subordinate, I find it much more likely that there is a mutuality in the Godhead where there are occurrences of an ebb and flow of the authority--and inextricably linked responsibility-- between the persons in the Godhead. There is a teamness or choir-like quality within the Godhead. I think John 17 shows this. The Godhead, itself, is coherent.

Also, this is not to say that all the areas of authority flow back and forth. It's simply to say that there is no area of authority that is the chief authority over all the other kinds of authority (for a lack of a better way of saying it).

There is a mutuality to the submission. And to the authority. It is this mutuality we call unity.

Why's this important to Better Bibles?

Because there is a direct connection between accuracy in Bible translation and the unity of believers. And there is a direct connection between the unity of believers and the unity of the Godhead (see John 17). When believers have unity (in the Biblical sense, not in a least-common-denominator sense), then they have a far greater capacity within themselves to accurately understand the Word of God. This unity is the "natural" effect of being filled with the Spirit. I think John 17 speaks clearly to this, though one would have to exposit most of the text to bring out the cohesive connections between unity and understanding. I strongly suspect that the referent of glory, that glory inherent in the Godhead, is the same referent when that glory is transferred to the believing church. It's the unity of the Godhead. It's the χαρά (joy) of Christ (John 17:13). It's what binds the church together in such a way that she shows the word who the Christ is.

The key is to grasp the connection between unity and the capacity to understand the message.

If our theology propels us down the pathway of disunifying the Godhead, then our translations will become more and more inaccurate as a result of the fanned flame of disunity among believers. Nowhere is disunity more evident than in the fight over who is boss.

Eternal subordination theology will result in disunity among those who hold to it. That disunity will result in either ambiguous translation so that the theology can be supported, or in inaccurate translation since the understanding is darkened. The way to battle such decay is through a careful, communal, linguistic oriented, exegesis of the text, an activity which shows the characteristics of 2 Tim. 2:24-25 and shows the coherent language of the message God has delivered to us (see 1 Cor. 14:9-12). Also, we will all need to be patient to see the effects of the inaccurate theology (see 1 Cor. 3:1-23). Though patience doesn't imply sitting on the bench, we must struggle for the faith (Jude 1). The good news is that God will not let his temple (the church) be harmed. (Note: I understand ἡμέρα δηλώσει ("the day will show it" to be quite similar to our expression, time will tell)).

If you want to see accurate translation, look for the unity that it produces. Since, the unity had to be there to begin with in order to produce the accurate translation.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Giddyup to those who laugh

This is for Lingamish, in response to Whoa to you who laugh. He is obviously using some very defective Bible software. Maybe someone can step in and show him how its done. In the meantime, let me point out a few more verse which mention laughter. But first, Sarah called Isaac 'laughter" out of happiness, not because she thought people were laughing at her for being so old. Come on, L.
    Sarah said, "God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me." Gen. 21:6

    21 He will yet fill your mouth with laughter
    and your lips with shouts of joy. Job 8:21.

    Our mouths were filled with laughter,
    our tongues with songs of joy.
    Then it was said among the nations,
    The LORD has done great things for them." Ps. 126:2

    She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come. Prov. 31:25

    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance, Ecc. 3:4

    A feast is made for laughter, and wine makes life merry, but money is the answer for everything. Ecc. 10:19

    Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Luke 6:21
Then there is that outrageous ostrich in Job 39.

Reflections on September

At the tail end of the discussion on this post, after Ellen and I had exchanged a few thoughts, :-) Jeremy made a comment, and I have excerpted this part, without intending to detract from his whole comment,
    Mutual submission involves people submitting to others according to their authority. I submit to the elders of my congregation and to my governing authorities in the workplace and in civil life in general. My wife submits to me. I do not submit to my wife even if I love her as Christ loved the church, because Christ doesn't submit to the church. We submit to him. I think your argument does nicely apply to that case, since there's no sense in which the church is in authority over Christ.

    I don't see anywhere in scripture that clearly refers to anyone submitting to anyone else when there isn't an issue of authority.
I had a few reflections on this comment. It's September, when I like to write about my job, because so many new situations arise that require thought. I have moved into a slightly new role without losing any of my old ones, a familiar circumstance during cutbacks.

I am in charge of a group of special education assistants, who support our students with special needs, with Down's syndrome, hearing impairments, along with the learning disabled, and gifted learning disabled.

I also have to spend part of each day in the classroom team teaching with another teacher. This can be dicey, good intentions often crash. There is nothing like finding that I am on a team with another teacher who only knows how to be a leader, or with one who only knows how to be a follower.

I remember many years ago, another resource teacher sat me down and explained the way it is. "Some teachers will treat you like their servant, and some will treat you like their master, you just have to figure out which it is, and go with it."

However, in this school, I have finally begun to see other teachers really team teaching. This year I am working in the classroom with a teacher I know well but haven't "team taught" with before. After two weeks, it has turned out that we both know how to do it. The turn-taking is seamless, we each let the other talk, we work with students, one-on-one, or in groups, or with the whole class, we design assignments, and teaching points, we just get the job done. We both lead, we both follow. We are doubly productive.

Who says that people cannot submit to each other without authority? Of course, there is an authority - we have an administrator, someone who more or less says, "Get the job done and I don't want to hear about any problems between now and the end of June." Even though I work in a very secular environment, it happens that our administrator used to attend Gordon Fee's church.

After team teaching in the morning, I get back to my room and work with a small group, then I have the special needs assistants around for individual planning. Next on the agenda is the tech inquiry group meeting. A bit of a snooze, but I know turning up at this meeting gets me little gold stars in my personnel file.

And finally, it is Friday afternoon, and a group of former students from the high school - all who are familiar with my room because it is where they learned how to read - hang out and help younger students. They are computer buddies, or reading buddies, or whatever. One teenage boy is helping a little guy who doesn't know left from right, how to use a mouse (how to master the right click). Several other teenagers, who had reading difficulties of their own, are listening to younger students read. And, of course, some are playing with the dolls' house or train set. There are no gender rules about this either!

However, I have to explain to these teenagers how to teach someone else. I have to help the teenager let go of the mouse himself, and let the little one learn. It is a tough stage to go through, letting go of the controls oneself and letting the other person learn.

But at the end of the day, I realize that I have gained an understanding of what it means to demonstrate or model, and give over autonomy.
    Submit to one another.

    And the things you have heard me say commit to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.

    Therefore, whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for them.
Good verses for life, they get me off to a fresh start every September.

CBA Bible sales ranking changes

Details for rankings of monthly Bible sales at Christian bookstores have changed at the Christian Booksellers Association website. If you click here you can see that there are three categories for Bible sales:
  1. Children's (this seems to be children's Bible story books)
  2. Children's Bible
  3. Study Bibles / Speciality Bibles
There is no category for general Bible sales, as there has been in the past, so that we can see how sales of NIV, KJV, NKJV, NASB, HCSB, TNIV, ESV compare.

On a different matter, one we posted on not too long ago, Dietman continues to plagiarize posts from BBB. I have asked him to stop but he persists. I have contacted the Blogger service and they sent me instructions for contacting their copyright infringement department. That process looks rather intimidating. Someone commented on Deitman's most recent post "Nice blog". It will be interesting to see how Deitman posts these comments. He often changes a few words here and there. For instance, Suzanne's recent post titled "Heads, you win!" was changed by Deitman (or his language translation software, perhaps changing our posts to another language then back to English) to "Chiefs, you gain!" (They might like that headline in Kansas City!) So, Dietman, if you read your own posts, and read this one, please translate these sentences for your copy of this blog post: "My name is Deitman. I am copying posts from the Better Bibles Blog."

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Clarification from Wolters on Junia

I wrote a while ago that Al Wolters,
    is now proposing to demonstrate that Junia is a transliteration of Jechoniah, and therefore, male. All Al needs to do to support this theory is prove that Junia was not that popular a name and that Jechoniah was. Something like that.
Al Wolters recently emailed to clarify my rather vague description of his thesis.
    I recently came across your comments on some of my work, and thought you might be interested in some clarifications. But first, allow me to express my appreciation for the fact that you apparently read my book on "The Song of the Valiant Woman"--and apparently liked it. It is delightful to discover that there are other people in the world who can get excited about whether an obscure Hebrew word really means "distaff" or not.
    Now for the clarifications. I'm afraid that things got a little garbled in your understanding (via Prof. Waltke) of what my article on "Junia/s" was about. My argument is basically that the attested Hebrew name yHny (I'm using capital H to designate the eighth letter of the Hebrew alphabet) would have been pronounced yeHunni, and that this name would have been Hellenized as as Iounias (gen. Iouniou, acc. Iounian). It is therefore possible that Iounian in Rom 16:7 is a Greek version of that Hebrew name. I do not argue that it is the only possibility, or even the most plausible one. It is certainly true that the Latin feminine name Junia is much more common. My article on this is forthcoming in JBL.
My response to him included the following comment by way of explanation,
    I had not heard of the name yHny and Dr. Waltke did not explain that part. Considering the overwhelming popularity of the names Junia and Johanna, it seems best to me to explain Junia as an evangelist or saint as any church which uses the KJV, or the Greek orthodox church, does.
And he answered,
    I'm perfectly happy to have Junia be an apostle. In fact, I once wrote a popular piece defending that interpretation.
This is one of the really nice things about blogging - someone can come along and correct you long before you publish anything on paper. I'm glad he took time to write.

However, there was the other part of our email exchange, in which I asked him about authentein. I included his comments on this in a previous post. But Wolters made a further comment on "usurp authority,"
    By the way, I have a private theory that the KJV "usurp authority" in 1 Tim 2:12 is not meant in a pejorative sense. In the 17th century "usurp" was used like Latin "usurpare" (used in a number of Latin versions of this verse at the time), and could just mean "use" in a neutral sense.
This seems to me to be an ingenious solution - usurp really meant "use" and authentein, which has no connection to "authority" in any etymological sense, now means to "have authority" in the sense of having "rightful authority". Usurpare could mean either "use" or to "seize" something - true enough. But what did the translators of the KJB think it meant?

The chief translator of the King James Bible used the word "usurper" elsewhere in the sense of someone who specifically does not have "rightful" authority or power.

Lancelot Andrewes in Ninety Six Sermons, page 67, Aug. 5, 1610,
    An usurper may be deposed: so they all agree. And is it not in the power of Rome, to make an usurper when it will? If he have no right, he is an usurper: if he be lawfully deposed, his right is gone: if he but favour heretics; nay, though he favour them not, the Pope may depose him, Non hoc tempore, sed cum judicabit expedire: and that done, he hath no right, then is he an usurper, and ye may touch him, or do with him what ye will.
I suggest then that in the King James Bible, "to usurp authority" means to take authority without having the right to do so, to wield power unrightfully. Definitely women should not do this.

The truth is that certain writers are spending an awful lot of time trying to prove that women must be kept within certain restrictions, if not silent, then without authority; if not in subjection, at least in submission. Too bad - time that could be better spent contemplating the distaff.

I just want to add that I didn't have to spend much time researching this rather obscure matter of "usurp" in Lancelot Andrewes. I had read his sermon on the Conspiracy of the Gowries a couple of times and remembered rather clearly his use of the term "usurpers".

Equal in power, unequal in authority

Dr. Mariottini has drawn attention to the amendments to the ETS doctrinal statement and responded to Doug's comments on this subject.

However, Peter, in a comment on Doug's post, brought up the same problem that I have. How can Denny Burk retain the original doctrinal statement in the new, when he is quoted elsewhere as teaching something which could be construed as meaning* the exact opposite. Here is the ETS statement,
    "The Bible alone, and the Bible in its entirety, is the Word of God written and is therefore inerrant in the autographs. God is a Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each an uncreated person, one in essence, equal in power and glory."
Here is Jim Hamilton's assessment of Denny Burk's recent book on articular infinitives,
    Burk thus renders the sense of the verse as, “Although Jesus existed in the form of God, he did not consider equality with God as something he should go after also” (139). The payoff, then, of Burk’s careful grammatical investigation is that Philippians 2:6 affirms the ontological equality of Father and Son while maintaining the functional subordination of the Son, even in his pre-existent state (cf. 139–40 n. 46).
Members of the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood might also have difficulty with the ETS statement. This is a description of the role of the Son in relation to God, the Father, in an article by Bruce Ware. It is endorsed by the Executive director of CBMW.
    The Father possesses the place of supreme authority, and the Son is the eternal Son of the eternal Father. As such, the Son submits to the Father just as the Father, as eternal Father of the eternal Son, exercises authority over the Son. And the Spirit submits to both the Father and the Son. This hierarchical structure of authority exists in the eternal Godhead even though it is also eternally true that each Person is fully equal to each other in their commonly possessed essence. Father, Son and Holy Spirit: Relationships, Roles and Relevance by Bruce Ware. page 12.
While I am unsure of what Denny Burk's doctrinal beliefs actually are, the beliefs presented in Ware's document is eminently clear. Christ is not equal in authority to God.

For those who teach, on the one hand, that Christ is not equal to God in authority, but believe, on the other hand, that Christ is equal to God in power and glory, there is only one solution. "Power" and "authority" must be two distinct attributes. Christ is equal in power to God, and unequal in authority to God.

At this point someone would have to rewrite every lexicon in English and Greek that I am familiar with, as well as place several Bible translations off limits. The King James version, already does not meet the CBMW standards. This is one more major case against it.

In the KJV, εξουσια, the word which is normally translated as "authority" in modern translations, was translated as "power" 67 out of the 101 times that it appeared in the Christian scriptures. "Power" appears in the King James version as a synonym of "authority".

In the LSJ and BDAG lexicons "power" is a definition of εξουσια. Luther translated εξουσια as Macht, "might" also meaning "power". In the Concise Oxford English Dictionary "power" is the first meaning of "authority".

How is one supposed to reconcile "equal in power" and "unequal in authority", and still remain within the broader teaching of the Christian tradition? Or is this kind of difficulty one of illiteracy rather than apostacy?

If the CBMW is going to continue to exert influence over people's opinions on what Bibles are acceptable, then the King James version will eventually be placed off limits as distorting God's word. This kind of censorship would not be a good thing for those who wish to publish better Bibles.

* Edited for greater clarity. I have not been able to discern exactly what Burk is trying to prove about Christ's equality or inequality to God.

Damaged ESVs used for evangelism

The ESV Bible Blog has a "scoop" of which Crossway seems proud:
A few people have asked what happens to the damaged books and Bibles we have in our warehouse. Answer: We typically give them away to ministries who use them for evangelism. Donations help support this ministry.
(I have removed the link under "Donations" which goes straight to a page asking for money.)

So, it seems, Crossway considers it praiseworthy and a matter of self-congratulation to promote the use of damaged Bibles in evangelism, presumably for giving to non-Christians, whereas their perfect products are sold mainly to Christians. Isn't there something back to front here? Shouldn't we be showing our love for the world by giving our better Bibles to outsiders? After all, God did not send damaged stock to the world, but his own perfect, sinless and spotless Son.

My own suggestion would be to sell the damaged stock at reduced prices to poor Christians, and use the proceeds to fund giving undamaged Bibles to non-Christians. Also I would not give ESV to non-Christians because it is clearly not a suitable translation for those not used to church language - but I hardly expect Crossway to agree with me on that point.

I would have commented about this on the ESV blog itself, but as usual their comments are closed, so I have to use a more public forum.

Ryken interviewed re: Literary Study Bible

Dr. Leland (Lee) Ryken and his son, Rev. Dr. Philip Ryken, have co-authored the Literary Study Bible (LSB). The LSB uses the ESV as its text. Dr. L. Ryken was Literary Stylist of the ESV. His son pastors Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, PA, which has chosen to use the ESV as its pew Bible.

An interview with Lee Ryken about the LSB was posted today on the The Shepherd’s Scrapbook blog.

The Shepherd's Scrapbook earlier posted a review of the LSB.

Crossway, publisher of the ESV and the LSB, has a webpage devoted to the LSB.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I suffer not a woman....

In a recent comment, Brian writes,
    If this gets read, I heard somewhere Kroeger' work 'I suffer not a woman..." was at some time and place totally discredited and supposedly Kroeger admitted falsifying stuff in their work. Is this true, where I could I find any info related to it? I ask because I have the book and had no idea it was so controversial.

    Someone said Grudem's constant appeal to lexicon's is tiresome, I agree in fact, I find Grudems constant harping on this issue tiresome.
Brian is referring to I suffer not a woman by Richard and Catherine Clark Kroeger which has been reviewed by Al Wolter in the JBMW Vol. 3, No. 3. It is reprinted in Evangelical Feminism and Biblical truth by W. Grudem.

There are several issues here. Before attempting to answer this question, I would like to respond to a couple of comments made about the complementarian/egalitarian debate in the last month or so.

I personally do not think we can, or should try to, prove the egalitarian position through retranslating key passages in scripture. I am personally committed to using a pattern of translation that is traditional, literal and transparent, when doctrine of this importance is being discussed. I do not believe that gender inclusive language has been used to change the understanding of any key doctrine in the Bible since the first translations into modern vernacular.

I deplore the various attempts of others to try and reinterpret scripture without strong text critical evidence and scholarly consensus. I personally believe that neither complementarian nor egalitarian positions can be proved from scripture texts, nor should they be used to establish new translations. Having said that, I find the egalitarian position to be consistent with Christ's teaching to give up the use of power over other, and treat others as you would like to be treated.

I admit that I have not read the Clark Kroeger's book, nor is it on my list of books to read. I do not need to have egalitarianism proven to me, I simply need to know that the proofs for complementarianism contain many statements which are in error.

However, the question is, whether this book I do not suffer a woman is discredited. Al Wolters wrote a scathing review of this book, claiming that it was "riddled with linguistic blunders" and many significant errors.

My difficulty with this review is that it contains certain shaky information itself. Wolters makes the claim that "authentein is attested in New Testament times in the meaning of "have authority over". Ev. Feminism and Biblical Truth. by W. Grudem. page 312. However, when the 82 citations from Baldwins study are analysed only two are in New Testament times.

I had a friendly email discussion with Al Wolters recently with reference to other matters mentioned on this blog. I took the opportunity to ask him what he thought of the two citations of authentein which might be relevant to the discussion. He wrote,
    I've puzzled long and hard over authentew in BGU 1208 and in the Philodemus fragment. Although most of the lexicographical authorities seem to give it the meaning "have authority over" in those contexts, I don't think anyone can really be sure. Most people (including Grudem) are too sure about their conclusions in this regard. I do think it's quite well established that authentes and its cognates often have to do with mastery and authority.
I would have to disagree with him that "most" give the meaning of "have authority over" since Grudem's own work quotes "compel" for the first and "powerful" for the second. However, please note the difference in tone. First Wolters claimed that the meaning is "attested" but in the email he admits to being puzzled and unsure. That is because the data is ambiguous, fragmentary and not particularly convincing. Yet, Wolters review may well be responsible for discrediting the Clark Kroeger's book.

When I asked if it was valid to characterize the spelling of Hygeia and aretology as errors Wolters answered,
    As for my review of the Kroegers' book, you are quite right that the misspelling of "Hygieia" and "aretalogy" is a relatively trivial matter. It only serves to illustrate, as I say in the review, the "innumerable minor errors throughout the book." The substance of my review deals with a whole series of what I take to be much more serious mistakes. As for the semantic history of Greek authenteo and its cognates, I refer you to my article "A Semantic Study of authentes and Its Derivatives," which appeared in the Journal of Greco-Roman Christianity and Judaism 1 (2004) 145-175 (also now available at Needless to say, I disagree with Linda Belleville on these matters.
I can only say that the Clark Kroegers did not misspell these words and to pretend that they did is dishonest. I read Wolters study of authentes and its derivatives and found that it concluded that authentein does not mean to "murder". While this article may disprove one meaning of authentein it does not prove any other meaning.

I haven't read the Kroeger's book, but I see absolutely no proof anywhere in the two examples of authentein that are contemporary with the NT to further this debate. We don't know if the word meant something bad like "have control over", or something good like "authority". The evidence leads away from "authority". However, we know that authentein is not a synonym of "exousia" and if it were the whole thing would be very odd, because Paul only once discusses authority and that is to build up the church. In fact, maybe he means that he has power only to build up, not for any other purpose.

Neither side can be proved and there is a lot of nonsense being written about these things. Wolters critiques the Kroegers, but, in my opinion, he makes his own mistakes and overstatements as he does so. I suspect there are errors on both sides, but I haven't confirmed this. I am a fan of Wolters writing on other topics, but when the subject is one of men having authority over women, few authors are impartial.

This cannot be solved by endless appeals to lexical studies. Sometimes the scriptures are difficult to understand.

It is as simple as whether people should treat others as equals or if God really intended that the most pervasive and intimate relationship on earth, and a reflection of his creation, was intended to be a hierarchy in which one person makes decisions for the other or not. Is that the core of the gospel, power of one over another? How can this not be a matter of self-interest?

TNIV revision suggestions invited

Carefully considered suggestions for revision of the TNIV are now being accepted at a service posted on the TNIV Truth blog. If you wish to pass Go and not collect $200 (!), you can access the webpage directly for entering your suggestions by clicking here. Please read further instructions in a TNIV Truth post.

UPDATE: Before you post, check to see if the TNIV team has already addressed a concern that you have about a verse or a more general pattern of translation, such as their use of "brothers and sisters" for when Greek adelphoi refers to both male and female Christians. If they have addressed the issue on the TNIV website, do not submit your suggestion for a verse. The CBT (Committee on Bible Translation) is extremely busy and does not have time to sort through suggestions for TNIV revisions which they have already considered.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Kidneys, you lose!

If kephale does not mean a person's thoughts, and thereby the direction of the body, just how do you say "thoughts" in Greek. Try kidneys.

Michael Kruse has an excellent post on kephale and the household codes. I would quote some of it but I don't want people to forget to offer their revisions to the TNIV. I have made a post there which I hope will be included. Not the end of the world if it isn't.

Heads, you win!

The Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood has redesigned their website and I had to have a look. In one of their main features, Bruce Ware writes,
    Gen. 2 - There are at least four features of this chapter which support the idea of male-headship (i.e., male God-given authority over female).
I have noticed that there has been some slippage in the last few years. It is now simply assumed that "head" means "authority". However, this is supported later in the article, both by quoting 1 Tim 2:12, where authentein is used, and 1 Cor. 11:10 where a woman has a "symbol of authority" on her head. So a misunderstood term, "headship" is supported by two completely obscure verses, one of which does not use a word meaning "authority" but rather "dominate" and the other which says a woman is to have "authority" on/over her own head.

It would all be so simple if we knew that "head" meant "authority". Others suggest it means "source". It can mean both, but it is not at all clear to me that one could prove one meaning over another, I won't try.

What bothers me is that Grudem claims in The Meaning Source Does Not Exist that "source" cannot be the meaning. That is a little odd because it exists in English, for example, "fountainhead" means "source" of the fountain. At the end of the article, a curious article, which I cannot explain, Grudem concludes,

    This letter [by P. G. W. Glare] therefore seems to indicate that there is no "battle of the lexicons" over the meaning of kephalē, but that the authors and editors of all the lexicons for ancient Greek now agree (1) that the meaning "leader, chief, person in authority" clearly exists for kephalē, and (2) that the meaning "source" simply does not exist.

However, I know that Al Wolters wrote Grudem a letter explaining that the meaning "source" does exist in Greek lexicons in other languages. Sure enough, in the Magnien - Lacroix lexicon, the meaning "source" is found; and, curiously enough, the meaning "leader, chief, person in authority" or its equivalent, is not found. Does this mean that "head" means "person in authority" only for the English speaking world?

That's about it. How do you say "head of government" in French - chef du gouvernement. How about German, Regierungschef. "Chief" does come from caput meaning head in Latin, but it does not mean "head". But German has two words for head - kopf, meaning just the "head" and haupt meaning - "head" the "chief." So Luther chose haupt for 1 Cor. 11.

In French, you just don't have any wiggle room, so in 1 Cor. 11, there are two different words used - chef and tête.
    Christ est le chef de tout homme, que l'homme est le chef de la femme, et que Dieu est le chef de Christ.

    Tout homme qui prie ou qui prophétise, la tête couverte, déshonore son chef.
So, what we learn from this is that neither tête nor kopf, the common words for "head" in French and German can mean "the person in authority". They simply cannot. However, we do know that the translators in both languages thought that the Greek word meant "chief", or "the person in authority," so they did not translate this passage literally, but interpreted it in terms of authority. They inserted their own interpretation.

However, in the Grec-Français Magnien-Lacrois Lexicon, which is considered a very respectable lexicon, κεφαλη has absolutely no entry which mentions a "person in authority."

This is a strangely muddled situation. There is no clear correspondence between "head" and "person in authority" in Greek, other than the fact that certain translators, of the 16th century and later, thought there was. There is no evidence in this regard. In fact, κεφαλη is not the head of the Greek army, but a raiding party.

I have read Grudem's articles on κεφαλη but I won't bore you with the details. They are the usual list of one or two possibly relevant suggestions, and lists of citations which are too late to be useful. I haven't read the articles proving κεφαλη means "source". However, at this point, Grudem's articles have done a good job of convincing me that "source" is the more likely meaning. This is new for me!

I don't think I would want to change the way that κεφαλη is translated into English - the metaphor would be lost. However, the claim on Bruce Ware's part, that "headship" is "the person in authority" cannot be substantiated. It is dependent, I assume on Grudem's various studies, and as we know from Wolters letter to Grudem, that Grudem did not extend his study to materials outside of the English language. (Wolters is a fellow complementarian.)

I would feel happier if the CBMW would restrain from reposting their campaign against the TNIV, but that would be too much to hope for.

On a related note, inspired by the CBMW, I posted my own concerns regarding a return to a Biblical hierarchy. It may look like a spoof but it actually represents some of my serious research into the importance of the King James Bible to the cause of the divine right of kings. I have been dipping into the sermons of Lancelot Andrewes, a translator of the KJV. I may be having fun, but in a totally scholarly way.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Ps. 68: Part 10

Update: John reviews Alter's Psalter and Chris shares some impressions,
    Is it merely an entrance liturgy suitable for a variety of worship occasions, or is it specifically an entrance liturgy to be used in conjunction with the celebration of military victories?
I enjoy reading other people's take on the psalm, and have no intention of being comprehensive here. I am indulging in my interest in the history of translation by following this psalm throughout two millenia.

Bob writes on Bright Wings, a reference to Gerald Manley Hopkins.


In verse 11 of psalm 68, we meet women again. In this case the most obvious interpretation is that they are announcing good news or a victory. To me this brings to mind return from war or restoration.

אֲדֹנָי יִתֶּן-אֹמֶר

הַמְבַשְּׂרוֹת צָבָא רָב

    adonai yitten-omer hamvasserot tzava rav

    κύριος δώσει ῥῆμα τοῖς εὐαγγελιζομένοις δυνάμει πολλῇ LXX

    Dominus dabit verbum evangelizantibus, virtute multa. Clementine Vulgate

    Domine dabis sermonem adnuntiatricibus fortitudinis plurimae Jerome

    Dominus dat verbum;
    virgines annuntiantes bona sunt agmen ingens: Nova Vulgata

    Dominus dedit sermonem: earum quae nunciabant, exercitus magnus erat

    The Lord schal yyue a word; to hem that prechen the gospel with myche vertu. Wycliffe

    The LORDE shal geue the worde, wt greate hoostes of Euagelistes. Coverdale

    The Lorde gaue the worde: great was the company of the preachers. Bishop's

    The Lorde gaue matter to the women to tell of the great armie. Geneva

    The Lord gaue the word: great was the company of those that published it. KJV

    The Lord giveth the word: the women that publish the tidings are a great host. Revised Version

    The Lord giveth the word; the women that proclaim the tidings are a great host. JPS

    The Master gives word --
    the women who bear tidings are a great host: Alter
In Hebrew the verb is definitely feminine and so it must be "women". There does not seem to be much rhyme or reason to which translations indicated that the verb was feminine, - Jerome and Pagnini, - and those that did not, LXX and Vulgate . To add "virgins" in the Nova Vulgata seems odd. The word is not in the text so it is a supposition that these were unmarried women. It might suggest a custom, but it is still an interpretation. We will come back to virgins later in the psalm.

Regarding the variety of translation, it is possible to suggest that when it is translated without indicating the feminine, it tends to say "sermon", and "preach" or "evangelize"; and when the women are referred to, then the translation plays down the role and says "tell of the great army". There is no way one can tell if this is deliberate.

Adam Clarke, 1762 - 1832, makes this remark in his commentary.
    Great was the company of those that published it. "Of the female preachers there was a great host." Such is the literal translation of this passage; the reader may make of it what he pleases. Some think it refers to the women who, with music, songs, and dances, celebrated the victories of the Israelites over their enemies. But the publication of good news, or of any joyful event, belonged to the women. It was they who announced it to the people at large; and to this universal custom, which prevails to the present day, the psalmist alludes. See this established in the note on Isa. xl. 9.
However, it seems clear to me that this is not a statement about preaching, but simply announcing a victory in war, or other announcement. It does indicate the full and joyous participation of women.

What is interesting is that the verb is in the feminine without a feminine noun first. It seems to be one more indication that this psalm was written by a woman. She quotes the song of Deborah throughout the psalm, she is concerned about children, widows, and homes, she says that those who announce the tidings are a host of women. Women will appear two more times in this psalm. It is not proof, of course, but this frequent mention of women is unusual in the psalms.

This is also the first time in the psalm that the name אֲדֹנָי Adonai, Lord, is used for God. I will write more about this in my next post.


Saturday, September 15, 2007

Hen Scratches 16-09-07

Lots of great blog posts around. First, a good post by Wade Burleson on the days when you could be accused of not believing in the doctrine of the infallibility of scripture if you protested against slavery. Hermeneutics: Slavery & Feminism by Mike Aubrey points to The Civil War as a Theological Crisis.

For those with a hard core interest in Bible translation this article by Margaret Deanesly on the Lollard Bible from 1951 is a must. She has a fascinating description of the difference between the "word for word" translation of the Bible originally completed in 1384, and the later "meaning for meaning" translation of 1395. We would consider even the "meaning for meaning" translation fairly literal. There is a detailed discussion of the historical context. It is one of the best articles I have read on the history of a translation. Thanks again to Rob.

Here is ElShaddai with a further translation post - Choosing a modern Bible translation, part 4

On the lighter side, from Deborah and Loren Haarsma, (scroll down - it is the last link on the page) the New Revised Academic Version,
When you are writing a paper about exciting new data, do not overstate the impact of your result. Someone else may come along later with better data and prove you wrong, and then you will be humiliated and your colleagues will not respect your work. But when you have an exciting new result, be modest about its implications. Then when the review paper comes out, it will say, "This is an important piece of work," and you will be honored in the presence of all your colleagues. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
(See: Luke Chapter 14, verses 7-11)

No one runs untested code on a network server, for the code may crash and take down the server. Likewise, no one puts old format data files into new databases. The new database will be corrupted, and the data will be lost. No, you put new-format data into new databases.
(See: Matthew Chapter 9, verses 14-17)

The kingdom of heaven is like an original manuscript in a used book store. When a historian found it, she sold all her other books to buy the manuscript. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a scientist looking for new projects. When he found one theory of great promise, he joyfully gave up all his other projects to focus on it.
(See: Matthew Chapter 13, verses 44-46)
I will return to Psalm 68 soon. In many ways we haven't even touched on the more interesting elements. There is a ton of conversation between Lingamish, Peter, John, Bob, Doug et al. - I don't think it needs pointing to, I don't want to appear to be leaving anyone out, seems like everyone is there but me.

If someone has written a post that they would like to see mentioned here, please email me any time, I may have missed it. Ilona continues to blog on Hesed.