A Response to the NIV Translators

I just saw yesterday that the translators of the 2011 NIV have posted a response to CBMW’s review of the new NIV’s gender language (note also their response to the SBC resolution). If you are following this discussion, you will want to read the whole letter from the translators, but I will summarize their concerns here and offer a brief response to each.

1. CBMW has a theological agenda that has skewed their analysis of the NIV, but the NIV translators have no such agenda.

There are two main problems with this objection. First, it is not true the NIV translators have no theological point of view. In fact, the letter itself says that the translators “mirror the spectrum of evangelicalism” and include both “complementarians and egalitarians.” It may be the case that the committee is not monolithic in its theological point of view, but make no mistake that the translators do individually have a point of view. To say that those points of view have no influence over their translation decisions seems a rather extraordinary claim.

We do not know the internal discussions that went on within the CBT over gender language, but it is well known that some CBT members have published strong defenses of an egalitarian position. It is certainly possible that their viewpoints had a strong influence on the CBT’s decisions.

Second, CBMW’s theological point of view does not necessarily invalidate the substance of the critique. CBMW’s review brings together a tremendous amount of data, and the data is cited time and again as the basis of the evaluation. At this point, it falls to the translators to engage CBMW’s handling of the data. Simply citing CBMW’s theological point of view is not a compelling response.

2. CBMW fails to take into account the Collins’ data which proves that NIV translators made decisions that reflect the state of modern English.

CBMW offered two reviews—one is a booklet and the other is a review I published in JBMW. There is considerable overlap between the reviews, but the second one goes into greater detail on some finer points. The JBMW review does in fact deal with the Collins data and shows that the Collins’ report does not prove what the translators think it proves. The translators erroneously conclude that a decline in usage of a certain idiom must also mean a decline in understandability. But this is not true as is evidenced by the fact that the NIV itself on many occasions continues to use generic masculines.

Vern Poythress’s recent article in Westminster Theological Journal deals extensively with the relevance of the Collin’s data, and he gets to the heart of the matter:

“People can recognize vocabulary items that they never use in their own speech. They can read and understand sentences that they themselves would never think of producing. Similarly, people can recognize and understand generic ‘he’ even if they do not use it themselves… The translators must consider whether readers will understand what the translators write, not primarily whether readers use the very same language in their own speech. Constructions that are less common, but still natural and intelligible, can safely be employed in communication. And then the conclusion follows: these less common constructions need to be employed whenever their employment results in greater accuracy” (p. 91).

3. CBMW’s criticism of NIV’s rendering of 1 Timothy 2:12 is based on “guilt-by-association” with Philip Payne, but in actuality the NIV rendering is adopted widely by both egalitarians and complementarians.

Both reviews from CBMW argue that “assume authority” is an egalitarian rendering. The NIV translators, however, argue that the rendering is neutral, despite the fact that this rendering was favored in print by a leading egalitarian scholar before the publication of the NIV. The translators are saying that Philip Payne’s work (including his 2008 article in New Testament Studies) had no influence over their rendering. In any case, whether they meant to or not, their rendering is one that is favored by egalitarians.

One other item worthy of note on this rendering. By their own admission, “assume authority” is neutral where the previous rendering “have authority” was not. In other words, the 1984 NIV favored an interpretation that supported a complementarian point of view. The 2011 NIV now has a rendering that can be used to support an egalitarian view. If we accept the translators’ argument that “assume authority” is neutral (which I don’t), the translators have nevertheless acknowledged that the egalitarian view is no longer excluded by the NIV’s rendering of 1 Timothy 2:12. This is a tremendous reversal on the most contested verse in the gender debate.

4. CBMW has a simplistic view of word meaning—as if words can only have one meaning.

Of course this is not how the CBMW reviews treat the meanings of words. Scholars on both sides of the debate recognize that words have a semantic range, and their meaning in a given text is determined by context. For example in the JBMW review, I write about the meaning of anthr?pos in 2 Timothy 2:2. I acknowledge that anthr?pos can be a generic reference to “human beings” or it can be used to refer to male persons only. Context is king, and I argue at length that context determines this particular use of anthr?pos as masculine. We know that words can have more than one meaning.

However, we also recognize that the meanings of words are not infinitely elastic, as if any word could take any meaning. Our objection to the new NIV is when it strays outside of recognized, well-established ranges of meanings of very common words. For example, the Greek word adelphos (“brother”) occurs 1,269 times in the New Testament and the Septuagint, and the singular form never means “brother or sister.” The word pat?r (“father”) occurs 1,861 times, and the singular form never takes the gender-neutral sense “parent.” The word huios (“son”) occurs 5,581 times, and the singular form never means “child.” Yet the NIV often translates these singular terms in gender-neutral ways, and in so doing it exceeds the legitimate boundaries on the range of meanings of these words.

5. CBMW has failed to acknowledge that many translations (including the ESV) make changes that appear to “avoid” masculine terminology.

Yes, other translations make changes that change earlier masculine-specific terminology to something that is not masculine specific. But they do this only when the original Hebrew or Greek text did not have a masculine-specific meaning. This objection quite simply misses the whole point of our critique. The issue is not about grammatical gender but about the implication of biological gender that would or would not have been plain to the original readers. Where the original Greek and Hebrew texts encode masculine meaning, that should be brought out in English translation. And it is here that we find hundreds of examples of the 2011 NIV falling short. In over 3,000 places it removes the masculine meaning that would have been evident to the original readers of the Bible.

I want to say that I have utmost respect for the scholarship represented by the NIV translators. I am personally indebted to work of Douglas Moo, Craig Blomberg, Gordon Fee, Bill Mounce, et al., and I am grateful for their vast contributions to the evangelical cause. I do not think it is for a lack of scholarship or hard work on their part that we have these differences over the 2011 NIV. We have a philosophical difference over the best way to render the Bible into English when there is a clear masculine meaning in the original Hebrew or Greek text, and at numerous points this difference has implications for the Bible’s gender language in English.

[This post was updated at 2:07pm, 6/28/11]

[HT to Andy Naselli for the two letters from the CBT]

66 Responses to A Response to the NIV Translators

  1. Sue June 28, 2011 at 1:09 am #

    Denny,

    Please let me engage further – I cry for the translators I know, both egalitarian and complementarian. I know them and I know that they are on both sides of this divide.

    1. The data only recounts changes from the NIV 1984 to the NIV 2011. None of the data is actually based on whether or not the Greek original has a masculine pronoun or not. In my opinion, this data does not relate to translation at all, but to a shift from an earlier style of English and what is understood today. I can’t interact with the data either because I cannot ascertain what the data is trying to show with regard to translation.

    2. I have demonstrated that many preachers for CBMW do not understand that 1 Tim. 5:8 is a generic masculine in English, and as such, does not reflect a masculine pronoun in Greek. The passage is entirely gender neutral in Greek and should not be used by theologians and preachers to support male headship and yet it is.

    Please explain to me how this is. The only explanation I can see is that these men did not understand the generic use of “he.”

    http://powerscourt.blogspot.com/2009/12/cbmworg-exegetes-1-tim-58.html

    3. “Assume authority” is derived from Calvin. Any discussion of this verse should start there.

    4. You say that context is king, but the preface to the ESV claims that it desires to respect concordance. You can’t have both. Changing 2 Tim. 2:2 is a devastation setback for young women in high school and university, for women on the mission field, for Christian women everywhere. When they were young they memorized that verse, and then as adults in church, they have the verse removed.

    5. I don’t know it there is a study of how many times most Bibles insert a masculine pronoun where there is no pronoun in Greek. And the ESV adds the word “men” in English where there is no word at all for men.

    I could understand if someone just said “This is Christianity, women have to be silent.” I have heard that before. But this – this movement against the (T)NIV – this brought me to the internet. It is breaking my heart.

  2. John June 28, 2011 at 4:32 am #

    If you believe that only men are to teach, I can see why you would translate 2 Tim 2:2 the way you do. But other translations, such as the NLT and NET translate the generic as ‘people’ rather that the gender specific ‘men’. I just don’t understand why the NIV is being singled when others translate the same way, which seems more accurate to me.

  3. henrybish June 28, 2011 at 6:21 am #

    The response by the NIV translators is hardly substantive. I would like to see them engage with the specific criticisms that have been made.

  4. Patrick Schreiner June 28, 2011 at 6:46 am #

    Denny: Do you have any comments about the SBC resolution? I am pretty close to being where you stand on the NIV but still don’t think a resolution was necessary. I wrote a little piece telling why.

    http://schreinerpatrick.wordpress.com/2011/06/21/the-sbc-and-niv-continued/

  5. Robert Slowley June 28, 2011 at 7:51 am #

    Disappointing response if this is all they have to say. Presumably there are some scholarly responses in the works?

  6. danny June 28, 2011 at 8:41 am #

    It’s true that the CBT’s response could have been more substantial, but Dr Burk’s responses to their response demonstrates that he perhaps doesn’t understand their points. Your point #1 is not what they said, and your wording misrepresents theirs. Their point was not that individual committee members have no theological perspective on the issue of gender roles, but that the committee as a whole does not have the same agenda as CBMW. Did you misunderstand them?

    Dr Burk says, “The translators erroneously conclude that a decline in usage of a certain idiom must also mean a decline in understandability.” Again, I don’t think the is the issue. The problem isn’t ‘understandability’ (though the generic ‘he’ does sound odd to many), it’s propriety and “normal usage.” That’s the part of the Collins report that you didn’t really address, you skirted by it.

    Regarding “assume authority,” I’d like to see you respond to the fact that Calvin interprets it this way, and the KJV is even stronger (“usurp authority”). When will the CBMW call for a boycott of the KJV? Or when will the SBC make a resolution against the KJV? Never, of course. But why not?

    Your response to point #4 gives an argument for why they’ve translated 2 Timothy 2:2 poorly. Hardly an argument for why the NIV 2011 should be condemned so forcefully.

    Perhaps there will be a more scholarly response at some point, but I’m not sure it’s getting anywhere. There have been books written on the subject that have adequately treated the subject (Fee & Strauss, Carson), but the CBMW has yet to be convinced by them despite their compelling arguments. At this point, it might not be worth it.

  7. Nate June 28, 2011 at 10:16 am #

    Danny, regarding your inference about Calvin and the KJV translators and those who used the KJV.

    If Calvin was commending an egalitarian position on 1 Tim 2:12, as you seem to say, then why were there no women elders or pastors in Calvin’s time? Surely Calvin would have pushed for that if your insinuations about his interpretation of this verse were accurate. Same thing for the Anglican church and the Puritans of the 17th-19th centuries.

    This argument of Calvin (and/or Luther) or whomever is bogus unless you want to also argue that Calvin, Luther, the Puritans, and others all believed that the egalitarian position was the appropriate interpretation of the Scripture and they knowingly kept the church in the dark.

  8. danny June 28, 2011 at 10:40 am #

    Nate,

    I didn’t argue that Calvin commended an egalitarian position of 1 Tim 2:12, nor did I say such a thing of the KJV translators. What I did say, though, is that they advocated translations (I probably should have said “translates” rather than “interprets” above) that the CMBW is saying is an egalitarian one. I completely disagree with their take on “assume authority” as an egalitarian translation, but even if they were correct my question above still stands. Why not condemn the KJV?

  9. Donald Johnson June 28, 2011 at 10:49 am #

    The NIV translation committee has a range of evangelical viewpoints on the gender verses. But this was not good enough for CBMW, they want the NIV translation to reflect their masculinist viewpoint, and when it did not, they impugned the motives of the translators.

    CBMW should repent for impugning the motives of other believers with which they disagree.

  10. henrybish June 28, 2011 at 10:50 am #

    Danny,

    The KJV ‘usurp’ thing is misleading. I think you will find that they understood the very act of a woman teaching/having authority over a man as ‘usurping’ because they should not be doing it. Thus they were not meaning there is a legitimate authority of women over men in the church.

    For example, consider John Wesley’s comments on 1Tim2:15:

    1Ti 2:12 To usurp authority over the man – By public teaching.

    As is explicit here, Wesley says the very act of public teaching is ‘usurping’ authority.

    Thus people who bring up your argument today are failing to recognise what part of the semantic range of the word was intended and understood by the original writers/audience.

    Similar things can be said with regard to Calvin.

  11. henrybish June 28, 2011 at 11:09 am #

    danny you said:

    Their point was not that individual committee members have no theological perspective on the issue of gender roles, but that the committee as a whole does not have the same agenda as CBMW.

    I don’t think anyone is saying they had the ‘same agenda’ as CBMW. If you look through the list of translators I think the balance is tipped in favour of those who are egalitarian and are in favour of gender neutral language, which it must have been to get the result we have.

    That does not mean they are necessarily wrong, which is why I think Denny says the matter should be settled on the basis of the arguments.

  12. Denny Burk June 28, 2011 at 11:12 am #

    Danny,

    On the contrary, the issue for the CBT is “understandability.” You need to read the preface to the 2011 NIV. They are aiming at accuracy to the original and understandability in the receptor language. See my review on this point where I cite specific examples.

    On the Calvin issue, I am unaware that Calvin anywhere wrote anything in English. “Assume authority” is at best a translation of his translation. It’s better to make an argument about Calvin’s meaning rather than to say that he ever offered “assume authority” as an English gloss. He didn’t.

    If 2 Timothy 2:2 were the only text (or even one among a handful), then we wouldn’t have a problem. Our argument is that the 2011 NIV mutes masculine meaning in hundreds of texts. The problem is systemic, not an isolated instance in the best selling Bible in English. That’s why we are responding like we are.

    Thanks for the interaction.

    Denny

  13. henrybish June 28, 2011 at 11:21 am #

    danny,

    The problem isn’t ‘understandability’ (though the generic ‘he’ does sound odd to many), it’s propriety and “normal usage.” That’s the part of the Collins report that you didn’t really address, you skirted by it.

    The complementarian literature has addressed this. The issue is that ‘normal usage’ does not trump fidelity to the original meaning. We should use words that are faithful to carry the original meaning of a text even if they are not as common today. Fidelity, not ‘normal usage’ is the point.

    There have been books written on the subject that have adequately treated the subject (Fee & Strauss, Carson), but the CBMW has yet to be convinced by them despite their compelling arguments.

    Surely you know that Poythress/Grudem responded to those arguments?

  14. Sue June 28, 2011 at 11:27 am #

    On the Calvin issue, I am unaware that Calvin anywhere wrote anything in English. “Assume authority” is at best a translation of his translation. It’s better to make an argument about Calvin’s meaning rather than to say that he ever offered “assume authority” as an English gloss. He didn’t.

    You are correct. Calvin wrote in Latin, then French and in 1855 or so there was an English translation of his Bible. The point is that this is not a “novel and suspect” translation, it is the traditional translation choice.

  15. Sue June 28, 2011 at 11:28 am #

    Our argument is that the 2011 NIV mutes masculine meaning in hundreds of texts.

    The NIV 2011 mutes the grammatically masculine pronouns which agree with the antecedent “tis” since “tis” is semantically gender neutral.

  16. Donald Johnson June 28, 2011 at 11:34 am #

    And that egals have responded to Grudem, et al. It is a continuing debate. It is clear that only one view is correct, but the debate is about which view is correct.

  17. henrybish June 28, 2011 at 11:44 am #

    http://frame-poythress.org/poythress_articles/2011Gender.pdf

    from Very Poythress’ response to the NIV 2011 use of Collins Dictionary info:

    Given these statistics, someone might argue that, in order to keep current, the NIV in its language should try to match the percentages in the Collins report. But a reply to this line of thinking is already in print in connection with the earlier gender-neutral Bible controversy. Percentages have little to do with either accuracy, intelligibility, or “naturalness” of expression. A percentage of less than .01 percent may be an indicator of an unnatural or obsolete usage. But even a very low percentage may sometimes signify
    only something less common, but nevertheless fully recognizable. It depends very much on the perceptions of native speakers rather than mere frequency.
    What about higher percentages? A percentage of 1 percent or higher shows innormal circumstances that the usage in question is still current. Most people have some continued experience with such a usage, and the continued experience buttresses the inference that the usage is both intelligible and natural. The figure of 8 percent cited for generic “he” is low as a percentage in comparison with 84 percent for plural generic pronouns; but it still is quite respectable, and shows that generic “he” is still in current use. In such a situation, translators do not have the same flexibility as is available to authors who produce fresh, new texts of their own making. The translators are
    constrained by the meanings of the original document being translated. Their job is to render meanings as faithfully as possible, and this faithfulness constrains them to use less common English when it is needed.

    The argument for generic “he” is further strengthened when we observe that we can distinguish between active and passive language competence. Active and passive competence have to do with language production and reception, respectively. Active competence means ability to produce sentences and use vocabulary and grammatical constructions of particular types. Passive competence means ability to understand sentences and vocabulary and grammatical constructions, when other people present such pieces of language to someone’s eye or ear. Passive competence is the broader category. People can recognize vocabulary items that they never use in their own speech. They can read and understand sentences that they themselves would never think of producing. Similarly, people can recognize and understand generic “he” even if they do not use it themselves.

  18. John Holmberg June 28, 2011 at 12:09 pm #

    This is all just downright tragic, Denny. It’s a petty issue that saddens the heart of God. Find something a wee bit more important to fight about please. You’re embarrassing yourself, SBTS, American evangelicalism, and world Christianity; more harm is being done than good. Give it up & repent. These are the kinds of things people give up the faith for.

  19. henrybish June 28, 2011 at 12:12 pm #

    Since I suspect many here will not/have not read the articles that Denny linked to, here is another excerpt from one of the responses Denny linked to:

    (https://www.cbmw.org/images/jbmw_pdf/16_1/burk.pdf)

    As Poythress and Grudem have
    argued,

    “There is no reason we have to avoid
    infrequently used expressions in Bible
    translation. Some words like “heron,”
    “amethyst,” “blasphemy,” “elder,” and
    “apostle” may not occur with high frequency in secular writings today, but they are intelligible.
    Translators can use such words when they need them. The same is true of generic “he” when it is needed to express the meaning accurately.”

    The claim that generic masculines are not understood by wide swaths of English readers is simply not supported by the Collins data. A decline in frequency of a given form by no means implies a
    decline in understandability.

  20. henrybish June 28, 2011 at 12:21 pm #

    I mean seriously, who can deny the feminist influence behind this kind of change that occurs repeatedly:

    1984 NIV
    1 Kings 9:5 I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever, as I promised
    David your father when I said, ‘You shall never fail to have a man on the throne of Israel.’

    2011 NIV
    1 Kings 9:5 I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever, as I promised
    David your father when I said, ‘You shall never fail to have a successor on the throne of Israel.’

    As was commented on this change:
    What can be the objection to letting readers know that God promised David that his descendants would never lack a man on the throne of Israel? (The Hebrew ’ish in this verse means “man”, not “successor”.)

    I think the answer is obvious. CBMW are forthright about their ‘agenda’, it seems the NIV 2011 translation team are not.

  21. henrybish June 28, 2011 at 12:22 pm #

    sorry, terrible formatting on my part.

  22. Donald Johnson June 28, 2011 at 12:43 pm #

    In the 1 kings 9:5 case it seems to me that the NIV translators thought it was more important to show what they did.

    By claiming ish should be translated as “man” you are doing exactly what the letter is concerned about.

    H376 ish

    BDB Definition:
    1) man
    1a) man, male (in contrast to woman, female)
    1b) husband
    1c) human being, person (in contrast to God)
    1d) servant
    1e) mankind
    1f) champion
    1g) great man
    2) whosoever
    3) each (adjective)

  23. danny June 28, 2011 at 12:55 pm #

    Goodness. I realize Calvin didn’t write in English, but many of the translations (apparently I should have specified) of his writings have used “assume authority” and I’ve yet to hear a complaint.

    Regarding the KJV and the use of “usurp authority,” my point still stands- this is even stronger language than the allegedly egalitarian rendering of “assume authority.” But no one complains about it. And the “translators’ intent” argument doesn’t hold water, if the CBMW wants to be consistent, because apparently the intent of the CBT doesn’t matter. The intention of the CBT is to have a “neutral” translation of 1 Tim 2:12. Dr Burk and others are arguing it is not neutral, regardless of the CBT’s intent.

    On the issue of “understandability” (great word), again, I am well aware that the CBT is trying to make their translation understandable. That’s not the issue, really. It’s that they are trying for “maximum understandability.” That is, they are aiming for their translation to appeal to a broader audience in terms of how people actually speak, which the Collins data supports. The bottom line is that the NIV 2011 uses language to is much closer to how people actually speak than a number of translations endorse by the CBMW. So a generic “he” may be understood by the majority of people, but it is not as natural for many. Not really sure why this is a point of debate.

    As yes, henrybish, I am aware of the responses from Grudem & Poythress. I didn’t say no one had responded to Carson and others, but that the CBMW & others have been unconvinced. At this point, I wonder if the debate is worth having any more.

  24. Donald Johnson June 28, 2011 at 1:36 pm #

    Note that Sue had a delayed post, which now shows up as #1.

  25. John June 28, 2011 at 1:58 pm #

    If you check the same verses in the NET, like the 1 Kings reference, you’ll find they translated like the NIV 2011. My question is still: why were other translations not voted against, like the NET, NLT, NRSV, etc. I think the agenda is about more than just the translated words. It’s about the NIV in particular.

  26. Denny Burk June 28, 2011 at 2:11 pm #

    Hello, everyone. I just did some significant editing of the original post. There is new material in there to discuss. Thanks!

  27. Matt Powell June 28, 2011 at 2:24 pm #

    Thank you for providing this… it is very helpful for me as a pastor to read through and feel better equipped about all that is happening. Thank you!

  28. Denny Burk June 28, 2011 at 2:25 pm #

    Thank you, Matt. I appreciate the good word!

  29. Sue June 28, 2011 at 3:32 pm #

    The claim that generic masculines are not understood by wide swaths of English readers is simply not supported by the Collins data.

    And yet consistently I have heard both egalitarians and complementarians preach who think that the “he” in 1 Tim. 5:8 means that a MAN must provide, when the Greek does not say that. Russell Moore said that this verse supported male headship. I cannot think of any other explanation except that he did not understand a generic masculine.

    He said,

    “The headship of men in the church and home is rooted everywhere in Scripture in protection and provision. This is why the apostle Paul calls the man who will not provide for his family “worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim 5:8 ESV).”

    What alternate explanation is there?

    And I see no way to provide a scholarly response to the data generated on this issue. The data must start with Greek or Hebrew, not English.

    And yes, women are ish in Exodus where they produce goods for the tabernacle. If women are participants then they are also ish.

  30. Robert Slowley June 28, 2011 at 3:42 pm #

    Excellent updates Denny 🙂

    One would get the idea from the comments that your blog is one of the most popular in the egalitarian world, but it appears that it’s a tiny handful of people who seem to be committed to trying to counter everything you say on your blog in the comments :-/

  31. Denny Burk June 28, 2011 at 3:49 pm #

    Thanks, Robert. You are correct. Sometimes I wonder if any complementarians are reading at all!

  32. Lynn June 28, 2011 at 3:49 pm #

    Dear Sue,

    This is probably not going to come across as very useful advice but perhaps it is better not to take this issue so personally. I admire your tireless pursuit in the blogosphere of gender issues but ultimately you are taking on not individuals but a very powerful, institutionalised perspective.

    I believe that, as Christians, we can hope and pray that, if the complementation view is wrong, God will move to free women in denominations that seek to limit them. Maybe this is a bit naïve. However, I have witnessed the triumph of naïve belief.

    My particular research interest is complexity theory and systems thinking, which means that I am trained to deal with uncertainty. Uncertainty or the existence of epistemological gaps do not mean that we can say nothing about a problem. However, it does require a fair amount of intellectual humility and a leadership that can acknowledge and usefully incorporate uncertainty into policy positions. In other words, uncertainty requires leaders that grapple and truly grapple with messy issues while managing the uncomfortable feelings (or dissonance) that sometimes arise when people’s most cherished beliefs are challenged. Given the apparent uncertainty surrounding the translation of gender, I am puzzled by the lack of intellectual humility displayed by proponents on both sides.

    I pray that God will lead you to fulfil all of his purposes for you and the women you love.

    Much love,

    Lynn
    Cape Town, South Africa

  33. Sue June 28, 2011 at 4:06 pm #

    Thank you, Lynn,

    I appreciate your perspective and perhaps it will be useful. It is hard not to take this personally, since I have heard of the effect on many of the translation team members and the enormous negative effect on my own life.

    I remain baffled that people can say things which seem so contrary to fact. Once again, Calvin thought that 1 Tim. 5:8 was referring to the responsibilities of women in the home, and Russell Moore believes that it is a major support for male headship. This is a misunderstanding of the masculine generic. It is no longer understood by many complementarian preachers. Nobody has responded to this.

    Regarding data, I sometimes feel as if nobody has read anything previous to 1984. As if nobody has read Erasmus’ Latin, Pagnini’s Hebrew, Luther’s German, Calvin’s Latin. I just don’t understand how people can discuss something using only data from 1984 on.

    If I had not come out of this movement in the last few years, it would not matter to me. But it was my home and my identity. And now what. It is just a group of people who pretend that translation issues began in 1984.

  34. Sue June 28, 2011 at 4:08 pm #

    Why can’t people respond to a few simple questions? Has 1 Tim. 5;8 been misunderstood or not?

  35. CD-Host June 28, 2011 at 4:24 pm #

    I read the original article on the JBMW and while I’m solidly in the feminist camp I think that article was honest. The debate is fundamentally over acceptability. For a while the “gender accurate” camp had been arguing that the generic masculine was still acceptable. I’ve always argued that using the masculine in this way, is rude but understood.

    We could replace “women” with words like “broads”, “chicks” or even “b—–s” if the concern is not over rudeness. Those would also be well understood. But part of accurate translating is translating the mood or tone. Injecting rudeness into a translation where it is not present in the original is inaccurate translation.

    So I don’t see the defense of “its understood just inappropriate” as being much of a defense.

    There is one line in this posted response that I think is key:

    Yes, other translations make changes that change earlier masculine-specific terminology to something that is not masculine specific. But they do this only when the original Hebrew or Greek text did not have a masculine-specific meaning.

    Here you are begging the question. You are assuming that there is broad agreement on which verses in the original Hebrew or Greek are masculine-specific. There general is not, especially on the key verses that everyone fights about having to do with leadership / power.

    My primary criticism of the ESV has always been its willingness to use gender neutral language with regards to phrases having to do with salvation or sin and then translating those very same phrases as masculine specific when they have to do with power / leadership. That’s not fundamentally gender accurate, a more correct description would be gender hostile.

  36. T.J. June 28, 2011 at 4:58 pm #

    Has anyone noticed that Focus on the Family has also spoken against the gender-neutral NIV?

    http://family.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/23712/~/what-bible-translations-are-recommended-by-focus-on-the-family%3F

    Also note this article by NPR entitled “The End of Gender?”

    http://www.npr.org/2011/06/27/137342682/the-end-of-gender

    Here is the big picture that should overshadow small details. Our culture is abandoning gender identity. The idea that we are made by God “male and female” is becoming controversial. The gender-neutral NIV is copying the world by downplaying gender in God’s Word. To make the Bible look more like the world. . . makes a worldly Bible. The Christian church should reject such a translation philosophy.

    If salt loses its . . .

  37. Tommy Duke June 28, 2011 at 7:09 pm #

    Keep up the good work Denny. Your ministry has a greater impact on the future of evangelicalism than some would like to admit.

  38. henrybish June 28, 2011 at 7:19 pm #

    Donald,

    ‘successor’ is not even on the list you provide. That makes it even worse. They chose a meaning not even on the list just to avoid a masculine term!

    Also, Donald, I’d be interested if you could supply some specific verses from the OT for the kind of usage you desire.

    danny,

    Regarding the KJV and the use of “usurp authority,” my point still stands- this is even stronger language than the allegedly egalitarian rendering of “assume authority.” But no one complains about it.

    1) I don’t think you understood my argument in comment number 10.

    2) Comps have critiqued the KJV translation – if you have read much complementarian literature. E.g Grudem in EFBT.

    Also, regarding your comments on ‘understandibility’ I think you need to read the critiques more carefully. The issue is one of accuracy. It is not a matter of how people speak today but of how the biblical authors spoke. Faithful translation requires capturing as much of the original meaning as possible, not muting the masculinity of God’s words to appease the feminist heresy.

    John,

    the reason it was deemed noteworthy to single out the NIV2011 is because the NIV is the most popular English bible. Also, like the TNIV, the errors are particularly pervasive and systemic. You will find a lower degree of criticism of other translations if you read the complementarian literature. It just doesn’t make the headlines like with a major translation like the NIV 2011. Perhaps it should be made more public though, I agree. But the NIV 2011 certainly warrants more attention.

  39. henrybish June 28, 2011 at 7:32 pm #

    Why can’t people respond to a few simple questions? Has 1 Tim. 5;8 been misunderstood or not?

    Sue, if you showed a genuine desire for truth from your side I would engage your questions. But I have interacted with you enough to know that you are absolutely opposed to biblical gender roles at all costs, and rarely admit when you have been proved wrong but just jump to another objection. You don’t want to find the truth. You even indicated in a debate with me once that you could not accept it even if the apostle Paul came and told you so.

  40. Sue June 28, 2011 at 8:05 pm #

    I think that an important comment has been lost.

    Luther did not use the expression “sons of God” at all. He also did not translate anthropos in the singular or plural with a masculine specific term. That would have been Mann. Instead he used Mensch.

    I think that it would be interesting to create a spreadsheet to compare the NIV 2011 with Luther.

  41. Sue June 29, 2011 at 12:20 am #

    Henry,

    I am totally committed to the last fibre of my being to the gender roles expressed in 1 Tim. 5:8, that whether we are male or female, we must provide for our family.

    It is possible that I did not understand that verse clearly when we discussed this last. But after I read what Calvin had to say about it, and understood better that a woman must be committed to the care of her family, I have given myself completely to that role. I understand better the role of woman as protector and provider from the original languages and from the Reformation.

    The main difference for me is that there is no man that I am submitted to in this commitment. I identify with the many widows and single women of the NT who worked and provided.

    I understand my role in life now in every way in accordance with the Bible. But it is true that this may not have been clear to me earlier. I had not really understood and studied some of the language surrounding women in the Bible. It has come to mean more to me now. So I admit that there has been a shift, an evolution in my thinking.

    Thank you for bringing this up because it helps me to see how a a better undestanding of the language of 1 Tim. 5:8, Proverbs 31, Ruth, and so on, has helped me to become a much better provider for my family.

  42. Sue June 29, 2011 at 12:23 am #

    Henry,

    If you have access to a quote which portrays the opinion that you have said that I said, I would really appreciate a link back to that, so I can see what it was that I actually said. Thanks so much.

  43. Kristen June 29, 2011 at 2:04 am #

    Here is a website that took a chapter out of Proverbs and compared the HCSB (the SBC’s own translation) the ESV (the translation done more or less in opposition to the TNIV), the NIV 1984, the NIV 2011, and the NLT, in terms of gender-neutral language choices by the translators.

    http://speakeristic.blogspot.com/2011/06/proverbs-14-part-vi-gender-in-2011_23.html?showComment=1309202006926#comment-c7110714079613048743

    This comparison revealed that the HCSB and the ESV are actually more gender-neutral than the NIV 1984 in the majority of the verses in Proverbs 14. It turns out that neither the HCSB nor the ESV translators objected to making their translation considerably more gender-neutral than the 1984 NIV, in a chapter where women in leadership was not at issue.

    So the real issue here is not the objectionable nature of gender-neutral translation. The real issue is that the SBC objects to the NIV 2011’s use of gender-neutral terms when the translation might have a bearing on women in leadership.

    I think it’s a good idea to get the cards on the table as to what we’re really talking about here.

  44. CD-Host June 29, 2011 at 10:43 am #

    TJ —

    Here is the big picture that should overshadow small details. Our culture is abandoning gender identity. The idea that we are made by God “male and female” is becoming controversial. The gender-neutral NIV is copying the world by downplaying gender in God’s Word. To make the Bible look more like the world. . . makes a worldly Bible. The Christian church should reject such a translation philosophy.

    I think you are confusing sex and gender. Its interesting you are actually using a feminist term, “gender”, while attacking feminism.
    sex is something you are
    gender is something you do or think

    The idea that sex is absolutely determinative of gender roles is what is controversial. We as a society are exploring the nature of gender in specific areas rather than assuming they all follow “naturally” from sex.

    But the fact that you made that mistake, using “gender” when you meant “sex” is indicative of the problem the NIV faces. You are an opponent of this whole separation and yet because of your exposure to the culture you formulated the sentence the way you did. You adopted the culture norm from exposure, not consciously. You are a being in a world whose thinking is reflective of that world even when you are attempting to consciously reject it.

    In the same way, Bible translation exist within a culture not alongside it. The NIV has to be written for people who have absorbed far more of the philosophical system than just the fact that you no longer think in terms of sex but think in terms of gender.

    If you want to have a bible translation that consciously rejects feminist notions of gender, the bible is going to be written in much more of language of feminism, not less. Feminism is the intellectual framework in which we as a society discuss the relationship between sex and gender. To have that conversation, in the text of the bible, would mean introducing technical from feminism into translation and making translational choices between those terms.

    Otherwise what you really mean is following conventions as a show of resistance. But its convention of an earlier era of translation, not translational accuracy that you are supporting.

  45. CD-Host June 29, 2011 at 11:14 am #

    Henry —

    Faithful translation requires capturing as much of the original meaning as possible, not muting the masculinity of God’s words to appease the feminist heresy.

    Without arguing in a big circle how do you know that the words are intentionally masculine rather than just following of convention of using male pronouns for generic?

    For example we have Greek samples where ???????? (sonship, which is commonly used in the bible for Jesus) is being used by writers who reject the notion of sex and gender as being complementary and use it more as incomplete halves of a ????????. The idea that the Greek word choice is necessarily carrying with it CBMW notion of gender is simply contradicted by the evidence we have on contemporaneous usage. The usage seems to be more consistent with a view of male and female as being analogous to “left half and right half” that is that individual men and woman are incomplete until they have formed an Aeon bond and it is that Aeon not the split halves that scripture is addressed to.

    Now that may or may not be what is meant, that gets into theology and out of grammer. But what we do know for sure is that the Greek text of the NT is not in and of itself masculine in the way you are using the term. What is masculine is our convention about how we read and understand the Greek. In other words you are conflating the NT with the NT as understood by the church; and breaking that bond was the whole point of the reformation. The SBC in particular holds to a confession that the bible should be interpreted in terms of itself not in terms of the church.

  46. CD-Host June 29, 2011 at 11:16 am #

    Well just learned this blog doesn’t support Greek text.

    The two words in my response to Henry were huiotes (sonships) and syzygoi (no English corresponding word).

  47. henrybish June 29, 2011 at 12:23 pm #

    CD-Host

    Without arguing in a big circle how do you know that the words are intentionally masculine rather than just following of convention of using male pronouns for generic?

    With all due respect this is exactly the wrong question. Since you are the one contending that the use of masculine generics is mere convention the burden of proof is on you to show that this is so.

    I say don’t depart from the conventions used in the Hebrew and Greek texts. If you are the one wanting to depart from the masculine words God saw fit to use then you are the one who needs to make the argument, not me. At the very least translate it using the same conventions in the original and let the reader decide if they think the use of masculine generics is significant – by concealing the masculine generics you don’t even give the reader that choice.

    In addition it seems to me there is a very obvious reason why the masculine orientated language of scripture is not just mere convention. This is that the Bible is not only set in patriarchal cultures but it affirms patriarchy in numerous places. This makes it highly dubious to claim that the use of patriarchal/masculine orientated language is mere convention devoid of any significance and should be eliminated from the innocent readers eyes.

    There is a reason feminists hate masculine generics – it affirms patriarchy – just like the Bible.

    In addition, the avoidance of masculine generics often messes up translation. See Very Poythress’ paper that Denny links to in his post for numerous examples, those arguments have not been dealt with at all by any egalitarians in this post.

    But what we do know for sure is that the Greek text of the NT is not in and of itself masculine in the way you are using the term.

    I’d appreciate if you would clarify this comment, I contend that the Bible repeatedly uses masculine generics not gender-neutered generics. Do you deny that?

  48. T.J. June 29, 2011 at 1:39 pm #

    CD-Host,

    Your comments are disappointing to me. Gender is rooted in sex/biology/how we are made by God. The two cannot, under any circumstances, be separated. You seem to be buying the worldly argument that a person born a boy can somehow really be a girl inside. To argue such is a denial of reality. Truth does not budge, regardless of liberal arguments attempting to undermine it. You say my use of the word “gender” is a mistake. Gender and sex are synonymous in the eyes of God. The use was intentional.

    Here is an important idea for everyone to understand. Monotheism is a powerful idea. If there is one God, then whatever He says is fact. No one can argue with God. Therefore, if the Bible is God’s words then we must submit ourselves and society to these sacred writings. Gender roles are clearly commanded by scripture. This means that every devout Christian who follows the Bible will reject feminism. Yet if Zondervan and others can muddy the water and downplay gender in the Bible, the feminist’s agenda can move forward with less resistance.

    Liberals know the stakes of this debate. The gender-neutral changes make no sense from an economic perspective. Zondervan already has the best selling Bible in the country. Why risk market share by upsetting thinking conservatives? Zondervan has an agenda. Anyone with eyes can see it (I also wish conservatives would not be so blinded by personal friendships with Moo). “You will know them by their fruits.”

    The gender-neutral NIV is a great victory for liberals. Yet feminists should remember that there is always a faithful remnant. God is with the remnant, and in the end God wins.

  49. Kristen June 29, 2011 at 2:23 pm #

    At the very least translate it using the same conventions in the original and let the reader decide if they think the use of masculine generics is significant – by concealing the masculine generics you don’t even give the reader that choice.

    In addition it seems to me there is a very obvious reason why the masculine orientated language of scripture is not just mere convention. This is that the Bible is not only set in patriarchal cultures but it affirms patriarchy in numerous places. This makes it highly dubious to claim that the use of patriarchal/masculine orientated language is mere convention devoid of any significance and should be eliminated from the innocent readers eyes.

    If this is really the issue, why did both the ESV and the HCSB translate Proverbs 14 gender-neutral in 7 verses where the NIV 1984 did not? If the point was to translate a masculine-gendered verse as masculine and let the reader decide whether it’s intended to be generic or not, why did the ESV and the HCSB differ on which verses they were going to render gender-neutral?

    If gender-neutral = inaccurate, and if gender-neutral = capitulating to feminism, then why are the ESV and the HCSB translations using gender-neutral language in chapters that do not impact on women in leadership? Prov. 14:19, for example, is masculine gendered in the Hebrew, but both the ESV and the HCSB render it gender-neutral, while the NIV 1984 does not.

  50. CD-Host June 29, 2011 at 2:34 pm #

    Henry —

    I’d appreciate if you would clarify this comment, I contend that the Bible repeatedly uses masculine generics not gender-neutered generics. Do you deny that?

    Yes I do. That was the point of the paragraph. We see exactly this the same “generic he” being applied by authors who explicitly reject CBMW’s notion of sex and gender in the very documents under which they are being rejected. Ergo, the grammatical structure of the Greek could not possibly have the implications you are granting it.

    We have the same sort of thing in English:

    Anyone who presses the red button will need to fill out an incident report, he must indicate the exact time and reason.

    Up until recently the use of “he” was considered generic. And arguably still is. If Sue presses the red button there will be an expectation that she needs to fill out an incident report.

    Now contrast that with:

    Anyone who presses the red button will need to fill out an incident report, she must indicate the exact time and reason.

    Up until recently that was non generic. Whether it applied to a man or not would be questionable. The clear intent of the line was that it was referring to a group of women specifically and one would need to interpret how to apply it to a man. When Bill presses the red button he needs to make a choice about what to do on the incident report issue.

    Now contrast that with:

    I want all the men to stand and leave the room

    Should women leave? Generally the assumption is no. That use of men is sex specific. The rules of man/men in traditional English were a little less generic.

    OK men, I want everyone here to stand and leave the room

    There men is generic.

    So you can see that masculines and generics are different even if the same words are used. Its highly dependent on context, on the rules of the source language. And I as a translator have absolutely no choice about these rules in the recipient language / culture. They exist entirely independently of the source text. All I can do is translate the source text into the closest approximation in the recipient language. And that’s not necessarily the most literal translation.

    Original: “By the way, I’m hitting the road at the crack of dawn.”
    Literal: “Along the path, I’m punching the street at the fissure of sunrise.”
    Dynamic: “I wanted to let you know, I’m departing very early in the morning.”

    Now in modern English I have a problem the normative way to phrase the first point would be:

    Anyone who presses the red button will need to fill out an incident report, they must indicate the exact time and reason.

    This has the advantage of being crystal clear about being generic and not male.

    Because in the tradition english form I had a problem. How do I phrase the policy about the red button and incident reports if I only want men to fill out incident reports? Under the only system I’d have to do something like:

    Any man who presses the red button will need to fill out an incident report, he must indicate the exact time and reason. Woman conversely should simply indicate their reasons to their supervisor.

    The fact that Greek is using a male word as a generic pronoun is a feature of convention, of what is allowed. You cannot assign deep meaning to it. Writers cannot effortless break implied meanings that are part of structures.

    Let me give you an example of the fallacy in your approach that doesn’t have any controversy associated with it. Prepositions vary wildly between languages.

    Do you “make a party” or “take a party”? I don’t want to translate “take” “accurately” if I’m coming from another language. I want to translate that into “make”. I as a translator am absolutely forced to take away your right to “decide for yourself”, because you aren’t reading it in the original. If I translate ‘take a party” literally in English, I’m violating prepositional rules. You need to assign a meaning to that phrasing that didn’t exist in the original. Maybe something like “take a party from whom?” “takeover what other party”. You are forced to draw a negative inference from the fact I didn’t use the typical preposition make.

    If you want to draw conclusions from Greek grammatical structures you need to read the bible in Greek and study enough non biblical Greek literature to emerse yourself in 1st century culture. People have done that. And what they find is that the grammatical masculine forms used in the New Testament are applied to non sexual beings or jointly sexual beings. The pronouns used are generic. They just happen to written identical to masculine words.

    And in reality of course the problem is getting worse as traditional English becomes less frequently used.

    Anyone who presses the red button will need to fill out an incident report, he must indicate the exact time and reason.

    May not apply to Sue anymore.

  51. CD-Host June 29, 2011 at 2:54 pm #

    TJ —

    Gender is rooted in sex/biology/how we are made by God. The two cannot, under any circumstances, be separated.

    You do understand that there were Hellenists at the time of Paul who wrote books that had exactly the opposite opinion. And they also used the same pronoun structures that Paul used.

    Ergo those pronoun structures in and of themselves do not carry the idealogical meaning you are assigning to them. Now we can get into a whole long debate about whether bible translators should or should not support your view in their translation. But if the question is not, “which view does God like better”, but rather the question is “what is in fact implied by the pronoun structures themselves and how best to translate them into English” then you will arrive at different conclusions.

    You and I don’t share enough theology for me to construct a convincing argument about why you should prefer to accurately represent the Greek vs. support patriarchy. But supposedly that’s what this argument is about, which view better represents the pronoun structures in Greek. If the question is which translation better supports patriarchy, which translation better supports complementarianism which translation will make the hard right happier; I don’t disagree with you one bit. The ESV is virtually perfect for a complementarian. Translate masculine words regarding salvation, sin or other obligations generically as to heighten the impact of refusing to do the same thing with verses having to do with leadership / political power.

    You have a choice. Do you want to represent the original as accurately as possible or support your theology maximally?

  52. henrybish June 29, 2011 at 4:14 pm #

    CD-Host,

    Much of your response seems quite incoherent and unrelated to what I said. It does not undermine the substantive points I made in my reply to you.

    I think you are playing with words and definitions. I don’t see how a sane person can possibly deny that the Bible uses masculine generics. If it doesn’t then why do they want to get rid of them? Do you honestly hold that the Bible does not use the word for, say, ‘brother’ to refer to both men and women at times!!?!! That is a masculine word that has generic application in some contexts. I find it hard to understand how you can deny that publicly with a straight face.

    Does any other egalitarian here deny that the Bible uses masculine generics!!?!! If so, why the need for the NIV 2011?!?!?!

    We see exactly this the same “generic he” being applied by authors who explicitly reject CBMW’s notion of sex and gender in the very documents under which they are being rejected. Ergo, the grammatical structure of the Greek could not possibly have the implications you are granting it.

    That is a logically invalid argument. The conclusion does not follow from the premises. For example, the authors may be (unwittingly) inconsistent with their beliefs or they may also use ‘her’ or ‘she’ to avoid favouring masculine generics. There are a number of possible ways your conclusion does not follow from the premises. That is not even mentioning the fact that by using this argument you undercut the reason those authors have for wanting to avoid gender-neutral translations.

    The pronouns used are generic. They just happen to written identical to masculine words.

    !!!

    Thus they are both masculine and generic!

    And in reality of course the problem is getting worse as traditional English becomes less frequently used.

    “Anyone who presses the red button will need to fill out an incident report, he must indicate the exact time and reason.”

    May not apply to Sue anymore.

    I suggest you read the Very Poythress article linked to above before making that argument.

  53. Donald Johnson June 29, 2011 at 4:35 pm #

    Some think that the Hebrew and Greek in the Bible is some sort of special sanctified language. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The languages in the Bible are just normal languages used by people for other things at the time the text was written. Some specific books might be harder to translate due to OUR lack of knowledge of related non-Biblical text, but that is a challenge for us, not a problem for the original readers.

    The point is that the languages of the Bible just are as they are, one should not try to make theological points from the way they work.

    And in terms of what a word or phrse means, context is all important. That is, it is the way words are used that ultimately determines what they mean, both back when the text was written and today. The BDB lexicon entries I referenced should not be seen as set in stone, they are common ways a term can be understood. In particular, a successor to a king is also a king and so would be seen as a great man. It was a valid choice for the NIV translators to decide that the idea of being a descendant of David on the throne was the important thing to convey.

    Now you might not agree that this is the most important thing to convey in the word choices, and another translation can make a different choice. But it is simply the wrong way to see what they are doing to characterize it as “muting the masculinity of God’s words”. They made a valid interpretive choice from among possibilities and I assume they made that choice for good reasons but it was NOT to mute any supposed masculinity.

    Grammatical masculine terms can be used in Hebrew and Greek to refer to females sometimes or to groups that include females, this is just the way the languages work.

    And yes, English changed from what was normal in the 1950s (with generic he, etc.) to what is normal today (generic they, etc.). Trying to wish that English would be stuck in the 1950s is a wish that will not fly, no matter how much one might wish it. And the use of generic he actually ADDS to the so-called gender confusion, when using a translation that uses generic he (etc.) one is not sure in many cases if females are included or not.

  54. T.J. June 29, 2011 at 5:41 pm #

    CD-Host,

    Alas, alas, if only God were more sovereign. If only God could have made the Greek language non-patriarchy. If only God were a better communicator!

    If God is sovereign, why do you minimize the language He chose to inspire the Bible?

    The inclusive “he” has been understood to incorporate females since recorded history. Why is modern man. . . sorry, I mean a modern person. . . now unable to understand something so simple?

    The gender-neutral NIV is nothing less than an attempt to reflect the culture by minimizing gender. Now if the church wants to be like the world then I fully understand the change, but if the goal is to “not be conformed to this world” a gender-neutral worldview/Bible is wrongheaded. If God made us male and female, something I hope you agree with, then why accommodate the culture when its ignoring the creation order with a gender-neutral Bible? Conservatives try to conserve the revealed will of God, liberals try to liberate themselves from any standard save their own minds.

    So many on this blog bog themselves down in minutia, all the while forgetting the big picture. Our culture is accepting homosexuality because there is no perceived difference between men and women. If men and women are the same, why not support homosexuality? Yet if God made us different, and science proves our brains are different (yes, this is a fact), then one gender compliments the other. Man is incomplete without woman. Woman is incomplete without a man. This is the norm. Two gay males are two leaders without a helper. Two lesbian women are two helpers without a leader. Yet man and woman together are complete. The man has found his lost rib. He is whole in woman. If this is true then homosexuality is an abomination indeed. Therefore homosexual relationships will not work (hence depression, sexual disease, early death, and suicides of homosexuals. . . its safer to be a lifelong smoker than to be gay).

    Academics are Aristotelian and for this reason often miss the forest for the trees. This is why the SBC in 1979 began the process of firing most of their seminary professors. Friendships blind them to reality. They lose their ability to be shocked because they read weird books regularly. Fortunately, the world works in a Platonic way. Deduction is superior to induction. This is why God gives us the ten commandments, beatitudes, etc. Please open your eyes to the big picture. The NIV is minimizing gender. This reflects our culture. God’s people must stand for truth. According to Genesis we are made male and female. The church should maximize gender not minimize it.

  55. Sue June 29, 2011 at 7:07 pm #

    Henry,

    There is an enormous miscommunication here. You said,

    “There is a reason feminists hate masculine generics – it affirms patriarchy – just like the Bible.”

    I have NO problem with masculine generics, and I have never said that I did have a problem with them, but then I have never claimed to be a feminist, so I assume this does not apply to me. But I want to ask you anyway …

    Here is the problem that I see with so called masculine generics. They are no longer understood.

    Several men are cited on the CBMW website as NOT understanding that 1 Tim. 5:8 is a masculine generic in English and has NO masculine in Greek. They do not understand masculine generics. They have misunderstood the Bible. Is this what we want?

    Here are Owen Strachan and John MacArthur –

    “In order to honor the Lord by filling his quiver, the man must take the burden of provision for the family squarely upon his shoulders. Though this may be difficult at times, he is doing what he is called to do (see 1 Tim. 5:8 and Titus 2 for starters).” Owen Strachan

    “She is not the nourisher. She is not the provider. You’re to do that. That is the man’s responsibility. And if a man doesn’t do that, according to 1 Timothy 5:8, he is denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
    John McArthur

    All I want is a Bible that can be understood to be saying something that is at least in the same ballpark as the original Greek. And that is what I do not see in a translation that uses masculine generics in English where there is no pronoun at all in the Greek.

  56. Donald Johnson June 29, 2011 at 9:39 pm #

    God accomodates to the realities of individuals and peoples and cultures leading them step by step more and more into the Kingdom. Just because patriarchy existed during the times of the Bible does not mean God endorses it, just like slavery and polygamy. Rather God made laws that mitigated the worst effects of each at that time, moving people towards ….

    The abolition of slavery.
    The abolition of polygamy.
    and
    The abolition of patriarchy.

  57. Sue June 30, 2011 at 1:39 am #

    So I don’t have any problem with real masculine generics, if they can be understood, but once it can be demonstrated that they are not understood, then they really aren’t generic any more.

  58. Sue June 30, 2011 at 1:44 am #

    Here is Calvin’s commentary on 1 Tim. 5:8. Clearly it was understood to refer to both men and women.

    “And if any person do not provide for his own Erasmus has translated it, “If any woman do not provide for her own,” making it apply exclusively to females. But I prefer to view it as a general statement; for it is customary with Paul, even when he is treating of some particular subject, to deduce arguments from general principles, and, on the other hand, to draw from particular statements a universal doctrine. And certainly it will have greater weight, if it apply both to men and to women.”

    We must translate the Bible in such a way that the general reader as well as the preacher, understands that this verse is not about male headship, but it is about the responsibility that each one of has to provide for our own family. This is the most important witness to others, that we care for our own.

    I didn’t understand this before.

  59. CD-Host June 30, 2011 at 4:05 am #

    Henry —

    I wrote a response that seems caught in moderation. It might be length so I’ll try breaking it and seeing if I can get pieces through…

    I think you need to start using more specific terminology. The whole point of my post is there is no such thing as a “masculine generic”.
    The generic-he in English is not the masculine-he. That’s what makes it generic! If I’m using he as a masculine pronoun that it isn’t generic.
    For example generic-he can be replaced by “they”, masculine-he cannot.
    John should pick up his mat
    I can’t say: John should pick up their mat
    However:
    The student should pick up his mat
    but I can say: The student should pick up their mat.
    generic-he and masculine-he are different pronouns in English which have different rules of grammer.

  60. CD-Host June 30, 2011 at 4:07 am #

    Henry —

    (part 2)

    And your post with its reference to “bible” which is frankly confusing things in a discussion of translation. I can’t follow if you mean Hebrew, Aramaic, the Greek or the English. There are 3 main languages under consideration all of which have different pronoun rules. And you are not free to change between them.
    And receive…the sword of the spirit which is the word of God”( Eph 6:17)
    sword is feminine in Greek.
    sword is none in English
    spirit is neuter in Greek.
    spirit is none in English
    which in this verse is marked neuter in Greek, thus the Greek speaker knows that
    “which” must be referring to spirit not the sword
    English doesn’t have this convention so the sentence is either ambiguous or has to be restructured to not be ambiguous. English does this sort of marking by changing word order not introducing gender.
    Different languages, different rules of grammer. Paul had no choice about the gender of sword, spirit and which in this sentence.
    An English translation of
    And receive…the swordess of the spirit it is the word of God”( Eph 6:17)
    would be ridiculous. That gender is not part of some abstract platonic bible existing outside its representation in Greek it is part of the Greek grammer. Paul is not saying that the sword is a girl’s sword, or is looking to hook up with a hot boy sword; he’s following Greek rules about tagging his nouns so that it is clear what word “which” refers to. In English this is accomplished by rigid rules regarding word order. The proper way to translate the Greek gender is via. word order not preserving gender.

  61. CD-Host June 30, 2011 at 4:11 am #

    (part 3)
    The Greek bible doesn’t contain the word “brother” anywhere. It has the word adelphos. And just as I should not and cannot follow blind concordance and try and indicate gender in English for “sword” and “which”, I should not follow blind concordance and translate this as masculine in English if I believe it to be generic in Greek.
    You need to get clear on this. There is no language independent “bible”. There are original source documents and languages they are being translated into. It’s impossible to talk about translation when you are speaking as if grammer rules were language independent and thus one can talk usage in the abstract.
    As much as I can figure out what you are saying. No one wants to get rid of “masculine generics” in the originals. The question is what to do about translating gender. There is a lot more gender in Greek, and a lot more word order in English. That’s the nature of the beast. Nothing any translator can do about that.
    Now we can pretend like all the gender in the Greek bible is a matter of crucial theological importance, in which case what do you propose we do about sword? Do you like swordess, she-sword, sword-babe?

  62. Lynn June 30, 2011 at 8:43 pm #

    Hey Sue,

    I understand.

    Best.

    Lynn

  63. Blake White August 16, 2011 at 10:36 am #

    My 2 cents on why I changed from ESV to NIV:

    https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1PZp8ZXEefTaHhshXa0TK-6CBTBAtFA7IHmZpCr_N2os

  64. henrybish September 20, 2011 at 5:09 pm #

    Michael Marlowe’s review of the NIV 2011:

    http://www.bible-researcher.com/niv.2011.html

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    […] A Response to the NIV Translators — A summary and response to some conversation that’s been going on since the SBC’s resolution condemning the 2011 updated translation of the NIV. […]

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