Moo, Grudem, and Clendenen Talk about Bible Translation

Wayne Grudem, Doug Moo, and Ray Clendenen recently participated in a symposium on Bible translation at Liberty University. Grudem represented the ESV, Moo the NIV, and Clendenen the HCSB. These men have different opinions about translation philosophy in general and about each others’ translations in particular. You can view the video of these presentations here. The audio is available below.

Grudem – Representing ESV

Moo – Representing NIV

Clendenen – Representing HCSB

Response from Panelists

Grudem – “Trustworthiness of Scripture”

(HT: Chris Cowan)


  • Kamilla

    I don’t read Hebrew, Greek or Aramaic. I am not a professor with the terminal degree. Nor am I well-schooled in translation philosophy. But I do know this:

    There is NO excuse or justification for obscuring the christological references in the Psalms. How Psalm 1:1 is handled is a sure sign of the unfaithfulness of every single “inclusive” translation I’ve ever looked at and NIV 2011 is no exception.

  • Jason

    I suspect I agree with you, Kamilla, but I’m not sure what you mean with the Christological reference in Psalm 1:1. Are you talking about the gender neutral translation of “the man”?

  • Jason

    You are saying that ???? “the man” is Christ? I looked at the Reardon interp on Amazon, and I don’t see him giving any reason that it is necessarily a Christological reference and nothing else. It certainly is not less that than that, to the degree that Christ is the only one who could and did do this perfectly. But, as with many exhortations in the Hebrew bible, the jussive (basically 3rd person imperative, often used as an exhortation) acts as an encouragement to any and all who desire God and to be the kind of person described here.

    Additionally, the same construct is used in 25:12, 34:12, 147:10, none of which necessitate a Christological reference.

    But what is additionally interesting to me is the “The One”, as with the NIV 2011 certainly does not negate that there is only one who could do this fully, that is, the NIV 2011 doesn’t seem to speak against your point.

    My issue is, why change it? As that is what it says, and it is not gender specific (that is, there is no reason to assert that this only refers to men, there are plenty of examples to support this), shouldn’t we help people to understand it rightly with the right words, instead of changing it so that people understand it rightly but with the wrong words? It doesn’t seem to me that that is good biblical teaching.

  • Jason

    The question mark festival is not me being snarky, please don’t take it as such!

    it is supposed to be the Hebrew for “The man”. I didn’t realize that unicode Hebrew font didn’t work in this blog.

  • R. Allen Burns

    I find it odd that this took place at Liberty. I just had two students that I know return for a few days on break and inform me that the primary Scripture translation used on campus is the Message (which I don’t consider either a translation, or a paraphrase, or even a commentary … don’t get me started). The Message? Yet, they host a conference on translation symposium?

  • David Croteau

    I can guarantee you that the primary translation is NOT the Message. I teach in the School of Religion there and most faculty use the NKJV, the ESV, or the NASB. I’ve never heard the Message even referenced except in a derogatory way.

  • Jason

    Yeah, I don’t buy that, either. I’m trying, and failing, to envision Gary Habermas reading from “The Message” in a class or in chapel.

  • Donald Johnson

    Everyone should watch at least both Grudem’s and Moo’s talks. They are both comp, but Moo totally deconstructs Grudem’s talk. The basic reason is that Grudem holds to a flawed concept of what translation is and it has been known for some time in modern linguistic theory that it is flawed. Moo at least knows what he is talking about.

  • Donald Johnson

    Moo describes what a (true) translation process consists of. Grudem proposes an idea of translation that is incoherent and inconsistent and so can easily lead to abusing the text and forcing a translation to say whatever one wants. The basic reason is as Moo states, there is NO mapping of a word in one language to a (single) word in another language, this is not the way languages work. This is because a language is embedded INSIDE a culture, the meanings of the words are defined by that culture (and for the Bible, the Bible can trump the cultural meaning when it chooses to do so by refining or even defining a word). But the vast majority of words in the Bible have a meaning INSIDE the culture in which they were written. And this includes idioms and metaphors and simply the way words are used.

    As a simple example, Hebrew ish can refer to a male or to a person, as Moo points out and the context is used to determine which is meant. But for Grudem there is supposedly some masculine meaning component in ish, which is just a totally bogus idea. So what happens with these different translation methods:

    1. The NIV and Moo, etc. will try to figure out when they see ish whether a male or a person is meant from the context. This has a good chance of getting it correct, as intended by the author, since they start from the correct range of meaning.

    2. The ESV and Grudem, etc. will assume a male is meant and only grant human as a possibility when THEY want to do so. Since they are masculinist/comp in their outlook, this “granting” will be expected to be rare; so it can easily skew the translation. To make it even more confusing sometimes they will use man and male terms in an exclusive sense and sometimes in an inclusive sense, which can totally confuse the reader and even teachers. For example, Driscoll gave a sermon that totally botched the meaning of 1 Tim 5:8 by thinking it only applied to males, when anyone can see in the Greek that it applies to people.

  • R. Allen Burns

    Phew, thanks for the clarification regarding the use of the Message at Liberty. I was rather appalled when I heard it and taken back. I will have those two students read this blog. Let that be this be their public flogging for sharing faulty information.

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