Friday, January 27, 2006

2 Timothy 2:2

Now I am really confused. I have just read Mark D Roberts article on the TNIV controversy and was particularly interested in finding out that it is not a controversy about Greek, but about English. (Okay, Poythress and Grudem make that plain, since they managed to write the Colorado Springs Guidelines without using a Greek Lexicon. Although I would not have believed this if they hadn't said it themselves.)

Although Mark did continue the discussion much further than this, I thought I would stop and examine this set of theses.

    Inclusive Language in Contemporary English, Thesis 1:

    In contemporary English usage there is a wide range of practice when it comes to inclusive language.

    Inclusive Language in Contemporary English, Thesis 2:

    The use of inclusive gender language is more common among younger speakers, though this fact can be exaggerated.

    If you're interested in why I believe these theses to be true, you should check my last post.

    Today I'll add one more thesis:

    Inclusive Language in Contemporary English, Thesis 3:

    People who actively participate in conservative evangelical Christian communities are less likely to use inclusive gender language and more likely to be comfortable with traditional male generic language.

    Inclusive Language in Today's English: Another Thesis Part 16 of the series “Is the TNIV Good News?”Posted at 11:55 p.m. on Sunday, March 6, 2005
From this discussion I would expect to find an example of conservative evangelical Christians using 'men' in a generic sense. However, I knew from recent readings that I might not. These are some examples.

    MEN and women today feel lost and astray in this world, J I Packer here .

    Modern men and women may claim to have come of age, but from this standpoint humanity seems to have regressed to adolescence. J I Packer here
And I can't resist linking to this incongruous article.

    "Rise up, O men of God, have done with lesser things!” was a rousing hymn of commitment for men of a previous era. Today most Christian men I meet on campus don’t know this hymn; more importantly, they have a difficult time knowing what it means to be “men of God”—let alone what “rise up” might imply for their lives as students.
    Dave Collins here
Evidently these conservative Christιαn men use the word men to mean men, not women. And when they mean men and women, they say men and women. So they are evidently not more comfortable with using traditional male generic language.

I have been reading 2 Timothy in Greek recently and was delighted to come across a favourite verse from my Inter Varsity days.

    και α ηκουσας παρ' εμου δια πολλων μαρτυρων, ταυτα παραθου πιστοις ανθρωποις, οιτινες ικανοι εσονται και ετερους διδαξαι. 2 TImothy 2:2
I should have known better but I went and checked this verse in the ESV anyway.

    Αnd what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 2 Tιm. 2:2 ESV
I came away chilled. I lost something in that moment. A favourite verse has been translated as if it referred to men only. I guess this must be it. I have read the complaints against the TNIV. Here is one.

"men" (plural, when referring to male persons) to "people" or "believers" or "friends" or "humans";

So 'men', in Greek anthropos, must be translated as 'men' not 'people', as it is in the TNIV, because it refers to men.

In Inter Varsity, I never once thought, or was made to think, that this verse referred to men only. There is nothing in the Greek that says men only. In Greek it says anthropos, in ESV 'men' by which I now believe I should understand 'men' and not 'women'. How low have we fallen? Sisyphus, thy name is woman!

5 comments:

Peter Kirk said...

Suzanne, I understand well your objection to 2 Timothy 2:2 ESV. But it is hardly fair to single out ESV for blame here as if its translators have distorted this verse. After all, the last part of the verse is identical in RSV, and very similar in KJV and NIV. It may be that the ESV translators have deliberately used a male oriented word here, for theological reasons (because these people are encouraged to teach), even though the Greek is ἄνθρωπος anthrōpos. But I would think it is more likely that they have simply done their usual half-baked job of copying RSV when they don't see any good reason to change it.

Wayne Leman said...
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Wayne Leman said...
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Wayne Leman said...

Suzanne, if Paul wanted to make it clear that men, not women, were to be entrusted with the good news, I would have thought he would have written pistois andrasi rather than pistois anthropois. The revised Colorado Springs Guidelines, which were followed by the ESV translators, recognize that the plural anthropois in generic contexts refers to people not just men.

Ted Gossard said...

Suzanne, yes. I want a translation that really communicates the real meaning. No translation is perfect but when one has patterns like you describe then I'm not interested in using it as my reading or teaching Bible. And a sad thing is that many if not most Christians reading a translation like the ESV in Timothy will think it does refer to males.