Sunday, August 30, 2009

Grudem calls Calvin's translation "highly suspect"

Has Grudem even read Calvin's commentary? Probably, but no one can remember everything. Still, the statement of concern against the TNIV is an abomination unto the Lord. And it is a good way for signatories to reveal what they don't know.

A couple of years ago, Wayne Grudem made this statement,
    The TNIV in particular has changed the translation of many of the key passages regarding women in the church, and I would find it almost impossible to teach a Biblical “complementarian” view of the role of women in the church from the TNIV. It has gone further in supporting an evangelical feminist position than any other translation, as far as I know (see page 260 in Evangelical Feminism: A New Path to Liberalism? for more details). Of course, it is no surprise than that the TNIV has been very popular among egalitarian groups such as the Willow Creek Association.

    To take one example: in 1 Timothy 2:12 the TNIV adopts a highly suspect and novel translation that gives the egalitarian side everything they have wanted for years in a Bible translation. It reads, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man” (italics added). If churches adopt this translation, the debate over women's roles in the church will be over, because women pastors and elders can just say, “I’m not assuming authority on my own initiative; it was given to me by the other pastors and elders.” Therefore any woman could be a pastor or elder so long as she does not take it upon herself to “assume authority.” Then in the footnotes to 1 Timothy 2:12 the TNIV also introduces so many alternative translations that the verse will just seem confusing and impossible to understand. So it is no surprise that egalitarian churches are eager to adopt the TNIV.
Now here is where the translation "assume authority" came from. First, here is Calvin's translation into Latin of 1 Tim. 2:12,
    Docere autem muliere non permitto, neque auctoritatem sibi sumere in virum,

    I do not permit a woman to teach or assume authority over a man,
Calvin then writes,
    But I suffer not a woman to teach. Not that he takes from them the charge of instructing their family, but only excludes them from the office of teaching, which God has committed to men only. On this subject we have explained our views in the exposition of the First Epistle to the Corinthians. 3939 See Commentary on the Epistles of Paul to the Corinthians, vol. 1, p. 467. If any one bring forward, by way of objection, Deborah (Judges 4:4) and others of the same class, of whom we read that they were at one time appointed by the command of God to govern the people, the answer is easy.

    Extraordinary acts done by God do not overturn the ordinary rules of government, by which he intended that we should be bound. Accordingly, if women at one time held the office of prophets and teachers, and that too when they were supernaturally called to it by the Spirit of God, He who is above all law might do this; but, being a peculiar case, 4040 Pource que e’est un cas particulier et extraordinaire.” — “Because it is a peculiar and extraordinary case.” this is not opposed to the constant and ordinary system of government.

    He adds — what is closely allied to the office of teaching — and not to assume authority over the man; for the very reason, why they are forbidden to teach, is, that it is not permitted by their condition. They are subject, and to teach implies the rank of power or authority. Yet it may be thought that there is no great force in this argument; because even prophets and teachers are subject to kings and to other magistrates. I reply, there is no absurdity in the same person commanding and likewise obeying, when viewed in different relations.

    But this does not apply to the case of woman, who by nature (that is, by the ordinary law of God) is formed to obey; for γυναικοκρατία (the government of women) has always been regarded by all wise persons as a monstrous thing; and, therefore, so to speak, it will be a mingling of heaven and earth, if women usurp the right to teach. Accordingly, he bids them be “quiet,” that is, keep within their own rank.

Not that I agree with Calvin, but to set the record straight, the TNIV is an accurate representation of Calvin's translation. The statement against the TNIV should be removed from the internet forever.

I had not thought much about the influence of Calvin's Latin commentary on Bible translation. Not as influential as Erasmus, I think, but significant, nonetheless.


Bonnie said...

I think this shows just how...ridiculous the dickering over just what St. Paul meant, and what various opinions of what Paul meant mean, is (according to who means what by the words they use, and what the words mean!)

Anyone can hide behind words, or use them as weapons, or they can use them to try to say what they mean. I think Paul did the latter, but many do the latter in order to also do the former.

Shaylin said...

If he dislikes "assume authority" in the TNIV, he must really despise the KJV on this point. The KJV says "usurp authority." Isn't that even worse?

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Reading Grudem is sometimes like reading the Debunking Christianity blog. But I do wish the CBMW would take down the statement of concern against the TNIV.

Bryon said...

Thank you for the heads up Susan. Wow, Grudem states,

almost impossible to teach a Biblical “complementarian” view of the role of women in the church from the TNIV

Funny, D.A. Carson doesn't have this problem with the TNIV, and he teaches “complementarianism” from the TNIV. Like most so-called defective products, it's sometimes the user...

Jeff said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Calvin fully agrees with Grudem on this verse. This is the translation of Calvin I have

12. But I suffer not a woman to
teach, nor to usurp authority over the
man, but to be in silence.

12. Docere autem muliere non
permitto, neque auctoritatem sibi
sumere in virum, sed quietam esse.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Grudem says that the translation ought to be "to exercise authority" and that "to assume authority" is novel and suspect. I believe that Grudem disapproves of both "to usurp" and "to assume."