Sunday, November 07, 2010

Denny Burk on the NIV 2011

I am not surprised. As I thought, in the NIV 2011, it is the translation of 1 Tim. 2:12 which has complementarians outraged. It is the most important verse in the Bible, is it not? Women must be kept in place in order for men to collect their thoughts - or so some seem to think. Dr. Burk writes,
One cannot underestimate the importance of 1 Timothy 2:12 in the intra-evangelical debate over gender roles and women in ministry. There is a reason why countless articles and even an entire book have been written on the interpretation of this single verse. In many ways, this verse is the most disputed text in the debate. It is clear that Paul is prohibiting something, but just what he prohibits has been fiercely contested.
In response I wrote in a comment on his blog,

"Are you aware that “assumer d'authorité” was Calvin’s own rendering of this verse. (Docere autem muliere non permitto, neque auctoritatem sibi sumere in virum, sed quietam esse.) I am surprised that you and Grudem part so vigorously with Calvin on this point.

And the KJV had “usurp authority.” We know from the sermons of Lancelot Andrewes that to “usurp” was treason, a crime to be punished with death.

There is also a significant point which you have missed regarding Köstenberger’s conclusion. While many, both egalitarians and complementarians agree that both verbs didaskein and authentein must have the same force, not all agree that that force is positive.

Here is the discussion from Köstenberger’s website,

A case in point is I. H. Marshall. In his 1999 ICC commentary on the Pastorals, Marshall at the outset indicates his acceptance of the findings of my study by noting that it has “argued convincingly on the basis of a wide range of Gk. usage that the construction employed in this verse is one in which the writer expresses the same attitude (whether positive or negative) to both of the items joined together by oude.”

Yet Marshall proceeds to opt for a negative connotation of both terms “teach” and “have authority,” because he says false teaching is implied in the reference to Adam and Eve in verse 14. This, however, is hardly the case. More likely, Paul’s concern was with women being the victims of false teaching, not its perpetrators (see esp. 1 Tim. 5:14–15). Also, Marshall fails to adequately consider the above-mentioned point, that teaching is virtually always construed as a positive activity in the Pastorals and that it should therefore be construed positively also in 1 Timothy 2:12.

But “virtually always” is not at all the same as “always.” In Titus 1 didaskein is construed negatively, and this negates K’s argument. In fact, there are no clear positive occurences of authentein, and one clear negative example of didaskein in the pastorals, so we are obliged to consider the possibility that authentein is negative, as the BDAG indicates."

And in a further comment, I wrote,

"The history of interpretation on this verse should not start in 1984.

Vulgate – dominari
Erasmus – autoritatem usurpare
Wycliffe – have lordship on the husband
Tyndale – have authority
KJV – usurp authority
Calvin – assume authority [1855]
Luther – herr sei"

To be honest, I do not have an English translation produced by Calvin. There is, however, an English version which is called the Calvin Bible, and it appears to be an English translation of Calvin's Latin commentaries. For 1 Tim. 2:12, it has, "But I suffer not the woman to teach, nor to assume authority over the man, but to be silent." This is from the 1855 Calvin Translation Society. I have no record of what English translation Calvin would have approved. Nonetheless, we can see that the rendering of the NIV 2011, "assume authority" does not originate in 2005, nor is it a novel and suspect translation. And yet, Denny Burk writes, "As you can see, the crucial change occurred in the TNIV 2005." Oh dear.

Update: Denny has deleted all my comments on this post. He has not acknowledged that "assume authority" is a translation option with a good history. Douglas Moo has now commented in defense of the NIV2011. This is déjà vu. I can hardly believe it. Everyone else is off analysing this and that in the NIV2011 but for some the only significant verse is 1 Tim. 2:12. Complementarians are not afraid to cast aspersions on their own people.


Kristen said...

One really does get the impression that the issue here is the upholding of an agenda.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

That's okay. I have an agenda also. The question is whether the agenda is honourable. I don't think treating women like second class citizens is honourable. Denny and I disagree on that.

Blake said...

Suzanne, do you have a previous post that goes over what is at stake in the different translations of the verse in question? Your point is well taken, but I'm ignorant of what difference assume/usurp/exercise/etc. authority makes over the other choices. Thanks.

Donald Johnson said...

I see your post has not posted on Burks' blog yet.

Suzanne McCarthy said...


Read Denny's post to see what he and Wayne Grudem believe is at stake.


My comments are now permanently deleted over at Denny's blog. This is very disturbing. What he has posted is not the truth. "Assume authority" is NOT a novel and suspect translation. Somehow I still care that those who call themselves Christians could be into this kind of deceit.

If complementarianism can be upheld without lying why lie? I don't get it.

Donald Johnson said...

I have now been purged also.

Blake said...

Suzanne, would you be able to direct me to any response you've given to the NET Bible's rendering of the verse in question in its translation and footnote? Burk cited the NET as backing up his argument, but the translator note in the NET seemed to allow that 'assume' or 'usurp' are fair renderings. Does the NET do a fair job in translating the word when considering what the trnaslator note adds to the connotation? If so, it would seem that the complementarians are in a fuss over controlling not so much the translation, but a connotation of scripture.

Kristen said...

Suzanne, you said:

"That's okay. I have an agenda also. The question is whether the agenda is honourable."

There is also the issue of whether one is using honorable means in upholding the agenda. You have never suppressed or ignored evidence that didn't appear to support your position (as is clear from your consistent mention of Jephthah as an exception in the "kephale" discussion.)


Anonymous said...

" Denny has deleted all my comments on this post. He has not acknowledged that "assume authority" is a translation option with a good history"

If he has deleted both you and Don it is because you guys make too much sense and present another cogent and researched view.

They cannot allow that to stand. One reason why comp has become so pervasive is because of the lack of ability to question teaching of the "scholars". Only their view is allowed. And it is an agenda.

Anonymous said...

Any idea why you're blocked over there? I've never known you to be belligerent or degrading to anyone. Just persistent.


Mara Reid said...


I'm sure Suzanne can answer this better than I.
But one reason might be that the comps want to keep up the facade that the comp view is a Biblical 'slam dunk'.

It is not, and the evidence Suzanne and Don present shows that it isn't by a long shot. This makes them uncomfortable and causes them to become dishonest.

I wish they would let go of their favored pet doctrine and embrace the truth. But I don't see this happening any time soon.

It's a pity. Because if they are being dishonest with this, what else can we trust them with?

Donald Johnson said...

Yes, let the light shine.

Charis said...

What I want to know is if the 2011 NIV persists in adding extra words which change the force of the hupotasso verbs as applied to wives?

For example, the hupotasso verb in Ephesians 5:24 is not in the imperative. Adding such words as “command”, “imperative”, “required”, and “must” perpetrates error. Bible translations which insert an imperative force by adding such words as “should” (NIV, NLT); “ought to be” (NASB); “must be” (ISV) have added to the God breathed original autographs and in so doing have done a grave disservice to Christian marriages.

EricW said...

Adding such words as “command”, “imperative”, “required”, and “must” perpetrates error. Bible translations which insert an imperative force by adding such words as “should” (NIV, NLT); “ought to be” (NASB); “must be” (ISV) have added to the God breathed original autographs and in so doing have done a grave disservice to Christian marriages.

XAPIC: If they do translate some participles as imperatives, this does not automatically or always "perpetrate error." Nor by doing so is a translator guilty of having "added to the God breathed original autographs." (Which no one possesses nor has seen since probably the 2nd century; have you seen them?)

Study your koinê Greek and don't wrongly libel Biblical scholars and translators. Participles can have imperatival force depending on the context. See, e.g., Wallace pp. 650-652 and Robertson pp. 944-946.

Charis said...


I might be a Greek neophyte, but I know when a translation has failed to capture the heart of God. As for me, I trust His heart over a translation.

"COMMAND" is wrong when it comes to wifely submission. I know that, not because of the Greek but because I have been shipwrecked on those rocks.
Bad doctrine about marriage--> Death of Christian marriages

What a breath of fresh air to find out just from a simple free interlinear which even I can read that the hupotasso verb is not imperative- in Eph 5:21, 24; in Titus 2; nor in 1 Peter 3

Some translations and scholars have contributed to error by the choices they have made when translating. I'm sorry that you thing saying so is "libel", but I stand by my convictions.


Suzanne McCarthy said...


While I believe that two Christians can marry, I do not believe that there is any such thing as a "Christian marriage." There are things we know are wrong, and things we know we have to do in a marriage. For one person to always submit to the other is wrong, for whatever reason. It is simply wrong.

For what it's worth, I am very happy as a single woman, although I am mired in family responsibilities.

Charis said...


I can go with that. I think the head and body metaphor as well as the one flesh metaphor apply to ALL marriages, not just those between Christians. Marriages between Christians are dying because the parties are attempt to practice the error which has been preached.


I was thinking about your comment some more. No I haven't seen the God breathed original autographs (nor have the translators). But GOD did breathe the original autographs, and translators and translations have gone off track ever since.

For example, the King James Bible which is based on the Textus Receptus (TR) has an extra hupotasso in Ephesians 5:22 The earliest and oldest manuscript called “P46″ omits the verb in Eph 5:22. Interestingly, the providential discovery of this manuscript did not occur until the 1930’s (P46- seea photograph at ) I presume that the hupotassesthe in Eph 5:22 Textus Receptus is an unfortunate interpretational/scribal addition which didn't effect the illiterate masses nor their celibate priests much for all these centuries, but did serve to obscure the truth about the meaning of wives being subject "to their husbands in everything".. "as the church is subject to Christ".

The proliferation of translations nowadays is providential IMO because people are realizing that the words of a translation are not necessarily synonymous with God's intention, and hopefully, this leads them to seek to know God's Word by knowing God...

EricW said...

Charis (though all the letters probably won't display)

5:22 γυναῖκες τοῖς ἰδίοις ἀνδράσιν ὡς {B}

On the one hand, several early witnesses (P46 B Clement1/2 Origen Greek mss acc. to Jerome Jerome Theodore) begin the new sentence without a main verb, thus requiring that the force of the preceding ὑποτασσόμενοι be carried over. On the other hand, the other witnesses read either ὑποτάσσεσθε or ὑποτασσέσθωσαν after either γυναῖκες or ἀνδράσιν. A majority of the Committee preferred the shorter reading, which accords with the succinct style of the author’s admonitions, and explained the other readings as expansions introduced for the sake of clarity, the main verb being required especially when the words Αἱ γυναῖκες stood at the beginning of a scripture lesson.

Metzger, B. M., & United Bible Societies. (1994). A textual commentary on the Greek New Testament, second edition a companion volume to the United Bible Societies' Greek New Testament (4th rev. ed.) (541). London; New York: United Bible Societies.

EricW said...

The Greek letters all display in Firefox, just not in Internet Explorer (or at least how I have IE set up). I haven't tried Safari.

Angela Shier-Jones said...

sorry - have I missed the point - just because the pseudo-Pauline author of this text doesn't permit blah blah.. why does that mean the Church should not permit...?
What gives this unknown individual's particular preferences such majestic standing?
Why do WE give it such prominence?

Let the greek say what it says, its still just one unknown misogynist's opinion. So the Bible tells us that there were misogynists in this time - it doesn't commend the practice!
Paul and Pseudo-Paul can serve as a bad example as well as a good example surely?

Suzanne McCarthy said...


I am quite sympathetic to your point. It is a terrible waste of time to try to prove anything from this kind of exegesis. No, it does not matter that there were misogynists at that time, and I don't know who wrote 1 Timothy.

However, I can assure you that those who write these articles about authentein are fabricating evidence, and on behalf of women everywhere, I want to know why they are being so dishonest. There are women left back in that place where I used to be. There are women still bound by this trash.

Anyway, I read your recent posts, and you have given me so much more to think about. I was deeply touched. I had read your blog in the past, and I want to thank you for commenting here. The internet really can make it a small world.

Angela Shier-Jones said...

Hi Suzanne,
No, its not a waste of time - and I really approve of what you are trying to do, I just wonder if there are ways in which we can also show how 'small' and 'insignificant' such exegesis is by setting it in a different context.

Men who play this game do so because they can find no other way to define their manhood than in opposition to women.
Women who play this game do so because they often know no other way to excuse their submission to bullies.

We have a task to do.. all power to your elbow.
I enjoy reading your blog, and value your contributions to the wider debates - thank you.
(and yes.. the internet does make for a small world)