Monday, June 27, 2011

More on the SBC, NIV, Denny Burk ...

The Committe on Bible Translation has responded to attacks on the NIV 2011. Denny Burk responds to them and I respond to his list. More info in the list at the bottom of this post.

Here is what I wrote on his blog, in response to his post - I hope that he will allow this comment. I appreciate the fact that he has allowed many of my comments to be posted lately. I feel somehow that he is a person who is interested in honesty.


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.”

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 devastating 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 if 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.


CD-Host said...

Agree with everything you wrote. Of course the real problem is that the interests of Zondervan and the interests of the TNIV/NIV2011 conflict. Ultimately Zondervan can afford to lose the bible wars, they make most of their money on hundreds of other books. They can afford a drawn out nasty battle to the death with complementarian theologians that offends a huge chunk of their book audience. The CBT is a shell that exists for Zondervan. Its not nearly independent enough for them to conduct this battle on their own without it reflecting on Zondervan.

Conversely for Wayne Grudam this fight only helps them. They need publicity, they desire publicity. They would like nothing better than to get into a long battle and as long as Zondervan. And as long as Zondervan didn't, in their minds, hit below the belt, by for example publicizing the serious abuse problems at Sovereign Grace Ministries, which is a flagship mini-denomination for complementarianism,
they would be fine. And even if Zondervan did hit below the belt it might still to their advantage because of the publicity.

Zondervan simply cannot / will not win this. This is a classic case of losing to asymmetric warfare.

As for the translators being under stress, good, I think this is karma. The CBT describes itself as, "The Committee is made up of leading evangelical Bible scholars". Asserting that bible translation requires a personal commitment to various idealogical positions, not merely an understanding of them, as is common in academia. The CBT / Zondervan is just having done to them what they did to the NRSV / NEB / ABS committees. Maybe seeing it from the other side will give them some appreciation for how pernicious their attacks on other's faith was when they (and I'm "they" collectively) did it.

Donald Johnson said...

Burk posted your comment, but it now shows up as #1. So I pointed out it was new buy in the back and that comment got moderated.

Donald Johnson said...

Now my post mentioning your post has been approved.

Donald Johnson said...

Another woman wrote you a letter on Burk's blog.

Pam said...


I entered into a dialogue concerning this verse last week.

I commented that the I Timothy 5:8 passage is entirely gender neutral in Greek. The response I got was that the pronoun used was τίς which is singular nominative and can be either feminine or masculine but never neuter. The neuter version of this singular nominative personal pronoun is τί, not τίς and τί is not found in 1 Tim. 5:8.

I'd like to be able to engage further but am lacking the time to truly investigate. I know this is very remedial, but could you explain some on how you conclude that 1 Tim 5:8 is entirely gender neutral in Greek?


Donald Johnson said...

There appears to be some confusion over terms.

In Greek, grammatical gender can be masculine, feminine or neuter. And grammatical gender has no necessary relation to physical gender.

The TNIV and now the NIV2011 have been accused by comps as being gender neutral (not neuter) in their translation philosophy.

pam said...

Thanks, Don.

To your knowledge, do any of Paul's writings use the gender neutral "ti" when referring to "someone, anyone?"

Or, does the writer (Paul?) stick with "tis", the masculine pronoun, when modifying "someone, anyone"?

Suzanne said...


tis is equally masculine and feminine. It is NOT masculine. ti is neuter for things. That is why those who understand Greek talk about "gender accurate" translations.

Donald Johnson said...

Pneuma (spirit) is neuter in Greek. This means that a pronoun that refers to Pneuma would be neuter gender. This does not mean that Pneuma has a gender or does not have a gender, it simply means that Pneuma is neuter gender in Greek.

(From other things we know that Pneuma/spirit is not gendered, but not because it is neuter gender in Greekl; similarly, Ruach (spirit) is feminine gender in Hebrew, which still does not mean anything about the gender of Ruach.)

English does not assign grammatical gender to nouns like Hebrew and Greek do. This can confuse English speakers.