Monday, June 20, 2011

SBC on the NIV2011

Catch the whole thing on Dr. Burk's blog. Dr. Moore contributes and yet I think he would have understood the scripture better if he had had a gender neutral translation. He once wrote,

"The headship of men in the church and home is rooted everywhere in Scripture in protection and provision. This is why the apostle Paul calls the man who will not provide for his family "worse than an unbeliever" (1 Tim 5:8 ESV)."
I am conservative in my views on translation, and support the KJV, as the one Bible which we have commonly available, for being the closest to the Greek. However, today, readers are no longer able to undestand that the English pronoun "he" is generic and often occurs in English where there is no pronoun at all in Greek.

I am acquainted with Dr. Bruce Waltke also, a translator of the NIV, and you have no idea how not a feminist that man is! But I like him. He just isn't a feminist. Oh brother. The evangelical world is coming apart at the seams. This is not a split between the liberals and the conservatives. This is an ingroup rift between the conservative evangelicals and the more conservative evangelicals. And it is over women. Women are caught in the middle.


EricW said...
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EricW said...

The SBC makes $$ on Holman Christian Standard Bible sales, whereas the non-SBC Zondervan Corporation makes $$ on NIV sales.

As they say: "Follow the money." :)

pastorT said...

I don't think women are caught in the middle at all. As a matter of fact I think it is better said that "women are in the middle of this..." Feminist hermeneutics offer alternative perspective and should be understood this way. However, more liberal Feminist press toward this interpretive process as being the only correct approach. Don't get me wrong Feminist's have made wonderful contributions to textual criticism and linguistic studies. Personally I am grateful for their efforts. There needs to be a stop to this us and them mentality, however.

There must be a middle ground in all this "cat fighting" (excuse the pun). Gender specific language is simply that; and non gender specific language should not be assumed gender specific simply because of tradition. Men should not fear a women's role/authority to be in ministry. Women should not need to manipulate scripture to obey God; which is after all to serve Christ not their gender. Men have done this enough for both genders!


Kristen said...

It's becoming increasingly clear to me what is really going on:

The NIV-2011 naysayers don't like the fact that modern English usage has changed so that masculine words are no longer understood as gender-inclusive. The reason they don't like this change is that it is largely the result of the attempts of the culture to recognize women's concerns, as raised by "feminists."

Therefore, they consider any accommodation to this language change to be "politically correct" -- i.e., a capitulation to uppity, controlling women. Thus, they want all readers of the Bible to read it as if the change had not taken place, and masculine forms can still be read as gender-inclusive.

But what' really fishy about all this is that it's a way for masculinist Christians to control the way people read the Bible. Who gets to decide when a particular usage of "man," "he" or "brothers" is gender-inclusive and when it means men only? The church leaders do-- and in particular, the leaders who hold power in the SBC structure. It is a way for them to hold onto their own power and never have to share it with anyone they don't approve: namely, any and all women who might want to be something other in the church than nursery and kitchen workers and preparers of ladies' teas.

Kristen said...

Thus, these leaders can take advantage of this modern usage change whenever it suits them. People don't automatically understand "humans" where a passage says "men" or "Christians" when a passage says "brothers," so they have to be told when it is gender-inclusive and when it's not. And as far as I can tell, it's only clearly recognized as gender-inclusive when it's talking about salvation. Everything else is fair game to be read as meaning "only males."

It is interesting in light of this to note that it's often older church members-- people over 50 or so-- who are more tolerant of women having more freedom and equality in the church. They are used to reading the masculine forms gender-inclusively-- they've been doing it all their lives-- and therefore are more resistant to insistence that "brothers means 'men only' whenever we tell you it does."


CD-Host said...

I've been saying for years that I think Zondervan should admit defeat and just move left on their bible translation. The TNIV/NIV2011 is unfairly now seen as the left most bible They can use that to their advantage rather than try and take half measures to apease the bullies.

The NRSV is a good formal translation but there is clearly a demand for something more dynamic.
The CEB is mostly unimpressive and its hard to imagine it getting an entire infrastructure of support literature.
Push the TNIV/NIV2011 further left, which probably means nothing more than then some obvious verse revisions and then revise the study notes a bit, and there is a good quality left protestant mediating translation.

And that's an underserved market. I'm not sure why Zondervan is fighting so hard for 3rd place in the Evangelical market. Their evangelical books can be based on the HCSB or NLT depending on which they consider less problematic and then in a generation they can take another swing.

Plus they own the rights to the AMP. Charismatics like the AMP and I suspect it could be pushed to that community or other communities if they gave up on winning the "standard translation" battle.

A few million dollar promotional campaign with the AMP might do wonders in making that a bible of choice. Then we would be doing comparisons of the AMP to the Expanded which AFAICT no one has really sunk their teeth into.

BradK said...

Why is the NIV such a target? The NET Bible is (entirely AFAIK) the product of Dallas Theological Seminary scholars and it is pretty "gender neutral" in many places. DTS is quite well respected among dispensational evangelicals, particularly Baptists, who seem by and large to be quite theologically conservative and at the forefront of of the movement to stamp out the evil NIV. Why is there no uproar over the NET? Or the NLT? Are those translations not worthy of expressing "profound disappointment" in their publishers, encouraging pastors to make their congregations aware of their "translation errors," of recommending that they not be sold by Lifeway, and of not being commended to Southern Baptists? If not, why not? Are they afraid that people will actually read the NIV?

CD-Host said...

Brad --

The NET is my favorite Evangelical translation but it isn't meaningful competition to the NIV/NLT/ESV/HCSB. It doesn't have a fraction of their sales numbers. No congregation is going to choose as their pew translation a bible whose claim to fame is complex translation notes, that is going to care one way or another what the SBC conference says. Don't get me wrong I wish the NET were actually more successful, but it isn't. So I'd say the reason for NET is not on the radar, its a niche translation right now. And I agree with you it shouldn't be.

As for the NLT, Tyndale is currently moving right not left. The NLTse is to the right of the NLTfe is the right of the LB. There is no anger from the right at Tyndale's direction of movement, like there was in the late 1990s when Zondervan started moving left. Because of this Tyndale has never had the conservative evangelical readership. CE many of whom are crossing over from the Fundamentalist side despise Tyndale for the Kenneth Taylor / Billy Graham connections. You can't boycott a product you wouldn't normally buy.

And don't get me wrong, they most certainly do attack dynamic translation quite strongly. But its hard to make a case against a bible for not being literal enough on gender issues when it makes no claim to being literal at all.

Further the NLT has a strong female readership with the Life Application Bible, possible the best selling study bible out there. There is real possibility of a backlash. Basically, Tyndale is a Arminian house that services the left evangelicals and right mainline. The SBC leadership is much more Calvinist than its member churches / pastors. Tyndale gets attacked it the followers are quite likely to shoot back. Tyndale fans of have all kinds of reasons to dislike Al Mohler, Paige Patterson and they would love a big public fight.

Tyndale doesn't want the fight, but Paige is having a tough time with the left half of the SBC not making their disagreements on policy personel. If no one from the SBC ever bought an NLT again, but 500 SBC congregations joined the CBF that is not a win for conservative evangelicals.

EricW said...
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CD-Host said...

Kristen --

It is interesting in light of this to note that it's often older church members-- people over 50 or so-- who are more tolerant of women having more freedom and equality in the church. They are used to reading the masculine forms gender-inclusively-- they've been doing it all their lives-- and therefore are more resistant to insistence that "brothers means 'men only' whenever we tell you it does."

Good point. The change in English language usage is quite likely driving the change in theology. That's the unfortunate effect of the doctrine of Perspicuous of Scripture when applied to the pronouns issues. And BTW you'll notice the "girls have cooties crowd" are very careful to makes sure command and penalties are translated gender inclusive.

Its like the old rule: all the promises of the OT apply to the Church, all the curses apply to the Jews with woman substituted for Jews.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

The NET is one of my least favourite translations in spite of the notes or maybe because of them.

Here is a note for 1 Tim. 2:15.

"The idea of childbearing, then, is a metonymy of part for the whole that encompasses the woman’s submission again to the leadership of the man, though it has no specific soteriological import (but it certainly would have to do with the outworking of redemption)."

The note for Gen 3:16 -

"In Gen 3:16 the Lord announces a struggle, a conflict between the man and the woman. She will desire to control him, but he will dominate her instead. This interpretation also fits the tone of the passage, which is a judgment oracle. See further Susan T. Foh, “What is the Woman’s Desire?” WTJ 37 (1975): 376-83."

Susan Foh's article is one of the most astonishing pieces of writing I have ever read. It is full of the judgment that the problem with women today is that they do NOT desire their husband but want to control him.

And of course, the NET Bible is the source of the Junia hypothesis.

I find it deeply disturbing that these verses are altered from the traditional KJV.

Gen. 3:16, Romans 16:7 and 1 Tim. 2:12.

The NIV 2011 is similar to the KJV in these 3 verses and that is why it has to be done away with. They cannot stand to have the same kind of Bible as the reformers had, because those Bibles, of Luther, KJV, and the Latin Bible of Calvin are not efficacious in keeping women in their place.

Anonymous said...

'They cannot stand to have the same kind of Bible as the reformers had, because those Bibles, of Luther, KJV, and the Latin Bible of Calvin are not efficacious in keeping women in their place."

Such irony as those guys were not exactly pro women's rights. :O)

It just tells us how bad the situation really is with translations.

As to follow the money...many SBC leaders are promoting the ESV since many are involved with CBMW and many of those folks were in on the ESV translation.

The Holman was introduced so Lifeway had another option from increasing Zondervan royalties on the NIV.

Most SBC big wigs do not promote the Holman at all.

CD-Host said...

Hi Suzanne --

I thought about this a little and read the Foy article. Lets do this one at a time.

And I think you may be picking up on something. When I read the Foy article it seemed like pop psychology being justified with biblical verses. I don't like reading pop psychology into the bible, except in books like Proverbs where it can't be avoided. But , if you do see the bible as "a a manual for life" which is not an uncommon view among evangelicals, considering the issue of nagging is rather good advice. The #1 complaint many men have with their marriage or home life is that their wives are controlling nags; and don't really want to be married to them as they actually exist but some image of them. And then the whole desire thing from the article, the idea of sex as a reward, is completely poisonous to a marital relationship.

A huge number of my friends who decided to get their emotional support and sex outside their marriage did so over the nagging and sex as a reward. There are a lot of different ways that marriages can go off the rails; and I think the Christian community is particularly lousy in talking about them because the assumption is that everyone is godly and thus not affected in the normal ways by sexual behavior.

I think people read way too much into Genesis 2-3, but its a long standing Christian tradition to read contemporary problems into those verses. A story about "the man" who lives in an imaginary garden where the woman "life" is created and they meet a snake who makes them choose between childlike innocence and the hardships of adulthood... This story is designed as a launch pad for sermons. So it seems a sermon snuck in. Maybe Susan Foy watched her parent's marriage destroyed by controlling and whomever did that section in Genesis agrees and they threw in a little sermon.

The NET seems to live on this weird line of a translation based study bible. But I think the intent is to help not harm. This is different than the ESV. All of Evangelical Christianity is very focused on the break down in marriages and well nagging is a major problem. Its not uncommonly an issue between mothers and fathers and their adult children. I would guess at least 15%+ of all married men probably have significant problem with nagging / controlling.

And I think this applies more generally. I agree that on the left right axis the NET's footnotes are to the right of my positions, and on women's issues yours. But...

a) I think they are trying to be fundamentally honest. I don't always agree with their analysis but I do believe they are saying what they honestly believe to be true which is not the case with many commentaries.

b) They are extensive and tend to address not obscure the issues. Time after time I find the NET does have a footnote on a particular topic of translation controversy and while they may be on the opposite side of me, most bibles take the opposite side and ignore the fact that there even is a controversy. Outside of the NISB I can't think of any single volume bible that hits more topics.

c) They are helpful / well written. When I hit topics I don't know anything about, I not uncommonly find they are useful.

I agree they aren't good on women's issues. I agree there is an undercurrent of anger towards women (or more like a woman, a mother or a wife, that is seeping through), the sort of motivation that led to the Foy article getting into a footnote. That doesn't feel to me like it is intrinsic to the text, its just a product of the fact that this is a brand new translation whose rough edges haven't been smoothed. I think the women's issues in the NET are fixable.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

The NET Bible is the one that introduced the notion that Junia was not an apostle and that the desire of woman is to control her man. I do not have such a benign view of it as you have. I understand why it is attractive, but I cannot endure the sense that it is the initiator of a new shift to diminish women in the scriptures.

PS I am not quite sure how I have mucked up the recent comment function on my blog. I hope it recovers.