Saturday, July 02, 2011

The most contested verse in the NIV 2011

This was my guess from the beginning, and I think it needs to be known. There is one verse which is determining the acceptance or non-acceptance of the NIV 2011. This one verse is the most important contested verse in the translation. Here is what Denny Burk has said about 1 Tim. 2:12 in the NIV.
One other item worthy of note on this rendering. By their own admission, “assume authority” is neutral where the previous rendering “have authority” was not. In other words, the 1984 NIV favored an interpretation that supported a complementarian point of view. The 2011 NIV now has a rendering that can be used to support an egalitarian view. If we accept the translators’ argument that “assume authority” is neutral (which I don’t), the translators have nevertheless acknowledged that the egalitarian view is no longer excluded by the NIV’s rendering of 1 Timothy 2:12. This is a tremendous reversal on the most contested verse in the gender debate.
If Dr. Burk speaks as a representative of CBMW and SBC, which it appears he does, then he is expressing their view that they do not want a Bible that is without complementarian doctrinal input. The egalitarian viewpoint is no longer excluded by the NIV. They cannot live with that ambiguity.

It is important to realize that the word which he wants translated as "to have authority" has a varied history. Here are the relevant variants,

Jerome - dominari
Erasmus - autoritatem usurpare
Calvin - auctoritatem sumere (translated in 1855 as "assume authority")
Luther - Herr sei

Dr. Burk traces the history of the translation of 1 Tim. 2:12 from the NIV 1984 to the present day. When I was young, 1984 was in the dystopian future, but now it is considered by some as the beginning of time.


Donald Johnson said...

The comps pivot on 1 Tim 2:12, their worldview is crucially dependent around that single verse, which is very murky in terms of its meaning.

Donald Johnson said...

I meditated on this some more. The NIV group claims that "assume authority" was a neutral translation choice, in between possible comp or egal readings. Burk does not accept that characterization, that an egal can read this NIV Bible means that the Bible should be considered suspect.

People that have read both sides know that this verse is very debated and unclear. So it is appropriate for any translation of it to ALLOW for different understandings, that is, that the translation does not determine the outcome of the interpretation.

But it is not a good thing according to Burk for this debate and doubt to come thru in a translation, even going to neutral is seen by him as a win for egals.

And this was my insight from last night, this is because the comp worldview cannot admit such a crack. If there really is a choice about how to understand this verse (and there most certainly IS such a choice) then people will not be forced to accept the comp worldview on it and other things. And that this realization is fatal to that worldview.

Kristen said...

Isn't the question supposed to be, not "does this translation allow for an egalitarian interpretation," but "is this translation an accurate representation of the meaning of this word as used at the time it was written"?

Are they not, by condemning this translation for simply "not excluding" an egalitarian interpretation, showing themselves to indeed have the special agenda that they claim they do not have (stating that they simply have a point of view in the same way the NIV translators had a point of view)?