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Dunash ben Labrat

Ali Ahmad Said

Verbal System of Ancient Hebrew

The Bible as seen through the eyes of . . .

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Brian Mitchell

After, reading this I come away with four main points you'd like to see in a translation:

(1)high fidelity to the MT. When the MT is ambiguous or difficult the translation would reflect that as well.

(2)Stay within the continuum of the Tyndale-Geneva-KJV tradition.

(3)"On the vexed question of gender-sensitivity/ -accuracy, an attempt would be made to respect the positions of the Roman Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Convention."

(4)"he goal would be for differences in style in the source texts to shine through in translation."

Point one seems obvious, but unfortunately the tendency it to smooth over difficulties so that readers are left with the sense that the text perfectly clear. Or, maybe to read into the text already held interpretations of it.

Point, two, would help in terms of memorization and maybe recitation of said texts.

Point three, is probably one of the most difficult to fulfill. How to balance respect for traditional/conservative views with that of ever changing modern or rather postmodern age. I would also question if complete fidelity to the MT is to be followed wouldn't that also rule out gender-sensitivity in 'some' cases since Hebrew morphologically is sexist. Is it really academically honest to translate a ‘sexist’ text as if it were written differently? Don’t get me wrong I am no fundamentalist, but I just don’t understand the issue with gender sensitivity in regard to translating ancient lit.

When, one translates ancient Greek and Latin literature and modern languages like Japanese for that matter I know of no movement to push gender sensitive translations.

Why I wonder is there no movement that pushes for 2nd person plural subjects like "you" to be tagged with a superscript as well as all subjects and objects in case where a modern English translation might create ambiguity that did not exist in Hebrew/Greek?

CD-Host

Why I wonder is there no movement that pushes for 2nd person plural subjects like "you" to be tagged with a superscript

I suspect because if you want wan good 2nd person plural its available, "you all" or "y'll". Or you can go back to the "thee/thou" of the KJV. Why make up fake markers instead of using real words?

Joel

The suggestion about 2nd person plural footnotes is one I agree with. One of the strengths of the NWT was that it distinguished between this in the original language with "you" and "YOU." The footnotes were very good as well, as I recall, though it's been a decade since I've read it.

A plain KJV without any updated text would be acceptable to me as a main Bible, just so long as there were copious footnotes on different manuscript traditions/better translations of various versus/features of Hebrew or Greek not brought out in the text.

For the sort of people who actually spend a lot of time reading scripture seriously, the slightly archaic language isn't difficult. And the poetry and the tradition of the language are hard to give up.

Using different translations in parallel is inferior to really good footnotes in lots of ways: when translations differ, you rarely know why. Footnotes are more compact. And most importantly footnotes can provide eclectic information, while translations (done by committee) generally need to follow guidelines, generally purging innovative translation suggestions.

JohnFH

The KJV is suitable for serious study by inclined individuals, but it is not especially suitable for preaching and teaching and similar purposes.

Brian Mitchell

תרגום דומה לנשיקה מבעד לצעיף, אמר ח. נ. ביאליק

Russell Allen

I understand the pull of the idea of a common English bible. The continuity of the KJV as a shared language is profound. But I wonder whether it doesn't also reflect a freezing and taming of the text, leaving it less open to speaking in the heart language of each reader, leaving it less open to speaking to differing communities.

There is a tension between the ideal of a majority rules translation acceptable to the biggest denominational hierarchies (and why the two biggest in the US?) and the ideal of a search for a truth that might even be found in the small and the individual and the non-conformist.

Mitchell

The KJV is suitable for serious study by inclined individuals, but it is not especially suitable for preaching and teaching and similar purposes.

John,

Can I take your comment as an indication that you would do away with thee, thou, ye and such?

JohnFH

Hi Russell,

The two religious polities mentioned, and the reference to the US, are by way of example only.

It is a shared language that interests me. In theological terms, it's about the communion of the saints. A translation in the Tyndale-Geneva-KJV connects me with my spiritual ancestors, Luther via Tyndale, Calvin via Geneva, and a broader, more catholic foundation via KJV. It also connects me with English literature and music of the last centuries.

There is no reason why this shared tradition cannot be a heart language. It often has been and often is, especially in worship, in which collective hearing of scripture is practiced.

An immense spectrum of meanings attach to the words of this tradition, so I don't see it as a confining path to trod.

On the contrary, I think the ideal of a small and individual and non-conformist translation is an isolating and confining path to trod.

That said, a brief look through the OEB NT leads me to believe that a great deal of the legacy of the KJV has been preserved. On the other hand, OEB's avoidance of the language of tradition in 2 Thessalonians 2:15 and 3:6 is an example, I guess, of the [anti-KJV] ideal of which you speak. But the avoidance is not faithful to the source text.

For the rest, I agree with everything you want the OEB to be:

copyright free, enabling the maximum reuse, remixing and sharing without requiring the payment of royalties or the obtaining of permission from copyright holders;

and a translation reflecting modern English usage and Biblical scholarship

JohnFH

Mitchell,

Of course. Furthermore, though I do not want the syntax of the source texts to be simplified, it needs to be carried over into more modern English than KJV-RSV-ESV do.

Brian Mitchell

Wow, 9 comments already and two Mitchells as well!
You are on a roll here John! congratulations and keep up the great posts!

Off topic question do you know of
John Cook and robert Holmstedt's ancient Hebrew Grammar blog? http://ancienthebrewgrammar.wordpress.com/


They have created a CLT introduction to Hebrew:

http://ancienthebrewgrammar.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/bhii_samplereading2.pdf

C. Stirling Bartholomew

"The translation committee that would do the revising might include scholars from across the Jewish and Christian confessional spectrums."

I would prefer to have a translation produced by translators who may or may not be scholars. Professional academics have a bad track record when it comes to producing english text that can be read by common people.

Your proposal doesn't include any suggestion of a translation model. It appears that you are rejecting the E. A. Nida, J. de Waard model but you are not telling us what model you intend to use. I would suggest that "direct translation" is the natural choice given your stated goals. Finding a group of translators who have completely absorbed that theory and have really truly abandoned Nidaism is going to be a difficult project. Nida still holds the mainstream even among those who are giving a loot of verbal credit to E.A. Gutt and direct translation. It is difficult for translators to shake off mental habits that have been established over a period of decades.

A third thought, why the KJV? The NASB is the obvious choice if you want to leave the syntax of the MT visible. The NASB was the approved text for use in biblical literature classes when I was in seminary for the precisely that reason, you didn't have to be constantly saying "but the original really says" ...

JohnFH

Hi C. Stirling,

The committee members would need to be cognizant of the theses of authors as various as Carlo Izzo, Lawrence Venuti, Gideon Toury, and Francis Pym; for historical depth, one needs to go back to Leonardo Bruni, Friedrich Schleiermacher, and, more recently, Walter Benjamin.

It's not a model for the project I have in mind, but one might draw inspiration from the example of the new ZB:

http://ancienthebrewpoetry.typepad.com/ancient_hebrew_poetry/2008/02/the-making-of-t.html

http://ancienthebrewpoetry.typepad.com/ancient_hebrew_poetry/2008/04/a-splendid-new.html

I am not in favor of producing yet another translation - Robert Alter's efforts unfortunately qualify - compromised by too much mimesis of ancient Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek syntactic realizations. KJV, ESV, and NASB often mislead in this sense. Thus far I am in agreement with an FE proponent like Wayne Leman. It is in fact a question of accuracy.

Why KJV as the base? A short answer: credo ecclesiam. It is this translation tradition above all others that has found acceptance, to the extent that one can speak of a consensus fidelium. I know: the Vincentian canon is easily abused and overused, but it also has a place.

JohnFH

Brian,

I think highly of John Cook and Robert Holmstedt's work on grammaticalization and formal syntax, respectively. I've linked to their blog before.

Russell Allen

Hi John,

The KJV as a translation is glorious (though much of its glory should be ascribed to the shoulders it stands on.) The KJV as a common English Bible, however, was always political. The translation is like the polity which gave birth to it - the Church of England has many praiseworthy features, but establishment is not one of them.

So I am not hostile to the idea of a translation resonant with the KJV text, but I do have reservations with the idea of embedding a new translation in the mind of the Church by compromise among hierachs. That way lies surely the suppression of the smaller voices and (as the history of the KJV shows) a stagnant text which will inevitably get out of sync with the Church it is speaking to.

I understand your concern that fragmentation of translations will lead to a breakdown of communication and isolation within the Church. In reply I am tempted to point to an area where there have historically been a plethora of translations - Psalters.

Over the centuries there have been hundreds of translations of Psalms, into sonnet form, ballad form, pop songs, private devotionals. Psalters were everywhere and often showed an attitude to the underlying text reminiscent of The Message.

But all that activity didn't destroy the Psalms or the Church, and through them we have a richer shared language to speak with.

Regarding the OEB, we have no particular hostility to the KJV, although fidelity to it is not a primary focus. In fact as we move towards the OT, KJV derived language is likely to become more central for simple reasons of practicality if nothing else.

CD-Host

Russel, I think you are bringing up an interesting point. Really there is a great deal of agreement on the creeds, and the UBS text (among the western churches). Less and less agreement on the English. We are back to an era of "denominational translations" noting that the denominations themselves has split on the left to right axis. The sides just don't see each other as having a legitimate point of view. They don't really value ecumenicalism all that much, since they don't even share common objectives anymore.

The reason people for 100s of years had different Psalters and were untroubled by it was that they didn't want to worship together.


CD-Host

BTW in answer to the original question. ..

Your question seems to be "I really like the NRSV but hate the gender neutral stuff".

So here are the options:
a) Get over it. The NRSV really is the best formal translation around right now. And the best study bible, bar none, the NISB uses the NRSV.

b) The REB. It is arguably more accurate than the NRSV, and has the flow of the NWT. It has the literary qualities that are outstanding, approaching the KJV, but in modern English. A huge percentage of the bible bloggers put it down as a favorite translation. Except for the fact that its unpopular, because its publisher can't market, there is nothing bad to say about it.

c) If you really do like the RSV/NRSV and the problem really is pronouns, I'm going to shudder, the ESV. They have some language improvements over the RSV and you won't have to worry about them being politically correct in the slightest. There are some really good materials for the ESV compared to most lesser used translations. Be forewarned though you are buying into the whole CBMW ideology with right wing Calvinism firmly embedded in the text.

d) Just open up and do a full search of the 50 some major translations out there.

JohnFH

Hi everyone,

I'll begin with CD's last comment and work upwards. Much of what CD says is questionable at best to misleading at worst.

It is not the case that NRSV is the best formal translation available. All things considered, ESV probably wins that crown. Here are three reasons why. NRSV resorts to limp paraphrase more regularly than does ESV. NRSV doesn't stick to the MT whereas ESV is far more successful in doing so. NRSV pluralizes singular constructions, a no-no in a formal translation; ESV seldom does this. I've gone over this before:

http://ancienthebrewpoetry.typepad.com/ancient_hebrew_poetry/2009/06/examples-of-passages-in-which-esv-is-to-be-preferred-to-nrsv.html

http://ancienthebrewpoetry.typepad.com/ancient_hebrew_poetry/2009/06/esv-vs-nrsv-round-two.html

CD: I take it then that you are in need of several more rounds of the same. It would be very easy to provide.

ESV has problems of its own, such as stilted syntax. But the assertion that right-wing Calvinism is embedded in the text does not rise to the level of an informed statement. It is based on projection.

Missouri Synod Lutherans, hostile by definition to Calvinism of any wing, went over ESV with a fine-toothed comb and then adopted ESV as the translation of reference in their denomination.

Now, if CD wants to insist that he knows better than the LCMS folk, he is welcome to give two or three examples that support his assertion.

The NISB is not the best study Bible out there bar none. It does outperform other study Bibles on the market in one or two areas - I am thinking of its history of interpretation sidenotes, but also, in political correctness. It almost unfailingly sets the Bible straight on hot button issues.

I teach biblical literature in a state university. Since truth and "progressive" Judaeo-Christianity are not the same thing, NISB is an inappropriate textbook in that context. THe NLT and ESV Study Bibles cannot be adopted in that context for analogous reasons.

REB is always worth consulting; the same is true of NRSV, (the forthcoming) NAB, and NJB. But REB is a median translation, not a "close" translation designed for "close" reading of the text.

JohnFH

Hi Russell,

You are right to return to the question of the politics of translation. I remain unconvinced by your anti-institutional stance but of course, you have to follow your conscience. My conscience tells me I belong within the institutions and that the hard work of compromise and the creation of places of counter-witness within the institutions are worthy tasks. My models here are people as different as Athanasius and St. Francis, and the paleo-Christian emphasis in our day.

I was hoping that you would respond to my reservations about OEB's avoidance of the language of tradition in 2 Thessalonians 2:15 and 3:6.

CD-Host

NRSV pluralizes singular constructions, a no-no in a formal translation; ESV seldom does this.

That's an interestingly specific objection. You are working hard to find specifics where the NRSV is guilty and the ESV is not. I think the fact that you had to pick such a specific objection points to how much both translation differ from pure formalism. The fact is the NRSV is capturing the gender neutral in English, which is plural, from the gender neutral in Greek / Hebrew. I know you would prefer they use an archaic form, that connotes a dismissal and hostile attitude towards woman, and thus is ruled out by most style manuals but there is no textual support for the view that we need to translate the bible in a way that is hostile to woman. But as you know if you were to demand simply concordance the ESV fails.

More importantly "blatantly alters the text based upon a 3rd party unrelated book", is a far bigger no-no and the ESV gleefully does that.

Missouri Synod Lutheran

Which is a highly conservative church which mandates Creationism!
Heck the group of protestors who were picketing Lady Gaga last week had quotes from the NRSV, that doesn't make it a fundamentalist bible. So sure there are examples on the right of its usage. I'm sure there is one obscure left wing church somewhere using the ESV.

The WCC includes:
African Instituted churches
Anglican churches
The Assyrian Church
Baptist churches
The Catholic church
Disciples of Christ / Churches of Christ
Evangelical churches
Friends (Quakers)
Holiness churches
Lutheran churches
Mennonite churches
Methodist churches
Moravian churches
Old-Catholic churches
Orthodox churches (Eastern)
Orthodox churches (Oriental)
Pentecostal churches
Reformed churches
The Salvation Army
Seventh-day Adventist Church
United and Uniting churches
Free and independent churches

I don't think you are going to beat the NRSV on the issue of breadth of usage. Take for example the 7th adventist, you'll find quotes from the NRSV in the adventist review, layadventist, desire of nations (sabbath school network version of desire of the ages)....

I don't doubt there are exceptions to the characterization that still doesn't falsify it. NRSV is mostly rejected by evangelicals, but enjoys broad acceptance among mainline churches. The ESV is extremely controversial among evangelicals and so far has only penetrated to the right 1/3rd of the evangelical world.

But REB is a median translation, not a "close" translation designed for "close" reading of the text.

True its not formal. The REB is good at accuracy not formality, which is what I said above. I've consistently found it more accurate than more formal translations the NRSV in particular.

As for the NISB I stand by my comment. I see no way the NISB doesn't advance the cause of biblical literature. I think your bias against liberalism is showing. It may be time for you to join a much more rightwing denomination.

JohnFH

Hi CD,

It certainly is a pleasure to go back and forth with you. You have strong opinions and you are not afraid to express them. I really like that. The question is: will you continue to change the subject when I ask you to furnish evidence for your claims?

You asserted that "right-wing Calvinism" is "firmly embedded" in the ESV text. Examples, please. If you do not produce two or three examples, everyone who reads this thread will understand that you are inclined to make groundless claims.

I am happy to be patient here. I will start with your last comment and go back from there.

I serve a United Methodist congregation. Liberals are in the minority among the UMC rank and file; by a less lopsided margin, they are also a minority among the clergy. But liberals are in the majority in the seminaries and in the hierarchy. I am content with the diversity for a variety of reasons. One result: evangelical UMC folk tend to be less easy to pigeonhole on social justice and partisan political questions; the same is true of liberal UMC folk.

I don't think evangelical United Methodists will make the same mistake that some evangelical Presbyterians in PCUSA made. They left and now what once was a great denomination will go down the tubes that much faster.

You may stand by NISB all you want. As a self-identifying lefty liberal, you would be amiss if you didn't. But I hope you will understand why NISB is an inappropriate Study Bible to propose at a secular university.

Re: REB's accuracy. I too can think of examples in which REB is more accurate than NRSV. But that is harder to do in the case of a translation as formal as ESV. Do you have examples of where you understand REB to be more accurate than ESV?

Re: The acceptance of ESV. The main reason ESV is not more widely accepted is "guilt-by-association." I despise guilt-by-association arguments. That you indulge in them above leads me to the conclusion that you are far more interested in tarring and feathering "right-wing Calvinists" than you are about accuracy in translation. That's all right: you are entitled to your loves and hates. But let's try to stay on topic.

In an absolutely typical UMC congregation I was serving, a gift came in for the purchase of pew Bibles. I put three choices before them: NRSV, ESV, and NIV 1984. They chose ESV without batting an eye. And why wouldn't they, unless they had been catechized against ESV? The majority of people on the deciding committee were women. They made careful comparisons. Not once did the issue of hostility to "woman" as you put it come up. Not for ESV or NIV 1984. The need for gender-sensitive language is not felt among average people. Common sense tells them to expect quaint language in the translation of literature thousands of years old. There is wisdom in that common sense.

Re: the broad acceptance of NRSV. The truth is this: NRSV is broadly accepted among *liberals* of many denominations. Otherwise, it is not broadly accepted.

Christianity is divided into three families: Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant. There are Orthodox congregations that have NRSV in the pews. However, my impression is that the trend is going the other way. If you think I am wrong about this, let me know, and I will lay out the reasons why I am convinced that Orthodoxy is no longer, if it ever was, NRSV-friendly territory. The trend among Catholics away from NRSV is strong and growing stronger.

http://ancienthebrewpoetry.typepad.com/ancient_hebrew_poetry/2011/05/why-nrsv-encounters-resistance-among-catholics.html

http://ancienthebrewpoetry.typepad.com/ancient_hebrew_poetry/2008/12/the-rsv-is-dead-long-live-the-rsv.html

The two most important polities among Protestants are the SBC and the Assemblies. Neither is NRSV-friendly.

To make a long story short: your long list of denominations is misleading. NRSV is the liberal Protestant update of RSV. That is its strength (and it is a strength, for several reasons, none of which interest you, since you are, if I had to pigeonhole you, not a liberal so much as a post-fundamentalist). That is also its weakness.

Re: pluralization of singular constructions. I find it troubling that you defend this. Thankfully, the revised Grail Psalms chose not to follow the style manuals (= the language police).

NIV is an excellent median translation from many points of view. To the extent that NIV 2011 followed the lead of NRSV and similar translations on the question of gender-sensitivity, it was however tone-deaf to the concerns of a large cross-section of the evangelical world. In my view, it would have been possible to build bridges across a number of divides. Another route was taken. The negative blow back has already begun.

Joel

"Get over it. The NRSV really is the best formal translation around right now."

I ran across an example in last week's reading: Matthew 7:3-5. NRSV has changed "brother" to "neighbor." The two words don't seem to mean the same thing to me. It obscures the central question that I usually have when reading a text critically (to whom is this addressed?), and it replaces one of the major nouns in one of Jesus' major parables with an unrelated noun. As translated, it falsely makes Matthew 7:3-5 a reference to all of the scriptures in Leviticus and Deuteronomy regarding neighbor, as well as Jesus' statements about loving your neighbor as yourself. Further, real references are obscured. Matthew 18:21 would be the first place I would go to find out what Jesus meant by "brother" in chapter 7. But I only think of that verse because of the scripture reading I did in my youth. NRSV users aren't so lucky, because it translates the same term in 18:21 as "another member of the Church."

Speaking of Matthew 18:21, if I didn't know what the accurate translation was, I'd assume that the anachronism in that verse -- no "Church" existed when Jesus was speaking -- was proof of Bart Ehrman's contention that copyists of the Gospel often put words in Jesus' mouth to score theological points. It's modern translators that do that, apparently.

This doesn't seem to be a culture war sort of thing. It strikes me as a bad translation sort of thing, and isn't something that I can reconcile with your statement about "best formal translation."

CD-Host

John --

We've talked about verses before. In brief

a) Theological overrides, translating verses in line with Calvin's theology not the underlying text (Isaiah 7:14)
b) Undue emphasis on things of secondary importance to the biblical author but primary importance to Calvin (John 1:13)
c) Political translation. Translation of verses in such a way to advance the political interest of the church (pronouns)
d) Theological bias. Assuming that theological interpretations are intrinsic not extrinsic to the text (propitiation).

We'll start with the ESV's translation of the OT which I've pointed out a 1/2 dozen verses to you. The ESV translates the Hebrew in line with Calvin's theology of a messianic promise being present in the original Hebrew. And the ESV is doing this in 2001, when these ideas have become incredibly controversial without footnotes. In today's world translating Isaiah 7:14 as virgin without a footnote is an unequivocal repudiation of the notion that translation is possible outside of the theology of the Church, which is a core Calvinist doctrine. Its a belief that without the aide of the Holy Spirit the scriptures are completely opaque. Moreover, the entire theory of translation presupposes an idea that Christianity is a legitimate expression of the Hebrew Jewish community i.e. the Jewish center, not a fringe Greek speaking rejectionist community in other words a view that history is not terribly important another core component of Calvin and the whole "presuppositional apologetic". This is where the NISB, for example is excellent. It truthfully addresses in terms of the Judaism that actually existed in the ancient world not the one that Calvin would like to pretend existed. Other verses are similarly the "traditional" handling: Genesis 49:10, Ps 110:1, Numbers 23:24, 24:, Ps 82:6...) the standard list.

I have another post on my blog, which predates this question by two years) was John 1:13 I wrote then: The ESV drops the sexual metaphor to emphasize unconditional election and irresistible grace, "not by the will of man", The Voice drops it to emphasize decision theology. From my perspective, both are equally bad. Flesh vs. spirit is one of the five main themes of John, I don't want either Arminius or Calvin to pollute John. (full context). There is an example verse where the ESV chooses not to focus on a key point of John, one of his 5 dichotomies, but rather on a key point of Calvin. What else can you call that?

Its the same thing with many of the other translation choices. You talked about the pronouns issue with Suzanne at length. Why make sure that the pronouns regarding political power and leadership are translated as sexist as possible while those regarding salvation and sin obligations are translated gender neutral? That's importing theology into the text. One could make an argument for pure concordance, like the KJV. One could make an argument that the connection between masculine and neuter is dropping out of the English language like most modern translation do. You can even make an argument for the RSV's "let's just translate everything masculine to make it clear to the reader that we are using the masculine for neuter". But what is the argument for carefully selecting specific pronouns based on whom you think they should apply to, other than injecting theology?

As for (d) Kenny I believe addressed the point best, What the ESV is good for pointing out the ESV's use of terms like consistently uses words like 'propitiation,' 'justification,' and 'atonement'. Propitiation is not a good translation for hilasmos as you well know, unless you assume that reformed theology is true. And that is fundamentally what it means to be biased.

And on top of these. Suzanne has posted several examples. TC posted one. Bryan had a few. This argument has come up before. Maybe its time to put together a solid post with a long list but I think its pretty obvious. If someone calls the NAB a Catholic translation, we don't get into a discussion of specific verses. Who pays for it, who endorses it, who uses it is generally the standard. There is a reason that John Piper is endorsing the ESV and Rob Bell endorsed the TNIV. Because both of them saw these translations as advancing their respective theological positions.

And I'm not being unfair Mr. ESV himself, Wayne Grudam, wrote a very hostile review of the ClearWord because it had the wrong theology in it. What he was objecting to was injecting Ellen White's interpretations directly into the text. And that's what a denomination translation means, when we call the ClearWord an Adventist translation, what that means is that it injects Ellen's White's interpretations of the bible into the bible. So in the ClearWord Daniel's 2300 days gets footnoted with -- days is being used as a metaphor for 2300 years. That's an Ellen White idea, Adventists see it as obviously present in the text, non Adventists don't. And when I open an ESV I see propitiation. When I turn to Isaiah 7:14 I see virgin. I don't see those in the text, that's John Calvin not the biblical authors.

The person who asked the original question likes the NWT just I imagine wasn't fond of the theological overrides (which at least are clearly and carefully documented in the Kingdom Interlinear).

Do you have examples of where you understand REB to be more accurate than ESV?

Sure. I'll use the same example from last week. You remember that long discussion of 1Cor 2:6-10 on your last thread on BBB. Take a look at the ESV's mangling of that text vs. the REB's artful treatment. The ESV turns Paul's comments into a word salad having something to do with rulers wisdom and age without a clear connection, theological gibberish. The REB captures the point wonderfully. The REB makes it clear what the connection is between this age, the governing powers and the wisdom. My preference would be to leave aion, mysterium, archon untranslated and have an excellent glossary because there just is no way to translate those words; which is what Elaine Pagels, for example, does in Gnostic Paul and Johanne Exegesis, but if you are going to translate the REB does an excellent job.

As for your comments about accuracy, and my motives. I really honestly do not find the ESV to be particularly accurate. I do not trust this bible one bit. I'm not being factious when I compared it negatively to the NWT and ClearWord. I know for whatever reason you don't believe me. But I don't think I've wavered in disliking it on the grounds of accuracy. I'll give you a sample post from when my opinion hardened:
http://church-discipline.blogspot.com/2008/07/mark-141-and-esv.html

And mind you in that post I'm defending that actual translation choice the ESV made as reasonable, and my preferred translation. So it was just their pure unadulterated censorship in dropping / a footnote that I was objecting to. What possible honest reason is there for not footnoting that issue? I can't think of any. There reasoning, in line with other similar policies seems pretty clear. The issue was unimportant in terms of salvation and thus they obscured it. As I mentioned I ran my contest for a year to try and find someone who could find a single verse the ESV handled better than the NRSV and when you first came up to bat you hit a bunch of misses.

But I hope you will understand why NISB is an inappropriate Study Bible to propose at a secular university.

Other than your comments about it being "lefty" no not really. It consistently handles complex biblical topics better than most other study bibles. I just proposed a fair accuracy test on my blog. While I don't the answer, because there is a lot of work to actually build a score, I'd certainly be willing to bet the NISB will come out very strong. While I generally use a wide range of tools, the NISB delivers what it claims to, I get "extensive historical and theological annotations on the biblical text" that indicate areas of theological or historical agreement or disagreement rather than just one perspective.

As for trends... its hard to tell. I certainly agree that Catholicism's hierarchy is getting more orthodox while their membership is getting more liberal. Very much like what was happening to mainline churches at the turn of the last century. I wish there were better statistics on pew bibles. For example the Christian Research Institute did a study of sales and Study Bibles based on the KJV and the NIV tie at around 30% the NKJV, NRSV and the NASB you are each at around 7%. And everything else is under 1%. The (Protestant) Christian retail numbers already have the ESV crushing the NRSV.

I run into new churches all the time that use the NRSV. It might very well be that the ESV grows another full magnitude in terms of its usage and still doesn't match up to the NRSV. The NRSV is dying and the days of ecumenical translation may be over for a long time, where translations appeal to narrower and narrower groups. But I think you are being rather dismissive in terms of their relative levels of influence.

CD-Host

Joel --

First off, I'm not claiming the NRSV is perfect or even particular good. Best means better than all the others. They all suck.

In terms of "brothers" that's an example in my mind between a literal or concordant translation and a formal translation. I think you agree that Jesus is not speaking about people who share a biological father and mother. He is using the term conventionally to mean a larger group of people. So whatever word we choose in English needs to match the conventional use in Matthew not literal use.

The translators of the NRSV, have asserted that these verses do apply to women. Under Matthew 7:1-5 you are not free to be a hypocrite towards females, rather that the verse applies more broadly. Now that's an interpretation, no question about it. Gender is one of the few areas where the NRSV drew a line in the sand and decide that they would freely interpret. The ESV, the RSV does as well. The KJV doesn't and the Concordant doesn't. So if you want a bible that doesn't feel free to interpret gender those are good picks. So if you disagree, and think that it doesn't apply to women, that's fine but for the purpose of argument lets assume that it does.

OK so then then we need a term of affection in English which applies to a broad community of people to whom you owe some level of decent treatment. "Neighbor" is an interesting choice, "comrade" might be a better one but for political reasons the NRSV would shy away. Comate has some sexual implications, "colleague" is a bit professional.

I see most choices as being rather weak for various reasons. Neighbor seems rather harmless. Jesus' attitude towards hypocrisy in general was rather hostile I think it makes if you are going to err to err by being overly broad in translation.

And if you object to this sort of analysis you want literal or concordant not formal.

JohnFH

Hi CD,

Now we are getting to the bottom of your objections.

(1) You don't like ESV because, like most translations of the Bible by Christians and for Christians, it translates Isa 7:14 in light of its fulfillment per the New Testament.

(2) You don't like ESV at John 1:13 since it reproduces RSV there word for word - as is well-known, RSV is a right-wing Calvinist translation (sarcasm alert).

(3) You don't like ESV because, like many other translations, it resists the politics of the gender-sensitive school of thought, According to you, if adherence to the latter school of thought's set of solutions messes with the semantics of the source text, so be it. Fine, but that is just a back-handed way of admitting that ESV is worth another look precisely on this question.

(4) As for "propitiation," along with "atonement" this is a keyword of importance in Jewish and Christian tradition, which is why it is used in KJV, D-R, HCSB, and ESV. It is a good example, since it is similar to the proverbial canary in the mine. A translation which eliminates this word is to my mind unfit for use by serious students of the Bible.

Considered dispassionately, what your examples prove is how well-suited ESV is to a very broad readership. To be sure, as you admit about NRSV, ESV is not a perfect translation. But it is an excellent one, as is NRSV, for different constituencies. The proper niche of NRSV is the academy, not a religious confession.

I am convinced more than ever that your objections to ESV are based on cultural loyalties of the kind one would expect from a recovering fundamentalist. You have political reasons for hating ESV and flying off the handle about it.

If those cultural loyalties are put between parentheses, the specific positives of ESV are immediately manifest. You know that already, which is why, in moments of weakness, you praise ESV.

JohnFH

A word about footnotes.

The textual footnotes found in RSV and NRSV are better lost than found. They are too cryptic for most scholars, not to mention average readers who find them confusing more than anything else.

ESV's lack of footnotes is a breath of fresh air by comparison.

Still, I agree that footnotes if well done could be very helpful. If RSV had been properly footnoted at Isa 7:14, it would not have caused the brouhaha that it did. Something like this would have helped.

The standard translation of Isa 7:14 produced and used by Greek-speaking Jews in the ancient world translated Hebrew almah "young woman" with parthenos "virgin." In the gospel of Matthew and among Christians in general, Isa 7:14 is understood to have received definitive fulfillment in the virgin birth of Jesus, the son of Mary.

CD-Host

John --

This was a little amusing because you were putting words in my mouth.

(1) You don't like ESV because, like most translations of the Bible by Christians and for Christians, it translates Isa 7:14 in light of its fulfillment per the New Testament.

Actually I have a pretty good survey of this.
http://church-discipline.blogspot.com/2007/09/isaiah-714.html

There are 4 positions and there are relatively large numbers of bibles for each of:
Bibles that use virgin (traditional)
Bibles that use virgin but at least footnote young woman (middle position)
Bibles that try and have it both ways
Bibles that use young woman (accurate)

In particular the last position is represented by: all 5 major Jewish bibles, RSV, NRSV, NWT, NEB, REB, NJB, GNT, BBE, NET and of course the MT itself.

In the gospel of Matthew and among Christians in general, Isa 7:14 is understood to have received definitive fulfillment in the virgin birth of Jesus, the son of Mary.

I'm not sure that's true of Christians in general. The NJB for example exactly the same position I do, "The LXX reading is, however, an important witnes to the early Jewish interpretation later adopted by the evangelist: Mt 1:23 understands the text to be a prophecy of the virginal conception of Jesus". Note the huge difference here. One is arguing what the text says, dishonestly; the other is honestly reflecting the text, and then honestly reflecting how the church historically interpreted the text.

If I say "George Bush said Iraq has sarin gas" that's not being truthful. If I say, "George Bush said, 'Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent.' and that was taken to mean that Iraq had sarin gas by the US congress" that's true. Conflating the two is a major failing.

(2) You don't like ESV at John 1:13 since it reproduces RSV there word for word - as is well-known, RSV is a right-wing Calvinist translation (sarcasm alert).

I don't generally accept holding a 2001 bible to the same standards as a bible from the 1940s.

(3) You don't like ESV because, like many other translations, it resists the politics of the gender-sensitive school of thought, According to you, if adherence to the latter school of thought's set of solutions messes with the semantics of the source text, so be it. Fine, but that is just a back-handed way of admitting that ESV is worth another look precisely on this question.

I didn't say that. The ESV also "messes with the semantics of the source text", when it comes to pronouns; for example John 12:32 "And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself." It doesn't accurately reflect the Greek across the board, it changed men into people there because that line had nothing to do with power in the church. The KJV reflects the Greek, neither the ESV, the RSV nor the NRSV does.

What I will say was that if you aren't going to be concordant and are going to translate pronouns, better to do so in a way that accurately reflects the text than distorts the text. The NRSV is translating a sexist book into a non sexist language, using the conventions of that language. The ESV is injecting Wayne Grudam's theology.

I can understand the reason for concordance. I don't expect concordance from a formal translation, and certainly between the NRSV and the ESV the ESV is guilty of a far far worse sin. Giving someone a glass of water is not the same as giving someone a glass of poison.

(4) As for "propitiation," along with "atonement" this is a keyword of importance in Jewish and Christian tradition, which is why it is used in KJV, D-R, HCSB, and ESV. It is a good example, since it is similar to the proverbial canary in the mine. A translation which eliminates this word is to my mind unfit for use by serious students of the Bible.

No its unfit for someone who claims their focus is accuracy. You are forgetting which side of the debate you are on. You were arguing that the ESV was not a theological bible, injecting Calvin into the bible. In this and point (1) you are arguing that bibles should inject Calvin into the bible. That's a different argument. If you want to argue that the ESV is Calvinist propaganda but that Calvinist propaganda is to be preferred to the bible text there isn't much I can say other than I'd like the ESV to at least do what the NWT and ClearWord do in terms of clearly delineating where they inject Calvin.

But if you are going to argue the bible isn't Calvinist propaganda you need to show how what the ESV is doing is accurate, not how it is in line with Calvin.

JohnFH

Hi CD,

Your last sentence is odd. You were the one who claimed that "right-wing Calvinism" is firmly embedded in the text of ESV. I never did. Now you change your tune and talk about accuracy.

You mention Calvin every other sentence. That's because you are an anti-Calvinist. This is guilt-by-association again. You are making me proud to be a Calvinist though.

Your claim that REB is more accurate than ESV is curious and the example you give too complex and controversial to establish your point.

I understand your point about accuracy with respect to Isa 7:14, but you are too quick to accuse others of dishonesty. There is nothing dishonest about saying that Christians in general believe that Jesus was born of the virgin Mary. It's right there in the creed. You lift up the creed as part of the ecumenical consensus when it suits you; you drop it when it suits you. I find this flippant.

I am happy with NJB's footnote at Isa 7:14, so we concur there, but you give RSV and NRSV a free pass on the subject of footnotes when they don't deserve one on that score.

Nothing substantial has changed on the exegesis of John 1:13 since the 1940s.

The form of your argument is telling. In my view, you fall in the trap rather often of thinking that what is new and fashionable is better and wiser.

The diction of RSV John 12:32 - RSV is the pew Bible in my parish, does not confuse anyone. Everyone gets it that "all men" is a generic masculine. Maybe my people, even those born in the 1990s, are mired in the 1940s. If so, they are smarter for it.

Your thesis that "right-wing Calvinism" is firmly embedded in the text of ESV is preposterous. Your claim that ESV is inaccurate on points 1 through 4 is fair for point 1 alone. But a translation like NRSV cannot be recommended either because it lacks an adequate footnote - by your own reasoning.

CD-Host

Hi John --

Your last sentence is odd. You were the one who claimed that "right-wing Calvinism" is firmly embedded in the text of ESV. I never did. Now you change your tune and talk about accuracy.

OK you were originally arguing the opposite that right wing Calvinism is not embedded in the text of the ESV. So of this is going to be your position you can't defend things on the basis that embedding right wing Calvinism is a good thing.

I originally gave 4 examples verses (per your request) of 4 different classes of Calvinist embedding. And then went on to elaborate.

a) Theological overrides, translating verses in line with Calvin's theology not the underlying text (Isaiah 7:14) -- which your defense is that this is a good thing. More on it below because at least we are accepting the verses.

b) Undue emphasis on things of secondary importance to the biblical author but primary importance to Calvin (John 1:13) -- Where you are countering with the RSV does it too. And they all are all getting it from the KJVs treatment, "Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."

But if you want an example where they did it more than the RSV Romans 9:5. Again lots of Evangelical bibles do translate this way, this isn't anything exceptionally bad the ESV. What is exceptionally bad is that most every bible footnotes this as a questionable translation.

Nothing substantial has changed on the exegesis of John 1:13 since the 1940s.

As an aside, arguably the most important book on John ever written, Das Evangelium des Johannes by Bultmann came out in the 1940s and started to reshape our entire understanding of John. Everything about the exegesis of John changed. And even more importantly for John, Nag Hammadi happened. The Dead Sea Scrolls happened.

c) Political translation. Translation of verses in such a way to advance the political interest of the church (pronouns)

We've argued this one heavily but this and (1) are really the key areas where the ESV diverges from the NRSV.

d) Theological bias. Assuming that theological interpretations are intrinsic not extrinsic to the text (propitiation). -- addressd below

I'm going to handle this one with regard to the Virgin passage.

I understand your point about accuracy with respect to Isa 7:14, but you are too quick to accuse others of dishonesty. There is nothing dishonest about saying that Christians in general believe that Jesus was born of the virgin Mary. It's right there in the creed. You lift up the creed as part of the ecumenical consensus when it suits you; you drop it when it suits you. I find this flippant.

I'm not doing that at all. Again I'd refer you to my venus post, which I wrote a rough of here:
http://church-discipline.blogspot.com/2009/07/venus-translation-vs-transculturation.html

I think there is a huge difference between these statements:

a) Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary
b) Matthew teaches that Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary
c) Matthew teaches that Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary, as a fulfillment of the Isaiah of the LXX
d) Matthew teaches that Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary, as a fulfillment of Isaiah
e) Jesus birth of the Virgin Mary was a fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah in Hebrew
f) The Hebrew Isaiah translated accurately makes reference to a virgin.
g) The Hebrew Isaiah translated accurately makes reference to a virgin in a way so clear that no footnote needs to be provided.

One can agree with (a) and totally dismiss (f). And I think even people who agree with (f) dismiss (g) as the treatment in the: CEV, NCV, TNIV, NAB, NLT, AMP, MSG, NLV and Luther's bible show.

I am happy with NJB's footnote at Isa 7:14, so we concur there, but you give RSV and NRSV a free pass on the subject of footnotes when they don't deserve one on that score.

I would agree they should should footnote this. I agree with dropping the traditional translation. Dropping the traditional translation and not indicating that there 1500+ years of contrary interpretation in bibles that are not completely rejecting of Christian tradition ( i.e. the NWT) is improper. However the NRSV does footnote, so I'm not sure why I need to give it a pass.

You mention Calvin every other sentence. That's because you are an anti-Calvinist.

No, I'm not. If anything I'd call myself pro-Calvinist. Calvin did an excellent job of reconciling some rather contradictory ideas from scripture into a sensible theological framework. I'm opposed to dishonesty in translation, not Calvin. As I've mentioned I'd have no problem if the ESV was marketed as strictly a denomination translation and openly admitted that it was injecting Calvin / Grudam into the text. Once we are discussing this bible in line with say the ClearWord and not the NRSV we'd be having a different conversation. I don't object to Calvin, I object to pretending that Paul is a Calvinist. I object more to pretending John is a Calvinist, more to pretending Isaiah is a Calvinist.

Now in terms of right wing Calvinistic churches, some of them have serious problems with spiritual abuse. For example SGM. Others like PCA have some wacky pastors but basically are mostly harmless. But that's the kind of thing I deal with on a good day.

Your claim that REB is more accurate than ESV is curious and the example you give too complex and controversial to establish your point.

Well of course its complex. The ESV is in the Christian tradition of 2000 years of translation. The NEB excelled in areas where the Vulgate / KJV dropped the ball. Further in simple textual areas, the RSV fixed those. So by definition where the REB is going to correct the Jerome Vulgate / Erasmus / Clementine Vulgate / KJV are in areas that are complex.

In general the improvements are in areas where Jerome / the church was distancing itself from interpretative frameworks of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd centuries. And further Dodd was living prior to the enormous computerized databases of Greek texts that people like Ann Nyland have access to. The NRSV has very few simple mistakes, and I suspect that the next edition of the ESV will only differ in areas of deliberate mistranslation; the simple mistakes it does have are likely short term, and frankly even today are mostly harmless.

The diction of RSV John 12:32 - RSV is the pew Bible in my parish, does not confuse anyone. Everyone gets it that "all men" is a generic masculine. Maybe my people, even those born in the 1990s, are mired in the 1940s. If so, they are smarter for it.

I agree the RSV is less likely to confuse because it consistently uses a generic masculine. The ESV is inconsistent and further the goal of the ESV translators is quite deliberate.

Your thesis that "right-wing Calvinism" is firmly embedded in the text of ESV is preposterous.

Have you ever read a theologically biased bible for a theology you didn't agree with? Try the ClearWord (Adventism), the NWT (JW), Concordant (Arianism). Its all about a small number of changes in a few places. A few minor translational issues.

ESV Col 1:15-6 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16For by[f] him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.

NWT Col 1:15-6 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; 16 because by means of him all [other] things were created in the heavens and upon the earth, the things visible and the things invisible, no matter whether they are thrones or lordships or governments or authorities. All [other] things have been created through him and for him.

This is one of the verses that most upsets Protestants. The injection of "[other]", which the NWT clearly indicates is not supported by the Greek text but rather is a theological assist. That's what's generally meant by a biased bible. Many of your arguments seem to basically be a defense of bias.

I think you need to take a look at these bibles and decide if:

a) You really don't object to theological bias, in which case your disagreement isn't so much that you are disagreeing with the ESV being biased as simply indifferent to bias.

b) You can construct a principled case for why the NWT is not a valid translation and the ESV is.

Your claim that ESV is inaccurate on points 1 through 4 is fair for point 1 alone. But a translation like NRSV cannot be recommended either because it lacks an adequate footnote - by your own reasoning.

Me thinks you might want to recheck the NRSV on that. :)

JohnFH

CD,

I'll start at the end again. NRSV's footnote at Isa 7:14 is inadequate. "Gk virgin" is way too cryptic. Either explain things well, as do NJB and NAB, or don't bother, as does ESV. It is my experience that RSV/NRSV's footnotes are a source of confusion for the average reader. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

I'll try one more time to disabuse you of the notion that your four examples allow one to characterize ESV as a translation with a rightwing Calvinist bias.

If that were true, don't you think others would notice?

Commentators of a wide range of faith persuasions have commented and still comment on Isa 7:14 with the "virgin" diction. No one to my knowledge except you would claim that the "virgin" diction is an example of rightwing Calvinist bias.

You may claim that the virgin diction overlays the accepted fulfillment of the prophecy per the New Testament - and you would be right. More traditional Orthodox, more traditional Catholics, and more traditional Protestants are nonetheless united in their preference for Isa 7:14 with "virgin." There is nothing specifically Calvinist about this preference.

When traditional Lutherans adopt the ESV and traditional Catholics like Scott Hahn stick to RSV (which amounts to almost the same thing), it does not mean that they have been blinded to "rightwing Calvinist bias." No sir. Rather, they realize that ESV and RSV before it are bereft of bias of that particular sort.

All that your examples prove, since they are common to translations which could never be accused of rightwing Calvinist bias because rightwing Calvinists did not produce them, is that a very broad range of Christians feel perfectly at ease with a translation like ESV, in particular, almost everyone who grew up on RSV.

The only thing that keeps many from realizing it is that so many people, just like you, think in terms of guilt-by-association. It's wrong by definition in other words, because Obama (Bush) supports it.

You can spout accusations about ESV "rightwing Calvinist" bias all you like, but those willing to investigate the facts for themselves will discover how false those accusations are.

ESV as a translation is one thing. It is solid and relatively (not completely) unbiased. How could it be otherwise? It is basically RSV.

Interpretation is another thing. It is possible to exposit ESV (= RSV) in Roman Catholic fashion (see Scott Hahn); in Lutheran fashion (as in the Concordia Publishing House); and in Calvinist fashion (the ESV Study Bible published by Crossway).

After all this, CD, you self-identify as pro-Calvinist? Too funny. Who do you think you're fooling?

Once more on bias. Yes, there is definitely a place for Bibles with a particular confessional profile. NJPSV, for example. Luther's Bible, the Geneva Bible; the list of great Bibles of this kind is very long. Finally, I am fine with the RSV Catholic editions, the RSV Conservative Protestant edition (ESV), and the RSV Liberal Protestant edition (NRSV).

What I am not fine with is someone like you suggesting that RSV=ESV John 1:13 injects rightwing Calvinist bias. Tell that to my conservative Lutheran friends. Tell that to Scott Hahn and my evangelical Catholic friends. The whole idea is patently absurd.

What I am not fine with is the suggestion that the school of gender-sensitivity is less of a political movement than is the opposite among more traditional Orthodox, Catholics, and Protestants. This whole idea is no less off the wall.

CD-Host

'll start at the end again. NRSV's footnote at Isa 7:14 is inadequate. "Gk virgin" is way too cryptic. Either explain things well, as do NJB and NAB, or don't bother, as does ESV. It is my experience that RSV/NRSV's footnotes are a source of confusion for the average reader. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

I agree that too cryptic for the average person. The translators are doing their due diligence in altering the reader to an issue. I don't think they should explicate it in a translator's note. With the exception of the NET where the translators basically built their own study bible, generally another layer is responsible for education. The NJB note is from the Study Bible. In the case of the NRSV the Harper Collins, NISB, Oxford... have lots of material on 7:14. They handle explaining to the average reader why they care what about the LXX's treatment of the verse.

If that were true, don't you think others would notice?

Yes and they have. Lets start with an article coming from your church:
http://wesleyanarminian.blogspot.com/2008/12/stuff-young-calvinists-like-satire.html

Then on a more serious note, the list of endorsers whom Crossway's made videos of:
James MacDonald
Al Mohler
J.I. Packer
Joshua Harris
John Piper
John MacArthur
Marc Driscoll
Darrin Patrick (from Acts 29 / Resurgence; Marc Driscoll 10 years ago)
Dave Harvey
Janos Illessy (from CBMW)
Tony Gogu
Kevin DeYoung
and of course the lead man himself Wayne Grudam.

there are a couple that I don't know:
Bryan Litfin (a Crossway author)
James Kiamu Nuwoe (big in Liberia)

and only one I know isn't reformed Janet Parshall

I some ways, I feel like I'm having to pick verses from the NAB to argue that NAB is a Catholic translation! And in terms of public comment, there are 2 main study bibles one which is explicitly Calvinistic (Reformation Study Bible) and a flagship one, ESVSB that is so blatantly Calvinistic the CBMW endorses it and writes, "The ESVSB takes a decidedly complementarian position on texts that are pertinent to gender roles in the home and church." There is a facebook page, "We love the ESV (English Standard Version) Bible! The Calvinistic Version Of The Bible"
Larry McCallister, a Wesleyan pastor who uses the ESV, "It was given a Reformed nihil obstat and imprimatur of sorts by trusted names in the community. "

Yes, people have noticed. This is not some obscure opinion rather it is the commonly held view. One that Crossways is trying to distance themselves from the CBMW officially while at the same time using: , Wayne Grudem, John Piper, Bruce Ware, Tom Schreiner, Andreas Kostenberger, J.I. Packer, Joshua Harris, S.M. Baugh, R. Kent Hughes, Vern Poythress, James Hamilton, Daniel Heimbach and Lane Dennis, among others from the CBMW to write their flagship Study Bible.

Commentators of a wide range of faith persuasions have commented and still comment on Isa 7:14 with the "virgin" diction. No one to my knowledge except you would claim that the "virgin" diction is an example of rightwing Calvinist bias.

Of course its right wing. The whole argument back in 1954 on the RSV was right vs. left. The people making the argument defined it that way essentially. And you do below... I'll bold

You may claim that the virgin diction overlays the accepted fulfillment of the prophecy per the New Testament - and you would be right. More traditional Orthodox, more traditional Catholics, and more traditional Protestants are nonetheless united in their preference for Isa 7:14 with "virgin." There is nothing specifically Calvinist about this preference.

I agree there is nothing specifically Calvinist. There is something specifically right wing about it. There were 2 parts to my claim. Though I disagree on conservative Catholic, unless you are using that to mean SPPX. The NAB is pretty clear:

Footnote: [14] The sign proposed by Isaiah was concerned with the preservation of Judah in the midst of distress (cf Isaiah 7:15, 17), but more especially with the fulfillment of God's earlier promise to David (2 Sam 7:12-16) in the coming of Immanuel (meaning, "With us is God") as the ideal king (cf Isaiah 9:5-6; 11:1-5). The Church has always followed St. Matthew in seeing the transcendent fulfillment of this verse in Christ and his Virgin Mother. The prophet need not have known the full force latent in his own words; and some Catholic writers have sought a preliminary and partial fulfillment in the conception and birth of the future King Hezekiah, whose mother, at the time Isaiah spoke, would have been a young, unmarried woman (Hebrew, almah). The Holy Spirit was preparing, however, for another Nativity which alone could fulfill the divinely given terms of Immanuel's mission, and in which the perpetual virginity of the Mother of God was to fulfill also the words of this prophecy in the integral sense intended by the divine Wisdom.

When traditional Lutherans adopt the ESV and traditional Catholics like Scott Hahn stick to RSV (which amounts to almost the same thing),

I don't think the RSV is almost the same thing. You don't hear me railing against the RSV. I agree they share a lot of verses in common but its the differences that are the main point of dispute.

All that your examples prove, since they are common to translations which could never be accused of rightwing Calvinist bias because rightwing Calvinists did not produce them, is that a very broad range of Christians feel perfectly at ease with a translation like ESV, in particular, almost everyone who grew up on RSV.

That's simply not true. Most people who grew up with the RSV are in NRSV churches today and they would have huge problems with what the ESV did. Heck, most of them belong to churches with female pastors. But beyond that, The United Church of Christ, whose older members grew up on the RSV has as a slogan "God doesn't reject people, neither do we" and paid for commercials with that theme:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i2vWZEK9V3Y
How much more of a rejection of the Calvinist doctrine of election can you get? The core principle of Calvinism is God rejects most people except an elect few.

Or for that matter your church, which essentially invented the alter call, and is explicitly Arminian would not endorse the ESV.

The only thing that keeps many from realizing it is that so many people, just like you, think in terms of guilt-by-association. It's wrong by definition in other words, because Obama (Bush) supports it.

I don't think in terms of guilt by association. There is a huge difference between:

a) X is a friend of Y's and
b) X is a paid agent acting on Y's behalf
The ESV is a not just "associated" with the CBWM it came out of it, as we discussed on BBB and Tim Bayly asserted.

The "Statement of Concern about the TNIV" was drafted by Vern Poythress and Wayne Grudem. The ESV is not some bible that Wayne Grudam likes, he has the same relationship to the ESV that Clement VIII has to the Clementine Vulgate.

I completely reject this is a "guilt by association" argument. The Vulgate is not associated with the Catholic Church it is a product of the Catholic Church and it exists to assist the Catholic Church in fulfilling its mission. The ESV is a product of the CBMW and they are crystal clear about the purpose of their organization:

In 1987, a group of pastors and scholars assembled to address their concerns over the influence of feminism not only in our culture but also in evangelical churches. Because of the widespread compromise of biblical understanding of manhood and womanhood and its tragic effects on the home and the church....
In opposition to the growing movement of feminist egalitarianism they articulated what is now known as the complementarian position which affirms that men and women are equal in the image of God, but maintain complementary differences in role and function. In the home, men lovingly are to lead their wives and family as women intelligently are to submit to the leadership of their husbands. In the church, while men and women share equally in the blessings of salvation, some governing and teaching roles are restricted to men.

You can spout accusations about ESV "rightwing Calvinist" bias all you like, but those willing to investigate the facts for themselves will discover how false those accusations are.

How false are they? Give me one place in the ESV where it has taken a position that Wayne Grudam rejects? Wayne Grudam wrote a whole systematic theology. Give me one place the ESV contradicts his translations?

I'm well aware that people like Russell Veldman, again a Methodist exist that endorse the ESV. So what? I'm an atheist who says nice stuff about the REB that doesn't make the REB an atheist translation.

ESV as a translation is one thing. It is solid and relatively (not completely) unbiased. How could it be otherwise? It is basically RSV.

Except on the issues of gender and the role of the old testament. Those aren't miner issues. The ESV is the most anti-woman major bible in centuries that I know of.

Once more on bias. Yes, there is definitely a place for Bibles with a particular confessional profile. NJPSV, for example. Luther's Bible, the Geneva Bible; the list of great Bibles of this kind is very long. Finally, I am fine with the RSV Catholic editions, the RSV Conservative Protestant edition (ESV), and the RSV Liberal Protestant edition (NRSV).

No you are not. You have a whole series of threads about how the NRSV is not a Christian bible at all, and should only be used in academia. You've said as much in this thread.

What I am not fine with is someone like you suggesting that RSV=ESV John 1:13 injects rightwing Calvinist bias. Tell that to my conservative Lutheran friends. Tell that to Scott Hahn and my evangelical Catholic friends. The whole idea is patently absurd.

Funny that you were unable to answer the question about John 1:13. What was the purpose of changing the emphasis of the verse from John's emphasis on dichotomies? You were the one who asked for proof texts. I think a much less absurd system it to talk about the history of how the ESV came about, in reaction to Zondervan deciding to start selling the inclusive language edition more broadly. But if the dialogue is absurd because you choose to go down a road where you are forced into defending verses.

And I gave another example Romans 9:5, which is not from the RSV. Your appeal to authority is contradicted by the very long list of authorities including the people who were involved in the early planning who most certainly do indicate this bible came from the CBMW.

What I am not fine with is the suggestion that the school of gender-sensitivity is less of a political movement than is the opposite among more traditional Orthodox, Catholics, and Protestants.

Other than was I haven't suggested it. 40 years ago the gender-sensitivity movement was a political movement. Battle is over, they won. There are a few isolated holdouts like bible translation and they are being mopped up. But that's not relevant to the ESV discussion. The ESV is gender hostile not gender accurate. That the reason they treat John 12:32 so differently than verses having to do with political power.

Theophrastus

Folks -- sorry to interrupt your debate, but just some brief factual corrections.

The "forthcoming NAB" was published three months ago -- on Ash Wednesday, March 9, 2011. You can buy a copy right now by searching on Amazon for ISBN 1935302590 or 0195298128 or 0814636489 (or even other editions, which I will let you discover for yourselves.)

You can read the new translation of Isiah 7 with footnotes here.

CD's NAB translation and footnote are from the 1961 Confraternity translation of the Isaiah (which was incorporated into pre-2011 editions of the NAB). The 2011 NAB makes different decisions.

Happy debating!

JohnFH

Thanks, Theo, for the NAB news. I ordered a copy.

JohnFH

CD,

You are a lovable hack. You are the Keith Olbermann of the Bible translation discussion - I trust you will take that as a compliment.

I enjoy hosting your comments, not because I agree with them but because - unfortunately - they confirm my biases. My recurrent reaction: is that all he's got? It's your choice, but you might at least try to rise above the level of partisan posturing.

Let me exemplify. I have said that both ESV and NRSV are "excellent translations." In my view, anyone unwilling to admit as much is a partisan hack. You fall prey to the principle of polarization when you say, "The ESV is full of lies." Translation: "I hate the people behind ESV."

The reaction I have to you is identical to the one that bubbles up in me when someone claims that the NRSV people injected leftwing liberal Protestantism into their translation. And, in order to back the statement up, that someone provides a long list of, surprise, surprise, liberal Protestant contributors to NRSV. Feminists no less! Horror of horrors: people with avowed socialist beliefs. And let's not even get started about the nefarious causes the National Council of Churches has supported over the years.

The fact is: when I can with a good conscience, I enjoy defending both NRSV and ESV from partisan detractors.

For example, I defend NRSV 1 Cor 7:12 and 1 Pet 3:1 as excellent examples of what liberals are (or used to be) best at: valuing accuracy over political correctness.

I defend ESV Psalm 1 for its choice not to pluralize singular constructions. Yes, ESV arrives at that conclusion thanks to its resistance to the demands of the language police of the gender sensitivity movement. Whatever it takes.

You can always use your kind of polemic against me, CD. The only political party I ever joined, if only for a brief period of time, was the Italian Communist Party. Just refer to me as "Former Communist Party member John Hobbins." Or you can use the following facts to tar me: the only political campaigns I ever worked on were those of Paul Soglin (the first time around; in Madison) and Harold Washington (in Chicago). In politics, that puts me squarely in the bleeding heart liberal camp (as 90 seconds of internet research will confirm). In realty, of course, it's more complicated.

No one denies, or should deny, that NRSV is a product of the liberal Protestant world. No one denies, or should deny, that ESV is a product of the conservative Protestant world. The further claim that one or the other injects rightwing or leftwing or Calvinist or Arminian bias into biblical text - that claim ought to require careful argument.

In my view, you have failed to make a convincing case for your claim of the injection of "rightwing Calvinist" bias into ESV by the man whose name you cannot spell, the Darth Vader slash Dick Cheney of the anti-ESV crowd.

The other thing I like about your style is your gift of wishful thinking. You admit that the gender sensitivity movement is just that, a political movement. Of course. You go on to say that the movement has won.

That is an amazing statement. Is that why the revised Grail Psalms, the approved Psalter as I understand it among Catholics, is not gender-sensitive? Is that why TNIV first and now NIV 2011 encounters so much resistance? Is that why the only bestselling Bible translation on the market today that is gender-sensitive is NLT?

You follow these things better than me, so correct me if I'm wrong. According to you, the gender sensitivity movement won 40 years ago. Okay. Then how come gender sensitive translations have had, in the last 40 years, a relatively small share of the market?

To recap in another way. I grew up with the RSV and to my own surprise, four decades later, I am preaching once again from RSV: it is the pew Bible of my current parish.

Over the years I have occasionally heard RSV tarred and feathered by fundamentalists through what I refer to as "guilt-by-association" arguments. I have always understood such arguments to be a sign of intellectual desperation. Now I hear you making the very same kind of arguments against ESV.

The paradox is this: you are ESV's best friend! That's because so many people think along the very same lines you do. The thought process: "Since CD, an avowed lefty liberal, is against ESV, it follows that I, who would never self-identify as a lefty or a liberal, ought to be in favor of ESV."

Further food for thought.

A large and significant part of the Lutheran family is WELS. It has been a staunch NIV supporter since the beginning. I am conversant in the internal debate. Some of the principals in the debate are people I know well and for whom I have the utmost respect. Make no mistake: 40 years after the gender sensitivity movement won, according to you, in the wake of NIV 2011 the chances of WELS distancing itself from NIV and moving in the direction of ESV have never been stronger. Fancy that.

RSV now exists in a Catholic edition with the "virgin" diction. Of course, this edition also fails on the gender-sensitive front. Like ESV and NIV 1984, you would class RSV CE in either edition as gender-hostile. Okay, but I have many friends who are Catholics, and many of them are relatively traditional Catholics. They are Bible-reading Catholics, and the number of them who read their Bible in an RSV CE edition continues to increase. Fancy that.

What just happened among Southern B's is also significant. Note that considerable effort was spent among institutional representatives to avoid the conclusion reached. But the institutional reps were, and are, no match for the Tea Party contingent (I am speaking metaphorically) among the SBC rank and file. Furthermore, the attempt to pin this on CBMW misunderstands the dynamics of what is going on. CBMW is only the tip of an iceberg. The bottom-up Tea Party contingent alone of SBC is larger than the UCC and the Episcopalian Church - USA combined. I fail to see how these facts fit well into your "we've won" narrative.

There are exceptions to every rule, but this is the rule I see in action. NRSV is an appropriate Bible in a secular university - I require it in that context. True, there are liberal Protestant contexts in which NRSV is the Bible which has received imprimatur (metaphorically speaking). Even in that context, however, NRSV mostly collects dust. If you choose to challenge this admittedly anecdotal remark, I am happy to supply one concrete example after another in support.

CD-Host

Well John thank you for not censoring even though you disagree. Its one of the very nice things about this blog.

OK back to objective data.


Occurrences of "anthropos" (men/humanity) in the New Testament 100 instances unquestionable gender inclusive, when they translated gender inclusive:

Jerusalem Bible (1966)-48%; New Jerusalem Bible (1985)-93%
New American Bible (1970)-40%; New American Bible (1986)-95%
New English Bible(1970)-31%; Revised English Bible (1989)-69%
Revised Standard Version (N.T., Second Edition, 1971)-14%; New Revised Standard Version (1990)-100%.

Sampling 50 instances of such gender inclusive uses of huioi (sons/children) unquestionable gender inclusive in original:
JB-38%; NJB-72%
NAB-44%; NAB Revised N.T.-88%
NEB-52%; REB-64%
RSV-4%; NRSV- 100%

Sampling of 50 instances of adelphos (brothers/christian community) referring to whole Christian community:
JB-O%; NJB-O%
NAB-O%; NAB Revised N.T.- 0%
NEB-26%; REB-66%
RSV-O%; NRSV-100%

And the NIV1984/TNIV/NIV2011 would show similar results. Similarly for the GNB/CEV pair. The LB/NLTfe/NLTse. Across successful bible families the direction is pretty clear over the last 2 decades.


As far as my language lets quote Grudem, himself on the TNIV:
Rather, the entire problem was caused by the fundamental fact underneath it all: the people who controlled the NIV were making changes in it that significantly distorted the meaning of the Word of God. Once the Christian public found out about this, they simply were not going to accept it, and the other events in the controversy unfolded as a natural result of

My real objection has been your lack of principled standards for evaluation. If appeals to authority, i.e. who uses it are acceptable then one can draw either conclusion from those lists.
If appeals to authorship are acceptable then one can draw either conclusion from those lists.
If appeals to verses are acceptable then one should draw reasonable inferences from there, where there is pattern there is intent.

As far as my quote and your questions about the bible, you tend to read a phrase or a 1/2 argument and drop the context. Here is what I wrote, "40 years ago the gender-sensitivity movement was a political movement. Battle is over, they won. There are a few isolated holdouts like bible translation and they are being mopped up." I couldn't have been more explicit in identifying bible translation as an exception which is beng "mopped up" rather than in a state of battle over.

As for the dust comment, I'm not sure how you would verify that bibles are mainly collecting dust rather than read. But... looking at the data really only 2 bibles sell very well: KJV, NIV. After a huge drop the NKJV and NASB put in a strong showing and then the rest are mostly in a pack at the 1-3% range with the NRSV in the middle.

In terms of usage the data shows pretty high levels of recommendations for the NRSV. For example here is a survey by the SBC.
http://www.greymatterresearch.com/index_files/Bible_Versions.htm
The data is highly dependent on how you want to count. The KJV is used heavily by small congregations so for example if you count pew bibles by church (i.e. a 60 person and a 10000 person church are counted equally):
23 KJV
21 NIV
14 NRSV
13 NKJV
10 NASB

In terms of sales there is a strong regional bias:
KJV is the favorite of pastors in the southern United States. The NIV is strongest in the Midwest and western parts of the country; and the NRSV is strongest in the Northeast.

The ABS did a study of all sales venues in 1996 and the NRSV did well, but arguably that's a 1/2 generation ago. The data doesn't support the NRSV "gathering dust".

CD-Host

The reaction I have to you is identical to the one that bubbles up in me when someone claims that the NRSV people injected leftwing liberal Protestantism into their translation. And, in order to back the statement up, that someone provides a long list of, surprise, surprise, liberal Protestant contributors to NRSV. Feminists no less! Horror of horrors: people with avowed socialist beliefs. And let's not even get started about the nefarious causes the National Council of Churches has supported over the years.

I thought this one deserves a separate post since its essentially a separate topic. Of course the NRSV is egalitarian translation of the bible. That was the point of its gender policies. To as much as the translators saw possible suppress the sexism of the underlying church so as not to import ancient evils into the modern world. Virtually every denomination in the NCC either has female ministers or was on their way to female ministers. (See list http://church-discipline.blogspot.com/2009/04/female-ministers.html )
The PCUSA which has always been a leader of the 7 sisters ordaining women slightly faster than men at the time heading towards numerical equality and was getting support from its right with the CRC starting to ordain.

NCC has a long record of being opposed to patriarchal sexual structures in particular their stands against human trafficking. One of their central missions is, "Our religious faith calls us to affirm the dignity and worth of every human being and to struggle for justice for oppressed people everywhere".

Yes the NRSV is a feminist / egalitarian translation. It was created by people who love, honor, respect and value women; written for denominations that were struggling for the full equality women; written for a membership that was purging themselves of culture sexism; and written to advance those purposes.

What else would you call it?

JohnFH

To be honest, CD, it doesn't surprise me that you get censored.

You're right that I missed part of your narrative-framing with respect to "the gender sensitivity movement." I see now that you use the expression in a far wider sense than I intended. Your mopping up remark is just as plainly wrong as the statement I wrongly attributed to you. Have you forgotten who can and cannot be ordained in most Christian confessions? Just an example. Half of your job, as a partisan hack, is that of controlling the narrative. You need to work harder on the details. They are supposed to have at least a semblance of truth to them.

I already replied to the meaningless statistics you cite with respect to anthropos and similar. It's a complex subject that you are reducing to an either/or. In many cases, as I have already noted, the generic "man," of RSV, ESV, or both, is unobjectionable (except to true believers in a particular version of linguistic feminism; not many of those around in my experience). In a few cases, it is arguably superior, as in expressions like "God and man," and "man and beast."

Your use of statistics is hilarious. You would think that you would get it that your failure to note the reasons why ESV does not appear in your cites is indicative of the fact that you are cherry-picking to suit your agenda.

It's all about interpretation, and you don't seem to have a particular knack for it. At random, let me quote from one of your sources, a 2004 survey that applies to Protestant pastors:

"Methodists tend to rely either on the NIV (45%) or the NRSV (38%). Those two versions are also dominant among Lutheran ministers, but in reverse order (48% NRSV, 23% NIV)."

That sounds accurate around relative to 2003. It is already inaccurate now. Since then, ESV has received the imprimatur of one important denomination Lutheran denomination (LCMS); another may well be inching in the same direction (WELS). Calvinism puts the fear of God into Methodist ministers, which they don't like, so the fact that ESV has been branded Calvinist even if it isn't means that ESV does not make many inroads into Methodism. I already pointed out that the Methodist rank and file go for ESV if given the chance. Surely you will agree that this is perfectly understandable.

As for lay Methodists and lay Lutherans, even ECLA Lutherans, rest assured that NIV beats out NRSV by a long shot.

"My real objection has been your lack of principled standards for evaluation."

Evaluating what? Permit me to ask you: on the basis of what principled standards do you think that "man and beast" and "God and man" are inappropriate expressions in English?

JohnFH

Your last post is interesting. If I understand you correctly, you think the NRSV contributors injected leftwing liberal Protestantism into their translation, whereas the ESV contributors injected rightwing Calvinism into theirs. You are fine with the first injection; you are vehemently against the second injection.

At least you're honest. It always was about your scorn for "rightwing Calvinism." The rest is smoke and mirrors.

This might be a good place to wind up the conversation. Our differences are now clear. Below is my response for the moment. I invite you to respond in turn; I will then wrap things up and thank you for the dialogue if you don't mind.

I can't think of anything more counter-productive to egalitarianism than reading egalitarianism into the Bible. This cooks the book; it is an example of creative anachronism in a bad sense; it opens up egals to the charge of manipulation.

NRSV is generally very good at not cooking the book along feminist lines, just as ESV is generally very good at not cooking the book along anti-feminist lines.

One of the few bones of contention is the anthropos nonsense, in which both sides have gone bonkers. The "brothers" business is, on the other hand, a non-issue except for the adept of either pole.

It is not true that NRSV is an egalitarian translation. It was commissioned by egalitarians who, thanks to their sense of propriety, did not rewrite the key verses to align with their point of view.

Both NRSV and ESV encode the whole gamut of texts which deal with gender relations with general accuracy. For example, read the household codes in either translation, and the sense in which the codes embrace patriarchal structures and the way they fill them with new content come through in equal measure.

If you want to discuss the pros and cons of modern-day feminisms, the senses in which, as some feminists recognize, feminism in practice has backfired, we can do that someday. But that will require from you a dose of humility I haven't seen yet. My take: as a recovering fundamentalist you think of feminism as sweetness and light.* But of course it is not like that. If you have even a smidgeon of Calvinism in your cognitive makeup, you will realize how misplaced your optimism is.

*Anti-feminism is also not sweetness and light. Anyone who says it is is not a true Calvinist.

CD-Host

To be honest, CD, it doesn't surprise me that you get censored.

True though I should comment, remarkably often from ESV blogs. Looks like it happened again on Denny Burk's blog.

Have you forgotten who can and cannot be ordained in most Christian confessions?

No actually I follow this issue pretty darn closely. Catholics women have taken a beating the last century. The pressures on that church are getting huge but its held the line very aggressively. So you can declare victory there, they'd rather have massive shortages than liberalizes their rules.

Other than that in most other denominations the last century has been excellent for women. A major church dropping every few years, the last being the Worldwide Church of God (Herbert W. Armstrong) in 2007
http://church-discipline.blogspot.com/2009/04/female-ministers.html
The PCA, which was founded by rejectionists of female ordination fleeing the PCUSA is having serious problems holding the line; with lots of ministers playing the "everything but" game. There are one of the first denominations which reject female ordination to hit the 2nd generation problems.

While it is probably going to be a while to till there is policy change the LDS church is under tremendous pressure from the egalitarian wing. There are starting to see migration towards Community of Christ, right now a trickle but they are anything but calm about it.

And even the ESV, basically the young calvinist movement are people rejecting traditional Jack Hyles style fundamentalism. Complementarianism is an attempt to put a more biblical veneer on Gothard. Those are moves to the left. The only real move to the right is the homeschooling movement.

The real problem with female vocations is not the number of churches which allow for female ordination but the lack of female head pastors or lead pastors. Men reject churches led by women, to use Marc Driscoll's language men won't go to a "chickified" church. That is a serious problem that liberal women aren't addressing, developing a church practice that has any appeal to men. And BTW you will see 2 full article defenses of Driscoll on my blog, who is an ESV using Calvinist. I'm not nearly as close minded as you think me.

In a few cases, it is arguably superior, as in expressions like "God and man," and "man and beast."

And if it was used in those few cases there wouldn't be so much heat. The heat is not about the literary use, you don't see these issues with Shakespeare's use of the generic male, the heat is about verses with modern day political intent. The issue is not what sounds better but a premeditated policy of degrading, demeaning and disempowering women. Intent is key.

It always was about your scorn for "rightwing Calvinism." The rest is smoke and mirrors.

Not really. I'm not OK with the first. I have objections to the NRSV, which is why I recommend the REB/NEB over it. But the honest errors and overly traditional rendering of the NRSV are in an entirely class than the unadulterated evil of the ESV. One is over cooking the dish and drying it out too much, the other is dumping a can of strychnine in.

Originally this was a factual question is there bias. The answer is yes, and that is completely independent of whether the bias is good or bad. The other question is about the purpose of the bias.

"My real objection has been your lack of principled standards for evaluation."

Evaluating what?

Bias. Intent of verses. Reasons for mistranslation. Method of evaluation. What we've been discussing for the last dozen posts. Your defense of the ESV really comes down to "I like it. It handles a few verses in Hebrew in pretty neat ways. And a lot of my buddies use it so it can't be bad". I've been asking you to develop a principled defense for your positions one that could be applied by a fully objective observer to bibles across the board.

Your use of statistics is hilarious. You would think that you would get it that your failure to note the reasons why ESV does not appear in your cites is indicative of the fact that you are cherry-picking to suit your agend

For crying out loud. Will you remember your own points from one post to the next. Your claim was that the NRSV was unused. Those statistics which predate the ESV obviously weren't addressing the ESV they were however addressing the relative popularity of the NRSV.

Both NRSV and ESV encode the whole gamut of texts which deal with gender relations with general accuracy. For example, read the household codes in either translation, and the sense in which the codes embrace patriarchal structures and the way they fill them with new content come through in equal measure

Take a look at the CBMW's website and tell me if they agree the NRSV embraces the patriarchal structures of the households. What do you think the whole battle about the TNIV is about?

I already pointed out that the Methodist rank and file go for ESV if given the chance. Surely you will agree that this is perfectly understandable.

Maybe. I think it may be the case that church laity, especially with a pastor leading them, might pick virtually any bible. Heck there was a rather important church that believe that the angel Moroni led their pastor to fight ancient Hebrew writings in Wayne NY and they use that as their bible. So if you mean your test, no I don't have any problem believing your results.

So lets get hypothetical. If the test were conducted in a less biased fashion I don't believe that would happen to a broad group. The ESV, especially its two study bibles absolutely unequivocally and unambiguously rejects Methodism as a legit expression of Christianity, at least the Wesleyian branch which is what exists in America. I find it no more likely that rank and file Methodists would choose the ESV than that rank and file Methodists would choose the ClearWord. Actually, no let me replace that. The ClearWord doesn't reject core ideas of Wesley it contradicts him on secondary issues like interpretation of Revelations and Daniel. I can't see how they wouldn't pick http://www.amazon.com/Wesley-Study-Bible-William-Willimon/dp/0687645034 (which is NRSV BTW)

The very idea of the alter call, the balance between reason, scripture, tradition and experience are treated with dripping contempt in every page of the ESV. Revivalistic Christianity is precisely what the ESV authors have spent a lifetime preaching against. They probably hate it even more than they hate women. For example in the Reformation ESV I have upstairs quite literally the notes from 1Cor 6 right through to 1 Cor 11 are an extended discourse on Sanctification and Regeneration as taught by Sproul. And of course it uses Calvin's order of salvation:Regeneration then Faith then Repentance then Conversion; which contradicts Wesley. Why would the laity pick a bible that denies the founding theologian of their faith?

To a small group, its possible that the laity don't know any better. Wesley vs. Calvin is subtle. Maybe they are so sick of milk toast liberal Christianity like you find in many liberal bibles that anything conservative is appealing? Liberals, with a few exceptions, have lost their heart to preach liberal Christianity. Where is Bultmann, where is the Tübingen school, David Strauss, Feuerbach, Harnack? Liberals won't preach liberal Christianity anymore so maybe that is what is appealing in the ESV. So if they are just bored, play fair and put a real liberal bible up against the ESV. What about Rob Bell's commentary on the TNIV? Hugely popular.

The ESVSB is a pack of lies, but is is probably the best looking Study Bible ever made. And the Reformation Study Bible has fantastic typesetting, which matters as the eyes start to go.

Gary Simmons

The issue is not what sounds better but a premeditated policy of degrading, demeaning and disempowering women. Intent is key.

Revivalistic Christianity is precisely what the ESV authors have spent a lifetime preaching against. They probably hate it even more than they hate women.

Interesting statements. As someone who attended a church whose head pastor is a member of the CBMW for over a year, I can't say I understand where you're coming from with the idea of "hating" women. I was there when Sam Storms talked about getting people to join the CBMW. I was there when they switched to making the ESV their official pew Bible.

And you know what? I didn't get a single thing about hating women from that church in any message, nor in seeing the way Sam interacts with his wife. I'm sure their marriage has conflicts, as does any marriage, but there doesn't seem to be any particular dysfunction.

I realize the two quotes above are conflating your assertions about the CMBW and about the ESV supporters, but that is a conflation of your design rather than my own.

I actually just got off the phone with a young lady, formerly a bleeding-heart liberal atheist, now a bleeding-heart moderate Christian who attends the aforementioned church. She does not feel like she is ground into the dust. At least, none of the several 20-something ladies I know seem to feel shortchanged.

You want to know what happens to a guy's mind when he attends such a church and hears what is said about gender roles? Instead of speculating, why not actually attend one? The next best thing: Podcasts from Bridgeway are readily and easily available. Go to July and you will find three on the Haustafeln, usw.

If you want the short version: the two words that come most insistently to mind in conjunction with "love" are "protect" and "encourage". If you only have time for one, listen to Concerning Husbands and Headship, or How to Lead and Love Like Christ Does. The other two relevant ones:Women Who Hope in God and Fear Nothing: Exploring the Meaning of Submission
and Honored Wives and Answered Prayers.

Do you understand the ways in which Complementarianism is progressive? Yes, it's true. Traditionally, "male" tasks have high ascribed status whereas "female" tasks are given lower ascribed status. Thus, hunting is a superior vocation to cooking. Yet Complementarianism, at least as a secondary focus, gives a high ascribed status to traditionally "female" tasks, (roughly) just as much, as is given to "male" tasks.

It seems that many egalitarians (pace Hobbins!) retain the traditional dichotomy of what is to be ascribed a higher or lower status. The goal, then, is to open the door for women to do things that are traditionally "male", since that is the only way (it seems?) to allow women to have vocations of high ascribed status.

But why not celebrate and love motherhood instead? Why not allow females in the church to co-ordinate with the female examples one sees in the Bible, rather than co-ordain them in contradistinction to those selfsame female examples in the Bible?

If we were to turn to Genesis, for instance, there's only one good female example -- and even then, Rebekah is pretty rotten after she gets married. The only neat and tidy good female role model is 'alma Rebekah. (Hagar being less tidy.) Yet there is no way to appreciate Rebekah without ascribing a high status to "women's work".

Headship in the church and in the home does take chutzpah, however. Our headship concept is derived from the concept of the "head" of the ancient Israeli militia: the one in charge must also be willing to lead the charge. If there is no link to willing-vulnerability-to-protect-others, then there is no authority. None.

Anyone who truly understands this burden could not possibly see it as "entitlement", but rather as duty. Do you know what is happening to men my age in this gender-sensitive society? Hah. There aren't any so few! They [frequently] have no specifically masculine duties, so they spend time playing Call of Duty instead.

CD-Host

Hi Gary --

I gather you didn't click on the link go to my blog. I'm very familiar with complementarian churches and practices. I'm not ignorant about what we are discussing. But before we get to your argument let me make a point. The debate above is about whether the ESV is the rightwing Calvinist bible. Sam Storms is a well educated articulate defender of rightwing Calvinism. He doesn't provide a counter to the point under discussion rather he supports my thesis.

But you are actually raising a slightly different point. You aren't disagreeing so much that the ESV supports rightwing Calvinism but rather that rightwing Calvinism (in particular complementarianism ) is a good thing not a bad thing. And that's a worthwhile discussion its all over the web.

If I can make a suggestion you are going to find offensive but might be a worthwhile exercise in dealing with the details of your position I would suggest you read:
http://www.dabneyarchive.com/Defense%20of%20Virginia.pdf
which is a well written well argued right wing calvinist apology for racial slavery using many of the very same arguments you used above. Assuming you don't agree with racial slavery, read the book and think through exactly where you are disagreeing with Dabney's argument and then see how it invalidates the above. Things like for example that all work is of equal worth, and leadership is a terrible obligation...

Assuming you aren't going to do that, I have no doubt there are happy complementarian marriages, in fact I have quite a few friends who have very happy and fulfilling D/S marriages that take submission to levels well beyond what is considered normative in the complementarian schema. But I have done that exercise with Dabney and there are two things that distinguish a D/S relationship from a complementarian relationship which in my opinion radically change the moral calculus.

1) The bottom is ultimately in control of the paramaters of submission.
2) The 2nd generation problem.

The problem in complementarian marriages is that both sides believe are under a biblical mandate. Thus there is simply no way to negotiate a shift in the relationship when it "stops working". The stories about abuses in complementarianism come from the fact that the bottom, the wife, has no way to call a "time out" and interact as equal partner when there is a serious and genuine problem. She is in a perpetual state of unending submission. Which is not to say she can't speak up, but at the end of the day the top, the husband, is ultimately in control. That creates a permanent and unhealthy power imbalance.

Its not uncommon at all that a 24 year old woman might find a strict church, a controlling husband and a life as a homemaker quite fulfilling emotionally. And its not uncommon at all that the same woman at 36 or 46 might find herself quite frustrated and deeply unhappy and want deep structural change. What happens to a woman who is raised with these values and then discovers she hates raising children? What happens to a woman who is in this sort of marriage and who has a problem that her husband is simply unwilling to address, particular a problem with the church. What happens to a woman in this sort of marriage who has a deep structural problem with her marriage and simply doesn't want to submit in this way anymore.

Most likely what happens is church discipline is brought to bear on her. And since her social life is intimately connected with the church she is effectively socially isolated and then brought into submission not through God but through fear and isolation.

The second problem is even worse. You can argue the first generation woman signed up for the complementarian marriage freely. At some point she at least had a moment of free choice where she consented to live this sort of life. And thankfully we don't have theonomy so while the church may offer her no way out, protective services and judges will But what about her daughter? People in D/S relationships do not assume their children would want to be in a D/S relationship. They encourage their children to find a type of marital structure that will work for them. That is not the case at all with complementarians. They have been taught that their marital structure is the only biblical approved, that is to moral / ethical structure.

And this is where complementarianism gets really and truly pernicious. Because then you quite often have women who find this sort of relationship simply demoralizing and tremendously harmful. They have been socialized into believing that God's will for their life is something that is very psychologically damaging to them. This causes enormous psychological stress where they are forced to simply abandon everything they have ever believed or live an unhappy life.

And for what? Why build structures to create this? Why not allow individuals to construct the kinds of relationships that make them fulfilled? Why add to so much to the misery of the world? Why not construct a Christianity which focuses on verses 1 Sam 8:7 which expresses God hated towards blind obedience to any earthly leadership. Why not construct a Christianity which focuses on Paul's frequent use of Pleroma and draws its theological implications about the nature of men and women from that? Why choose those verses that are degrading and limiting to build your theology of marriage on?

There is a choice. And yes I meant what I said above, about the people who choose to make complementarianism mandatory.

JohnFH

Okay, CD. That's enough. I am not going to bother to correct your latest errors and misinterpretations. Thank you for pointing out instances in which I may have misunderstood your line of thought. Occasionally you have something important to say; too bad you lace your remarks with poison.

I will leave this comment thread open (all my comment threads are open) but I will unpublish any future comment you make to this thread.

I am happy to give a commenter a chance to spill their bile but once they have, no more. You filled your cup of wrath to overflowing and poured it over the heads of your enemies of choice.

As I see it, you have chosen to make this venue a platform for a smear campaign of people you obviously love to hate. Your comments are often reckless and ill-considered. The most obvious use for them is as a fund-raising tool for CBMW. All they have to do is reproduce your more bombastic comments and they will rake in the dough.

Speaking as an egalitarian, I think you are a liability to that cause. Speaking as a Christian, I think you model the very kind of attitudes that, according to Jesus, put someone in danger of hell. I wish you well, CD, and for that reason, I am trying to be as honest as possible.

Gary Simmons

To simply clarify: my point was that it is erroneous to conflate Complementarianism with misogyny.

JohnFH

Thanks, Gary, for being so kind as to interact with CD.

No one will deny that conservative Protestantism includes within its fold its fair share of dehumanizers. How ironic that CD then turns around and confirms by his mode of attack that liberal Protestantism includes its fair share of the same.

English Translator

I have recently started to read the bible and can see why people have different translations of what this fantastically good book is about. You can find the meaning you are wanting about a circumstance in a particular chapter of the bible.

Grace

I have studied the bible since being a tot, but I am finding that in recent years I have different interpretations of various situations within the bible. I am unsure whether this is because I have recently found a new circle of friends who interpret the bible in a different manner, what do you think about this?

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