Thursday, October 20, 2011

Nope, I was wrong/NIV 2011

from here

This is the fourth (and final) stupid thing I've seen this month: Mary Kassian's 10 reasons why the new NIV is bad for women. I feel like my frustration has mostly been vented through reading the comments to this post, although "reasons" 5 and 6 in Kassian's article still make me angry.

Kassian is a fan of Bible translations that aim to translate each word from the original text as closely as possible rather than as accurately as possible convey the overall meaning of the original text, which is why she reads the ESV rather than the NIV*. Both approaches to translation are great, but they aim to do very different things. I'm trying unsuccessfully to think of an analogy... Mac versus PC? Football versus netball? "10 reasons why football is bad for women"... Basically, if you prefer one approach over another, no translation using the other approach will satisfy you, and it is therefore not surprising that Kassian (and friends) aren't happy with the new NIV. I think that fundamentally her angst has more to do with the translation approach than it does with all of the gender stuff. I may be wrong.

We bought an NIV 2011 on Monday. Yesterday as I was reading, I noticed footnotes for Matthew 6:22-23 that weren't in my old Bible:
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
According to the notes, the Greek word for "healthy" in verse 22 implies "generous", and the Greek word for "unhealthy" in verse 23 implies "stingy". These two verses now fit in with Jesus' instruction to not store up treasure on earth (which comes immediately beforehand), and his "No one can serve two masters" teaching (which comes immediately after). I'm sure I always figured they weren't completely random, but now I know why!

And, of course, the new gender-inclusive language sheds light on things often ignored by Complementarians, such as the fact that there is no gender distinction when Paul writes about spiritual gifts (below is 1 Corinthians 12:1-11 and 27-30, because the whole section seemed too long to copy in!):
Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.

Mary Kassian can stand by her ESV, but as for this "poor little girl", I'm in love with my new Bible.

* I did an essay on this last year but cannot for the life of me remember the official terms for these approaches to translation. Dynamic? Direct? Something like that.


  1. Functional (or dynamic) equivalence vs formal equivalence.

    Shame the ESV sits between two stools. It doesn't do formal equivalence all that well. NASB is much better for that.

  2. THANK YOU! This has been bugging me enough to be on my mind, but not enough for me to look through all of my college papers to try to find the essay.

    I'm going to blame baby brain - I wonder how long that excuse is valid for?

  3. I think it's good for at least 5 years from the birth of one's youngest child.

    I'd done some training/voluntary work in translation and interpreting before I knew that there were any 'original languages' behind Bible translations. There it was all functional — "How do I express this French idea in English?"

    I see the value of formal equivalence where it helps you get connections or puns, but I think it's highly overrated for actually understanding what's been said. I know I'm in the minority.

  4. Nice: 4 years to go. :o)

    I agree with you about translations (Bible and otherwise), and would suggest (having just finished investigating your profile and seeing that you're an inner west-y!*) that you're only in the minority *in Sydney*.

    *I've only had a chance to skim your blog, but I'm really looking forward to reading your 'Evangelism is more important...' series very soon! The last one hooked me.

  5. Yes, perhaps that's true.

    I think I've kinda finished blogging, now. I feel like I've said everything I want to in that forum. Maybe I'll have some more ideas one day :)