Dr. Wayne Grudem and Dr. Mark Strauss
Transcribed by Wayne Leman, host of the Bible Translation website: http://www.geocities.com/bible_translation
(This transcript may be copied to other websites ONLY if it is copied in its entirety, along with this preface. The original debate gave equal time to both debaters and it would not be proper to excerpt from this transcript only portions of the debate from a single debater, or portions which are intended to give a rhetorical advantage to one of the debaters.)
Dr. Bachman: I'm James Bachman and I'm Dean of the
So, I don't want to take anymore of the time, other than once again to say, "Welcome," and look forward to the conversations that you'll be having in light of this significant topic.
Thank you very much, now, Dave Deno from KKLA radio will get us into the real events .
Moderator, Dave Deno: Good evening, ladies and
gentlemen. We welcome you to a special webcast of the TNIV Debate, about
Today's New International Version of the Bible. It is sometimes referred as the
gender-neutral translation. We are originating live from
Dr. Wayne A. Grudem, who opposes the new translation, and Dr. Mark Strauss, who is in favor of Today's New International Version, will present their viewpoints and debate their differences on this important issue.
I'd like to begin, though, by saying a word of thanks to those who have made this debate possible, and this is by way of saying to you that these are the commercials:
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Now, early in the 1960s
And then the decades of the 70s and the 80s saw an explosion of Bible translations, the New American Standard, the English Standard Version, the Amplified Bible, the Good News Bible, the Living Bible, the New King James Version, the Jerusalem Bible, the New International Version, just to name a few.
Now, each in its own way opened the pages of scripture to a new generation. And Americans experienced a renewed interest in faith. However, each new translation and each new paraphrase and each new transliteration had its share of critique and concern.
The gender-neutral, Today's New International Version of the Bible, the TNIV, as you will hear it referred to most often tonight, has been a source of heated disagreement in the Christian church. Much of the criticism centers on the issue of accuracy. Dr. Grudem has stated, and I quote him, "When translators and publishers give in to the principle of sacrificing accuracy because certain expressions are thought to be offensive to the dominant culture, this altering of the text of scripture will never end. And then readers will never know, at any verse, whether what they have is the Bible or the translators' own ideas."
And Dr. James Dobson of Focus On the Family has said, "I have now received sufficient feedback from a large number of evangelical scholars to convince me that this new work is a step backward in the field of biblical translation."
On the other hand, John R. W. Stott, preacher, evangelist, and author, writes, "It has never been easy to distinguish between a 'translation' and a 'paraphrase'. Translations tend to go for contemporary scholarship at the expense of contemporary language, whereas paraphrases tend to sacrifice accuracy for relevance." In his words, "Today's New International Version is highly successful in combining both scholarly accuracy and linguistic relevance."
And author Philip Yancey says, "I'm thrilled to hear about the TNIV and its ability to help add clarity and impact to the study of God's Word."
Now, Christianity Today, in an
"A new bible translation makes a break with its predecessor. It uses plurals to avoid man and brother where the text is not gender-specific. It changes Jews to Jewish leaders in parts of John's gospel. But when the 1996 New Living Translation made these adjustments, hardly any evangelicals raised a fuss. In fact, they rushed to bookstores: the NLT now ranks fourth in Bible translation sales. The King James and New King James versions outstrip it, and the New International Version (NIV) sits atop the chart.
"Today's New International Version, an independent update of the NIV (not a revision— the NIV will remain available), has not met with as much enthusiasm . " No one is authorized to treat the Bible like Silly Putty," said Southern Baptist leader William Merrell. People who objected to the British inclusive-language NIV in 1997 now declare that the changes in the TNIV "violate the Word of God."
"Why so much anger against the TNIV? In part, we attribute it to the special place the NIV holds in the evangelical world.
"Actually, being faithful to the originals was crucially important to the NIV's translators precisely because of their evangelical commitment to Scripture. All involved in the project had to agree that the Bible was the Word of God and inerrant in the original manuscripts.
Now, "The TNIV's opponents claim the translators" (of this new version) "have been driven by a political agenda." They finish up their editorial by saying, "The important lesson for all readers is to know well the Bible they are reading. … Knowing the theory behind your Bible's translation work and its relative strengths is nearly as important as knowing the message within the covers.
So, is the TNIV a powerful tool for evangelism in the 21st century or is it a misguided attempt to bring God into conformity with man's changing mores? That is the debate tonight.
Tonight's debate will be formatted as Remarks, Rebut( tal), and Cross-examination. You will notice there are white cards distributed throughout the audience so that you can also participate in tonight's dialog. We invite you to write your questions on the cards during the first half of the debate. Please turn them in at the table for the Bible House up in the foyer, and we will get to as many of those questions as possible in the second half of tonight's debate.
Now, let the debate begin. Let me tell you about the two gentlemen that you're going to be hearing tonight.
First, Dr. Wayne A. Grudem.
After teaching at
Dr. Mark Straus currently serves as Associate
Professor of New Testament at Bethel School of Theology Seminary. Dr. Strauss
During the debate we ask that no outbreak of applause occur during the speakers' presentations. We will begin with each speaker opening with twenty minutes of remarks. Each speaker will then have ten minutes of Rebut each, and then five minutes of cross-examination, then we will take a fifteen-minute break. We'll come back for ten minutes of closing arguments, five minutes of Rebut from each, and then your questions for each of these gentlemen.
Now, ladies and gentlemen, our first speaker this evening, Dr. Strauss.
Strauss: Good evening. It's great to be with you. To start, I need to take a count. Would all the men stand up, please. Can I get the men to stand up, please? All the men stand up. Thank you. Uh, ma'am, ma'am, why aren't you standing up? You're not a man? You're not a man? Oh, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm confused, let me do that again. Could we have all the people stand up, please? All the people stand up. Very good. Thank you. You can be seated now.
Basically, I've just illustrated what the TNIV does. The TNIV is gender-accurate in that when the Hebrew or Greek word means 'person, ' it translates it as "person." As we just demonstrated, the word "man" can be ambiguous and unclear. And so that is what the TNIV does. That is what this issue is all about. You might say, "Duh, what's all the fuss?" Well, I think the problem is when things get political, logic and clear thinking often get thrown out the door.
Let me tell you a little bit about myself, first of all. I became involved in this debate not because of my interests in gender issues, actually, not because of any great interest in the role of women in the church. I'm in fact a conservative on that issue, what is called a complementarian. I got involved in this issue because of my interest in Bible translation, and biblical interpretation, also known as hermeneutics, and linguistics, the study of language. When I read the arguments the opponents of these inclusive language changes were making, I recognized them as simply wrong. They were wrong linguistically, they were wrong hermeneutically, they were, in short, simply bad principles of Bible translation, sometimes embarrassingly bad, in fact. They were imposing rules and guidelines that no reputable international Bible translator would use. This debate, unfortunately, has been controlled by enormous misunderstanding and quite a lot of intentional misrepresentation. I hope tonight we can clear things up a bit, and bring more light than heat to the debate.
So, let me start with some facts about the TNIV:
1. The first fact is that the goal of the TNIV is the same goal as for all good Bible translation: to render the meaning of the original Greek or Hebrew texts into accurate, clear, and contemporary English. Here's the problem that translators face: the Bible is not written in English; it was written in Greek and Hebrew and Aramaic. No single phrase or word in Greek or Hebrew corresponds exactly to a word in English. They simply don't overlap. The translator's goal is to find the clearest, most accurate words or phrase in English. Though the controversy surrounding the TNIV has focused on gender language, about 70% of the changes to the TNIV are not related to gender, at all, but are changes based on advances in biblical scholarship, linguistics, and archaeology. Let me just give you an example: Luke chapter 1, verse 18, the NIV says "She," that is, Mary, "was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit." The TNIV says, "She (Mary) was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit." Now, I have never said when my wife was pregnant that she was "with child." Tonight she's with the children, but that means something completely different. So the TNIV accurately updates the language to keep up with contemporary English.
2. Second fact about the TNIV: In line with this goal, the TNIV is intentionally gender-accurate. It is not gender-neutral. When the original writers intended to refer to both men and women, the TNIV makes this clear.
Here's the problem: like many languages, Greek uses grammatically masculine terms to refer to people in general. Take, for example, the Greek word anthropos. The Greek word anthropos, most commonly, its primary meaning, is 'person' or 'human being. ' For example, here, Rom. , the NIV says, "For we maintain that a man is justified by faith." The TNIV clarifies, gives us the correct meaning of anthropos in this context, "For we maintain that a person is justified by faith." The Greek word anthropos here means 'person.' Everyone agrees on this. The masculine form of anthropos is merely a grammatical category. It has nothing to do with sexual distinction. The TNIV accurately translates it as 'person. '
So the TNIV is gender-accurate, not gender-neutral. References to females remain female. References to males remain male. Here's an example: Matt. 9:9, "As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew." That is a gender-specific reference. Matthew was a man. So the TNIV accurately says, "As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew." If the meaning of the text is gender-specific, the TNIV keeps it that way.
3. A third fact about the TNIV: Opponents of the TNIV are confusing grammatical gender with biological gender. In many languages every noun has gender. In Greek it's masculine, feminine, and neuter. In Hebrew it's masculine and feminine. That gender has nothing to do with sex.
Let me illustrate this: I live in the town of
The Greek word, as I just said, is anthropos. It's masculine, but does that mean that persons are inherently masculine?
Dr. Grudem is going to speak about male markings, but these are not male markings; they are grammatical distinctions. They are grammatical gender, not sexual distinctions. Now, imposing biological gender on grammatical gender is a very dangerous business. For example, the Holy Spirit: the term for 'spirit' in Hebrew is ruach. That is a feminine word. So, should we call the Spirit a she? Of course not, because that is merely a grammatical category. In Greek the word for 'spirit' is pneuma. It is neuter. Does that mean that the Spirit is an it ? No, of course not. This is purely grammatical gender. The word for 'child' in Greek, teknon, or, plural, tekna 'children,' is neuter. Does that mean that children have no sexual distinctions? Of course not.
Now, in Greek masculine terms are used generically, as in many languages, to refer to men and women. When they are used this way the gender is grammatical. This is very basic grammar. Persons are not males.
4. The fourth principle: The TNIV uses contemporary English for a contemporary audience. We all know the English language is constantly changing. Bible translations have to be periodically updated to keep up with these changes. I just showed you an example. I have never in my life said, even though we have three children, I've never in my life said, "My wife is with child." That's not contemporary English. So we change it to keep up with contemporary English.
What if I came into this room and I said, "Hi, I
want to tell you, I'm gay"? If I said, "I'm gay," you might
wonder how my wife could be "with child" if I'm gay. But when a
ripple went through the audience, I would say, "Oh, wait a minute, let me
clarify, what I mean is I'm happy, I'm carefree, I'm easy-going." You
would probably come up to me later and say, "You should not say that.
That's not contemporary English." And I might respond, "I'm not going
to let the homosexual agenda change the way I speak. So, I'm going to use the
word gay if I want to use the word gay. If it was good enough for the Apostle
Paul, if it was good enough for the King James Version, which uses the word gay
in James, it's
good enough for me." As you well know, that is a terrible argument. The goal of Bible translation is to reproduce the meaning of the text in accurate, clear, and contemporary English.
The same is true with masculine generic terms like "man" and "he." They are still in use. No one is denying that they are still in use. But everyone has to admit they are far less often used than they were thirty years ago. They are increasingly perceived as exclusive. I just demonstrated that. None of the women in this room stood up when I asked for the men to stand up. The meaning of these terms has changed. We can see this, we have older statements in Old English that read something like "Queen Elizabeth was a man of great distinction." Now, we laugh at that. But in that period of time that was a perfectly acceptable inclusive term. As my little exercise showed, today it doesn't work.
Here's some gender examples. If I said to you, "I'm preaching (as I preach every Sunday), 'Jesus wants all men to follow him in discipleship, '" what do I mean when I say "all men to follow him in discipleship"? I might mean all males. If this were at a Promise Keepers meeting that's what I would mean. I might mean, though, 'all people. ' It's ambiguous and unclear because English has changed.
What if I said, "The brothers are going to gather for breakfast tomorrow"? Do I mean the brothers and sisters, or do I mean the brothers? It is unclear and it is ambiguous. If we want Bible translations to be as clear and unambiguous as possible, then we say "people" instead of "man." Why? Because that's what the Hebrew and Greek text meant.
[5. Fifth fact about the TNIV]: The gender language of the TNIV is nothing new. Over the last twenty years almost every English Bible translation, either produced or revised, has adopted this kind of gender-accurate language.
Let me give you some examples: the New Jerusalem Bible (1985), the New Century Version (1987), the New American Bible (revised in 1988 and 1990), the Revised English Bible (1989), the New Revised Standard Version (1990), the Good News Bible also called Today's English Version (revised in 1992), The Message (1993), the Contemporary English Version (1995). Are you getting the picture here? This is nothing new. The New Living Translation (1996), God's Word (1995), International Children's Bible (1986), New International Reader's Version (1994, 1996), the New English Translation or the NET Bible uses inclusive language, and now Today's New International Version. This is nothing new. Also utilizing a certain amount of gender inclusive language is the International Standard Version and the English Standard Version which is co-sponsoring this event tonight. So, as you can see, many, many other translations have done this before. So, why is the TNIV under such attack? It is a political issue in many ways.
Here's another chart to show you. I've just kind of ranked them, in general, as to the amount of gender-inclusive language that is used, and you can see the TNIV is somewhere in the middle of these translations. It certainly is not the most inclusive [version] of these language changes. So, there is nothing new about the TNIV. And, in fact, such language changes or the use of such inclusive language is nothing new. All translations of the past have utilized inclusive terms for masculine terms in Hebrew and Greek. The King James Version frequently did it, sometimes with adam , which can mean 'person', sometimes right here with the word benim, that is a Hebrew term that is masculine, actually, I should have huioi because this is a Greek passage right here, "Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God." That's the Greek word huioi. It is masculine in gender but its meaning is inclusive, just like anthropos, as we were looking at before.
6. The sixth fact about the TNIV: The TNIV is not a feminist or a politically correct version. Its goal is not to be inoffensive. Read your TNIV; you will see. It is highly offensive to feminists. I can show you here. The majority of the translators, first of all, were complementarians, like myself . They were conservatives on the role of women in ministry. They were not egalitarians. They were certainly not feminists.
Let me give you a couple of examples:
1 Tim. , 12, NIV, "A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over men. She must be silent." Now, look at this radical feminist TNIV, "A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over men. She must be quiet." No changes of any significance whatsoever. Exactly the same sense.
Eph. , NIV, "Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head ..." Are you ready for this so-called feminist or inoffensive version? The TNIV says the same thing, "Wives, submit to your husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife ..."
1 Cor. 14 :[ 34], NIV, "women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission..." The TNIV says, " women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission..." This is obviously not a feminist agenda at work here.
Many of the TNIV supporters, like
are conservatives on the role of women in ministry. Look at the TNIV website
and you will see this. In fact, in my opinion, the best New Testament scholars
and linguists in the country support the kind of gender language introduced in
the TNIV, such renowned conservative scholars as Don Carson from Trinity
Evangelical Divinity School, Craig Blomberg from Denver Seminary, Darrell Bock
from Dallas [Theological] Seminary, Douglas Moo from Wheaton Graduate School,
Gary Burge from Wheaton, Tremper Longman from Westmont, Richard Longnecker,
Grant Osborn, Craig Keener, Klyne Snodgrass, Terry Muck, Michael Green, such
renowned theologians as John Stott, Timothy George, Roger Nicole, Cornelius
Plantinga, Ron Sider, the list could go on and on. These conservative scholars know this is just good translation policy. In fact, supporters of the TNIV come from a range of theological and denominational perspectives. They are both conservatives , complementarians, as well as egalitarians. They are not driven by a social agenda, but by the goal of accuracy in Bible translation.
On the other hand, look at the opponents: They all have a strong ideological perspective. They are opponents of the women's movement. And in my opinion they are driven primarily by ideology, not by sound principles of biblical exegesis.
7. Seventh fact: None of these versions change God-language. None of those inclusive versions I suggested change God-language. All masculine pronouns related to God are retained. This kind of inclusive language has nothing to do with God-language because it focuses on the meaning of the original text. No metaphors are changed related to God, no masculine metaphors. They introduce inclusive language only with reference to human beings and only when the human author intended to include both sexes. These are not feminist versions. Now you might say, "Ah, but wait a minute. We have the slippery slope beginning to feminism."
8. But our eighth point is: This is not the slippery slope leading to feminism. The goal of gender-accurate translations remains the same as the TNIV and other versions: to accurately reproduce the meaning of the original text. That's the goal. That's what they are trying to do. They are trying what Greek or Hebrew terms mean and translate them according to their meaning.
Now, we're running out of time. I'm going to start this and finish it afterwards.
The meaning of words:
In order to understand what is happening we have to understand a little bit about the nature of language and linguistics. Let me just give you an introduction to this and I'll pick up some more examples after Dr. Grudem speaks. Words generally have a range of potential senses, not one all-inclusive meaning. This is true of all language. Take the English word "'board," ' for example. What does the word "board" mean? Someone might say, "Well, the word "board" means a plank, a wooden plank." That's true. "Hand me that board," you could say. It also could mean, though, a governing body. "I'm serving on the church board." It could also mean food provisions. You might here at Concordia say, "The college provides room and board." Notice that that word "board" does not have a single all-encompassing meaning. It has a range of potential senses.
It's the same with these terms: The Greek word anthropos has a range of potential senses. It can mean 'man' but more often it means 'person. ' Here's the key: What determines which sense of the word is intended? You all know the answer to this, I'm sure, and it's the context. In each of those examples I just gave you the meaning of "board" is determined by the context. So we have two principles here. I'm going to end with this for now:
a. Words have a range of potential senses.
b. Context determines which sense the author intended.
We'll come back to this.
Moderator: Thank you very much, Dr. Strauss. And now, ladies and gentlemen, Dr. Wayne Grudem, speaking in opposition to the TNIV.
Grudem: Well, I want to thank you. I want to thank Denny Dansereau for his work in setting this up and Dave Lowman for his role, as well. I want to thank my teaching assistant, David Dickerson. I don't have a PowerPoint presentation here tonight. David is going to be my PowerPoint, running the overhead projector and putting the transparency up. David is my teaching assistant from Phoenix Seminary. And I want to thank Mark Strauss, too. Mark and I have talked in public opposite each other once before and it was a joy then and it's a joy now to be here tonight, as well, Mark. And we know each other and are thankful for this opportunity, as friends, to come and debate an issue of importance to the church.
Where is the removal of male-oriented language appropriate? Well, there's a simple answer. It's appropriate to remove male-oriented language where there is no male meaning in the original Hebrew or Greek. And so I would agree with Mark Strauss—were you calling me Dr. Grudem or Wayne?
Strauss: Doctor, but it doesn't matter.
Grudem: Well, Dr. Strauss, I would agree with Dr. Strauss. We're Mark and Wayne, privately. I would agree with Dr. Strauss that, for instance, when we have a sentence that talks about people, we shouldn't just use the word "men" because it would be misunderstood today. So, for instance, in Rom. , "we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law." That's the NIV. I think it's appropriate and good that the TNIV changed to " we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from observing the law." That is because the Greek word here at issue is anthropos. The Greek word anthropos, as Dr. Strauss pointed out, can mean 'person, ' at times, or in certain contexts, when referring to a specific historical male individual, then it means 'man. ' So anthropos has two meanings. I have no objection to this kind of change at all.
Where is the removal of male-oriented language not appropriate, however? That is where there is a loss of male-oriented meaning in the original Hebrew or Greek. And the difference mainly concerns five words, and what Dr. Strauss and I are going to be differing about tonight really can be summarized with these five words: "son," "father," "brother," "man," and "he", "him," and "his." What do those words all have in common? They're male-oriented words. And those are the words that have been removed hundreds of times from the TNIV in ways that are illegitimate and inappropriate because there is male-oriented meaning in the original text.
Now I want to give you some examples in that order. I'm going to work down that list:
he, him, his
and give you a couple of examples and then explain how many changes of that type have been made.
1. [ son ] We start out with Heb. 2:6: "What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?" And here I'm dealing with the word "son." The TNIV changes the phrase "son of man" to "human beings:" "What are mere mortals that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?" The Greek word is huios for 'son' and anthropou for 'man. ' This is a quote from Psalm 8, and in Psalm 8, "son of man" is singular, "what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?" Does this singular expression in Psalm 8, "the son of man," does this look forward to the Messiah, to Jesus, is this a Messianic prediction? Well, Jesus called himself the Son of Man over 80 times in the gospels. And I think that Jesus saw himself as a fulfillment of a whole string of "son of man" passages in the Old Testament. Yes, in Daniel 7, yes, elsewhere in the Old Testament, but surely, I think, Psalm 8 is one of those passages that Jesus had in mind when he announced that he was the Son of Man, coming to fulfill the Old Testament expectations. And, in fact, the author of Hebrews agrees with me that Psalm 8 is a prediction of Jesus because in Heb. 2:9, just three verses later, it says, "we see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor." Those are words from the quotation in Psalm 8. The author of Hebrews applies this quotation to Jesus, and so we can see that he's fulfilling this "son of man" passage in the Old Testament, that is, you can see it if you have another Bible than the TNIV. But if you have the TNIV, you can't see that Jesus, in calling himself Son of Man, fulfills this because it no longer uses the phrase "son of man," it uses "human beings." Why? Because the word "son" was too male-oriented.
2. father : We'll take the word "father". Heb. 12:7, "Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons," says the NIV. "For what son is not disciplined by his father?" The NIV, the original NIV, is accurate there. "Son" is singular; "father" is singular. But the TNIV changes that to, "What children are not disciplined by their parents?" There are two problems:
a. It's an illegitimate translation: the Greek word
does not mean 'parent' in Greek; it means 'father.
b. And it surely does not mean 'parents, ' plural. It's a singular in Greek, pater. Is there any problem with that? Is there any loss of meaning? Yes, of course, because you lose the connection with God as father. It's an inappropriate loss of
the word "father" and it's taken from a context that connects it with God's fatherly discipline. How many times is the word "father" removed inappropriately? "Father," "fathers," and "forefathers" are removed 49 times from the TNIV and
replaced with gender-neutral language because "father" is too male-oriented.
3. brother : Let's look at another word, the word "brother," the third word. Well, there are three ways that the TNIV uses to eliminate "brother:
a. The first way is to use another word, Matt. 7:3,
"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no
attention to the plank in your own eye?" The TNIV changes "your
brother's eye" to "someone else's eye": "Why do you look at
the speck of sawdust in someone else's eye?" However, the Greek word is
It means 'brother.' It does not mean 'someone.
means a male human being to whom you are related as a brother, either
physically or metaphorically. But the word is changed to one that is not
b. The second way to change and get rid of the idea of "brother," because it is too male-oriented, is to omit the word "brother." Matt. 7:4, "How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye, ' ...?" The TNIV just drops the phrase completely, "How can you say, 'Let me take the speck out of your own eye, ' ...?" Yet in the Greek there is the phrase "to your brother," tw adelphw sou [N. B. for this transcript, "w" represents the Greek letter omicron]. It's completely left out. Words of Jesus left out of the text, no translation given for them.
c. Or another way to get rid of the word "brother" is to add the word "sister." Luke 17:3 says, "If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him." Now, the problem is, this is too male-oriented to leave it just "brother," so we'll neutralize it by adding "or sister": TNIV, "If any brother or sister sins against you..." The problem is the Greek just says "brother," ho adelphos sou. There's just a Greek word for 'brother' there. There's no word for "or sister". Now, the Bible can talk about brother or sister if it wishes, as in James 2:15, "Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food." The Bible can specify that. It's easy to do so in Greek, but it was not done in Luke 17:3. Jesus is using a specific example of a brother and saying "if your brother sins." The TNIV has added words to the text. It's also added the words "against you" which doesn't represent anything in Greek. Now, someone may say, "Wait a minute, on this verse! Doesn't it apply to a sister, too? If your sister sins, doesn't it apply to sisters who sin against you? So why not add 'or sister'?" Well, that objection fails to distinguish the difference between translation and application. Let me give you some examples. Take, for example, the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15. Now, does the parable of the prodigal son apply to prodigal daughters? Well, sure, it does. But should we translate that "a prodigal son or daughter"? Or should be translate it "a prodigal child"? No! Because accurate translation means, leave it as prodigal son and then we realize that Jesus was using the example of son, but we, the readers, will know that it also applies to prodigal daughters. Let me give you another example. You have in Luke 18 the parable of the persistent widow. Here Jesus is taking a woman as an example, a woman who kept appealing to a judge to settle her case. Jesus uses that to teach us that we should be persistent in prayer. Now, does that apply to widowers? Does it apply to married persons, as well? Husbands and wives, and sons and daughters? Yes, but we don't change Jesus' parable about the persistent widow to say there was a widow or a widower, or a husband or a wife, or a son or a daughter, or a brother or a sister, who lived in a certain city and appealed to a judge. We translate as "widow" and then we realize that application is different from translation, and we make the application. Another example: in the Ten Commandments, "You shall not covet your neighbor's wife." Does that apply—I'll ask the women in the audience— does that apply to not coveting your neighbor's husband? Well, sure it does. But should we change the words that God with his own finger wrote in the stone tablets that he gave to Moses? Should we change that so it says, "You shall not covet your neighbor's wife or husband?" Or should we change it so it says, "You shall not covet your neighbor's spouse?" because "wife" is too gender-specific? No, of course not! We can't change the very words of God. We leave it, "You shall not covet your neighbor's wife," and we make application to husband, as well. And so here, "If your brother sins," Jesus says "brother," leave the word "brother." Don't add "or sister." It's illegitimate to do that. That's not translation, that is application. How many times is the word "brother" inappropriately removed in the TNIV? 85 times. 85 times "brother" is thought to be too male-specific.
: Let's go to another
word, the word "man." James 1:12, "Blessed is the man who
perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the
crown of life that God has promised to those who love him." That is an
accurate translation because the Greek word here is not
can mean 'person' or 'man.
means 'man.' It's a male human being. James
is using a male human being as an example, just as Jesus used the widow as an
example, earlier. And here it's important because when James says,
is the man," he is echoing a whole
string of Old Testament passages about the blessed man. "Blessed is the
man," in Psalm 1, "who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor
stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight
is in the law of the LORD." The blessed man, the example for all the godly
I'll skip Acts 4:4 where the size of the church in
Acts , Paul says, "Even after your own number men will arise and distort the truth to draw away disciples after them. Here, now, Dr. Strauss said there's no feminist agenda in this Bible. Well, maybe there isn't, but the result is to tone down or to diminish the emphasis on male leadership in a number of passages. I'll show you more later , but here Paul is speaking to the Ephesian elders, "from your own number men will arise." He uses aner again, the male-specific term, and he says from you, from the elders, "men will arise to distort the truth, even from amidst those elders." But the TNIV doesn't allow Paul to say "men will arise." It changes it again to a gender-neutral term, "Some will arise." How many times is the word "man" illegitimately removed from the TNIV? 26 times, where the original also means a male human being.
5. he , him, his: Now we go to the word "he," "him," and "his." Matt.  6:24, Jesus said, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." Those words, "he", "him," "himself," "his," those are thought objectionable so they're removed from the TNIV. "Those who want to be," it's changed to plural. "Those want to be my disciples must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me." Now, all of a sudden, you're thinking, "Well, do I have to take up my own cross individually or is it perhaps the suffering that the church has to bear and I just take my part?" "Their cross," maybe it's one cross for the whole group. We don't know; it's changed singular to plural in the whole sentence, and without warrant in Greek. Those are singular pronouns in Greek, but they're masculine.
And then Rev. 3:20, "I stand at the door and
knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him and
eat with him, and he with me." "him, he," thought to be
objectionable in the TNIV, so they're changed to "them" and
"they," whereas prior to this, everyone understood that "I will
come in and eat with him and he with me" applied to women as well as to
men, now Jesus is no longer coming and eating with an individual person, eating
with you individually, he's coming to a church supper. "I will come in and
eat with them, and they with me." And, you say, "Well, are you sure
readers will take it as plural in the context?" Well, it may be ambiguous,
but it is not clear. In the previous verse, Jesus talks about "those whom
I love" and I think it is very possible that readers will take it to refer
to the whole church at
is another interesting example. "If there is no interpreter, the speaker
should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and to God." Here in
1 Cor. 14:28 Paul is talking about people who have the gift of speaking in
tongues at the church at
Well, we've gone on. There's another one here in Matt. 16, I'm going to skip for sake of time. But the inappropriate removal of the words "he", "him," and "his" make 530 changes, inappropriately in the TNIV, [with] loss of that masculine nuance in "he", "him," and "his," and loss of the individual particular relationship and accountability between God and one or more people. And so, what we have is the changes of so many hundreds of singulars to plurals, hundreds of whole sentences or phrases changed from singulars to plurals, and there's a collective loss of the emphasis on the individual relationship between a believer and God or Christ.
How many, now, inaccurate changes are there? We have on our website, cbmw. org , that's for Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, cbmw. org , we have categorized a list now of 904 changes which seem to us to be illegitimate, not in accordance with sound translation principles and unfair to the Greek text. I'll just give you some samples:
Removal of "son", 6 times
"father," 39 times
"brother," 43 times
"brothers," 42 times
"the Jews," 25 times (I haven't gotten to that for shortness of time, but at 25 times, instead of calling Jesus' opponents "the Jews," it calls them "the Jewish leaders," with no warrant in the text.)
"man," 26 times
"he," "him," and "his," 530 times
That's 711 illegitimate changes in the New Testament. That's a massive amount of change, but, particularly, to get rid of specific gender language. Now, the question is, let's say that you realize that "he" has been changed to "they" or "you" or "we"; plural pronouns have been substituted for singular in the TNIV. But you don't know where those are. So now, how many plural pronouns can you trust in the TNIV? It isn't just the ones [that] are mistakes, because you're reading [and] you don't have a Greek text open in front of you. You really can't trust any plural pronouns. How many are there in the whole of the NIV, anyway, 10,792 that you can't trust.
In the last minute I want to look to some verses about Jesus as a man. Heb. 2:17, "For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people." Here's viewing Jesus as the high priest. The high priests were men in the Old Testament. But the TNIV says, "he had to be made like his brothers and sisters in every way," in every way, think about that word "every." How did Jesus have to be made like his sisters in every way in order to be a high priest? The verse does not quite proclaim Jesus who was both male and female, an androgynous Jesus, but it comes close. And I think people will undoubtedly take it that way if the TNIV is made popular.
Too many changes in gender-oriented language to make this a trustworthy translation.
Moderator: Thank you very much, Dr. Grudem. And now, ladies and gentlemen, we have given each speaker 10 minutes to rebut, and we will begin, again, with Dr. Mark Strauss, speaking in favor of the TNIV.
Strauss: OK, I have to say, I am extremely encouraged. In many ways, if these are the worst passages that the TNIV opponents can come up with, it simply proves the TNIV is highly accurate. I could pick up any translation and come up with hundreds of similar problems. I wish we could take all night and look at each of these passages, because what Dr. Grudem doesn't say is that every example he has cited here is exegetically questionable. And, in fact, the majority of New Testament scholars would side against him on these issues. But I want you to make the call. I want to demonstrate to you the fact that the TNIV does improve dramatically on the language of the NIV. So let me look at a couple of Greek words that Dr. Grudem and I have talked about here. The Greek word anthropos can mean either a 'person,' 'a human being,' or a 'male person.' Look at this example, "How much more valuable is an anthropos than a sheep?" The NIV said, "How much more valuable is a man than a sheep?" The TNIV much more accurately says, "How much more valuable is a human being than a sheep?" It's more precise and, therefore, more accurate.
Here's another example, John 1:9, "The true light that gives light to every anthropos was coming into the world." Does that mean 'human being' or a 'man'? The NIV said, "The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world." The TNIV says, " everyone who was coming into the world"
Here's another Greek word, anthropoi , the plural of anthropos . It can mean 'people'; it can also mean 'men,' that is, male people. Matt. , "But I tell you that anthropoi will have to give account on the day of judgment …" Obviously, that means 'people.' The NIV says, "But I tell you that men will have to give you an account on the day of judgment …" The TNIV says, "But I tell you that people will have to give an account on the day of judgment …"
Here's a Greek word, pantes . It can mean 'all people'; it can mean 'all men.' Here's an example, John , " But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw pantes to myself." All men or all people? Obviously, all people. The NIV said, "I … will draw all men to myself." The TNIV says, "… all people to myself."
We could go on and on. I've got dozens and dozens of these examples. If you want to talk about improvements of accuracy, you have to talk in the tens of thousands of improvements of accuracy in the TNIV over the NIV. We don't have time, however. I want to look at every passage Dr. Grudem talks about. Unfortunately, we don't have time, so I want to deal with some of the arguments he makes, and if we have time, I'd love to go back to the passages in Hebrews. He's wrong on the meaning of those passages. He's wrong on 'brothers or sisters,' and so forth.
Here's the first point, though: Opponents wrongly claim, and Dr. Grudem has done this, that the TNIV "changes " the text. Dr. Grudem repeatedly said, "Those words have been removed from the TNIV, "sons, and fathers, and brothers." But, to be honest, every translation changes the text. And that's because the original text is in Greek or Hebrew. You have to change the text. If we weren't going to change the text, we'd have to only use Greek or Hebrew text. We'd have to throw out all of Bible translations. The real question we need to ask is, "What does the text mean?" Many people say things like, "The Greek says, "son." I heard Dr. Grudem say something like that several times. But the Greek doesn't say "son." If I'm not mistaken, "son" is an English word. "Father" is an English word. Dr. Grudem falls into this error when he writes in one of his articles, "Such revisions, these inclusive revisions, are not the words God originally caused to be written, and, thus, they are not the words of God." "They are not the words God originally caused to be written." But no translation gives the words God originally caused to be written, because those words are in Greek and Hebrew. We have to decide what the terms mean, and that's where Dr. Grudem has gone wrong. Opponents of the TNIV, Dr. Grudem, wrongly claims male nuances of meaning are lost. This is a confusion of form and meaning.
We already pointed out, la persona , feminine, means 'a person.' There are no female connotations. Anthropos means 'a person' in Greek. There are no male nuances, excuse me, in either of these. Dr. Grudem presents no evidence for these male nuances and he gives no guidelines to determine when they are present. Dr. Grudem claims, and now he's up to more, 904 distortions of the TNIV. What he means is that 904 times he would have translated differently. But this is a number we can grab out of thin air. I could say the NASB, I would translate it differently maybe 5,000 times, or the New King James Version, maybe 10,000 times. Dr. Grudem also doesn't admit that his dogmatic pronouncements about the distortion of the text are very much the minority opinion among New Testament scholars. And if we could go through every single passage, I would show you that. But let me just tell you, check the commentaries and you will see this. Also check the tniv.info website and you will see this. His views on these passages and that they mean "son" or that they mean "man" simply don't hold water.
I'm going to give you a few examples. He keeps saying that the word "brother" or "sister" doesn't appear in the Greek. So the question is , can the singular, adelphos, mean 'brother or sister'? Dr. Grudem admits that the plural, adelphoi , means 'brothers and sisters' in many contexts. But he claims that the singular doesn't mean 'brother or sister.' The plural adelphoi can mean 'siblings,' that is, brothers or sisters, why cannot the singular mean 'a sibling'? And here, Dr. Grudem is just simply wrong. Let me show you. The Greek lexicons say that the singular adelphos can mean 'men' or 'women.' The Bauer, Arndt, and Gingrich lexicon says adelphos , the singular, is used for members of the church. Louw & Nida, an excellent lexicon, says it's used of 'fellow believer.' The UBS lexicon says 'a fellow believer.' So, it can mean either a man or a woman. The contexts also confirm this. Look at this passage from 1 John [2:9], "Anyone who claims to be in the light," anyone, "but hates his adelphos …" Is that only male brothers? You can hate female sisters, but you can't hate male brothers. Obviously, this means 'a brother or a sister.' It means 'a sibling.' That is the meaning in context. The lexicons say that this is a legitimate meaning of adelphos . Adelphos can mean 'a brother or a sister.'
Another Greek term,
Now, I pointed out
means 'person.' In fact, it usually means
can mean 'person.' Dr. Grudem seems to deny that, but the
Greek lexicons say that
can mean 'person.' Louw & Nida say the
Let's go on to another issue: Can plurals in English be used for singulars in Greek? The goal of translation is always meaning not form. Dr. Grudem is going to repeatedly argue for retaining form. But here, here's an example, the Hebrew elohim is a plural form but it is singular in meaning. It means 'God' in most contexts. The Greek word sabbata is plural, but it is singular in meaning. The Greek word for 'heaven,' ouranoi, is plural but it has a singular meaning. Dr. Grudem keeps saying things like, "It's a singular so it should be translated as a singular." But even the New Testament writers don't follow that rule. The New Testament writers use plurals for singulars. Isaiah 52:7, "How lovely on the mountain are the feet of him who brings good news." Paul says in Rom. 10:15, quoting that verse, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" I've got other examples of this, but I am out of time.
Moderator: Thank you very much, Dr. Strauss. Now, once again, speaking in opposition, and this time, in rebuttal, Dr. Wayne Grudem.
Grudem: Dr. Strauss says almost all translations use inclusive language or gender-neutral language. What I want to point out is, in terms of current Bible sales in the United States, many of the translations that he's mentioned as gender-neutral, which I have "GN" here, have, for instance, 0.5% of the market, the Contemporary English Version, or the New Century Bible, 1% of the market, Today's English Version, 0.1% of the market. The Bibles that people use as serious reading and study Bibles and preaching Bibles are all in conformity with the Colorado Springs Guidelines, the NIV, the King James Version, the New King James Version, and the New American Standard Version.
Dr. Strauss has also said that the NET Bible contains inclusive language. Well, maybe at a word or two, or three, or passage, but not hundreds and hundreds in a systematic way. And then, amazingly, Dr. Strauss said that the English Standard Version which I spent the last three years of my life translating contains inclusive language or is gender-neutral. This is preposterous. The [English Standard Version] was translated by an oversight committee of twelve people, of which I was a member, and we scrupulously conformed to the Colorado Springs Guidelines at every point.
So his list, is really, I think, called into question.
And then the question is , can he quote the King James Version to support it? Well, the King James Version did translate the word huios , 'son,' as "child" three times. Those were unusual verses, "child of hell," "child of the devil," and "a man child" in Revelation. But apart from that, it didn't translate singular 'son' as "children."
The TNIV changed 'father' to "parents" 39 times; King James Version, zero.
It changed 'brother' to "believer" or something that doesn't have to do with 'brother' 43 times; the King James Version, zero.
The TNIV changes 'brothers' to "associates" or "dear friends" or "believer," my goodness, it is simply not true that the majority of scholars … I have a Ph.D in New Testament. I've taught New Testament. I've been on a Bible translation committee for three years with the English Standard Version. It is simply not true that the majority of scholars are going to say that the word "brothers" can mean 'associates,' 'dear friends,' or 'believers.' It is simply not true that the majority of scholars are going to say the singular 'father' can mean plural 'parents.' There is a major difference here. But the TNIV changes 'brothers' 42 times; the King James Version, zero.
The TNIV changes 'men' 26 times, illegitimately; the King James Version, zero.
And 'he,' 'him,' and 'himself' 530 times; the King James Version, zero.
The King James does not do what we're talking about here.
Dr. Strauss said these were the references to males remain male in the Today's New International Version. It's not true. Look, Peter says, "Stand up, I'm only a man." The TNIV changes it to "only human." Or King Herod, "the voice of God, not of a man," the TNIV changes it to "mere mortal." Or, Jesus, as a man, "by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead." The TNIV changes that to "a human," as well, Adam and Christ.
Or Elijah, James , "Elijah was a man with a nature like ours." The TNIV changes that to "was human."
What's the objection? Why can't we call Elijah a man? Why do we have to call him a human?
Or, as I said, Hebrews 5:1, "every high priest chosen from among men." TNIV changes that to "people."
Why is this male-oriented language taken out again and again?
Dr. Strauss says I'm confusing grammatical gender with biological gender. That's not true. The examples don't follow, because when we're talking about human beings, grammatical gender generally matches biological gender. And so the pronoun, autos , masculine, "he"; aute , feminine, "she." Those are consistent. Masculine pronouns are used to refer to masculine people in Greek. Feminine pronouns are used to refer to feminine people in Greek. So, when we're talking about pronouns referring to persons, grammatical gender is very important, because it matches biological gender.
Dr. Strauss said the 904 verses are verses where I differ with the translation; I would have done it differently. It's not true. Those 904 verses are verses like the ones I just showed you, verses where Greek singulars are inappropriately translated as plurals, not where collective nouns are translated as singulars or something like that. I agree that those are right. But these are cases where it's just not legitimate to do so. I've taught Greek. I cannot teach students to translate those Greek singulars as plurals. It would be incorrect.
Now, Dr. Strauss said there are no changes to God-language in the TNIV. I wanted to come back to that because the language referring to Jesus is changed a number of times. Just at the end of the last talk I mentioned Heb. 2:17, "He had to be made like his brothers in every way." Now, the TNIV says Jesus "had to be made like his brothers and sisters in every way ." Think about that. Jesus had to be made like his sisters in every way, in order to become a high priest?
Or, 1 Cor. , [NIV] "since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man." God-language is not changed. Well, what about this, TNIV changes it, "since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a human being." Now, I would ask, what's the objection to calling Adam a man? What's the objection to calling Jesus a man? Why do we have to switch and call him a human being? Because there's a systematic exclusion of male-oriented language.
Or, John 3:2, Nicodemus says to Jesus, "no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him." But the TNIV says, "no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with them." Why can't we call Jesus a him ?
Or, 1 Tim. 2:5, "there is one God and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." But the TNIV changes it to "one mediator between God and human beings, Christ Jesus, himself human." What's the objection to calling Jesus a man?
Now, Dr. Strauss said that the word
, the singular, could mean 'brother or 'sister.' Yes, let's put
that up. I have put a copy of the Bauer Greek-English Lexicon up here with
It says the plural can mean 'brothers and sisters.' But it does not say the
singular can mean that. It simply doesn't. And, although it does say it can
refer to a fellow member of the Christian community, just yesterday I looked up
every single one of those references, and they are all references, the biblical
references and the ones outside the Bible, they are all references to male
human beings. For instance, "Go and tell my brothers to go to
And what about the word aner ? Can it mean 'person'? Well, again, Dr. Strauss is confusing meaning and application. He says, well, what about "the anger of man doesn't work the righteousness of God"? Isn't it true that the anger of women doesn't work the righteousness of God? Well, sure that's true. But what's he's failing to understand is that James has started out, in his book, with a theme of the blessed man, the godly man, as an example for all to imitate. And he follows on that theme and talks about the anger of man not working the righteousness of God.
Well, I want to close by just reminding us of what is at stake, the
importance of every word of God. Gal.
"The promises were
[sic] spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The
Scripture does not say "and to seeds," which are many, but to seed which is
one." Paul bases an argument an argument on the difference between
singular and plural in the Bible. Jesus said,
an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished."
That's the littlest part of a letter we aren't to change the meaning of. Matt.
22:43, Jesus bases an argument on one letter in the Hebrew text, "the Lord
said to my lord." And so what we're talking about here are the words of
God. "The words of the Lord are words that are pure, silver refined in a
furnace on the ground, purified seven times." They are words that are
exactly what God wanted them to be, and we have no right to change their
Moderator: Thank you very much, Dr. Wayne Grudem. And, now, it gets very exciting because Dr. Strauss and Dr. Grudem will be going head to head, giving each a five minute cross-examination of the other. So I'll ask both of them to step to the podium at this time. So far, they've been talking about the TNIV, in favor and in opposition. They've spoken of each other's arguments. Now they get to speak directly to each other, and ask questions to each other. We'll begin with Dr. Strauss, five minutes of cross-examination of Dr. Grudem.
Strauss: Dr. Grudem, you're concerned about losing masculine nuances, male nuances, you repeatedly talk about that. Are you concerned about losing inclusive nuances? When I read your book, I never heard you, over and over you again mention the supposed loss of male nuances, you never once suggested that we need to be careful not to lose inclusive nuances with terms like "man" and "he."
Grudem: The English Standard Version that I was part of removed the word "man" hundreds of time, where it was just referring to a person. I don't know if it was a hundred or 200, 250 times, many times. And so we wanted to be sure it was inclusive. And there were a number of other cases where we changed from "he who" to "anyone" because it retained the singular and became more inclusive. I'm in favor of that where there's no specific male meaning.
Strauss: Didn't you just tell us a few minutes ago that the ESV didn't use inclusive language? Now, you're saying in hundreds of cases it introduces inclusive.
Grudem: Right, and the whole question is whether there's a male-oriented meaning in the original. Where it was there, we kept the male-oriented meaning. Where it was not, we took it out
Strauss: OK. Do you disagree with the lexicons that I cited that aner can mean '[person].' I cited at least three, and there were more, that aner can mean '[person].' In fact, if you check in the Bauer there, you'll see, the new one, explicitly stresses that aner can mean '[person].'
Grudem: Yeah, I'm just looking for that. The Bauer lexicon, which I have right here, does have an entry "equivalent to tis, that is 'someone, a person,' I think that's what you're referring to, isn't it?
Strauss: Yes, 'someone, a person.'
Grudem: Yeah, Yeah.
Strauss: That can mean any person, male or female.
Grudem: Right, that has 28 examples. I know I don't want to take your time to put them all up. I looked up every one of those. There's not one that means 'woman.' There are things like "some men came carrying a paralytic" or "Jesus was met by a demon-possessed man" or "a man from the crowd cried out, 'Look at my only son!'" or "a man by the name of Zacchaeus" and on and on. I looked at all the ones in classical Greek literature and extrabiblical. They're all 'man.'
Strauss: OK, so James' reference to
Grudem: So this means 'someone, a person, a male human being.'
Strauss: "the anger of man" is a reference to the anger of males, rather than to humans?
Grudem: What is that verse?
Strauss: James 1:20
Grudem: Yeah, yes, because
Strauss: the anger of males?
Grudem: Right, well, specifically he's talking about the anger of a man and saying that doesn't bring about the righteousness of God. Now, there's application to women, as well, and children.
Strauss: And James 3:2, "If anyone is never at a fault, he is a perfect male." That's what that means?
Grudem: Oh, Yeah, because it's following on
Strauss: Women become perfect males, when they are not at fault?
Grudem: No, no, no, no, no, because James 3:2 is following on James 3:1, "Let not many of you become teachers." I think he's talking about the teaching office of the church. "Let not many of you become teachers, my brothers." I have to look at it again, you said, give me the verse.
Strauss: James 3:2
Grudem: Yeah, and "If anyone," I'm not, what does it …
Strauss: "If anyone is never at a fault in what he says, he is a perfect aner .
Grudem: Yeah, of course, Yeah, but the example is, again, of a male teacher, that is talked about the same as in verse 1.
Strauss: But that doesn't say "a male teacher," it says "a teacher." "Let not many of you become teachers." Your assumption related to teachers …
Grudem: Well, I mean, he's talking about the teaching office in the early church, I believe, Yeah. OK, that's how I understand it. And, Mark, I want to say that the Colorado Springs Guidelines say that aner should almost always be translated 'male human being.' I want to admit that there could be an idiomatic use, there is one, kat' andra , which means 'individually.' And so, sure, there are times, but, systematically taking 20 or 30 times and changing it to "man" without justification …
Strauss: But that's very few considering the number of times,
Strauss: So the TNIV, when it means 'person,' when those translators, both complementarians and egalitarians, were convinced it meant 'human' or 'person,' they translated it that way. I don't know, why do you object to that? I don't understand.
Grudem: Well, almost always if there were two or three times where people differed on the specific construction, or maybe it were an idiomatic use, I don't know anywhere where it is necessary to translate that way in the New Testament. The reason is, Mark, is that aner is exceptionally common word, you know that, in Greek.
Grudem: And scholars have known that for half a century, but, as I read those lexicons, it's 'a man, a male-oriented being.'
Strauss: a part of the semantic range, as the Colorado Springs Guidelines say is 'a person.' We always translate according to context, rather than imposing
Grudem: I don't think that part of the semantic range is 'person.'
Strauss: But you just said so, the Colorado Springs Guidelines said so.
Grudem: Because we weren't aware of all the examples of aner in the whole world, and so we said "almost always" just to allow a little wiggle room, but not to allow wholescale change from "man" to "person."
Strauss: Do you admit adelphos can mean 'a fellow believer'? Doesn't 'a fellow believer' mean a man or a woman?
Grudem: I go back to
Strauss: your preference, 'fellow believer'
Grudem: Yeah, let's find some examples where it refers to a human being
Strauss: I gave you some from 1 John that are clearly related
Grudem: That's confusing translation and application.
Strauss: So John says not to hate a male brother, and then you can apply that, but we're
Grudem: Right, just like if a brother sins and …
Moderator: Time is up.
Moderator: And now we get to turn the tables. We'll give you just a moment, Dr. Grudem, to organize your questions.
Grudem: I don't know about the audience. I think that Dr. Strauss and I are enjoying this.
Strauss: Yes, we always do, don't we?
Grudem: All right.
Moderator: Now, ladies and gentlemen, Dr. Grudem gets to cross-examine.
Strauss: Am I going to need my Greek text here?
Grudem: No, no, no, I'm mostly just going to put transparencies up here. And, Mark, I can just give you these if you want to stand at the podium. I'm going to go through those lists, and that's the same thing that's on the transparency. All right?
Strauss: All right.
Grudem: Mark, in Matt. 6:24, would you agree that "his" in the phrase "in his cross" in the NIV, that "his" is translating the Greek word autou ?
Strauss: Yes, certainly.
Grudem: And that autou is a masculine, singular pronoun in Greek?
Strauss: A masculine generic pronoun in this context, yes.
Grudem: But it's singular or plural?
Strauss: It's a generic singular pronoun, yes. It refers generally to people. That's the nature of generic references. Generic references are singular in form, but they refer to people in general.
Grudem: Right, but you agree that it was masculine and singular, though you're calling it generic.
Grudem: All right, but the TNIV translates masculine singular pronoun as a common gender plural, "their cross."
Grudem: Right, do you think that's correct?
Strauss: Absolutely, it's an excellent translation.
Grudem: Do you think there, do you think there's
Strauss: In context "those" means those individuals, those who want to be my disciples.
Strauss: If I said
Grudem: Do you think there's any possibility that a reader will think that "their cross" means one cross for a group and will fail to understand that he has to take up his own individual cross.
Strauss: Absolutely not, no one reads English in that wooden manner.
Strauss: Let me give you an illustration.
Grudem: And so, when the TNIV, I guess I'm just going to press on with questions because it's my time. All right, the TNIV changes
Strauss: Will I get to answer? I thought it was my time to answer.
Grudem: Go ahead.
Strauss: If I said to this group, "Those who want to talk about this afterwards, please come forward," would someone say, "I can't come forward, I don't have a group. I'm alone." "Those individuals," that's the way English works.
Grudem: So, it doesn't bother you that the TNIV has changed hundreds of singulars to plurals in this way, would you say that …
Strauss: No, because the goal is meaning, not form.
Grudem: And so it makes no difference to meaning?
Strauss: It doesn't, no, the meaning is the same, but the meaning is generic.
Grudem: Can you tell us how many minutes we have here?
Grudem: OK, Matt. 7:3,
Strauss: Are you going to give me one?
Grudem: Yeah, if I can, Matt. 7:3, "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay not attention to the plank in your own eye?"
Grudem: Is it correct to say that the NIV translated adelphos as "brother's" here?
Grudem: And is 'brother' a common meaning of adelphos ?
Grudem: Now, how did the TNIV translate adelphos ?
Strauss: It translated it as "someone else's eye" and is
Grudem: Is 'someone else' a common meaning found in any lexicon for adelphos ?
Strauss: Well, it refers to a brother in Christ. I think the TNIV doesn't quite have it right here.
Grudem: OK, good.
Strauss: OK, and let me tell you what I
Grudem: I'm just going to press on, Mark.
Strauss: Can I answer that question, please?
Grudem: I'm going to go on
Strauss: OK, now this is very important, this is a very important point. No translation always gets it right.
Strauss: Please consult multiple translations.
Grudem: Mark, this is my
Strauss: I think a better translation for the TNIV would be "brother or sisters' eye" here,
Strauss: since it's clearly
Grudem: The NIV translates sou as "your."
Grudem: Here, "your brother's eye"
Strauss: tou adelphou sou
Grudem: How did the TNIV translate sou ?
Strauss: "someone else's eye," yeah, I think it should have been "your brother
Grudem: OK, Matt. 7:4
Strauss: or sister's eye." I think in this case it's not as precise as it could have been, and that's the case … (inaudible) … with every translation
Grudem: OK, Mark, I hear that, I hear the answer, but I have to press on. Mark, Matt. 7:4, would you agree that the NIV translates tw adelphw sou as "to your brother"?
Grudem: How did the TNIV translate tw adelphw sou ?
Strauss: They translate according to this sense. They figured it was implicit in the meaning.
Grudem: And so they left out the words of Jesus?
Strauss: You're confusing form and meaning. It's obvious in the context, "How can you say, …" How can a
Grudem: So it left out the words of Jesus here?
Strauss: What? I'm sorry?
Grudem: It left out these words of Jesus and didn't translate them.
Strauss: Words are always left out in every translation because these are
Grudem: OK, thank you.
Strauss: Greek words and we have to use English words.
Grudem: OK, how much time left? One minute? OK.
Strauss: So we replace all the words, so all of these words in Greek are replaced words in English, that's the way translation works.
Grudem: And where Jesus didn't say "brother or sister," what word is being translated by "sister"?
Strauss: Here? I'm sorry. I don't
Grudem: "Brother or sister" instead of adelphos .
Strauss: "Brother or sister," that's part of the semantic range of adelphos, yes. So it's a perfectly good translation.
Grudem: Mark, just one last point here. Mark, Prov. 30:5, "Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him."
Grudem: "Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you, and you be found a liar." Or, Deut. 4:2, "You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it; that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you." Mark, I'm going to ask you this seriously. In defending the TNIV in these matters, do these verses trouble you?
Strauss: Not a bit,
Grudem: OK, thank you.
Strauss: because if you change every word, it's Hebrew and Greek, we couldn't have any English translations, we will only from now on, we will only use Hebrew and Greek texts, rather than English, because all of the words are changed. We have to decide what it means.
Grudem: I have to say, Mark, that those verses trouble me very much, in this regard, with the TNIV.
Moderator: Thank you very much. That concludes the cross-examination. Dr. Mark Strauss speaking in favor of the TNIV; Dr. Wayne Grudem, in opposition .. We are going to take a fifteen minute break, but I will remind you that you are welcome to write on the cards that are at your chairs questions that you may then submit to the Bible House table which is at the top of the stairs where I'm pointing.
Again, I want to remind you that we are sponsored by FaithandValues.com, the Southern California Center for Christian Studies, the English Standard Version of the Holy Bible, Patriarch's Path and Books on booksonthepath.com, and the Faith Defenders and Dr. Bob Morey.
We will take a fifteen-minute break. We will be back precisely, and begin precisely at . Thank you.
Moderator: To begin our ten-minute closing arguments, and we will begin with Dr. Mark Strauss. Dr. Strauss.
Strauss: OK, let me just encourage you, please, please don't stop with this debate. We have only scratched the surface. We have barely dealt with some of these passages. I would strongly encourage you, go to the tniv.info website. You will find all of these passages that Dr. Grudem has suggested dealt with by reputable scholars, look at the endorsements. You will find your friends and those Bible scholars you highly respect and theologians and preachers and so forth.
Let's review some of our conclusions:
1. The TNIV is not a feminist or a politically correct translation. In passages related to the role of women in ministry there are no changes that are being introduced. It is highly offensive, I'm sure, to feminists. It's highly offensive to people who are seeking political correctness. Just compare the passages, as we did tonight.
2. The goal of the TNIV is the same as all other good translation, to reproduce the meaning of the original as precisely as possible. If you listen to Dr. Grudem's arguments, he's over and over arguing for the retention of form. It said, "It's singular; you're changing it to a plural." That's not the question you have to ask. That's not the question of Bible translation. The question of Bible translation is: What does it mean, not what is the form, but what does it mean? And so we have to determine what the Greek or Hebrew phrase means and find a translation that is as accurate and precise as possible.
3. Bible translation is about reproducing the meaning of the original, not artificially mimicking forms.
4. The TNIV, another point we've made, is gender-accurate. It's not gender-neutral or unisex, as it has been accused sometimes. It's gender-accurate in that the translator sought to determine precisely what gender distinctions were intended in the original text. If they felt like the singular adelphos was a generic reference meaning 'a sibling' or 'a brother or sister in Christ,' that is how they translate it.
5. Remember, the TNIV translators are among the best conservative Bible scholars in the country. They are not trying to be politically correct. They are not trying to be offensive. This is not a slippery slope because the goal remains the same. If we were trying to transform the Bible, and change its meaning, you would come up with entirely different translations. The goal is exactly the same as the NIV, which is to translate according to the sense of the Hebrew or Greek, and, especially, to keep the translation current, to keep up with contemporary English. Just as we no longer use the word "gay" to mean 'happy' and 'carefree,' so "man" can be misperceived by readers.
This debate is about keeping our translations relevant to the changing state of the English language. It's about accuracy and relevance in translation.
I heard a very conservative commentator refer to this debate as "a tempest in a teapot," and that's really what it is. People are often outraged when they start seeing these so-called changes in translations because they don't sound like the Bible they are used to, "'brothers and sisters,'" my text says 'brothers.'" But the Greek means 'brothers and sisters.' To be honest, the original Bible, the Greek and Hebrew text, does not sound anything like the Bible you are used to. The point is that every Bible translation must take Greek and Hebrew words and find their closest equivalent in contemporary English. That is exactly what the TNIV is doing.
I should also remind you that this debate is nothing new. Every new translation in the history of the church has been greeted with some level of controversy, from mild suspicion to violent outrage. I'm convinced that those attacking the TNIV today will eventually be remembered together with those who attacked other versions, like those who attacked William Tyndale for translating the Bible into contemporary, idiomatic English. Like those who attacked the King James Version. Hugh Broughton, a leading biblical scholar of his day, lambasted the KJV when it first appeared. He said that all the copies of the KJV should be collected and burned. He said he would rather be torn apart by wild horses than let the King James Version be read in his churches. This is what people do when they get translations that they're not familiar with, that they disagree with the translation philosophy. I guess we should be grateful. As Bruce Metzger points out, at least today they only burn the translations, not the translators. I'd be afraid if I saw them building a bonfire outside tonight.
attacks are nothing new.
But I have to
say I am deeply concerned at the precedent that is being set.
• Those who are attacking the TNIV are, after all, attacking a highly accurate expression of God's inspired and authoritative Word.
Where will this end?
I notice the
New Living Translation
is already under
attack on the Internet.
In an earlier
article, Dr. Grudem attacked the
Revised Standard Version.
The New Century
Contemporary English Version?
Any of those twelve
versions that use this kind of language?
In Gal. Paul says, "If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other."
Christians fight about way too many things. Now don't get me
There is nothing wrong with critiquing and
checking translations for accuracy.
let's keep clear heads and sober minds. Let's call an end to these unwarranted
attacks and smear campaigns.
has been attacked in amazing ways. I wrote a response to an editorial that
appeared in the Christian Times. The person who wrote that editorial clearly
had never even seen the TNIV. Everything he said about it was wrong. Let's
check this version out. Let's read its readings and check them against what the
commentaries say the text means. Then you will see: It is a very accurate
translation. Much of what I have read about the TNIV is unfair, unwarranted
and, often, simply untrue.
So in one sense, I am deeply disturbed by these attacks. But in another sense, this debate is a good thing. If people come away from here with a better understanding of the nature of Bible translation, it will be worth it. If they begin reading their Bibles, I love it when I hear people say, I've been reading the TNIV to check it out and comparing it to the NASV, or to the New King James Version. If they gain a greater knowledge of the beauty and majesty of God's inspired and authoritative Word, it is worth it.
I encourage my students, now, I should say, I demand that my students use a variety of Bible versions. I encourage them to use functional equivalent versions like the New Living Translation, the Good News Bible, the Contemporary English Version, the New Century Version. I encourage them, beside those, to use formal equivalent versions like the New American Standard, the New King James Version, the Revised Standard Version. And also I encourage them to use middle of the road translations that are between formal and functional, like the TNIV, like the NIV, like the New American Bible. This way they will see how hundreds and hundreds of skilled and expert Bible scholars understand and interpret the text. Remember no human interpreter or translator is infallible, so if we want to understand God's infallible Word we must listen to the voices of many interpreters. I've already pointed out that every one of the cases Dr. Grudem has pointed to is exegetically debated and good conservative evangelical Bible scholars would disagree with his conclusions. So the TNIV should come to its place beside other versions. We need to use our minds to discern the meaning that God intended.
I love the words of the King James translators in their original preface. I wish they would still print this preface with the King James Version. They write this, they say,
Christian Reader, we never thought from the beginning that we should need to
make a new translation, nor yet to make of a bad one a good one; ... but to
make a good one better."
therefore why the word translated should be denied to be the word, or forbidden
to be current,"
James translators wanted to be current in their language)
"notwithstanding that some
imperfections and blemishes may be noted in the setting forth of it."
translation that's ever been done has imperfections and blemishes.) "
Though all translations contain 'blemishes,'
even the meanest translation of the Bible in English set forth by men of our
profession ... containeth the word of God, nay, is the word of God."
Keeping the Bible current was critically important to the KJV translators. It was critically important to William Tyndale, whose magnificent translation captured the hearts of the English people in their own words. And it is critically important to the TNIV translators.
Some of you, I'm sure, have been asking throughout this debate, "Why bother?" Why should we condescend to the changes in language produced by our heathen culture?
But we might just as well ask why the apostle Paul preached in Greek instead of Hebrew; after all, Hebrew was the language of God's original revelation! Or why on Mars Hill he preached about the "unknown God" [Acts 17] instead of giving his traditional message to Jews in the synagogue [Acts 13]. The answer, of course, is that Paul sought to present the Gospel as clearly and accurately for the audience to which he was preaching. At the same time, he never compromised the truth of the message. Gender-accurate translations, like the TNIV, seek to accurately convey the sense of the Hebrew or Greek original, while utilizing the language people speak today. That is the best possible goal for Bible translation.
Moderator: Thank you very much, Dr. Strauss. And now, ladies and gentlemen, Dr. Wayne Grudem, with ten minutes.
Grudem: I, too, would echo what Dr. Strauss said, and say this has been a worthwhile debate and you all, as listeners, will continue to follow it. I would recommend the other website, Council On Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, cbmw.org. We have popular and technical material on the TNIV posted on that website, and more coming next week, of a remarkable nature, I believe.
Dr. Strauss says scholars have endorsed the TNIV, and he gave a whole list. He mentioned Don Carson and Darrell Bock. I talked to Darrell Bock. Darrell Bock said he refused to endorse the TNIV. If it's in writing someplace, I don't know about it. It's not in writing.
Strauss: That's not what I said.
Grudem: And Don Carson, I think, is nowhere in writing on this either. If it is, I'd like to see it. But I don't think you should use them when they haven't made a public statement.
1. Are there scholars on the other side? Within a very short period of time when the TNIV appeared, some of us on Council On Biblical Manhood and Womanhood put out a statement that said we could not endorse the TNIV translation as sufficiently accurate to commend to the church. And it was amazing to me within the space of a few hours over twenty Ph.Ds answered back, yes, we'll take a stand against this Bible. Gregg Allison, these were all people with Ph.Ds, except one and he's a full professor at a major seminary. Gregg Allison, Henry Baldwin, Steve Baugh, Hans Bayer, James Borland, Harold O. J. Brown, Ardel B. Canedy, Ray Clendenen, Clifford John Collins, William Cook, Jack Cottrell, Dan Doriani, Ligon Duncan, John Frame, Paul Gardner, Wayne Grudem, that's me, C.E. Hill, Wayne House, Bingham Hunter, Peter Jones, Reggie Kidd, many of these have Ph.Ds in New Testament, over twenty of them, George Knight, Carl Laney, Al Mawhinney, Albert Mohler, William Mounce, who published the largest selling Greek grammar in the world right now, he gets about 90% of the market, he said that I have to take a stand against this, Ray Ortlund, Paige Patterson, John Piper, Vern Poythress, Mark Saucy, Tom Schreiner, R. C. Sproul, Bruce Ware, William Weinrich, Dean Wenthe, both of them actually Lutheran, we're at a Lutheran university, Robert Yarbrough, the chairman of the New Testament Department at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. That's 37 scholars. There are more that could be added.
2. Why is this important? You may say, "Oh, what about all this technical debate over aner and adelphos and pater ? Is it really important?" Well, some of the verses I brought up you may think these are small changes. So what if it's changed a singular to a plural here or there. And about those I would say, "And what about the cumulative loss of meaning in hundreds of small changes?" On the other hand, there are some verses that are very important and I think they reveal a trend in the TNIV. Jesus said, "I will come in and eat with him, and he with me, if anyone hears my voice and opens the door." But in Rev. 3:20 the TNIV changes that, "I will come in and eat with them, and they with me." Loss of fellowship between Jesus and the individual believer. Now it's Jesus fellowshipping with a group. That's very significant. And you say, "Well, you've only lost it in one verse." No, you've lost it at hundreds of verses.
And, then, muting the manhood of Christ. I've mentioned many verses, but again, "He had to be made like his brothers and sisters in every way to become a high priest"? That is the tip of the iceberg. That is indicative of an agenda, muting the masculinity of Christ.
And, then, no agenda with regard to the women leadership in the church? Well, what about this? 1 Tim. , "In the same way, women who are deacons are to be worthy of respect," says the TNIV. That's a debatable question exegetically, doubtful, but the TNIV puts it there and we have women deacons required, no longer debatable.
So, is it important? I believe it is important because it reveals a systematic agenda.
There's one more thing.
How much time do I have left?
Timer: About five minutes.
Grudem: Five minutes left. All right, then I have time to talk about this. I mentioned before at the earliest part of this debate, Heb. 12:7, where it said, "Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?" My argument is singular "father" cannot mean "parents", plural. It's just wrong in Greek, and I'll stand by that, and I doubt that there's a scholar that's going to differ. Well, Mark, you are a scholar, but I don't think there are going to be very many. But the TNIV website put up this explanation. I'm quoting from it. Why do they translate pater as "parents"? They said the Greek word pater traditionally rendered "fathers" refers to parents in verse 9. So verse 9 is their argument. And in this particular context, where the author uses the singular form in verse 7, the meaning is the same. Why did they change it in verse 7? Because in verse 9 it means 'parents.' Now I want you to read verse 9 in Hebrews 12, in the TNIV, "Moreover, we have all had human parents who disciplined us and we respected them for it." That's Heb. 12:9. Therefore, they changed it to "parents" in verse 7. But I want to tell you what's next, and what troubles me. If they use verse 9a to change verse 7, then why won't they use verse 9a to change verse 9b, "shall we not submit to the Father of spirits and live?" pater , same word again. If the context determines meaning, and the TNIV says the context here in Heb. 12 is that pater means 'parents,' then why don't we have "the Parent of spirits" as a name for God, in Heb. 12:9? It seems to me on the website for the TNIV you have the theoretical groundwork laid here to shifting to God as our parent, and it's only one step from that to "Our Parent in heaven, hallowed be your name." The groundwork is all here in the words of the TNIV website.
These are big changes. They reveal a systematic agenda.
In summary, then, what kind of Bible do you want to use? Do you want a Bible that makes these changes again and again, and removes "son," "brother," "father," "man," and "he", "him, and "his"? Not at one or two or three or four debatable texts, in which case I would not even be here, but in hundreds and hundreds of verses again and again. A version that strays from the original, that you can't trust. A version which several hundred pronouns are changed from "he" to "they," singular to plural, and so you don't really even know if you can trust any of the plural pronouns in the TNIV, unless you have your Greek New Testament open beside you, and you can check and correct it. That is a major loss of trustworthiness in a Bible translation. Do you want that kind of Bible?
Well, finally, Dr. Strauss said there's an agenda here: The opponents of the TNIV are driven by ideology. Well, I want to tell you that my motive in objecting to the TNIV, and I've thought long and hard before engaging in this dispute again, I had to have [uncertain transcription?] for the last several months. But I am driven by an ideology, and I'll tell you what the ideology is. The ideology is 2 Tim. 3:16, "All Scripture is God-breathed. It is profitable for correction, training, reproof, and correction and training in righteousness." All Scripture is God-breathed.
My ideology is Psalm 12:6, "Every word of God proves true." Oh, Psalm 12:6, I misquoted, I'm sorry, and I don't want to do that. "The words of the LORD are words that are pure, silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times." These words in scripture are God's words, and they're pure. They're exactly what God wanted them to be. And we need translations that will get as close to that meaning as possible, not that we'll avoid male-oriented meaning hundreds of times.
My ideology is Prov. 30:5, "Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you, and you become a liar."
My ideology is Deut. 4:2, "You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it; that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you."
My ideology is the ideology of Jesus. He said, "Not an iota, not a dot will pass from the law until all is accomplished."
My ideology is the ideology of the psalmist. He said, "Forever, oh, LORD, your word is permanently fixed in the heavens."
These are God's words. We can't just be embarrassed, or take out male-oriented meaning where it seems to be offensive, and then say, "Well, it's close." We need a Bible we can trust every word, a Bible that is trustworthy in every detail because these words are the very words of God.
Moderator: Thank you, Dr. Grudem. And now, just before we get to the question and answer portion of our debate, we have given each of our speakers five minutes to rebut and to close their formal arguments. And we'll begin with Dr. Strauss.
Strauss: Again, there is so much to say, it's impossible to go through it all. Dr. Grudem says you can't trust the TNIV. If you can't trust the TNIV, then you can't trust 90% of the versions out there, versions done by hundreds of excellent, conservative, evangelical scholars. The majority of New Testament scholars consider these inclusive renderings to accurately represent the meaning of the original text. I think Dr. Grudem is simply wrong that when he says you can't trust the TNIV. He keeps saying, again, "The TNIV makes changes again and again." But, remember, every translation changes all of the words. He says, "These are God's words." Does he mean the Hebrew and Greek words or does he mean the English words?
As the King James Version said, the accurate translation into English represents God's words. The TNIV is an excellent and beautiful expression of God's word. If you don't believe that, it's interesting that I've listed a bunch of biblical scholars who strongly support the TNIV. By the way, when I was speaking of Darrell Bock, Darrell Bock, if you read an excellent article on the tniv.info website, he has an article called, "Do Gender-Inclusive Translations Distort God's Word? Not Necessarily." And as you read that article, please, you just got a recommendation, for Darrell Bock from Dr. Grudem. Please read that article. Who else did you mention? Oh, and Don Carson has written an excellent book supporting the use of gender-inclusive language, "The Gender-Inclusive Debate: A Plea For Realism." Please read that book. Consult those scholars that Dr. Grudem pointed out. They have excellent arguments. If you read them, you will come to my conclusions on this particular debate. So, isn't it interesting, though, that New Testament scholars are divided on this issue? What does that tell you? It tells you it's a disputed thing. It's a disputed issue. I think, though, that if you look at those who are opposing them, they are more theologically and less exegetically and linguistically focused. And so I think you need to determine motive in these cases.
I'd like to say a word about the political and social motivations that have been referred to. Opponents frequently refer to a politically-correct agenda of radical feminism that's driving these changes. Well, I think a feminist agenda is a legitimate concern. I, too, am a conservative in these areas. But let's not let our theological agendas cloud our judgment about sound linguistic principles. We must set out the set out the goals, methods, and philosophies of Bible translation and draw conclusions based on these, rather than our abhorrence for certain cultural tendencies. We must be cautious since the claim of political-correctness can cut both ways. To be politically-correct in our conservative, evangelical circles is to strongly oppose any hint of feminism. I haven't met anyone who in first hearing about a so-called gender-neutral Bible, has not said, "That's terrible!" until they hear what these issues actually are, that this is not about politically correctness. And, in fact, most of the power brokers in evangelical Christianity and fundamentalist circles are extremely anti-feminist. They've come out strongly against these language changes. I know several professors who would come out and endorse the TNIV if not for fear that they would lose their jobs. The first response most evangelicals hear to gender-neutral Bibles is to react with indignation and disgust. So that seems to me to be the politically-correct side.
Let me challenge you to be counter-cultural, and to investigate these matters for yourselves. So learn a little bit about the nature of Bible translation. Let us watch our agendas, all of us.
I want to say a word, too, about the need for these kinds of changes. The English language has changed.
• Most of you have probably heard the stories, like the little girl who asked her father why God didn't like girls, because he always talked to the men, and never talked to the women.
• Or the little girl who told her dad she wanted to be "a fisher of women," instead of "a fisher of men." Her little sister could be a fisher of men, she said.
What's the problem here? The problem here is the language is changing. Empirical studies demonstrate that conclusively.
Finally, again, let me encourage you to gain as much information on this issue as possible. Don't make a knee-jerk conclusion. Christians need to use our minds, as well as our hearts.
Finally, let us demonstrate charity.
• I was on an NPR, National Public Radio station being interviewed.
• The host got all excited and he said, "Now you're changing God into a woman, right?" And I said "No." And I explained what we were doing, that we were trying to accurately represent the gender distinctions. He said, "So what's the controversy? Why are you fighting about this?" I have to ask that same question: Why are we fighting about this?
• Let's not let an issue like this divide and break up the body of Christ.
Moderator: Thank you very much. And now five minute rebut and close by Dr. Grudem.
Grudem: Well, I agree that the Bible needs to speak to women as well as men. If you compare the cultures and history of the world, this book is a wonderful book, in terms of affirming the full equality of women, in the image of God, along with men. And I don't want to back down from that a bit. I spend a lot of my time speaking at marriage conferences and affirming that. We're at Family Life, for instance, my wife and I speak at these. But, we can't change the words of God, and change meaning. We have to give women, as well as men, a Bible that is trustworthy.
Dr. Strauss says my objections are about form, rather than meaning. I differ with that. Every transparency I've put up there, every verse I've quoted this evening has to do with loss of meaning, meaning that is there in the words of the original text, meaning that is thought to be offensive because it's male-oriented language. And so it's removed from the TNIV.
Dr. Strauss says are these, when I say these are God's words, do I mean the Hebrew or Greek words, or are they English words? Well, I mean both. I mean the Hebrew or Greek words originally. But I mean the English words in so far as they faithfully represent the Hebrew and Greek words. And let me tell you that modern translations that do not use inclusive language in the way the TNIV does, they are trustworthy. But the ones that are abandoning that principle and using gender-neutral language are less trustworthy and less accurate than the Hebrew and Greek.
Now, you may be sitting here and thinking, "Scholars are divided. How can I decide?" Well, let me tell you, that's the case with every difference of viewpoint in the history of the Christian church. Lay people have the responsibility to look and decide. And that's exactly why I set verse after verse after verse up here in English, and said, "Look, Jesus called like our brothers and sisters. Does that make a difference to you?" "Look, you've lost individual relationship with Jesus, in 'coming and eating with him, and he with me'. Does that make a difference to you?" You'd have to weigh these and decide. I'm saying that to every believer who is listening. Yes, scholars are divided. But that is, in fact, the case that we live with. I think that you can decide, because I think that ultimately the question is not over technical meanings of Greek and Hebrew. The ultimate question is over meanings of English words, and English verses in the Bible.
Strauss said, "Every Bible translation meets controversy. William Tyndale
was burned at the stake." So there's nothing new. But I want to say
there's a difference. The people who opposed William Tyndale and his English
translation in the 15
century in England and burned him at the
stake, those were people in the Roman Catholic Church, unfortunately, who did
not want the Bible to be in the hands of lay people. They thought lay people
could not understand scripture, and they wanted to keep the Bible from getting
out. That was a wrong motive. It really troubled me when Dr. Strauss said that
I and those who oppose the TNIV will be remembered along with those who opposed
William Tyndale. Those were terrible motives to keep the word of God from
people, and terrible means, burning people at the stake. It troubles me that he
could say that about those of us who are opposed, to say that we'd be
remembered with those who attacked Tyndale. William Tyndale himself said, in
fact, "I call God to record against the day we shall appear before our
Lord Jesus Christ to give a reckoning of our doings, that I never altered one
syllable of God's Word
against my conscience.
Nor would do this day, if
all the pleasures, honors, and riches of the earth might be given me."
I want to be remembered with William Tyndale
who won't alter one syllable of scripture, contrary to the meaning of God's
Dr. Strauss said Christians fight about too many things and there have been unwarranted attacks against the TNIV. Well, I want to say to you that I stand before God with a clear conscience. I struggled long and hard before I would speak out publicly against it. But I thought it was necessary, because the purity of the word of God was at stake, the purity of the word of God in English. I don't want there to be controversy and struggle in the church. But when there's a Bible translation that's going to lead God's people astray, a Bible translation that people cannot trust, a Bible translation that distorts the meaning of the word of God hundreds of times, simply to get rid of male-oriented language, then I say I can do nothing else, I have to stand against it, and I have to speak out.
Moderator: Thank you, Dr. Grudem. And now we still have time for questions and answers. And we're just going to go through these on a random way, but I have sorted these back and forth, so that they each are addressed, ultimately. And we'll just go ahead and stay with the order that we've been going in through the evening. So, Dr. Strauss, you are first.
The question here is: Why the emphasis on cultural relevance instead of biblical integrity?
Strauss: I think all of the emphasis is on biblical integrity, but translation is always a two-step process:
1. We have to cross the hermeneutical bridge to find out what the text meant in its original context.
2. Then you've got to find out how best to translate it into contemporary English.
So there's a balance. Both are equally important. And if you lose any passage across that bridge, you lose the translation, you lose passing on the meaning of the text.
Moderator: Is it possible within cultural relevance to lose sight of biblical integrity? Can you go too far?
Strauss: Certainly, you can go too far, if you introduce meaning that is not in the original. And I think the TNIV is extremely careful to only translate references according to the gender distinctions intended by the original authors of scripture.
Moderator: Are there any sections within the TNIV that perhaps, within that context, that you are just a little bit shy of endorsing?
Strauss: I mentioned at least one of them, where there was a reference to "anyone" or "someone," instead of of a "brother or sister." I think that's a slight loss of meaning. I think there's enormous loss of meaning with reference to utilizing "man" and "he" and "brother" when, in fact, the text means 'brother or sister.' So I think the versions that Dr. Grudem is endorsing lose a great deal more meaning than the TNIV ever does.
Moderator: Thank you very much.
This is a question for Dr. Grudem. This comes from Dr. William Barrick: If the New Testament writers at least six times changed singular to plurals in their quotations, why are the TNIV translators wrong to do so? Does inspiration allow them to change, but we cannot do so? Now, there are several biblical verses that are cited here also,
Grudem: Yeah, what are they?
Moderator: if you'd like some references from this person.
Grudem: Well, no, I'd rather control the transparency here. Thanks.
Grudem: Who's asking the question?
Moderator: This is from Dr. William Barrick.
Grudem: OK. If the New Testament authors changed singular to plural, it would be similar changes, why aren't we justified in doing that? The reason is that New Testament authors are doing application and interpretation, and not just translation. And I'll show you why. For instance, in 2 Cor. , it's a quotation from 2 Sam. , "I will be to him a father and he shall be to me a son." And Paul quotes it, "I will be a father to you and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty." Doesn't that justify changing, all right, as the TNIV does? No, it does not, because what the New Testament authors are doing is they're applying and adapting quotations in many different ways. And the way we can tell this is not to be taken as translation is that nobody, no translation in the world has, or, I think, ever will, take this and put it back into the text of 2 Samuel, as the true translation. Here's what it would do. It would say, God speaking to David, [2 Samuel -14 (modified ESV)], "When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be a father to you and you shall be sons and daughters to me. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him … ". It's completely out of context. It's not a translation. That's an application, an adaptation of the word of God.
I could do some others, as well,
Moderator: Well, let's take a look
Grudem: You can't take them back into the Old Testament.
Moderator: Let's take a look at just one of the examples that was cited by this questioner,
Moderator: questioning the change from an Old Testament passage, and how that Old Testament passage was then quoted in the New Testament. The Old Testament passage, if you want to look this up in your Bible and read this for us, Psalm 118:22, Psalm 118:22.
Grudem: Yeah, I do have that on transparency,
Moderator: I thought you might.
Grudem: "The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone." And here's what happens in Acts [ ], "This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone." All right?
Grudem: So, now, can you put that back into Psalm 118? Listen to the nonsense it makes, [Ps. 118:21, 22], "I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation, the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone." Look what that does! This is the psalmist speaking to God as "you," and then it would make him say "the stone that was rejected by you, God, the builders, has become the cornerstone." You can't take New Testament adaptations and quotations and put them back into the Old Testament. It shows this is not translation. It's not how we are supposed to translate. B.B. Warfield, in defending against attacks against inerrancy in the last century faced a similar kind of accusation from opponents of inerrancy. And they were saying, "Well, look at how the New Testament authors changed these verses again and again." And Warfield said (I don't, for once this evening, at a loss, I can't find the transparency), but he said it's a mistake to confuse quotation and adaptation with translation. And if you do that you'll end up denying inerrancy, because it will change so many verses in the Old Testament, essentially.
Moderator: All right.
Strauss: Can I
Moderator: I think Dr. Strauss has a view on this.
Strauss: Yeah, can I respond to that?
Grudem: I didn't get to respond to his
Moderator: Well, you may, if you wish, along the way tonight.
Grudem: I didn't know.
Moderator: It's not a problem. I'm sorry. This is dialog, we want to keep you
Grudem: I did know. I recall it now. All right. You didn't say anything, so
Strauss: Oh, we're there. The references Dr. Grudem is referring to are Old Testament allusions in the New Testament. But they're not quotes like this. Look at what Paul says, Isaiah 52:7 says [NASB], "How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news." Now, look at what Paul says [Rom. ], "As it is written." OK, now, Paul is to be understood literally, he is saying that the Old Testament says, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" because Paul was a good translator. He understood that the reference in Is. 52 could be a general reference. Ps. 36:1b, "There is no fear of God before his eyes." Paul says [Rom. ], "As it is written." He is citing the Old Testament; he is not simply alluding to it." There is no fear of God before their eyes." The reference is generally to evil people in that context.
Moderator: One more
Strauss: [NIV, Ps. 32:1], "Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven." "He" singular. [Rom. 4:6] "David says the same thing," David says, he's quoting, [Rom. 4:7] "Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven." The point here is that a generic plural has the same sense as a generic singular; the meaning is the same. The goal of translation is meaning, not form.
Moderator: Dr. Grudem, any final words?
Grudem: Well, that's just not true. I mean you could say the same thing about 2 Cor. 6:16, "As God said." He introduced it the same way, but it's so radically changed you can't put it back in the Old Testament as a translation. So, that objection seems to me to be unpersuasive.
Moderator: We'll move on to another question for you, Dr. Strauss. This is from Christopher: Dr. Strauss, you said, "The question to ask is, what does the text mean ?" Isn't the question, rather, what does the text say? This seems to be a confusion of translation with application and what this debate hinges on.
Strauss: What the text says is always in Greek or Hebrew. So, if we want to just reproduce Greek or Hebrew text, that's what the text says. What the text means is how best to communicate that in English. Think of our example, ¿ Como se llama? What does that mean? Well, it means 'What is your name?' But that's not what it says. It says, " ¿ Como se llama?" If you want to, then, move to a literal translation, trying to replace words, it's going to be something like "How do you call yourself?" But that would be a mistranslation, because it doesn't communicate in English what the Spanish was intended to communicate. So, no, no, to say, "What does it say?" is the wrong question, because what it says is always in Greek or Hebrew. We have to understand what it means. Translation is always interpretation, always interpretation. You cannot translate anything without understanding what it means.
Moderator: Dr. Grudem, any thoughts?
Grudem: I object strongly to what Dr. Strauss
Strauss: every linguist would agree. Sorry.
Moderator: Go ahead.
Grudem: The reason is I think that Dr. Strauss here is just confusing the discussion by requiring people to be pedantic, and to specify at every point when they say, "The Bible says, 'For God so loved the world that he gave his only son.' Well, I don't really mean the Bible says that." The Bible in the original Greek says, and then read the Greek words, and then you say, "That means." And so you can't ever quote any verse in the Bible if you've got to say, "You can't talk about what the Bible says in English." When I talk about what the Bible says in English, I, as a New Testament Ph.D, mean, "What the Bible says when accurately and faithfully translated from the Greek." But if you're going to take away people's ability to talk about what the Bible says and quote the English, well, then, you don't have Billy Graham anymore, "The Bible says ." That's how he built his whole ministry. Every pastor in every church says, "The Bible says ." We have to be able to say, "The Bible says," and quote the English. I mean, if you take that away, that would make preaching impossible. Now, what are we talking about here? We're talking about the meaning of the Greek or Hebrew words when accurately understood and precisely understood. Dr. Strauss and I agree on that one point. What we are after is accurate meaning. I just think that he doesn't have it.
Strauss: Accurate meaning, he just admitted (?) it. What we're after is accurate meaning. I mean, he's defining "say" as 'mean.' That's great. Let's define "say" as 'mean.' But the idea that formal, replacing forms, trying to replace the forms in Greek is going to give us the meaning is just very poor linguistics and very poor Bible translation.
Grudem: OK, yeah, and I would say, "What it means is what it says."
Moderator: All right, we're
going to move on to the next question, for Dr. Grudem. This is from
Strauss: He just did one.
Grudem: Yeah, I just spent three years of my life working on the English Standard Version. I was on the Translation Oversight Committee. So, books of the Bible would come from specialists in those books to our committee and we would look over it verse-by-verse, word-by-word, line-by-line. And I want to say to the woman who asked that question: I appreciate her concern. But I spent week after week with twelve of the most godly men that I've ever met. They love Jesus, and they love his word. We came away from those intensive weeks and weeks and weeks of arguing about what word to use in this verse or that. We came away from it as friends, and appreciated each other deeply. But I came away with a tremendous respect for all of those people, all of those men who believe deeply in the complete inerrancy of every word of God, and just worked hard to translate it into English. And they love Jesus with all their hearts. These modern translations are done by godly people, many of them.
Moderator: OK, thank you very much. Dr. Grudem. Or, I'm sorry, Dr. Strauss. This comes from Aaron: "Could you please comment on the ethical issue raised by the Committee on Bible Translation in publishing the TNIV when they promised not to do so?" I'm not sure I'm familiar with the background of this question.
Strauss: OK, I'm not part of
the International Bible Society
the Committee on
Bible Translation, but I can refer to that debate. This has a big background.
The International Bible Society and the Committee on Bible Translation produced
a version in
Strauss: the NIVI. A magazine called World Magazine came out with articles attacking that and there was an incredible public uproar against that translation, because, as I said, this great misrepresentation of what this translation was. In the heat of incredible pressure, the IBS agreed never again to revise the NIV, even though that was against its original mandate, which was to keep it current in English. So, under this incredible pressure, and I would say, in many ways, not very Christian pressure, against them to do it, and threats against them, they agreed never to change the NIV. And so they are not changing the NIV. The New International Version will never be changed, contrary to its mandate. Instead, they came out with a new version. They were absolutely certain that English had changed significantly enough that they needed to come out with a version that would introduce some of these changes in the English language, to make the Bible continue to be accurate. So they came out with a different version, Today's New International Version. It's not just a revision; it's a distinct translation, just as the ESV is a distinct translation from the RSV, the Revised Standard Version. It's not just a revision. So, the TNIV is a distinct version from the NIV. So, they didn't break their agreement, an agreement that they shouldn't have made in the first place, and I think they only did it because of the extraordinary pressure. They felt like they were losing all credibility for the NIV, because of the unwarranted and irresponsible attacks against it.
Moderator: Dr. Grudem
Grudem: Yes, I was a part of that. I'm just going to register, I'm just going to say it hurts, a little bit, to have Dr. Strauss say that the opponents of the TNIV
Strauss: They were extraordinarily hurt
Grudem: I'm hurt by what you say, Dr. Strauss, that is, to say that the opponents of the inclusive NIV in '97 misrepresented it. I do not believe I did. Or misrepresenting the TNIV. I've put up the transparencies here. And I've just quoted it, time and again. That isn't misrepresenting. And then to say that the pressure is non-Christian pressure, again, if I've done wrong, or I've acted inappropriately, in any of this, I would like those who know about that to speak to me. But my conscience is clear. I've spoken about the translation. I've spoken privately to those who are involved with it, and extensively. I've met every time that anyone has asked me, among, either privately or publicly, on the other translation committee. And so to say that the pressure is non-Christian, I just, well, it hurts.
The NIV, controlled by the International Bible Society, did say, May 27, 1997, "that we have abandoned all plans for," this is a quote, "The IBS has abandoned all plans for gender-related changes in future editions of the NIV."
That quieted the controversy. The controversy was aroused by people who saw the kind of changes I put up here tonight. And you couldn't stop it, because Christians felt that their Bible was being tampered with. And that cuts very deeply.
And then the International Bible Society, that controls the NIV, said "We've abandoned all plans for gender-related changes in future editions of the NIV." And all of a sudden, all of us who were opposed to it gave thanks to God and we thought it was over.
I had no idea that anything different from that was ever going to happen until I got a certified letter in the end of January announcing to me that the International Bible Society was withdrawing from the agreement that it had made in '97. But that letter came to me on Thursday. On Monday morning, in the newspapers, USA Today, and Associated Press, "Gender-neutral Bible Being Published." And later that week, Christianity Today, which has a two-month lead-time, Christianity Today appeared with a four-page insert advertising the TNIV, and with an article detailing the history of it. And so, though I was part of the agreement, I wasn't informed until long after it was a done deal. It was a fait accompli, that they were withdrawing. And then 40,000 copies were mailed out. And I found out later that they had paid scholars to be consultants, but required that those scholars not even tell their wives, they were sworn to secrecy, so this project could be a surprise.
Well, I did feel that something was wrong with withdrawing from the agreement without first informing the people who were involved with it. Now, if the IBS felt it had to do that, all right. No one, no one, now, let me say this to Dr. Strauss, no one ever said to the NIV people, "You can never change the NIV."
All we said was, "Here are some guidelines, guidelines within which to work, reasonable guidelines." But the NIV people by themselves came out to do it, and did something that no one ever asked them to do. They said, "Now, OK, we'll never change the NIV." Well, we didn't ask them to do that. I don't know why they did that. It was unnecessary. So, I think that, though they change their mind, and, of course, people can always change their mind, I think that there is, to some measure, and I realize that I've talked with people, and there are good motives, there are motives for evangelism, motives for reaching the lost people, motives for reaching the younger generation, I realize all of that, but I think when all of that is said and done, I do think that there was a commitment to the Christian public not to do this, and that the IBS, the International Bible Society, in withdrawing from that, has, I think, broken faith with the Christian public in the United States.
Moderator: Thank you very much. Last question of the evening. This comes from Dr. Alan Gomes, Talbot School of Theology, so we're going to give you a heavyweight to begin with. And this is for you, Dr. Grudem, he writes: "Granting that God is not biologically male, if pater can be translated as "parent," then why not change 'God the Father' to 'God the Parent'? If not, why not, in light of the TNIV philosophy of translation?"
Grudem: I think the TNIV philosophy of translation requires that there would be strong pressure to go to "our Parent who art in heaven." I think that the philosophy requires that, because, see, the Greek dictionaries, lexicons, set boundaries for words, and a boundary around pater , singular, is that it refers to 'father.' It doesn't mean 'father or mother' and it doesn't mean 'parent.' But once you've got it meaning 'parent' in Heb. 12:7 and the first half of Heb. 12:9, well, then, why can't it mean 'parent' in the second half of Heb. 12:9? I think to be consistent with the TNIV philosophy, we will soon see Tomorrow's International Version, "our Parent who art in heaven."
Strauss: He is referring to a TNIV philosophy. The TNIV philosophy is to reproduce the meaning precisely and accurately. So he's suggesting a philosophy that is not present. The metaphors of scripture should remain, and the metaphor in scripture is clearly a male parent, with reference to God. God is not a male. He's not a father in a physical sense. But the metaphors always stay the same in the TNIV. So, this is not the slippery slope. They translate according to what the sense is. They would, following their philosophy that they're using for the TNIV, they would not change.
Grudem: And let me be clear, I never would want to change to "our Parent in heaven, hallowed be your name." I think that God calls himself, regularly, Father, not Father or Mother, not Parent, and we need to keep that
Strauss: And every translator on the Committee on Bible Translation would absolutely agree with that.
Strauss: There's no hint of that. And so, I think it's inappropriate for Dr. Grudem to say their philosophy will lead to this. Their philosophy will not lead to this.
Moderator: Well, ladies and
gentlemen, that is going to conclude our debate on the TNIV with Dr. Mark
Strauss, speaking in favor of the translation, and Dr. Wayne Grudem, speaking
in opposition. By the way, I want to thank
Our goal has been to shed light on the accuracy of the TNIV. Is it a tempest in a teapot? You do need to be able to trust the words of scripture that you hide in your heart. Now, whether you accept or oppose the TNIV, our hope for tonight is that the debate will drive you into the word of God, and that will drive the word of God into your heart.
Thank you very much for coming tonight. Thank you. Let's hear it for these two gentlemen. Thank you very much. Good night.