By Gary Shogren, Seminario ESEPA, San José, Costa Rica
Some thoughts I wrote on another wordpress.com blog, which I reproduce with respect to the blogger:
Greek study is a science. As with any science, it’s not possible to scan the web and read various articles and then make a truly informed decision. There are good things online – there is also a ton (imho, the great majority) of material written by people who are regurgitating third- and fourth-hand data. A parallel would be reading all about the BP oil spill online, material that includes legitimate analysis mixed with, let’s say, all the crackpot ideas that one can imagine. How in the world can the merely-curious such as myself get to the bottom of it? (As someone close to me says, it’s like reading some articles on skyscrapers and then imagining you are able to critique how one was constructed).
Too many pastors say, well, with a grin, Well, I’m no theologian, I’m no Greek expert. But, why not? Decades in the ministry and no time set aside to really dig deep? I speak as someone who was a pastor for many years before becoming a prof, by the way, so I know the realities of ministry. A pastor of great influence last week said he didn’t know the basics about Mormon beliefs. For a North American evangelical, that is unconscionable. A pastor does not have to be an expert, but he or she certainly should have a decent grasp on the biblical languages and theology.
A case in point: your thought that the TNIV is a “re-write in an attempt to be ‘gender-neutral’”. I don’t use the TNIV much, but I do use pretty much all of the English versions: NKJV, NIV, ESV, New Living, NRSV, etc., etc. The TNIV (and NRSV and NLT) are not re-writes in order to be pc…they are literal translations that recognize that English develops century by century, and that “a man” and “he” sound as if they are addressed to males only. Thus:
1 Thess 1:4 – adelphoi is “brothers” in the NIV but more literally and accurately “brothers and sisters” in later translations. This because the English “brothers” does not mean “siblings” but “male siblings”. I’m not sure if it ever meant “siblings”. If I asked you, “do you have any brothers?” you would tell me how many male siblings you have, not how many siblings.
2 Cor 5:17 is “if any man is in Christ” in the NIV, but “if anyone is in Christ” in others…more accurately in the English.
“I will make you fishers of men” in Mark 1:17 communicates to people unfamiliar with older versions as “fishers of adult males”. Not Jesus’ meaning! Hence, they will “fish for people” in the NLT. More understandable and more accurate.
On the other hand, “I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing…” (1 Tim 2:8 NIV) IS accurate, since the Greek speaks of men as adult males.
These versions are not examples of “caving in to a feminist agenda” – a zippy slogan, but one very hard to prove. They are like all versions an attempt to communicate in good idiomatic English what the Word of God said and says.