TNIV in Focus April 4 Fritzpw_Admin says, Thank you for joining us tonight everyone. We’ve heard quite a bit of negative criticism surrounding Zondervan’s plan to release a new gender accurate Bible dubbed the Today’s New International Version. In our last Chat on this topic we welcomed Rev. Tim Bayly who pointed out numerous inaccurate translations of several Biblical passages. Tonight we’ll be Chatting with associate professor of New Testament at Bethel Seminary, Dr. Mark Strauss. Dr. Strauss has written a book concerning gender accuracy in Bible translations as well as written an article in support of the TNIV. Be sure to check these out by clicking on the image at the bottom of your screen or goto http://www.tniv.info. Before we begin allow me to introduce our Event Team. Helping me on stage tonight we have our Senior News & Culture Editor, Janet Chismar aka News_Editor, as well as Spikehost, DaisyHost, and Stormyhost. And then of course you have me, myself, and I… Tasters of fine chocolate and fudge. (More info later on where to send fudge. *Smile*) And now please join me in welcoming Dr. Strauss. stormyhost asks, What was the reasoning behind doing yet another Bible translation with so many excellent ones already on the market? Dr.Strauss says, Good question. The NIV translators have felt for a long time that the NIV needed revision, especially with reference to gender language. The mandate of the NIV is to keep it current to contemporary English, so this is really just a part of the normal revision process of the NIV. It is true we have a wealth of translations, which is a wonderful thing for English speakers. madchatter asks, How do you respond to critics who “charge translators with doing more paraphrasing than actual translating, changing the meaning of some texts, and charting a course for more drastic revisions in the future.” Dr.Strauss says, Some translations certainly take liberties with the text, missing the original meaning. But this is not what the TNIV does, either in theory or in practice. The goal of the TNIV is to accurately render the meaning of the origin text in contemporary English. ibtrying2 asks, It appears that those in opposition to the TNIV point most often to what they perceive as a broken promise from 1997 when IBS and Zondervan agreed not to publish a new version of the NIV. Can you tell us why that promise was originally made? Dr.Strauss says, Another good question. The original agreement was made under great duress and pressure. The IBS and the CBT felt that they had no choice but to sign those agreements because of public pressure, but I am quite sure they never really agreed with the decision. In fact, however, the TNIV did not break the original agreement. The TNIV is a new translation, not a revision of the NIV. The original agreement was that the NIV would not be revised any further, and that the 1984 revision would never be changed. Just as versions like the NRSV and the new ESV are new versions, not merely revisions of the RSV, so the TNIV is a new version, not simply a revision of the NIV. chanan asks, There’s some contradiction in what you state. In answer to the question regarding the need, you said this was part of the normal revision process for the NIV, but now you say that this is a new translation, not merely a revision of the NIV. Is it a revision or a new translation? Dr.Strauss says, Another good question. If things had gone normally, the NIV would have been revised to include gender changes. Unfortunately, because of the misinformation and public outcry, the NIV translators and the IBS agreed never again to change the NIV. The result is that the IBS had to introduce a new version, and leave the NIV in tact. The 1984 NIV will now never be changed again (which incidentally, is contrary to its original mandate). garnetofgod asks, What exactly is changed in this version of the Bible? Dr.Strauss says, The only thing that is changed with reference to gender language is that inclusive terms are introduced when the original readers intended an inclusive reference. For example, when Paul said in Rom. 3:28, that “a man is justified by faith,” he used the Greek word anthropos, which in this case means “person” (all scholars agree on this). The TNIV simply chooses an accurate and precise English term which means what the Greek term means. on_standby asks, how do you keep the meaning of the original text if you change the gender of God? That is a MAJOR part in the Christian faith! Dr.Strauss says, The TNIV, like the NRSV, the NLT, the NCV, the CEV, and a host of other translations, does not change any masculine references to God. All masculine pronouns and masculine images related to God are retained. The only changes in the TNIV are related to human beings and then only when the references in the Greek and Hebrew are clearly inclusive. guest574 asks, what about masculine images that aren’t related to God? Did you change them from the original? Dr.Strauss says, No. All metaphors and images that were intended to be masculine are retained. The changes only relate to references that were intended to include men and women. Chatmaster shouts, Get all the latest info on Zondervan’s new Bible, Today’s New International Version. Just goto http://www.tniv.info“ Chatmaster shouts, Put your faith into action. Join the Prayer Warrior Ministries email prayer chain. Just click on the link or send an email to email@example.com with the word signup in the subject line.” stormyhost asks, What version of the Bible do you use personally? Dr.Strauss says, I use a variety of translations, and encourage my students to use multiple versions. I would encourage all Christians to use various versions, especially a balance between formal equivalent versions (NASB, NKJV, RSV, etc.) as well as middle of the road translations (NIV, NAB, etc.) and more dynamic equivalent translations (NLT, GNB, CEV, NCV, etc.). This way you can see how a wide range of scholars understand the meaning of the text. madchatter asks, I’ve heard that the NASB is the most accurate word for word English translation. Do you agree? If not what do you think is the most accurate word for word English translation? Dr.Strauss says, To be honest, to say “word-for-word” and “accurate” together is something of an oxymoron. No two languages are the same, so to simply replace words in English for Greek words does not produce an accurate translation, but gibberish. The goal of all translation is to accurately render the meaning of the original as precisely as possible in the receptor language. In every case you have to ask, “How can I say this Greek or Hebrew phrase in English to most accurately reproduce its meaning. “Seldom will that mean a word-for-word correspondence.” In answer to your original question, the biggest failure of the NASB is that it is so literal, its English sentences often don’t make much sense, or are very confusing. A confusing or obscure translation is not an accurate one. There are benefits of using a literal translation (we can talk about that if you like), but precision of meaning is not one of them. drums82 asks, Dr. Mr. Strauss, If, as is the case with the Hebrew and Greek languages, more than one English word best describes the translated word, then which word is chosen? Dr.Strauss says, You always have to ask, What does the original mean, and then choose an English word that best captures that sense. If more than one English word is needed to capture the meaning (a phrase or even a clause), then a translator should use more than one word, since the goal of translation is always meaning. it_is_well_1 asks, why is the holy spirit referred to as it in this new translation Dr.Strauss says, The Holy Spirit is not referred to as “it” in this translation. I don’t know who is saying this. Do you have a verse to back this up? madchatter asks, How would you respond to someone who says that the “philosophy today that allows the changing of God’s Word “to tickle the ears of today’s women” could well lead to making more changes down the road to appease other groups who find the Bible offensive.” Dr.Strauss says, Good question, but the goal of the TNIV is not to be inoffensive to anyone. It is a very offensive translation in many ways. Look at all the passages related to wives submitting to their husbands, or to condemnation of homosexual behavior, or to any other issue, and you will see the TNIV does not change the text at all. This is not about being inoffensive, but about accurately translating God’s Word into contemporary English. You translate according to what the text means. This is not a “slippery slope since the goal and philosophy has not changed from the NIV: Which is to precisely and accurately render the original meaning into English. ibtrying2 asks, I understand that both the ESV and the HCSB contain more inclusive language than the NIV yet neither has been criticized as the TNIV, why do you think that is? Dr.Strauss says, You are right, these kinds of inclusive language changes have been going on for years. For example, the CEV, NLT, NCV, NRSV and many others do contain more inclusive language than the TNIV. This is really a political issue. Opponents of the TNIV don’t like it that the most popular English language Bible has introduced these changes. Chatmaster shouts, What are some of the challenges you face in homeschooling your children? Don’t miss our Chat with Lisa Whelchel as she shares her experiences and homeschooling tips. Tuesday, Apr. 16 at 9 p.m. ET in the Auditorium. — http://chat.crosswalk.com/events“ Chatmaster shouts, Get all the latest info on Zondervan’s new Bible, Today’s New International Version. Just goto http://www.tniv.info“ Chatmaster shouts, What’s all the fuss about Zondervan’s new Bible? Check it out at http://keptthefaith.org“ ibtrying2 asks, Do you think that the reason the TNIV isn’t being accepted has more to do with change and how most evangelicals hold the NIV as highly as many in the past have held the KJV? Dr.Strauss says, That is a very good point. The NIV is the first Bible since 1611 to become more popular than the KJV. Any changes to the NIV text are likely to inflame some people. This is especially so in the context of a strongly anti-feminist Christian public, fearful of the direction modern culture is going. I also have to say that every translation in the history of the Bible has had some criticism. They use to kill people for translating Scripture into the language of the people (William Tyndale for example). Bruce Metzger pointed out that at least today they only burn the translations, not the translators. Dr.Strauss smiles ben25 asks, Do you see a connection between versions like the TNIV and those who think women can be pastors in the church? Dr.Strauss says, That is a good question. There is always a connection, since it is the women’s movement which has sparked many changes in the English language. However, many supporters of the TNIV, like myself, are quite conservative on the issue of the role of women in the church. Many of my conservative colleagues who also teach New Testament (people like D. A. Carson, Darrell Bock, Craig Blomberg, and many others) who are conservatives on the role of women in the church, still strongly support the TNIV. guest580 asks, If the goal is to render a translation from original to English, then we could have another TNIV, because the English language is ever changing. Is this right? Dr.Strauss says, Like the NIV before it, the TNIV will undergo periodic revisions (like the King James Version, by the way). So yes, the process of Bible translation is never-ending, since language always changes. This is why we read the Bible in English, and why the New Testament writers read their Bible in Greek, even though the original Old Testament was written in Hebrew. stormyhost asks, How many women were on staff for the actual “translation” of this version? And who determined that a more “female friendly” version was necessary and appropriate? Dr.Strauss says, Very good question. I know of only one woman on the CBT (the Committee on Bible Translation for the NIV and the TNIV), but I am not certain of this. In terms of the CBT, over half of the members were complementarian and a little less than half egalitarian. So the translation team was very balanced… Although there probably should have been more women represented. ben25 asks, In the earlier TNIV chat, Tim Bayly talked about Greek words for people having God-ordained masculine gender markings. What do you think of this and how does it affect translation? Dr.Strauss says, Tim Bayly unfortunately confuses grammatical gender with biological gender. All Greek and Hebrew nouns have gender, but these are just grammatical categories. For example, the Hebrew word for the Spirit is feminine, the Greek word for the Spirit is neuter, the Greek word for a book is masculine, and the Greek word for body is neuter. These are just grammatical categories with nothing to do with sex, or biological gender. Many masculine terms, like anthropos (person), adelphoi (brothers, brothers and sisters) can be used either in a male sense or in a generic sense (men and women). In each context we have to decide which is intended. Tim Bayly wrongly suggests that grammatical gender always suggests sex. But if this is the case, then the Spirit is a woman (in the OT) and an “it” in the NT. I don’t think any of us want to go there. chanan asks, What’s the reading level of the TNIV? Dr.Strauss says, I am not certain since I am not on the TNIV committee, but I believe it is supposed to be understandable to about third or fourth graders. stormyhost asks, It seems that the distribution of Christian resources (including Bibles, study material, reference books, etc) has become a thriving business in recent decades. How do you answer the commercialization of the gospel of Jesus Christ? Dr.Strauss says, Great question. I think we need to pour far more resources into International Bible translation, into languages that have no Scripture, and fewer resources into English, where we have so many resources. Chatmaster shouts, Get all the latest info on Zondervan’s new Bible, Today’s New International Version. Just goto http://www.tniv.info“ Chatmaster shouts, Put your faith into action. Join the Prayer Warrior Ministries email prayer chain. Just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word signup in the subject line.” Chatmaster shouts, Don’t miss our next TNIV Chat when we’ll have a round table discussion with Dr. Strauss and Dr. Youngblood as well Rev. Bayly and Dr. Grudem. Join us on Thursday, May 9 at 9 p.m. ET. http://chat.crosswalk.com/events“ stormyhost asks, The NIV and TNIV are referred to as “dynamic equivalent,” meaning they are somewhere between literal translation and paraphrase. Isn’t that a dangerous thing, considering most people don’t know which things are literally translated and which are paraphrased? Dr.Strauss says, Actually, the claim that literal translation means accurate is false. Functional equivalent translations (sometimes called Dynamic equivalent) are translations that seek to capture the precise meaning of the original. This should be the ultimate goal of all translation, to capture the meaning of the original Greek or Hebrew. Let me give you an example closer to home. If I say in Spanish, “Como se llama?” what is the most accurate translation? A literal translation would be something like “How do you call yourself?” but in fact the closest English equivalent is “What is your name?” This latter translation is more accurate because it captures the meaning of the Spanish in clear English. It is the same in Hebrew and Greek. Our goal is not to reproduce forms in a word-for-word manner, but to as precisely as possible capture the original meaning. bjc40 asks, is this just another version of the “Westcott and Hort”? Dr.Strauss says, This is a very complex question, but no, this has nothing to do with Westcott and Hort, who were scholars who developed a theory of textual criticism. Almost all modern translations follow the theories of Textual Criticism developed by WH, but this has nothing to do with translation theory, but only to do with the copying and transmission of the original text. ibtrying2 asks, Can you explain why you think the Colorado Springs Guidelines signers are so adamantly against the TNIV? Dr.Strauss says, The Colorado Springs Guidelines were developed in the context of the furor surrounding the NIVI (published in Great Britain). Those who wrote the Guidelines felt the NIVI was on the slippery slope of feminism, which they adamantly opposed. As I have pointed out above, this issue is a translational one that has nothing to do with the role of women in the church and the home. But those who developed the Guidelines felt like these issues were inextricably linked. As I noted above, I and many other conservatives on the women’s issue strongly support the TNIV because of its accuracy. ibtrying2 asks, John Kohlenberger III states that much of the opposition to the TNIV is because of those preferring “male inclusive” versions of the bible. How do you react to this? Dr.Strauss says, I think John is right, though I probably wouldn’t say it in this manner. He is pointing out that many who oppose the TNIV are those in power (men), who want to retain power. My problem with all of this is leadership, Jesus’ style, is never about power, but about empowerment. The debate over women in ministry, unfortunately, is all about power. Men have power. Women want power. But biblical leadership is not about power. Jesus said if you want to be great, become a servant. A true leader empowers others to be all that God wants them to be. It is male abuse of leadership that has created the women’s movement, and we are living with its consequences. We in the church need to be counter-cultural, and to elevate women to the status that God has given them, as co-heirs of God’s salvation. ben25 asks, What about places where the TNIV changes singular pronouns to plurals? What do you think of that? Dr.Strauss says, That is another good question, and we could get into a complex answer. What we need to realize is, again, that meaning is our goal. If a plural construction accurately captures the meaning of the singular, then it is accurate. Dr.Strauss says, If it does not capture the meaning, it is inaccurate. Unfortunately all translation loses something. If I introduce the word “he”, I lose something of the inclusive meaning of the original. If I introduce a plural, I risk losing something of the meaning of the original. Translation is always about balance and discernment, trying to capture as much of the meaning as possible. I should also add that the idea of always using singulars in English for singulars in Hebrew and Greek simply won’t work, since these are different languages. For example, the Hebrew word for God is plural in form (Elohim), though singular in meaning. The word for heaven in Hebrew and Greek is the same. We don’t say “Gods” or “heavens” because we are translating according to meaning not form. It is the same with using plurals for singulars in order to indicate the inclusive sense of the original. Fritzpw_Admin says, Thank you for taking the time to Chat with us tonight Dr. Strauss. Is there anything you would like to say in closing? Dr.Strauss says, Let me encourage everyone to gain as much information about this issue before drawing a conclusion. All of us have the same goal: to translate the original Hebrew and Greek texts as accurately as possible into contemporary English. This issue is not about a “politically correct” Bible, but about the changing nature of English and the need to periodically update our translations. I would also encourage everyone to use a variety of Bible translations, and to consult the many excellent study resources as well. 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, and use our minds to discern the meaning that God intended. Fritzpw_Admin says, Thank you all for coming to our Chat event tonight. Next Tuesday, April 16, we’ll be chatting with Lisa Whelchel about Homeschooling. If you’re a homeschooler or considering it you won’t want to miss it. http://chat.crosswalk.com/events Fritzpw_Admin says, Also if you are interested in the TNIV debate you won’t want to miss our first ever Debate Chat with Rev. Bayly and Dr. Grudem as well as Dr. Strauss and Dr. Youngblood. It takes place on Thursday, May 9 at 9 p.m. ET right here in the Auditorium. http://chat.crosswalk.com/events _______________________________________________ Who is Dr. Mark Strauss? Dr. Strauss has written the article, “The TNIV and Gender-Accurate Language” as well as the book, “Distorting Scripture? The Challenge of Bible Translation and Gender-Accuracy“. He is also the associate professor of New Testament at Bethel Thelogical Seminary–West Campus, San Diego, California and the author of several other books.