Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Question of the week

Well it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be (of course, it's only Tuesday), but I did get some good questions after the sermon on tongues. Here is one...

Hi Chad,

I just want to start off by saying I really enjoyed your message on 1 Cor. 13 and I agree totally with you about tongues and their relevance and use today, BUT (you knew a "but" was coming)...

My curiosity was piqued at the wording of 1 Cor. 13:8 which stated "Love never ends". My NIV reads "Love never fails" and my KJV reads "Charity never faileth": http://www.blueletterbible.org/cgi-bin/c.pl?book=1Cr&chapter=13&verse=8&version=KJV8 so tonight I started to do some research (from a PDF copy of the TNIV.) During the service I thought the TNIV was the translation being used up on the screen, but I found that the TNIV also reads "Love never fails" in that verse.

A web search on this wording pointed me to the English Standard Version (ESV). Is this the translation that was used today? Obviously the actual meanings between the NIV and ESV translations are completely different.

Chad, I have some preconceived issues with the TNIV (the changed meaning in Rev. 22:18 comes to mind.) I plead ignorance on the ESV but its first impressions are a little bit weird for me. I do consider the Bible to be God's inerrant, complete and perfect Word, so any inconsistencies in meaning - even with a single word - kind of tweak my sensibilities (yes I'm listening to my discerning thoughts that God has given me). :-)

You've probably seen this type of thing before, but some interesting articles referencing issues with gender-neutral translations are written about here: http://www.cbmw.org/Journal/Vol-10-No-2/Changing-God-s-Word and here: http://www.cbmw.org/Journal/Vol-7-No-2/Are-the-Criticisms-of-the-TNIV-Bible-Really-Justified (this is actually a pretty cool site, and I love their mission and vision statement.)

In the past we used the NIV (which I firmly believe is a great thought-for-thought translation) at Providence exclusively, so my curiosity begs the question: which translation(s) are we now using? Inquiring minds want to know... ;-)

As always, thanks for listening!


Great question.

You're right, I have recently been using the TNIV as my primary translation. Sometimes, however, I will use another translation if I think it more accurately reflects the meaning of the text.
You're right again, this past Sunday I used the ESV because I think it was the most accurate (v.8, "Love never ends" is closest to the Greek because the word is primarily referring to time. It is not referring to love failing to accomplish its task, which is implied by "love never fails" as most of the other English translations render it). Also in v.8, As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.
The ESV got it right. It recognized that the verb used for the ending of prophesies and knowledge was the same, but was different than the verb used for the ending of tongues. Other translations DID NOT make this important distinction.
Prophecies - katargéõ- passive voice lit. "will be made to end or pass away"
Tongues - paúõ- middle voice lit. "will cease by themselves"
Knowledge - katargéõ- passive voice lit. "will be made to end or pass away"

Regarding the TNIV, I encourage you to do your own research and not depend on others' opinions. There are many very-well-known conservative Evangelical scholars (e.g. Gordon Fee, Darrell Bock, D. A. Carson, Mark Strauss) which strongly affirm the TNIV. Regarding women's roles I am a complementarian. I love much of what the C.B.M.&W. has written. But at times some of them (particularly Wayne Grudem who, to me, can be both arrogant and verbose) go too far. I studied the TNIV for myself for two years before using it in preaching, and found that it corrects some NIV peculiarities and is gender specific where it is originally intended in the text. I think time and further (less-reactionary) scholarship will continue to bear this out. I have read two books and many articles representing all perspectives regarding the TNIV. If the goal of translation is that today's people can understand what God perfectly revealed to humanity through inspired writers of other cultures and languages long ago, then I have found very little wrong with the TNIV, as translation is an ongoing inexact science. If you have not, read Denver Seminary's Craig Blomberg (http://www.tniv.info/pdf/Blomberg.pdf). His article is entitled, "TODAY'S NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION: THE UNTOLD STORY OF A GOOD TRANSLATION.

Great book if you want to read much more is "A User's Guide to Bible Translations" (by English Baptist pastor David Dewey) was written just a couple of years ago. It is a really good read. Also, the latest revision of "How to Read the Bible for All It's Worth" (by Fee and Stuart) has an extremely informative chapter on choosing a Bible translation.

There is much debate about which is best between thought-for-thought and word-for-word translations. I think both have their place and should both be utilized for the serious Bible student.

The ESV is the hip translation right now among many "cool" conservatives. It really smacks of a fad for some reason to me (but I might be simply rebellious). It is a very good translation. I personally think there are other word-for-word translations are just as readable and accurate (in places perhaps even more readable and accurate). The truth is, there is no perfect translation. I personally like the TNIV. I like the thought-for-thought principle: The Bible was written to be understood. The purpose of translation is understanding. It is an improvement on the NIV in places where it received deserved criticism. It is very well done in my opinion, and I have found it to be extremely accurate as to author's intent. However, there are many who are uncomfortable with their "gender accurate" language, and it has gotten some bad press with some reactionaries (my opinion). I was saddened to find that both Cedar Springs and Lifeway quit carrying the TNIV. When I asked the person in charge of the Bible departments of these stores, I was shocked at the ignorance of these people who both told me that the TNIV had non-gender-specific references to God. That is ridiculous. I told them so. It is interesting that both stores carry many other translations that are much less reliable and accurate. It's a pet peeve for me. If the PR war doesn't improve, I'm sad to say that I may have to give up preaching with my TNIV.

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