I was writing on Paul this morning and came to a place where I wanted to quote 1 Corinthians. I had planned to use the TNIV going forward in my popular writing. But now I hear Zondervan is phasing it out. They're going to revise the NIV with Doug Moo in charge.
So now the TNIV is a bad choice for both the philosophy book and the Paul books and Bible studies I'm under contract to write--a bad choice for promoting in our new seminary or in our undergraduate program. I'm not going to use the outdated NIV or wait till 2011 to finish these books. Frankly I haven't felt that Zondervan is very Wesleyan-Arminian friendly anyway. Why reward them by supporting their translations?
What version to use? There is the ESV, which I suspect is the best literal translation overall currently on the market. But I eschew the politics of its origins. It was created in reaction to the pro-women in ministry trajectory of Christianity. Although thankfully I don't think these political dynamics have harmed the translation I find myself hating to associate myself or Wesleyan institutions with it given what it represents sociologically. Perhaps I will eventually give in but I am still holding off stubbornly, not wanting to support these forces in evangelicalism.
There is the NLT, which is great for preaching, but is a dynamic translation and so not suitable for detailed study of individual passages. Its strength is overall communication, not being able to hear the details of the original meaning.
So I find myself this morning using the NRSV in the quote. It is the choice of mainstream biblical scholarship anyway and bests the ESV in literalness if you understand its dynamic translation of "brothers" with "brothers and sisters" and such. I am not opposed to that dynamic translation for the purposes of communication and it was, after all, part of the TNIV too. Its just that the male-orientation of the original texts was, whether I like it or not, an aspect of the original text, just as those who do not use inclusive language today implicitly function in a male-oriented way.
We have to accept the fact that the original context of the Bible was sexist in its orientation. We can't be as Christians in our context, not and be faithful to the core message of Christ. But when we are studying the original meaning of the Bible, we simply have to deal with the fact that we are reading male-oriented texts, as all the texts of the day were. This is one area, interestingly, where Western society as a whole--even the fallen world at large--has thankfully moved closer to the kingdom than the New Testament itself, since its books were truth incarnated within the thought patterns of its day.
God took where they were, met them there, and pointed them in the direction of the kingdom. Pity those like the Grudems and Pipers of the evangelical world who mistake the wineskins for the wine.