Monday, August 26, 2013

Driscoll and the ESV 6

I've been responding to the 6 reasons Mark Driscoll says Mars Hill uses the ESV. Bottom line: None of them bear up to the barest of examinations. He basically doesn't know what he's talking about.

Throughout, I have affirmed the ESV as a pretty good formal equivalence translation.  I've also suggested that on the few occasions where its biases come out, they are not Wesleyan-Arminian.  That's why I've suggested the NIV2011 is still probably the best translation for Wesleyan churches to use.

I debate whether I should have written in such a sarcastic tone.  I don't know. I don't expect Driscoll to read or even hear about these posts.  I promise I would have been the model of courtesy if he or any of his friends had engaged me. My point was not really to attack Mark Driscoll but to give you just a hint of how flimsy his understanding of the Bible is. Why? Because I don't want his thinking to infect my part of the Christian world.

Previous posts include:
1. The letter kills, the Spirit gives life.
2. All translation involves interpretation.
3. Stay out of semantics; keep your day job.
4. Driscoll likes big words.
5. It was translated for the elect.

Now his final point:
6. The ESV is complementarian.
Now we hit pay dirt.  All the rest of that stuff, all the theorizing?  Smoke and mirrors.  The final point is the real point.  Let me tell you a story.

There are differing versions of the origins of the ESV.  Obviously there was talk of it before the Colorado Springs guidelines that opponents said Zondervan violated when it came out with the TNIV. A sizable group opposed Zondervan coming out with a translation that used "brothers and sisters" where the Greek read "adelphoi," and when Zondervan published the TNIV, it lost the support of fundamentalist America.  This is the real reason the ESV is enjoying so much political support.

Regardless of how long the ESV was in the works, it has only taken the place Driscoll's church and others are giving it because of the backlash against Zondervan over "inclusive language." Driscoll himself corroborates this in his last point. In his last point, he connects together versions like the NIV2011 and the NLT with the extreme The Bible in a More Just Language, which intentionally tries to change the meaning of the text.  Suffice it to say, the NIV2011 and NLT are dramatically different from this revisionist version.

First, let me address the "brothers and sisters" debate.  Perhaps "brothers" is a more formal equivalence translation.  The reason I debate even this statement is because in patriarchal languages, you use the masculine plural if there is a male in the group, even if most of the group is female.  That is to say, "brothers" can actually refer to a group that is technically "brothers and sisters." For that reason, "brothers and sisters" is at least a legitimate dynamic equivalence translation of the masculine Greek "adelphoi."

Here is an important point. The NIV, NLT, NRSV have only translated adelphoi as "brothers and sisters" when they believe women were also being addressed. So is Paul only addressing the men in the Thessalonian church when he tells them to flee sexual immorality (1 Thess. 4)?  Only when these translation committees believed women were also being addressed did they include the sisters or the mothers.  They did not see themselves making the Bible more inclusive but as bringing out an inclusivity that was already there.

Now I respect those who prefer a translation that does not do this sort of thing.  But I do think the more dynamic sort of translation is probably more effective at communicating the biblical meaning to people today than the older approach.

However, once again, Driscoll seems off in his interpretations.  Take the Hebrew word 'adam.  It certainly can be used of a male, but the best reading of Genesis 1:27 seems to include women in it.  Here's a straightforward translation of the Hebrew: "And God created the 'adam in his image. In the image of God he created him. Male and female he created them."

The "him" in the second clause seems to include both male and female, because the third clause unpacks it as including male and female.  And the "him" in the second clause is expanding on the 'adam of the first clause. Therefore, the best translation of 'adam in this verse seems to relate to all humans, both male and female--all humankind.

And why is it so important to Driscoll in Psalm 8 that 'adam only refer to men? Surely it is because his misguided theology doesn't have room for women leaders. Surely it is because it is important to him that God have only subjected the earth to men, not to women as well.

Sorry Charlie, the command to rule the earth in Genesis 1:28 is in the plural, given to both male and female from the previous verse. (At this point you should here the swirling sound of Pac Man when the little fellow dies, indicating the failure of Driscoll's apparent attempt to cut women out of the dominion of the earth).

You can see why I don't think the ESV is the best translation for Wesleyans. It's subtle biases rub against our grain, not to mention accuracy.  We're a denomination that believes that sons and daughters prophesy (Acts 2:17), that Priscilla may have taken the lead in instructing Apollos (Acts 18:26), that Phoebe was a deacon of the church of Cenchrea (Rom. 16:1), and that Junia was quite possibly an apostle like Barnabas (Rom. 16:7).

The Greek word anthropos is just as generic as 'adam, maybe even more.  1 Peter 3:4 says that a woman's adornment should be the hidden anthropos of the heart.  Clearly it isn't saying women have a little man inside of them.  The word itself means "person."

These are reasons why the TNIV translators considered it "gender accurate" rather than "gender neutral" or "gender inclusive."  They intended only to translate generically when that's what the Bible actually meant.  In that respect, it is the ESV that has more likely screwed up the gender connotations by making them sound less inclusive than they were.

The ESV is a pretty good formal equivalence translation, but not quite ready to be crowned king of the universe.

8 comments:

Susan Moore said...

Well, there's a lot to think about in all those blogs. I've never been in a Wesleyan church, and have discovered that there are none I can get to on the bus system in time for Sunday service. Also, I'm hard pressed to find any church in my area whose male Pastor will disciple/support a woman called to the leadership of God's people. That's in any denomination, even ones who are reported to be friendly to women. I'm not finished looking, though. A while back I spoke with a rare female Pastor almost in my area and she said she doesn't have time to disciple people (I asked her after explaining I would come to her church and serve in whatever capacity she would like me to, to help reduce her workload so she would have time.) It occurs to me, one reason why the Church may be shrinking...
Do words say it all?
Susan

Susan Moore said...

Perhaps I should complete that earlier thought . In order to be accepted into a Seminary, does not one have to be supported/sent by one's church? So if a woman is not supported by any church, how is it possible for her to acquire the initials after her name that the secular world demands so that she may enter their institutions and care for God's people in them, as she has been Spirit-led to do? Just to say, 'God will make a way' reveals ignorance on the part of the person who says that -God does not usurp our will. He may joyfully lead her willing and tender heart somewhere else, as the people in the initial institutions continue to suffer and go without.
God did make a way, and the way He made was, by grace, through us.
Sorry, now I got on my bandwagon, how do you do that? :-)
Susan

Ken Schenck said...

We have women in our program whose churches let them engage their congregations enough to do their assignments but who do not support women in any leadership position. There are women in our program that have had to change churches, not for us, but because the leaders of their churches did not support their call to ministry.

Keith Drury said...

hear hear... yes! If God calls a woman to preach and her church refuses to ordain her she should find a church who will. Same for a man.

Susan Moore said...

Without knowing what the assignments would be, I don't know if my church would engage me enough to do my assignments. Otherwise, it seems I would have to move out of this area.
Ok, so where would I go? I would desire to find a church who would support me before I committed to moving, and yet I have been told by Pastors that they would want me to be a member and active in their congregations first, and then they would decide whether or not they would support me. These are Pastors from female-friendly denominations but who have no personal track record of supporting a woman into Professional ministry. To be honest, I am beginning to understand why it seems more and more people leave the local church and form their own fellowships and study groups within their communities. To them, for multiple reasons, the local church is a deceptive and corrupt business that is self-serving, it does not celebrate the gifting of the Spirit and promote the diversity of the expression of the Spirit through its members. Whether it's Catholic or Protestant, it's still all about conforming to the rules that support the bias of church leadership, all in the name of God.
Do I sound jaded? I'm not. I'm hopeful still, and learning a lot. When I was miraculously healed I was figuring that I would be coming late to the party, but I see the party hasn't started yet. That's good news, I hate being late!
Susan

Ken Schenck said...

Our professors would work with you, even if all a church would let you do is interview various members of the congregation.

Susan Moore said...

Cool, that's very calming, thank-you! It just occurred to me that if the Wesleyan church is convicted to support women into Professional ministry, perhaps it would prove wise for her to have a woman somewhere placed whose job it would be to seek out women so called and make sure they are receiving the care and support they need to prepare them for Seminary, in that supportive local churches are so hard to find.
It seems that to say, in essence, "Go find a church that will support you" while knowing that a woman may well not be able to do that, is like telling a hungry person that you will pray for her, but then not offering her any food (James 2:14-26).
Susan

Patty said...

I've enjoyed this series of posts, Ken. Boy, was I surprised this morning in a Wesleyan church when the pastor read from Ephesians 4:11-13 and I hear the word "manhood" in there. Came home and looked it up and discovered he was using the ESV. I'm not sure how I feel about that, but I do feel TWC is losing it's way when it comes to affirming women in ministry.

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