February 21, 2006

ESV Controversy?

On his blog, Ben Witherington is talking about translation "problems" with the ESV, and advocates the TNIV as an alternative. He specifically mentions in the comments

My concern is with translations of texts like: 1) Rom. 16.7; 2) 1 Tim. 2.12; 3) Ephes. 5.21-22 and the like. So far as I can see, the ESV doesn't do justice to any of these texts, and at the expense of women.
So, I fired up e-Sword to take a look at these passages, and see exactly what the problem is. The TNIV text I am using is from the TNIV site at http://www.tniv.info. Romans 16:7
TNIV: Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.

ESV: Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles, and they were in Christ before me.
(The ESV does include a note concerning translation of Junia as Junias.)

The problem is the phrase "outstanding among the apostles," which I'm guessing is interpreted as saying Junias and Andronicus were apostles. Were there only 12 apostles? Or 13, if you include Paul? What are the qualifications of apostleship? I don't see the ESV translation as directly affecting women -- Andronicus is left out, too. I'll let Gill do my talking here -- and he's using a translation that phrases it the same as the TNIV:

who are of note among the apostles; were well known by, and in great account with the twelve apostles, though not of their number; they might be converted by them, and be followers of them in Judea; they are thought by some to be of the number of the seventy disciples, whom Christ himself sent forth to preach:

It seems that the ESV has translated the verse according to the prevailing interpretation. This kind of runs counter to the transparent translation philosophy of the ESV, but isn't a direct attack on women's role in the church.

1 Timothy 2:12

TNIV: 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.

ESV: I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.

Is the problem 'assume' vs. 'exercise'? The word literally means 'to usurp', so I can see this one. The emphasis is on taking over from a man, rather than simply teaching men.

Ephesians 5:22

TNIV: 22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.

ESV: Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.

??? I see no difference here. The verses are virtually identical.

I admit I am not a fan of the TNIV, but that's mainly because I'm not a fan of the NIV. And a lot of that is left over from my KJVO upbringing. I'm not saying that the ESV is THE version people should use, but it should certainly be one of the versions we use.

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 09:04 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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