Lunchroom chat and a Woman’s Bible

Last year I mentioned a few conversations I have had at work over lunch. When the chat dies down, I will sometimes just turn to a colleague and ask her what Bible(s) she has used. Since I work in a public school with a staff from a mixed background, Catholic, Jewish, atheist, Buddhist, this can be interesting. So far, I have had some in depth conversations about the Good News Bible, and the King James Version, the only two which seem to be widely recognized.

Today I asked a colleague whom I knew to be an evangelical,

“What Bible do you use in your house church?”

“Oh, we all use something different – I don’t know, well, you know, NRV and The Word.”

I nodded sympathetically and waited.

“By Eugene Peterson.”

“Oh yeah, the Message.”

“Yeah, that’s it. I have a Woman’s Bible, maybe NRV, hmmm, NIV? It has all these little boxes, devotions, for women and all that. Oh, I love it.”

“Not the TNIV?”

“How would I recognize that?”

“Well, if it had brothers and sisters in it.”

“Oh, no, I don’t mind something not being gender inclusive. You know the best Bible for the sheer poetry is the King James Bible. Yes, that is the best.”

And I would have to agree. The King James version offers not only poetry but in places a more literal translation. I still stubbornly hold to the idea that the literal and non-interpretive style of the KJV serves women well. Other literal Bibles are also good for women. I was also familiar with the Young’s literal translation. Maybe it is my familiarity with these translations that makes me so uneasy at some of the Bibles I start out to review here. I am simply taken by surprise!

Here is the question – which modern Bibles are closest to a traditional and literal interpretation for the following verses? I have provided the KJV, Young’s literal version, the Emphasized Bible, Luther Bible, and Latin Vulgate for comparison. Is it just me, or are Bibles in this century more selectively interpretive in these verses.

Rom. 16:1

διάκονον

servant KJV
ministrant YLT
minister EB
im Dienste Luther
in ministerio Latin

Rom. 16:2

προστάτις

succourer KJV
leader YLT
defender EB
Beistand Luther
astitit Latin

Rom. 16:7

ἐπίσημοι ἐν τοῖς ἀποστόλοις

of note among the apostles KJV
Junias – of note among the apostles YLT
Junias – of note among the Apostle EB
Junias – berühmte Apostel Luther
nobiles in Apostolis Latin

1 Cor. 11:10

ἐξουσίαν ἔχειν ἐπὶ τῆς κεφαλῆς

have power on her head KJV
[a token of] authority upon the head YLT
to have permission EB
eine Macht auf dem Haupt haben Luther
potestatem habere supra caput Latin

1 Tim. 2:12

αὐθεντεῖν

to usurp authority KJV
rule YLT
have authority over a man EB
daß sie des Mannes Herr sei Luther
dominari Latin

I don’t think readers realize that when I noticed that the NET notes didn’t mention “leader” for προστάτις, I was genuinely surprised because we used the Young’s Literal Translation as a reference Bible when I was young. Some may talk about my having a “preferred” interpretation but I am displaying legitimate concern when a traditional and literal understanding is not even referenced in notes.

But I want to ask which modern Bible would be a candidate for the most traditional and literal translation with regards to these verses? Which ones are the farthest removed from tradition? I have only checked a handful so far. Believe it or not!

Update:

I’m going to score these Bibles out of 4, counting Rom. 16: 1 and 2 together. If we look at the accepted text base and lexicons which are contemporary with these Bibles, they would all score 3 out of 4 for being literal.

Young’s Literal Translation – 2 1/2 out of 4,
Emphasized Bible – 2 out of 4,
King James Version – 3 out 4,
Luther – 2 out of 4,
Vulgate – 3 out of 4

ESV 2001 – 1 out of 4

Rom. 16:1 – servant
Rom. 16:2 – patron
Rom.16:7 – well known to
1 Cor. 11:10 – a symbol of authority on her head
1 Tim. 2:12 – exercise authority

TNIV 2001 – 4 out of 4

Rom. 16:1 – deacon
Rom. 16:2 – benefactor
Rom.16:7 – outstanding among
1 Cor. 11:10 – have authority over her own head
1 Tim. 2:12 – assume authority

HCSB 1999 – 2 out of 4

Rom. 16:1 – servant
Rom. 16:2 – benefactor
Rom.16:7 – outstanding among
1 Cor. 11:10 – [a symbol of] authority on her head
1 Tim. 2:12 – have authority

NET – 1996 – 2005, 0 out of 4

Rom. 16:1 – servant
Rom. 16:2 – great help
Rom.16:7 – well known to
1 Cor. 11:10 – symbol of authority on her head
1 Tim. 2:12 – exercise authority

NLT 1996 – 2 out of 4

Rom. 16:1 – deacon
Rom. 16:2 – helpful
Rom.16:7 – respected among
1 Cor. 11:10 – wear a covering on her head to show she is under authority
1 Tim. 2:12 – have authority

CEV 1995 – 3 out of 4

Rom. 16:1 – leader
Rom. 16:2 – respected leader
Rom.16:7 – Junias (male) highly respected by
1 Cor. 11:10 – sign of her authority
1 Tim. 2:12 – tell men what to do

NRSV – 1989, 2 out of 4

Rom. 16:1 – deacon
Rom. 16:2 – benefactor
Rom. 16:7 – prominent among
1 Cor. 11:10 – symbol of authority on her head
1 Tim. 2:12 – have authority over a man

NIV – 1978 – 1984, 0 out of 4

Rom. 16:1 – servant
Rom. 16:2 – great help
Rom. 16:7 – Junias among the apostles
1 Cor. 11:10 – symbol of authority on her head
1 Tim. 2:12 – have authority over a man

NASB – 1960 – 1995, 0 out of 4

Rom. 16:1 – servant
Rom. 16:2 – helper
Rom. 16:7 – Junias among the apostles
1 Cor. 11:10 – symbol of authority on her head
1 Tim. 2:12 – exercise authority over a man

RSV 1 out of 4

Rom. 16:1 – deaconess
Rom. 16:2 – helper
Rom. 16:7 – Junias among the apostles
1 Cor. 11:10 – veil on her head
1 Tim. 2:12 – have authority

ISV – 2003 – 1 out of 4

Rom. 16:1 – servant
Rom. 16:2 – has assisted
Rom. 16:7 – Junias among the apostles
1 Cor. 11:10 – authority over her own head
1 Tim. 2:12 – have authority

D-R

Rom. 16:1 – in the ministry
Rom. 16:2 – has assisted
Rom. 16:7 – Junias among the apostles
1 Cor. 11:10 – a power over her head
1 Tim. 2:12 – use authority over the man

6 thoughts on “Lunchroom chat and a Woman’s Bible

  1. Michael says:

    Suzanne, You bring up an interesting topic that I wish was discussed more here. That topic being tradition and translation. What do we do when advancements in translation contradict traditions that we have held to for 400 years (thank you KJV). For instance, Malachi 2:16 in the KJV and a vast majority of translations is the proof text to show that God hates divorce. Along comes the ESV and the HCSB where now you can no longer use that verse to prove that. That is just one example.

    Do you think there is a responsibility on the behalf of the translator to carry on “tradition” in the light of evidence to the contrary? Do you think that by not following tradition within translation that it may be rejected or worse, cause some disunity in the faith?

    I find myself wavering on this issue and I would be very interested in reading your thoughts.

  2. Suzanne McCarthy says:

    S. Wilson,

    How does the ESV do in regard to these verses?

    michael,

    Do you think there is a responsibility on the behalf of the translator to carry on “tradition” in the light of evidence to the contrary?

    Absolutely not. If there is adequate evidence, good evidence, then there is no responsibility to tradition. However, tradition must be accounted for. If a translation varies from the traditional without either consensus or evidence then there is a problem.

    I find that few people are aware of traditional interpretations for these verses, and do not know that what they see in a modern translation is not necessarily accepted by biblical scholars in general.

    The translation of certain verses are also dated in some cases by the lexicon edition which they reference. Therefore each translation should be evaluated in terms of its date of publication.

    Do you think that by not following tradition within translation that it may be rejected or worse, cause some disunity in the faith?

    I definitely believe that a translation which varies from the traditional and literal without evidence and without scholarly consensus, could cause disunity. This is my most serious concern, and has been since I joined this blog.

    I believe that between the NET, TNIV, NLT2, and the NRSV cross denominational consensus has been gained with regard to the use of gender language.

    I see two major areas of concern remaining, first, the way the Hebrew scriptures are represented in terms of the Christian scriptures, and the way these 4 or 5 verses concerning women are translated.

    I do not believe that the NET Bible notes sufficiently support its decision in any of these verses. That is my opinion based on independent lexical and grammatical research.

  3. Peter Kirk says:

    Suzanne commented:

    If there is adequate evidence, good evidence, then there is no responsibility to tradition. However, tradition must be accounted for.

    I totally agree. In my opinion a footnote is a good way of doing this. That is, put the correct rendering accepted by scholars in the main text, and if there is a traditional understanding which is significantly different make a note of this in a footnote. And if the traditional understanding is rejected by modern scholars (rather than considered a little less likely), introduce the footnote with something more informative than “Or”.

  4. Peter Kirk says:

    Suzanne, if you want anyone to read your update with its important statistics, you should make it a separate post. I spotted the update because I get the RSS feed. Many others will not.

  5. Suzanne McCarthy says:

    Peter,

    I’ll link back to the update soon. I’ve been adding to it and checking it up till now.

    Interesting stats though, I think.

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