This is just a quick note. I’m mainly blogging elsewhere for now:
With the news of Eugene Nida’s passing, it’s worth revisiting the single biggest contribution of his thinking to the field of Bible translation.
Nida proposed that the basis of translation should be to replicate the meaning of the original and not necessarily the wording.
. . . [wikipedia’s definition, not Nida’s own, goes here in Rich Rhodes’s BBB post; and then he continues] . . .
The idea of translating “the thought” behind a text rather than something more literally reflecting the wording of the original has been controversial since the time Nida first proposed it — not helped by an unfortunate choice of name. Presumably the dynamic part refers to the fact that more natural sounding translations are more emotionally engaging. Witness the popularity of The Message. Nida, himself, moved toward a more neutral terminology in response to controversy, re-labeling his approach function equivalence.
To many of us in the linguistics business the uproar makes little sense. After all, simultaneous translators translate functional equivalents all the time. Ditto the translators who deal with government and business documents. Anyone who seriously attempted a formal equivalence translation in such contexts would be fired by the end of the day.
And ditto, BTW, literary translators. Where there are bilinguals around to judge, it’s the meaning of the text, not its form that is the bottom line in the translation business. Literary translators get bonus points if they can find ways to mimic the form without sacrificing the meaning.
Why, then, did Nida get all the flak?
In large part, I’d say, because functional equivalence is really, really hard to define. . . .
[read the rest here]
Do note Donna’s and Bob MacDonald’s and then CD-Host’s wonderful comments!
And now we at BBB get our chance to weigh in on the translation question which is related to that exchange:
Does the Greek word ὑποτασσω in Ephesians 5:21–and assumed by almost all Bible translators to be implied in the next verse–mean ‘respect’ or something else?
Last night Bachmann did not quote from Ephesians 5 as she did in 2006. Instead she said that submission means ‘respect’ within her marriage to Marcus Bachmann.
Will Bachmann’s definition of submission be satisfactory to those who emphasize wives submitting to their husbands today? Does it bring home the bacon (a lot of hogs are raised in Iowa) for you, as you understand the meaning of ὑποτασσω?
No comments on this post will be automatically moderated. You may address the meaning of the Greek word ὑποτασσω. Feel free also to address any other gender questions in Bible translation, even if they don’t necessarily directly relate to the translation of ὑποτασσω. You will be allowed to discuss openly and freely without censorship or moderation of your comments.
Unlike in the recent BBB prohibition on discussion of gender on the WELS post on the NIV2011, there will be no unequal treatment of women who comment here at BBBB. Gender issues in Bible translation may be discussed on BBBB whether you are a man, a woman, a commenter, or one of the ones who posts the blog posts. Gender is a topic critical to current English Bible translation and must be discussed. The boundaries on how we discuss it and what is discussed at any one time are open and emphasize candor and freedom of speech, so that comments can be made on-topic or off-topic for each post. You decide what’s on topic or off.
John Hobbins [MAKING, HIS, THE VERY FIRST COMMENT OF THE THREAD]
Peter, ….NIV 1984 was an excellent solution. It is now beloved by many WELS folk – virtually none of whom have cultural affinities with those behind the changes that led to the gender-sensitive revision known as NIV 2011.
…. By that I mean a bottom-up rather than top-down groundswell against the extent to which NIV 2011 made modifications in line with a (un-)felt need for gender-sensitive language. A groundswell of the kind that did NIV 2011 in among Southern Baptists…. I’ll be honest and say that, as soon as it became clear to what extent NIV 2011 would depart from NIV 1984 in terms of gender-sensitive language – elimination of phrases like “God and man,” “man and beast,” avoidance of generic masculine pronouns, plurializing of singular constructions in the name of the same priority – I thought it unlikely that NIV 2011 would gain wide acceptance….. One needs to keep in mind that WELS is old school on gender issues.On May 27, 1997, The International Bible Society issued a press release saying it “has abandoned all plans for gender-related changes in future editions of the New International Version (NIV)”….
White Man, in 2009 they were of course expecting people to raise this issue and so dealt with it at the press conference. Or was that in response to someone raising the issue? Of course it was a point that needed to be clarified, and I am glad it was. It was entirely predictable that the gender language would not be much changed from TNIV, as indeed I predicted at the time….
Suzanne, …. Two problem areas were identified and remanded to the TEC as follows: resolved, that the TEC specifically address the concerns about gender inclusive language and Messianic prophecy in connection with their proposal to use NIV 2011 in synod publications
Suzanne, …. There is also a long tradition of seeing Christ as true man in a double sense, not only as Mensch, but also, vir. In Irenaeus for example, Christ is the true living man, the second Adam, whereas Mary (aka the Church) is the second Eve. This line of interpretation is sensitive to gender in a way that is deeply rooted in ancient and not-so-ancient constructions of gender.
John, concerning your later, not quite so long, comment, we don’t want to get back on to the gender issue.
The NIV has chosen to translate ben enosh and ben adam differently in English. Not traditional, but if we agree that the KJV can be updated at all, then why argue with this in particular? If your answwer includes a reference to gender issues, then I am unable to respond.
I don’t feel capable of responding to either John or Gary without discussing gender. Since I am not to do this I decline further comment.
…. I would like to point out that the phrase “son of” with the meaning “representative of” is not obsolete. In reading a Forgotten Realms novel this week, I encountered a “daughters and sons of [city name]” construction. In Dissolution by Richard Byers, a priestess and her entourage are waylaid. Remembering how her company was slaughtered and she herself captured, she laments how the “sons and daughters of Ched Nasad” fell. [Since the Drow culture and mainline religion is matriarchal, daughters comes first.] I suspect the author chose this construction due to a desire characterize the priestess’s thoughts either as patriotic or perhaps just to connect a Biblish usage with a priestess character. While I realize the “representative of [toponym]” construction is not the same as “son of man”, both are Hebrew idioms not in common use, and so I believe this anecdote is still worth the mention. Perhaps it would be worthwhile to consider how English authors (of any nationality) of science fiction naturally use constructions we might object to as “Bibish”. I can find books from the past fifteen years that use a generic masculine, even on the lips of female characters. In books focused on the Drow, one instead finds the generic feminine construction, again reflecting a strict matriarchal culture. …
Gary, thank you for your comment with the interesting anecdotes. Yes, I suspect the priestess was deliberately given Biblish to speak. But please remember that we are not discussing gender issues here.
The other real question is, is this topic about concordance
Dannii, The WELS discussion seems to be based on two issues – gender language and lack of christologization of certain OT passages.
I read the various documents, and the only concern of substance that I could find other than gender was the use of “human beings” for the Hebrew expression ben adam. Of course, this also relates to gender. This restricts the discourse significantly.
Suzanne, …. The gender question is separate and matters, too, but not in the way most non-WELS people imagine. I would love to talk about that in another context, but don’t know if I will find the time.
Dannii, you are right that concordance isn’t really on topic for this thread. The post wasn’t really intended to open up a discussion [ESPECIALLY NOT ON GENDER] except perhaps on how denominations approve translations [IN WHICH CASE WE MUST COMPLETELY AND ENTIRELY AND TIGHTLY AND RIGHTLY IGNORE HOW THEY, THE DENOMINATIONS, APPROVE OR DISAPPROVE TRANSLATIONS BECAUSE OF GENDERED LANGUAGE]. But I can’t keep a lid on two Pandora’s boxes at once. [LET’S DON’T DARE BRING UP THE FACT THAT PANDORA IS GENDERED, THAT SHE IS A FEMALE, PURPORTED BY THE GREEKS TO BE THE VERY FIRST WOMAN, A SORT OF PROTOTYPE OF THE PROBLEMS OF OPENING OUR BBB COMMENTS TO GENDER. NOTICE HOW I ONLY OPENED UP JOHN HOBBINS’ COMMENTS HERE, ABOVE, TO ALLOW HIS IMPORTANT DISTINCTION BETWEEN MEN, ADAMS, CHRIST, ETC. AND THE SECOND EVES, I.E. MOTHER MARY AND THE CHURCH HERSELF.] But bear in mind that I go on vacation on Monday and won’t be able to moderate comments promptly.
John, I just approved five of your comments including another very long one. As I said before, this might have been better as a post on your blog, or perhaps offered as a guest post here. I will only attempt to respond to your comment addressed to me.
I honestly do not think that any discussion of Bible translation today does not have gender as its pivot point. To pretend otherwise is naive. John made clear in his first comment of this thread the connection between this issue and the subumission of the wife in the home.
I believe that this topic should be discussed in a venue open only to those who approve of the submission of the wife.
Maybe we can have a code: like “g-spot” for discussions that are allowed to use the g-word-that-none-shall-utter and “elephant” when we are taking pains to ignore the giant animal in the room.
(Although, perhaps it would be more polite to use the code word “mastodon,” so as not to suggest that anyone should need to accept any new-fangled entity like an “elephant.”)
Thank you all for your comments, but due to the vast number of them [TOO MANY OF THEM SLIPPING IN THE G-WORD] we [MEN ONLY] have decided to close comments now.
THE POST WITHOUT THE G-WORD BUT WITH A LINK TO A REPORT BRINGING UP GENDER
In a pointed contrast to the way in which the Southern Baptist Convention recently condemned the NIV 2011 update in a snap vote, the Translation Evaluation Committee of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod has prepared a long and detailed report (PDF) proposing that the Synod formally accept this new version for use in its publications. Their evaluation process included discussions with Douglas Moo of the CBT (the NIV translation committee). This report can serve as a model of how a new Bible version should be evaluated in this kind of context.
Thanks to Esteban Vázquez for the link.
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Reviewing the revised NIV
The prime question for us was whether or not, based on our criteria, the NIV would be at all usable. In 116 this early phase we were primarily looking for what we called “deal breakers.” In our committee 117 parlance, these would be issues of such powerful significance that, all by themselves, they would render 118 the new NIV unusable. We paid special attention to the questions of gender inclusive language (is it a 119 deal breaker per se?) and messianic prophecy (because of issues we had seen in the TNIV). We also 120 conducted a careful examination of the doctrinal passages where the respective callings of man and 121 woman are most clearly taught. With respect to the final point we came to the conclusion that the new 122 NIV had preserved the truth in those passages about the proper, God given relationship of men to 123 women and women to men.
HCSB – The Holman Christian Standard Bible appeared in 2004 as a new translation prepared by an 332 international team of 100 scholars from 17 denominations, all committed to biblical inerrancy. The 333 guiding principles of this translation make it a translation that deserves our attention. It tries to 334 reproduce the words of the original as literally as possible, but it also desires to have readability 335 comparable to the NIV. On the two issues where concerns have been expressed about the new NIV, the 336 HCSB does nothing controversial. It takes a more moderate approach to gender inclusive language, and 337 it clearly recognizes the messianic prophecies of the Old Testament. However, the HCSB does some 338 things that would definitely take getting used to—that some would say are quirky. The divine name 339 “Yahweh” is used about 500 times in the Old Testament, the word “Messiah” is used very often 340 throughout the entire New Testament in place of “Christ,” and all pronouns referring to God are 341 capitalized. For more information, look at “An Introduction to the HCSB,” available on the website of 342 the WELS Translation Evaluation Committee.
NASB – Since its publication in 1971, the New American Standard Bible has been recognized as an 344 excellent study Bible because it is the most consistently literal of the major translations. The fact that it 345 is so literal, however, often makes its English seem wooden or stilted or awkward. In the 1970s WELS 346 decided not to use the NASB in its publications because WELS wanted a translation that was more 347 idiomatic English. The NASB underwent a revision in 1995 to update the language. In this revision, the 348 pronouns “thee,” “thou,” and “thy” were removed, the conjunction “And” was dropped from the 349 beginning of many sentences, and other modest changes were made to modernize the language. 350 Perhaps the NASB deserves another look, but the committee senses that the concerns of the 1970s still 351 remain. In addition, we wonder if it would be wise at the current time for WELS to move to a Bible translation that does not use gender inclusive language in the Bible’s salvation passages. 1 Timothy 2:4 353 in the NASB still says that God “desires all men to be saved.”
Mike Sangrey has up a new post at BBB for your read and comment.
If you need to, and / or would like to, then feel free to comment here.
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