Luke 18:29 – Is TNIV gender-accurate?

Matthew 19:29

And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother (NRSV)

And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother (TNIV)

Mark 10:29

there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father (NRSV)

no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father (TNIV)

Luke 18:29

there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents (NRSV)

no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents (TNIV)

everyone who has given up house or wife or brothers or parents  (NLT)

Were TNIV translators gender-accurate or too aggressive in their rendering of Luke 18:29?  This one is questionable.  The word ἀδελφοὺς can mean “brother” in the masculine plural but has been translated as “brothers or sisters” in other passages where adelphas (ἀδελφὰς, sisters: fem. pluaral) is absent.   I checked other translations and found no other translation went as far as TNIV did in Luke 18:29—not even the NRSV or NLT.  The NRSV and NLT rendered this as simply “brothers”.

The Matthew and Mark parallels rendered adelphos (ἀδελφοὺς) as “brothers” and adelphas (ἀδελφὰς) as “sisters”.  Did TNIV follow the pattern set in these parallel verses of Matthew 19:29 and Mark 10:29, in which “adelphos” and “adelphas” were rendered as “brothers or sisters”?   The Matt. 19:29 and Mark 10:29 parallels are definitely correct, but Luke 18:29 now becomes questionable when placed in a comparative context with these other parallel passages.

If TNIV is right on this one, then NRSV and NLT are wrong.  What gives me a feeling that TNIV may be right in this case is Luke’s use of guneis (γονεῖς) for parent instead of pater and mater (μητέρα ἢ πατέρα) for father and mother.  Luke may have intended to use guneis as a gender-inclusive term, so in following Luke’s use of inclusive terminology, Luke 18:29 may be more accurately translated as “brothers or sisters”.

Other places where TNIV went further in gender-inclusive language than the NRSV or the NLT are in Luke 14:12, Acts 15:1, 22:5.

NRSV and NLT are now my two gender-inclusive translations of choice

Hopefully, this will be my last post on the TNIV for a little while. There are better things to blog about.

As for a gender-accurate (gender-inclusive) translation, I will be going with the NRSV as my main translation of choice; second will be the NLT.  I may be in the minority camp here but I am not alone.  I believe this camp will grow in the future.  There are also a few others who will be leaving the TNIV as their mediating translation of choice.  Sue at Suzanne’s Bookshelf mentioned there are a few who will be going with the NRSV as their main translation, “now that the NIV/TNIV is in limbo”.  [added: Rick at This Lamp will also no longer be recommending the TNIV as a primary bible.]  I’ve been reading a lot of other blogs lately about this issue of the death of the TNIV in the past few days.  I know most of my biblioblogger friends out there are going to stick with reading the TNIV, but I will not, based on Zondervan’s business ethics (i.e., $$$$).

If the new NIV in 2011 tones down its gender-inclusive language (either by 5%, 10% or 15%), then it’ll not be much different from the inconsistent ESV.  Even if 95% of the TNIV will be preserved, you can bet that some of the gender-inclusive language will be reversed to a masculine language.  So why would TNIV supporters (who support gender-inclusive language) want to be a fan of an inconsistent translation in the future?  I predict that some current TNIV-supporters may come to see it this way a few years down the road when they see the light.  They will realize that Zondervan has betrayed the pro-TNIV supporters.

If the new NIV of 2011 tones down the gender language, the likes of Grudem and the anti-TNIV and ESV-only crowds have won.  Personally, I still refer to the ESV in my study.  I’m one of those funny ones who support the TNIV and the ESV even though I have nothing to do with the ESV-only crowd.  Though I think the ESV is inconsistent in its use of gender-inclusive language, I still have more respect for the ESV and Crossway than for Zondervan.  Crossway has backed up its translation and has done an amazing marketing job on the ESV.  Zondervan has not.  It has treated it disgracefully.  Dan Philips calls the TNIV a misbegotten version (but he takes an anti-TNIV position).  I call it a product of ‘Hagar’ but I take a pro-TNIV position).

Furthermore, I will not be stocking up on more TNIVs (like Rick advised TNIV-over at This Lamp) because, as I’ve said before, if it’s not good enough for CBT, Biblica and Zondervan, then it’s not good enough for me.  Why should I read from a translation they do not intend to support?  A dying translation is as good as a dead translation.  I will not invest my time and effort to read, teach or preach from a dead translation, which is why I don’t read the NEB, REB (or maybe even the NASB…sorry ElShaddai and Gary Z.).

Even though I have lost some respect for the three parties who are involved with TNIV’s death, my love for the TNIV translation is still alive.  Ironically, I still encourage TNIV-supporters to read the TNIV.   Until I see what happens in 2011, I don’t think I’ll even touch the TNIV for a while, at least for a while until my head cools down a little and my ill-feelings toward Zondervan, Biblica and CBT subsides.  If there truly is a resurrection of the TNIV and its gender-inclusive language is preserved, I may return to the new NIV, but for the time being, I will hold off from it because I have my doubts about CBT, and Zondervan’s intentions (which I believe are not good, of which I may express more in a future post).

New posts on gender-inclusiveness on the blogosphere

Am I a fence-sitter? a dualist? or a hypocrite?

In a few recent posts on the blogosphere, Suzanne McCarthy blogged about the the masculine pronoun in 1 Timothy 3:4 (the word “his” . . . a man) as a heresy, saying:

There is no “his” in the Greek. There is no word at all that underlies “his” – nada, nothing, blank space. If you tell one person this, the next person still doesn’t know. The masculine pronoun has become the biggest urban legend in the Christian community for this decade, maybe this century.

    τοῦ ἰδίουοἴκουκαλῶςπροϊστάμενον,τέκναἔχονταἐνὑποταγῇμετὰπάσηςσεμνότητος:

Here we see the heresy of the masculine pronoun at work.

On a new blog, Aberration, our nameless blogger blogged about the duality of D.A. Carson who takes sides with both “Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood” and who also uses the TNIV.  AAdmin states:

CBMW states that the TNIV is “gender-neutral” and suggest that the TNIV is “Ideologically Egalitarian“. D. A. Carson mostly sides with the CBMW in their views of 1 Timothy. What I found to be cataclysmic irony is the Bible translation Carson used for exegesis on 1 Timothy…

His post also made me think about where I stand on this issue.  Initially, I felt a feeling of disdain for duality but then I reflected upon myself.  My pulpit bible is the NRSV. My night table bible is the TNIV. And sometimes, I also refer to, and preach from, the ESV. Is this a duality too (politically-correct term for “hypocrite“)?  In a way, maybe I’ sort of like Carson who doesn’t slam either side but instead shows support for both.

Do you call that fence-sitting? If so, am I a fence-sitter?  Feel free to tell me what you think. (I won’t be offended if you think I’m a hypocrite.  I’m allowing an examination of the crevices within myself)

John 4:13-16 Did Jesus tell the woman at the well that living water is mainly for men?

In John 4:13-16, the story of the Samaritan woman at the well, Jesus tells her that whoever drinks the water he gives will never thirst, and that a spring of water will well up or spring up into eternal life. In this passage, Jesus is clearly including the woman too. However, if the reader took Jesus at his word, one would receive a very different message, depending on the translation.

If we read from the NIV, NASB, HCSB, and ESV, it sounds like Jesus is offering the living water primarily to men (“him”). The woman proceeds to ask Jesus if she could be included in his offering of living water. Then Jesus tells her to fetch her husband and return, which almost sounds like her husband should be the primary receiver of this living water before she gets to have some.

However, if we read from the TNIV, NRSV, and NLT, it sounds quite different. It sounds like Jesus is offering the living water to anyone and he is not making it gender exclusive. Having first tasted or experienced this living water, Jesus then tells her to fetch her husband so that he may also taste this living water that she has already tasted first hand.

For those who do not read the bible and reads it for the first time, one might become a little confused by the repetitive use of the masculine gender pronouns of “him” and “he.” Sure the reader may eventually catch on that “he” and “him” is referring to both men and women; but if I was a new bible reader today, it would be much more understandable to read from a gender-neutral translation. Since we are no longer living in a bible-literate society, people will initially tend to understand the masculine pronouns as referring to men only. Experienced bible-readers may be able to get past the use of masculine gender pronouns in our traditional translations like the NIV, NASB, ESV, and HCSB; but translations like the TNIV or NLT would make it easier for the unseasoned bible-readers to understand.

but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” (NIV)

But whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty again–ever! In fact, the water I will give him will become a well of water springing up within him for eternal life.” “Sir,” the woman said to Him, “give me this water so I won’t get thirsty and come here to draw water.” “Go call your husband,” He told her, “and come back here.” (HCSB)

but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty nor come all the way here to draw.” He said to her, “Go, call your husband and come here.” (NASB)

but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life. The woman said to him, Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water. Jesus said to her, Go, call your husband, and come here. (ESV)

but those who drink the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” (TNIV)

but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” he woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.” Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come back.” (NRSV)

Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” “Please, sir,” the woman said, “give me this water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again, and I won’t have to come here to get water.” “Go and get your husband,” Jesus told her. (NLT)

(The print above titled Living Water was done by artist Simon Dewey available at Christ-centered Art).

The egalitarian versus complementarian debate

I am new to this egalitarian versus complementarian debate so I admit that I am ignorant of this terminology. I know but yet don’t technically know where I stand on this issue yet because I am not familiar with the terminology. In my effort to educate myself in this area I did some research to educate myself on the difference between the egalitarian and complementarian views. I came across a new blog called Complegalitarian and found one post called Shaeffer on Utopianism by Suzanne McCarthy. It had a string of interesting comments that were even more interesting than the post itself. They’re as long as a book. (Sorry Suzanne, it’s not to take anything away from your post).

If you want to educate yourself in this debate starting from ground zero, it might be easier to begin by reading this brief paper that attempts to layout the definitions between egalitarian and complementarian. Also, an interesting blog post I found was at Evangelical Resources (but it has remained inactive for a while now) describes the difference between complementarian view and a traditional view he calls the male dominance view. Happy reading.

Reconstruction and feminization of God

To use gender-neutral language in the bible is one thing, but to completely feminize God is another thing. A sector of feminism has tried to neuter and feminize God’s male gender in Father God, not just from the bible, but also from our everyday speech. If there are any feminists out, please don’t take this the wrong way. Theological conservatives are not against feminism per se. I must say that feminism has made some positive contributions for more equitable treatment of the marginalized; and I think many conservatives would agree with this. However, our conservatism prevents us from agreeing with some of the ideas in Christian feminism, specifically, regarding the feminization of God. It is an uncomfortable image and I must try not to be reactionary about this myself. But before we begin blaming feminism for “taking society backwards,” we should “remove the log from our own eyes”, then we may critique some of the points we may disagree with in Christian feminism.

No one can dispute Jesus’ gender, but we can dispute our depictions of his color or race. Throughout the history of the Christian Church, we have tried to racialize Jesus as a black Jesus…an Asian Jesus…and a white Jesus. Christians from the first century likely would have been appalled at how we have painted the face of Jesus in many colors. Perhaps the early church would have felt scandalized by our false depictions of Jesus, whom they knew as a Mediterranean man. How many of us have been shown pictures of a white Jesus in Sunday School and thought nothing of it? While growing up, I actually thought Jesus was a white guy. It likely never occurred to many of us that the pictures of Jesus we saw were not accurate depictions of the real Jesus in history. Christians like to conveniently make Jesus into what we want him to be to us. Will the real Jesus please stand up?

Just as there has been a deliberate agenda to repaint the face of Jesus into the color of our choice, we cannot deny that there is also a feminist agenda that wishes to neuter God the Father. Some feminists do want to reconstruct or re-image Father God into a female motherly figure. A book where one can learn more about this might be The Feminist Mistake: The Radical Impact of Feminism by Mary A. Kassian (Crossway). If it was so easy to paint Jesus as a white Jesus, a black Jesus, or an Asian Jesus, just think… how much easier will it be to neuter and feminize God the Father who is invisible and unseen to us? If this were to happen, what would this sound like? One might begin the Lord’s Prayer with “Our Mother, who art in heaven.” This does sound kind of hokey to theological conservatives and even to theological liberals. However convenient and necessary to be able to relate to a comforting and loving God, feminism ought to recognize the limits of how far they should go? Where should Christian feminism stop? Some think that it has gone way too far, but some think that it hasn’t gone far enough. Let me ask: If Jesus recognized God as his Father, who are we to change Father God’s gender? (Luke 10:21-22; 23:34). Didn’t Jesus also teach us how to pray to our “Heavenly Father” (Matt. 6:8-9)? As children of God, aren’t we also encouraged to call to “Abba Father”? (3rd picture: Jesus the Guru; the link above is a speculative depiction of what some think Jesus might have looked like, based on a reconstruction of an ancient skull).

Bible is neutral in gender, but God is not neutered of gender

We know what a gender-neutral bible is like (TNIV, NLT, NRSV), but what would a gender-neutral God look like? Such a God would be neutered. In other words, we would have an emasculated God. But the God I worship is one I know as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. And I do hope that’s how it will stay in the bible. As a supporter of gender-neutral translations, I do not deny that there is a liberal feminizing agenda out there. Yes, this kind of ultra-feminized language does exist in some sectors of Christianity. I have heard some Christians refer to God as “Mother God”. Personally, I cannot handle this language of a feminized God. I prefer to stick to “Father God”. I don’t think I could ever see God as being female. To refer to God as a “she” is just too radical for my conservative taste. Theologically, I do not see any grounds for a “Mother God”. What would the implications be with a “Mother God”? It would mean the end of the trinity, as we know it. There would no longer be a Father-Son-Holy Spirit. Could we have a Mother-Daughter-Holy Spirit? The ultra-feminists view could probably work with that but not conservative evangelical Christians. This radical feminist tendency toward feminizing God is too radical, not only for theological conservatives but also for theological liberals. Our church is definitely not ready for a “Mother God”. It’s just too radical, let alone unscriptural. (picture: Shield of the Trinity)