Exodus 22:8-9 “God” or “Judges”?

I think this will really bug some people as it bugs me.  It seems that Exodus 22:8-9 is clearly referring to judges but some translations like the NLT,  ESV, NRSV rendered elohim as “God“; but TNIV and CSB rendered elohim as “judges“.  Yes, technically, “God” is correct; but it seems clear to me that elohim (in the sense of a small “g” gods) which can be translated as judges, was what the writers/scribes intended.

Should we go with what we know as technically correct? Or should we go with what we know the writer/scribe/editor intended?

_________________________  Exodus 22:8-9 _________________________

NLT But if the thief is not caught, the neighbor must appear before God, who will determine if he stole the property. 9 “Suppose there is a dispute between two people who both claim to own a particular ox, donkey, sheep, article of clothing, or any lost property. Both parties must come before God, and the person whom God declares guilty must pay double compensation to the other.

ESV If the thief is not found, the owner of the house shall come near to God to show whether or not he has put his hand to his neighbor’s property. 9 For every breach of trust, whether it is for an ox, for a donkey, for a sheep, for a cloak, or for any kind of lost thing, of which one says, ‘This is it,’ the case of both parties shall come before God. The one whom God condemns shall pay double to his neighbor.

TNIV But if the thief is not found, the owner of the house must appear before the judges, and they must determine whether the owner of the house has laid hands on the other person’s property. 9 In all cases of illegal possession of an ox, a donkey, a sheep, a garment, or any other lost property about which somebody says, ‘This is mine,’ both parties are to bring their cases before the judges. The one whom the judges declare guilty must pay back double to the other.

CSB If the thief is not caught, the owner of the house must present himself to the judges to determine whether or not he has taken his neighbor’s property. 9 In any case of wrongdoing involving an ox, a donkey, a sheep, a garment, or anything else lost, and someone claims: That’s mine, the case between the two parties is to come before the judges. The one the judges condemn must repay double to his neighbor.

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).

Zondervan and TNIV: like a father who has thrown out its child after birth

Biblica has lauched a new website at www.nivbible2011.com to receive inquiries about the new NIV .  Watch the video.  They need to apologize to those who supported the TNIV but I haven’t heard a word.  What they said is really to please its critics.

Due to this recent move by Zondervan, I think I will be boycotting TNIV for a while.  I’m going to lay it aside and not even refer to it. Why?  If people at Zondervan do not think it is good enough for public use, then fine, it’s not good enough for me either.  Some may think this is being petty but this is how I see it.  Betrayal of the public’s trust is important for me.  For me, it’s like fathering a child and dumping him out after it has been born.  Zondervan has done this same thing with TNIV.  It did not have enough compassion to love its own child and defend it from harm.  If not, then why should I bother to defend Zondervan?  If Zondervan had integrity, they would have stuck up and defended it from its critics but they didn’t.  They bowed to peer pressure and the almighty dollar $$$$.  So for me, Zondervan has betrayed the people who have supported it.  To continue supporting the TNIV is like condoning the actions of a father who dumps his own child. As a reader of bibles and a follower of translations, integrity of the publisher is important for me.  Even if Zondervan puts out the new NIV in 2011 (with some likeness of the TNIV), I’m don’t feel I will be very excited to see it.

Am I still upset about this whole coverup fiasco?  I am and will be for a while.

What translations will I be referring to now?  I will be referring mostly to the NRSV, ESV and NLT.  These will be my top translations for a while now.

My eulogy and final blessings go with the TNIV. 2001 – 2009. RIP

Amongst my most popular tags were “TNIV”.  The life support it received from some of us blogger fans of the TNIV just wasn’t enough to keep it going.  I know there are many of us blogging about this issue.  I’ve just previous blogged about it here earlier today but I think the TNIV needs a little eulogy–hence this post.  After the CBT had just finished revising the TNIV in 2007, it was a real shame to see Zondervan pull the plug on the already-dying TNIV.  After having come to appreciate and cherish the TNIV, I now have to let go of the past and sadness.  The old bones of the TNIV will rest on my bookshelf. Perhaps in 30 years, this 2007 edition of the TNIV will become something of value.  Perhaps I can say to my grandchildren some day that this was the predecessor to the old “new NIV”.

Here is my final blessings to the TNIV:
Into your hands, O merciful Savior, we commend your translation TNIV.  Acknowledge, we humbly beseech you, a translation of your own making, a bible of your flock, a revised bible of your redeeming.  Receive TNIV into the arms of your mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of past bible translations.  Amen.

May TNIV and all the faithful departed bibles, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.  Amen.

The TNIV is now officially a dead translation

Thanks to a commenter here I’ve just learned that the people at Zondervan have officially killed the Today’s New International Version (TNIV translation).  Christianity Today blog has just released news of this decision which had been brewing in the headquarters at Zondervan within the last ten days.  Zondervan’s past and present supporters of the TNIV have been sorely let down.  I am currently reeling from my deep disappointment with this decision.  At this point, I don’t really know what to think.  My emotions are going up and down as I am writing this blog post.

I suspect that Zondervan may have a strategic plan on the drawing board to rally support from the Christian community before they launch the new edition of the NIV in 2011.  Zondervan feels that how the TNIV was handled was a mistake.  Christianity Today’s blog post writes:

“Whatever its strengths were, the TNIV divided the evangelical Christian community,” said Zondervan president Moe Girkins. “So as we launch this new NIV, we will discontinue putting out new products with the TNIV….

We are correcting the mistakes in the past,” Girkins said. “Being as transparent as possible is part of that. This decision was made by the board in the last 10 days.” She said the transparency is part of an effort to overhaul the NIV “in a way that unifies Christian evangelicalism.

The first mistake was the NIVi,” Danby said. “The second was freezing the NIV. The third was the process of handling the TNIV.”

Well, was the TNIV a victim of division or a cause of division in the evangelical community?  I believe the TNIV was a victim of division rather than a cause of division.  The cause of division came from its critics who railed against gender-inclusive language but these are the same people who did not say a thing against the New Living Translation.  That was hypocritical.

Is Zondervan caving into the pressure of the bias against gender-inclusive language?  In my opinion, they are.  Perhaps there might be several spots in the TNIV where gender-inclusive language could be curbed, but on the whole, it is a very good translation.  People like me and many others who supported the TNIV will be disappointed upon hearing this sad news that came to my attention yesterday.

Douglas Moo, chair of the Committee on Bible Translation stated:

“I can predict that this is going to look 90 percent or more what the 1984 NIV looks like and 95 percent what the TNIV looks like,” he said. “The changes are going to be a very small portion of the whole Scripture package.”

Okay, so how much of the new NIV will actually contain gender-inclusive language?  95 percent?…75 percent?…50 percent?…25 percent?  Or God-forbid 10 percent?  I think the decision-makers at Zondervan are probably so dizzy trying to make sense of what happened that they have no idea what to do about the new NIV.

Will I trust Zondervan to make decisions on their future editions?  My trust has been betrayed.  What seems to be determining Zondervan’s business decisions is profit.  So the TNIV had not been selling well… so is it the almighty dollar that’s going to determine their publishing decisions in the future?

As far as I’m concerned, the only gender-inclusive translations I am going to read regularly at this point will be the NLT and NRSV.  My feelings toward Zondervan and the TNIV has turned from positive to negative.  For now, I am going to lay down my TNIV aside for now.  How ironic that I was just reading Deut. 31:12 from the TNIV earlier today in front of a group of thirteen parents and students.

Eph. 3:16-18 “I pray that…”

Ephesians 3:16 – 18:

that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,
I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will give you mighty inner strength through his Holy Spirit.
I pray that
, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit,
so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith that you, being rooted and grounded in love, And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love. and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love.
may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love really is. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth,

For public reading of this particular passage, I would prefer not to read from the ESV because the sentence is way too long.  It is five verses long: v.14-19. It takes your breath away. According to English grammar, it might qualify as a run-on sentence.  Notice the ESV does not have the phrase “I pray that” while the NRSV, NLT, and TNIV translations do. Why?  I looked into this and learned that vv. 16 and 18 (in orig. Greek) contain a subordinate or dependent clause: “that“.   For clarity’s sake, the words “I pray that” were added in by the NRSV, NLT, TNIV translators because this clause “that” actually refers to what Paul said back in v. 14 (“I bow my knees before the Father”). So by adding “I pray that“, clarity to an otherwise, lengthy sentence was increased.

Since “I pray that” is not present in the original, you would think that the ESV would be more precise.  It may be more precise but it may not be as understandable.  Precision does not equal accuracy.

John 1:13, TNIV – It’s man, not husband

As I was reading John 1:1-18, a Christmas reading related to Christ birth into this world, I came across a word that stuck out for me in John 1:13:

12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. (John 1:12-13, TNIV).

T/NIV’s rendering of ἀνήρ (anēr) as “husband” is very peculiar. Other translations render this quite differently. They all render it as “man.” Aner (ἀνήρ) can be rendered as “husband”, or “man”, or even as “man” in the context of “sir”. However, in this context, it seems to make more sense as “man” or even “human”. If someone could enlighten me on why the T/NIV rendered this as “husband”, I would appreciate it. If I am correct on this, I hope TNIV will make a correction in v. 13 in its next edition.

But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.  They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God. (NLT)

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (ESV)

But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. (NRSV)
But to all who did receive Him, He gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God. (HCSB)

TNIV Reference Bible, Renaissance Fine Leather

I want to thank Zondervan for the wonderful promotional copy of the TNIV Reference Bible in the Renaissance fine leather edition. And I also must say thanks to TC Robinson at New Leaven for his correspondence with Zondervan to get some of us pastors signed up for this outstanding gift.

When I opened the box, and looked at the fine black leather, I blushed and thought that this was even better than I expected…and it truly was. When I lifted the leather bible out of the box, I felt the soft and supple leather almost melded into my hand, and right away, I knew that this was a very fine bible indeed. The hand-crafted leather bible is not just any old leather, but it’s thick and soft leather, and it feels just fabulous. Everything about the bible is classy…not just the box and design but also the silver gilded edge. It is something I would cherish and be proud to carry around church. It is also a great bible to preach from the pulpit with because the soft leather is so comfortable that it droops and curves to the shape of my hands. Ah…a wonderful feeling. Okay, this is all beginning to sound like idolatry, and idolatry is a sin, so I will just say that it’s a great bible indeed.

One thing that bugs me is when I see nice leather bibles that have a glued binding. Doing that doesn’t make sense. The binding in the TNIV Reference Bible Renaissance edition looks like it’s Smyth-sewn rather than glued. How I can tell is when I open up the bible, the pages lays flat. Not many bibles are Smyth-sewn today and I have to give kudos to Zondervan for this quality feature which cannot be overlooked. Smyth-sewn binding allows the bible to last longer. And there are two ribbon markers.

The cross reference is also an important feature in this bible. I’m a cross reference user and prefer this in my bible because I do study and research and find it very useful. I would say that it’s a must-have for me. Another important reference feature in this bible are the Topical Ties. It’ a topical reference system. You can think of it as something like the Thompson-Chain Reference system, but basically, it does the same thing. There are 700+ Topical Ties and they are located at the bottom of the page. Together with the cross-reference system and the Topical Ties, this TNIV Reference Bible is one of the best reference bibles out today.

The text is in single column which is perfect. I used to prefer double columns but now I find the single column easier to read. I don’t know why but it just works better for me. The text is in black, no red lettering.

The TNIV is a great translation and is my favourite mediating translation. (FYI, mediating sits in between formal and dynamic). It is easy to read and it is accurate. It is now more accurate than the NIV because the editorial committee has made many improvements. It is also gender-inclusive, just like the NLT and the NRSV. I’m one of these people who can accept gender-inclusive language but I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea so I don’t push it.

Thanks again to Zondervan for producing an excellent translation in the TNIV, and a bible of superb quality and craftsmanship.

What are the most authoritative translations?

ElShaddai Edwards and I have been conversing about the REB/NEB over at his blog at He is Sufficient. Our conversation has become an interesting conversation regarding the authority of bible translations.

ElShaddai said to me: “Thank you for using “authoritative” instead of “accurate”. It’s an interesting distinction and one that I’ve been thinking of exploring rather than needlessly continuing the translation philosophy wars.”

Then I responded by saying: “Yes, I do like the use of “authoritative” when I’m not talking about the formal-dynamic equivalency issues. This is a totally different issue when it comes to translations.”

I think the most authoritative translation today is still the NIV. Here’s my order of ranking:

1. NIV authority based on popular usage in all genres of publications, and usage in evangelical churches today
2. NKJV (authority based on popular usage in evangelical churches today)
3. KJV (authority based on popular usage in evangelical churches today)
4. NLT (authority based on huge growth in general popularity)
5. NRSV (authority based on usage in academic journals, reference books, and usage in mainline churches)
6. NAB(authority based on usage in Roman Catholic churches in the USA)
7. NASB (authority based on usage in Christian magazines and by pastors)
8. ESV (authority based on usage by pastors)
9. TNIV (authority based on usage in books)
10. Message (authority based on usage by pastors)

How often a translation is quoted by teachers, pastors and Christian publications of any sort (books, news magazines, ministry publications, academic journals, websites, etc.) are very important factors when we are considering whether a translation is authoritative, or not authoritative.

The authority of a translation is also dependent upon how accurate it is, and it is also less dependent upon whether it is a formal or dynamic translation. However, these factors are less important and are not the primary reasons for authority. In my opinion, the most important factor to what determines the authority of a translation is how often it is quoted.

You may disagree with my order of rankings and my reasons for them. Note that this ranking has nothing to do with which translation I think should be authoritative; rather, they are what I think are authoritative at this current moment in time.

Why did I pick the NIV as the most authoritative? Because it is still the most widely read and quoted translation today. Being the most read and quoted translation gives the NIV that authority.
Note that my rankings are unrelated to the CBA sales ranking because sales is only an indication of how popular a translation is at the current moment in time; however, it does not indicate how often it is quoted by authoritative figures and publications.

Which translations do you think are the most authoritative today? Share you order of translation ranking and state your reasons.

Update: ElShaddai at He is Sufficient has also posted on this topic of authority of bible translations.