Biblical studies: March 2005 Archives

Mark Roberts has been working through a balanced evaluation of the TNIV. This post is a catalog of my posts that interact with his series. I'm moving through his posts a few at a time, focusing on crucial points and summarizing what seems right to me. When I disagree, I'm spending some time explaining why. I'll update this post as my series continues.

Part I covers Mark's first five posts, covering mostly introductory issues about translation in general, with some specific information on the TNIV as well.

Part II looks at one further issue in translation, that of the changing target language. The bulk of the post deals with dynamic vs. formal equivalence translations, why it's misleading to think of this dispute as one between those who want a more literal translation vs. those who want one that's more of a paraphrase, and how the TNIV stands with respect to this issue as compared with the translations that are usually called more literal and with respect to the NIV itself.

This is Part II of my series interacting with Mark Roberts' series on the TNIV controversy.

In my last post I'd gotten through Mark's fifth post. In the sixth one, he discusses the difficulty of translating into a changing language. Linguists tell us that English has changed less since the standardization of spelling and grammar in formal media , which lessens Mark's point a little bit, but he's still right. As English changes, younger generations will have less familiarity with the forms of language in an older translation, and the NIV is old enough that it has forms that sounded ok to its translators, many of whom were old in the 1970s when the NIV was completed. Mark points out that those who grew up with the NIV wouldn't notice this, because they learned English with those expressions as part of it, but the biblically illiterate have much less of this. This point can be taken to show more than it does show, but Mark simply makes it without concluding much yet, so I'll leave it at that for now.

Mark Roberts has been working through a balanced evaluation of the TNIV and the surrounding debate for quite some time now. He started over a month ago, and he's not done yet. I've been planning to interact with him on it all along, but by the time I got ready to say something he already had enough posts that I would have had to read too many to do much, and then I decided to wait until I had a large block of time. I've given up on that. I'm going to move through the posts a few at a time, focusing on crucial points and summarizing what seems right to me. If I have disagreements, I'll spend some time explaining why. I expect to post these interactions over a few different posts. [See links here.] This post covers Mark's first five posts in the series.

Here's the link to his whole series. As I talk about specific posts, I'll link to them also.

I have a commentary recommendations post that I continue to update. For those who have never used a commentary before, they help your study of the Bible by giving background on language, archeology, theology, poetry, and connections with other scriptures. You can take advantage of someone who has spent hours wrestling with the text to find its meaning, its purpose, its relevance to life, etc. A commentary is incredibly helpful in getting the details of the text while also providing a broader framework.

Every once in a while I do a major enough update to that post that I pull it forward to a new date to be at the top of my blog. It's basically a list of what commentaries I recommend on each book of the Bible in three different categories, according to level of detail and type of reader. I've already said some things about commentaries in general in that post. Some of what follows is a reworking of that, and some of it is completely new. What I've been looking to do for a long time is to expand on that list, with explanations of why I prefer certain commentaries over others, including discussion of other commentaries not in that list at all. The result will be a much more thorough look at the commentaries available on each book. I've decided to do this as a series of posts book by book. This post will serve as an introduction to the whole series, giving with some preliminary thoughts on commentaries in general. A review of the various commentary series will follow, and then I'll post an index for the series (starting with just the first two preliminary posts, of course) before moving into the first book of the Bible.

I've been reading through parts of D.A. Carson's commentary on John while my congregation has been studying John 9-12 this quarter in our sermons, and one of the sections I was reading refers the reader to the notes on John 20:22. As I was looking at that section, I noticed a footnote that gives a lengthy quote from John Calvin's commentary on John:

wacky search of the day: ralph nader preterist

ridiculously exaggerated search of the day: 1000 reasons why premarital sex is bad

Both of those were actually yesterday, but that's when I put most of this post together.

Dory at Wittenberg Gate takes on old-earthers in one of the best presentations of the difficulties with old earth interpretations of Genesis that I've ever seen. I respect Dory greatly, and I think she's got one of the best Christian blogs out there. I have to disagree extremely strongly with her on this issue, though. It seems to me that her normally careful argumentation just isn't present in this post. She argues that the Bible seems to present death as a consequence of the fall, and the old-earth view seems to require death before the fall. I'm not 100% sure of either of those claims, but it's the hardest argument for the old-earth view to deal with. She also presents problems with two of the common views of making Genesis 1:1-2:3 fit a long time frame, but those two views don't seem to me to be the primary views Genesis scholars have. They view those strategies to be just as out of touch with the literary structure of the passage as the 24-hour day view is. Finally, she says an old-earth view threatens the foundations of the gospel, and it's here that I'm really worried about what she's saying, though it's consistent with what she says that she isn't accusing anyone of denying the gospel.

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