I wonder how much of our background affects our approach. I'm 36 years old. When the full TNIV was released, I was 34 - right at the tail end of their target audience. I've always lived in the Midwest. While I only have a handful of college credits under my belt, I was academically gifted throughout school.
Thus, I've never had much problem reading a KJV, for example. So as I approach this subject, I have no problem reading an ESV and knowing who the intended audience is, genderly speaking. I know when male pronouns are applying to the whole human race. I don't mind a formal equivalent translation.
However, I can't say I'm having a lot of problems with gender-accurate translations such as the TNIV and the NLT so far either. I listen to both sides and see their points. Some points are better than others.
How much of our background and our personality affects our ability to form an objective conclusion on this issue? I'm not saying an objection conclusion isn't attainable. Indeed, I think mine's objective. But why do I come out differently than theological heros of mine such as Grudem or Sproul, et al? They're objective too, aren't they? I can think of two possibilities:
- Either they or I have better data to form a more informed conclusion.
- Either they or I are allowing subjective things or outside pressures to slant our conclusion.
In commenting on Grudem's book The TNIV and the Gender-Neutral Controversy, one person stated in a book review at Amazon.com
Grudem fears that the TNIV will grow in popularity and that his beloved NIV may fade in popularity.I don't think this person is too familiar with Grudem. Beloved is too strong a word for Grudem in regard to the NIV as far as I can tell. After listing many problems he has with functionally equivalent translated verses, Grudem writes in a co-authored book Translating Truth: The Case for Essentially Literal Bible Translation . . .
When I look at examples like these I know I cannot teach theology or ethics classes using a dynamic equivalence translation . . .Although the NIV is not a thoroughly dynamic equivalence translation, there is so much dynamic equivalence influence in the NIV that I cannot teach theology or ethics from it either. I tried it for one semester several years ago, shortly after the NIV first came out, and I gave it up after a few weeks . . . Nor can I preach from a dynamic equivalence translation . . . Nor can I teach from an adult Bible class at my church using a dynamic equivalence translation without checking the original at every verse . . . Nor can I lead our home fellowship group using a dynamic equivalence translation . . . Nor would I ever want to memorize passages from a dynamic equivalence translation.Though I bought the book, you can read it yourself for free here so that you can see I did not leave out anything that changes Grudem's meaning as I skipped over portions.
Grudem reads functional equivalent translations as commentaries only (see the link above to the book). His Systematic Theology has memory verses. In the chapters, he uses the RSV for the memory verses (a predecessor to the ESV . . . though his book has been revised since I bought it and my guess is it uses the ESV now), and the NASB & NIV at the end of the book for the memory verses.
His personality and background, it would seem, give him a disposition against functional equivalence. So of course he will not agree with the TNIV. We should hear his arguments. But if his translation philosophy doesn't even give a hearty thumbs up to the NIV, can we expect any better with the gender accurate TNIV?
It seems to me the bottom line might be people who prefer formal equivalent versions are not for the TNIV while people who don't mind non-formal equivalent versions don't have serious problems with the TNIV.
So what causes a person to prefer formal over non-formal and vice versa? Does our age, our extent of education, our geographical location, and our function in life (or ministerial calling) affect our conclusion on this?
I don't think one of those things by itself makes the decision. But a combination might slant us more in one direction than the other. Does growing up in the Midwest give a slight different bent for me than someone growing up in the New England area? What about your function in life? Does one person whose function is being a theology professor at a seminary have a different effect on them than the person reaching out to minister to a postmodern society or to junior and senior high students? Does it make a difference if you were born in 1951, 1971 (me), or 1991?
What causes a person to prefer formal equivalence only? Or am I making a category mistake by asking what what causes the cause? Or is this thought of translational philosophy and its relation to one's conclusion of the TNIV not accurate? Are there people that are pro-functional equivalence that are still anti-TNIV?