Doug Moo assumes authority over the text of God's Word...

(Tim, w/thanks to a longtime friend of Baylyblog) Over at another blog, Denny Burk does a good job exposing just one of many hundreds of places where the recently-released New International Version 2010 deletes or changes God's words in order to make Scripture more palatable to postmoderns. The verse in question is 1Timothy 2:12 which has, up until now, always been translated in such a way as to make clear to English speakers that, through the Order of Creation and the Fall, God has made clear woman is not to "teach" or "exercise authority" over man.

Now, though, such a message is horribly embarrassing, so it must be changed. This, of course, is precisely what Doug Moo and his colleagues paid by Zondervan and Biblica are eager to do, so it's a serendipitous set of associations. Thus this latest Bible product they're trying to sell, the New International Version 2010, gives us a much more approachable text:

I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man;b she must be quiet.

b Or over her husband

Yes, it's one thing to "assume authority" and something else entirely to "exercise authority." That's the point, dear readers. But hey, you can justify your change with a whirlwind of words as Doug does in the comments under Mr. Burk's post...

So go here and read the post, followed by Doug Moo's comment below the post. Then come back and read this response to Doug's defense of his work.

* * *

Doug Moo writes: "As one of the NIV (2010) translators, let me just (say) there is so much uncertainty about this key word (authentein) that the accusation of 'mistranslation' is simply not fair." Actually, Doug, it's both fair and necessary. In fact, those who refuse to see and warn the sheep against your NIV 2010 repudiation of the clear meaning of the text of Scripture here in 1Timothy 2:12 are unfaithful shepherds. When the enemy approaches, pastors are commanded to blow the trumpet with a clear note of warning--not mince and prance and equivocate in an effort to win the approval of their seminary or college profs.

Like most claims of "uncertainty" concerning texts of Scripture dealing with areas of conflict in our postmodern culture, this one too is bogus. Two thousand years of godly church fathers knew the meaning of the word, and your claim that it's not clear--in fact, that it's surrounded by "much uncertainty"--tells us much about your cultural context in your home and church and college there in Wheaton, as well as during meetings of your Committee on Bible Translation with egalitarian ideologues like Gordon Fee sitting next to you; and nothing at all about the original Greek or its proper translation into English.

Doug Moo writes: "(It) is our intent to provide a translation that is faithful to the text, bowing to no particular theological agenda (in this case, neither 'egalitarian' nor 'complementarian'). Our rendering of 1Timothy 2:12 was sincerely intended as our best effort at rendering this very obscure word in a way that would not be driven by either theological agenda."

Actually no, Doug. Your rendering of 1Timothy 2:12 is of a fabric with hundreds of changes you've made in this politically correct translation you and Zondervan and Biblica are trying to sell to the people of God. And what is the fabric? It is to neuter and delete and amend and bowdlerize any text you can get away with neutering and deleting and amending and bowdlerizing to the end that the words of God become more palatable to our twenty-first century postmodern ears.

Since we're all infinitely sensitive to being called "anti-Semitic," delete the word 'Jews' from the text of the Gospel of John where "Jews" are said to be the enemies and persecutors of Jesus. Since we're all infinitely sensitive to being called "homophobic," delete the Greek word translated 'soft ones' from the text of 1Corinthians where this sin is listed as one of the two kinds of sodomites (malakoi and arsenokoitai) who can't inherit the Kingdom of God. Since we're all infinitely sensitive to being called "sexist," talk about 'authentein' being surrounded by "much uncertainty" and how it's a "very obscure word." Then simply change it to a phrase that will hide what God was saying, leaving souls free to claim the Name of Christ as they join the world in rebelling against God's Creation Order of Adam first, and then Eve. Since no woman wants to read her sex being included in a male inclusive, expunge them all--thousands of them--from God's Word. Zap and they're gone.

Some will fault me for accusing you of sin. Let me answer that the trumpeter blowing a clear note of warning is not principally concerned over waking the babies or irritating the babies' mothers. Today, there's grave danger to the city of God, and Bible translators and their Bible products are critical components in Satan's effort to breach the wall. Those of us with a calling to shepherd God's flock, rather than to award degrees, need to do our work faithfully, trusting God with our reputations and future security. I consider it a blessing we don't have tenure because this helps us trust God more--which is always good.

Anyhow, what sacrifice is it, really, to give up the fear of intellectuals for the fear of God and the love of the sheep and their lambs?



"Two thousand years of godly church fathers knew the meaning of the word..."

But of course, we only become wiser and more apt at interpreting God's Word as we get farther and farther away from the life of Christ and the establishment of his church.

The Translators' Notes say:

"‘Assume authority’ is a particularly nice English rendering because it leaves the question open..."

Haha! Just the use of the word "nice" (as opposed to useful, effective, accurate, helpful...) here betrays the pandering, ear-tickling political correctness that underlies this translation. It's a sad road we're heading down if our "top scholars" believe that the Bible is about being "nice."

It's worth noting that the KJV helped stabilize our language to the point that Civil War historians (e.g. Michael Sharma of "The Killer Angels") feel the need to tone down the 17th century language used by soldiers in the 1860s, and today we're having trouble understanding a translation from 1980?

I'm no KJV only or even preferred person, but by golly....we need to think of what we're doing to our language!

I, for one and tired of all the new translations. I do like the ESV, however I could have gotten along fine without it.

Having said that, isn't it the use of words that is really at issue? In the military, the word "assumes" is used interchangably with "exercise." For example a perspective commanding officer "assumes" command when he relieves the commanding officer of his duties. In other words, "assuming" command is the same as "exercising" authority.

>>a prospective commanding officer "assumes" command when he relieves the commanding officer of his duties. In other words, "assuming" command is the same as "exercising" authority.

If it were the same, there would have been no need for a change from their earlier NIV translation of "exercise authority" to "assume authority," and no explanation why "assume authority" is better than "exercise authority."

Yes, the military use is one aspect of common usage of this term, but the more common one is to take authority not legitimately delegated to you. So, in the NIV 2010, the only woman the Holy Spirit bars from the exercise of authority over man is the woman who has not had that authority properly delegated to her. She simply assumes it, but her assumption is illegitimate.

Read Denny Burk's essay. He nails the point and he's right. Doug and his colleagues could have left the word alone, but that would not have fit with their mandate to make a new Bible product that was reader friendly. So they changed this and hundreds of other Hebrew and Greek words in order to obscure the Fatherhood of God writ large in the federal headship of Adam and the submission of Eve to his federal headship.


ISTM that assume authority and exercise authority are not quite the same, but also that they are linked together as well. Like you can't assume authority without exercising authority. If this sounds weird, it's because I've been studying for a tough exam for most of the day and I can't think straight right now.

Another interesting change that illustrates a lot is the footnote, "b Or over her husband." It removes the application of this principle from every place but the home. So a woman assuming authority in the church is ok as long as her husband doesn't mind and is giving her the authority willingly over himself?

Many bad implications of this one.

No discussion of this passage would be complete without mention of the important scholarly article that concludes as follows:


The results of the investigation carried out in Part II can be succinctly stated: nothing which would have effect of restricting the application of Paul's advice in I Timothy 2:11·15 to a particular time and place has betn discovered. Indeed. the very structure of the passage must point to the inherent improbability of such restrictions, for Paul roots his teaching deeply in the culture·transcending events of the creation and fall of man and woman. There is absolutely nothing in the passage which would suggest that Paul issued his instructions because of a local situation of societal pressure. This being the case, it can only be concluded that the results of the exegetical investigation carried out in Part I musi stand as valid for the church in every age and place: Women are not to teach men nor to have authority over men because such activity would violate the structure of created sexual relationships and would involve the woman in something for which she is not suited.

("I Timothy 2: 11-15: Meaning and Significance"
DJ Moo - Trinity Journal, 1980

On the other hand, perhaps the views of Dr. Moo, unlike those in I Timothy, are indeed "restricted to a particular time and place".

>>would have (the) effect of restricting...

>>has been discovered...

>>the inherent improbability...

>>would suggest...

As Doug points out on the NIV 2010 advertising pages, very much "has been discovered" since he wrote the above thirty years ago. All kinds of new light on very, very old words leads him to want, now, to show all the many new discoveries, to demonstrate the intrinsic possibility, and to suggest the feminist reading of this text may, in fact, be right.

Until souls who love Jesus Christ realize that the monetary corruption of the church is not a danger limited to the time of Jesus and Luther, but is very much alive today, everything will be a matter of scholarly judgments and differences between men of good conscience with motives pure as the new-fallen snow, and the sheep will never be defended against the wolf's attack because their defense would require calling something--some Bible translation, some new scholarly discovery, some very old heresy dressed up to look chic--to call one of those things (or really anything--anything at all) sin. Evil. Wicked. Sacrilege. Blasphemy. Soul-destroying.

There are wolfs among us, and they're not limited to elders in the Mormon church. Otherwise, the Apostle Paul was an idiot to get all in a huff warning the Ephesian elders “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears" (Acts 20:28-31).

"Will come in among you." "From among your own selves."

Until we evangelicals are willing to oppose those we know and love and sit next to in the pew Lord's Day morning, the church will continue to be destroyed by the distortion of the truth all around us being done by--again--those among us, among our own selves.

With love for the Word of God and the Bride of Christ,

Are there special Greek texts and dictionaries us regular folk can't get? I've got the UBS4 Greek text, so I look up the verb in question - authentein, go to the dictionary in the back and it says "authenteo: domineer, have authority over". "Domineer"/"assume authority", not buying it. "To have authority over" - nah that's TOO easy. I mean, Paul's own words can't be that simple and obvious when he's giving a command, right?

Ohh, now I understand why the laity shouldn't learn basic Greek grammar and vocabulary, it might challenge the authority scholars have assumed over us.

Dear Matthew,

Sadly, even the UBS apparatus and BAGD (BDAG), the standard Koine lexicon, are being revised to satisfy the demands of PC nannies. So, for instance, this judgment by Vern Poythress of the latest revision of BDAG: "BDAG has not only imported particular judgments about politics, but mixed them with descriptions of lexical meaning. The result is unacceptable."

For more on BDAG's twisting of the meaning of words like 'pater' and 'Ioudaios,' see:


More disturbing evidence of disobedience to God's clear instructions for women.

Nancy Wilson


Zondervan is the co. that said "we will not change the NIV" right? Any changes where to be done in the tniv, but, it ain't selling so much so the lying, greedy fems at zonder say: "lets go back and change the niv because then we can make more money again!!"

It sickens me.

Hi Tim, hope you are well brother.

This post is slanderously titled. You and Doug are both seeking to sit under the authority of God's Word; that is not the question; the question is one of interpretation. This is a very distasteful post and I encourage you to post an apology to Doug on your blog.

Bless you brother.

>>This post is slanderously titled. You and Doug are both seeking to sit under the authority of God's Word; that is not the question; the question is one of interpretation. This is a very distasteful post and I encourage you to post an apology to Doug on your blog.

Dear Mr. Ortlund,

Maybe you didn't read what I wrote? Doug Moo and the scholars he leads who are paid by Zondervan through Biblica are changing the text of God's Word so it won't offend the sensitivies of postmoderns. They take out words the Holy Spirit inspired such as 'brother,' 'man,' and 'Jews,' replacing them with words they claim better communicate the Spirit's message by avoiding the Holy Spirit's words. But of course, it's impossible to keep the Holy Spirit's message intact when His words are repudiated.

And no, this has nothing to do with interpretation--that's the job of the pastor or commentator or reader. Rather, this is emendation. Deletion. Bowlderization. This is precisely what the Holy Spirit Himself warned against at the end of Revelation when He explicitly stated God will curse those who remove any part of Scripture.

I wonder whether you think it's possible for someone to do what the Holy Spirit forbids? Must they take out whole paragraphs to be guilty of the sin? Must they be liberals who reject the word 'inerrancy' in their confession of faith? Must they be profs at secular universities rather than evangelical colleges and seminaries?

Must they be dead a century or two before they're condemned? Must their motivation be something other than helping the Bible to avoid men charging it with nasties like sexism and Antisemitism?

Absolutely no one has the slightest trouble knowing what the word "Jews" means. The only reason to remove it from Scripture is to silence God's record of the Jews' hatred for His Only Begotten.

But gagging the Spirit of God is a fool's errand, bringing on us the judgment of the God Who is there and Who spoke.