Protecting God's Word from charges of anti-Semitism, patriarchalism, homophobia, and racism...

Here are a couple responses to questions asked under the post of the ESV committee's video. First the question, then my response. (TB)

Is every use of the word "slave" now going to be changed to "servant"? 

No, they are doing this gradually. Words indicating the ownership of men will be removed from Scripture at about the same rate as words indicating the federal headship of Adam  (male inclusives such as 'adam' and 'adelphoi'). As mentioned above, footnotes often show...

where the decay is setting in. sounds to me not that they're trying to change the meaning of the Bible, but trying to use words that will best bring to mind in the modern reader, what the original reader would have thought of.

Actually, not. Here are the money quotes.Those opposed to removing the Greek 'doulos' from their English text say:

"It you look at the dictionaries, it's quite clear that the person is owned... I think we're getting confused and reluctant to use the word 'slave' because we think that because there is the word 'slaves,' that the Old Testament approves of slavery. And I think it's very much better to say that the Old Testament is trying to improve the life of slaves, rather than pretending they're not slaves.'

Wayne then argues in favor of removing the Greek 'doulos' from their English text because:

"The word 'slave' has irredeemably negative associatons and connotations."

Wayne follows his foundational reason for deleting God's word with a bunch of stuff like slavery wasn't racial way back then, but all the stuff amounts to nothing more than feathers in the air in an effort to obscure the central fact of slavery's "irredeemably negative associations and connotations." Until wise men see this ordering principle of modern Bible mistranslation, they won't understand anything about the Bible business. Scholars flown around the world and paid to produce new Bible products have great motivation to...what?

To produce new Bible products.

And what is the main concern with language in our age? 

It's to avoid offense. The postmodern man is effeminate and demands that language be used that doesn't hurt anyone. Thus we see that modern Bible translations' reason to exist is their bowdlerizing the Word of God at the crunch points of political correctness, at the places where the postmodern's hypersensitivity demands that he find the language a "safe place." 

Thus one of the men in this clip has argued with me, personally, that "almost all modern scholars" believe the Gospel of John's use of 'Ioudaioi' should be translated "Jewish leaders" instead of "Jews." And note that we live in a post-Holocaust world in which every educated man is deathly afraid of being perceived as anti-Semitic.

Thus another of the men in this clip has argued with those of us who wrote and adopted the Colorado Springs Guidelines (on the use of the male inclusive in Bible translation) that 'adelphoi' (Greek 'brothers' used all over the Epistles) should be translated "brothers and sisters." In other words, he opposed God's use of 'adelphoi' as a male inclusive in English translations. And note that we live in a feminist world in which every educated man is deathly afraid of being perceived as "insensitive to the legitimate concerns of women who have been oppressed by patriarchs across all ages."

Thus all of these men in this clip have continued to gag God's words 'grawdeiv muyouv' in 1Timothy 4:7. They replace it with nothing. It's simply gone. Here the Holy Spirit inspired the Apostle Paul to command Pastor Timothy to have nothing to do with "old women's tales." But that command is removed from the ESV. And note that we live in a feminist world in which every educated man is deathly afraid of being perceived as "insensitive to the legitimate concerns of women who have been oppressed by patriarchs across all ages."

Thus all of these men in this clip have continued to gag God's word 'malakoi' in 1Corinthians 6:9. They replace it with nothing. It's simply gone. Here the Holy Spirit inspired the Apostle Paul to warn the Christians in Corinth that catamites (male call-boys or the effeminate partner in sodomitic copulation) will not inherit the Kingdom of God. And note that we live in a sodomitic world in which every educated man is deathly afraid of being perceived as "insensitive to the legitimate concerns of gays who have been oppressed by Christian bigots across all ages."

Thus these men in this clip have voted to gag God's words 'doulos' in multiple places. They replace ownership with wages. In many places across Scripture the Holy Spirit inspired Scripture's authors to use the word 'slave,' but these men paid by Wheaton's Crossway Publishers remove it. And note that we live in a pluralistic and diverse culture in which every educated man is deathly afraid of doing anything at all that could ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever cause others to think that he or his Bible product is to the slightest degree "racist."

We could go on, but I grow weary. As I've pointed out before, there is great consistency in the direction of all Bible products today, including the latest revision of the New International Version, the latest revision of the Living Bible (the New Living Translation), and the latest revision of the Revised Standard Version (the English Standard Version). All owners of copyright on Bible products today are paying academics to pedal hard to keep ahead of charges of anti-Semitism, patriarchalism, homophobia, and racism.

So no, the point of updated products is not to communicate accurately the offensive and insensitive and negative and direct and manly and insightful and wise and highly charged things that the Holy Spirit has said in His Word. Rather, the point is to keep the men paid to produce these Bible products from appearing insensitive or unenlighted or backward or uneducated or hickish or redneckish or Deliverancish or benighted or uncultured or American or antebellum or uncontextualized or unmissional or unGospel-centered or graceless or ham-fisted or primitive or impolite or dimwitted or catachrestic or obtuse or cretinous (w/thanks to the Apostle Paul) or imbecilic or nescient or insufficiently progressive.

The best explanation of these bowdlerizations of the Word of God is not a concern for accuracy, but scholars' phobia of being thought insufficiently progressive.


There is an amazing irony in Grudem's statement: "The word 'slave' has irredeemably negative associatons and connotations."

Actually, the word "slave" was redeemed twenty centuries ago when instead of being a slave to sin we were redeemed to become slaves of Christ.

Spot on, David Booth!

What astounds me about this is that they seem utterly blind to the downward slide. It's as if they are not only afraid of the word, "catechesis" but are terrified of the work involved.

So maybe this is scholars protecting people from the church (wherein the Bible is explained).

I have often argued that one of the reasons that liberals are sometimes more to be trusted with the text than evangelicals, is that evangelicals are stuck with what they say it says. Liberals can say Paul thought this, and ho, ho, ho. Evangelicals have to say that they also think whatever it was that Paul thought. This is why Paul keeps getting hauled off for more sessions of sensitivity training.

I thank the Bayly brothers again for this blog.

Right on, David Wegener. The place to incorporate wisdom in expression is in the exposition of the words of Scripture, not to negate it or correct God but to bring understanding. Changing the words of Scripture is as silly as changing the atomic weights in the periodic table of the elements: "Oh, people are offended by hydrogen being 1, so lets make it 4."

Remove the incentive for sales (the figures which are never published).

I have long thought any translation of the Holy Bible should not be subject to copyright law for the following reasons:

- the original author is still alive;
- the written expression is factual, already in the public domain;
- every true translation effort attempts to get to as close to the factual basis of the text as possible thus eliminating any unique expression on the part of the translator. (So, like the bee-sculpting jeweler whose copyright claims were rejected because there's only one way to sculpt a realistic bee); (Tim- I understand your point that this intent is being avoided, but
- there is an inherent conflict of interest in translating, then sharing the Word of the Lord for profit, akin to vendors selling sacrificial animals in the temple;

Tim - I think the biggest point you make is that the Word of God is being moved from the hands of the Church to the hands of the merchants. Although man may intend this for his own profit, God, in His infinite wisdom uses such maneuvers to His benefit - refining a new generation to seek Him in His original expression.

BTW - technology may soon provide an end-run around the vendors.

And Mary said, "Behold, the Lord's nanny."

>>I have long thought any translation of the Holy Bible should not be subject to copyright law for the following reasons...

Dear Chris,

As you were posting your comment above here under this post, I was commenting as follows under the other post (the one with the video). I hadn't read what you wrote, but couldn't agree more as you'll see.

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>>YouTube's stats say those who have viewed this video number 9,758 as I write this.

(NOTE: Please see correction posted at bottom of this comment.) Justin Taylor had posted it on his Crossway blog back on November 7th. (I did not know Justin had advertised it on his Crossway blog until an hour ago.)

The discussion under his promotion of the video (Taylor's in the video, BTW) is almost worse than the video itself.

When you read Taylor, always keep in mind that his blog is the shill for the ESV publisher, Lane Dennis' Crossway, and that every last word he writes having anything to do with Crossway's products and authors should be accompanied by the disclaimer, "The writer of this post is paid by the publisher of this book/author."

It amazes me how men who confess their doctrinal commitment to total depravity defy publishing standards concerning conflict of interest full disclosure while pagans writing for the New York Times or the New England Journal of Medicine are scrupulous about it.

I've told my friends at World magazine that you can't begin to report on Bible translations and Evangelical publishing and academic institutions until you go to Wheaton and look closely at the relationships and how those relationships influence the amazonian flow of money.

When David and I pushed Wayne to do a Bible translation and when I met with Lane to ask him to publish it (the revision of the RSV that became the ESV), we emphasized again and again that this Bible should not be copyrighted except to protect the text. Instead of the business-as-usual method of Bible profiting, we exhorted them to do the work with money from patrons--men like Roland Hinz at High-Torque Publishing and Stu Epperson and Ed Atsinger at Salem Communications. Then, having had their costs covered by these men, they could freely give the Bible to every publisher in the world to make money off as their hearts desired.

Sadly, what I believe happened is that Crossway did their work with the money of these men, but then kept the ESV's copyright for themselves and license it making money off every copy of the ESV sold in hard or digital form. This is the worst of both worlds.

As David and I have said over and over again, Bibles shouldn't be copyrighted except to protect the integrity of the text.

The Holy Spirit is the Author of Scripture and businessmen and their hired scholars should not claim a moneymaking license on his work even though the U.S. Copyright Court might sustain their claims.

Until we begin to follow the money amongst ourselves, we'll never be able to expose and clean up (a half-millenia ago it was called "reform") the moneychangers' tables that own our churches and coffee tables. Love,

* * *

(I've removed the stats because I've looked at YouTube's stats and think I must remember incorrectly.)

Here's my favorite part of their permissions policy:

"When quotations from the ESV text are used in non-saleable media, such as church bulletins, orders of service, posters, transparencies, or similar media, a complete copyright notice is not required, but the initials (ESV) must appear at the end of the quotation."

The NASB gives some freedom here:

"When quotations from the NASB® text are used in not-for-sale media, such as church bulletins, orders of service, posters, transparencies or similar media, the abbreviation (NASB®) may be used after the quotation."

So, even in our worship, our attention is forced to the esteemed committee's work.

As someone who loves the written and spoken word, I take great exception to the political correctness and obfuscation going on in much of the Evangelical world.

Thanks to the Bayly Brothers for their reporting. Keep up the good/God's work

Every time someone gives a presentation at a medical organization's meeting they are required to divulge their potential conflict of interest. The same with our journals Evangelical publisher's should not be holding themselves to a lower standard.

Jay said:

"Every time someone gives a presentation at a medical organization's meeting they are required to divulge their potential conflict of interest."

FWIW, this is also true of the health care information management and health information technology organizations to which I belong, since their presenters often receive funding from electronic health record and health privacy vendors, to name just two.

Proverbs 29:25 The fear of man brings a snare,

But whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe.

Decisions like this ESV panel made always come down to whom you really fear and whom do you really trust? It matters little to have an intellectual assent to the fear of the Lord, but it is when faith is actually tested with action you find the substance of your faith. When the bullets start to fly... whom do you fear...whom do you trust? What good is a theoretical faith? What is a faith worth that costs nothing?

It is proper these men be taken to task for this faithlessness. These kinds of instances also, it has to be said, stir up in me those places which I myself have failed before when I too, have feared man more than God. By grace, may these men repent of this and fear the Lord. May I as well; and press on toward the prize.

Fear, yes. But also the love of money/success/sales. What I hear in the discussion is not "what will cause people to set my fields on fire" but "what will keep people from buying the book?" All these fellows have day jobs that pay a living wage more or less. But to have your name listed on the Bible...

At GA in 2005 Sinclair Ferguson began his otherwise excellent sermon with a *humorous* anecdote about someone who asked him to autograph their copy of the Bible. His punchline was that, while he declined (as I recall), he did see several notable signatures already there.

This is also sad because, as Lucas pointed out, the ESV has been the modern translation most freely offered in the digital world (Kindle, iPhone, and e-sword).

Sorry--point of clarification: Lucas just mentioned that it was free on his phone. I have found it free everywhere I've looked for a digital Bible.

Odd, the way the less the Bible is read the more it is translated. --C.S. Lewis

I really don't think it is about money, but the pressure of political correctness.

As a man that has worked with money my entire working life, I have a great deal of experience based cynicism to that comment, Henry. The first rule of journalism is "follow the money." Money corrupts. There is a reason that Scripture warns us against it so frequently and forcefully.

There may be one man in that room, that hasn't been influenced by the money, but that is one more than I would guess.

Well said, yet isn't this the logical and necessary outcome of dynamic equivalence as popularized by the original NIV? There is no control on the "dynamic" side of the translator's task. He is, in effect, a slave to the linguistic fashions of the target language. If that language is changing rapidly he must continue to re-translate, trim, tuck, repeat. So why (aside from the profit motive) haven't more people realized this is no way for Protestant churches to handle the Scriptures? Seems to me just another way for moderns to be ashamed of Christ and His Word.

Why have Protestants relied on governments' imprimatur (AKA copyright) instead of providing their own?

How can you trust Sola Scriptura when the Scriptura translation is under siege by copyright-controlling third-party money-grubbing corporations?

Even if true, that is just a roundabout way of saying it is about the money.

"He is, in effect, a SLAVE to the linguistic fashions of the target language." The irony is so thick I could cut it with a knife.

Regarding Waynes comment, the use of the word, "irredeemably" strikes me as particularly revealing.

Abram, you beat me to it. I was thinking something along the lines of:

I think you meant to say "He is, in effect, a *bondservant* to the linguistic fashions of the target language."

Hmmm... Seems like the word slave is pretty well understood, actually. Yes, it has negative connotations in our day and age. But that's because we hate authority, especially authority that actually has real power over us in some way.

We talk about slave-labor, even though usually we aren't talking about people who are literally owned. Maybe slave-laborer would be the best translation into English today...

I meant to add that the discussion of authority is *very* important to this topic. The reason the word "slave" is so beneficial to us today, is partly because it shocks us with its implications of the necessity of being submissive to authority.

There are several things that are worth note, I think.

Very old "English" translations rendered doulos as seruant (i.e. servant), not even bond-servant.

The NASB renders doulos as bond-servant about 20 times. For example, "Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus..." in Rom 1. I'm not sure why it's "slave" some places and "bond-servant" in others.

Interesting discussion. Some points:

1. Andrew Dionne notes that the ESV says you "must" acknowledge the ESV at the end of the quotation. This seems to be a violation of the "fair use doctrine", but I'm not sure. Anyone know if they have any right to sue over an unattributed quotation?

2. I've wondered about Doulos before. One meaning is "slave", sure-- in the sense of someone owned by someone else for his entire life, whose children will also be owned by that person. But can it also mean (a) a servant, or (b) someone who is indentured for a limited period of years? In that case, translation is difficult. (I know there's diakonos
There is also the cultural difference that we moderns think of slaves as unskilled labor but in ancient times slaves were often better educated than their masters. But we shouldn't change translation because of that. (And of course we shouldn't change it just because in the US we think of "black, not white" when we think of "slave".)

I haven't seen the Macarthur book some comment referenced. Does it answer my question?

3. My questions in (2) might be a good reason to translate Doulos as servant, but Pastor Grudem's motivation is clearly different. He's worried about people understanding too accurately what Doulos means, not about whether Doulos really should be translated as Slave in an emotion-free world.

4. This post has other, incontrovertible, reasons for being upset with the ESV. This Doulous business is just one more example. The most noticeable ESV fault, if not the most dishonest, is the common footnote to "brothers" saying: "brothers or sisters". That looks to me like a cowardly gesture of shame to feminists, as if the translators are saying "we really wanted to translate adelphoi as "brothers and sisters", but we weren't brave enough to because of the meanie fundamentalists we want to sell this to, so please don't hurt us."

The NASB is OK, but I've come round to the idea that the best translation is an old translation, which has translator biases only on issues that aren't burning today. We ought to be wary of the King James Version when it comes to "bishops", but nobody then thought feminism and sodomy were contentious enough issues to mistranslate on account of them. The Gaps to Stand In were different then than now.

I actually felt angry hearing Wayne Grudem in the video when he said in essence "We as scholars understand the nuances but we can't trust it to the average English reader". As an "average English reader" I could never begin to see the truth of what it means to be a slave of God without the word "slave". Is there another word that means one person owned by another person? It's certainly not "bond-servant".

In God's providence I read "Uncle Tom's Cabin" just before reading MacArthur's "Slave". What a powerful combination first reading in Uncle Tom's Cabin the clear depiction of how utterly dependent American slaves were on their Masters - whether they were good or bad. Then, having MacArthur bring home the truth of how we too are completely dependent on God who is our Master and is a perfect Master in every sense. Totally dependent on a Master who loves us, provides all we need all the time and is always good. All this comforting truth in the "irredeemable" context of American slavery.

I just showed this video to my 10 year old son without much explanation. He didn't understand why the word was being changed. His comment after watching it: "Those men are all really smart. Why don't they just read the Bible?"

It's funny, but nobody in this long series of comments, including me, has quoted the actual scripture passage the ESV people were debating. I think this is it:

I Corinthians 7:21 Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather.
7:22 For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord's freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ's servant.
7:23 Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.

The particular passage matters. I've given the King James version above. It sounds awkward because it uses "servant" when it's obviously talking about slaves--- free vs. slaves, bought with a price vs. hired for a while. It's in a letter to Corinth, a market town in the heart of Greece, where permanent bondage was the usual case, not just for a period of years, and not Hebrew bondage. I bet Corinth was one of the hubs of the slave trade in Greece.

Thus, the passage is one of the clearest examples of where "slave" is a better translation than "servant".

Keep in mind, here, that in 1611, "servant" would have been understood at times from the Latin "Servus," meaning.....

...."slave." It's a translation I could "get" in 1611 or even in 1769. Not so much today.

>>Not so much today.

The corrupting influence of "servant leadership" which, by the way, is neither good servant nor good leadership. Like a grazed woodlot which is neither good woodlot nor good grazing.

And I suppose I must say that I'm certainly not disparaging the leadership of our Lord washing His Disciples' feet which serves as the locus classicus for today's much-ballyhooed "servant leadership." In reality, though, "servant leadership" today is most often a cover for abdication.


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