Translations are like women. Si elles sont belles, elles sont infidèles, mais si elles sont fidèles, elles ne sont pas belles.*
For several decades, now, Evangelical Bible scholars translating Scripture have proven themselves women lacking the male capacity to stand the heat of battle and fight. This is true of Zondervan's New International Version (2011), but too often it's also true of Crossway's English Standard Version.
The Committee on Bible Translation is paid to produce all translations bearing the name "New International Version," which translations are then licensed and sold by News Corps' publishing company, Zondervan. The Committee on Bible Translation (CBT) is made up of men like Craig Blomberg, Gordon Fee, Dick France, Doug Moo, Bill Mounce, Mark Strauss, and Bruce Waltke, all of whom have gotten the sort of degrees mothers dream of.
Being very educated, we may safely conclude it's not out of ignorance of Hebrew or English that their Bible product, the New International Version 2011, mistranslates the Hebrew 'ishshah' as "weaklings" in each of the texts... below (w/thanks to Andrew D.):
In that day the Egyptians will become weaklings. They will shudder with fear at the uplifted hand that the LORD Almighty raises against them. (Isaiah 19:16)
A sword against her horses and chariots and all the foreigners in her ranks! They will become weaklings. A sword against her treasures! They will be plundered. (Jeremiah 50:37)
Babylon’s warriors have stopped fighting; they remain in their strongholds. Their strength is exhausted; they have become weaklings. Her dwellings are set on fire; the bars of her gates are broken. (Jeremiah 51:30)
Look at your troops—they are all weaklings. The gates of your land are wide open to your enemies; fire has consumed the bars of your gates. (Nahum 3:13)
When God made Eve from Adam's rib and presented her to Adam as his wife, Adam exclaimed: “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman (ishshah), because she was taken out of Man (ish)” (Genesis 2:23). In the hands of Doug Moo and his colleagues, this verse might be rendered, "She shall be called Weakling, because she was taken from Weak."
Even readers who know nothing of Hebrew easily understand that the name Adam gave his wife is pregnant with meaning: 'ishshah' indicates derivation from 'ish.' So also in English, 'woman' indicates derivation from 'man,' and it's for this reason feminists have made it a habit to change the spelling of "woman" to "womyn."
What the Holy Spirit does in each of the texts above is to shame fighting men, pointing out their weakness and cowardice by calling them "women." Will our highly educated translators let the Holy Spirit say this in English?
No. And why not?
We all understand it's not politically correct to shame weak and cowardly men by calling them "women." As the CBT men see it, such a usage is beneath the Holy Spirit—unworthy of Him—so they correct Him lest any other sophisticate read His usage and think less of Him for it. It would not be right.
But of course the real issue is not the Holy Spirit. These men of the Committee on Bible Translation are worried about themselves. Translation is an aspirational vocation. Translators use their work to sign their sophistication and what sort of sophistication would anyone think they possessed if they allowed such a statement into a translation their name was associated with? So thousands of words throughout the Holy Scriptures are changed by men who tremble at the thought of offending our feminist age.
Rupert Murdock needs to fire these guys and hire himself some real men who are able to stand the heat of battle and produce a genuine Bible that says what the Holy Spirit inspired. Do any of our readers know Rupert Murdock? Can someone bend his ear for those who tremble at God's Word?
Too, what I find almost as distressing is how many of these men officially claim to hold to the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy. They sign statements of faith declaring their allegiance to the "plenary verbal inspiration" of Scripture, and then turn right around and replace the word 'women' with 'weaklings.'
But what of...
Again, translation is an aspirational vocation that's heavily influenced by what the translator wants his academic peers to think of him.
Some years back I wrote the ESV men pointing out how bad a job they'd done on 1Timothy 4:7. The Holy Spirit inspired the Apostle Paul to command Timothy to have nothing to do with 'grawdeiv muyouv'—literally "old women's tales." Note how the ESV translators gagged it:
NASB: But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. (1Timothy 4:7a)
KJV: But refuse profane and old wives' fables... (1Timothy 4:7a)
NLT: Do not waste time arguing over godless ideas and old wives’ tales. (1Timothy 4:7a)
ESV: Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. (1Timothy 4:7a)
What's with these guys? I mean really.
Just like the NIV's Committee for Bible Translation, the men paid to produce the ESV also felt keenly how gauche it is to refer to "old women's tales." What would people think of them if they allowed such an archaic construction into their own text of their own translation of their own Bible? Their peers might think they are hicks!
High-flown, pompous, elegant, or regal forms of language in the source are generally represented by terms of corresponding social rank in the target. Real difficulties arise only when the class register is low, and especially when the language of the source represents the speech forms of uneducated folk.
(T)ranslators shy away from giving ...uncouth forms of language in the target text. The reason is obvious—grammatical mistakes, malapropisms, and other kinds of "sub-standard" language must not be seen to be the translator's fault.
(David Bellos, "Is That a Fish in Your Ear?: Translation and the Meaning of Everything," p. 194-195.)
Sadly, Crossway has recently issued a major update to the ESV and they still refused to allow God's Holy Spirit to say "old wives' tales." How faithless!
Recently, preaching through 1Corinthians, I've come upon another place where the ESV translators placated feminist sensibilities. (While I don't use the ESV myself, a few in our congregation do and they alerted me to this.)
In 1Corinthians 11:3-16, there is an extended presentation of the doctrine of the Creation Order. Here the Apostle Paul applies this order of Adam first, then Eve, to length of hair and men's and women's head coverings. This text is an extended presentation of the doctrine of sexuality—the meaning and purpose of God creating man and woman.
The two Greek words 'aner' and 'gune' or their derivatives are used throughout this text. Normally, these words are sex-specific referring respectively to a member of the male or female sex. As subsets of the male or female sex, on occasion the context in which these words 'aner' and 'gune' are used indicates the proper translation is not "man" or "woman" but "husband" or "wife." In rare cases 'aner' may be used to refer to all men—that is, inclusive of both men and women as the Hebrew 'adam' is used in the Old Testament for all human beings.
So then, see how the NASB, the King James, and the ESV translate this passage:
NASB: But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man (aner), and the man (aner) is the head of a woman (gune), and God is the head of Christ. 4 Every man (aner) who has something on his head while praying or prophesying disgraces his head. 5 But every woman (gune) who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head, for she is one and the same as the woman whose head is shaved. 6 For if a woman (gune) does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head. 7 For a man (aner) ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman (gune) is the glory of man (aner). 8 For man (aner) does not originate from woman (gune), but woman (gune) from man (aner); 9 for indeed man (aner) was not created for the woman’s (gune) sake, but woman (gune) for the man’s (aner) sake. 10 Therefore the woman (gune) ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. 11 However, in the Lord, neither is woman (gune) independent of man (aner), nor is man (aner) independent of woman (gune). 12 For as the woman (gune) originates from the man (aner), so also the man (aner) has his birth through the woman (gune); and all things originate from God. 13 Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman (gune) to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man (aner) has long hair, it is a dishonor to him, 15 but if a woman (gune) has long hair, it is a glory to her? For her hair is given to her for a covering. (1Corinthians 11:3-15)
KJV: But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. 4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. 5 But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. 6 For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered. 7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. 8 For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. 9 Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. 10 For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. 12 For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God. 13 Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered? 14 Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? 15 But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering. (1Corinthians 11:3-15)
ESV: But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. 4 Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, 5 but every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven. 6 For if a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short. But since it is disgraceful for a wife to cut off her hair or shave her head, let her cover her head. 7 For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. 8 For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. 9 Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10 That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; 12 for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God. 13 Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a wife to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him, 15 but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering. (1Corinthians 11:3-15)
Some readers may find the above translations confusing. They may get lost trying to trace which 'aner' is translated "man" and which the translators switched to "husband;" which 'gune' is translated "woman" and which the translators switched to "wife." They may find themselves asking the question, "Why—what was the translators' rationale for leaving this 'gune' "woman" while changing this other 'gune' to "wife?"
Let's simplify matters by giving the reader a peek behind the curtain. In their footnotes, the ESV men claim the proper translation of 'gune' (and by extension, 'aner') is determined by the context of headcoverings. They assure us headcoverings were only for married women and so any time the word 'gune' is used in connection with headcoverings, it must not mean "woman" but "wife."
My patience for scholars is worn thin.
As soon as the reader examines what the translators did with each 'aner' and 'gune' in the text above, it becomes painfully clear the translators' decisions had everything to do with their embarrassment concerning God's Order of Creation of man and woman, and nothing to do with headcoverings.
But then each vocation has its temptations, doesn't it?
(There is a) general tendency of all translations to adhere more strongly than any original to a normalized idea of what the target language should he. To put that a different way: translation always takes the register and level of naturally written prose up a notch or two. Some degree of raising is and always has been characteristic of translated texts—simply because translators are instinctively averse to the risk of being taken for less than fully cultivated writers of their target tongue.
(David Bellos, "Is That a Fish in Your Ear?: Translation and the Meaning of Everything," p. 195.)
"Translators are instinctively averse to the risk of being taken for less than fully cultivated writers of their target tongue"—in this case English. No surprise, then, that the men paid to translate the ESV balked at the Holy Spirit's declaration, "But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ" (1Corinthians 11:3).
How humiliating it would be for one's name to be attached to such a trogladite construction! They couldn't—they simply could not allow readers of the ESV to see their own revered names attached to such a self-evidently patriarchal declaration from the ancient world! Why, they'd be taken for rubes, for less than fully cultivated writers of their target tongue!
Thus "But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ" was silenced and replaced by "But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the husband is the head of a wife, and God is the head of Christ."
At what cost?
At the cost of the world and God's people being taught and led to understand that man first, then woman is the universal law of God for all time in all places among all men. It is the warp and woof of manhood and womanhood, irrefragable in its splendor. It is the cornerstone of sexuality and man will either build his happiness and contentment upon it, or it will crush him.
Tragically, this is not the faith of the men who got paid to revise the Revised Standard Version into the English Standard Version. They flinch and cower.
This is the reason they gag the Greek words of 1Corinthians 11:3-15. They tremble to think of being salt and light in our desperately wicked generation, and so they refuse to allow the doctrine of sexuality to be given expression here in this text. "It's husband and wife—not man and woman!"
But of course, they're wrong. What the Holy Spirit actually inspires the Apostle Paul to write here is "But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man (not husband), and the man (not husband) is the head of a woman (not wife), and God is the head of Christ" (1Corinthians 11:3).
What is dealt with here is man and woman as man and woman—not husband and wife. Lodged in God's Creation Order there in the perfection of the Garden of Eden prior to the Fall, both implicit and explicitly the Apostle Paul here teaches truths that are universally applicable to the two sexes, to every last man and every last woman. Thus Calvin writes:
It is asked, whether he speaks of married women exclusively, for there are some that restrict to them what Paul here teaches, on the ground that it does not belong to virgins to be under the authority of a husband. It is however a mistake, for Paul looks beyond this — to God’s eternal law, which has made the female sex subject to the authority of men. On this account all women are born, that they may acknowledge themselves inferior in consequence of the superiority of the male sex. (Calvin on 1Corinthians 11:10)
Good readers, in this statement by the great reformer, John Calvin, you see everything our highly esteemed academics who produced the Bible product known as the English Standard Version did not want to say, everything that would make them be taken for less than fully cultivated writers of their target tongue. So they refused to say it.
Poor Church. Poor world.
* * *
* Loosely, "If they are good-looking, you can't trust them to be faithful, and if they stick by their mates, it's because they're old frumps."