The Latest Changes in the ESV

Every Christian is entitled to his own interpretation, but not to his own translation.[1]

My pathologically precisionism and scrupulosity becomes easily incensed by mistranslations of the Bible. It is not the honest errors that irk, but rather the ones which I know emanate from pre-existing theological prejudices and speculations. There are days in which I would like to disparaging proclaim that the dishonesty of the Biblical scholars is so great that one must read the Bible in the original Hebrew and Greek.

While I use the ESV translation and will cite from that version, I am always wary of intentional translative massaging of the Greek text, such as occurs in the Romans 5:12–21 passage which New Calvinists/Reformed types use to validate the notion that all humanity are deemed guilty for Adam’s sin. This is obviously against the principles of divine (Deuteronomy 24:16, 2 Kings 14:6, Ezekiel 18:20) and human justice. The validity of Christ’s imputation is judicially dependent upon the free consent of the One who sacrificed (John 10:17–18) and paid the penalty on our behalf. There has been no such free consent given by Adam’s descendants.

Another example is from 1 Timothy 2:12 – “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man.” My suspicion of the meaning behind the first prohibition is that men generally learn differently from women. Many, observing the current state of schoolboy’s performance in the public schools, suggest that a chief cause lies for their failure, relative to schoolgirls, is in the overwhelming predominance of female teachers.

However, the second prohibition is imprecisely translated in most of the English versions. The Greek word translated into ‘authority’ in this verse differs from the norm. Whereas ‘authority’ generally derives from exousia (ἐξουσία), which denotes conferred/delegated, legal, and/or moral authority; the Greek word used in the Timothy passage is authentein (αὐθεντεῖν), which literally translates as self-arm (or unilaterally take up arms), which abstractly infers a self-appointed, non-delegated authority. Therefore, a woman can have a position of authority as long as it is rightfully conferred/delegated.

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Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you. – Genesis 3:16b

A passage in Genesis 3:16 has been re-interpreted since the 1970s by the CBMW (The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood) crowd that has differed from its historical understanding. In response to the feminist movement and Evangelical egalitarians, these CBMW “complementarians” have suggested that the passage infers a wife’s attempt to overrule the rightful authority of her husband. At one time, I held to the same misunderstanding. But while there is no doubt that some women do make such attempts, one cannot honestly derive that interpretation from the translation.

No problem! Let us just change the translation to conform to a preconceived theological understanding! Thereby, the translation of that passage in the ESV has been modified.

Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you. – Genesis 3:16b

If it be true that “no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation” (2 Peter 1:20), then neither should any single translation be so inconsistent with every other translation. The general sense from other English translations is along the same lines as it originally was in the ESV.

Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you. [NIV]

Yet your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you. [NASB]

and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. [KJV]

and your desire shall be to your husband, and he shall rule over you. [AKJV]

and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. [ASV]

The standard Jewish translation states “and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee” (JPS Tanakh 1917). The Jewish scholars of the non-canonical Septuagint (3rd century BC) translated the passage into the Greek as:

καὶ πρὸς τὸν ἄνδρα σου ἡ ἀποστροφή σου καὶ αὐτός σου κυριεύσει

kai pros ton andra . . . apostrephó . . .

And towards the man [of] you turning away from you . . . (or turning back)

One presumes that the Jews should be better authorities concerning their own language than Christian Gentiles, presuming intellectual integrity on the part of the Jews.

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In the 332 instances of the exact Hebrew term wə-’el-, there is no other case whereby it has been translated to “contrary to.” That is until now! There are occasions when the Hebrew term has been translated to “against.” However, that understanding (“Your desire shall be against your husband”) would make one wonder why a woman would ever want to get married in the first place.

The revision in the ESV is semantically silly. It might make semantic sense if the passage declared that the woman’s desires (in the plural) would be contrary to that of your husband. What specific but undisclosed singular wifely desire could it be that is contrary to that of the husband?

And how would this curse be particular to woman only? Do sons not have desires contrary to their fathers, male employees contrary to their employers, and male subjects and citizens contrary to their governors? Is not rebellion a general condition of humanity?

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Another passage revised in politically necessary sympathy with Genesis 3:16 verse is Genesis 4:17. The ESV has been changed from:

And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it. – BEFORE

And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it. – AFTER

This rendering is semantically disjointed. The notion of sin crouching at the door infers an adversary laying a snare to bring a person under its bondage. This understanding of enslavement by sin is consistent with Romans 6 and 7.

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. – Romans 6:12

Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. – Romans 6:16–8

but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. – Romans 7:23

A Profound Revision in Understanding

Rebellion of the wife against the authority of the husband may indeed exist. However, in blatantly revising the translation to match contemporary concerns of CBMW complementarians, it deliberately neglects another existential and historical reality; namely, that woman have often found their longings for their husbands unfulfilled as the latter seeks satisfaction away and apart from the spouse, children, and household; whether in pursuit of accomplishment and leaving a legacy (a.k.a. material and occupational success or even ministry); or in hedonistic pleasure at gaming tables and horse tracks, drinking tables, or in the arms of another woman; or in sheer abandonment.

A similar notion of material and/or effectual family abandonment by the husband and father is implied elsewhere.

Because the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. – Malachi 2:14–6

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers. – Malachi 4:5–6; cf. Luke 1:17

And God as Father and Christ as husband declares a dedicated faithfulness contrary to this human propensity. “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). “Do not fear or be dismayed” (Deuteronomy 31:8).

Which is the ontological curse for a wife? Being contrary to one’s husband (which seems, in my mind, to be more an ontological curse for the husband); or the ever pressing threat of abandonment and resulting material and psychological impoverishment? It would seem that egocentric male concerns have corrupted the Biblical scholars who translated the ESV.

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I am a complementarian, but not of the CBMW variety. The nature of Biblical complementarianism is not that of gender-based roles. Anyone, who has meditated upon Proverbs 31:18–31 and other Scriptural passages with intellectual and interpretative honesty, will not find the notion of “roles” in Scriptures, whether explicitly or implicitly. There are a very few functions which are delegated to males and females. But these can be explained upon other rational foundations (e.g. orderliness – “For God is not a God of confusion/disorder but of peace” – 1 Corinthians 14:33).

Rather, I would suggest that Biblical complementarianism is based on probabilistic differences in gender propensities and approaches to life, as well as distinctive physical attributes. This makes some of life’s functions more amenable to one gender or the other. But both Scriptures are, and real life must be more flexible than the patriarchal, cum “complementarian” notions of the CBMW crowd. And in reducing the gender differences to roles rather than to natural propensities, the CBMW crowd become intellectually incapable of presenting a credible rational defense against same-sex relationships and marriage.

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It is never a good occasion to translate a passage in the midst of controversy; or to trust such translations. Even beyond that; the blatantly deceitful and unconvincing manner of this latest ESV revision makes one averse to utilizing the ESV Bible, invokes greater distrust of the Christian intelligentsia, and discredits the cause of Christ.

 

 

 

[1] This is a variant on Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s famous quip, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts” as it relates to texts.
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Transgenderism: The Trumping of Reason and Rationality

A major and long promoted argument on behalf of gay rights has been that sexual orientation has a genetic or other direct physiological basis. This claim is proven by a promissory note of future conclusive scientific evidence and the repeated number of times it is proclaimed.

Motivated researchers thrash through the DNA code, in hopes of finding some statistically significant anomaly, no matter how minor, which corresponds with self-identified homosexuals. (“Then, researchers went through each man’s samples looking for unique genetic markers shared by all men in the study.”[1]) The laws of probability dictate that, in any given study of limited sample size, one will almost invariably find such anomalies. Such findings will not likely be consistently duplicated in further studies. But by the time that claim is totally falsified, some new study with dubious findings will have taken its place, in order to uphold the general propagandistic claim.

These genetic studies are normally conducted on identical and fraternal twins, under the premise that environmental influences can be largely isolated out, especially if the twins are separated at birth. However, the morphological factor never seems to be considered or addressed. Twins, especially identical twins, look quite similar. Social and sexual response to each of those twins, deemed gorgeous or contrariwise homely, will have similarity within any social context.

Dependent upon whatever masculine physiological ideals exist within the gay male community in any given era; identical twins, in which both twins will inherently meet such criteria, will probabilistically attract similar flatteries and solicitations by gay males. Furthermore, the beautiful are prone to physical self-admiration, a psychosocial reality attested by those Hellenistic pederast cultures, which gave us the myth of Narcissus. If one twin be gorgeous and likely self-admiring, so will his double. Such will more likely like like, and like to be liked by like.

But although the underlying similarity of physiology is generated by genes, these are not direct genetic causes of sexual orientation but indirect environmental factors. Twin studies are not as immune from environmental factors as has been hitherto purported.

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But let us assume, for the moment, authenticity of belief within the LGBT… community. While the case for gay and lesbian rights is ostensibly rooted in “born this way” determinism; so soon after achieving that last victory, the clamor for legal recognition of transgenderism is premised upon subjectivist, even Existentialist sensibilities, in the face of genetics, morphology, significant differences in brain structure, let alone genuine conscious experience.

The LG component of this sexuality paradigm is premised upon “genetics,” while the T component is premised upon “not genetics”; indeed contrary to “genetics.” This violates a rudimentary principle of rational logic, the Law of Non-Contradiction. And in such manifestations as the bathroom wars, they and their allies insist that all others dwell within this their contradiction, this their irrationality.

It is supremely difficult not to perceive this blatant inconsistency in their public arguments as nothing but a will-to-power sophistic shell game, by those who lack belief in and/or care about the Truth and the Good; in order to give intellectual cover for their vices; in order to dupe the simple, naïve, and gullible, whose ability to think critically lay dormant or has atrophied.

© Copyright John Hutchinson

[1] Carl Engelking, “Study of Gay Brothers Suggests Genetic Basis of Male Homosexuality,” Discover, November 18, 2014, http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/d-brief/2014/11/18/study-of-gay-brothers-suggests-genetic-basis-of-male-homosexuality/#.Vz1J3-R0dII.

I’m Not in Love and Proud of It

I think I should go ahead and tell you; I’m not in love with your mom. Actually I never have been. It’s high time you know the truth.

In my insatiable curiosity, I chanced upon this piece of “theologically correctness” about a week ago. I shall not reveal this paragon of dour and clueless. The prurient know exactly how to sate their mongering curiosity.

There has been need to rebuff the temptation to deliver sizzling riposte. But disdain and disgust eases into pity, first for the exquisitely gorgeous looking wife, then for the kiddies, and finally for him. Well begrudgingly the latter. Excruciatingly embarrassing memories, you know,  the ones which spawn eternal self-loathing, have habit of humbling pompous scorn.

Continue reading “I’m Not in Love and Proud of It”

The New Romanism of New Calvinism

Having to periodically engage with New Calvinists, as unpleasant as that is, it does foist enlightenment as to their fundamental ethos. And this realization, or rather the fullness of this realization fills me with alarm, despair, and trepidation for the souls of their congregation.

I am currently reading Matt Chandler’s “The Mingling of Souls,” which as Chandler himself admits, is highly adapted from the 1991 sermons by Tommy Nelson on the Song of Solomon. I have listened to a few of Nelson’s sermons myself, and they have worth. However, as I recollect, Nelson is too coy and even too esoterically Christianese in an era, which has suffered such a dramatic decline of the mind and culture. (The only historical equivalent that comes to mind is the period from the death of Marcus Aurelius (180 AD) to that of the assassination of Severus Alexander (235 AD), after which began the Roman Empire’s Crisis of the Third Century, with one military overlord after another jostling for the Purple.)

Furthermore, the formal six point pattern that Nelson contrives bumps up against what many Puritans considered to be the most romantic couple of Scriptures; that being Isaac and Rebekeh. Continue reading “The New Romanism of New Calvinism”

Reclaiming Complementarianism – Part 1

Scriptures and even existential realities advocate and prohibit a limited set of particular functions between the sexes. However, this hardly constitutes a framework of rigid gender roles. Alternative rational paradigms can justify the existence of these exclusionary functions. But before visiting the biblical counsel, which is understandably most psychologically problematic for women (Eph 5:23), it behooves to frame an alternative paradigm of complementarianism.

Rather than conceiving of man/husband and woman/wife in terms of gender roles, it would prove more apt and productive to conceive each sex as having intrinsically dominant propensities. These should not be thought of in terms of being rigidly defined or unchangeable. For each category of attributes, individual members will vary within a range for each sex (and even overlap with the range of the other sex). These differentiating propensities better endow one spouse or the other to certain functions within the marriage. However, since Scriptures is circumspect concerning the allocation of these abilities, a flexible casting of functions proves more profitable.

These propensities are not socially constructed, although they may be confirmed and re-enforced by socialization. Evidence from science, history, psychology, and sociology can be enlisted to validate this contention, although full discourse would be too long-winded for the purposes of a blog. But to give a couple of examples:

Gender Differences in Navigation Continue reading “Reclaiming Complementarianism – Part 1”

Danvers Complementarianism – Part 2

Danvers Complementarianism – Part 1 is here.

Distinctions in masculine and feminine roles are ordained by God as part of the created order, and should find an echo in every human heart.

Danvers Statement – Affirmation 2

My disdain for the Danvers Statement and the Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood differs from that of Evangelical Egalitarians. My criticisms include:

  • Exegetical incompetence/dissembling and eisegetical license for self-serving male purposes
  • Low vision of marriage and the marital Ideal
  • Introduction of a legalistic rigidity in gender relations (“roles”), which Scriptures prudently avoids
  • An unsound Scriptural and rational basis for decision-making and conflict resolution
  • A superficial comprehension of the distinctions between genders which impedes the Christian argument against same-sex relationships

Continue reading “Danvers Complementarianism – Part 2”

Danvers Complementarianism – Part 1

Distinctions in masculine and feminine roles are ordained by God as part of the created order, and should find an echo in every human heart (Genesis 2:18, 21-24; I Corinthians 11:7-9; I Timothy 2:12-14).

Danvers Statement – Affirmation 2

 

The Who’s Who of current Evangelical orthodoxy largely defines gender differentiation in terms of ordained social roles. Yet an incontrovertible case cannot be sustained even from the verses selected in the Danvers Statement, let alone from the fullness of Scriptures. “Roles” or terminology equivalent cannot be explicitly found in Hebrew/Greek Scriptures, especially as pertaining to gender. Nor can it be firmly inferred. Scriptures is resoundingly silent in distinguishing the genders on that basis.

Continue reading “Danvers Complementarianism – Part 1”