Doug Moo on 1 Tim 2:12 in the 2011 NIV

Well, probably the translation wars will be forever on going, especially as long as there are those who continue to lift up secondary issues as primary ones.  BibleGateway is continuing it’s Perspectives in Bible Translations series and the latest entry is by Denny Burk (a noted complementarian), associate professor of New Testament and Dean of Boyce College, the undergraduate arm of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.

The posting is in response to the CBT’s choice to carry over the wording from the 2005 update of the TNIV in 1 Timohty 2:12 to the updated 2011 NIV which reads:

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

Burk’s contention is that the use of “assume authority” is an undeniably egalitarian (mis)translation and it should be stricken from the NIV altogether.  He prefers the even more problematic translation of “exercise authority.”   Well, on Burk’s personal blog, he put up the same article and Doug Moo, chair of the CBT and lead translator of the updated 2011 NIV took Burk to task in writing the following comment, citing a noted complementarian’s commentary as the source of “assume authority”:

As one of the NIV translators, let me just make four comments. First, as another post indicates, there is so much uncertainty about this key word that the accusation of “mistranslation” is simply not fair. Second, the rendering “assume authority” was actually taken from Bill Mounce’s commentary on the Pastorals; and Bill, as you will know, is a complementarian. Third, the footnotes were dropped in the updated NIV simply because the translators believed that “assume authority” could be taken in either direction. We often use this phrase in a neutral way (e.g., “When will the new President assume authority”?). Four, it is our intent to provide a translation that is faithful to the text, bowing to no particular theological agenda (in this case, neither “egalatarian” or “complementarian”). Our rendering of 1 Tim. 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.  (post & comments here, bold added)

In support of  why this debate may be forever ongoing you can see Burk’s response to Moo here.   To see the overwhelming evidence against Burk and those in support of a stricter translation see Suzanne’s blog post.

Personally, I am okay with the current rendering and agree with Dr Moo that it leaves things open enough that it is not driven by either side of the debate on women as pastors and elders.  I think people can argue for women as pastors and elders from any translation of the Bible because the argument can be made on solid exegetical (and contextual) basis irrespective of translation (literal or dynamic, etc).  I think if one has one’s mind made up on the issue, how the passage is translated isn’t really going to matter.

This whole debate is getting old and tired.

HT: TC (since I cut and pasted Moo’s comment from his post)

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2 responses to “Doug Moo on 1 Tim 2:12 in the 2011 NIV

  1. The debate is pointless. Especially since this passage is not a passage about church leadership, but about roles in the home. For church leadership see Galatians 3:28 and Acts 2. 1 Timothy is a correllative passage to Ephesians 5 and the other passages in Colossians 3, Titus 2, et al.

  2. Pingback: I’m liking the updated NIV 2011 « New Epistles

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