Dan Wallace on NIV 2011 and the history of the English Bible

At Reclaiming the Mind Dan Wallace offers part 1 of a review of NIV 2011. This first part is in fact a review of the history of English Bible translations, mostly from 1885 to the present day. Although there are some small points which I could take issue with, in general this is the kind of excellent work one would expect from Wallace. I look forward to the other three parts of the review, which will presumably appear soon at the same place.

46 Comments

  1. Posted July 21, 2011 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

    I have written about one of points I take issue with in a post on my own blog Dan Wallace on NIV 2011 and English Bible history. Please comment on that point there, not here.

  2. Posted July 21, 2011 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for this. Peter. I have responded here.

  3. Theophrastus
    Posted July 22, 2011 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    I disagree that this is an “excellent work.”

    The majority of statements made by Wallace about the history of English Bible translations are questionable if not simply incorrect. Here are five examples, chosen because they are examples of how many different types of errors Wallace makes (they are most certainly not a comprehensive list):

    (1) Wallace concludes (without support) that a literary translation cannot be literal, which is surely false.

    (2) Wallace quotes out of context Mencken, and claims he was praising the KJV. In fact, Mencken was speaking of the Bible proper and not of any particular translation. Moreover, the entire quote comes out very ugly and sarcastic by modern standards:

    But in one respect, at least, Christianity is vastly superior to every other religion in being today, and, indeed, to all that we have any record of in the past: it is full of a lush and lovely poetry. The Bible is unquestionably the most beautiful book in the world. Allow everything you please for the barbaric history in the Old Testament and the decadent Little Bethel theology in the New, and there remains a series of poems so overwhelmingly voluptuous and disarming that no other literature, old or new, can offer a match for it. Nearly all of it comes from the Jews, and their making of it constitutes one of the most astounding phenomena in human history. For there is little in their character, as the modern world knows them, to suggest a talent for noble thinking. Even Renan, who was very friendly to them, once sneered at the espirit sémitique as sans étendue, sans diversité, and sans philosophie. One might go still further. The Jews could be put down very plausibly as the most unpleasant race ever heard of. As commonly encountered, they lack many of the qualities that mark the civilized man: courage, dignity, incorruptibility, ease, confidence. They have vanity without pride, voluptuousness without taste, and learning without wisdom. Their fortitude, such as it is, is wasted upon puerile objects, and their charity is mainly only a form of display. Yet these same Jews, from time immemorial, have been the chief dreamers of the human race, and beyond all comparison its greatest poets. It was Jews who wrote the magnificent poems called the Psalms, the Song of Solomon, and the Books of Job and Ruth; it was Jews who set platitudes to deathless music in Proverbs; and it was Jews who gave us the Beatitudes, the Sermon on the Mount, the incomparable ballad of the Christ Child, and the twelfth chapter of Romans. I incline to believe that the scene recounted in John VIII, 3-11, is the most poignant drama ever written in the world, as the Song of Solomon is unquestionably the most moving love song, and the Twenty-third Psalm the greatest of hymns. All these transcendent riches Christianity inherits from a little tribe of sedentary Bedouins, so obscure and unimportant that secular history scarcely knows them. No heritage of modern man is richer and none has made a more brilliant mark upon human thought, not even the legacy of the Greeks. All this, of course, may prove either one of two things: that the Jews, in their heyday, were actually superior to all the great peoples who disdained them, or that poetry is only a minor art. My private inclination is to embrace the latter hypothesis, but I do not pause to argue the point

    (3) Wallace claims “In 1901, the American Standard Version appeared, and it had significantly improved English over the RV.” It is possible to list all the all changes from the RV to ASV in a few pages; I have that list. There is no support for Wallace’s claim. I wonder if he has even read those two translations.

    (4) Wallace criticizes the NRSV, saying “In Matt 18.15, the NRSV is an ugly translation. This is due to an overriding principle of making the translation gender inclusive, even if the English ends up being terrible. Who speaks like this: ‘If the member listens to you, you have regained that one’?”

    Let’s take a quick glance at translations that Wallace believes are beautiful:

    ASV: And if thy brother sin against thee, go, show him his fault between thee and him alone: if he hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.

    KJV: Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.

    Now, Wallace appears to have a strange notion of aesthetics in his principle that “if no one talks that way, then the English is terrible.” Worse, he applies it inconsistently.

    (5) Wallace’s statements about “translations of note” are just odd, for example, his omission of the NLT, NLT2, and The Message, each of which has easily outsold translations he does tout (including the NET Bible and the REB).

    This list of errors by Wallace is meant to be representative of the broad range of errors (confusion about terms, quoting out of context, incorrect historical statements, poor aesthetic principles, inconsistent application of aesthetic principles, ignoring major translations), but I could easily take issue with many more statements. This is an inexcusably inaccurate review of Bible translation history.

  4. Posted July 22, 2011 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

    Theo,

    1) Wallace does not say that a literary translation cannot be literal. He says that KJV is the former but not the latter. One example does not make a “cannot”.

    2) Mencken, writing in 1930, almost certainly had KJV primarily in mind. Perhaps a little more preceding context in your quote would make this clear.

    3) The changes from RV to ASV may have been minor, but are you saying they were not for the better?

    4) Wallace does not say that ASV is beautiful, only that it is “in tolerable English” and better than RV which he condemns because no one talks that way. And are you really claiming that at Matthew 18:15 NRSV is more beautiful than KJV?

    5) But you are right to criticise Wallace for his consistent failure to mention any dynamic equivalent translations. NLT, GNB, CEV, God’s Word and The Message are all ignored. I should have mentioned this lack in the overview. But then Wallace was only claiming to offer “A Selected History of the English Bible”.

  5. Theophrastus
    Posted July 22, 2011 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

    (1) I said that Wallace implies that there is a difference between literary and literal translations. Wallace’s principle concern against the KJV appears to be the quality of the source manuscript and improved scholarship — that might make the KJV outdated, but does not address the question of whether the translation was literal or not.

    It is an unusual position to claim the KJV is not a literal translation, and thus it demands support. (The question of course, is whether the KJV was a literal translation of the source texts/scholarship available at the time — absent divine inspiration, it is hard to imagine how the King James translators could have anticipated the Westcott-Hort or NA27 Greek New Testaments.)

    (2) You can read the full context of Mencken’s comments on the subject in his Treatise on the Gods. (I quoted from the first edition; in revised edition omits the statement One might go still further. The Jews could be put down very plausibly as the most unpleasant race ever heard of.

    Mencken does opine earlier in that book on the relative virtues of the Septuagint, Greek New Testament, Vulgate and the Authorized Version, as well as on the RV and ASV, suggesting that he had read the Bible in Latin and Greek, and was familiar with the other major English translations. In fact, he says that the KJV is improved over the Greek New Testament. On the other hand, he criticizes the KJV for its “errors” and “gross absurdities.”

    I suspect that Wallace had not actually read Mencken — if he had, he could have found a more appropriate quote such as The Authorized Version of King James … is the most beautiful of all translations of the Bible; indeed, it is probably the most beautiful piece of writing in all the literature of the world.

    Instead, it seems likely that Wallace relied on secondary sources for his quote, and did not realize his quote from Mencken was from an anti-Semitic rant. Mencken praises the Bible as the work of the Jews. Now Mencken was certainly aware that Jews were banned from England from 1290 to 1656, so it would not make sense that in that passage he was praising the KJV as opposed to the underlying Biblical text itself.

    So Wallace is not inaccurate in his conclusion that Mencken thought highly of the KJV, but he quotation does not support his remark. This is not the hallmark of “excellent work.”

    (3) Many of the changes from the RV to ASV were for the worse. The largest single change, accounting for more than 1/3 of all the changes, was changing the term “Lord” to an incorrect pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton. That has largely not been adopted by later Bibles, with the notable exception of the New World Translation by the J-Witnesses.

    For example, to consider the verse Matthew 18:15, here it is in the ASV and RV:

    RV: And if thy brother sin against thee, go, shew him his fault between thee and him alone: if he hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.

    ASV: And if thy brother sin against thee, go, show him his fault between thee and him alone: if he hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.

    Now Wallace claims that the RV is “homely” and the ASV is “tolerable English.” However, the only change in the two versions is in the spelling of “show.” “Shew” was commonly used in the 18th century and more rarely in the 19th century; certainly the use of “thy” and “thee” is more archaic than “shew.” While this particular example was an improvement, it hardly seems to rise to the level to claim that RV was “homely” and the ASV was “tolerable English.”

    (4) The only bases Wallace gives for his aesthetic judgment (“ugly”) against the NRSV is that no one talks that way (but no one talks the way that the KJV or ASV translated it either). He seems to think that KJV is beautiful even though no one talks that way; but the NRSV is ugly because no one talks that way. That is inconsistent.

    Note that Wallace has already separated the issue of accuracy and beauty (he claims the KJV is literary but not literal), so the question of accuracy does not come into play here. Similarly his comments about a possible double entendre (which seem unlikely given that the verse says “member of the church”) are also not an issue of beauty.

    (5) The GNB predates 1989, but the others you mention postdate the NRSV, and are at least as significant as the REB and the NET Bible.

  6. Posted July 23, 2011 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    Theo, I am frankly amazed at your attempt to claim that “literary” and “literal” are synonymous. It is not only obvious but a commonplace in discussions like these that KJV was not a literal translation. Wallace provides evidence of this e.g. in the highly dynamic rendering “God forbid!”

    I can agree with you that the Mencken quote is out of place. I don’t think any respectable Christian should be quoting this antisemitic rant.

    I thought you had some sense of beauty. But if you really claim that the NRSV rendering in question is more beautiful than the admittedly obsolete KJV, then I shall have to revise my opinion.

  7. Theophrastus
    Posted July 23, 2011 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    Of course there is a difference between literal and literary translations. However, Wallace views “literal” as “formal equivalence”, and it is at best surprising to see that he considers the KJV to not be a formal equivalence translation, in the face of virtually universal opinion to the contrary (of course, there is actually a spectrum of possibilities here, so there are translations which are more formally equivalent than the KJV, but it is quite odd for you and Wallace to take the position that KJV was a dynamic translation.)

    Similarly, formally equivalent translation is different than a concordant translation. Wallace claims the RV was a “literal” translations, and yet it is equally dynamic in its “God forbid!” rendering.

    My concern about Wallace’s theory of aesthetics is that it is applied inconsistently. If Wallace had said “That fern is ugly is because it is green, and things should not be green. Why can’t it be green like the grass?” I would equally complain about inconsistency. Wallace did not, for example, complain about the rhythm of the NRSV (and with good reason — the translation he has worked on shows even less attention to rhythm than the NRSV). Instead he complains that a translation should sound like everyday speech. Yet, as is well known, the KJV used archaic language when it was published.

  8. Posted July 23, 2011 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    Theo, it would indeed be “quite odd for you and Wallace to take the position that KJV was a dynamic translation”, if we did. But we don’t. Neither of us has said anything of the sort. As you say, there is a spectrum of translation types, and Wallace’s point and mine is that KJV is by no means at the extreme end of that spectrum.

  9. Theophrastus
    Posted July 23, 2011 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

    Fair enough. But I do think you will concede that it is generally classified as a formal equivalent translation. For example, Zondervan, which sells quite a few KJV Bibles, calls it that.

    Elsewhere, Wallace writes: For this reason, since a translation of the Bible is not simply a translation of Greek to English but a translation of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek into English, a formally equivalent, or ‘literal,’ translation of the Bible will inevitably be uneven and inaccurate.

    It seems Wallace is fairly clearly equating, in his lexicography, “formal equivalence” and “literalness.” So, when he says the KJV is not a “literal” translation, I understand he means it to say that it is not a formal equivalence translation.

    Now, there are translations that are more formally equivalent than the KJV, but I think it is fair to say that the KJV is more formally equivalent than most translations in English.

    Now, Wallace confuses the matter by immediately writing in conjunction:

    Contrary to what many KJV Only advocates believe, the KJV was not a literal translation; it was a literary translation (as H. L. Mencken—no friend of Christianity once quipped—the King James Bible is “unquestionably the most beautiful book in the world”). It was a literary masterpiece that, in this regard, has been unmatched by any English translation of the Bible since. But its accuracy of text and translation were long overdue for a major overhaul when the RV came along.

    This immediate conjunction of two ideas (KJV not literary, KJV uses wrong source text and not accurate) in one paragraph suggests that Wallace’s criteria for formal equivalence at least partially involves using a Westcott-Hort text. Then, in his followup, he says In discussing the history of the English Bible, I noted that the KJV was a literary translation while the RV was a literal translation. I also suggested that the RV was more accurate than the NRSV and the KJV. What I need to do here is correct the frequent perception that literal = accurate, and not-so-literal = inaccurate. And he further says a formally equivalent, or ‘literal,’ translation of the Bible will inevitably be uneven and inaccurate.

    So what do we have here. According to Wallace, (a) the KJV is not literal because it does not use the Westcott Hort source text; (b) “the RV was literal, and slavishly so”; (c) the RV was accurate (“the NRSV has gone retro, mimicking the homeliness of the old RV, but without its accuracy”); and (d) a “‘literal’ translation of the Bible will inevitably be … inaccurate.”

    In other words, a complete mess. It is quite clear that Wallace cannot even keep his concepts clear in his own mind for the duration of a paragraph. His ideas hopelessly self-contradict, and it is not clear at all what he is trying to say. Either he wrote this essay in great haste (and thus any conclusions he draws should be viewed with a grain of salt) or he simply has not developed a logical hierarchy in his own mind.

    I would say that the KJV is best classified as being a formal equivalence translation, and for its time, it was an attempt at being a relatively literal translation. Thus, for example, in most current editions of the KJV, words that are “interpolated” (e.g., words that are required in English but do not have a single concordant word in the source text) are printed in different type, usually italics. This is not a mark that one normally associates with dynamic translations.

  10. Posted July 25, 2011 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    Theo, I will happily agree that KJV “is generally classified as a formal equivalent translation.” That is probably an accurate classification if the broad spectrum is divided into two or three.

    I think you have convinced me that what Wallace wrote is not quite as excellent as I first thought. I still think it is a good introduction to the subject, from a conservative Protestant viewpoint.

  11. Posted July 25, 2011 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    I have responded to Dr. Wallace’s third post in the series here.

  12. Posted July 25, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    Suzanne, thanks for your interesting post. Wallace’s part 3 seems rather strange to me. He practically identifies strange syntax, memorability and elegance:

    the language [of NIV 2011) is so much closer to the way people speak today than just about any other bona fide translation that it is not memorable. … The KJV reigned supreme on memorability (or elegance) …

    Well, as foreign hotel signs often demonstrate, any fool with dictionary can write translated sentences which are so odd that they are memorable, but does that imply that they are elegant? Then another serious problem with this quote is that Wallace seems to exclude from being a “bona fide translation“, without any explanation, any of the “bona fide” dynamic equivalent versions like GNB, NLT and CEV.

  13. Posted July 26, 2011 at 4:12 am | Permalink

    “Do not swim in pool if it has ingested alcoholic beverages.”

    Hotel sign in Matamaros, Mexico.

  14. Posted July 26, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    Peter, from his comment it seems like he doesn’t consider the NLT to even be a translation, but instead a paraphrase.

    To be honest, saying that has almost entirely discredited himself to me. I don’t know if I can take anything he says seriously.

  15. Posted July 26, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    Dannii, I agree with you. Perhaps I will take him seriously as a Greek scholar, but not as a guide to translations.

  16. Posted July 26, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps I will take him seriously as a Greek scholar,

    How do explain what he wrote about Junia?

    but not as a guide to translations.

    Especially since he gave the NET a 10 out of 10 on accuracy.

  17. Posted July 26, 2011 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    Suzanne, almost every scholar has his or her blind spots, but that doesn’t invalidate all of their scholarship. But I must say my respect for Wallace is declining rapidly.

  18. Theophrastus
    Posted July 27, 2011 at 2:28 am | Permalink

    “The three basic translation philosophies … are just one way of looking at these translations.”

    I think that this statement and well as the odd rankings in his translation chart, demonstrate that Daniel Wallace has trouble with numbers.

  19. Theophrastus
    Posted July 27, 2011 at 2:30 am | Permalink

    “The three basic translation philosophies … are just one way of looking at these translations.”

    I think that this statement and the odd rankings in his translation chart demonstrate that Daniel Wallace has trouble with numbers.

    [Correction posted because apparently I have trouble pressing the "post comment" button at the right time.]

  20. Posted July 27, 2011 at 3:11 am | Permalink

    How do explain what he wrote about Junia?

    Bias. Just earlier today I was having a discussion about the terrific treatment of water in Gen 1:2 vs Gen 1:6 they lose a major theological point of the text so as to harmonize Genesis with Colossians. The NET at least mentions the issues while translating everything the opposite way.

    Bias, bias, bias, bias. Dan Wallace doesn’t want a female apostle so there isn’t one.

  21. Posted July 27, 2011 at 3:17 am | Permalink

    What I found odd about this is that he picked Revelations 3:20 which is like picking at an open sore when it comes to the NIV.

    Also the focus on warmth is odd given his work. I like the NET a lot (sorry Suzanne) but I’d never describe it as a warm bible. You want a warm bible, NLTfe which Wallace hates.

  22. Posted July 27, 2011 at 5:16 am | Permalink

    The NET at least mentions the issues while translating everything the opposite way.

    Not true. I have written about it on blog.

    I realise that in giving the NET Bible a 10, Wallace projects the impression that the notes are complete, and accurate, but that is purely an impression created by all the clickery. It is a mirage.

  23. Posted July 27, 2011 at 5:18 am | Permalink

    I intended to write “my blog” but back spaced accidently.

  24. Posted July 27, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    Not true. I have written about it on blog.

    I checked the examples from your blog. Those verses have notes explaining a reason. It’s not done on the sly. Which is what I said, they note the issues at least.

  25. Posted July 27, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    CD,

    In the cases I mention on my blog. Number one contains contrary to fact information.

    Number two, there is no mention that anthropos means “people” and not “men.”

    Number three, there is no mention that mashal could be interpreted as “rule” in the usual sense, and that the “rule” of the husband is the consequence of the fall.

    You will have to argue your point on my blog after this, but yes, absolutely, the notes are done on the sly and do not offer the reader the appropriate information. They mislead.

  26. Posted July 27, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    I have posted on Junia here.

    I know that you can say “at least he gives a reason” but the reason is full of things that are not in the verse. The reason does not relate back to the original languages.

  27. Posted July 27, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    OK I responded on your blog.

  28. Posted July 27, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, CD. I am not allowed to pursue gender here. If a Bible is exciting and accurate in every other way, and not accurate in gender issues, this cannot be discussed most of the time.

  29. Mike Sangrey
    Posted July 27, 2011 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    Suzanne,

    Let’s make sure we’re all clear about the statement “I am not allowed to pursue gender here”. No one is to pursue the gender discussion on this posting. We’re not singling anyone out.

    This topic is not a gender topic. So, gender discussion is off topic for this post. This post is about Dan Wallace’s review of English translations. Gender is off topic in much the same way as embarking on a discussion about Aardvarks. Please see guideline #5.

  30. Posted July 27, 2011 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

    Mike,

    You say, “This topic is not a gender topic. So, gender discussion is off topic for this post. This post is about Dan Wallace’s review of English translations. Gender is off topic in much the same way as embarking on a discussion about Aardvarks.

    And Peter’s title and first sentence of his concise post point us straight to Wallace’s “review”:

    Dan Wallace on NIV 2011 and the history of the English Bible

    At Reclaiming the Mind Dan Wallace offers part 1 of a review of NIV 2011.

    And there Wallace mentions “Aardvarks” exactly 0 times.

    But there Wallace mentions gender many many times, and he even uses the word gender there exactly 13 times. Now is that unlucky, or what? (In the comments below the “review,” already commenters there have been free to bring up “gender” explicitly 4 times as of my posting my comment here.)

    So I doubt gender really is off topic as much as you’d think Aardvarks is off topic. It’s probably better just to recognize the heat that talking about gender on topic will cause, no? If Aardvarks would start speaking, and objecting to talk or to silence about them, then wouldn’t they be “off topic” even more? Wouldn’t they also generate a little unhappiness over the fact that they were being silenced from talking about Aardvarks on behalf of Aardvarks?

  31. Posted July 27, 2011 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, Mike. Here is a link back.

  32. Posted July 27, 2011 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

    Suzanne and Kurk, if I wasn’t explicit enough in my first comment, I intended to ask people to discuss gender matters related to Wallace’s post on my blog, not here. What is relevant to a post here is what is mentioned in the post, not some other matter raised in something linked to in the post.

  33. Posted July 27, 2011 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, Peter, for letting us talk about what Wallace is talking about, even if we have to talk openly elsewhere. I’ve done so here.

  34. Posted July 27, 2011 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    Sorry about that. I was just explaining to CD why he has to comment on the post on my blog, and not here. But he has done that now. Thanks.

    Peter,

    I appreciate your post. Than you. I had three other specific verses that I had wanted to bring up and discuss with CD, and anyone else, and we are looking at these notes in detail on my blog.

  35. Mike Sangrey
    Posted July 27, 2011 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

    Kurk,

    Mentioning a word does not make it part of the discussion. Otherwise, we could now talk about Aardvarks. So there must be some demarcation. If not, then even the meaning of the word topic degrades into non-meaning. The difficult part has to do with the very nature of language–many topics are somehow related, even the surreal is somehow related. Almost humorously, it’s now possible to write a blog post (hopefully, somewhere other than here), have it trackback to this one, and talk about Dan Wallace, gender, and Aardvarks. Even “furiously sleeping green ideas” have their own poem–and from what I can see with a quick search, many poems.

    Trying to hold gender at a linguistic LaGrangian Point is particularly difficult. History suggests, given the heavy use of fuel expended to manage any semblance of stability in such a discussion, it’s impossible. In fact, I’d say it most definitely is impossible to do so in an open, unmanaged forum. The various masses of “expertise” and opinion swell in size, generally uncontrollably, whenever this near universal topic is introduced on a relatively smaller island posting. The black holes seem to rip everything apart and no light is seen.

    Having said that, the topic of gender stands enormously important within the larger topic of Bible translation. The BBB continues to search for ways to talk about gender, but we need to find a way that has some hope of a profitable, open discussion AND adheres to the well established guidelines of this blog. We can’t have one without the other.

  36. Theophrastus
    Posted July 28, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    These unwritten rules about gender seem arbitrary.

    (1) A major theme of Wallace’s history is the treatment of gender in different Bible translations. It is not a a casual mention. It is one of his major themes.

    (2) There is no statement in the original BBB blogpost saying “any comments about gender should go in Peter’s private blog.” Even if there were such a statement, I would wonder why comments could not also go here.

    (3) In fact, even in the first comment, Peter is only elliptical saying “I have written about one of points I take issue with.” Even if someone followed that link (and there is no apparent reason to do so, since there is no discussion of what issue Peter addresses there), one only discovers a mention of 1 Tim 3:2. I would not have thought that 1 Tim 3:2 encompasses all issues of gender.

    (4) In part 3 of his blog series, Wallace makes the surprising claim that the NET version deserves a 10/10 for accuracy — in other words, that it is perfectly accurate. An outrageous claim such as this certainly is fair game to challenge.

    (5) The issue of gender, as you state, is spot-on for discussion English Bible translation. I can understand your wanting to avoid discussion about aardvarks, since they seem to play no role in the Bible (except perhaps indirectly in the Noah story, etc..) But gender has proven to be the single most important English Bible translation issue in the last three decades.

    There are many things I do not understand about BBB’s policy. BBB apparently refuses to appoint a female team member — for several years BBB has been 100% male. The only woman who regularly comments here is Suzanne. Further, despite the presence of a “no personal attacks” rule,the BBB team has allowed another frequent commenter to make repeated ad hominem attacks against her in the comments here. And now she is not allowed to comment about Wallace’s statements on gender, or about Wallace’s claim that the NET version is 10/10 accurate.

  37. Posted July 28, 2011 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

    Kurk, the BBB team has actively looked for women to contribute, but since Suzanne left our team we haven’t found anyone willing to join us. No one has been prevented from commenting on Wallace’s claim that the NET version is 10/10 accurate.

  38. Theophrastus
    Posted July 28, 2011 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

    Peter: I am not Kurk.

    I simply cannot believe that after years and years and years you have tried hard to recruit a woman to this blog and failed, while you added several men — including at least one student. It seems pretty clear that there is a double standard when you can invite a male student to join BBB, while you apparently cannot find any woman at all who is willing to join (and willing to join.)

    It seems that you have some sort of special rule for Suzanne — she, alone of all commenters, is not protected by the “no personal attacks” rule. She, alone of all commenters, is forbidden from talking about gender, even when the original post is about gender. And, I notice that policy has been effective at scaring away any other regular female commenter to the blog.

  39. Posted July 28, 2011 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

    Theophrastus, sorry for confusing you with Kurk. It must be because you are starting to write like him.

    It is gospel truth that the BBB team has tried to recruit female bloggers. We invited several personally but all were too busy to join us. If you can help us with this difficult task, please let us know.

    There is no special rule for Suzanne. I regret that sometimes we have not been hard enough on commenters who have made side-swipes at her in the course of otherwise valuable comments. No one is allowed to talk about gender unless the post is about gender. Perhaps we should also stop the kind of meta-discussion which you and Kurk are engaging in on this post.

  40. Theophrastus
    Posted July 28, 2011 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

    But, Wallace’s posts — at least parts 1, 2, and 3 — are about gender. In fact, he ranks Bible translations based on their treatment of gender. He does not like the NRSV because of the way it treats gender.

    But somehow, Mike feels that the Wallace’s post is as much about gender as aardvarks.

    ————-

    Moreover, the rule against introducing gender is only enforced against Suzanne. For example, in David Frank’s post What is Your Translation Metaphor? (which appeared only three posts before this one), a male commenter introduced gender in the second comment. No one called him out on this. So please don’t continue to say that this is a rule for everyone — only Suzanne is called out on this.

    ————-

    Regarding BBB’s efforts to recruit women bloggers — I would be very interested in knowing how many female students you have invited to join BBB. It seems that other Internet forums have no trouble recruiting qualified women posters — only BBB.

  41. Posted July 30, 2011 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    Theo, I asked other BBB team members to respond to your last comment but they have not done so. I was not responsible for moderating comments on David Frank’s post. I would certainly have done so very differently – but part of the problem may have been that a large number of comments were posted in a short time before the moderators had a chance to intervene. A lot of private e-mails were exchanged about that comment thread. As you were not party to these it is not really fair for you to bring this matter up.

    Of course we could ensure complete fairness by putting on moderation anyone who ever comments about gender and having a committee discussion about each comment. But that would include you. Is that what you want?

  42. Theophrastus
    Posted July 30, 2011 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

    My point is much simpler: Suzanne should be allowed to comment about gender in a post that is about gender.

    Wallace evaluates the NIV11 based on its treatment of gender.

    I also think that BBB should recruit some women bloggers.

    (If you are going to set up elaborate rules about when the topic of gender is allowed to be mentioned, I suggest that you may wish to flag posts as “no gender discussion allowed” or “gender discussion permitted.”)

  43. Posted July 30, 2011 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

    Theo, the rule is very clear, and agreed by the BBB team. If gender is not mentioned IN THE POST, it is off topic for the comments. Yes, gender was one small part of Wallace’s review. But it was (quite deliberately in this case) not mentioned in the post here. So it is off topic in the comment threads. If you don’t like that rule, then you can read and comment elsewhere, and let us discuss other important Bible translation issues here at BBB.

  44. Theophrastus
    Posted July 30, 2011 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    (1) No Peter, the rule is not very clear. You badly misquote your own rule. Your rule merely states: “Comments should be concise and relate directly to post content.” It does not even use the word “gender.” But in any case, this post was about gender, as I discuss below in (3).

    (2) This rule is only enforced against women commenters. I would be happy to provide you offline with name of one frequent male commenter who has introduced “gender” more than 5 times in the last few months. I find this significant since BBB has been unwilling (or unable — which amounts to the same thing) to find any women bloggers.

    (3) Gender is at the heart of this post. It is true, you did not use word “gender,” but Wallace did. He did so THIRTEEN times in the first post alone. Moreover, in a later post in the series, Wallace evaluates the NIV11 on the basis of three verses: Matthew 18:15, 1 Timothy 3:2, Revelation 3:20. Since the entire purpose of this post was to discuss Wallace’s post — which you characterized as “excellent” — gender can hardly be ignored. (As an analogy, suppose you made a post about the “Gospels” and someone brought up the book of “John”, and you then went crazy saying — YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO DISCUSS JOHN UNLESS IT IS EXPLICITLY MENTIONED IN THE POST.)

    (4) The increasingly Byzantine rules of BBB are crazy. In practice, people are posting comments like “I have something to say, but I’m not allowed to say it because of the secret unwritten rule, so go look at my private blog post here.” The very first comment in this thread is of that form. And the very first comment in the latest post, Wallace completes NIV 2011 review.

    (5) The actual practice seems to be that (a) you don’t have any women bloggers; (b) any women who dare to comment here are harassed.

  45. Posted July 30, 2011 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

    Theo, I do not appreciate being called a liar. I wrote the post and I know what my intention was when I wrote it. That intention was quite consciously and deliberately NOT to write about gender. That is why I chose NOT to discuss the “some small points which I could take issue with”, and in the first comment to refer people to my own blog.

    I was not intending to quote any rule word for word. But the rule you quote does state “Comments should … relate directly to post content.” The post content is NOT about gender, neither explicitly not implicitly.

    I have no further comment on your points 2 and 5b as I was not involved in moderating the posts in question.

  46. Theophrastus
    Posted July 31, 2011 at 1:31 am | Permalink

    Peter, perhaps you did not carefully read Wallace’s post (indeed, given your hasty endorsement of Wallace’s views as “excellent”, I think that is the case). Perhaps you should have a look at “Table 1″ Wallace’s post. Is that about gender?

    Now, let me summarize the discussion

    Wallace: “The NRSV is an ugly translation. This is due to an overriding principle of making the translation gender inclusive, even if the English ends up being terrible.”

    Peter: “This is the kind of excellent work one would expect from Wallace.”

    Suzanne: “I am not allowed to pursue gender here.”

    Further, Wallace directly addresses the primary controversy over the NIV11 and TNIV — namely its treatment of gender.

    If it was your intention to exclude the majority of Wallace’s comment (which was about gender), you should have explicitly said so. If BBB wants to adopt some sort of special “gender rule” it should make it explicit.

    You made a nasty remark on Kurk’s blog — calling Kurk’s blog a male-only blog. That really missed the point: Kurk’s blog is a personal blog, but it has a large number of commenters who are women. Kurk does not attempt to drive women commenters away — rather he engages them in conversation.

    In contrast, BBB has only one regular woman commenter — and she gets “special treatment.” When the BBB community succeeds in driving her away, BBB will have zero regular women commenters.

    Good work, men.


2 Trackbacks

  1. [...] At Reclaiming the Mind Dan Wallace offers part 1 of a review of NIV 2011. This first part is in fact a review of the history of English Bible translations, mostly from 1885 to the present day. In general this is the kind of excellent work one would expect from Wallace. See also my brief post at Better Bibles Blog. [...]

  2. [...] Better Bibles Blog ideas for improving Bible translations Skip to content AboutBlog authorsBlog contributorsVersionsLinksTerminologyBookshelfToolsBlogrollPOLLSShare « Dan Wallace on NIV 2011 and the history of the English Bible [...]

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