This is a message that I sent to another group that I believe never got posted because of an “end of thread notice.” It was a bit off-topic for that group, but I thought that others that read this blog might get some helpful info from it:

“I am a first-year seminary student studying for my Masters of Divinity degree at Ashland Theological Seminary in Ashland, Ohio. I received a free copy of Today’s New International Version from my seminary which I believe is the translation that the gender-neutrality has come up. I might be wrong about that, but that is my understanding of it. If that is the case, I did peruse the translation and looked up some key passages. In particular interest to me was the 1 Timothy passages on requirements for overseers and elders. It is important to note that these passages were not changed to be gender-neutral. As a matter of fact, from what I could see, there were no changes made to parts of the Bible that obviously had to do with one gender. In other words, Jesus was never made out to be a woman and masculitnity or feminity (sp?) was not stripped of anything where context showed the gender being obviously specified. What was changed was phrases such as “brothers” now read “brothers and sisters” and the like.

“David, you are right. There are no perfect Bible translations. According to the textbook which I am using right now in my Hermeneutics class, Michael Gorman lists the versions which he will and will not use for exegesis. Please keep in mind that this was written before the current TNIV controversy. They are as follows:

Versions Preferred For Exegesis:
Revised Standard Version (RSV)
New American Bible (NAB)
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Versions Acceptable For Exegesis, With Caution:
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
Revised English Bible (REB)
New International Version (NIV)

Versions Unacceptable as the Basis for Exegesis, but useful in other ways:
The Message
Good News Bible (GNB)
Contemporary English Bible (CEV)
New Living Translation (NLT)
New Jersuselem Bible (NJB)

Versions Unacceptable for Exegesis:
The Living Bible (LB)
King James Version (KJV) or Authorized Version (AV)
New King James Version (NKJV)

“That’s right. Gorman considers the King James an unacceptable Bible for exegesis. The reason being is, “Since 1611, many older and better manuscripts of the Bible have been discovered…” and the increase in textual criticism. All of this information is taken from Elements of Biblical Exegesis by Michael J. Gorman. From everything that I could read, Gorman is moderate in his theology, so I do not agree with everything he writes, but the point about the KJV version of the Bible is well taken. My preferred translation is the NIV, but I also have the priviledge of being able to read some of the original Greek and there is no better way to read it. However, a caution must be added here also. If you want to learn Greek or Hebrew in order to read the Bible in the original language to “find out what it really says,” you will be very dissapointed. For the most part, the Bible in English as we have it today is a very accurate reflection of what the Greek and Hebrew says. Greek and Hebrew help you increase your knowledge of what the Greeks mean when they use certain words, but rarely does it aid you in changing the meaning of a passage when it is read in English. A good example of what I’m talking about is the use of three words for love in Greek that mean different things versus the one word that we have.

A good tool for any layperson who wants to increase his knowledge of Scripture and his enjoyment of the study of Scripture is a good Hermeneutics textbook which could be recommended by your pastor and learning how to use a Greek and Hebrew lexicon. I would never suggest, however, to simply use a Hebrew and Greek lexicon without some knowledge of hermeneutics because just because that word means something and it is in that particular place does not mean that it means that in that particular place. As the old saying goes, “A text without a context is a pretext” and as my undergrad Greek professor drilled into our heads: ‘Context is king.'”

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