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Why We Trust Our Bible - Lesson 5

Principle 10: Gender Language

In Part 5, Dr. Bill Mounce addresses that this is the most difficult issue in modern translation. For many people, the words "he" and "man" refer to all people, men and women alike. But for many others, "he" and "man" only refer to males. This is not an issue of conservative or liberal. English is in the middle of a significant shift on how it uses these words, and others like "they."

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Why We Trust Our Bible
Lesson 5
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Principle 10: Gender Language

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  • In Part 1, Dr. Darrell Bock addresses the historical Jesus debate, some scholars actually question whether Jesus even lived. How can we show that he did live using sources other than the Bible and the writing of the early Church Fathers?

    We apologize for the poor quality of the recording. We lost the main video feed, but felt the content was too important to omit. We will re-record the seminar when we are able.

  • In Part 2, Dr. Darrell Bock adresses how some liberal scholars argue that because the stories of Jesus were first told by word of mouth, and since memory is faulty, that we cannot trust the gospel witness to Jesus. Dr. Bock discusses three views of orality and why the "informal controlled" model of the Bedouins best parallels the gospels and argues for the authenticity of their accounts. He also shows why the supposed "time gap" between Jesus living and the writing of ;the accounts is only a few years due to the witness of Paul, and not decades as some propose.

    We apologize for the poor quality of the recording. We lost the main video feed, but felt the content was too important to omit. We will re-record the seminar when we are able.

  • In Part 3, Dr. Darrell Bock addresses when the authenticity of the gospels is questioned due to faulty human memory. Some people claim that since we do not know for sure who wrote the gospels, we cannot trust their message. Others argue that there is nothing special about presenting Jesus as a common miracle worker. In this session, Dr. Bock answers each of these charges.

    We apologize for the poor quality of the recording. We lost the main video feed, but felt the content was too important to omit.

  • How scholarship has created a series of rules they use to judge the authenticity of a gospel passage. Dr. Bock critiques those rules and shows how they still can argue for the authenticity of the core events of the gospel message.

  • Two key events in the gospels, Jesus' trial and the resurrection. Using the rules of scholarship, he shows that even by those standards these events are authentic.

  • Dr. Craig Blomberg begins by introducing the issue of the historical reliability of the New Testament documents, focusing on Dan Brown and some of the other recent "discoveries." He will cover 12 truths agreed upon except by the most liberal theologians. In this lesson he talks about the authorship and dating of the gospels.

  • Would the gospel writers have wanted to preserve accurate history? Why are there four Gospels, with all the similarities and differences?

  • Blomberg addresses seven questions during a Q&A session.

  • In his series of reasons, in this lesson Blomberg answers 7 – 9.

  • Blomberg addresses the issues of the non-Christian testimony to Jesus, archaeology, and the testimony of other early Christian Writers. He concludes with a powerful discussion of three ways to believe, and what the relationship is between faith and reason.

  • In this final talk, Blomberg addresses the final nine questions from the audience.

  • Are books in the canon because they are authoritative, or they are authoritative because they are in the canon? The Davinci Code and the common assertions about Constantine are historical fabrications. “Canon” can mean three different things. Has God given us a structure to know which books should be in the canon? Can you prove, or is the point to have sound reasons for what you believe?

  • A canonical worldview is a set of beliefs as to what the canon is and how someone “knows” if a book is canonical or not.  There are three models. According to the community model, a book becomes canonical upon its reception by the community.

  • In the historical model of canonicity, a book becomes canonical when it is examined historically, looking at issues such as authorship and reception. This model suffers  by the absence of an absolute criteria by which you can make this decision.

  • The self-authenticating model of the canon claims that the Bible is itself its own ultimate authority. All beliefs of ultimate authority are circular, otherwise the criteria for deciding would be greater than the ultimate authority itself. The real question is whether or not God has provided a means by which Christians can know what books are truly canonical. The self-authenticating model encompasses the other two, incorporating the best of each model.

  • A “defeater” is an idea that undermines your confidence in knowing something. Are there defeaters for our understanding of the canon? The New Testament books have unity with prior revelation and with each other, and in fact the New Testament completes the Old Testament in surprising ways.

  • Kruger shows that Covenants in the Old Testament needed written documents, and a new covenant required new documents. Writing was not an afterthought. The apostles saw themselves as agents of the New Covenant and saw their writings as having authority. They would have been surprised to be told that it wasn't until Irenaeus that people throught their writing was authoritative. They had to write to accomplish their apostolic ministry within their lifetime.

  • Even if a few of the books took a while to be accepted, there was a core canon of 22 books very quickly. Even the Muratorian Fragment, while including two non-canonical books, recognizes that they are different and may be listing them as such. Just because the early church read non-canonical books does not mean there was not a canon.

  • The early church was a culture of textuality; they liked and publicly read books. The frequency of ancient manuscripts shows us which books were the most popular and were therefore understood to be canonical. The church preferred the new codex format because they could group books together, especially the gospels. We can also tell that the manuscripts were written in order to be publicly read, which means the church knew which books were authoritative.

  • Eusebius described four types of books: accepted, disputed, rejected, and heretical. The early church was careful in what they accepted as authoritative, and there really was not that much of a question.

  • Answers to common questions about the canon, now that these question are targeted to the lay level. 

  • In Part 1, Dr. Daniel Wallace addresses the challenges to the believability of the Bible brought by the issues related to the Greek manuscripts, and especially the influence of Dan Brown and Bart Ehrman.

  • In Part 2, Dr. Daniel Wallace addresses discussion of the historical process that led to manuscripts and variants, with some examples of variants.

  • In Part 3, Dr. Daniel Wallace responds to three basic challenges by Bart Ehrman: the "black hole"; the quality of the copies; the effect of Constantine on the manuscripts.​

  • In Part 4, Dr. Daniel Wallace addresses how now that we understand why there are variants in the manuscripts, how does the art and science of textual criticism help us determine which variants are most likely to be original?

  • In Part 5, Dr. Daniel Wallace addresses a brief overview of why the King James Bible is different from all modern translations, and issues of the Greek texts behind it.

  • In Part 6, Dr. Daniel Wallace focuses in on variants, how many there are, how many significant variants are there, and how good of a job has textual criticism done.

The uniqueness and authority of the Bible are always under attack. Professors and writers are claiming that Jesus never existed, Jesus never claimed to be God, the early church changed the basic preaching of Jesus, books were left out of the Bible, the copies of the Bible that have come down through the centuries are hopelessly corrupt, and how can you trust your translation where there are so many? This class walks you through the process of how we received our Bible and why we can trust it.

Dr. Blomberg discusses the reliability of the Bible. Dr. Kruger discusses the process of formation of the New Testament Canon. Dr. Wallaces discusses issues relating to manuscripts and textual criticism. Dr. Mounce discusses the philosophies and process of translation. Dr. Piper discusses the content, cohesiveness, scope and power of the Bible.

<p>Course: <a href="https://www.biblicaltraining.org/why-we-trust-our-bible/team-taught?pag…; target="_blank">Why We Trust Our Bible</a></p>

<p>Lecture: <a href="https://www.biblicaltraining.org/gender-language/translations&quot; target="_blank">Principle 10: Gender Language</a></p>

<p>&nbsp;</p>

<h2>1. The Use of a Single Referent</h2>

<p>This lecture deals with the whole issue of inclusive language. The issue of gender language is what dominates translation today. The problem is with English, which is right in the middle of a change. In translations, we are fairly sure where the English language is going. If you are an older person, you probably will not change with the language. If you are a younger person, perhaps you are ahead of the change in how to refer back to a single referent. My guess that within ten years, most of these issues will be done away with. This is the question; can the words he and man refer to all people? Where it gets really difficult is how you refer back to a singular referent. Blessed is the one who walks not in the council of the ungodly for…… So what pronoun are you going to use to refer back to the one in this sentence? Do you say he or they; how would you refer back to the word, one? The story that I generally tell is of my daughter, she was six or seven years old at the time; really young and my wife is not what you would call a feminist. Kids were home-schooled and protected with not a lot of outside influence on our children at that age. I walked into a room once and my daughter had photocopied a verse from the Bible. The pronoun ‘he’ was crossed out with ‘she’ written over it, and it was tacked on the bulletin board. I wondered whether or not she had been talking to my colleagues at school! I went to her and commented on it as to why she had done this. I ask her if she had felt left out when it said he? She replied, ‘well, of course. I’m not a he, I’m a she and I think the Bible is about me also, isn’t it, Dad?’ I thought that was really interested. She had inherently felt left out of the Bible.</p>

<p>So this is a real issue and it is a very difficult issue. English is in the process of change and it is easy to say ‘one’ who instead of ‘man’. This is not an issue and it is really simple. But things like brothers, for example, are we brothers or are we brothers and sisters. If we say, brothers and sisters, then we are<br>
divided by gender. I preached a sermon once where I called everyone sisters because I wanted the guys to feel what it was like to always be called a sister. It didn’t work; the language couldn’t hold it and the church couldn’t take it. These are hard things and what really causes problems also is referring back to a singular referent. There was a study done on where English was going and what happened in the mid-1990s, looking at generic language, it just disappeared. Christian writers were doing anything other than saying ‘man’ and ‘he’; they were saying things like mankind, humanity, human, person, people and alternating between he and she. What they found was, none of it worked. So the graph showed in the late 90s, the male language went up; we were using it more than we used it at the beginning of the 90s. There was no other way to communicate. Two things have happened: one, it is one of a slow decline, man and he are going away, but very slowly; the thing that is changing is ‘they’. The NIV hangs onto the word, ‘they’. They will determine the success of the NIV. Before the Latin grammarian got a hold of English in the mid-1800s, the word ‘they’ was the generic pronoun referring back to singular or plural. The grammarians made it plural and it is now becoming non-marked again. I would think that if you go back to biblical training later on, you will see that I have used the pronoun ‘they’ referring to the singular most of the time. I say it so naturally now, but using ‘they’ in speeches is one thing, but writing it down is something else. And once you are committed to the use of ‘they’, you are also committed to using ‘them’. The pronoun ‘them’ is still marked as plural in our heads, and there is no word such as ‘them-self’. There is no reflective. So, this is really difficult. It is a no-win scenario, but ‘they’ as the pronoun is going to win.</p>

<h2>2. The Use and Changes that Have Taken Place</h2>

<p>If your brother sins, rebuke him and after he repents, forgive him but the NIV says, ‘if your brother or sister sins against you rebuke them and if they repent, forgive them.’ It is in plural; the Greek is singular, but since you have brother or sister, so ‘them’ works here. This is not a Wednesday night prayer meeting where you confess everyone else’s sin. That is what we used to have. This is individual and it gets lost in the plural. This is one of the really big complaints against the TNIV; the plurals made everything a group. ‘If anyone causes one of these little ones; those who believe in me, to stumble, it would be better for them; ‘them’ is going back to anyone; ‘it would be better if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea.’ This is where language is going, whether we like it or not. Another translation which is really bad again comes from the TNIV; ‘here I am, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and I will have a potluck with them and they with me.’ It reads like a potluck. If Jesus is standing at the door of the Ephesian church, saying I’m knocking and if any individual hears my voice and opens the door, I will enter into an intimate relationship with him; I will eat with him or her. It is a very personal, one on one kind of promise. We fixed this a little to read, ‘I stand at the door and knock and if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person and they with me.’ That was the best we could do. But you can see what the struggle is; this is what I am trying to show you.</p>

<p>Where you really have trouble with inclusive language is in the wisdom literature, especially with father and son kind of things in the Old Testament. This is because you see the father instructing his son where it is culturally understood to be parents instructing their children, although in the super patriarchal families of that day, which was probably mostly the father doing the teaching. But you have this wealth within the background of information and culture that if lose the father and son, you lose the connection with the back. God deals with you as sons; for what son is there that their father doesn’t discipline? The Old Testament has all of these things about our Father, God and disciplining his children, Israel. The NIV says ‘God is treating you as children’; they had to make it plural to get away from son, ‘for what children are not disciplined by their father.’ At least they kept the word ‘father’. NRSV says,’ God is treating you as children for what child is not disciplined by their parent.’ This cuts all connection with the past; the entire wisdom literature of the Old Testament has gone in one verse. These are the other issues and after about ten more years of hearing ‘they’ and ‘them’ and writing these pronouns, a lot of these issues will go away. The abruptness of ‘them’ and you trying to decide whether this is one person or a group; I think this will be gone. But we are in that transition stage right now and this is what makes translations hard.</p>

<h2>3. Conclusion</h2>

<p>You can see the Interlinear Bible is on the left, for example, and the Message Bible is on the right and the other translations sit along the spectrum with the NIV being right in the middle. What I want you to conclude from this discussion, we are blessed with a plethora of good translations and it is really amazing how many we have. In one sense, it was nice when there was just one because everyone read the same one and we didn’t have a lot of the problems that we do now. But there are a lot of translations along this whole spectrum now. I would encourage you to adopt one as a primary one Bible. You need one that you can highlight and mark up and write things in the margins, things that you have memorized. The NIV, for example, is so much better for church and for preaching and communicating. I would also encourage you to get a second Bible such as the ESV. Whatever two Bibles that you choose make sure that both of them are not dynamic or both formal. Don’t use an NASB and an ESV, as this doesn’t work. Don’t use a NIV or NLT as this doesn’t work either. Unfortunately, the ESV isn’t printed in a parallel. We have begged them to allow this but for various reasons they have declined. So you will never have an NIV / ESV parallel. And when you see the differences in some of these translations, don’t base your theology on this. For example, when the disciples could not cast out the demons with Jesus replying that this one doesn’t come out without prayer and some say prayer and fasting; it is a difference in the Greek manuscripts. When you see these kinds of differences, don’t hang onto a verse where the Bibles are really different on a certain point. I have a friend who says that he just loves the Word and that is great, but I ask him one day whether or not he loved the author of the Word. The Bible is really important and we need to adopt one version and read other versions for wisdom, but understand that this is a love letter and what we are supposed to love is the author.</p>