Thursday, May 24, 2012

What Happened to 'All the men' in Titus? The NRSV

I just read Titus (a book of the Bible I have memorized before ;-), and I was reading from my New Revised Standard Version, which I try to read from every now and then; that is, until it gets me upset, and I return either to my NKJV (I know about the text critical concerns here ;-), NASBu, ESV, or NIV (I read from all of these, although the NKJV is the one I've read the most and memorized from in the past). Anyway, Titus 2.11 represents just an occasion for me to get upset and, indeed, return to one of my old faithfuls. The NRSV rendering of Titus 2.11 reads this way:

"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all,..."

Here is how the NKJV reads the same passage:

"For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,..."

And then the NASB:

"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men,..."

And then finally (which is where I went to check this passage first), the Greek New Testament (this is the SBL version, I checked my UBS text, but they are the same here):

 "Ἐπεφάνη γὰρ ἡ χάρις τοῦ θεοῦ σωτήριος πᾶσιν ἀνθρώποις...."

The word that the NRSV lops off in order to be gender inclusive is ἀνθρώποις, which is properly translated by the NKJV and NASB as 'all men'. This really isn't a surprise to me given the various translation philosophies afoot, and what informs the NRSV approach. But what totally peeves me is when the philosophy of translation nullifies the actual translation of actual 'words' in the actual text of scripture. You can't just cut off and not include a word in your translation of scripture just because it doesn't fit with a particular cultural more; I would have been much happier if the NRSV would have just translated ἀνθρώποις as 'humanity'. But instead, they totally cut this word out of their translation; this does not impress me to continue reading the NRSV, except in cases where I might be doing cross reference check while studying or something. That's too bad!


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  2. Bobby - memorizing Scripture is a great discipline and you've reminded me to pursue it again more diligently - thanks! I sympathize with your reservations about the NRSV. I really respect the late Bruce Metzger who oversaw the translation process of the NRSV - he's kind of like my "Torrance." ;) I like a lot of the daring and possibly more accurate renderings of the NRSV, but almost always feel let down when it comes to the issue of gender. It's then that I fall back to the RSV or NASB. BTW, I'm still keeping little William and his family in my prayers. Blessings, Eric

    1. Hi Eric,

      Glad you were spurred on to memorize more scripture :-)!

      I respect Metzger as well, he's not my Torrance though ;-).

      William went home to be with the Lord about a week or so ago :-( ... so keep his mom and dad in prayer, thank you so much, Eric!

  3. Bobby, I'm a NKJV man, too. I was raised on the KJV and I'm familiar with its cadences, etc. Having been trained in Greek and Hebrew I, too, am aware of the textual issues but I'm also in a position to work with them rather than be subject to them. I like the NKJV, use and read other translations but keep it as my primary.

    1. Nice, Michael,

      I have a similar testimony, and that's how I feel about my usage of the NKJV text as my reader. I like this, as you put it "but I'm also in a position to work with them rather than be subject to them." Indeed!


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