Periodical Reviews -- By: Anonymous
BSac 161:642 (Apr 2004) p. 232
By The Faculty and Library Staff of
Dallas Theological Seminary
Robert D. Ibach, Editor
“Dynamic Equivalence Theory, Feminist Ideology and Three Recent Bible Translations,” E. Earle Ellis, Expository Times 115 (2003): 7-12.
A balanced viewpoint is regrettably rare. As a former professor observed, many achieve it only momentarily as they veer from one extreme to another. Ellis, a veteran New Testament specialist, seems to have lost the balance in this article as he compares three revisions of older translations: Today’s New International Version, the New King James Version, and the English Standard Version (a revision of the Revised Standard Version). Ellis thinks the New King James Version and the English Standard Version follow a “formal equivalence or ‘essentially literal’ ” (p. 7) translation philosophy while the Today’s New International Version follows a dynamic or functional equivalence approach that “often tends to be more a paraphrase or a targum than a translation of the biblical text” (ibid.). The New International Version itself is a dynamic equivalence translation but hardly qualifies as a paraphrase. Likewise it is not “clear that feminist ideology, in its rejection of the generic use of ‘man’ and of masculine pronouns, has shaped the Today’s New International Version” (p. 8).
The two texts cited as illustrations of this point (Mark 2:27 and 1 Tim. 2:5) fail to demonstrate the case Ellis tries to make. Instead of the translation “The Sabbath was made for man” (English Standard Version and the New International Version), the Today’s New International Version renders the phrase “The Sabbath was made for people.” The issue here concerns how ἄνθρωπος is to be translated. Most interpreters would see this as a generic use of ἄντθρωπος, referring to “the people of Israel” (which might in fact be the most accurate translation of the word in this context) and many versions besides Today’s New International Version use the translation “people” here (the New Century Translation, the Contemporary English Version, the New Living Translation, and the New English Translation). Are these all “feminist editions” too (his description [p. 8] of the British version of the Today’s New International Version, and the gender-inclusive New International Version [the NIVI])?
The second illustration is similar. Instead of the translation “one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (English Standard Version and New International Version), the Tod...
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