English Bible Translations (4)

Dangerous Deficiencies of Dynamic Equivalence

Continuing the series, our brother details further concerns about Dynamic Equivalence (“DE”)

5. DE Erases Gender Distinctions

Although only a few DE versions are assertively and purposely gender neutral, all DE versions blur or erase gender distinctions to some extent. Gender-inclusive language may seem to be only a politically correct annoyance, but it is in fact heretical. In the Preface to the NIV Inclusive Language Edition, we read: “It was recognized that it was often appropriate to mute the patriarchalism of the culture of the biblical writers.” Worse, the Internal Guidelines used by the Committee on Bible Translation for the NIVI (the NIV Inclusive-Language edition] belittles God’s own Word with the following audacious comment: “The patriarchalism of the ancient cultures in which the Biblical books were composed is pervasively reflected in forms of expression that deny the common human dignity of all hearers and readers.”

These translators have exposed themselves as relativists who value a feel-good spirit of tolerance and inclusiveness over theological faithfulness and precision.

Look at John 14:23:

  • ESV: Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.” (KJV is similar.)
  • NRSV: “Those who love Me will keep My word, and My Father will love them, and We will come to them and make Our home with them.”

The DE translation alters generic singular pronouns anyone, he, and him to plurals those and them. But the clause, “make our home with them,” now denotes a group of people, while our home is still a single dwelling place. Thus the NRSV has the Father and Son making a single home with a plurality of people together—the idea of the indwelling of the local assembly (1 Corinthians 3:10-15) or the body of Christ (Ephesians 2:22). The true meaning—that the Lord Jesus and God the Father make their home in each individual believer—has been struck from the verse! Further, the clause “My Father will love them” now suggests that the Father loves them as a group, while the original expression actually teaches that the Father will love each individual separately for personally loving His Son.

Another example is 1 Timothy 3:2:

  • ESV: Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife… (KJV is similar.)
  • CEV: That’s why officials must have a good reputation and be faithful in marriage…”
  • NRSV: Now a bishop must be above reproach, married only once…

The CEV and NRSV expunge the clear evidence that Paul expected the elders to be men. Their purposely deceptive glosses of this verse insert gender ambiguity where the Greek has none, and they continue the deception throughout the passage by altering every occurrence of the male singular “he” to the ambiguous plural “they.”

6. DE Obscures Assembly Truth

Assembly truth has been perpetuated and revived by teachers who respected every nuance of every word in Scripture. DE versions rob us of many of these subtle but vital truths about assembly practice.

Look at Matthew 18:20:

  • KJV: For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them. (ESV is similar.)
  • NASB: For where two or three have gathered together in My name, there I am in their midst.
  • NIV: For where two or three come together in My name, there am I with them.
  • NLT: For where two or three gather together because they are Mine, I am there among them.

The verb gathered together is in the passive voice—the Holy Spirit gathers men and women to Christ’s name. Further, the verb’s tense is perfect—they have been gathered from a starting point in the past up until the present. The DE translations completely ignore these points, and even NASB misses the fact that the verb is passive.

1 Corinthians 14:16 provides another crucial example:

  • KJV: Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say “Amen” at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest?
  • NKJV: … he who occupies the place of the uninformed …
  • ESV: … anyone in the position of an outsider …
  • NASB: … the one who fills the place of the ungifted …
  • NIV: … one who finds himself among those who do not understand …
  • NLT: … those who don’t understand …

1 Corinthians 14:13-16 discusses the Lord’s Supper—a meeting consisting of praying, singing, and blessing. Since believers express their doctrinal fellowship physically by sharing the “bread which we break” and “the cup of blessing which we bless,” it is vital to demarcate the members who are “within” from the unlearned and unbelievers who are “without” (1 Corinthians 5:12-13) Thus the verse describes a physical place (Greek topos, as in topography). Note that it is not merely a condition, but a position—Paul does not simply say “one who is unlearned,” but rather “one who occupies the location of the unlearned.” The DE versions delete this vital truth.

7. DE Limits the Meaning of Ambiguous Expressions

Many words and phrases in the Bible can be interpreted properly in more than one way. Consider 2 Corinthians 5:14:

  • ESV: For the love of Christ controls us… (KJV is similar.)
  • CEV: We are ruled by Christ’s love for us… (NLT, NIV are similar.)

The phrase “the love of Christ” could be an objective genitive (our love for Christ) or a subjective genitive (Christ’s love for us). In such cases of ambiguity, DE translators will decide on the “correct” meaning, and then employ wording that enforces that meaning and bars readers from access to other possible meanings. The translators seem to regard their readers as theological infants who are incapable of making their own decisions. They assume a priestly role, doling out the “proper” interpretation to the benighted masses. In contrast, proper translation will shun interpretation as much as possible by carrying all of the possibilities that are in the original text over to the receptor language.