If you have attended any of the Together for the Gospel conferences, you likely know about the “band of bloggers”.  But for those who are unfamiliar with them, we thought it might be helpful to share a little information obtained from the arena in which they (and we) operate – the World Wide Web. 

The Band of Bloggers have their own website, and it is there that they explain how they got their start in 2006.  Here’s how they describe their vision and beginning:   


“The Band of Bloggers was started with a vision and collaborative effort to unite bloggers who have a passion for the gospel of Jesus Christ. It carries with it a desire that the gospel be normative in our lives, central in our writing, and powerful in our witness to the world.

The first Band of Bloggers (2006) fellowship developed when several bloggers who were attending the 2006 Together for the Gospel Conference discussed the possibility of holding a meeting to encourage one another to live and write with a gospel-centered emphasis. Within a matter of weeks, the idea had blossomed to an event with a panel of speakers–Justin Taylor, Tim Challies, Dr. Albert Mohler, and Dr. Russell Moore–and a gathering of more than 70 bloggers hosted by The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. The meeting served to compliment the thrust of the conference, viz. to come together for the sake of the gospel in this generation.”

There can be no question that the Band of Bloggers (shortened to BoB on their website) has been influential.  Remember, acronyms are important to this crowd… T4G, TGC, ESV, DG, SBC, SGM, ETC – sorry, etc.)  They even have a BoB directory of Gospel-centered bloggers which you should check out (http://bandofbloggers.org/bob-directory/). 

Networking is incredible among this Reformed group.  Some of the bloggers listed in the directory that we have heard of  are:  Tullian Tchividjian, Abraham Piper, Phil Johnson, Adrian Warnock, Justin Taylor, Tim Challies, Owen Strachan, Tom Ascol, Tony Reinke (co-blogger with C.J. Mahaney), Timmy Brister, Mike Seaver, and Thabiti Anywabwile to name a few. 

So far BoB has held four fellowships connected to the following conferences, T4G 2006, T4G 2008, The Gospel Coalition (TGC) Conference 2009, and T4G 2010.  Since T4G and TGC hold conferences every other year, BOB will be extremely busy covering these events.

Here’s how the BoB fellowship was promoted to those attending T4G 2010. They advertised on their website that they would be hosting a luncheon (costing only $25), which would be held during the T4G Conference.  Check out the exciting announcement:     


“This year’s Band of Bloggers giveaway is the biggest yet. 12 books at over $225 in value with nearly 2,000 pages of reading.  I want to thank all the generous publishers who have donated these giveaways–Crossway, Broadman & Holman, LifeWay, Multnomah, Moody, Reformation Trust, Kregel, Reformation Heritage Books, Banner of Truth, and Founders Press.  It is our desire that Band of Bloggers would foster a great relationship between gospel-centered bloggers and the publishing companies who are seeking to network together for the purpose of providing and promoting solid evangelical literature to the wider public.”

And this marketing scheme works! 

The BoB fellowships feature a panel of speakers who address various topics during the luncheon.  Blogger Tim Brister introduced the four speakers, who were Justin Taylor, Jared Wilson, Trevin Wax, and Jonathan McIntosh.

Who are these blogger-speakers?

Let’s start with Justin Taylor, whose blog Between Two Worlds is now featured on The Gospel Coalition web site(http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/).

Notice how Justin describes himself on his blog:

“I work at Crossway in Wheaton, IL, where I’ve been since 2006.  Prior to that I worked at Desiring God in Minneapolis, MN. “

Let’s see… The latest and greatest Bible that is being heavily promoted by the Calvinistas is the English Standard Version.  Remember the booth in the T4G Bookstore video featuring the ESV Bible? And who publishes it?   It's none other than Crossway.  Didn’t all T4G attendees receive a free ESV Study Bible? 

It’s noteworthy to point out what Justin Taylor includes under the “Advertising and Affiliations” heading of his blog.  Justin explains:

Between Two Worlds is sponsored by several organizations via paid advertising.  If you are interested in advertising on Between Two Worlds, feel free to send us an email. We can also create an ad for you.”  (http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/about/)

Here, Justin also explains that he is the Managing Editor of the ESV Study Bible; however, he makes it clear that he is not an employee of The Gospel Coalition.

Keep on promoting those ESV Bibles, Justin!  Now that all the pastors attending T4G have been told that the ESV is the best translation bar none, think of the increase in revenue for Crossway when these pastors promote it to their congregations…  What a great marketing plan!



Now let’s take a look at Trevin Wax (http://trevinwax.com/)


Interestingly, Trevin’s book Holy Subversion: Allegiance to Christ in an Age of Rivals was one of the book giveaways by BOB.  To view the entire list of free books (twelve in all), go to this link: http://bandofbloggers.org/2010-band-of-bloggers-giveaways/


Next up … Jared Wilson (http://gospeldrivenchurch.blogspot.com/)


Jared has been especially busy writing because he has TWO books that were given away to BoB luncheon participants, namely: Your Jesus Is Too Safe: Outgrowing a Drive-Thru, Feel-Good Savior and Abide Practicing Kingdom Rhythms in a Consumer Culture (DVD + Book).


And last but not least is Jonathan McIntosh (http://www.rethinkmission.org/) who is currently planting a church in midtown Memphis.



The 2010 BoB focus this year was “Internet Idolatry and Gospel Fidelity”.  Here’s a video by Tim Brister which introduces the topic:





Tim begins by warning the audience to keep themselves from idols.  He reminded them that Calvin said our hearts are idol factories.


For those of you who wanted to be at the luncheon but couldn’t because it was sold out, here’s Justin Taylor’s talk:




Justin explains to the audience that he has to mention a Crossway book or his expenses won’t be reimbursed by his employer (Crossway).  Then he promotes Dave Harvey’s upcoming book.  FYI – Dave Harvey is responsible for church care, church planting, and international expansion for Sovereign Grace Ministries.


Incredibly, today’s post on Justin Taylor’s blog (remember, it's on the Gospel Coalition website) features C.J. Mahaney’s presentation at T4G 2010. 




In case you’d like to hear the other BoB speakers, you can find the links on YouTube when you click on Justin Taylor’s talk.



So what’s really going on here?  Could it be that those involved with T4G and BoB have discovered a great way to “sell God” while reaping their own financial reward?  That certainly appears to be the bottom line – pun intended…



  1. So one guy gets paid to blog. Sounds like a smart fella.

    Religious organizations always promote books and other materials for sale. Most Christian denominations are associated with a publisher: SBC and Broadman Press, American Baptists and Judson Press, Moderate Baptists and Smyth & Helwys Publishing. I don’t understand the big deal – everyone is selling their own theological perspective to some extent.

    If something truly sinister is going on with the Band of Bloggers, you haven’t proved it. Certainly the overwhelming majority (all but one or two?) of the bloggers associated with this group do not make a dime from their blogging. All I see is a group of mostly young Calvinists who like to meet at their favorite conference for a few hours of fellowship. You disagree with their Calvinism. I do too. But I don’t see some secret agenda at work.

  2. I like the English Standard Version. I use it, along with the NASB. The NLT is sometimes the best, even though it is further down the line on dynamic equivlance.

    Funny, I heard Mohler criticized a lot for promoting the Holman Christian Standard Bible (why did they have to use 4 names, I never get them right) as a translation “we can control.” Of course, those words are never presented in context. But, be that as it may, I can’t figure out whether Mohler’s detractors say he is promoting the Holman Bible or the ESV. Do you guys have a definitive answer?

  3. Cliff

    If you have read our blog from the beginning, you will know that we are questioning the money making emphasis in today’s churches. Pastors are writing books, on church time, and then selling it to their congregation. We heard tell of one pastor that we know who has a room in his church with many copies of his book which is for sale. Many of these conferences are done on church time, expenses paid for by churches and then some speakers get money for their speeches. They then hawk their books and cds, etc.

    Both of us have MBAs and are very interested in the money flow.No conspiracy simply the emphasis on the almighty buck. These events have the smell of multilevel marketing.

    This week I heard a well known pastor discuss a fair number of tragedies at his church-deaths, cancer ,etc. He was wondering why this all is happening. In the same breath he talked about all of the conferences he has gone to and will go to in a two week span. Good gracious. Is he a pastor or a traveling salesman? I’ll tell you what’ s going on. Some congregations actually need a pastor.

    God has become a lucrative enterprise and I don’t care if you are a Calvinist, Calvinista, SBC, and on and on.Something is wrong with this picture.

    WHERE ARE THE PASTORS?????????????????????? Probably off writing another mediocre book that some company needs to push. Or better yet, he needs to push to his church and all of his satellites.

  4. I couldn’t help but notice “The Wartburg Watch” isn’t in the BoB’s blog directory. No doubt it was just an oversight.

  5. We’re not??? Darn, you just ruined my evening. Don’t forget, we are just an obscure blog that you found by accident.

  6. You see how it works. As you can see, it has become the norm for many…. this peddling of “Christian” materials for personl profit.

    For an excellent review of the problems with the ESV,check out Mark Strauss’ paper:


    Trying to be ‘literal’ brings some pretty funny examples or horrible translating.

  7. Lydia – that’s an interesting article. In my old church, many had the ESV reformation bible, which is the one I have. I’ve been wanting to get another Bible. Any recommendations? Something “theologically” neutral and more open-minded (like maybe an explanation of the schools of thought that would take Genesis literally or figuratively).

  8. Excellent article by Mark Strauss.

    Most of the issues are due to the formal equivalence of ESV. The dynamic or functional equivalent oriented versions (the NLT is my favorite) don’t suffer from these issues, but they suffer from others. I am sure someone could write, and probably has written, a paper on that, as well.

    Any time someone uses a more formal equivalent translation, it does require the preacher to be educated. The “clean teeth” example is great. The text really does say “clean teeth.” So, is it better to change it or explain it?

    That’s basically the issue with gender many times. If Jesus used “men” but it is applicable to men and women, is it better to teach the actual words Jesus used and then broaden the application that is intended, or is it better to change the word Jesus used?

    These are tough issues. I am glad that we have the freedom to use many different translations.

  9. I use a ton of translations. But mainly an interlinear. Ironically, I like the NKJV. They get some things wrong like adding “office” when they are no “offices” in the Body and other problems that are typical. I keep in mind they were laboring under a state/church King as defender of the faith paradigm. Just as most translators take the patriarchal paradigm for granted.

    Does anyone know the story behind why the SBC brought out the Holman? It had to do with NIV royalties.

  10. “The text really does say “clean teeth.” So, is it better to change it or explain it?”

    It depends. Some changes have been quite nefarious.

    An example is the history of the translation of teshuqa from Gen 3. It was translated as ‘turning’ until about 1300 when a monk named Pagnino changed it to “desire” and subsequent translations picked up on that. It does not carry the same meaning at all.

    Here is a translation chart on that one word and how it has adversly affected the understanding for centuries:


  11. Good point on the pastors. I think I’ve heard pastors who spend so much of their time traveling to conferences, etc., compared to feudal kings or lords who spent most of their time away, leaving the running of their castles/kingdoms to other people. Granted, most of those guys have larger churches and larger staffs (Joe Schmoe, pastor of Podunk Baptist Church of 100 isn’t out their writing and speaking at conferences), but all the same, it’s certainly not a good situation.

    1 Timothy 6:10 says that “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” The Bible elsewhere forbids the love of money (Hebrews 13:5, 1 Timothy 3:3, 2 Timothy 3:2, etc.). The Pharisees were said to be lovers of money (Luke 16:14).

    Is the love of money their motivation? Maybe, maybe not. I’m very hesitant to ascribe motives to anyone. I don’t know their hearts, and frankly, correlation is not necessarily causation. However, you *can* and should look at observable facts and draw conclusions from them, and their definitely is quite a bit of money to be made here, especially if they are using their platforms to promote their own (or others’) books.

  12. The issue of whether you should translate a text literally (and perhaps provide a footnote explaining what, for example, an idiom means) or focus on translating the meaning of the text is a huge one across the board in translation theory. Their are pros and cons to both approaches.

    Personally I’m torn when it comes to using multiple translations. On the one hand, doing so can provide a range of perspectives to help you understand the text. I use a range of translations in my own personal Bible study and find doing so very helpful.

    However, on the other hand, I have a problem with continuing to churn out English translations when there are so many other languages without ANY portion of the Bible. According to Wycliffe Bible Translators, out of the approximately 6,900 languages spoken today, only *451* have the complete Bible in their language. Over 2,000 don’t have *any* of the Bible in their language, with the remaining 4,000 or so only have portions of Scripture. (Statistics taken from http://www.wycliffe.org/About/Statistics.aspx).

    So yes, while it is certainly helpful to use modern translations, I have a bit of a problem with people using their resources to produce yet *another* English translation when there are so many languages without anything, or with only the NT or portions of Scripture. In light of today’s post, it should also be noted that translating the Bible into those languages is far more likely to cost money than it will to make money. Sorry for the little “rant,” but this is a little pet peeve of mine. I’ll (try to) step off my soapbox now…

  13. One of the reasons for this post is to help our readers understand how the following achievment was accomplished:


    “The ESV Study Bible named 2009 Christian Book of the Year Award
    From ECPA’s Thursday evening press release:

    Thursday, March 19, 2009, Dallas, TX—The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA) announced tonight the winners of the 2009 Christian Book Awards during the 2009 Christian Book Expo (CBE) in Dallas. For the first time in the award’s 30-year history, a study Bible was named Christian Book of the Year, the ESV Study Bible (Crossway).

    The ESV Study Bible, which has sold more than 180,000 units within five months of release, also won its category for best Bible, the first time a Bible has won both its category and the overall Christian Book of the Year award.”

    Christian marketing, especially by Reformed leaders, has been taken to a whole new level through conferences, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

    I especially liked the thought-provoking comment Amanda made:

    “However, on the other hand, I have a problem with continuing to churn out English translations when there are so many other languages without ANY portion of the Bible. According to Wycliffe Bible Translators, out of the approximately 6,900 languages spoken today, only *451* have the complete Bible in their language. Over 2,000 don’t have *any* of the Bible in their language, with the remaining 4,000 or so only have portions of Scripture. (Statistics taken from http://www.wycliffe.org/About/Statistics.aspx).”

    Thanks everyone for contributing to an enlightening discussion!

  14. One of my favorite translation problems are words for a group of people, like siblings. Most languages use the masculine plural to refer to a mixed group, so that seven sisters and one brother all become “brothers”. So using literal translation and then having it read literally after the translation suggests that all the children were male! Hence we get error!

  15. Similarly, the male is used when application is to both female and male. A passage addressing husbands could actually have meant spouses of both genders, etc.

  16. Dee,

    How many of these 70 bloggers do you think are making money from their blog and in the book publishing business. 2? 3-4 tops? Pastors can’t write books now? Most pastors will never write a book. A small minority will. And then only a very very small percentage of that already small minority will make any real $$ from their publications.

    There is one SBC blog that likes to point out that the majority of Southern Baptist congregations qualify as small churches with under 200 in worship. The pastors of these small congregations do not have the money to attend multiple conferences each year. In reality, it’s a very small group of pastors who have the funds to make multiple trips. But keep in mind that the guys who attend conference after conference do so in most cases with the support of their church leadership.

  17. Said by Dee to notastepfordsheep,
    “Don’t forget, we are just an obscure blog that you found by accident.”

    Hey Dee,

    We’ve had our hit counter up for a little over a week, and we’re getting close to 5,500. Not bad for an obscure blog…

    How many hits are those listed on the “BoB Directory” getting?

  18. You may want to check with your technical people (could be men, women, children, even cows depending on the translation) as your counter increases with each visit to a page. You may be close to 5500 but how many of those are unique visitors?

  19. You know, we’re not really that concerned about “unique visitors”. We just want to have some indication that people are actually reading this very obscure blog written by two extremely obscure women…

  20. ToY

    We have been at this for over a year. We both have MBAs and know something about utilization of services. We are interested that more than one page is viewed. That means that our service was utilized more than once. Secondly, one can map trends and there has been a definite sharp trend upwards. Finally, we have full Google Analytics (which our man behind the curtain installed) and know exactly how many are unique visitors and where in the world they are from. It is amazing to us that there are readers in Europe. We know that a recent poster uses Roadrunner and is from Raleigh and has visited our site many times even though (s)he disagrees with us. We are surprised that our obscure blog generates such tenacity on the part of certain detractors.

  21. Cliff

    I am glad to see that there are wonderful small churches with dedicated pastors. Did you know that current trends suggest that the next generation of Christians will most likely reject large, anonymous churches with preacher celebs?

    As for church leadership, I am underwhelmed by said title. Many “leaders” are selected for their undying devotion to the status quo and then presented to the congregation for votes as if a huge search actually occurred. And said trusting congregation by that great effort went into finding these “leaders.” I know that I used to believe that to be the case and yet found out in a previous church that the elders had only disagreed with the pastor TWICE in over two decades. This fact was given to me by the lead pastor who apparently thought that this was “proof” of wonderful unity. I can show you corporate executives who have lied, cheated, and committed felonies while being “overlooked” by an admiring board of directors.

    Thankfully, I am now in a church that actually has leaders who actively disagree with the status quo. I have come to a realization that if we truly believe we are sinners, then true leadership should show regular signs of disagreement with one another and the pastors. This disagreement, when handled in a Godly fashion, will result in “real church” not “play church”. I am blessed to be in a couple of churches that have demonstrated such behavior.

    As for pastors writing books, I know pastors in moderately sized churches who are producing books. Have you ever read the endorsements? These guys regularly endorse one another’s books. I have a sneaking suspicion, totally unconfirmed, that some of these endorsers don’t even read the books they endorse. Also, the reason that so few make $$ from their books is because most of these books barely reach a “mediocre” level. Yet, instead of being pastors, these guys are spending time thinking they might be the next “Purpose Drven” type of success.

    My bottom line is this. More pastors need to spend much more time with their congregation, getting to know the sheep that they purport to lead, and spending far less time running to conferences, accepting speaking engagements, and writing books. Another church I know had an incredible number of staff for a moderately sized church. Do you know how few people in that church were ever actually visited by a pastor? This isn’t fellowship – it’s a corporation.

  22. ARCE

    I was surprised to learn, about 6 years ago, that this is true. In fact, even some of the more conservative theologians agree with you.

  23. Amanda
    Kudos to you and your soapbox. How many Bible do we have in the United States? How many books? Yet there are not Bibles written in every language. My family got to know folks at Wycliffe on an intimate basis. I pray these translators will use their talents and contribute to translating Scripture so that the whole world will know who is the one, true living God.

    Here is a question. How many people who actually own more than one translation actually read them? My understanding is that it is very few.

  24. C
    It is very difficult to find a theologically neutral Bible. I use the NIV Study Bible which I have loved. Lydia is usually good for her thoughts as well. As for schools of thought, I would recommend looking at Amazon and searching under subject titles. I have found awesome books like ones that compare the 4 view of creation+Genesis, etc. Also, a few Christian bookstores have comparison books as well. You can then do a search on various authors to understand where they fit in terms of theology, etc. If you do this a lot, after a few years you will get to know the authors and their theology. Also write in here or email us and we can help in this regard.

  25. Dee said,
    “Did you know that current trends suggest that the next generation of Christians will most likely reject large, anonymous churches with preacher celebs?”

    If the church planting phenomenon continues, I believe congregations will be smaller with church members having a much better understanding of where their pastor spends his time. I would imagine that there will be less funds to pay for attendance at conferences and more accountability to the flock. And that’s a good thing. We need to be accountable to one another in the body of Christ.

  26. Along the line of translations, a person recently asked me about the repeated use of shepherds and shepherding in the Bible.

    He made the point that in urban life no one has ever seen a shepherd (except in the Bible pictures). He argued that Psalm 23 should be re-interpreted to something like, “The Lord is my coach…” because that communicated the idea better to English speakers today. The idea, rather than the literal words, for him, are the key.

    I think he is crazy.

    But there are lot of folks out there today in the emergent church, and elsewhere, who believe this stuff.

  27. Anonymous,

    I agree with your comment. Although the vast majority of us have gotten away from an agricultural setting, the Bible writers under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit used word pictures of shepherds and sheep. Jesus is the great shepherd, and He also is the spotless lamb who was slain (sacrificed) for our sins. It’s a very important theme that runs through the Bible, and we would lose much if we started identifying the Lord as a “coach”.

    I do, however, wish that those in the abusive “shepherding movement” had picked a different term other than “shepherd” to describe themselves. They were/are are far cry from being “shepherds” as modeled in God’s Word.

    Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

  28. You both are right! And many conservative scholars admit this. So, I have to wonder why all the pointed and consistent vitriol over the TNIV?

  29. Cliff, You are failing to see how this works over the long term. It is too complicated to write in a comment. It is actually a circle…get in with the group, speak or blog, write a book, get speaking gigs to be promoted, sell books at gig, get other speakers to promote books at their gigs, etc.

    If you capture 1% of the Christian buying market, you are talking big bucks. If you capture 20% of a Christian niche market you are doing great. The key is WHO is promoing your materials. they have gravitas and can sell your materials. The give aways at T4G sells more books than you can imagine.

    This might be hard to believe but just to give you an example of what I am talking about. One mega church staffer was able to get some materials and a book promo (NOt SBC but non demoninational) by a buddy at a conference. From that start, he sold 500 books. From there, he got promoed in other conferences and was even invited to speak. Within 18 mos he had sold 13,000 books. Over 5 years, he supplmented his 6 figure income as a staff minister by 55,000 bucks with materials. And he is a complete unknown entity. Still is.

    So, you can imagine the possibilities if you are being promoted by the big boys. It is serious money that one can make even using the resources of the church and on their time.

    ONe of the big complaints in Mary Kinney’s book about the IMB and NAMB were all the SBC staffers making big money by writing materials for the SBC. Double dipping.

  30. I agree. Many take the shepherding metaphor for humans way too far and translate it to mean if they have a title they are the shepherd and the people are the ignorant sheep.

    Paul describes himself as an under rower on a slave ship…the very bottom level. Not exactly self exhalting.

    the seekers tried not only the ‘coach metaphor’ but the oxymoron, “servant leader” as a softer gentler way to promote authority over others in the Body.

    Jesus is the “leader”. The rest of us with functions and spiritual giftings are merely servants.

  31. However, an astute pastor, who is preaching in an inner city urban setting where some of those folks have never heard about a shepherd, could assist them by giving a history of shepherds and how they functioned. Perhaps he could show pictures.He could go through the various things a shepherd does such as protector, leader, caretaker, etc. I am afraid that “coach” does not fit the bill.

  32. Lydia
    That is a great example of what we are driving at. If you don’t have an MBA-you sound like one. The example you quoted could be a case study in a business school.I noticed that last year, American Idol had their top finalists sing “Shout to the Lord.” Simon is no fan of Christian music- he said so on a program two years perviously. But, just like he began to like country music after Carrie Underwoods enormous success, it seems like he may be liking Christian music now. It’s called MONEY!

  33. How do you explain the exaltation of the role of “pastor” in certain “authoritarian circles? They all claim to be “the worst sinner” until they have to confront their own sin. Then, you are the sinner, not them. Been there, seen that.

  34. “The Lord is my homie. I don’t need anything.

    He makes me go to the crib. He leads me beside some fine turf.

    He makes me feel jacked up. He helps me do good.

    Even though I walk down some bad alleys, I ain’t afraid because he is with me. His 9 millimeter and taser got my back.

    You help me scarf down good food even when my enemie watch. You give me good doctors. I got everything.

    Nothing bad goin to happen to me because you be followin me around.

    I am gonna live in your crib forever.”

    Yes, I guess we miss something, huh?

  35. And the shepherd needs to explain that believers growing in maturity and holiness become shepherds themselves to other believers. Where is it written there is one shepherd per Body of Christ?

  36. True that there are so many languages without translations of the Bible. But the vast majority of those languages are spoken languages only (not written), so translation requires creation of an alphabet, formal grammar, etc. A very time consuming process, after which the people must be taught how to read their own language. About half of the world’s current languages are in danger of becoming extinct as they are spoken by so few people. Only less than 10 million people in the world don’t speak at least one of about 70 languages that do already have Bible translations. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_official_languages.

  37. The problem with the farm analogies is even people who know what sheep and shepherds are don’t understand the “personalities” of sheep and how that affects the meanings of the stories. It is a problem.

    But it’s a problem in many areas of modern life today. Most folks have no idea about what’s behind the magic of running water, light switches, flushing toilets, steaks on the grill, construction, driving a car, etc… And yet many of these things impact biblical stories. Oil lamps, town wells, housing, the food chain, donkeys, and more are all referenced in the stories in the Bible and many people come away with meanings not quite aligned with the original meaning. And at times not even close.

    Question: What was the significance of the palm fronds laid down for Jesus and not referred to as Palm Sunday?

    I have read some references that indicate it’s nothing like what most people think.

  38. What excites me as a Christian is to read the Bible and investigate the deeper meanings of Scripture. Now more than ever there is an inexhaustible number of resources available (especially on the internet) that can help in this endeavor.

    Dee loves discussing the symbolism of the palm fronds, and I’ll let her respond with her interpretation.

  39. It is satyrical and hyperbolic and meant to highlight the problems with translation.

    There is NO DOUBT that Bible translations need to be updated to keep up with language changes. It is ridiculous to insist that the original KJV be used because of the way that English has changed. The KJV has been and should be updated. It is still a masterpiece of translation, but as English changes, so should the translations change.

    But from what little I have read, translation is a very complex job, and there are lots of decisions to make. Too much formal equivalence, and one can lose the meaning. Too much functional equivalence, and one starts re-writing and actually moves more toward a paraphrase. Too much political agenda, and one ends up with gender wars or other problems etc. For example, the Revised Standard Version translates II Timothy 3:16 something like, “All scripture which is inspired by God is profitable…” rather than “All scripture is inspired by God…”, thus showing the bias, say many, of that translation committee.

    My little joke was an exercise to show the extreme of functional equivalence. The meaning is there, but as you said, if we give up “The Lord is my shepherd…”, “whiter than snow” etc. we lose something.

    The preacher can paraphrase to help the modern listener understand. But we should not miss what actually was said, allowing, of course, for corresponding words in English. If the words of scripture are important, the actual words should be translated, even if they sound strange to modern ears. The preacher must then educate to explain the meaning.

    I am making this sound simple. It is not.

    The Strauss article was good for pointing out the deficiencies of formal equivalence, so I thought that I would have a little fun on the other end of the spectrum.

    We actually have a range of really good translations. I am not afraid of any of the major translations. I continue to be amazed at how blessed we are in the US to have all of these good resources.

  40. “For example, the Revised Standard Version translates II Timothy 3:16 something like, “All scripture which is inspired by God is profitable…” rather than “All scripture is inspired by God…”, thus showing the bias, say many, of that translation committee.”

    But the bias COULD have been in either translation. This is where you need to be able to read Greek (I’m assuming here) and understand it as it was used 1900+ years ago. Maybe the RSV is a better translation. Or not.

    I was recently told by someone who studies such things that there are 50 words in the ancient texts for which we have no idea what they mean except as an educated guess due to context. They exist in no other known writings. But he also made the point that 50 or so years ago there were 250 such words. But we’ve found them in other texts which give meanings to them about 200 of them in the last 50 years or so.

    Now if I could only remember the example he gave.

  41. The KJV was a politically inspired translation. Read the original foreward or translators’ notes. It was made not from early manuscripts, but from translations from those manuscripts into other languages, e.g., the Septuagint and Latin translations of the NT. Some of the biases include a hierarchical bias (read divine right of the king–James in this case), which includes a male bias. And it included the trans-gendered apostle “Junias” which was really Junia.

  42. I totally agree with this. For starters, everyone should read the very long preface written by the translators. And they should also read secular history of King James 1..several.

    They might be shocked to find the translation was politically motivatedand that it was not really his idea to begin with. The idea came out of Oxford and James jumped on it because he needed the credibility and a unifying effort since he was not from England but Scotland and the son of the hated Mary, Queen of Scots. He was a strong believer in the divine right of kings and hated the fact he had a Parliament to deal with. Another little known fact that is usually hidden by the KJO crowd is that James was raised by Calvinists and could not stand them.

    With all this in mind, it is amazing the translation is as good as it is. Even with the “offices”. But the translators wanted to keep their “heads”. :o)

  43. Here is an example of what can happen with ‘translations’ that someone sent me:

    When I was at Gordon-Conwell, one of our New Testament professors was on the initial team translating John’s gospel for the NIV. He brought to an Exegesis class a sample of John chapter 2 verses 1 to 11, the Wedding Feast at Cana where Jesus changes the water into wine.

    Now, this was back in the days when American evangelicals (it was an American seminary although I am English born and grew up in Canada) were mostly anti-alcohol (which is not a bad stance to have, by the way) and there was even some dispute as to whether wine in the New Testament was alcoholic or just grape juice.

    In John 2:10 there is the Greek word methusthosin, which means intoxicated by alcohol. As I recall, the trial translation the professor brought to class had ‘drunken well’ as their English version. My current NIV says ‘have had too much to drink’.
    Most of us were just learning Greek at the time but there was one bright spark at the back who had studied Greek as an undergraduate. He asked the professor what the word really meant and the professor answered, ‘drunk’. ‘So why didn’t you translate it that way?’ asked Bright Spark. ‘We didn’t think the church was ready for it,’ was the answer.

  44. Arce
    Thank you for your remarks. I, too, knew of Junia and it has frustrated me to know that this is not common knowledge yet even some of the conservative translators have acknowledged this point.

    I am away from home for a few days but will read the forward to the KJV when I return. i am embarrassed to say that I have never done that. I have read the forwards to the NIV, etc but have never gone back. Thanks for the idea!!!

  45. Lydia
    OK, I am doubly embarrassed. I did not know what you wrote about either. Looking forward to doing some reading in the KJV when I get home.

  46. Lydia
    I now know why I like you. The couple who reached out to me as a teen and young Christian were from Gordon Conwell. Great school.

  47. Lynn
    I liked your question so much that I plan to use it for my question tomorrow. I assume you are discussion the cleansing of the Temple in the tome of the Maccabees?

  48. Deb:

    My preferred translation? Good question. It is hard to answer.

    I guess that I use the NASB the most since that was popular when I came to faith in the mid 70s. But I recognize that the NASB is kind of choppy and not as readable as other versions.

    I enjoy listening to the King James read aloud. But I confess that’s probably because I like the sound of the middle English. Sort of like people think that Alistarie Begg (sp?) and William F. Buckley are smart because of their accents.

    I do not prefer the NIV. It is written on an 8th grade level. I understand why, and I understand that it is accessible, but I still don’t prefer it.

    I like the HCSB, but really can’t stand the name. I admit that is just stupid prejudice on my part.

    The NLT is excellent, but I don’t use it as often.

    I like the ESV. If I move away from the NASB, it will probably be to the ESV.

    As for Greek, I had 2 years of it. You know what that qualifies me to do? Nothing! I can read the helps, but not with any discernment.

    People who really understand a foreign language, let alone an ancient foreign language, spend their entire lives studying it. I am very distrustful of anyone who pontificates about “the Greek says this and the Greek says that…” That’s usually a sign that either 1) they have had no formal training in Koine Greek (they have “taught” themselves), or 2) they have had on 2 to 4 years. Think about how proficient people from other countries are with English when they have only had 2 to 4 years.

    The people who really know Greek are the PhDs who have studied it for years. The rest of us should simply quote the book we are looking at when we start saying what the Greek says. This is doubly true for Hebrew.

    Don’t know why this frosts me so much. I guess I get tired of hearing people in the pulpit who I know don’t have that much training in Greek beyond basic seminary start making fine distinctions about the Greek language.

  49. Deb:

    Also, let me say that I was really disappointed to read about the TNIV and how the translation committee said they were going to do one thing on gender, but then went back on their word etc. This was really hot on the internet a year or two ago. I am not sure that it got solved. But since I did not like the NIV that much to begin with, and see no need so quickly for a TNIV (the NIV is not that old), I am probably not excited to pick up the new and improved version.

  50. Dee:

    I read Lydia’ comment above. I read it as saying that someone from Gordon Conwell sent her that story.

    Not that she (Lydia) attended Gordon Conwell.

    Lydia can certainly clear it up, but that’s the way I read it.

  51. Annonymous+Lydia

    I was up at 4:40 this AM and drove 9 hours. I am not thinking straight. Hopefully I will be back among the land of the living in the AM!!

  52. Arrrg. NOW, not NOT.

    Question: What was the significance of the palm fronds laid down for Jesus and NOW referred to as Palm Sunday?

    I have read some references that indicate it’s nothing like what most people think.

  53. Huh? What on earth are you talking about? For crying out loud, after the propaganda campaign againt the TNIV, there is not an industry publisher that wants to touch it with a 10 ft pole. You guys won. You should be happy about it.

    (I agree with you about the NIV. It is my least fav translation)

  54. “People who really understand a foreign language, let alone an ancient foreign language, spend their entire lives studying it. I am very distrustful of anyone who pontificates about “the Greek says this and the Greek says that…” That’s usually a sign that either 1) they have had no formal training in Koine Greek (they have “taught” themselves), or 2) they have had on 2 to 4 years. Think about how proficient people from other countries are with English when they have only had 2 to 4 years. ”

    Would this include Grudem? Ware? Piper? Mohler?

    What is really interesting about your comment is that most ivory tower types who have studied the Greek from all angles of ancient lit, etc., for years and years are usually the least dogmatic when it comes to interpretation. For good reason. They understand, for example, that authenteo is an obscure word and one cannot be dogmatic about it’s meaning except it does NOT mean authority over and women most definitely do not need to bear children to be sanctified in Christ.

    In reality, the more learned, the more ‘liberal’ they will usually look to the wolves who need their pet interpretations.

  55. Lydia

    I am now awake and back among the living. I just have one word to add that is a favorite amongst the most ravenous of wolves. It is “YOM.” I am still nursing my wounds.

  56. Lydia:

    I did not know what had happened on that. Are you saying that the TNIV is not going ot be published at all? I did not know that. For all I knew things could have been on as planned or the disagreements could have gotten worked out.

    I was just disappointed to see all the stuff about it.

    Dee, there is nothing in the world wrong with your NIV study bible. At all!

  57. Just a small matter from someone who studied English on the graduate level.

    I was taught that:

    Beowulf = Old English
    Chaucer = Middle English
    Shakespeare, KJV = Modern English

    If you ever heard unaltered Chaucer read, and then listened to Shakespeare or the KJV, you’d really notice how much more you understand of the latter two. Yes, there are a lot of words that have shifted meaning over the 400 years since the KJV was translated, but the syntax and grammar are far more similar to today’s English than to Chaucer’s.

    I like hearing the KJV read, too. It has a poetic quality that puts it head and shoulders above other versions in that particular context. When you think about how few people were literate when it was published, you can understand that, in many respects, the KJV was almost meant to be read aloud. Those who could read would find it easy to understand; those who couldn’t would find it easy to understand, and easy to listen to.