NLT on Matthew 5:13b

I think the NLT’s translation of ανθροπων (anthropon, meaning men) in Matthew 5:13b is taking evangelical feminism in an unhealthy direction.

UBS4: εἰς οὐδὲν ἰσκύει ἒτι εἰ μὴ βληθὲν ἒξω καταπατεῖσθαι ὑπὸ τῶν ἀνθρώπων.
NASB: It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.
NLT: Can you make it useful again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.

5 thoughts on “NLT on Matthew 5:13b

  • October 10, 2009 at 8:03 am

    Yah, I can see it’s just for fun… because anthropon can mean “human beings” just as well as “male human beings”. (Although it doesn’t justify leaving out the word.) In the Chinese Bible it says “被 人 踐 踏 了 。” In other words, “by people trampled and stepped on.” That second character (ren2) just means people in general. It would need to be “nan2 ren2” to indicate male people.

    I thought andros was the specific Greek term for a man gender-wise, but I couldn’t find it used anywhere in the New Testament other than as a root word. An Attic Greek dictionary said andros means “a man” while anthropos means “men or human beings”. I guess Koine Greek had a less precise vocabulary than Attic Greek. What do you think?

  • October 15, 2009 at 12:54 am

    I wouldn’t really take issue with leaving “anthropos” untranslated here… I am against evangelical feminism as much as you are, but this doesn’t appear to be an attempt to promote an agenda as far as I can tell. If they were trying to promote a feminist agenda, they would do funky things like translating “andros” as humankind and stuff. Overall I am impressed with the NLT, although I wouldn’t use it for serious study or recommend it to others for regular use.

  • October 19, 2009 at 2:27 am

    Oh my GOODness I have no idea what you all are talking about. However, I am not among your number learning Greek, so I feel safe in my ignorance.

    And on another note, I do think you should start a talk show, David. Isn’t that a good idea? :)

  • November 4, 2009 at 6:20 pm

    It would be feminism…if ἄνθρωπος meant “man.” But it’s much closer to meaning “human” or “person.” The Older lexicons that use the gloss “man,” do so with a generic sense (e.g. “man” as opposed to “god” — human).

    But even the ESV recognizes this:

    “…but let your adorning be the hidden person (ἄνθρωπος) of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” 1 Peter 3:4.

    Unless you believe every woman has an inner-male…

    The meaning of ἄνθρωπος is beyond “man.” Here’s BDAG’s fourth sense for the word:

    “practically equiv. to the indef. pron., w. the basic mng. of ἄ. greatly weakened (cp. 1c.) someone, one, a person.”

    More significantly is that if your charge of feminism is correct than the ESV has also succumbed to it with it’s translation since they’ve pluralized a singular (!). Wait, isn’t that what Grudem spent years complaining about with the TNIV…?

    (ESV) It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

    The challenge is that we have a passive clause where the Agent in Greek is in the prepositional phrase: “be trampled ὑπὸ τῶν ἀνθρώπων.”

    Both the ESV & the NLT recognize that we have a generic reference here (i.e. BDAG’s sense 4 above, “someone”). But “someone” is a really awkward translation here:

    “be trampled by someone.”

    So you have two options: 1) change singular to plural like the ESV did and retain the generic reference or 2) drop the agentative prepositional phrase which is optional in both English & Greek for passives anyway and easily accessible by the reader. The optionality of “by” phrases is passives is actually most common for generics like the one we have here. So in a sense, by using the passive without the generic ὑπὸ τῶν ἀνθρώπων, the NLT accurately translates the Greek text by not translating it.

    The NLT isn’t a feminist translation. It’s not a fair thing to say about the many complementarians who worked on the translation (e.g. D. A. Carson).

    Let’s stop scandalizing translations by giving them labels they don’t deserve have.

  • November 9, 2009 at 12:40 am

    Hello everyone!

    Nathan and I talked about this in person, but I never posted the clarification here. My bad.

    This post was submitted with the “Just for Fun” tag, meaning, I was being sarcastic. Of course anthropos means “someone” and of course the better rendering is “people’s feet”.

    I was making fun of a situation where word-for-word, interlinear-type reading of translations can cause humorous confusion (ergo: anthropos as “worthless”). And because there’s a lot of sentiment about anthropos meaning “men”, the entire thing seemed ripe for an obvious “straw man” quip about evangelical feminism.

    Forgive me for not signifying my sarcasm more clearly. I was trying to be funny. And failing, I guess.

    Mike, please understand, I was in no way intending to “scandalize” the NLT (a translation I reference whenever I’m studying). I was attempting to illustrate common misconceptions with an ironic post.

    That being said, I’m going to be preaching on this text in the near future, so I’m grateful to all of you for your more serious comments. Beyond that, I am encouraged that, were this a serious post, I would receive this kind of well-earned kick in the butt. I’m really excited by that level of accountability.

    I’ve learned a lot from you all. Thank you!

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