Change: Dr. Scot McKnight on Reviving the Original Context in His Second Testament Translation
Discover the unexpected twist in Dr. Scot McKnight's journey toward creating a more literal Bible translation that will leave you questioning everything you thought you knew about the New Testament. Are you ready to slow down, think, and immerse yourself in the first-century Christian world?
Words matter, especially in translations of the Bible. Join us as we dive into the world of New Testament translations with Scot McKnight and uncover the importance of accurate translations and the impact they can have. When it comes to women in ministry, though, and the use of certain words, will the translation choices make or break their place in the church? Find out in this thought-provoking discussion.
In this episode, you will be able to:
- Recognize the value of cultural understanding and meticulous translation in the proper interpretation of the Bible.
- Delve into the intricate dynamics of power within the church and their varied consequences.
- Learn how to address spiritual abuse effectively and foster a support system for survivors.
- Embrace the core principles of good leadership and the altruistic use of power in ministry.
- Highlight the vital insights shared by women scholars and survivors for a more inclusive faith community.
My special guest is Dr. Scot McKnight
Meet Dr. Scot McKnight, a renowned New Testament professor at Northern Seminary in Illinois and a prolific author with a passion for diving deep into the cultural context of biblical texts. As a guest on Lori Adams-Brown's podcast, Scot brings his expertise in Bible translation and interpretation, having written over 90 books, including widely-read titles like "A Church Called Tove" and "The Blue Parakeet." A dedicated advocate for abuse survivors and a favorite professor among his students, Dr. McKnight's insights are sure to enrich your understanding of the Bible.
"I believe in the power of a more literal translation."- Dr. Scot McKnight
The resources mentioned in this episode are:
- Pre-order Dr. Scott McKnight's new translation of the New Testament, The Second Testament. Use AWORLD23 to get 30% off plus free shipping at @ivpress.com on The Second Testament through June 7.
- Subscribe to Dr. McKnight's Substack newsletter, the Jesus Creed.
- Consider taking Greek classes with Dr. McKnight at Northern Seminary.
- Purchase Dr. McKnight's books, including A Church Called Tov, The King Jesus Gospel, and The Blue Parakeet.
- Follow Dr. McKnight's blog, the Jesus Creed.
- Read Dr. McKnight's contributions as general editor of the Dictionary of Paul and His Letters.
- Explore the Everyday Bible series, including the First Testament by John Golden Gay and The Kingdom New Testament by Tom Wright.
The Way of Jesus
Good leadership in the church involves recognizing, using, and sharing power in ways that are faithful to the teachings of Jesus. Followers of Jesus should strive to cultivate humility, compassion, and an attitude of serving others, often forgoing one's power to benefit those who are more vulnerable. Dr. Scot McKnight, during the podcast interview, mentioned several examples of power abuse in the church, contrasting them with the biblical teachings of Jesus. He specifically cited Romans 16 and Philippians 2:1-11, which emphasize the concept of Kenosis – the act of laying down one's power to serve others. McKnight believes that understanding this concept and applying it in the context of leadership and church relationships is essential to embodying the way of Jesus and countering the negative aspects of power dynamics in churches.
"Words deeply matter, and those words can wound and they can hurt for a long time." - Dr. Scot McKnight
Women in Ministry
An accurate translation plays a crucial role in recognizing and valuing the contributions of women in the early church. Being mindful of the words used to describe women's roles is crucial as language can shape our understanding and reinforce stereotypes or power dynamics within the church. By translating words and phrases accurately, women's contributions to the early church can be acknowledged and celebrated more fairly. During the conversation, Dr. McKnight emphasized the importance of using accurate translation to highlight women's roles in the church, such as translating the word Phoebe to mean "deacon" rather than "servant." He also mentioned the prevalence of false narratives and power dynamics in church culture that can negatively affect how people perceive women's roles in ministry. By ensuring accurate translations, he believes we can better acknowledge, value, and empower women working in the church.
Keeping Names Authentic
One of the essential aspects of ensuring cultural authenticity in a Bible translation is the use of names as close as possible to what they would have sounded in the original language. This offers a sense of novelty and unfamiliarity for readers, prompting reflection on the context and culture surrounding the text. By preserving the original names, readers can gain deeper insights into the characters and their significance in the narrative. Dr. McKnight uses transliteration in his translation, meaning that names in the Bible are rendered more authentically, closer to their original language. For instance, Yakobos is used instead of the English equivalent, James. Dr. McKnight argued during the podcast that using such authentic names invites readers to reconsider the context and culture of the Bible's characters, creating a more engaging and meaningful reading experience.
"We need to be careful with the words we use for translations because if we don't get it right, it can hurt people." - Dr. Scot McKnight
Timestamped summary of this episode:
00:00:02 - Introduction,
Dr. Scott McKnight is an advocate in the survivor community and a professor at Northern Seminary in Illinois. He has written over 90 books and blogs on the Jesus Creed. He talks about his new translation of the New Testament, the Second Testament, which he made more literal to help people understand the ancient context of the text.
00:06:01 - Reason for New Translation,
McKnight believes that the capacity to translate Greek into English has reached near perfection, but people miss things when they try to make it a natural English equivalent. He wants to show people the differences between the original Greek sentence and the English sentence.
00:11:37 - Distinctives of the Second Testament,
McKnight was inspired to translate the New Testament after reading John Golden Gay's translation of the Old Testament. One of the distinctives is the transliteration of names, which may be confusing but creates an authentic ancient context. McKnight's translation sometimes sounds clunky because it is formally equivalent, but that helps readers slow down and think.
00:14:57 - Keeping Names Authentic,
The Second Testament transliterates names to help readers understand the ancient context. This makes the text feel foreign and distant, which is appropriate, as it helps readers dig deeper into cultural exegesis. McKnight believes that being familiar with the text can be a hindrance to truly understanding it.
00:15:47 - Familiarity with the Text,
Familiarity with the text can sometimes hold us back in understanding it.
00:16:13 - The Impact of Names on Reading,
Dr. Scot McKnight discusses the impact of names on reading and how different names can lead readers to think differently and understand a text in a new way. He suggests that using the original Greek text can take readers into the first-century Christian world and help them understand the text in a new light.
00:18:10 - Women in Ministry,
Dr. Scot McKnight discusses the controversy around women pastors, using the example of the lack of pastors in the Bible. He suggests that titles such as Presbuteros, Episkopos, Diakonos were used instead. He also refers to Romans 16, which mentions several women involved in church ministry, including an apostle and a deacon.
00:22:54 - Multiculturalism in the Early Church,
Dr. Scot McKnight discusses the multicultural and multiracial nature of the early church, with a mix of slaves and free people, men and women, and Jews and Gentiles. He draws attention to the several women mentioned in Romans 16, performing ministries that today would be called pastoring.
00:27:39 - The Importance of Language,
Dr. Scot McKnight emphasizes the importance of language and translation, pointing out that the wrong translation can hurt people. He uses the example of King James' Bible, which made choices to keep its subjects subdued. He also discusses the power dynamics in evangelical churches and how they favor men and certain behaviors that have become manly.
00:33:10 - The Four Types of Power,
Dr. Scot McKnight discusses the four types of power: power over, power to influence, power with, and power for. He explains how power over is the most corrupted form of power and how it is prevalent in the business world, sports, and even the church. He also highlights the importance of using power for the good of others and sharing power with others.
00:35:25 - The Power With,
Dr. McKnight delves deeper into the concept of power with and how it involves the willingness to share power with someone else to achieve a mutually beneficial outcome. He cites his experience of co-authoring a book with a young man and how they worked together to create a cohesive product.
00:36:53 - Power For,
Dr. McKnight discusses the last type of power, power for, which involves using one's power for the good of another person. He cites Jesus Christ as an example of this type of power, as He came not to be served but to serve and give His life for others.
00:40:00 - Dealing with Spiritual Abuse,
Dr. McKnight advises people who are experiencing spiritual abuse or know someone who is to first become healthy enough to handle the blowback that comes with going public. He also stresses the importance of having a support system and following the proper protocols or guidelines for reporting abuse. Lastly, he emphasizes the need for patience and resilience as it may take a long time to see change.
00:50:50 - Abusing Power in Churches,
Dr. Scott McKnight discusses how some pastors and church leaders abuse their power, particularly with vulnerable members such as children. He encourages readers to follow his work in understanding power dynamics and using power for good, especially with survivors of abuse.
00:52:00 - The Way of Jesus,
Dr. Scott McKnight emphasizes the way of Jesus in using power for good and elevating others. He references the Kenosis passage in Philippians 2 and encourages listeners to learn how to understand and wield their power for the benefit of others.
00:53:38 - Call to Action,
Lori Adams-Brown issues a call to action for listeners to use their power for good, particularly with survivors of abuse. She encourages finding a survivor and listening to their story while respecting their autonomy and using power to elevate their voice and support them.
00:54:48 - Tov
Lori Adams-Brown references Dr. Scott McKnight and Laura Behringer's book, A Church Called TOV, and highlights the importance of using power in tov, or goodness, particularly with survivors of abuse. She encourages listeners to find ways to support survivors and let them lead the way in how they want to share their stories and move forward.
00:56:03 - Conclusion,
Lori Adams-Brown thanks listeners for their work in making a difference and encourages them to read Dr. Scot McKnight's book, Second Testament. She also hints at future episodes with Dr. Scot McKnight and his new book with Laura Barringer as a follow up to A Church Called TOV.
More Key Takeaways
- Appreciate the role of cultural context and precise translation in interpreting the Bible effectively.
- Comprehend the various power dynamics at play within the church and their implications.
- Recognize signs of spiritual abuse, ensuring adequate support for survivors.
- Grasp the crucial need for responsible leadership and the ethical use of power.
- Discover the valuable contributions of female scholars and survivors in the ministry.
- Realize the importance of context and accurate translation in unlocking the true meaning of biblical passages.
- Uncover diversities in church power dynamics and their impacts on members.
- Identify the nature of spiritual abuse and the ways to help survivors heal.
- Understand the significance of virtuous leadership and the fair exercise of power for communal benefit.
- Shed light on the often-overlooked perspectives of women scholars and abuse survivors in ministry.
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Welcome to the A World of Difference podcast. I'm Lori Adams-Brown, and this is a podcast for those who are different and want to make a difference. We have back on the podcast this week Dr. Scot McKnight, a huge friend and of many of you listening. He is very active in terms of not only his writing, but is also an advocate in the survivor community.::
Because he was on the podcast last time talking about his book, a church called Tove with his daughter Laura. Behringer, but also has just become very dear to me and my husband and our family as he walked through some things with us that happened in our lives a couple of years ago. And, yeah, it's just an honor to have him back on. He has written so many books, we could never introduce them all in this introduction. I think it's somewhere in the he's releasing several books right around now, including he's the general editor of Dictionary of Paul and His Letters, which we had Dr.::
Lynn Kohick speaking on earlier. And also Dr. Nijay Gupta is one of the associate editors as well. And we've had him on the podcast just a few weeks ago, but he will be talking today about a translation that he has been working on and is coming out. It's called the Second Testament.::
It's a new translation of the New Testament, but just by way of introduction for Dr. Scott McKnight. He is the Julius R. Man teacher of new testament at Northern seminary in Illinois. He, as I mentioned, has authored many books.::
He was on last time talking about a church called Tove, which has been widely read in churches in the US. And especially in the survivor community of abuse survivors. He's written the King Jesus Gospel, the Blue Paraguay Key, which is a favorite of many, including mine, the Real Mary. Oh, goodness. We can never list all of his books, but take your pick as to what your favorite one is.::
He blogs at the Jesus Creed. He also has a substac newsletter, which I'm a subscriber of, highly recommend it if you're not on there. He's constantly writing and putting great things out for us to think through very deeply. And he's a favorite professor at Northern Seminary. Many people have come through his classes and gone on to do wonderful things because of his inspiration.::
He's very connected with his students. So we are just so delighted to have Dr. Scott McKnight back on today to talk about the Second Testament and just a little bit about this. We'll definitely be asking him to tell us about it, but why it's really exciting is the Second Testament. It reads kind of differently than what a lot of us are used to reading in our English translations of the scriptures because he is trying to help us see that this is an ancient text.::
So he makes some linguistic choices, some translation choices to keep names close to the original, so they don't sound like English names, he doesn't translate them in a way that sounds familiar to us. And typically, translations will try to make the biblical text as accessible as possible using language of our day. But this actually can make us feel a little too familiar with it, as if the culture and the people in it are similar to how we might live in suburban US context in American 2023. But he, on purpose is leaving the names similar to how they would have been written and spoken, but also helping us see that this is an ancient text and it's speaking to the modern world, but it speaks from its own culture and its own time and ways of living that are very different from how we live today. And this is an intentional choice and I'm so excited about it.::
I'm just going to read a little bit of an excerpt from Matthew five, which is a very familiar passage to many of us. And just as you listen to it, take note of how it sounds slightly different in ways that kind of feel a little bit like it's the ancient world in which it comes from. So, Matthew, chapter five, verse three. God blesses the beggars in spirit, because theirs is heaven's empire. God blesses the grievers because they will be consoled.::
God blesses the meek, because they will inherit the land. And then down on verse ten and eleven. God blesses the ones who have been chaste for righteousness because theirs is heaven's empire. God bless you whenever they degrade you and chase you and say every evil thing against you. Falsifying because of me.::
Be joyful and be overjoyed, because your wage will be much in the heavens for so they chase the prophets before you. We are in for such a treat today with Dr Scott McKnight talking about this new translation of the New Testament that he's worked so diligently on. And, yeah, let's just give a very, very warm welcome to the one and only Dr. Scott McKnight.::
Hi, Scott, welcome back to the podcast. It's great to have you back on again. Lori, good to see you again. Thank you. Of course, it's always great to see you.::
Scott, just being with someone who is knowledgeable, who's written so many books. How many books have you even written at this point, do you even know? Well, I don't count them, but Chris does. I bet Chris does. It's over 90.::
It's over 90. I think it's getting close to that magic number. Oh, my goodness. And you've released several recently. You're like the human chat GPT.::
Who. Needs chat GPT when you have Scott McKnight churning out, like, three books being released, all, like, within a month? Well, I write four books a year for the everyday Bible studies, so that's going on. But this has been a very busy year because of COVID all these things have stacked up and publishers are getting them ready.::
This has been number one year, I guess, in number of books that have come out. Well, we're excited, and I'm enjoying everything you're writing and your substac, obviously, which is you're just constantly writing and helping us understand things in a deeper way. But this book is really exciting because you have decided to work on another English translation of the New Testament, which is a huge undertaking. Help us understand why you took this on and what it means to you. To do this work.::
Yes, and it's a good question. And I've asked myself this question because so many people keep asking me this question. Why do this? Well, one way to put it is, I think our capacity or ability to translate Greek, New Testament Greek, into what's called dynamic equivalents or something that is thought for thought between Greek and English has reached a level of near perfection. And with the quickness of being able to publish, we keep getting new translations.::
But, I mean, there's very little improvement on Nt rights, the Kingdom New Testament, or if you like the NIV, the NIV 2011, or if you like the New Living Translation, those are very good translations who are trying to find dynamic English equivalents to Greek sentences. In the process, I have encountered so many people who are stunned to discover that the New Testament was actually written in Greek. And I say, oh, well, the Greek sentence doesn't actually go like that, but that's a nice equivalent. So over and over I've tried to show students and audiences sunday school classes, whatever, that the Greek sentence is not quite so clever as the English sentence and that we sometimes miss things when we make it a natural English equivalent. For instance, okay, I don't think you're old enough to have grown up with the King James, but you grew up in circles that were probably using the King James.::
Yeah, I grew up in Spanish. Speaking Reyna Valeda was what we use, but the English one was often King James when we did it. Okay. And there is a famous expression in Paul that he uses, Meganoita in Greek. It's translated in the KJV as God forbid.::
And I remember in college my Greek teacher telling me that he said, this is the taking of the Lord's name in vain, which it wasn't, but it really got my attention. He said, the word God is not mentioned there. It just says, May it never be. And that's different than God forbid. And so a more literal translation, may it never be is preferred.::
And so over and over and over I've seen this in the New Testament that we can sometimes get back to the Greek and see things. Now, here's what happened. Tom Wright wrote a translation of the New Testament, kingdom New Testament, then wrote a little series of commentaries along with it. Actually, he wrote the series of commentaries and translated the New Testament, and it became the Kingdom New Testament, and it was very good. And then John Goldingay, an Old Testament scholar, a friend of Tom's, did the same thing for the Old Testament.::
He translated it. Then in England, they published these two together, and I think they called it the Everyday Bible or something like this. It's a very nice translation. I bought it immediately because I really wanted to see what Golden Gay was doing in the Old Testament. And then university had rights to John golden gay's old testament called the first Testament.::
Zondervan had rights to Tom Wright's Kingdom New Testament. So University couldn't print Tom Wright's with John Golden gay. So in the United States, they were published separately. So I get University's, the first testament by Golden Gay. And I start reading it.::
And as I'm reading it, I think this is not at all commensurate with what Tom Wright is doing. I was at an academic meeting and I met the editor, the main guy at university, and I said, those two translations don't belong together. He said, what do you mean? I said, Well, Tom Wright's is a paraphrastic dynamic equivalent, and John Goldingay is much more formal equivalent, much more word for word. And he said, what do you think we should do about it?::
I said, well, you need to have a translation like Golden Gay of the New Testament. He said, Would you do it? And I looked at him, I said, yes, I'll do that. I want to do this because I believe in the power of a more literal translation. And a couple of the distinctives of Golden Gay's translation is he transliterated names.::
And Lori, you know Spanish. Okay. When you take someone's name, say Jose. My next door neighbor's name is Jorge, and you translate it as George or Joe. That's not that person's name.::
There's something that is evoked by Jorge and Jose that is not evoked. And there's something else that is evoked by Joe. So John Golden Gate transliterated names, which can be very confusing when some of these Hebrew names get really long. And I really like that. So I have Jesus.::
I do not have Jesus. And one of the ones that is really clear on this is the name for the person who wrote what we call the letter of James. His name is Yakobos or Jacob, and we translate it as James because it comes through Old French and Old English into Yakimas. So I think there's a big difference between calling someone Jacob and calling someone James. Jacob evokes a patriarch.::
So that one right there is one that really made a big difference for me. And so I transliterate all names, first names. We don't have last names, of course, and it just shows up. Petros. Not Peter.::
Yuda not Judas. And all these things start showing up in different ways. And that was just one illustration of trying to stick with the original text. But my translation is sort of clunky because it's formally equivalent. It doesn't sound like English at times, and it will make people slow down and they'll get a little irritated.::
And when they get irritated, I am very happy because I've slowed them down and made them think about what the New Testament actually says rather than what they're familiar with. Yes, I just felt it very differently. I haven't read it all yet, but the parts that I've read so far, that's what immediately struck me was it takes us back to a time and a place that feels foreign and distant. And it should, because if it feels like Jacob is our next door neighbor and he has a suburban house in the suburbs of Chicago, and he's white and sometimes in white evangelical spaces, it does seem as though it's become so familiar. We have so many English translations.::
We have books that have covers on them that make it look like people who we would interact with now in this time and space in English. And so there is something just alone about keeping the name the way that it was that automatically I felt like my whole body kind of reacted to. In a good way, like, wow, it. Feels the way it should feel. In the sense that I need to dig a little deeper on more cultural exegesis to understand really what was going on as opposed to imagining this scene in my neighborhood.::
Not Mary, but Miriam or Maria. Or Maria. So it's different in the New Testament. So it's when it gets to be geographical places that Golden Gay goes a little different than I do. But by and large, transliterating names was one of the characteristics.::
Lori one of the things with New Testament, especially the Bible, is we are so familiar with it that when something is unlike what we're familiar with, we think it's wrong. Or this was my experience in reading Golden Gay the first time. I at times would say, I feel like I've never read this verse in my life. And I thought, well, I have. I've got all my Bibles.::
And one time I went to one of my Bibles and it was underlined, you know, the verse. And I thought, this one is not like John Golden gaze at all. So it's that familiarity that I'm trying to crack into is to make the Bible a little bit more unfamiliar in order to fill out the meaning of what that text is actually saying. Yeah. So in your perspective, how does this change how we read it?::
Therefore, as we have these names that sound not like our next door neighbor, how would that cause us to read it differently? Well, I think in a sense, you've helped us answer that question. We're going to say, oh, that guy is not English. He's a Jew with a Greek translation of his name, or something like that. Yaakovos.::
And it's going to make us think of that. We're going to go back into that cultural mindset. And because I don't use English grammar all the time, but I let the Greek text and sometimes be as chunky and clunky as it is, rather than smooth it out, because after all, someone might not understand something. Well, I would like you to come to my Greek classes when I teach Greek, because the students are going, I don't understand what's going on with you. That's the way they should feel.::
It's going to slow us down and it's going to take us into another world, which is the first century Christian world, and we're going to hear the text in a slightly different way. Yeah. And this is good for us because when it comes to verses that get put on BOOKMARKS and cherry picked and taken out of context so often in our white evangelical world, here especially, it doesn't help us understand more deeply what was going on. So the whole conversation, I guess, around woman pastors, for example, would be a great example of this because I remember back when I was in seminary here in Northern California in Mill Valley, it was Golden Gate Seminary at the time, in the late ninety s, one of the theology professors, whenever people would ask him, do you believe in women pastors? He would often say, well, show me where there's a pastor in the Bible with that title.::
So he would pose another question, which is often what Jesus would do as well around a lot of questions he was given, but also he would help people understand imagine the scene. These are house churches. These are churches meeting under persecution. It's not First Baptist over here on the corner where there's pews and there's a pulpit. This was not the scene.::
And so it had to lead you to a place where you asked other questions. And I think that's often what people don't do. When people ask you about, like woman pastors, for example, that's a big controversy right now in the Southern Baptist Convention. Saddleback has been kicked out over it. It's a big deal.::
How do you answer that question about women pastors? Well, I think whoever your seminary professor was, was right in some sense by saying the New Testament doesn't really call these people pastors. You could say that there's a pastoring function, but they had different if you want to use titles, they had titles like Piscopos or we would translate bishop or Overseer and Diaconos, which would be a deacon or a servant. They had presbytur and Presbutaros, which is an elder. So they had names like that, that they were using.::
And we also have clear cases of women functionally performing ministries that today we would have to call pastoring. And here's something. I was thinking of this yesterday. Chris and I were taking a walk around the lake and I was thinking, what, what is Lori going to ask me about? And I thought, she might ask me about women in ministry.::
And I thought to myself, if someone just picked up romans, chapter 16 in the NIV or the whatever translation they use, and I said to them, I want you to circle. If you write in your bible, circle every name of a woman. And I'd like to see how many of them you can actually get. Right? Because there's quite a few women mentioned in Romans 16.::
But because we don't know these names. We don't even know if they're women or men. We just gloss over them. But about half the name, not quite half the names in Romans 16 are women. And all kinds of things are mentioned about these women that they're doing in church ministry, including being an apostle and being a deacon.::
Phoebe's a deacon, and Junia, not Junius. Junia is an apostle, and there are people who are risking their lives for the sake of Paul and his ministry, and he's affirming all these women involved. When you all of a sudden recognize that this is quite a mixed group of slaves and free of men and women of Jews and Gentiles, you realize that this church was the embodiment of a multicultural multiethnic, maybe multiracial, depending how you define the word race, multiracial church. And there are all kinds of women there. But that Phoebe thing is really interesting to me is Phoebe is a wealthy woman.::
Paul uses the word prostatus for her, which sort of has the idea of it could be a benefactor, but it also could be a leader. And she is a deacon in the church of Kencria, which is next to Corinth, and she's in the location in a letter where you often list or mention the person who is carrying and taking care of this letter to get from Kencria Paul's hands to whoever is going to read it in Rome, she's the woman. That person would also have been instructed, along with others, how to read the letter, what words to emphasize, in what context she would have been taught, how to respond to the question. She had to know a lot of what Paul was doing and thinking in order to read this letter aloud in those churches, at least five house churches in Romans 16, and be able to respond to questions that people are going to ask. And you can't read Romans in the first century without a bunch of questions being popped.::
And she and whoever she trained now, maybe she didn't read it. I think she probably did, but it doesn't matter. I've got it in print now, so I have to believe that she was the reader, but she would have been perceived as far more than a servant of Paul. She was an agent of the Gospel and an agent of this letter, the most significant letter that Paul wrote in the history of the church. Junia is an apostle, and some people were so uncomfortable with her being an apostle, that they changed her name from Junia to Junius to make her a man.::
And there is no record in the first century of any man being named Junius. So as a pacifist, I often say it's okay to kill a nonexistent male Junius. It's not going to hurt anyone, and we've slayed him. And now we realize that this is a woman who was an apostle of significance in the early church. She was a church planting leader in the Pauline Mission and was probably sent ahead of Paul with her husband andronygus to plant churches.::
So I deal with these texts quite a bit at Northern, and I think that there's good evidence that women actively engaged in ministry in the first century. My colleague Nijay Gupta has a new book, Tell Her Story, but he also thinks that Nympha in Colossey was a pastor. Now, we can't prove that, but I told him I like the conclusion, and translations make a difference here. So if you translate that Junius, you've just turned a woman into a man. Absolutely, yes.::
And when we had Nijay on the podcast, he mentioned a lot of those things, talking about his latest book, Tell Her Story. And I think that you've said this before, and many people are saying this. You know, these aren't new things. You know, we as long as we're digging and understanding and reading different perspectives, different theologians maybe, who, if you only speak English fine, you can still find English translations of theologians who aren't native English speakers. We just need different perspectives to help us understand because language matters and the way we translate things matter.::
And obviously, no theologian worth their salt would claim that Junia is a male at this point, like, that's been debunked heavily, and yet somehow people are still uncomfortable. But all of this does matter because it forms how we see things. And translating that Phoebe was a servant as opposed to deacon, that's like a choice that people make in translation. All of those things form our thoughts. But you've not only dealt with that in terms of translation of the Bible in a church called Tove, which is what you and Laura were on the last time we were on the podcast together.::
It's how words are formed in a church culture to kind of flip the script or create false narratives, how words matter in our faith spaces. And congratulations. I think you're in the third printing. Did I just see Laura post something about that? Yeah, we are in the third printing.::
When Laura pestered me to write this book, and I said, I'm not a specialist on this, and I don't want to become someone that people go to for this kind of topic because I I'm a New Testament professor, you know. Well, 178 podcasts later, I'm I'm now consulted on on church culture, and we have a second book coming out in September called Pivot that is about helping churches. But yes, words deeply matter, and you nailed it with flipping the script. Is that when you and I know what darvo means? I'm surprised by the number of people who don't know what darvo means after as often as we deal with this, perpetrators of abuse have an amazing capacity to turn the story around and make themselves a victim of the person that they victimized and turn the victim into a perpetrator of violence against the perpetrator.::
I think I'd have to slow down to say that again, but words really do matter, and those words can wound and they can hurt for a long time. When you start publicly degrading another person's status and gifts and personhood, it really hurts. And that's why words matter. And we need to be careful with the words we use for translations, because if we don't get it right, it can hurt people. Yeah.::
Last June, I mean, it was really just maybe a week or a few days after the announcement came out that Andy Wood was taking over for Rick Warren at Saddleback Church. And my husband and I have spoken out publicly about that abuse, and some of it the last time we recorded together, actually, I was still working at Echo Church, but didn't know it was within Days of being fired. And the day your podcast released was the day I was fired, which is kind of weird. Not weird, actually. I don't want to use the word weird.::
I feel like God was using that as a sign in a lot of ways to help me understand. He had walked before me. And your book really opened my eyes and gave me language to understand what at the time felt weird or confusing but helped me understand what somehow I knew in my body before my brain was ready to admit it or my mouth was able to say the words, was that there was a lot of abuse of power going on. And so my husband and I, as we were touring around Scotland for our 25th wedding anniversary, which just within days of this announcement happening, we went to Church of the Holy Root up in Sterling where King James had his coronation. I guess he was like ten months old when he had his coronation as a baby.::
But they have under the case, they have a King James Bible, and the ladies that give the tour told us his mother, Mary, Queen of Scots, was not allowed to be there. So I'm already thinking, mommy issues and poor baby, right? But also when he chose to translate. I mean, I'd already read Dr. Beth Allison Burr's book, Making a Biblical Womanhood.::
I've read quite a bit about this over the years, the ways that he chose to translate certain words, even in Genesis. I know that your translation is in the New Testament that we're talking about, but even words in Genesis that were chosen about women and Ezra connecto being translated like, what is a help me? I don't even know what that means. But there's these words, right? A piece of meat.::
I don't know. But there's words that have done harm to women and men over the years. Because of the ways that words were chosen. And I think that it was very obvious to me with all the power dynamics of that church and all that it meant for a king to be involved in a translation of the Bible and choices he made to keep his subject subdued. How do you feel like the role of power dynamics needs to be addressed better in our conversations in church in general?::
Well, yes. Now, when you were talking about pyro dynamics, I got to thinking there's a Greek word in the New Testament, Andrea. And if I would have followed my theory totally consistently, which I did, I never felt I had to, but I wanted to try as much as possible. I would have translated this word manly, feel manly. But most translations have the word courage.::
And Beth Alzembar actually wrote me. She said, Scott, I think you're the only translator of the New Testament who could get by with using the word manly there because everybody would know you don't mean what they think it means. But what happens if you do translate that as manly is that it becomes that men are the ones who have courage and can act manly. So a man becomes the paradigm for the virtue, and women have to succumb to the manliness of being manly. So that right there illustrates the issue, is that power is in the hands in the United States of men who are white, who are educated, tall and handsome and have a heritage of being able to be in the groups that are going to make the decisions.::
I'm reading Josephus right now, and all of Herod's kids are in the right family, except that Herod is a murderous father. So they're not in the right family, but if you're in the right family. So I believe that power has been culturally scripted in evangelical churches to favor men and to favor certain kinds of behavior that I don't believe are necessarily manish but have become manish. So I'll try to get out of that circle a little bit, and I think that we can reduce this to four prepositions about the power dynamic. In a church, the most dangerous form of power is power over, which is connected to the idea of domination.::
And this is when someone says to you, I'm going to do this because I can and because I want to, and I don't care what it does to your life. And a lot of church leaders do this when they're put on the spot or when they're exposed for having done something wrong rather than the humility to listen. So the power over is the most corrupted form of power, and it is everywhere in the. Roman Empire in the first century. And it is almost everywhere in sports, it is almost everywhere in the business world and there is way too much of it in the church.::
Power over a second characteristic. And this is sort of the neutral understanding of power and that is the power to influence. So it's the power two instead of power over, it's power two. And I have the power right now to turn off my computer. I can do that if I want.::
And you have the power to silence me and to edit this thing so that what I say can be silenced. That's the power to influence. And we all have this in our families, we have this in our neighborhoods, in our churches. I have this as a teacher. I have the power to grade A student in a retaliatory way.::
I have the power to do that. But I also have the power to influence students. And if I begin to think in terms of influence, it shifts me away from power over to power to do something constructive and positive. Now I think it starts to get to be a radical move in Christianity when the third kind of power shows up. The power with, which is the ability or the willingness on the part of someone with power to share power with someone else, to work with them in order that they can come up with a mutually agreeable product or result or platform or speech or book.::
And when I wrote the book on Revelation with Cody Matchett, we work together and sometimes he'd write something and I'd think, okay, that's Cody's Mind and he's a co author. He gets to say things like this. And I wouldn't say it quite the same way, but I also say things that he wouldn't say. Now, the power there was asymmetrical because well, I'm almost 70 and he's probably about 30 or something like that or 35 and he doesn't have a PhD. And he doesn't have a job like that of a professor, but he's a very talented young man.::
So that's the power with. And I think there's a lot of power with where Paul calls so many people his coworkers and the Greek word sun ergos that word sun at the beginning is this withness. He worked with Paul. They worked with Paul. They weren't under Paul, they worked with him.::
Now, he seemed to be the boss in some ways, but that is a really dynamic word in Paul. And the final one is power four. So power over power two, power with and power four. And that is to use our power for the good of someone else. Jesus said that he did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many.::
It is when we take our platforms, our power, our circumscribed authority and hand it over to someone else to use for their giftedness and for what they can bring to the discussion or that they can contribute. That's where the power dynamic in churches needs to start. Moving away from power over and away from the neutral sense of power too, toward a more Christian sense of sharing power and using our power. The good of other people. Yes, if you're a leader of a you have responsibility.::
You have responsibility to make decisions and not everybody's going to agree with that. And we don't always have to share the decision time. Sometimes that I'm a professor and I have to make a decision about whether this student is going to get this grade or that grade. And I don't call the student in to say, now what grade would you like to have? It's not a shared discussion.::
But by and large, Christians are so unattached to power over that they favor sharing power and using their power for the good of another. And that's where I think churches can really make a change.::
Yeah, the power of giving power away, I mean, that's kind of Jesus in a nutshell. If we could just summarize his life and what he was doing and understand the pattern of how he was interacting with women and people who were marginalized and being intentional in that way. And I just want to say I've seen you do that. I mean, you had definitely done that with me. You didn't know me from anyone else other than we had a podcast interview before, but you walked with me behind the scenes emails back and forth and praying for me and my family when we went through a difficult time calling out spiritual abuse that we ourselves had faced at the hands of a megachurch pastor who ended up, a year later, getting even more power over more people.::
And at this point, we have so many mutual friends that have also walked through things and helped us. But just thank you for using your power in this way. And I know that recently there's been a lot going on at Northern Seminary too. And just by being a professor there, there's a lot of fallout when something as big as a president being asked to step down happens. And so you're in a space where it's happening in real time.::
At your seminary, you've walked through multiple situations and churches with Willow Creek and then you've had more than one round with this. So for people who are listening, what do you tell someone who is either experiencing spiritual abuse or has someone they know that is experiencing it? What is some of the first piece of advice you would give someone as they're just realizing that?::
That's a lot.::
I learned something from Diane Langberg, and I don't remember if it was in the conversation we had with her on the blog or on the podcast or just in a book, but basically she said, don't go public. I'm going to summarize this. Don't go public until you're in a healthy enough place to take what happens when you do go public. And when she said that, I thought, wow, that is so true, because, Lori, you've experienced this.::
I haven't experienced this, really, other than students don't like things that you say and people criticize you here and there on the Internet stuff. I mean, that's part of the game that I play. But most people who call out spiritual abuse suffer more from the secondary trauma of people going after them afterwards than they do from the initial trauma itself. And this is something that Chris and I and Laura have advised people over and over and over. We're dealing right now with a young woman who has called out a pastor.::
And when she first wrote me, I said, well, you need to understand what's going to happen when you go public with this is people are going to hate you. You're going to lose your friends, you could lose your job at the school where you are. It's going to be difficult. It's going to be very difficult. So I would say, first of all, get yourself in a position of being healthy enough to realize that it's going to come at you in an even more ferocious way because you've gone public than because you originally went public.::
The second thing is surround yourself with friends who completely understand your story and who can be your advocates and guides as you go through these things, because without that, I don't think most people could survive the scrutiny and the intensity of the blowback. And then this is something that I don't think all the traumatized people in the world would agree with. But because I teach at a school, I think I lean a little bit in this direction. Follow the protocols or the guidelines of the school or your institution for, let's say, reporting abuse as much as possible. The first thing to do is don't go to Twitter.::
People who go to Twitter first are going to jeopardize the situation more than they're actually going to help it. But, like, if your school or your church has a whistleblower policy, follow it. Now, most don't, most don't want this because it creates a sense of independent judgment that the people in power don't want. But there could be a human resources department that you could report to. There could be some kind of committee that you could report to, but the closer they are to the people who are the perpetrators or the ones that you're concerned about, it really jeopardizes honesty and truthfulness.::
So I would say follow the pattern. And then I would say, fourth, you're going to have to develop a powerful sense of patience and resilience because it's not going to happen overnight, and it's going to be one frustrating decision after another. It can go on for years for some people to deal with these situations, and you could lose your job, you could lose your friends, you could lose your church, your school, your workplace, but I would say just don't go in it thinking that I'm going to go in. I'm going to tell this deacon and this deacon and I, or this elder and I are going to go and talk to pastor. We're going to confront the pastor.::
He's going to repent and change. Okay. In the first year that Laura and I wrote our book, church Called Tove, we heard for 1516 months between three and five stories a week. Okay?::
I know. I don't remember any story where a person went in and confronted the pastor and the pastor repented and changed and transformed and apologized and made the situation right. I don't remember that happening now. I think there are some pastors who say they did, but that's a bunch of baloney in most cases. So you're just going to have to deal with setbacks, blowbacks, pushbacks, and you're going to have to have patience and it's going to be harder than the original abuse was.::
Yeah, for most people, that's true in our story. We obviously called it out. We got fired for that. It was retaliation, one of the most illegal forms in California. Even now.::
It's interesting because I work in tech and leadership and development for a pretty large global tech company. And so I'm having calls with people in the UK about to travel there soon. And we have locations in Taiwan and China. It's very diverse and everything, but we are very strong in our company on a no retaliation policy. Even with our survey we did, we don't even allow the people to see the comments that might retaliate against them because we want people to feel free to share any power dynamic that might be inappropriate.::
And we have to watch these trainings where you can't retaliate by demoting someone, giving them less work. And the most extreme version of that would be to fire someone for saying something. And yet our church got away with it. That church is still going. The person who did that is now leading that church.::
And the other abuser of these two guys is now leading one of the largest evangelical churches in the US. Here in California, in Saddleback. And it's interesting how retaliation just gets so glossed over. And it's sad because as we're talking. About the scripture and talking about how.::
Important words are, it's so important to be good listeners and care for one. Another in the church. And I just want to say thank you for taking the time to dig deep into Greek words culture and help us exegeute this a little bit better by helping it sound like something less familiar in a way that can help us really dig deeper. I think so often people don't dig deep and that's why abuse gets covered up. That's why power dynamics stay, because we.::
Just take things at face value. And you're asking us to just go a little deeper even with the scriptures that we read. So thank you for this work. I know it must have taken many. Hours to make, and so we're so.::
Grateful for your work on this, but. It'S so difficult to go public because there's just clouds of power against you all the time when you when you start doing it, and it's you can study and you can figure out and you say, you know, that was abuse. And they'll say, no, it was leadership. And they have the power to be able to narrate the story. And you as a victim, whoever we're talking about doesn't have the power to narrate that story.::
Someone else gets to tell the story and they get to gloss over it and they use their words to victimize. revictimize.::
Clearly, for me, the most demanding and difficult thing I've done in my entire life working in the church is to realize how difficult it is for lots of church leaders and pastors simply to admit the truth.::
So sad, because the truth sets us free. Isn't that the whole thing? Yeah, exactly. Well, thank you so much for your work. I do want to ask you to.::
Hang out a little bit longer for our patreon supporters to do one more question with them, but we'll go ahead. And finish out this interview. If you're not in our patreon community, please join. But I just want to thank you for joining us today, Scott. You are just not only a scholar that we can trust because we know that you're going to dig into the Greek words and help us understand them.::
But we also know you as a person in the survivor community, as somebody who does actually pastoral care very well and caring for us. I just say thank you on behalf of all of us in the survivor community and for me and my family. And all that you've done for us. To pray for us and engage with. Us throughout the past couple of years.::
Well, thank you. Great to see you again. Great to see you too, Scott. Take care. Bye.::
Well, as always, Scott McKnight gives us so much to think about. He's talking about power in the church. He's talking about what it means to pastor. He's talking about how to exegeute Scripture in a way that's honest and truthful and curious, and it's not just one dimensional, but it helps us understand all of the nuance that would have existed. And the way he's translated this new translation, the Second Testament.::
I'm really looking forward to reading the whole thing and I hope that you get your hands on it too, and I would love to hear how you're processing it. It's going to feel, I think, as I read through it, more than just the parts that I've read, reading something for the first time that I've known for a long time, and I'm excited about that. And so I encourage each of you to order one, we'll put a link in the show notes. And then also I just really want to camp out a little bit on the conversation he had around power in the church and that there's different types of power and the way we use it, we have a couple of choices. When we have power, it's to use it to benefit others, for others to flourish, including ourselves, or it could be used to cause harm.::
We can abuse it and there's powering over and we know that. The scriptures tell us jesus himself said we're not to lord over. And yet, constantly, we're seeing time and time again how too many churches, here in the United States especially, are coming out with stories about pastors church leaders abusing their power, even with some of the most vulnerable among us, such as children or people without a voice, people without any position of power or a much lower position of power within a church hierarchy, structure. And this just should not be. And so I just want to encourage each of you to continue to follow Dr.::
Scott McKnight's writing. Like I said, he's constantly writing. He has a substat newsletter, he'll review other books, he will elevate the voices of other authors, especially women. He's been a great proponent of other women scholars, even just survivors voices in the community. He definitely is the kind of person who sees the power of giving power away.::
And ultimately I believe this is the way of Jesus, somebody who can philippians too right? The Kenosis passage did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but took a form of a servant and laid his power down, laid his privilege down in order to elevate others and elevate us. And we have benefited from the work of Jesus teaching people in 2000 years ago how to do that. And we who claim to follow Jesus today certainly should be continuing that way of living this life and using power. And so yes, like I said, continue to follow Dr.::
Scott McKnight's work. Please let us know if you're reading the Second Testament and come join us on our socials to. Let us know you can send me a tweet on Twitter and tag me and say what you thought or tag our podcast name. We also will be discussing this in our patreon community. As always, we have a little extra exclusive interview with Dr.::
Scott McKnight where we got to ask him a little bit more deeper on some of the things we talked about today. So join us there for an exclusive interview on our patreon community. And I just want to leave us with a call to action today. Scott McKnight has been the kind of professor, scholar, he studied Jesus in the New Testament for years and written on this and taught and taught about this. But I just want to leave us with a call to action today, which is to do as Dr.::
Scott McKnight was talking about and learn how to understand power and the power that we hold and make a choice to use it for the good of others. And just like in a church called Tove, tove being the Hebrew word for good, we can use our power in ways that are tove, especially with the vulnerable among us. And I would encourage us specifically to find people who are survivors of abuse in all its forms, whether it's spiritual abuse or emotional abuse or verbal, psychological, financial, sexual, physical, any labor abuse, that we will find somebody and just listen to their story and find a way to support them and use our power to help them in some way with sensitivity, with allowing them to be the one to guide in what they do and don't want and just giving power away however we can. I think that Dr. Scott McKnight, as he said he was reluctant to come into the survivor community, didn't want his life to be known for this and he's certainly known for many other things.::
But I think many of you who listen to this podcast are in the survivor community and know and appreciate his posture toward many of us. And so, yeah, let's have that as a call to action today, that we find somebody, whether it's through Twitter, whether it's reading a book by somebody who's a survivor, watching a movie about somebody who survived abuse, but somehow listening to their story and finding a way to use your power to help bless them and elevate their voice or whatever it is that you feel led to do. To use your power for good with them. And like I said, to let them lead the way if you approach them personally, because that's always key with survivors, that they have had so much taken from them where they had no control. But when it comes to sharing their story and how they share and how they move forward, we want to center them and what works best for them.::
And Dr. Scott McKnight has certainly had that approach both with me and many other survivors in the survivor community. So would love to know how that call to action is going for you and that we can make a difference with each other in this community in ways that would honor the writing that Dr. Scott McKnight and Laura behringer put into the book, a church called Tove. And the next one they have coming out, which we'll certainly have them back on the podcast talking about that.::
But in the meantime, like I said, pick up Second Testament, read it, let us know how you're processing this ancient text that suddenly doesn't feel as familiar as it has before and how you're reacting to that and if it's causing you any curiosity. And in the meantime, as always, thank you, difference makers, for all that you are doing around the world to make this world a better place and keep making a difference, wherever you are. We'll talk again next week. Bye.