ARTICLES

Volume 45 - Issue 1

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On Words, Meaning, Inspiration, and Translation: A Brief Response to Bill Mounce

By Dane Ortlund

Abstract

This article is a brief response to Bill Mounce’s recent Themelios essay in which he argues that functional equivalence translations such as the NIV are the most effective approach to Bible translation as they carry over the meaning of the original text. I offer some clarifying remarks and reflect on three areas of disagreement: the usefulness of “literal” as a label, the relationship between words and meaning, and, most significantly, the nature of the divine inspiration of the Bible.

I am deeply grateful for the life and ministry of Bill Mounce. His Greek grammar was my introduction to biblical Greek as a sophomore at Wheaton College in 1998, and after using others over the years I still commend his as the best by far.1 I am also thankful for his work with Crossway and the English Standard Version Translation Oversight Committee in the early years of the ESV, as well as his support of the Tyndale House Greek New Testament that Crossway has published.2 So this brief interaction with him on Bible translation is offered out of a personal context of respect and gratitude.

In a recent Themelios article3 Mounce considers the relationship between an evangelical view of inspiration and translation theory, and in the course of the article favors a “functional equivalence” translation philosophy as opposed to formal equivalence.4 As someone committed to the translation philosophy he critiques, perhaps it would be useful to Themelios readers for me to offer a brief response. In this short reflection I’ll sketch out a handful of areas of agreement and then three points of disagreement. I won’t engage all the issues relevant to this discussion but only a few that Mounce raises in his essay.

1. Areas of Agreement

There are many points on which it is easy to affirm agreement with Mounce. First, we agree that the goal of translation is to carry over the meaning of the original text. I further agree that if each word is mechanically carried over in a wooden, literalistic way, meaning is inhibited, not gained (versions such as the 1901 American Standard Version lie open to such a critique). I would create a tighter bond between the meaning and the actual words used in the original text, viewing accuracy of meaning as more closely tied to transparency to the original words, but we both agree on that ultimate goal.

Second, we both agree that while the exact syntax of neither Semitic languages nor Greek can be cleanly carried over into English, we each “favor syntactic correspondence when it accurately conveys meaning.”5 It is a little surprising to me that Mounce affirms this, given his prevailing concern to argue that it is purely the meaning and not the words themselves that translators should capture.

Third, I agree with Mounce’s observation, “No translation explicitly translates every word.”6 That is true for even the most literal translation. In the Old Testament a sentence such as “I am Joseph” is communicated simply as אֲנִי יֹוסֵף, “I—Joseph” (Gen 45:3). Every sensible translator, of whatever translation philosophy stripe, will add “am” in such cases. To do so is not to move away from a “word-for-word” translation. It is simply to use sensical English. In the New Testament, the common little word μέν is an affirmative particle that tends to function as a marker of correlation; sometimes “indeed” captures it, but other times it would be more disruptive than helpful to try to explicitly capture it with a corresponding single English word (sometimes it is best represented with an exclamation point at the end of the sentence). A “word-for-word” or “essentially literal” translation philosophy strives to represent each word in the original as transparently as possible—a very different ambition than seeking to mechanically give one English word for each word in the original.7

Fourth, I agree that “the doctrine of inspiration extends only to the autographs; no translation is inspired.”8 I do believe that to the degree we hear a faithful rendering in a non-original language, to that degree we are hearing the very Word of God. But it is only the original texts in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek that receive the full weight of what the doctrine of divine inspiration is seeking to guard.

Where else do Bill Mounce and I agree? On about a thousand evangelical truths not raised in either his article or mine, but which should not be forgotten in exchanges such as this one.

2. Areas of Disagreement

On a handful of fronts it may be useful to engage Mounce with regard to “essentially literal” translation theory, at least for clarification and at most for disagreement. I’ll mention three areas: the origin and validity of “literal” as a category for understanding translation, the relationship between words and meaning, and verbal inspiration.

2.1. “Literal” Translation

First, Mounce states, “The ESV marketers have invented a category called ‘essentially literal.’”9 Whether one agrees with this translation philosophy or not, it is not true that those associated with the ESV, whether its marketers or otherwise, created this nomenclature. In the Preface to the 1989 NRSV, for example, Bruce Metzger, writing on behalf of the NRSV committee, explains that the committee “followed the maxim, ‘As literal as possible, as free as necessary.’ As a consequence, the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) remains essentially a literal translation. Paraphrastic renderings have been adopted only sparingly, and then chiefly to compensate for a deficiency in the English language.”10 Some translators in recent years have gotten squeamish about the word “literal,” but they need not. It is a perfectly serviceable word. Barr’s cautions were salutary 40 years ago, clarifying that “literal” and “free” as descriptors of Bible translation need qualification and care as they are used.11 But the category “literal” is not useless. In any case, when paired with the adverb “essentially” it should be clear to any reasonable mind that what such a translation philosophy is seeking to do is be as transparent as possible to the original.12

That word “transparent” may be worth lingering over for a moment. The term “literal” has indeed become polarizing in discussions of translation philosophy, though I do not think it is as fraught with peril as some, including Mounce, suggest. In any case, I commend the category of transparency alongside that of literalness. What the ESV and similar translations are seeking to do is to use English in as transparent a degree to the original as possible, in elegant, sensical English. I am not myself willing to jettison “literal” as a meaningful category for understanding translation. But if it would retain what is meant by “literal” or “essentially literal” without the unhelpful associations some have with the language of literalness, I suspect transparency may be an equally fruitful label for what a translation such as the RSV or ESV is seeking to do. Such striving to be as “literal” as possible is an effort to be maximally transparent. We want the English text to be a thin veil, not a thick one, to the original text—like clean glass, not fogged up glass. We want to get that 99 percent of the church who will never learn the original languages as close to the inspired text as we possibly can. There will always be some amount of fog, of course. Mounce and I agree on this. Translation is never a mechanical one-to-one kind of exercise. But my preference for essentially literal translation is simply a desire for our English Bibles to minimize the fog as much as possible.

Indeed, this is what Bible translators have long been seeking to do, going all the way back to Aquila, whose translation of the Old Testament from Hebrew into Greek was maximally transparent (sometimes to the point of creating unnatural Greek syntax). Theodotion was not as excessively literal as Aquila, and Symmachus even less so, though even Symmachus would be classed as an “essentially literal” or “word-for-word” translation under today’s nomenclature. All three strove for transparency to the Hebrew Vorlage. Similarly, Jerome’s operating principle in Bible translation was to labor toward rendering word-for-word as much as possible from the original text into Latin. Jerome allowed more paraphrastic liberties with non-biblical texts, but not for the Bible13—which simply underscores his own reverence for carrying over the very words of the Scripture as transparently as possible. The creation of functional equivalent translations in the middle of the twentieth century is a novel introduction in the long history, stretching across thousands of years, of Bible translation.

In his recent fascinating reflection on Bible translation (mainly from a Hebrew-to-English perspective), Robert Alter not only retains the language of literalness but commends the King James translators as operating with an “inspired literalism.” By this he is not referring to the doctrine of divine inspiration but the way that “the seventeenth-century translators worked with the theological conviction that every word of the Bible was revealed to humankind by God and that one didn’t play games with God’s words.”14 This conviction carries forward to the present day in the recently published translation by John Goldingay, who takes a word-for-word approach in his rendering of the Old Testament.15

My first clarification, then, is that the nomenclature “essentially literal” is not new to the ESV; and whatever the chronology of labeling, the actual practice of this kind of Bible translation has venerable, ancient pedigree.

2.2. Words and Meaning

A second area needing clarification is the relationship between words and meaning. Mounce argues that “all true translations are meaning-based, not word-based.”16 Ought we really to erect a stark either/or here? Is not a faithful translation seeking to carry over the meaning of the original, doing so attentive to each and every actual word in the original, as the way in which meaning is most accurately and comprehensively mediated from source language to target language? Later he reiterates, “There is a sliding scale, and some translations lean more toward the word side (formal equivalent) and others lean more toward the meaning side (functional equivalent).”17 But it is simplistic to view words and meaning as either ends of a scale, one rising as the other falls, because carrying over the words as precisely as possible often rises and falls with sharpness of meaning. Again: “all true translations ultimately translate meaning, not just the words.”18 Well, yes, of course—but naturally the meaning is found in the words, so this way of framing the relationship between meaning and words unhelpfully bifurcates the two. Translating with maximal attentiveness to the actual words of the original does not sacrifice meaning; it preserves meaning.

An example that may help flesh out the difference I have with Mounce is in the example he raises from Acts 11:22. Many in Antioch are turning to the Lord, and the Greek text says ἠκούσθη δὲ ὁ λόγος εἰς τὰ ὦτα τῆς ἐκκλησίας τῆς οὔσης ἐν Ἱερουσαλήμ, which the ESV renders as “The report of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem.” Mounce notes that the NASB and ESV have “the ears” for τὰ ὦτα, whereas the NIV says “news of this reached the church in Jerusalem.” He commends the NIV: “The leaders of the church in Jerusalem heard about God’s activity in Antioch. That’s what the Greek means. That’s what God inspired.”19 Mounce thus contends that it is meaning that God inspires, not specific words.

But consider what is lost by blinding the English reader to the use of the Greek word for “ears.” First, something of the sheer vividness of the text is diluted—the earthiness, the concreteness, the colorfulness of the text.

Second, and with more significant implications, by omitting any explicit reference to the ears of those in Jerusalem, readers are blinded to any possible connections with other references to ears in Acts or elsewhere in the Bible. As it turns out, οὖς (ear) appears five times in Acts. The other four are not merely bland references to physical ears but spiritually and theologically loaded uses: Stephen refers to his hostile opponents as “uncircumcised in heart and ears” who “stop up their ears” (7:51, 57), and Paul cites Isaiah 6:9–10—“with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed; lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears”—to express the spiritual apprehension of his hearers (Acts 28:26–27). Might Luke wish us to see the Jerusalem hearers as successfully doing what Stephen’s opponents did not, about which Isaiah prophesied of old? I am not myself certain that this is a meaningful connection, but that is beside the point; based on Mounce’s translation principles, the English reader is never allowed even to consider the possibility due to the loss of literary concordance.20 Whatever the meaning and significance of these other four instances of οὖς, any possibility of a Lukan connection between these various uses of ear-language is eliminated by translating Acts 11:22 as news simply being “heard” or any other equally colloquial equivalent that loses explicit ear-language. Not only does Mounce think “heard” sufficiently translates the text, he thinks that what is inspired by God is the notion that the report was heard, but not the words communicating that notion. I disagree with the first and am astonished at the second. We will return to the nature of inspiration more fully below.

However we may wish to handle Acts 11:22, there is a broader, global danger in functional equivalence that Mounce does not acknowledge. To the degree that a translator focuses on “meaning” without a corresponding striving to carry over the actual words that convey that meaning, to that degree the translator is doing more interpreting in the translation. To be sure, all translation necessitates some degree of interpretation. But the more we focus on transparency to the original, the less risk we run of unwittingly importing our own erroneous interpretation of what the text means. It is the job of the pastor, teacher, author, commentator, and indeed every studious Christian to interpret the text. It is the job of the translator to translate the text. “The words of the Bible should be conveyed,” as Alter puts it, “not explained.”21

I might note in passing that at times Mounce reveals that he does in fact see the superiority of translating as transparently as possible. Why, for example, does he prefer “walk” to “live” when translating περιπατέω?22 Why should a functional equivalent translation “try to honor the structure of the original if possible”?23 Why does he prefer English syntax that reflects the original syntax as much as possible?24 If he were consistent to his own principles, he would not have these preferences, since the original words and the original word order would not need to be reflected, but only and simply the final meaning of the text.

2.3. Verbal Inspiration

The third and weightiest matter to engage is that of inspiration, especially verbal inspiration. It is here that I find Mounce’s article most surprising.

Mounce contends we should not define inspiration more precisely than the Bible does; and since the Bible does not itself extend the doctrine of inspiration to the actual words of Scripture, neither should our doctrine of inspiration. He writes, “The idea that God determined every single word and every grammatical construction simply goes beyond what Scripture says about itself, and we should be cautious at being more specific than Scripture is.”25 I appreciate the heart behind what Mounce says. He wants us to be in sync with how the Scripture itself speaks of itself. But there are at least two problems with this.

The first difficulty, briefly, is that there are many points of doctrine where we rightly formulate healthy teaching by reasonable deductions based on the whole of Scripture, even if we cannot put an exact chapter and verse to the doctrine that spell it out as explicitly as the creedal formulation. The doctrine of the Trinity is a clear case of this—nowhere spelled out as explicitly as the first half of the Athanasian Creed, but everywhere in Scripture assumed, an assumption so pervasive and ringing that one cannot deny the doctrine of the Trinity without denying the Scripture itself. The doctrine of inspiration is similarly a faithful deduction from a constellation of Bible texts, which brings us to the next problem.

The second problem with Mounce’s claim that the Bible does not itself define inspiration down to the level of the original wording—and this is worth reflecting on at a little more length—is that Mounce does not with sufficient comprehensiveness reflect the ways the Bible actually speaks of itself. He writes: “Second Timothy 3:16 defines ‘inspiration’ as the doctrine that Scripture ultimately comes from God, that it is ‘God-breathed.’”26 Based on this definition of inspiration, Mounce goes on to say that “the idea that God determined every single word and every grammatical construction simply goes beyond what Scripture says about itself.”27 Rather, “every single statement and affirmation in Scripture is God-breathed.”28 Not the words, then, but the statements and affirmations are inspired.

But in fact the Bible does not simply say that “Scripture ultimately comes from God” but that “all Scripture is breathed out by God” (2 Tim 3:16). Would not “all” Scripture be naturally understood to include not only the “statements” and “affirmations” but the words that make up those statements and affirmations? How can the two be divorced? This would appear to be the case especially when one considers not only 2 Timothy 3:16 and 2 Peter 1:21 (which Mounce cites) but also texts such as Deuteronomy 8:3 or Matthew 4:4 (“every word”) or Matthew 5:18 (“not an iota, not a dot”) or Revelation 22:18–19 (“if anyone takes away from the words”), which underscore the significance of Scripture at the level of the individual words (and not merely at the level of statements or affirmations).29 To take the statements and affirmations as inspired but not the words is like saying we should be sure to enjoy the recipe while not worrying too much if we get the ingredients right. The recipe and the ingredients making up that recipe—the affirmations and the words making up those affirmations—are bound up with one another.

Mounce’s contention that the doctrine of inspiration does not reach to the level of the actual words of Scripture continues in his discussion of verbal inspiration.30 He disagrees with the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, which states that “Scripture and all its parts, down to the very words of the original, were given by divine inspiration” (article VI) and that “We deny that God, in causing these writers to use the very words that He chose, overrode their personalities” (article VIII). Mounce says he is “troubled” by these statements, asserting that this articulation of inspiration effectively collapses into the dictation theory.

Yet the Chicago Statement does not teach the dictation theory because the dictation theory suggests that God bypassed human agency in inspiring the biblical texts, whereas the Chicago Statement explicitly affirms that God inspired the text through meaningful human agency. I would appeal to the very notion of mystery that Mounce brings into his argument31 to assert both that God inspired the very words and also that the authors wrote out of their own personalities and available word banks (“concursus”). This is a both/and to understanding inspiration expressed with particular elegance by Bavinck.32 The church fathers often used the analogy of a musical instrument in speaking of the relationship between the divine and the human in Scripture, likening God to the musician and the human authors to the instrument: while each instrument sounds different (corresponding to different human personalities), God played the notes he wished to play (corresponding to the words of Scripture). Down through the corridors of church history, Warfield in particular has argued for the inspiring of the actual words of Scripture,33 though the church fathers had already said in essence what Warfield argued for at length.34 Packer fruitfully draws our attention to Jeremiah 1:9 to understand the doctrine of biblical inspiration.35 There God says to Jeremiah, “I have put my words in your mouth.” That captures the classic doctrine of inspiration: the “my” really meaning “my,” and the “your” really meaning “your.”

The example Mounce gives to make his point is from the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15. He asserts that God inspired Luke to communicate that the father hugged his son (Luke 15:20) but that God did not “inspire Luke to write specifically ἐπέπεσεν ἐπὶ τὸν τράχηλον αὐτοῦ.”36 This is puzzling indeed, coming as it does from a seasoned evangelical Bible scholar. It is difficult to understand what is meant by “inspiration” if all we are affirming is that God successfully communicated general notions through the biblical authors. Indeed, under Mounce’s framework, I am not sure why any pastor or student of the Bible would wish to learn the languages in the first place. If it is the meaning and not the words that are breathed out by God, why study at the level of the original words? It was Tregelles’s supreme commitment to verbal (and plenary) inspiration that impelled his own trailblazing work with the Greek New Testament.37 Is not a reverent desire to attend to the very words God has given us the driving reason that healthy church leaders continue to study the languages today?

In short, Mounce effectively denies verbal inspiration—or at least, he redefines and dilutes it, describing it simply as the belief that “the Bible is God’s revelation in human language.”38 But surely inspiration is a sharper doctrine than that. Or as Mounce defines verbal inspiration at the end of his essay: “Verbal inspiration requires us to believe that the words used by the human authors accurately reflect the mind of God”39—a different commitment than saying more precisely that the words the human authors used are in fact exactly what God wanted said at the level of the words themselves. Mounce’s definitions, true as they are in themselves, stop short of affirming the particular point verbal inspiration upholds. Verbal inspiration is the classic evangelical conviction that God inspired the very words of Scripture.

3. The Presenting Issue

The presenting matter of his essay is raised in the title of his essay: “Do formal equivalent translations reflect a higher view of plenary, verbal inspiration?” The question apparently is asking: Do formal equivalent (or as I prefer, maximally transparent) translations reflect a higher view of plenary, verbal inspiration than functional equivalent translations?

There are a few possible ways in which this question could be taken, and they need to be disentangled before proceeding. The question as posed may have in mind the translators and their own convictions about inspiration. Alternatively, the question may have in mind the translation itself. If the former is meant, I have no trouble affirming that those men and women I know personally who serve on translation committees for functional equivalent translations have as high a view of plenary, verbal inspiration as anyone I know. (I exclude Mounce from that assessment as it is not clear to me that he retains a meaningful commitment to verbal inspiration, as discussed above.)

But it is another question, a more complex question, if what is meant is whether one translation theory, and the translation it produces, reflects a higher view of verbal inspiration. I leave aside for now plenary inspiration, since it is easier to see that we all agree on the extent of inspiration. But what about verbal inspiration? To repeat the title of Mounce’s article: “Do Formal Equivalent Translations [not the translators but the translations they produce] Reflect a Higher View of Plenary, Verbal Inspiration?”

My answer is: no, not necessarily. There is not a one-to-one correspondence between verbal inspiration and any particular translation theory. Once again, for the sake of clarity: some of the most committed evangelical scholars, with supremely high views of verbal inspiration, are leaders in functional or dynamic equivalence translations. But the point I wish to make is that I do believe there is a more natural fittingness between verbal inspiration and a maximally transparent approach. To be sure, I fully acknowledge that at times a string of English words will be needed to effectively capture a corresponding Hebrew or Greek phrase, not one word of which will map on to any word in the original in a one-to-one way (μὴ γένοιτο is a good example). But I believe that a primary-use Bible should strive for as much of a word-for-word approach as possible, in elegant, sensical English. The reason is transparency. Such an approach gives English readers as sharp and clear a view as possible of what God himself says. It is the words and their corresponding meaning that is inspired, not the meaning at some distance from the words.

4. Conclusion

I close with a brief thought experiment. Imagine discovering a long lost love letter from your great-grandfather to your great-grandmother. It is written—I’ll use my own ethnic background for this example—in Swedish. The letter is filled with vivid imagery and earthy metaphors as the one professes love to the other. You don’t read Swedish, so you take it to a translator. How would you instruct it to be translated? If the letter refers to the loveliness of geographic features specific to Sweden in speaking of your great-grandmother’s beauty, would you want the translator to carry over only the meaning and not worry about the precise words, so that “Your loveliness rivals a cascading fjord” becomes “You are very beautiful”? Of course not. You would instruct the translator to give you, in good English, a maximally transparent rendering of the original, and then you would do whatever interpretive homework was necessary to figure out any obscure cultural references.

In any case, translation theory is not a one-dimensional matter. We all need continual sharpening in how to think about it comprehensively and faithfully. I am thankful to Bill Mounce for helping us to do that. The purpose of this article is to offer a few clarifications and cautious pushback for the sake of the Scripture that we all love and want to see held high and obeyed in our generation.


[1] Now in its fourth edition: William D. Mounce, Basics of Biblical Greek Grammar (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2019).

[2] Dirk Jongkind, ed., The Greek New Testament, Produced at Tyndale House, Cambridge (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2017).

[3] William D. Mounce, “Do Formal Equivalent Translations Reflect a Higher View of Plenary, Verbal Inspiration?,” Them 44 (2019): 477–86, https://tinyurl.com/r2auvyp.

[4] I prefer the designation “maximally transparent” to “formally equivalent,” as discussed below.

[5] Mounce, “Formal Equivalent Translations,” 485.

[6] Mounce, “Formal Equivalent Translations,” 480.

[7] Even in an interlinear one sees immediately many places where a word in the original text cannot be captured with a single corresponding English.

[8] Mounce, “Formal Equivalent Translations,” 481.

[9] Mounce, “Formal Equivalent Translations,” 478.

[10] Emphasis added.

[11] James Barr, The Typology of Literalism in Ancient Biblical Translations, MSU 15 (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1979).

[12] A little after mentioning “ESV marketers” Mounce says, “Despite a translation team’s best intentions or a publisher’s marketing … no English translation translates every Greek word” (“Formal Equivalent Translations,” 479–80). If Mounce is alluding to Crossway here, as would seem to be the case since his last reference to marketing was to the ESV marketers, we should simply clarify that never has Crossway claimed that the ESV “translates every Greek word.” This is a straw man. An essentially literal translation labors to translate every word effectively, not every word mechanically. An example of a translation seeking to translate every word mechanically would be the Literal Standard Version, just releasing in 2020, which is a revision of Young’s Literal Version.

[13] Matthew A. Kraus, Jewish, Christian, and Classical Exegetical Traditions in Jerome’s Translation of the Book of Exodus (Leiden: Brill, 2017), 45–46. This distinction between sacred and non-sacred texts, translating the former as literally as possible and the latter being definably less concerned to do so, was reflected in the King James translators’ work (Adam Nicolson, God’s Secretaries: The Making of the King James Bible [New York: HarperCollins, 2003], 184).

[14] Robert Alter, The Art of Bible Translation (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2019), 3.

[15] John Goldingay, The First Testament: A New Translation (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2018), vii. Miles Van Pelt reflects on the degree of success with which Goldingay delivers on this goal of word-for-word translation in his review of The First Testament in Them 43 (2018): 454–59, https://tinyurl.com/wgtl42m.

[16] Mounce, “Formal Equivalent Translations,” 481.

[17] Mounce, “Formal Equivalent Translations,” 482.

[18] Mounce, “Formal Equivalent Translations,” 482.

[19] Mounce, “Formal Equivalent Translations,” 484, emphasis original.

[20] Goldingay labors to retain concordance in his fresh translation of the OT (First Testament, viii).

[21] Alter, Art of Bible Translation, 64.

[22] Mounce, “Formal Equivalent Translations,” 484.

[23] Mounce, “Formal Equivalent Translations,” 478.

[24] Mounce, “Formal Equivalent Translations,” 485.

[25] Mounce, “Formal Equivalent Translations,” 479.

[26] Mounce, “Formal Equivalent Translations,” 479.

[27] Mounce, “Formal Equivalent Translations,” 479.

[28] Mounce, “Formal Equivalent Translations,” 479.

[29] Strangely, Mounce goes on to affirm that “all of the Hebrew and Greek words are inspired.” But it is difficult to know what he means by this when he immediately re-affirms the prevailing contention of the essay, that it is going too far to see the Bible teaching “that God determined every single word and every grammatical construction” (“Formal Equivalent Translations,” 479).

[30] Mounce, “Formal Equivalent Translations,” 480–81.

[31] Mounce, “Formal Equivalent Translations,” 481.

[32] Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, ed. John Bolt, trans. John Vriend (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2003–2008), 1:433–42.

[33] Fred G. Zaspel, The Theology of B. B. Warfield: A Systematic Summary (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010), esp. 111–78.

[34] See e.g., Gerald Bray, God Has Spoken: A History of Christian Theology (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2014), 736–63.

[35] J. I. Packer, “The Adequacy of Human Language,” in Inerrancy, ed. Norman L. Geisler (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1980), 198. I am grateful to Justin Taylor for drawing my attention to this essay.

[36] Mounce, “Formal Equivalent Translations,” 481.

[37] Tregelles said, “I believe the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments to be verbally the Word of God, as absolutely as were the Ten Commandments written by the finger of God on the two tables of stone; and because I thus fully believe in its verbal inspiration, I judge that it is not labour ill bestowed to endeavor to search into the evidence which is obtainable as to what those words are” (Samuel Prideaux Tregelles, The Book of Revelation in Greek Edited from Ancient Authorities [London: Bagster, 1844], quoted in Timothy C. F. Stunt, The Life and Times of Samuel Prideaux Tregelles: A Forgotten Scholar [Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave MacMillan, 2019], 123).

[38] Mounce, “Formal Equivalent Translations,” 481.

[39] Mounce, “Formal Equivalent Translations,” 486.

Dane Ortlund

Dane Ortlund
Crossway
Wheaton, Illinois, USA

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