the weblog of Alan Knox

Clergy bias in NT translations

Posted by on Aug 23, 2008 in blog links, elders, office, scripture | 8 comments

Is there a clergy bias in our NT translations? That’s one question that Suzanne at “Better Bibles Blog” considers in her post “The Apostle Titus” where she consideres the Greek term ἀπόστολος (apostolos) in 2 Corinthians 8:23 –

As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker for your benefit. And as for our brothers, they are messengers (ἀπόστολοιapostoloi) of the churches, the glory of Christ. (2 Corinthians 8:23 ESV)

None of the English translations that I checked (except for Young’s Literal Translation), translates ἀπόστολος (apostolos) as “apostle”. Of course, “messenger” is a valid translation, as is “representative” – which would probably tell us what the original authors means by the term “apostle”.

This is how Suzanne concludes her short post:

Bill now wants to know, “In short: is there a clergy-bias in our NT translation? And more importantly, when will it end?”

IMO there is bias regarding the use of words like “those who rule” “bishop” “church” and so on, so yes there could well be bias here.

I agree with Suzanne. There is a clergy bias in our NT translations. Do you agree? If so, what do we do about it?


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 8-23-2008

    Teach basic Greek to the laypeople maybe?

  2. 8-23-2008

    I think there is definitely a clergy and institutional bias in NT translations. I read “The Great Ecclesiastical Conspiracy” online not too long ago. I was amazed. I can’t say that I agree with everything it said. But it does point to some very strong evidence that there may have been an intentional bias in NT translation of the Bible.

  3. 8-23-2008


    Most people don’t know Koine Greek or Biblical Hebrew – so they may be in a better position than we are because they are forced to rely entirely on the Holy Spirit.

    I also feel like we should have higher expectations from “bible translators” but that will probably never happen. And perhaps we should offer Greek and Hebrew classes to non-seminarians.

    But mostly I feel like someone with greater faith than I would have less of a problem with the bad English translations than I.


    Perhaps we should quit using words like “laypeople” too :).

    God’s Glory,

  4. 8-23-2008


    Good idea.


    I haven’t heard of “The Great Ecclesiastical Conspiracy”… I’ll look into it.


    People are forced to rely on the Holy Spirit? I thought they were forced to rely on those of us who know Greek and Hebrew… :)


  5. 8-24-2008

    Alan, you have made a very sweeping charge against many people.

    Can you explain how it is biased toward having clergy to not call Titus an Apostle and not use the term messenger? I am not clear on the connection.

    Can you also explain to me why the hundreds of translators have this bias you are convinced beyond any reason is true? Most are translators Greek teachers and professors, like yourself, so what is the foundation for their bias?

  6. 8-24-2008

    Joe (J.R.),

    I was hoping that someone would ask why I think there is clergy bias in English translations of the NT. I’ve already started working on a post to answer that question. I haven’t finished the post, so I’m not sure when I will publish it – probably late this week or early next week.


  7. 8-24-2008

    You can always count on me to ask the right question brother :-)

    I look forward to your post my friend.

  8. 8-27-2008

    Alan if this is true then we can see this manifested in a lot of the churches today.