August 23, 2008

Titus & Epaphroditus

On Monday, over at the Better Bibles Blog, David Ker asked for debate-worthy questions from the BBB audience about Bible translation issues. So I responded:
How come Paul gets to be a "minister" and us regular peons are always "servants" or "deacons"? How come no major translations are willing to call Titus & Epaphroditus "Apostles"? (2Cor.8:23 & Php.2:25) How come Paul "preached" all night in Troas, when the Greek word means "held dialogue"? In short: is there a clergy-bias in our NT translation? And more importantly, when will it end?
Later I added,
I'll withdraw and revise that final question, because I'm honestly looking for some help here. Whether or not those things are examples of what I call "clergy bias", how do bible translation teams actually justify such decisions? Is it tradition? Or do they have some specific reasoning to support the decision?
Now this morning, I'm thrilled to discover two worthy responses considering the verses I cited about Titus & Epaphroditus. First, Suzanne McCarthy expanded the data significantly. Then, Mike Sangrey offered strong theological opinions about studying the word "apostle".

I dearly hope this conversation keeps on growing! Update: Doug Chaplin, the admirable anglican, points out tonight that words aren't quite as tame as some might like. :)

Full Disclosure: My dog in this fight is in the area of church practice. Regular readers know I'm not dogmatic about it, but I think brave participants in "experimental forms of church life" deserve to claim a biblical basis for the extension of extra-local, intenerant church workers beyond the days of Paul and the Twelve. I wouldn't say everyone needs to be doing it, but I wish more would try, because those who are trying it now seem to have lost much of the art - and I think much remains there worth regaining...


Richard Fellows said...


I think the "apostles" in 2 Cor 8:23 refers to the two anonymous brothers, not to Titus.

Bill Heroman said...

I think it includes both Titus and those brothers. But I personally believe those "anonymous" brothers are listed in acts 20:2, Paul's trainees from Tyrannus' school. And no, I don't think they're just money carriers.

Whoever they were, they were Macedonian. Paul sent that letter down to Corinth in November/December '56, just before he went down himself. Titus needed native guides to take him up the steps of Alexander around Mt. Olympus and through the other passes.

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