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Dallas Theological Seminary. Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) is a theologically conservative graduate level educational institution founded in 1924 by Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer to advance expository preaching and teaching of the Bible. DTS has maintained a commitment to the inerrancy of the Word of God. In 1935 the Seminary began its four-year Master of Theology (Th.M.) degree, which required an exposure to Old Testament Hebrew and New Testament Greek. In addition to Chafer, John F. Walvoord, Donald K. Campbell, and Charles Swindoll have served as presidents of the school. Mark Bailey assumed the mantle in 2001. DTS has been noted for its expository preachers and also for its literal hermeneutic, which has led to its strong defense of dispensational premillennialism. John F. Walvoord, Charles C. Ryrie, and J. Dwight Pentecost have been notable proponents of dispensationalism. Beginning in the 1980's, Darrell Bock, along with Craig Blaising and Robert Saucy, all graduates of DTS, developed Progressive Dispensationalism (PD). While PD may have contributed to a lively discussion within dispensational circles, and may have provided a limited fresh persective to Classic and Revised Dispensationalism, it compromised too much with Covenant Theology. This resulted in the untenable conclusion that Jesus is presently reigning as Messiah on the throne of David. He is not. He is presently seated at the right hand of the Father as Melchizedekan High Priest, not as King. The latter ministry awaits His return to earth. PD also has blurred distinctions between Israel and the Church. Darrell Bock is presently Research Professor of New Testament Studies and Professor of Spiritual Development and Culture at DTS. It goes without saying that Dallas Theological Seminary, in more ways than one, is not what it used to be. Speaking as an alumnus, in my judgment the changes have not all been beneficial.
Dative Case. In NT Greek, the case of the indirect object; or the case which indicates the means by which something is accomplished. It is used most often in one of three general categories: Indirect object, Instrument (means), or Location. (See Corey Keating's Greek Nouns (Shorter Definitions).) Two examples of the Indirect Object use of the Dative are to be found in Luke 2:14 (author's translation): "Glory in highest places to God and upon earth, peace among men, [objects of God's] good will." Both "God" and "men" appear in the Dative case as indirect objects of the understood verb, "Let there be." Two examples of the Instrumental use of the Dative can be found in Eph. 5:18, where Paul commanded his readers not to become drunk by means of wine (wine appears in the Dative), but to be filled by means of the Spirit ("Spirit" appears in the Dative). Location can mean a spatial location or a chronological location. Spatial Location: Jesus commanded his followers to be his witnesses in Jerusalem, all Judea, and Samaria. Each of these place names appear in the Dative case. Chronological Location: for example, Paul wrote in Eph. 1:21 of "this age," which appears in the Dative).
Davidic Covenant. When David wished to build Yahweh a house, meaning a temple (2 Sam. 7:1-3), Yahweh declined. Instead, Yahweh would build David a house, meaning a dynasty (2 Sam. 7:11). David's son (Solomon) would be the one who would build a house for Yahweh, and Yahweh would "establish the throne of his kingdom forever" (2 Sam. 7:12-13). Yahweh further promised to David, "Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever" (2 Sam. 7:16). The term covenant was not used in this discussion, but four times Ethan the Ezrahite labeled Yahweh's promise to David a covenant (Ps. 89:3, 28, 34, 39). The terms of the Davidic Covenant are outlined in 2 Samuel 7:12-16, 1 Chronicles 17:11-14, and Psalm 89:3-4, 27-29, 34-37. To the virgin Mary, the angel Gabriel revealed that she would bear a son to be named Jesus, and that God would give to Him "the throne of His father David;" that "He will reign over the house of Jacob forever," and that "His kingdom will have no end" (Luke 1:26-33). Clearly Jesus the Messiah is the One through whom the Davidic Covenant will be fulfilled. When Jesus returns to earth, He will establish His kingdom, and His reign will never end!
Day of Grace. The age in human history here on earth when God's grace is consummately on display in the person of Jesus Christ through the ministry of the Church, the Body of Christ. It is equally appropriate to refer to the "Age of Grace" or the "Dispensation of Grace." More specifically, the Day of Grace or Age of Grace is to be identified as the Church Age.
This era is known as a time or outworking of grace because it marks the era when God is especially extending grace to all of humanity. He sent His Son to be the Savior of the world (1 John 4:14). As the Jewish Messiah, He voluntarily surrendered His life to die on the cross at Calvary and pay for the sins of the entire world, even though most rejected Him. Jesus is God's Supreme expression of love for fallen humanity (1 John 4:10). Faith in Jesus Christ, God's sacrifice for sin, grants eternal life (John 3:16-18) and forgiveness of sin to all who believe (Acts 13:38-39). Jesus commissioned His followers to spread the message of grace and forgiveness to all of humanity (Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 1:8). This age has been continuing for 2000 years because God is patient, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9).
The Age of Grace is the time in history that began on the Day of Pentecost, when Jesus Christ sent the Holy Spirit to indwell those believing in Jesus as the Messiah (Acts 1:4-5, 8; 2:1-4). The Day of Grace will be terminated at the Rapture, the moment when Jesus returns to "snatch up" all those who believe in Him (1 Thess. 4:16, 17) and take them to heaven to the dwelling places He has prepared for them in "My Father's house" (John 14:2, 3).
Prior to the Age of Grace was the Age or Dispensation of Law, the age when God was especially working through the Nation of Israel and the Law of Moses, also called the Mosaic Covenant, and the Old Covenant. It is not as though there was no grace present during the time of the Law. God has always been gracious. But during this time God was implementing the Law through the Nation of Israel. In a very real sense, the Law was a Tutor or Schoolmaster to bring people to Christ (Gal. 3:24, 25). A significant description characterizing the Day of Grace is this: "For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ" (John 1:17).
A very brief time period, or way of God's dealing with the peoples of the earth, will occur after the Rapture. It will be the Dispensation of the Tribulation, a terrifying time of testing and trouble that will plague those who dwell upon the earth (Matt. 24:21; Rev. 3:10; Rev. 7:14), also known as "the wrath to come" (1 Thess. 1:10; 5:9), and as "the day of the Lord" (1 Thess. 5:2-3).
Jesus Christ will return in power and glory to inflict vengeance on all who do not obey His Good News (2 Thess. 1:6-9). He will purify the earth through judgments, and will set up His kingdom upon earth. Jesus will reign over all the earth (Zech. 14:9) from the Rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem (Isa. 2:1-4). There will be a thousand years of great peace (Isa. 9:6,7), justice (Isa. 11:1-5), harmony (Isa. 11:6-9) and spirituality (Isa. 11:9; Zech. 14:16-21). This will be the Dispensation of the Millennial Kingdom (Rev. 20:4-6).
Day of the LORD. A period of time when the LORD enters into human history in order to bring about terrible judgment upon man for his evil. There have been historical fulfillments of the Day of the LORD (Joel 1:1-2:25; Isaiah 13:1-22). These historical fulfillments use language that typifies yet future fulfillments more devastating in ferocity and scope. Those eschatological fulfillments will take place during the Tribulation (Isaiah 13:6-13; Ezek. 30:3; Obad. 1:15-16; Zeph. 1:14-18), at the Second Coming of Christ to Judge the Nations preparatory to setting up His global Kingdom (Joel 3:1-17; Zech. 14:1-15), and at the Destruction of the Existing Heavens and Earth preparatory to the Creation of the New Heavens and Earth (2 Pet. 3:10-13). For more on the Day of the LORD, go to The Day of the LORD Index Page.
Day-Age Theory. A non-literal hermeneutical stratagem to avoid the clear meaning of "day" (yom) in Genesis 1:1-2:3 in a failed attempt to harmonize the Biblical teaching of Creation with the Old-Earth implications of the theory of Evolution, which is based entirely upon an unprovable presumption of uniformitarian geology and astrophysics (with the exception of the Big Bang, of course). In the Day-Age Theory, the 24-hour days of Genesis 1:1-2:3 are re-interpreted as referring to long periods of time covering millions and even billions of years. The Day-Age Theory is a specific application of the Old-Earth dogma held by both Theistic Evolutionists, who support evolution, and Progressive Creationists, who oppose it.
Deacon. One of only two offices in the New Testament local church, the other being elder or overseer. The word deacon comes over into the English text untranslated from the Greek diakonos. A diakonos was a household servant, who was above a slave (doulos). Hence, a deacon was a servant in the church operating in an official capacity. It is important to distinguish between an official servant and a generic servant in the New Testament. Jesus, in effect, ordered us all to be servants (Mark 9:35), but not all who serve are church leaders. Acts 6:1-6 seems to be the origin of the office of deacon. The Greek widows complained that they were being discriminated against because of their ethnicity. The apostles had a clear mandate from the instructions and example of Jesus. Their job was not to serve tables, but to serve the Word. They asked the brothers to look for seven men who were above reproach and filled with the Holy Spirit. Presumably the Apostles reserved veto rights. The congregation complied, and seven Greek believers were chosen to assist in serving tables. The Apostles appointed these deacons to their ministry. The qualifications for deacons are given in 1 Tim. 3:8-13. The women mentioned in 1 Tim. 3:11 are most likely deacon candidates' wives. This is true for two reasons: (1) Deacons must be the husbands of one wife, an impossible task for a female deacon. (2) If ever there were a time to appoint a female as a church officer, it would have been at the inception of the office in Acts 6:1-6. It was a female problem, and yet males were appointed to be officers in charge of a ministry. If one asks why the deacons’ wives are mentioned but not the elders’ wives, a possible answer is that, while deacons’ wives might be expected to assist them in a serving role, elders’ wives would not be expected to assist them in teaching and leading the flock. It is accurate to conclude that Paul spoke of "our sister Phoebe, who is a servant (diakonon, accusative case of diakonos) of the church which is at Cenchrea" (Rom. 16:1) in an unofficial, rather than an official capacity. Phoebe obviously had a servant's heart in the fellowship at Cenchrea, and is believed to be Paul's letter-bearer to the Romans. The description of a deacon’s role in the New Testament is necessarily very broad. Deacons are called upon to assist elders in supervising ministries in areas that would otherwise pull elders away from their prescribed task of shepherding the flock by guiding, guarding, and feeding them. A church can function without deacons; it cannot function without elders. Philippians is the only letter addressed to both elders and deacons (Phil. 1:1).
Dead Sea. The ultra-saline body of water that is the terminus of the Jordan River, and the lowest spot on earth. The Dead Sea is approximately 1300 feet (400 meters) below sea level. It is 34 miles (55 km) long and between 11 miles (18 km) and 2 miles (3 km) wide. Actually, the surface level of the Dead Sea has dropped in recent decades. In 1960, the elevation of the Dead Sea was 89 feet (27 meters) higher than it is today. Its current level is 1385 feet (422 meters) below sea level. This is because agriculture and industry have taken water from the Jordan River and even from the Dead Sea itself. Jordan and Israel are in the process of constructing a Red Sea-Dead Sea Canal to restore water being taken from the Dead Sea and its tributaries..
The name "Dead Sea" never appears in the Bible. In the OT it is known as Yam Hamelakh ("Sea of the Salt") (Gen. 14:3; Num. 34:3, 12; Deut. 3:17; Josh. 3:16; 12:3; 15:2, 5; 18:19). Yam, 3220, means "sea," while melakh, 4417, means "salt." Ha is the article "the." It is also known as "The Eastern Sea" (literally, "The Sea, The Eastern" [Hayam, 3220, Haqadmoni, 6931] (Ezek. 47:18; Joel 2:20; Zech. 14:8), as opposed to "The Western Sea" (Joel 2:20; Zech. 14:8), meaning the Mediterranean Sea. It is also called "Sea of the Arabah" [Yam, 3220, Haarabah, 6160] (Deut. 3:17; 4:49; Josh. 3:16; 12:3; 2 Kings 14:25). Since the Dead Sea is the lowest spot on earth, there is no outlet. Water enters, but, because of the arid nature and the heat of the region, 7 million tons of water evaporate daily, leaving an ever-higher concentration of salts and minerals.
In Christ's Millennial Kingdom, fresh, living water will flow from the Temple into the Dead Sea (Ezek. 47:1-9; Zech. 14:8; Joel 3:18). It will freshen the waters of the Dead Sea so that as many different kinds of fish as are found in the Mediterranean will be found in the rejuvenated Dead Sea (Ezek. 47:10-12)! Fishermen will ply their trade and hang out their nets to dry!
Dead Sea Scrolls. A collection of leather and papyrus scrolls found in caves along the western shore of the Dead Sea. They contain carefully preserved Biblical texts and fragments from every book of the Hebrew Bible except the book of Esther. These scrolls also contain copies of Hebrew commentaries on certain books such as Pesher Habakkuk and Pesher Psalms. (Pesher means commentary.) The rest of the documents reflect the theological/political views and struggles of a conservative religious sect that inhabited Khirbet Qumran between approximately 150 B.C. to A.D. 68. The scrolls were discovered in 1947 when an Arab shepherd boy threw a rock up into a cave near Qumran. He heard a “chink” and crawled up to see what he had struck. A great many of the scrolls had been preserved in urns. The boy’s rock had struck an urn. Early discoverers had no idea of the enormity of their find. Some of the first manuscripts were used as wrapping paper! Between 1947 and 1956 other scrolls were discovered in eleven caves near Qumran at the northwest corner of the Dead Sea. But the term “Dead Sea Scrolls” also applies to other scrolls discovered in the general area. Some, for example, were discovered at the Jewish fortress of Masada at the southwest edge of the Dead Sea. The value of the scrolls lies in their demonstrating the accuracy with which the Masoretes copied the Hebrew Scriptures in the seventh to tenth centuries A.D. Most scrolls contain few significant differences between the accepted Masoretic Text of the Hebrew Bible of today. See Qumran.
Deponent. Greek verbs that are Middle/Passive in form, but are translated in English as Active Voice verbs. The word "deponent" is from the Latin deponere, which means "to lay aside." The idea is that a translator will "lay aside" the actual Middle or Passive Voice form, and substitute the Active Voice. For example, ekporeuésthō (1607) appears in Eph. 4:29 as a Middle/Passive, but is translated as "proceed," rather than as "proceed for oneself" (Middle) or "be caused to proceed" (Passive). Therefore, grammarians label it a Middle/Passive Deponent. It is possible, however, that in some cases verbs labelled as "Middle/Passive Deponent" were really meant by the speaker or writer to be taken in a Middle Voice. For example, Paul may really have meant here "Let no unwholesome word proceed for yourself from your mouth ..." (emphasis mine), which in this instance would be a true Middle Voice. However, the phraseology is a bit cumbersome in English, and translators typically translate the verb as a Middle/Passive Deponent, taking it as an Active Voice, "proceed." See the heading "So-Called Deponent Verbs" in this off-site article, from which most of the glossary entry was derived.
Devil. Frequently a reference to God's arch-enemy, also known as Satan. The term "devil" is the nominal adjective diábolos (1228), which means, literally, "overthrower," and by extension, "slanderer" or "slanderous." Satan is the ultimate slanderer / overthrower of God and slanderer / overthrower of God's people. The term diábolos appears 37X in the NT. It almost inevitably appears with the article "the" and refers to "the devil," Satan.
There are a few anarthrous exceptions. In John 6:70 Jesus stated that one of the twelve was a devil. Literally, Jesus said, "...and of you one devil is." It is doubtful that Jesus was asserting that Judas was "the Devil" incarnate. Rather, I believe, He was asserting that Judas was a demon, a subordinate of "the Devil." In Acts 13:10, Paul, addressing Elymas the magician, called him, literally, "son of devil." Whether Paul was referring to "the Devil" or to a subordinate demon is unclear. In 1 Tim. 3:11 Paul, giving here, I believe, qualifications for the Deacons' wives, stated, "Women" must ... be ... not malicious gossips," the two words translating the single Greek word diábolos. The same two words, "malicious gossips," translating the single Greek word appear also in 2 Tim. 3:3 and Tit. 2:3.
For additional information on this topic see the Glossary entry on Satan. See also "Satan, the Adversary of God." See also articles on Satan's demonic assistants: "Demons"; "Unclean Spirits"; and "Fallen Angels".
Destruction of the Heavens and Earth. The final dissolution of the present physical universe paving the way for God’s creation of New Heavens and Earth. The existing universe was ruined by Adam’s sin and the ensuing curse. Decay and entropy set in. The existing universe began slowly to die. It is not a fit habitation for resurrected humans. God has no other choice than to destroy the existing universe by fire, purging the effects of sin (2 Pet. 3:7-12). A new universe without decay and with a new earth graced by New Jerusalem as its capital city is the home of redeemed and resurrected man throughout eternity (Isa. 65:17; 66:22; 2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21:1-22:5)!
Diaspora. The "Dispersed" of Israel, i.e., those not living in the land of Israel. There was a long-time understanding in the Law of Moses that Israelis who obeyed God would be blessed in the land (Deut. 28:1-14), and that Israelis who disobeyed God would be exiled, dispersed from the land (Deut. 28:15-68). The first great dispersion (or exile) of Israelis occurred in 722 B.C., when Assyria deported virtually the entire Northern Ten Tribes of Israel into the land of Assyria (2 Kings 17:1-23). These Israelis never returned. Instead, they remained dispersed, and the king of Assyria replaced them with Gentiles from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim (2 Kings 17:24-41). These mongrel, syncretistic peoples became the progenitors of the Samaritans, so despised in Jesus' day (John 4:9).
The second great dispersion took place in successive invasions of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in 606, 597, and 586 B.C. Some citizens of Judah were exiled in each of the first two invasions, but the greatest deportation occurred when Nebuchadnezzar's troops destroyed the city of Jerusalem and Solomon's Temple in 586 B.C. Daniel, for example, was deported in 606 B.C. (Dan. 1:1-7); Ezekiel in 597 B.C. (2 Kings 24:10-16); and blinded King Zedekiah in 586 B.C. (2 Kings 25:1-21).
Three notable returns from the Babylonian exile began under the aegis of Persia. King Cyrus authorized the first return of exiled Israelis back to Judah under Zerubbabel in about 536 B.C. (Ezra 1:1-11; 2:1-2). Zerubbabel and others helped restore the altar and sacrifices (Ezra 3:1-7) and laid the foundation of the temple (Ezra 3:8-13). A second return to Judea under Ezra took place in 458 B.C. under the auspices of King Artaxerxes (Ezra 7:1-26; 8:1-32). Nehemiah led yet a third return from exile in 444 B.C., also under the guidance of Artaxerxes (Neh. 1:1-2:10). Nehemiah galvanized the people into rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem (Neh. 2:11-20; 3:1-32; 4:1-23).
In a terrible fulfillment of prophecy (Dan. 9:26; Luke 19:41-44; 21:20-44), Rome destroyed Jerusalem and Herod's Temple in A.D. 70. The Romans systematically drove Israelis from their land. For millennia, there have been more Israelis living outside of Israel than inside. "Of the estimated 14 million Jews in the world today, about 4 million reside in Israel, about 4.5 million in the United States, and about 2.2 million in Russia, Ukraine, and other republics formerly of the Soviet Union." There was already a Diaspora in Jesus' day (John 7:35). James wrote to Christian members of the Jewish diaspora (James 1:1), as did Peter (1 Pet. 1:1).
The Bible has a great deal to say about the ultimate return of Jewish people to the land of Israel. Under the influence of Christian politicians in Britain, Zionism grew as a compelling national movement. With the horror of the holocaust of Nazi Germany, the United Nations, in a brief spasm of guilt, authorized a homeland for Israel, and Israel declared its independence on May 14, 1948. The vast majority of Jewish people who have returned to Israel do not believe in God. Even though a minority say they do, most don't, for they have rejected His Son. But one day that will change, and Israelis will return to the land of Israel to live from all over the globe. The Israeli term for "Return" is Aliyah.
Disciple. He who in the NT became a follower of a teacher, or rabbi, and endeavored to learn as much from his tutor as he could. A learner, apprentice, follower, pupil. The word comes from the noun mathētēs (3101), which means, strictly, a learner. John the Immerser had disciples (Mark 2:18; 6:29; 11:2; John 1:35; Acts 19:1-3), as did the Pharisees (Matt. 22:15-16), and so, of course, did Jesus (Matt. 5:1; 9:10; John 2:2, 11, 12, 17; 4:31 etc.). The Pharisees claimed to be disciples of Moses (John 9:28). A professor of mine at Dallas Seminary, J. Dwight Pentecost, taught that there were three levels of discipleship. There were, first, the curious, then the convinced, and finally, the committed. It was Jesus' purpose to move disciples from one stage to the next. We can see that not all of Jesus' disciples were completely committed to Him (John 6:61, 66). From among Jesus' larger circle of disciples he chose twelve as apostles (Luke 6:13-16) and sent them forth on healing / teaching missions (Luke 9:1-6).
Dispensation. A method of God’s dealing with man in a particular time frame. God has issued a decree of all that shall come to pass without making Himself in any sense responsible for evil. God does not work the same way with particular groups of people in different eras. He has different methods of administering His Kingdom here upon earth (Eph. 1:10). A dispensation is a particular way God deals with a particular group of people at a particular point in history. See Dispensationalism.
Dispensationalism, Dispensational Theology. Dispensationalism is the system of theology that recognizes that God works with different peoples in different ways at different times. Dispensationalism is characterized by a grammatical, historical, literal interpretation of Scripture, while recognizing the existence of figures of speech and symbolism. Dispensationalists make a point to understand Scripture as it was understood in the day in which it was written by the people to whom it was written. Though New Testament interpretations of Old Testament Scripture may provide additional light and revelation on Old Testament passages, they do not displace or abrogate the Old Testament meaning. Dispensationalism thus distinguishes God’s program for Israel and His program for the Church. For example: while the New Covenant God made with Israel (Jer. 31:31-37) is applied to the Church (1 Cor. 11:23-25; Heb. 8:6-13; 9:11-15), that New Testament application does not invalidate or supersede God's plan to restore Israel under the terms of the New Covenant, described repeatedly in the Old Testament as an everlasting covenant (Isa. 55:3; 61:8; Jer. 32:40; 50:5; Ezek. 16:60; 37:26). While God put Israel on the shelf as a nation, that displacement from His sphere of blessing is only temporary, as Paul made abundantly clear in Romans 9-11. True blessing on this earth and throughout eternity will only take place when God’s people, descendants of Abraham, Isaac, through Jacob (Israel), have been reconciled to Him through Jesus their Messiah.
Drawing. The act or process of God whereby He attracts people to Jesus Christ, and thus to Himself. The verb "draw" (helkuō, 1670), literally means to "drag" or "haul in" (John 21:6, 11). The metaphorical meaning is to "attract" (John 6:44; 12:32). As is the case with calling, there is a general, or universal drawing, and a special, effective drawing. The general drawing is to be seen in John 12:32. In effect, Jesus meant there, "If I am crucified, I will draw (attract) all men to myself." What He probably meant, further, was that, on the basis of His death for the sins of all men, all would have the opportunity to accept or reject His universal sacrifice for themselves. Moreover, all will one day stand in judgment before the Messiah in judgment to be evaluated on the basis of whether or not they have accepted or rejected the benefits of His death and resurrection (John 5:25-29). The special, effective drawing means that there are certain people (the elect), whom the Father will draw, or attract to Jesus (John 6:44, 65). Only these will believe in Jesus (John 6:64; 10:24-29). "Drawing" (helkuō, 1670), may be simply another term for the same concept as "calling" (kaleō, 2564). If it be objected that God is not fair in drawing some, but not all to salvation, the answer is that God is not ethically or morally obligated to draw anyone to salvation. "Fairness" means that all of us would inevitably be destined for the Lake of Fire and Brimstone (Rev. 20:11-15). That God draws anyone at all to salvation is a testament to His grace, mercy, and goodness (Matt. 20:1-16). See also "Defending Election."
Dynamic Equivalence. The theory of Bible translation championed by Eugene Nida which "emphasizes the reaction of the reader to the translated text, rather than the translation of the words and phrases themselves. In simplest terms, dynamic equivalence is often referred to as 'thought for thought' translation as compared to 'essentially literal' translation ..."DE1 A "dynamic equivalent" is "a meaning in the receptor language that corresponds to (is 'equivalent' to) a meaning in a native-language text (for example, the 'heart' as the modern way of denoting the essence of a person, especially the emotions, which for the ancients was situated in the kidneys)."DE2 Dynamic equivalence, then, is "a theory of translation based on the premise that whenever something in the native-language text is foreign or unclear to a contemporary reader, the original text should be translated in terms of a dynamic equivalent."DE3 The opposite of a dynamic equivalence translation is an essentially literal translation: "a translation that strives to translate the exact words of the original-language text in a translation, but not in such a rigid way as to violate the normal rules of language and syntax in the receptor language."DE4 Formal equivalence, or "word-for-word" translation is another way of identifying an essentially literal translation philosophy. A formal equivalence theory is more concerned about fidelity to the original language and culture of the Biblical text than it is about appealing to the sensibilities and culture of the target language. In general terms, a dynamic equivalence theory of translation is more concerned about appealing to the sensibilities and culture of the target language than it is about preserving fidelity to the original language and culture.
C. John Collins has identified four ways in which dynamic equivalence is "opposed to accuracy: (1) such translations make interpretive decisions for the reader, and run the risk of deciding wrongly; (2) such a philosophy requires the translator to resolve ambiguities for the reader; (3) this philosophy urges the translator to interpret images and figures for the reader; and (4) this philosophy generally leads to the loss of important repetitions."DE5 To Collins' list I would add a fifth way that dynamic equivalence opposes accuracy. (5) Since this philosophy is more devoted to the reaction of the reader to the translated text than it is to fidelity to the original, the subjective target audience becomes the ultimate arbiter for translation rather than the original text. In practical terms, this philosophy permits the translators to edit the translation so that it is not objectionable to the readers. To be even more specific, if the presumed audience has been brain-washed by a particular political dogma, such as feminism, many of the masculine terms in Scripture will be deemed offensive to the sensibilities of modern society seduced by that feminism. This is precisely my objection to such translations as the New Revised Standard Version, The Message, the New Living Translation, the Contemporary English Version, the New Century Version, and just recently, the NIV 2011. (I am not saying that all these translations are on the same par when it comes to dynamic equivalence. But all have been influenced by political correctness and by the mantra of that which they prefer to call "gender inclusiveness" and which I prefer to call "masking of masculinity.") Surely God wants His Word to stand in judgment upon culture rather than for culture to stand in judgment on God's Word.
For a critique of dynamic equivalence online, read "Against the Theory of 'Dynamic Equivalence'" by Michael Marlowe, revised, August, 2010.
DE1 Leland Ryken, The Word of God in English: Criteria for Excellence in Bible Translation, Crossway Books, 2002, p. 13
DE2Leland Ryken, p. 18.
DE3 Leland Ryken, p. 18.
DE4Leland Ryken, p. 19.
DE5C. John Collins, "Appendix: Without Form, You Lose Meaning," appended in Leland Ryken, op. cit., pp. 300-301.