Is that enough acronyms for you? I thought some of our more nerdy readers (myself included) might be interested to read the Committee for Bible Translation’s response to the Southern Baptist Convention’s banning of the NIV 2011. (For the full response see Daniel Thompson’s post).
One of the reasons I like the NIV 2011 (I was never a fan of the NIV 84 but liked the TNIV) is because of the scholars on the committee itself. What is not to like from this list?
Finally I reiterate what I have said previously: I am left wondering why the SBC felt compelled only discourage the NIV. What about the NLT, NRSV and any other translation which uses gender inclusive language? Surely a better and more Christlike way would have been to commend to members of the SBC translations they felt reflected their theological approach thus admitting in a spirit of humility that they may be wrong. Instead of pointing out what is wrong perhaps folks in the church would be better served by being directed towards translations like the ESV and HCSB. My own denomination recommends the NRSV because it feels it is the most accurate of the English translations (I disagree. As much as I like and use the NRSV I much prefer the TNIV and NIV2011 as it is more readable) however, it would never suggest to its members that any translation should be banned . I fear when a denomination, any denomination, gets to the point singling out and banning a particular translation of the Bible they have crossed the line into idolatry. Perhaps the SBC would better served by only using the Hebrew and Greek?
Anyway, I cannot speak highly enough of the NIV 2011!
Thanks for this. Your nerdy readers might also be interested in my post on this subject: NIV 2011: Denny Burk condemns it, most are lukewarm. The WELS response seems to be much more honourable than the SBC one.
Thanks Peter, i will have read. us nerds like this sought of reading! 🙂
From Craig Blomberg on the NIV 2011
Craig Blomberg on June 23, 2011 at 8:29 PM
Delighted to hear 1 Corinthians was helpful, Brian. Ah yes, the SBC. Well, it is an entity to itself, so I try not to base nationwide prognostications about evangelicalism on what it does. But, interestingly, before the convention Al Mohler and Lifeway were solidly on board with the updated NIV. The resolutions committee was too, and it asked the pastor in Indiana not to bring the issue to the floor. The convention, of course, has a mechanism for bypassing that and it was bypassed, but only with minutes left in the convention, when half the delegates had left, by means of a resolution with several factual errors and unfair interpretive spins to it, and without giving the delegates any time or access to information by which to evaluate it. That suggests to me a certain desperation on the part of its advocates who were pretty sure they’d lose if they tried courteous, Christian and democratic processes!
Let me just address a couple of issues you raise without touching on the pros or the cons of the NIV2011. For one, The Southern Bapitst Convention is structured differently than a lot of other denominations. It is more of a “grassroots” denomination. While it does have boards and agencies, the SBC has no binding authority over any individual church. Subsequently, the denomination cannot “ban” anything, nor does the resolution call for the banning of anything. The resolution (which came from the floor of the Convention’s annual meeting by the way) does say it cannot recommend the translation and “respectfully requests” LifeWay not to sell it. Keep in mind too that a resolution has no binding authority over churches or individuals either.
As far as other translations are concerned, I think the issue regarding the NIV is its popularity and widespread acceptance. I would speculate that a good many people in SBC churches use an NIV (1984). The other translations you referenced really do not have the same foothold or reputation in the SBC has the “orginal” NIV. The SBC has dealt with this issue regarding the NIV in the past, partly because of its popularity.
Any, just thought I’d throw these observations into the conversation.
Darrell, does this mean that there are essentially no practical implications other than that Lifeway may honor this and not sell anything NIVish?
If the SBC believes that the NIV 2011 is wrong (along with the TNIV), then it doesn’t seem strange to me–based on their theological commitments–that they would speak strongly against the NIV 2011. If they believe that the “interpretive decisions” made in the translation work itself is unwarranted; then I’m not sure why this seems weird.
It’s really tough for me to say. I’d be speculating. From what I’ve read, the motion came from the floor of the Convention meeting and not from the Resolutions Committee or denominational leadership. It passed pretty overwhelmingly from what I’ve read, meaning that it summed up the feelings of the overwhelming majority of the people in the room. I know that Al Mohler has expressed concern about how Lifeway removes every vestige of the NIV considering that it’s the text of a number of commentaries (including at least one that Holman published). My best guess is that the resolution will not change the way most people feel about the NIV. Those pro and con will stay in their respective camps. And again, the Convention has no authority over local congregations (nor do resolutions). Individual churches and their membership will make their own choices.
As far as Lifeway is concerned, it uses the HCSB in all of its printed materials now anyway, so I’m not sure how big an impact it will really have on it other than selling the translation itself. Their trustees will have to work all of that out.
If interested, here’s a link to Al Mohler’s take on the resolution:
Darrell, thanks for the qualifications. I will take a look at Mohler’s take.
Thanks Darrell. I was aware of all those issues but I still find it sad they didn’t just say let’s recommend the HCSB or the ESV. I guess with grass roots denoms (my own is one) is any one can say anything at almost any time! 🙂
As a fellow Southern Baptist, I must say that Darrell is spot on with regard to the resolution and local churches and individuals.
Now, because Lifeway is Convention own, then, yes.
I still use the updated NIV. For example, I’ve been out of state for about a month now and it’s the updated NIV that I brough along.
However, I still have problems with its uneven approach to gender. 😉
From the other side of the pond, I read this with a mixture of interest and puzzlement. My distinct impression was that the NIV 2011 has pulled back from the more complete use of gender-inclusive language compared with TNIV. I had an interesting conversation with Dick France about the reasons (based on research of ‘ordinary meaning’ in the wider population) which left me unconvinced…
> I fear when a denomination, any denomination, gets to the point singling out and banning a particular translation of the Bible they have crossed the line into idolatry.
Try again with Emphatic Diaglott / Joseph Smith Translation / New World Translation.
I agree with you about the CBT. They are all top-class evangelical scholars who have devoted their lives to studying the Bible at the highest level, and their translation approach is very rigorous. We mustn’t write off their efforts lightly. I wonder if many of the people who don’t like the new NIV are really aware of who the translators are, and the very real challenges involved in translation.
Mark Stevens writes, “Surely a better and more Christlike way would have been to commend to members of the SBC translations they felt reflected their theological approach thus admitting in a spirit of humility that they may be wrong.”
The SBC having a spirit of humility and admitting error?
Surely Stevens jests.
I was a member of the SBC for many years. During that time the SBC was known for many things, but humility was not one of them.
By the way, I will be quoting Mr. Stevens over on my own blog.
I simply wanted to correct some misinformation attributed to Craig Blomberg (I do not want to assume these words are his, but rather discuss the incorrect impression they give). I assure you that no one asked me not to bring this resolution to the floor. Dr. Mohler and Dr. Patterson, along with other SBC leaders such a Dr. Frank Page, have supported the resolution. This resolution falls in line with previous SBC resolutions. In 1997, Southern Baptists passed a resolution on Bible translations that condemned gender neutral translation philosophy. We passed a resolution speaking against the TNIV in 2002. The most recent resolution speaking to the 2011 NIV falls very much in line with previous statements. The main disagreement concerned the importance of speaking again to this issue. I believed the best selling Bible in America changing to gender-neutral translation philosophy deserved comment. The Resolution Committee differed, but nevertheless agreed that the new translation was troubling. The resolution coming at the end of the convention has to do with scheduling not strategy. There are only two points during the convention where resolutions are addressed. I was up at the microphone during the first time of discussion but time ran out and I was not recognized to speak. This is normal and explains why there is another time for comment. In fact, between the two scheduled resolution times I spoke to one of the individuals in charge of parliamentary procedures and he assured me that I would be recognized that evening. The vote in favor of the 2011 NIV resolution was nearly unanimous. Add this to the previous SBC resolutions on gender-neutral Bible translations and one can only conclude Southern Baptists have strong, established views on the matter. Thank you for allowing me to post. I sort of stumbled upon your site and simply wanted to set the record straight. May God bless each of you.
Thank you Tim for clarifying. It is never nice when things are read into circumstances and intentions.
I will however, say I am still incredibly sad that people felt the need to single out the TNIV and NIV. Would it have not been better to say “we do not support gender inclusive translation”?
As I said earlier, I also believe a more Christlike way would have been to affirm the one or two translations the SBC supports. I realise we will disagree but the singly out of the NIV 2011 is what has upset me personally.
Thanks for stopping by! 🙂
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