The SBC Resolution on the NIV

A surprising thing happened at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention last week. The messengers approved a resolution opposing the 2011 edition of the NIV. This kind of move is not unprecedented for an annual SBC meeting. Messengers approved similar resolutions in 1997 and in 2002, both of which were in response to gender-inclusive revisions of the NIV.

But there was something different about the resolution that came out this year. This resolution came not from the resolutions committee, but from a single messenger who was concerned about the issue and who wanted the convention to speak to it. In the course of the discussion, a spokesman for the committee explained why they had declined to present this particular resolution to the convention. Nevertheless, 4,800 messengers voted overwhelmingly to consider the resolution. There was a brief time set aside for debate, but not a single dissenting voice came forward. Not even one! Reports indicate that the subsequent vote was over 90% in favor of the resolution. If ever there were a grass-roots effort to move a resolution, this was it.

If you are interested in hearing the debate on the NIV resolution at the SBC, you can watch it below. The discussion starts at 24:00, and the entire thing only lasts about 12 minutes.

The full text of the resolution is printed below, and readers might recognize that the factual basis of the resolution comes from the two reviews that I posted here a couple of weeks ago. Here they are again if you missed them before.

1. “An Evaluation of Gender Language in the 2011 Edition of the NIV Bible” CBMW (2011).

2. Denny Burk, et al., “The Translation of Gender Terminology in the NIV 2011″ JBMW 16.1 (2011): 17-33.

Resolution: “On The Gender-Neutral 2011 New International Version”

WHEREAS, Many Southern Baptist pastors and laypeople have trusted and used the 1984 New International Version (NIV) translation to the great benefit of the Kingdom; and

WHEREAS, Biblica and Zondervan Publishing House are publishing an updated version of the New International Version (NIV) which incorporates gender neutral methods of translation; and

WHEREAS, Southern Baptists repeatedly have affirmed our commitment to the full inspiration and authority of Scripture (2 Timothy 3:15-16) and, in 1997, urged every Bible publisher and translation group to resist “gender-neutral” translation of Scripture; and

WHEREAS, This translation alters the meaning of hundreds of verses, most significantly by erasing gender-specific details which appear in the original language; and

WHEREAS, Although it is possible for Bible scholars to disagree about translation methods or which English words best translate the original languages, the 2011 NIV has gone beyond acceptable translation standards; and

WHEREAS, Seventy-five percent of the inaccurate gender language found in the TNIV is retained in the 2011 NIV; and

WHEREAS, The Southern Baptist Convention has passed a similar resolution concerning the TNIV in 2002; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers of the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, June 14-15, 2011 express profound disappointment with Biblica and Zondervan Publishing House for this inaccurate translation of God’s inspired Scripture; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we encourage pastors to make their congregations aware of the translation errors found in the 2011 NIV; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we respectfully request that LifeWay not make this inaccurate translation available for sale in their bookstores; and be it finally

RESOLVED, That we cannot commend the 2011 NIV to Southern Baptists or the larger Christian community.

Video of the Floor Discussion (starts at about 24:00)

52 Responses to The SBC Resolution on the NIV

  1. Brent Hobbs June 20, 2011 at 6:57 am #

    Watching online, it was pretty evident to me that the issue was only partially understood. Denny, you should know this is an issue that is easily oversimplified and misunderstood.

    The man from Littleton, NC, who spoke for the motion, has to be case in point here. He made comments about the Bible being clear about God being masculine and there was an audible agreement from the crowd.

    They just don’t even know what they’re voting on-at least to a certain extent. (I think that’s one of the reasons the committee didn’t bring the motion, though they couldn’t say that.)

    We both know the new NIV does not use gender-inclusive language for Father/Son/Holy Spirit.

    Even Tim Overton’s initial reasoning for the motion had some fallacies in it. (I don’t have time right now to watch it through and point them out, I just remember thinking several of the ways he characterized it were not fair.)

    Using “a person” instead of “he” or “brothers and sisters” instead of “brothers” is just not that big of a deal in most cases-even if you disagree with the translation choice.

    The number of verses where people like you, Denny, have substantive issues with the way something is translated are pretty few. And I don’t think many people who looks at those places objectively would see anything that warrants a resolution rejecting the entire translation.

    That’s my view of it. I’ll be at youth camp this week with our youth. I wish I could stick around here to dialogue about this some, but probably will not be able to. I still think we had a great convention but was frustrated by this decision.

  2. David Pitman June 20, 2011 at 7:38 am #

    Thanks for this post and for your work on this and related matters. It was a blessing to see this kind of response even in the face of the committee’s odd resistance to the resolution.

  3. Denny Burk June 20, 2011 at 8:51 am #

    Brent, I noticed those same issues myself when I watched the discussion. Unfortunately, there were several errors. That being said, I think it’s important to note that those issues were not a part of the resolution itself. The only thing that the convention approved was the text of the resolution. Thanks, Denny

  4. John June 20, 2011 at 9:00 am #

    Were there any other translations mentioned to be disapproved, like the NLT, NRSV, or even the Message, that uses the same gender decisions? Also, has there ever been any resolution against the Watchtower translation for the Jehovah’s Witnesses?

  5. Denny Burk June 20, 2011 at 9:10 am #

    John, The 1997 resolution didn’t mention any specific translation (though the NIV debate was the background), but cast the net broadly to include all gender-inclusive translations. The last two resolutions (2002 and 2011) focus on the NIV because it is far and away the best-selling Bible in English. I suspect that if those other translations had as much of an influence as the NIV, you would hear more push-back against them too. Denny

  6. Chris Taylor June 20, 2011 at 12:08 pm #

    Doug Moo appears to be above reproach from an academic/financial stand point on being a key advocate of the NIV2011. If he benefits academically/financially in any way from this, he could easily benefit as much by advocating for the ESV or another more gender specific translation. I believe he truly sees this as an issue the church should embrace and therefore no means of financial pressure could dissuade him.

    That said, businesses must keep investing in new projects and meet payroll each week. Businesses, especially Christian publishers, don’t generally have the luxury of pursuing large-scale worldview-changing campaigns. If the church (their customers) is not ready for the change, the publisher’s purse will dry up quickly.

    You may not be able to convince Doug Moo that he’s advocating the wrong position, because he’s not influenced by the money or the academy. On the other hand, you can change the publisher’s agenda fairly quickly by purchasing other translations.

    Zondervan already took notice the last time sales were slow. It will be interesting to see if the same will happen this time.

  7. Tim Overton June 20, 2011 at 12:20 pm #

    Here is my overarching thoughts on Bible translations. Perhaps the following will help you understand why I am pulling out all the stops on this issue. Today, more than ever before, people have access to education/doctorate degrees. Literally anyone willing to work hard can become a scholar/PhD. Combine this with the inexpensive cost of printing and we have an environment where agenda driven Bible translations can easily be made and distributed. Southern Baptists, the largest denomination, have already made our own Bible (this is a good translation). The Common English Bible and other translations are to follow (not so good). For protestants this will become significant. We have always had disagreements on what the Bible means, but now consumers will purchase Bibles that cater to their likes and dislikes. My prayer is that Southern Baptists will be the anchor that holds to the traditional methods of translation. Verbal Plenary Inspiration argues that every word is inspired. . . including pronouns. Doing away with proper pronouns is a slippery slope that will lead to other errors. I assure you that an Episcopalian homosexual friendly bible is coming to a bookstore near you. Its simply a matter of time. Southern Baptists must be the anchor that holds. To be open to gender neutral translations is to be tempted with worse in years to come.

    Zondervan has already shown us what is in their hearts (see TNIV). The 2011 NIV is the beginning of a long process to get to a TNIV result. This may take several more editions, but this is where they hope to go.

  8. John June 20, 2011 at 1:32 pm #

    I don’t think anyone had an agenda in the NIV translation, unless you think they’re lying about how they went about the revision. Everyone on the CBT is an evangelical Christian who has a high regard for God’s Word. The point is how do you translate Greek and Hebrew into English that is used today. Some folks, when they hear ‘men’ understand that to mean ‘male’. Or if they read ‘brothers’ they think ‘male’. Is that really what the text says? If so, then a lot of scripture excludes women. And maybe that’s true, even though I find that hard to believe.

    With the way most people talk about translations, I’m surprised anyone can trust any translations. I would think that the only way to truly read God’s Word is to know Greek and Hebrew, as well as culteral background such as how people lived and what idioms they used in their language. But tha’s not going to happen for the vast majority of believers.

    I have used the NIV for over 30 years and will continue to use it, mainly because most of the scripture I have memorized is in that translation. Plus it has more reference material and commentary than any other English translation. Even though I have a copy of the 2011 update, I’ll probably stick with the 1984 version since that is what I’ve used for so long (now I sound like a KJV Only person). The SBC can make resolutions at the conference, but none are binding on any individual church member. It merely reflects the opinion of those few who voted for them.

  9. Donald Johnson June 20, 2011 at 2:18 pm #

    Tim,

    Are you aware that in Hebrew the Holy Spirit is grammatically feminine and therefore the pronoun would be “she” in Hebrew and in Greek the Holy Spirit is grammatically neuter and therefore the pronoun would be “it” in Greek?

    This does not mean the Holy Spirit is female in Hebrew or neuter in Greek. As God is spirit, God is not gendered, the words may be gendered but God is not. And yes, Jesus was male when on earth.

  10. Sue June 20, 2011 at 9:00 pm #

    I have responded here. Thanks.

    http://powerscourt.blogspot.com/2011/06/sbc-on-niv2011.html

  11. Darryl Rowe June 20, 2011 at 11:48 pm #

    I’m so glad I’ve nothing to do with this ‘resolution.’ It is to be hoped that the SBC finds itself fighting against G-d in this matter and the 2011 NIV is blessed by G-d.

    As for me, I’m updating my Scripture memory work to the 2011 NIV as it is now my “primary” Bible. Should I be unable to acquire it, I have my old TNIV, if that gets lost, there is the NET and the NRSV. If all else fails, there is the NLT.

    As it is written: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal 3:28 NAU)

  12. J. Bre June 21, 2011 at 2:00 pm #

    Makes me wonder if LifeWay will pull all the NIV 11 bibles off the store shelves and stop selling them?

  13. John June 21, 2011 at 6:18 pm #

    Can a resolution made by less than 5000 messengers actually force Lifeway to stop selling stuff? I got my NIV 2011 at Mardel’s already.

  14. Jason June 21, 2011 at 10:55 pm #

    what about the Osteen books? can we pull those too? :)

  15. Nate June 23, 2011 at 8:26 am #

    Two things I found interesting:

    1. Dr. Moore’s statements regarding why the committee didn’t bring a resolution to the floor after the resolution was first propositioned. Moore’s statements were dispassionate and frankly, not very convincing. He could have said more. Probably should have.

    2. Nobody, not one messenger stood to speak against the resolution. As I read the responses here (which are probably not all SBC’ers) it certainly seems that somebody there could and possibly should have spoken against the resolution. As it is, it seems that the standard “joe” SBC guy thinks this version is bad and therefore would like to see LifeWay not sell it.

    By the way #13, LifeWay is not the sole distributor of bibles.

  16. Walt Franklin June 23, 2011 at 9:46 am #

    Denny,
    It seems to me the Baptist move was a big time overreaction. There was a respectful debate aboout the NIV going on about translation philosophy and wording choices. Banning a Bible where respected scholars have a legitimate disagreement does not seem like a wise reaction. Does the CBMW agree with this action by the SBC?
    Walt

  17. Chris Taylor June 23, 2011 at 10:32 am #

    Walt (et al.),

    Banning the NIV may have been an overreaction, but the resolutions do not ban the newly revised TNIV, they simply state that they cannot commend it, and that they encourage pastors to educate their people on the translation issues, and that they would like LifeWay not to offer it. I see nothing about banning it. In fact, this seems fairly moderate to me. If the resolution had called for a boycott of all Zondervan products, then I think we might be getting closer to an overreaction.

    As an outsider to the SBC, this resolution doesn’t mean much to me. However, I have to admit, this is why I have a lot of respect for the SBC at this point. While most denominations are becoming more and more liberal, there is a strong contingent within the SBC that is attempting to hold firm to the faith once delivered.

    In a real sense, it’s nice to see that the denomination (i.e., this convention of churches) is not being overly influenced by the academy. Since it is usually the ivory tower that brings the liberalizing influence into the pews, it’s encouraging to see a denomination that takes both the progressive and traditional scholarship into account, and then holds firm to the old paths.

    Even more encouraging to me is the fact that this vote was over 90% in favor of the resolution. That is simply amazing. If the SBC is any indication of where the broader evangelical Bible buying market is at, one has to wonder if we’ll see a faxed press release from Zondervan soon that reads, “I’m Back!” signed, NIV84.

  18. Nate June 23, 2011 at 11:15 am #

    Chris,

    I agree with your comments, but in my opinion Zondervan made their bed with the TNIV and the 2011 NIV is just a ruse to get people further down the road so that they can ultimately move forward to their radical gender-neutral bias more fully in the future. (And yes, I know that is a conspiracy theory).

    However, there was not a pressing need for the TNIV (it was agenda driven). They could have simply kept selling the original NIV (which is the best-selling English translation), so it’s not as if everyone was clammering for a new revision and Zondervan thought they were going to lose money.

    This rewrite was about an agenda, a culture driven agenda that Zondervan is a willing participant in.

    Also, as Chris noted, the SBC Academy, which was pretty vocal against the 2011 NIV (including CBMW, faculty of SBC seminaries, etc.), are now strangely silent and letting the people in the pew take the heat. Seems disingenuous to me.

  19. danny June 23, 2011 at 2:16 pm #

    I have to be honest, I’d be embarrassed to post that video, let alone approve of it. I understand, Dr Burk, that you are happy with the resolution, but surely the way it was presented on the floor and the reasoning given by the two gentlemen would merit more comment.

    First, Mr Overton displays an incredibly inflated view of the SBC’s importance (“the anchor of the evangelical world”- please tell me that’s not a common view in the SBC). Arguing that the NIV is a “feminist’s dream” and that “they (feminists) have twisted the Bible” makes me wonder if he is ignorant of who is actually involved in this translation that it’s hard to know how to respond.

    Or even complaining that the NIV uses “deacon” instead of “servant” (I assume he’s referring to Rom 16:1) is an odd choice for complaint. After all, the word is translated “deacon” elsewhere, and to translate it “servant” because some Southern Baptists with debatable understanding of church government (that is, deacons have a ruling function in the church) is potentially done to cave to the ideological agenda of a certain group. Then again, that’s how agendas work. When someone caves to our agenda, we’re happy. Someone else’s? They’re cowards driven by the world rather than love for God’s Word. (For the record, I’m not saying “servant” is a bad choice, but “deacon” is easily defensible.)

    The “he… she” comments by Mr Overton, again, demonstrate that he doesn’t quite understand the issues at stake. After all, there is no “he” or “she” in the Bible, only Greek or Hebrew pronouns that may or may not be best translated as “he” or “she.” The same goes for words like “man,” etc.

    Second, Mr Lambert (I think I got that name correct) clearly hasn’t spent much time reading the NIV 2011 or the literature on it, as he shows by bringing up the subject of God’s revelation of himself as “he.” What does this have to do with anything? The NIV doesn’t go anywhere near this issue, so why bring it up? It’s either because he doesn’t know any better (then one ought to ask why he’s speaking for the resolution at all) or he’s being intentionally inflammatory. I’m betting the former is the case.

    Finally, I wish people would be more careful when discussing things like “agendas” or even Dr Moore’s “stealth move” language. When such language is used, motives are impugned. And we’re not talking about Zondervan; we’re talking about the translation committee made up of faithful evangelical scholars. They may have done a poor job translating the Bible, and to make that claim is one thing. But to assign motives to them is a dangerous move to make, one that we will all have to answer for before the Judge. I think Dr Burk, since this is his blog, and others ought to caution their readers against such language (as I’ve done on my blog before).

    Sorry this is so long.

  20. Denny Burk June 23, 2011 at 2:40 pm #

    Danny,

    I agree with much of what you have said. These men are not academics, and I wouldn’t expect them to be able to articulate all the nuances of the debate. As I’ve said on this blog before, there are committed complementarians on the committee, and one of them (Doug Moo) has written one of the definitive complementarian expositions of 1 Timothy 2:12. No one could reasonably accuse him of having a feminist agenda.

    Nevertheless, the larger points made by the messengers were on target. 75% of the gender-language problems identified in the TNIV carry right on over into 2011 NIV. And there are some other texts that have been made worse in the 2011 NIV–most notably 1 Timothy 2:12. Even the point about deacons is an important one because many Southern Baptist churches give a governing role to deacons. So the rendering of Romans 16:1 would be critically important to those churches.

    Thanks,
    Denny

  21. danny June 23, 2011 at 2:52 pm #

    I understand, and appreciate, that the two men who spoke (not including Dr Moore) are not academics. And I do think it’s vitally important to get the input of pastors “on the ground” in these sort of issues, otherwise it’s merely an ivory tower debate. But these men are given the floor to make their case and people are voting, in part, based on the persuasiveness (is that a word?) of their arguments. Otherwise, why are they speaking? So I would argue that it is imperative that they, or someone else, present the issues fairly and clearly. That was not done.

    And I understand the issue of Rom 16:1, my main point is that the NIV’s translation is entirely defensible. For the record, I grew up in a Southern Baptist church that had governing deacons (they switched to elders when I was in college), so I get the point. But to claim the NIV mistranslated the verse because it messes with some folks’ understanding of church government is to want them to bow to a certain agenda. I doubt Mr Overton would be have much sympathy for an anglican who complains about the use of “overseer” over “bishop.”

    Regarding 1 Tim 2:12, I’ve read what you’ve said about this before, both in your blog an in your article in JBMW. For what it’s worth, I think you’re reading too much of the scholarly debate into it. I did an unscientific survey of some people in my church to see what they thought of it, and none of them thought it favored an egalitarian position. I realize “assume authority” is a favored interpretation of egalitarians (such as Dr Payne) and so you read the NIV 2011 in that direction, but I’m not convinced that the average churchgoer with no awareness of the scholarly literature would see it that way.

  22. John June 23, 2011 at 2:53 pm #

    Why would a church give a governing role to deacons? I thought elders were to lead the church, and the deacons were servants to care for the physical needs of the congregation.

  23. Denny Burk June 23, 2011 at 3:29 pm #

    Danny,

    On 1 Timothy 2:12, you are probably correct that some laymen will not immediately perceive the significance of the change (though some will). Nevertheless, the significance of the change will be perceived as egalitarians teach and preach using this translation. This change opens up the possibility for the egalitarian interpretation (at least that is the translators’ stated intent). The previous translation did not leave that possibility open. So a huge reversal has taken place. This translation gives egalitarians a foothold in the best-selling English translation–a foothold that did not previously exist in the NIV (and does not exist in the vast majority of other English translations). Make no mistake; egalitarians will exploit this change to their advantage.

    As I said before, this rendering of 1 Timothy 2:12 is a huge victory for the egalitarian cause.

    Thanks,
    Denny

  24. Sue June 23, 2011 at 4:04 pm #

    Denny,

    Please allow me to post the King James Version for 1 Tim. 2:12, “to usurp authority,” and the Calvin Bible 1855, “to assume authority.”

    The NIV 2011 has actually chosen the mediating position between “to ecercise authority” and “to be the lord of” which we find in Luther’s Bible.

  25. Walt Franklin June 23, 2011 at 10:41 pm #

    During the short debate when the gentleman from NC said the revised NIV used gender neutral language for God, that is incendiary language for Baptists. As you know it is also blatently false. It is amazing that a vote would be taken on an issue like this, partially based on absolute false information. Voting while being ignorance of the facts reflects very poorly on the SBC. I am amazed that the CBMW has not commented on this. Again, surely they did not mean for their report to cause a spectacle like this.
    Thanks,
    Walt

  26. Donald Johnson June 24, 2011 at 9:33 am #

    What the NIV 2011 tried to achieve and did achieve in 1 Tim 2:12 is to not let the translation decide for the layman the interpretation questions. This is an incredibly tough verse in an incredibly tough pericope to translate.

  27. Sue June 24, 2011 at 10:28 am #

    Actually on 1 Tim. 2:12, Luther, Erasmus and Calvin have either ‘to be the lord of” or “to usurp/assume authority.” Tyndale had “to have authority.”

    There is no new evidence since that time.

  28. J. Bre June 24, 2011 at 1:08 pm #

    I went to LifeWay and bought an NIV 2011. I’ve been reading it over the past two days. I’ve compared several verses in the NIV 11 and NIV 84. Last night, I came to the conclusion that the NIV 11 is, in fact, a reproduction of TNIV plain and simple.

    When I awoke this morning and saw my new NIV 11 on the table beside my bed, I immediately realized that I had overlooked something quite profound. To wit, the NIV 11 is the Word of God. I have a copy of the Word of God beside my bed! It is a translation, yes. But, it is the Word of God. I immediately went downstairs to my office and stood in front of my bookshelf. On my bookshelf, there are over 50 bibles. I have KJV, NASB, NRSV, ESV, NLT, NCV, CEV, the old Living Bible in green hardback cover and a host of other bibles. Each of those bibles are a translation. Some more “literal” and others more “free” in translation style.

    As I stood in front of my bookshelf and observed the various bible translation that I have, I thought to myself, “Each and everyone of these bible translations are different and, yet, each one is the Word of God.”

    Hmmm…yep…I’m endorsing the NIV 2011.

    It is a translation, perhaps a weaker one, but it is the Word of God.

    Count me as one casting a belated “dissenting” vote against the SBC resolution.

  29. Nate June 24, 2011 at 2:35 pm #

    J. Bre, the New World Translation is just a translation as well. Would you call it the Word of God also. The Jehovah’s Witnesses do. And the Living Bible is a paraphrase, not a translation.

    So to you, freedom in translation style retains the authority of God’s word no matter how that freedom writer decides to translate the words of Scripture.

  30. Sue June 24, 2011 at 6:31 pm #

    I would welcome anyone letting me know specifically why the NIV 2011 is not recommended. Thanks so much.

  31. Chris Taylor June 26, 2011 at 6:42 pm #

    Sue,

    As a Presbyterian (PCA) whose patriarchal views are belittled by contributors to CMBW’s journal, I obviously can’t speak for the SBC or CMBW. However, I’ll at least let you know why I wouldn’t recommend the NIV2011.

    First off, I’m not pleased with the dynamic equivalence translation theory, which has been the primary principal governing every iteration of the NIV. Probably the biggest reason for not liking these kinds of translations is the fact that there is a loss of correspondence between texts. It seems to me that such translations have a very narrow target audience. In my mind they should be considered appropriate as gifts for young believers to help them begin to understand the word of God. Within five years or so, I would encourage a diligent reader of the Bible begin reading a more formal equivalent translation. Recommending any dynamic equivalent translation would be fairly limited.

    Secondly, gender neutral translations assume too much (or should I say, ‘too little’). The basic assumption behind such translations is that the apparent masculine orientation of the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts has no theological significance. At best, the orientation is seen as the byproduct of an oppressive society that justified patriarchy, slavery, etc. For my part, I don’t agree that the inclusive use of ‘he’ is a result of the fall. Therefore, my wife and I teach our four daughters to see the beauty of finding themselves represented by their father, and someday their husbands, in the generic/inclusive use of ‘he’ as they read their Bibles.

    Finally, recommendations are usually made in relation to viable alternatives. I don’t recommend McDonalds when there’s a Penn Station in the vicinity. Such is the case with the NIV2011 for me. Why would I recommend it when there are other viable, indeed better, options available? If a young believer is looking to get a Bible, I would likely recommend the Holman Christian Standard Bible, or something like that. Then, once they’ve matured in their understanding of the Word, I’d recommend the NASB or the ESV.

    Hope this helps,

    Chris

  32. Sue June 27, 2011 at 3:30 am #

    Chris,

    I do hope that I may be allowed to respond.

    First, I use the NRSV as a primary Bible now. However, the formal equivalent Bibles do cause misunderstandings at times. For example,

    “they have fitted their arrow to the string to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart;” Psalm 11:2 in the NRSV and ESV.

    to shoot from the shadows
    at the upright in heart. NIV

    that they may privily shoot at the upright in heart. KJV

    I was trained in French English translation and then with SIL. I would never want to be responsible for causing a misunderstanding because I felt that I should stick with a formal equivalent. There is no spiritual value to retaining formal equivalence, especially when it leads to misunderstanding.

    On your second point, I do not subscribe to the views you suggest abuot language and the fall. The inclusive function of certain words are rather normal in other langauges. Take “hermanos” in Spanish as an example. A word to word translation would give the equivalent “brothers.” But in an newspaper or legal document, it would have to be translated as “brothers and sisters” since the word refers explicitly to all the brothers and sisters in a family. The same with adelphoi in Greek. It refers to a sister and brother like Cleopatra and Ptolemy. The equivalent of adelphoi is not “brothers” in English. We cannot say in English that Cleopatra. The English word “brothers” does not refer to “brothers and sisters.” If you use “brothers” in the Bible, then you have to explain to a reader that the Bible has been translated into a special dialect of English in which words do not have the meaning that they normally have for English speakers. This is quite unlike the Greek, which was a common language.

    To continue – many women have neither father nor husband, but are providers for their own family. My children see the beauty in this even if they are wrongly taught that it is not in the Bible.

    For those who read Greek, they can see that much of the time, where a pronoun is used, it refers back to the antecedent “tis” which is gender inclusive. The occurence of a grammatically masculine pronoun tells us little about the gender of the person. As you know the Spirit has a feminine gender, but we do not use the grammatical gender as determinative of the Spirit’s gender.

    In response to your last point, I would not recommend the ESV since it adds words to the Bible In the following verses it adds the word “men” to the scripture.

    Phil 2:29, 1 Cor. 16:18, 2 Cor. 11:13

    Thanks for taking time to respond Chris.

  33. Sue June 27, 2011 at 3:31 am #

    PS Perhaps I should explain that “to shoot in the dark” is not the meaning of the Hebrew, but rather it should be “to shoot from the dark.” So the KJV, and NIV is accurate.

  34. Donald Johnson June 27, 2011 at 9:11 am #

    There is a myth that (essentially) word-for-word translation is superior than thought-for-thought translation. When one knows more than one language one sees that this cannot be true, as each language carves up reality differently and expresses that carving up differently. This is why there are so many different entries for each word in a lexicon.

    But for those that are monolingual, only knowing one language, they can be mislead into thinking that word-for-word is superior. This is because they believe (as they have no counter-example) that the way English (for example) carves up reality is the way reality really is, when it is really just one way to do it.

  35. JohnnyM June 27, 2011 at 11:19 am #

    Sue,

    All English translations of the Bible have their issues. There is not one that is perfect, that is why we must ultimately rely on the original text when doing in depth studies. I stopped using the NIV when I found it changed key passages that took away from what Christ was saying about Himself, particularly in John.

    John 8:23, John 18:6

    The NIV adds “He” to these passages, and mnay others, of Christ proclaiming His divinity and equating Himself with God (Yahweh, I AM). There is a big difference between Christ saying: I am He and I AM.

  36. Chris Taylor June 27, 2011 at 11:57 am #

    Sue,

    Does adelphoi mean ‘brothers’ or does it mean ‘brothers and sisters’? For my part, I am content with saying it means ‘brothers’, and yet, in certain circumstances it is used inclusively. In the Bible, both in the Old Testament and in the New, husbands represent wives and fathers represent families. A husband has the right to annul a contract made by his wife or his daughters. Moderns may not like that, but it is the worldview of the authors. As such, it is sometimes the case that when they say ‘brothers’, they mean ‘brothers and all those whom they represent, both wives and children’. When it is clearly the case, that an author is using the word ‘adelphoi’ in this broader sense, I don’t believe we should translate it ‘brothers and sisters’ because it does not accurately communicate the author’s worldview.

    It’s one thing to explore these issues when translate an ancient Greek text (and in this case, a text that has a heavy Semitic undertone) into modern languages. However, these kinds of issues are not just problems for modern translators. The following text from the Dead Sea Scrolls is really quite fascinating:

    “But Moses said: [Lev 18:13] ‘Do not approach your mother’s sister; she is a blood relation of your mother.’ The law of incest, written for males, applies equally to females, and therefore to the daughter of a brother who uncovers the nakedness of the brother of her father, for he is a blood relation.” (modified from Florentino Garcia Martinez’s, ‘The Dead Sea Scrolls Translated: The Qumran Texts in English’, Second Edition, 36)

    Here, there is no ‘translation issue’. This is an issue pertaining to exegesis and hermeneutics. The author is correct in stating that this law was ‘written for males’ and also correct that it ‘applies equally to females’.

    Ultimately, it seems to me that this debate comes down to the role of the translator. How much liberty should be taken with providing an interpretation while translating? For my part, I’d rather have a ‘text that does not improve upon the original’ and therefore allows pastors/scholars to teach various views.

    Warmly,

    Chris

  37. JohnnyM June 27, 2011 at 12:17 pm #

    actually, that first passage should be John 8:24

  38. Sue June 27, 2011 at 1:04 pm #

    JohnnyM,

    Would you be prepared to bring to the floor a resolution against the ESV and the HSCB on this account also?

    My question is really, why a resolution against the NIV 2011, and no resolution against all other Bibles, which also in their way, add to scripture the name of God, Romans 12:19, masculine nouns Phil 2:29, and pronouns 1 Tim 5:8 not found in the original Greek?

    Don’t you think that adding these words also to the English changes the understanding of the scripture?

  39. JohnnyM June 27, 2011 at 1:57 pm #

    Well, to me, it appears the changes to the NIV2011 is agenda driven and not truth driven, which is a huge factor. The translation seems to be touting its PC credentials by focusing on these gender issues.

  40. Sue June 27, 2011 at 3:34 pm #

    JohnnyM,

    Until the RSV in the 1940′s, Bibles used “brethren” which is a true masculine generic. It does include women in the English language. But when the RSV switched to “brothers” there was an awareness that “brothers” does NOT refer to women So at that time, women were no longer addressed in the scriptures.

    Then in the 1980′s “and sisters” was added to correct the omission of women over the previous 40 years.

    The agenda is accuracy. Often where there had been a masculine pronoun in English, there was no pronoun in Greek, since the Greek verb does not require a pronoun The switch to inclusive language reflects the Greek better in most cases. Using a singular “they” construction may seem awkward in English, but it is the best translation of the Greek that one can make in this situation.

    As to being agenda driven, the NIV 2011 has translators who are both egalitarian and complementarian. This is a good model, not followed by many other translations.

  41. Sue June 27, 2011 at 3:39 pm #

    I grew up in the Brethren, and I always considered myself one of the Brethren. But to my knowldedge no woman in the history of the Brethren had ever attended a “brothers” meeting. “Brothers” was the word used to explicitly exclude women.

    In fact, when I attended Jim Packers church for many years, when the Bible was read by a reader from the congregation, it was the RSV, and the words “and sisters” was always inserted into the text when read aloud.

    So, in fact, in all my years, in the Brethren and in complementarian churches, I have never considered myself included in the term “brothers.” I admit that no man ever taught me that I was a brother, I was in fact, taught the opposite.

    I started to study Greek at the age of 14, and I noticed that in the 1871 lexicon, adelphoi had a meaning of plural: brothers and sisters.

    I do not think that including “and sisters” needs any more defense than simply noting that it is accurate.

    Thank you for listening.

  42. danny June 27, 2011 at 3:58 pm #

    JohnnyM- your last statement is an odd one, since I’ve heard far more attention paid to the “gender issues” from the opponents of the NIV2011 than it’s supporters. And the “agenda driven” charge is, as I tried to point out earlier, one easily made against all translations. Of course it’s easier to take shots at those translations whose alleged agendas are different than ours.

  43. Tod June 28, 2011 at 2:58 am #

    What about the NRSV Bibles? Can we pull those too?

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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