LOUISVILLE, Ky. (ABP) — A group that criticized the New International Version Bible translation for introducing a gender-inclusive edition in 2005 says it isn't satisfied by revisions in the latest edition recently available online.
The Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood was among critics who said Zondervan's Today's New International Version pandered to a feminist agenda and promoted the "egalitarian" view that men and women are equipped for identical roles in the church and home.
The controversy prompted the International Bible Society to scale back attempts to substitute gender-neutral language for masculine pronouns in what had become the most popular modern translation among evangelicals after its initial release in 1978.
Last year Biblica, the new name for a company created by the IBS' merger with Send the Light publishers in 2007, announced it would undertake the first complete update of the NIV since 1984. The print edition is due out next year, but a preview is available at BibleGateway.com.
Wheaton College Bible scholar Doug Moo, head of the Committee on Bible Translation, told a reporter for The Tennessean the group tried to create an accurate English Bible while avoiding what were viewed as missteps in the TNIV.
Jay Phelan, senior professor of theological studies at North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago, said he worries that the translators buckled under pressure from conservatives.
"The whole idea that we want to make this constituency or that constituency unhappy is wrong," he told The Tennessean "You don't do a translation that way. You don't say 'this will make the liberals unhappy' or 'this will make conservatives unhappy.' Your job is to produce the most accurate translation possible."
The Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood said in a blog Nov. 19 that it reviewed the new edition three weeks before rendering a verdict. While noting "significant improvements" over the TNIV, the group said it would still recommend other translations like the Holman Christian Standard Bible, New American Standard, New King James or the English Standard Version instead of the NIV.
"Though we are deeply appreciative of the very different process by which our friends at the CBT and Zondervan pursued and unveiled this new version, we still cannot commend the new NIV(2011) for most of the same reasons we could not commend the TNIV," the council said. "Our initial analysis shows that the new NIV(2011) retains many of the problems that were present in the TNIV, on which it is based, especially with regard to the over 3,600 gender-related problems we previously identified. In spite of the many good changes made, our initial analysis reveals that a large percentage of our initial concerns still remain."
One "significant problematic" decision observed in the new translation, the council said, was rendering First Timothy 2:12 as not permitting a woman to "assume authority" over a man. The council, which teaches that men and women are assigned to different roles in the church and home, says a more accurate reading of the Greek text is "have authority."
The translation committee said it sought to leave interpretation open to either "egalitarian" or "complementarian" interpretation, but the council said the change instead "intentionally introduces a crucial ambiguity that is not found in the original NIV."
The council said it would continue to review the translation in greater detail, but initial impressions raised continued concerns "about the frequent omission of the words, 'man,' 'brother,' 'father,' 'son' and 'he.'"
Bob Allen is senior writer for Associated Baptist Press.
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New NIV translation due out in 2011 (9/1/2009)