I’ve written before about the NIV, stating that some of the translation team’s word choices would cause friction. I anticipated it. But I didn’t anticipate the SBC making a statement denouncing it.
Here is the resolution in full:
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.
There are some pretty serious charges against the 2011 update to the NIV (and by extension Biblica and Zondervan).
· The NIV “alters the meaning of hundreds of verses”
· The NIV “has gone beyond acceptable translation standards”
· “75% of the inaccurate gender language found in the TNIV is retained in the 2011 NIV”
· The NIV is an “inaccurate translation of God’s inspired Scripture”
Now, I figured that this update would prove to be “not the right cup of tea” for many people who’ve been flirting with the ESV or the HCSB. I doubted that Zondervan anticipated a big gain from the ESV or HCSB. Rather, the changes seemed to appeal more to people using the NLT or other “dynamic” translations and paraphrases.
I didn’t expect a full-fledged denunciation of the translation by the SBC. Even the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood didn’t claim the NIV was an “inaccurate translation,” when it passed on recommending it.
I seriously doubt Lifeway will refrain from selling the NIV 2011. And if this resolution convinces people not to use the NIV, it is more likely due to fear of being ostracized than real convictions on the accuracy of the NIV.
Is the NIV inaccurate? Not really. I may disagree with the philosophy of using a “singular they” or the “impersonal person,” but I don’t think that alone is enough to stamp the whole Bible as inaccurate.