CBMW leader “very encouraged” by NIV announcement

Communications Staff — September 1, 2009

Randy Stinson, president of The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood said Tuesday afternoon that he is both grateful and hopeful after Zondervan announced earlier in the day that it will revise its New International Version (NIV) translation of the Bible to correct the “mistake” it made in publishing a gender-neutral version of the NIV.

Evangelical scholars associated with CBMW were concerned with more than 3,000 changes that appeared in the TNIV when it was published in 2002, changes that flattened gender language, eliminating many references such as “son,” “he,” “him,” “his,” “father,” and “brother,” references that diverged from the original Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic.

Translators from Biblica (formerly the International Bible Society), admitted in a press conference announcing the new NIV that many concerns regarding the faithfulness of gender-neutral translations to the original languages were legitimate and that such translations had divided the evangelical community. In his comments, Biblica CEO Keith Danby referenced the gender-neutral NIVI which was published in 1997 in the United Kingdom.

“It is very humble of Zondervan and Biblica to admit mistakes and acknowledge the controversy that they brought to the evangelical community over the past several years,” said Stinson, who also serves as dean of the School of Church Ministries at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

“We are grateful for the godly approach to try to reconcile this. We are hopeful for the new product. I don’t have any reason to believe that they are not sincere about their willingness to revisit the more than 3,000 gender changes to which we were opposed.”

Stinson said he has been in conversation with scholar Doug Moo, chairman of the Committee on Bible Translation (the committee that is responsible for the new translation) and believes that the evangelical concerns over the accuracy of so-called “gender neutral” language will be taken seriously.

When Zondervan first announced a revision of the NIV in 1997, a group of evangelical leaders and scholars including CBMW, Focus on the Family, God’s World Publications (publisher of WORLD) and others, met in Colorado Springs and developed a set of guidelines for biblical interpretation as it relates to gender language.

The guidelines were to serve as a baseline for translation of the gender language in the TNIV, but translators did not abide by them. Stinson said he is encouraged that the translation committee for the newest NIV may at least loosely follow the Colorado Springs Guidelines.

“It is my understanding that the Committee on Bible Translation does not see themselves as obligated to the Colorado Springs Guidelines, but still may end up translating some of those passages or maybe many of those passages in a way that is commensurate with those guidelines when they revisit their decisions from the past,” Stinson said.

“We will reserve judgment and we are going to be watching this closely with hope and giving the benefit of the doubt to the people revising the NIV. We will evaluate the product based on things like the Colorado Springs Guidelines and other parameters we think are important in the debate.

“It sounds like they are very genuine about involving other scholars who would have been in opposition to the changes to gender language in the TNIV and who desire to engage in genuine dialogue.”

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