The Story on Gender and the NIV (1984), TNIV, and NIV (2011)
I keep coming back to the NIV translation of the Bible. The (now discontinued) TNIV and the 2011 NIV (which supersedes the TNIV) are constant companions in my Bible reading and sermon preparation.
Bruce Waltke anticipates that the NIV will be “ever more precise and always in the language of the people” as it continues to evolve. 50 years ago the Committee on Bible Translation (CBT) convened.
The first three speakers in the following video–Doug Moo, Karen Jobes, and Mark Strauss–are all ones whose works I’ve consulted (literally) in the last two days!
There is an utterly fascinating history of how the translation has changed over the years. I am particularly interested in the discussion about how gender works in translation. I’m with Bruce Waltke on this one:
If you use “man” and part of your constituency is hearing it as male, and it wasn’t intended to be male, that’s bad translation.
So get this:
For the coming [1990s] edition, the CBT decided that where the Greek or Hebrew clearly referred to all people—male and female—the translation would have to find accurate contemporary English language to make this clear.
But before the CBT could release the update, a Christian magazine learned what the CBT was planning and published an article condemning the shift in language, initiating a firestorm of controversy.
Some Christians were unhappy about what the CBT was planning. They accused the CBT of a “feminist” agenda when, in reality, the only agenda CBT had was to accurately reflect the meaning of Scripture in modern English. But the heat of the controversy made it hard for people to understand what was really going on.
The issue became so heated that the International Bible Society (now Biblica) decided that it was not in the best interest of the translation to continue and chose not to publish the revisions. In the United States, Zondervan would keep printing the 1984 edition of the NIV.
Finally, in 2005, the TNIV was born. But the publisher wanted to unify the now two separate editions, paving the way for the 2011 NIV.
Read the whole history here–it’s not a quick read, but it’s quite interesting. And it’s also sad how parts of the Christian community pushed against what would be not just a gender-inclusive, but a more gender-accurate translation.
There are tons of NIV Bibles available, many of which are detailed here. I’ve had a chance to compare a number of the Bibles, so feel free to ask in the comments if you want to hear more… or share your own thoughts on the NIV translation.
It seems I’m blogging fairly regularly about Zondervan and its products. They have been gracious to provide copies of various products for my review purposes.