Battle for the Bible Translation
Image: iStock

At their annual summer convention, the Southern Baptists passed a resolution expressing "profound disappointment with Biblica and Zondervan Publishing House" for publishing the 2011 New International Version, concluding that "we cannot commend the 2011 NIV to Southern Baptists or the larger Christian community."

The resolution strikes us as divisive, shortsighted, and something that brings us, and no doubt the majority of the Christian community, profound disappointment.

To be fair, the resolution was not brought to the convention by the resolution committee, which wisely determined that the convention did not need to comment on the new translation. The resolution was the work of a single delegate, and only one other person spoke on its behalf. But no one on the convention floor spoke against it, and eyewitnesses say that up to 90 percent of the delegates raised their ballots to signal their approval.

The issue at stake is what the resolution called the NIV'S "gender-neutral methods of translation," saying the 2011 NIV has "gone beyond acceptable translation standards."

Whose translations standards are they talking about? The translation principle the resolution refers to is properly called "dynamic equivalence" or "functional equivalence." Such translations try to do something on the order of common sense: When arriving at a word or phrase that literally says one thing but functionally means another, they choose the functional meaning.

In biblical times, speakers would address a mixed group of believers with the greeting "brothers." Such was the practice even in English a generation ago. If a speaker were to do that today, many people ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

May
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
From Issue:
Read These Next
Also in this IssueMissional Church Mergers
Missional Church Mergers Subscriber Access Only
New report: More congregational combinations driven by mission, not survival.
Current IssueA Shoplifter’s Search for God
A Shoplifter’s Search for God Subscriber Access Only
I equated material possessions with happiness, until a high-school mission trip changed my thinking.
RecommendedHow Single Women Became an Unstoppable Force in Bible Translation
How Single Women Became an Unstoppable Force in Bible Translation
Female missionaries have propelled the movement to bring Scripture to every tribe and tongue.
TrendingForgiveness: Muslims Moved as Coptic Christians Do the Unimaginable
Forgiveness: Muslims Moved as Coptic Christians Do the Unimaginable
Amid ISIS attacks, faithful response inspires Egyptian society.
Editor's PickWhatever Is Pure: Cedarville Requires Professors to Apply Philippians 4:8
Whatever Is Pure: Cedarville Requires Professors to Apply Philippians 4:8
Faculty push back against stricter standards keeping curse words, R-rated movies, and sexual content out of their curricula.
Christianity Today
Battle for the Bible Translation
hide thisSeptember September

In the Magazine

September 2011

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.