In Defense of the NIV 2011

Darrell L. Bock's picture

I regard the recent response to the NIV 2011 by some as unfortunate.

The SBC resolution came from the floor and not from the committee that studied the question. I suspect the CBMW has invested too much in the gender issue to look at these texts in a balanced manner. Their theory of translation was questioned in the original dispute by many top evangelical scholars and the credentials of those working on the NIV are impeccable.

One of my mentors, Ken Barker, worked on the original translation and chaired the committee for years. He was and is well qualified to work on this translation and has been comfortable with the result. Doug Moo is among the finest of evangelical NT scholars today and has taken conservative positions on gender issues for years. This means that the idea or charge of a gender neutering in the NIV 2011 is extremely misdirected. It is a shame this controversy has emerged again (though fortunately with less intensity than the earlier discussion). We all know translations are not perfect, but the NIV has served the church well for decades and will continue to do so. It belongs with the many fine English translations English speaking people have access to today. It can serve as a solid base from which to discuss God's Word. Those who complain about a rendering here and there need to recall that experts do that with every translation because some translation choices are close calls in terms of meaning and context. It sends very much the wrong signal to the church to overreact to a translation of this excellent quality. My hope would be that scholars and pastors can feel comfortable using the NIV 2011. Discuss its renderings here and there. That is normal and healthy as we all wrestle with what God's Word means precisely, but overreaction or acting as if this translation is seriously flawed is a response that teaches the church far less than a healthy engagement with its well rendered text.

I make this note as one who has worked on several translation, knowing how hard such work is. (I have had no role in working on the NIV, so I am merely an observer on this issue.) I also want to assure those who use the NIV that it remains a useful translation, one among many of the best we have.

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