more on the TNIV and integrity in translation

In an interview with Doug Moo, the chair for The Committee on Bible Translation over at DashHouse.com, one question ask how the new NIV update will handle gender inclusive/accurate language:

You’ve said that the issue of gender-inclusive language is “back on the table” and that the way the English language handles gender is in flux. How can the Committee deal with this issue in a way that avoids the controversies surrounding the TNIV?

I seriously doubt that we can avoid all controversy on this matter. Whatever decisions we make, some evangelical Christians will be unhappy. What we hope is that, even if people disagree with the decisions we make, they would recognize that we have made these decisions with integrity, trying our best to put God’s unchanging Word into the language that people are speaking today.

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Dr Moo’s comments here highlight something I think important as it relates to Bible translation and translation philosophies and that is the issue of integrity.

One unfortunate aspect of the ongoing Battle for the Bible has been that those who disagree with one approach to translation or another often accuse those they disagree with as somehow lacking in integrity as though they are intentionally trying to malign the Word of God with their own personal agendas – but personally, I don’t think this is really the case –  I don’t think renown biblical scholars like Moo himself, or Gordon Fee, R.T. France, Bruce Waltke, Karen Jobes (so glad to know there’s a woman on the committee) on the CBT sit around thinking of ways to “undermine the authority of the Bible” or to “change the Word of God” and so on.  This is a shameful accusation really – this is probably really one of the main reasons the NRSV gets the so-called “liberal” rap.  But I hardly think the late Bruce Metzger was in any way lacking in integrity when he oversaw the revision of the RSV – rather quite the opposite. Most likely he had more integrity in his left pinky than most of us put together, no?

Why? Why does there have to be politics involved in translating the Bible so that people can read it? Wouldn’t be a lack of integrity to make such claims?  I mean, personally, I am not a fan of the ESV though I don’t doubt the men who worked on it are men of integrity and character who love the Lord Jesus and care deeply about the Word of God and so on – though I will admit I have doubts about integrity of the marketing process of the ESV.

So, my concern is why those who are do opposed to the translation approach of the TNIV so worried about issues of integrity with regard to that particular translation?

What say you?

HT: Mark Stevens

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13 responses to “more on the TNIV and integrity in translation

  1. I mean, personally, I am not a fan of the ESV though I don’t doubt the men who worked on it are men of integrity and character who love the Lord Jesus and care deeply about the Word of God and so on – though I will admit I have doubts about integrity of the marketing process of the ESV.

    That approach (or lack thereof) seems to be it in a nutshell.

    It also seems to be one thing to me for a pastor to say, I’ve been reading the Holman and it seems very true to the original text VERSES I’ve been reading the NIV and you should never buy that one.

  2. Great post! Just great! I especially liked: “I don’t think renown biblical scholars like Moo himself . . . on the CBT sit around thinking of ways to ‘undermine the authority of the Bible’ or to ‘change the Word of God’ and so on.” That is exactly right.

    I am especially encouraged by Moo’s words: “I seriously doubt that we can avoid all controversy on this matter [gender inclusivity]. Whatever decisions we make, some evangelical Christians will be unhappy.”

  3. This is most unfortunate, and really sad. For years I bought into this literal is better and never read the NIV. Although I owned a couple of copies I was afraid, ignorant and trusted those that I thought were being unbiase in there professional recommendations. I am glad for the internet because it has allowed other voices to counter those that had the ability to promote their positions.

    I would not be reading the TNIV or NLT had not been for blogging, I would have continued in my ignorance and would have been defending the ESV to the death.

  4. Robert, I am glad to see you’ve responded well to learning about the different translations and such – not that there is anything wrong per se with a literal translation, just that it isn’t necessarily better or worse than another approach – but as you are saying neither is this the case with functional equivalence approach.

    sometimes I think – if I want to know what it says I look up the NAS and then if I want to know what means I go to the TNIV or NLT! 😉

  5. Brian, I use the literal translations, they are especially good if you want to do a word study, or follow it’s use (I realize that this has some limitations) but overall servers it purpose.

    • and that is what I think is missed most often about translations – each serves a purpose – but I guess in the end there is a minority who did not care for the purpose of theTNIV and succeeded in tearing it down at the expense of others.

  6. This is a shameful accusation really – this is probably really one of the main reasons the NRSV gets the so-called “liberal” rap.

    So true. Despite my hard feelings against Zondervan for pulling the plug on the TNIV, I still believe the TNIV is the best mediating translation out there. NRSV for formal and NLT for functional.

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