Editorial: A Response to the NIV Translators -- By: Denny Burk

Journal: Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Volume: JBMW 16:2 (Fall 2011)
Article: Editorial: A Response to the NIV Translators
Author: Denny Burk

A Response to the NIV Translators

Denny Burk

Editor, Journal for Biblical Manhood & Womanhood

Associate Professor of Biblical Studies

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Louisville, Kentucky

Last Spring, CBMW released an in-depth review of the translation of gender terminology in the 2011 revision of the NIV.1 Last June, the translators of the NIV released a two-page response on the NIV website.2 The translators raise several important issues in their paper, so I will summarize their concerns here and offer a brief response to each.

(1) CBMW has a theological agenda that has skewed their analysis of the NIV, but the NIV translators have no such agenda.

There are two main problems with this objection. First, it is not true the NIV translators have no theological point of view. In fact, the letter itself says that the translators “mirror the spectrum of evangelicalism” and include both “complementarians and egalitarians.” It may be the case that the committee is not monolithic in its theological point of view, but make no mistake that the translators do individually have a point of view. To say that those points of view have no influence over their translation decisions seems a rather extraordinary claim.

We do not know the internal discussions that went on within the NIV’s Committee on Bible Translation (CBT) over gender language, but it is well known that some CBT members have published strong defenses of an egalitarian position. It is certainly possible that their viewpoints had a strong influence on the CBT’s decisions.

Second, CBMW’s theological point of view does not necessarily invalidate the substance of the critique. CBMW’s review brings together a tremendous amount of data, and the data is cited time and again as the basis of the evaluation. At this point, it falls to the translators to engage CBMW’s handling of the data. Simply citing CBMW’s theological point of view is not a compelling response.

(2) CBMW fails to take into account the Collins Report data which proves that NIV translators made decisions that reflect the state of modern English.

CBMW offered two reviews. One is a white paper released through CBMW’s website, and the other is a review I published in the Spring 2011

issue of JBMW.3 There is considerable overlap between the reviews, but the second o...

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