An Important But Mysterious Event -- By: David M. Scholer

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 10:4 (Fall 1996)
Article: An Important But Mysterious Event
Author: David M. Scholer


An Important But Mysterious Event

David M. Scholer

David M. Scholer, Professor of New Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA, is an active member of CBE. He has taught, lectured and published on women in the New Testament for over a quarter century.

We live in a time in the USA when American English has changed and is changing “right before our eyes.” One of the major changes involves the use of inclusive language with reference to men and women. Dramatic evidence for this change can be seen, for example, in the long entries for “he” and “man” in the new third edition of The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language.1 Another witness to the change in American English is Chapter 1 on “Usage” in The New York Public Library Writer’s Guide to Style and Usage, which discusses in detail nonsexist language under the heading of bias-free usage.2

In the present article, my usage of “inclusive language” refers to so-called horizontal language concerning men and women; it does not refer to issues of male/female language for God.

For Christians committed to biblical equality the matter of inclusive language is, of course, not simply an issue of contemporary changes in American English. Inclusive language is a theologically and biblically important recognition of the equal worth, dignity and responsibility of all persons created in God’s image and called into the one body in Christ Jesus.3

In this context, an event of extraordinary importance occurred in 1995: the publication of an Inclusive Language Edition of the enormously popular and valuable New International Version New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs. This publication is the work of the NIV Committee on Bible Translation, which had decided in 1992 that the NIV should be made available in an inclusive language edition (Preface, page ix). This achievement needs to be celebrated and described.

At the same time, however, a mystery is introduced. This new edition of the NIV has been published only by Hodder and Stoughton in London, England. There is in the United States a “deafening silence” about this new edition of the NIV from both Zondervan Publishing House and also the copyright holder, the International Bible Society.4 Why?

Part of what makes the Inclusive Language Edition of the NIV such an important and celebrative event is the conjoining of what is certainly one of the most popular Bible translations among Evangelicals with the contemporary concern ...

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