The “New International Version” And Its Textual Principles In The Book Of Psalms -- By: Bruce K. Waltke

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 32:1 (Mar 1989)
Article: The “New International Version” And Its Textual Principles In The Book Of Psalms
Author: Bruce K. Waltke


The “New International Version” And
Its Textual Principles In The Book Of Psalms

Bruce K. Waltke*

To appraise critically the New International Version (NIV) and its textual principles, especially in the book of Psalms, it is necessary to describe briefly its process of translation. In 1965 the Committee on Bible Translation (CBT) “that would eventually be granted final oversight over the published text of the resulting translation”1 was formed. This committee is autonomous, self-perpetuating,2 and restricted to fifteen members3 who subscribe to the ETS doctrinal basis or “some other comparable statement.”4 In 1968 Edwin H. Palmer, a Christian Reformed Church pastor and theologian, was appointed executive secretary of the CBT, and a four-tiered system of subcommittees was formed. The CBT mandated that “those engaged in the work of translation shall not only possess the necessary requirements of scholarship, but they shall also look upon their labor as a sacred trust, honoring the Bible as the inspired Word of God.”5 The first stage of translation of a given book was accomplished by two to four scholars. Copies of these translations were then distributed to several so-called Intermediate Editorial Committees (IEC), which usually consisted of five scholars, each with the assignment to improve the translation with special attention to exegetical matters. These copies in turn were distributed to one of several so-called General Editorial Committees (GEC), usually composed of seven scholars, to improve the translation with special attention to theology and style. Finally, on the fourth and final level, the translations were handed over to the CBT, which further refined them and which had final authority over the text. In each committee a simple majority decided the text. It is important to note here that all the committees were engaged in textual criticism.

I. The Niv’s Principles Of Textual Criticism

The CBT prepared two statements pertaining to its principles of textual criticism: a Translators Manual, adopted in 1968, and its statement

* Bruce Waltke is professor of Old Testament at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia.

in the preface of the NIV. The Translators Manual says of the NIVs aim:

1. At every point the translation shall be faithful to the Word of God as represented by the most accurate text...

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