Analyzing The Colorado Springs Guidelines For Translation Of Gender-Related Language: -- By: David R. Leigh

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 11:4 (Fall 1997)
Article: Analyzing The Colorado Springs Guidelines For Translation Of Gender-Related Language:
Author: David R. Leigh

Analyzing The Colorado Springs Guidelines For Translation Of Gender-Related Language:

What Are They? Where Did They Come From? And What Do They Really Mean?1

David R. Leigh

Rev. David R. Leigh is pastor of Church of the Redeemer, a Baptist General Conference church in Libertyville, Illinois.

When a bomb goes off those behind the incident will usually take credit and publish a tract or manifesto to propagate their views. So it was in the latest chapter of the evangelical culture wars. On May 27, 1997, the International Bible Society (IBS) made a decision that exploded in controversy, and the real culprits behind the matter went to press proclaiming their point of view.

IBS’s controversial decision was to pull a complete reversal of its stance on gender-inclusive language and its plans for future editions of translations and publications. It decided to rescind its plans for the New International Version Inclusive Language Edition (NIVI) in the U.S. and to recall its inclusive New International Reader’s Version (NIrV). Its president, Lars Dunberg, then signed a shocking set of gender-biased translation guidelines that were touted by some as a milestone agreement but considered by others to be a millstone around the neck of evangelical progress.

The creators of these guidelines were quick to claim responsibility for the explosive reversal and to announce their victory in print, first on the front page of the June 1997 CBMW News, published by the anti-egalitarian Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. They next published a two-page advertisement in the October 27, 1997 issue of Christianity Today (pp. 14-15), which asked, “Can I Still Trust My Bible?” This ad listed not only the guidelines intended to guard us from “diminishing” the accuracy of our translations, but listed five “authorized” versions readers can trust. The ad offered a free information packet, containing CBMW brochures and a 32-page booklet, What’s Wrong with Gender-Neutral Bible Translations?, written by CBMW President Wayne Grudem.

Included in this advertisement, however, was the admission that revisions to the May 1997 guidelines had already been necessary! Two of the original twelve signatures had also been dropped—those of Dunberg and Bruce Ryskamp, president of Zondervan. The most significant change involved a concession that when the Greek speaks of brothers in the plural (adelphol), it can mean both brothers and sisters and therefore may be so translated. We can only hope proponents of these guidelines will come to see that their faulty reasoning on this point is the same reasoning behind their other restrictions on i...

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