FINALLY: The NIV gets a makeover...

Try not to get too angry. Believe it or not, even a lot of conservative Evangelical scholars recognize and affirm that gender-specific language is not helpful or even accurately reflective of historical linguistic context.

The world's most-popular Bible will undergo its first revision in 25 years, modernizing the language in some sections and promising to reopen a contentious debate about changing gender terms in the sacred text.

The New International Version, the Bible of choice for conservative evangelicals, will be revised to reflect changes in English usage and advances in Biblical scholarship, it was announced Tuesday. The revision is scheduled to be completed late next year and published in 2011.

"We want to reach English speakers across the globe with a Bible that is accurate, accessible and that speaks to its readers in a language they can understand," said Keith Danby, global president and CEO of Biblica, a Colorado Springs, Colo.-based Christian ministry that holds the NIV copyright.


An effort earlier this decade to create a separate version of the NIV that used more gender-inclusive language in an attempt to reach a younger audience fell flat with groups that felt it crossed the line.

That edition, Today's New International Version, will cease publication once the new-look NIV is released, said Moe Girkins, president of Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Zondervan, its North American publisher.

"Whatever its strengths, the TNIV has become an emblem of division in the evangelical Christian world," Girkins said.

It was the TNIV that ushered in changes from "sons of God" to "children of God," or "brothers" to "brothers and sisters." In Genesis I, God created "human beings" in his own image instead of "man."

Many prominent pastors and scholars endorsed the changes. But critics said masculine terms in the original should not be tampered with. Some warned that changing singular gender references to plural ones alters what the Bible says about God's relationships with individuals.

The Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution saying the edition "has gone beyond acceptable translation standards."

I actually really like the TNIV. But oh well. Plenty of folks are pissed. Click here to read more...


Wickle said...

When I hear people get up in arms about whether language is "too inclusive" or about how we're breaking down the all-important male imagery, I sort of picture Jesus shaking His head and saying, "Did you even listen at all to what I was saying?"

Al said...

I expect there may be a valid point regarding 'translation standards' insofar as "Is this a literal word-for-word translation, a dynamic equivalent, or a paraphrase?"
But Wickle really makes the more valid point--"What is the point God is trying to make here?" (And are we getting it?)
I must admit--my first thought after reading "FINALLY NIV gets a makeover" was "It's only been 25 years, not nearly as long as the 400 years since the KJV first arrived." I'm old enough to remember what a great addition the NIV was when it showed up.

Eruesso said...

Huh. Gender-inclusive language sounds like an intriguing concept. I hope God doesn't get too angry about this. She gets moody someti...I mean HE. He gets moody sometimes.

Broken follower... said...

You know this whole idea of changing some stuff in the bible kind of freaks me out too... I'm not pissed. I'm not excited though either... You know, it makes me wonder even more, if the bible keeps getting changed, what was the original thing? Was that "the truth". Some things have got to have been mis-translated or mis-transcribed back when it was read to the monks and they had to hand write the bible...

The bible freaks me out, in the sense that everyone says all your answers are in there, it's the truth, the spoken word, blah blah blah... but if the bible is getting changed because of misinterpretations, well maybe those interpretations originally were correct.

Can you tell I'm completely confused? What do you think???

abshreve said...

There are enough variations of the bible already. What's one more? I believe people put too much emphasis on the structure and not enough on the message. If they really got the point that Jesus was trying to get across, the wording wouldn't be such an issue. But then there wouldn't be so many denominations either...

Peter said...

I hear you Broken. It's scary to think about re-approaching the Bible in new or alternative ways. Especially when one has grown up with a very consistent vantage (like I did).

I've come to the point where I think trying to figure out the "original message" is an exercise in futility, because I don't think the "original message" exists in the way we THINK we want it. I think Jesus, and through him, God, IS the original message. And the authors of Scripture worked hard to capture that truth. And they did a damn good job. But I can't call it "perfect" anymore, just an attempt at describing perfection.

We want an original, "perfect" (inerrant) and in particular, OBJECTIVE truth. We think (or thought) that the ORIGINAL document, or ORIGINAL interpretation, or even the ORIGINAL context would give us that.

But I think Shreve and Al and Wickle really capture the importance of valuing the qualitative truth(s) of Scripture, OVER the quantitative.

I [personally] believe that Scripture is continually reinterpreted because Scripture is continually changing. It DEMANDS reinterpretation. That's the beauty of a Christian ethos, in contrast to perhaps a Muslim or Orthodox Jewish ethos: Christianity seems designed, in its very DNA, to evolve... so of course, our understanding of Scripture would follow.

Al said...

B F, you raise some good questions. I think many of us wish more people recognized how appropriate those questions are.
I think the meaning of the 'original', even if we have every letter exactly as it was written, is still a matter of interpretation in the light of the culture of the time it was written, and our culture today. We try to understand what the authors wanted to say, and how it applies to us, but that is not an exact science. I think we are best off as we gain a good understanding of who God is, and build the rest around that.
And then there is the whole issue of "everyone says all your answers are in there, it's the truth, the spoken word, blah blah blah..." I don't think the Bible is supposed to be an answer book. At least not answers to the questions we seem to like to ask it. After all, the questions change from generation to generation, and the answers wouldn't necessarily fit in every culture. So, we ask it "Is homosexuality a sin?", instead of asking it "What is God like?", and "How does he wants us to live towards and with each other?"
Sure, the Bible is true--true accounts of how people lived, how they perceived God, how they tried to figure out how to live their lives. But that doesn't mean when it says "Judas hanged himself" and "Go and do thou likewise" that we should do so.
You might think you are confused, but I think you are posing good questions. And I think your search will lead you in good places.

Broken follower... said...

Thanks Peter and Al. I appreciate your willingness to try and understand where I am coming from. I also appreciate that you never made me feel like an idiot...

I guess where I'm at right now is just questioning everything to try and gain ownership of what I believe. I've been walking so blindly and comfortably being told what to believe, and I got bored. I'm more about the relationships in my life and how I love others, and I love learning more about God's love for us (even though the idea of God is so huge for me to grasp, though I've believed it all my life)...

Peter- I really like the way you viewed the bible and said how the authors were just trying to capture the perfection. How wonderful to think of the authors as followers who weren't perfect, who were just trying to capture perfection... Wow...

I feel like such a nerd that I've held the bible on a pedastal all these years because that's what's been taught, when in all reality, it's just another book maybe? Is that maybe what I'm hearing?

Al- thank you for accepting my questioning and encouraging me on my journey. Means a great deal since I feel stuck sometimes being the only one questioning SO MUCH!

I went to a bible study last night actually and we had soooo many different bibles and read the same verse from each bible, and it was crazy how different they could be. Also, I've decided, I'm going to start reading some more of Paul's letters. I mean, he was broken right? He was in jail? ;)

Thanks again!

Al said...

B F, I love your transparency. I see a lot of myself in what you say. I am more than twice your age, but only recently am beginning to ask similar questions. Most of us have been told what to believe, and perhaps had little reason to question those beliefs--sometimes because we were taught that questioning is pretty much sin. I don't think that is true--God can handle our doubts and questions.
You say: "I'm more about the relationships in my life and how I love others, and I love learning more about God's love for us." I can SO relate to that! That's why I said: "I think we are best off as we gain a good understanding of who God is, and build the rest around that." For me, the love of God provides a more solid foundation for building a theology that affirms and accepts people like Jesus did.
Although I think you are right when you say that we have been taught to put the Bible on a pedestal, I don't think we can consider it the same as a Dr. Suess book or Harry Potter. I think we still need to realize that it is the best book we have that explores who God is. God intended us to have something to help us find him, and " Prophecy resulted when the Holy Spirit prompted men and women to speak God's Word." 2Pe 1:21
I think some of our problems arise when we read too much into what the Bible claims to be, or what God intended through it. (I just posted something about that on my own blog:
I'd say, keep asking the honest questions, find others to work through things with. And let God be God.

Peter said...

"I feel like such a nerd that I've held the bible on a pedastal all these years because that's what's been taught, when in all reality, it's just another book maybe? Is that maybe what I'm hearing?"

Broken, no, you shouldn't feel like a nerd. All of us are raised with certain views, expectations, understandings and worldviews. It takes a LONG time for any of us to begin forming our own authentically personal opinions. Many people never even TRY to do that.

Regarding the Bible being "just another book," that's not quite what I'm saying. Like Al said, it doesn't necessarily belong on the pedestal many of us put it on, but it isn't the "same" as many other books.

But I might venture onto shaky ground here (this is just my current opinion, and it might change...). I believe God is big enough and powerful enough to give us as much truth as we need. If God wants to get a message across, silly, limited people aren't going to get in the way.

I think the Bible rings true often enough (a lot, really) for me to believe that God really WAS inspiring the folks who wrote it. That doesn't mean it was written word-for-word, or that I think God was speaking audibly, or writing with a fiery pen. "Inspired" means just that. Inspired.

And there are a LOT of books written by people who I believe have been genuinely inspired by God. Do we automatically elevate them to "Sacred, Holy Scripture?" I would say: not yet. The Bible has truly stood the test of time, in many amazing ways. Thousands of years from now, history may prove the inspiration of some modern-day spiritual writers in the same way. Or we may read them as we read Origen and St. Augustine and St. Francis - pious, wise, God-fearing people who certainly WERE inspired by God - but not quite at "Scriptural" level.

On the other hand, I doubt St. Paul ever thought of his letters to early churches as "Scripture," so it's all in the eye of the beholder.

Keep seeking, searching, and learning, Broken! Hang in there and don't beat yourself up!

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